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Balance Talk: Would Goblins be the best competitive faction?

By MauH˙R - 23rd December 2016 - 13:13 PM

It is a distant dream scenario that this game could ever have a big competitive E-Sports scene with 300 actions-per-minute (APM) professional players of Korean caliber, but I have always wondered what it would be like and if any faction would clearly dominate when it has been figured out by a professional.

It did not take me long to come to the conclusion that Goblins would most likely be that faction and in this edition of Balance Talk I am going to list my reasons for that.

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1. Speed

My first point is the most obvious one, a unit trait that was very brave to added from a faction designer's view. The fact that not only the basic Goblin units, but also Spiderlings, Cavetrolls, Mini Drake Broods, Fire Drakes, all of their Heroes and of course Spiderriders can outrun any other faction's infantry creates infinite harassment potential as long as your multitasking is good enough.

The biggest deal about this comes right in the early game, when most factions are forced to send way more expensive, yet slower units to defend their farms. To be more concrete, it is extremely efficient when 100 resources (80 in the past) are able to keep units that are more than twice as expensive out of their base. Had these Goblins been forced to engage because they had to defend a tunnel in their base, the trade-off would obviously not be nearly as good as you actually had to fight.

This principle of course extends to a mechanically very demanding dimension in the later stages of the game when you would have to keep multiple groups of these different fast units around your opponent's base while trying to take as little damage as possible from higher tier units such as elite archers.

It is not so much about dealing actual damage with this than posing a constant threat to your opponent that has the potential to destroy his economy in a minute should he ever leave his base.

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2. The Tunnel system

It is also not hard to figure out that things get messy when an already fast faction has a feature that basically teleports their units across the map.

The entirety of the earlier point I made gets a massive boost in annoyance when the Tunnel System gets added to that factor of permanently threatening the enemy base. You can essentially have an army pushed back on one flank of the map and just pop out at the other side and abuse your opponent who is out of position. As long as Goblins can keep a certain amount of map control with the tunnel system there is no way of taking damage without the immediate opportunity of dealing any sort of counter-damage.

That is the offensive potential, but it also allows Goblins to defend against a decent amount of enemies without ever having to follow them by foot. Not only does the clumping of the units, that results from evacuating them, allow them to deal more damage, the defending units can also reinforce another Tunnel right after.

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3. Clumping

As already mentioned in form of Tunnel evacuations, clumping is an extremely strong, pretty unpredictable and messy, yet somewhat necessary feature of the battalion system of BFME. And while every faction can abuse it, it is certainly once again the Goblins that can get most out of it.

For those who do not know what I mean with "clumping", it is when multiple battalions get squeezed together unrealistically tight. How do you force that? The most common way is to give a lot of battalions a movement command behind enemy units so that all of them end up being blocked at the frontline and can then attack all at once.

Because of the high movement speed of most Goblin units, the above mentioned technique is easier for them to execute as for, let's say, Mordor because they get to that point of maximal density at the front much faster. On top of that, Goblins of course have things like Poison Blades and Horde Bonus to give them an edge.

While this often allows Goblins to take way too efficient skirmishes against armies that are supposed to do better, it is hard to say if they could live completely without it. Keep in mind that clumping also happens in a way more "natural", less forced situation, like cavalry charging into Goblins that were told to attack them.

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4. Scavenger

This one should not be a surprise either as it is arguably the best Spellbook power in the game along with Fuel the Fires. In a similar way in which all points above sort of synergize with each other in terms of cost-efficiency and enemy occupation, Scavanger adds a new level of superiority as it is making sure that enemy losses are not only losses for him, but also gains for you, and that effect occurs globally. Every unit you lose while committing to destroying a farm gets partly refunded, every cost-efficient fight you take because of clumping gets rewarded, every free ability or power you cast earns you money.

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5. Mass Spiderriders in Bow mode

This last point is my favourite because I myself like to drive my opponents crazy with the endless damage potential that these guys have. If you take a look at the unit it becomes very obvious that with perfect attention they become unkillable.

They are:
  • Uncatchable for any unit except Spiderlings
  • Untrampleable (naturally cause cavalry)
  • Ranged
  • Quick at respawning once they have Banners cause of the small battalion size
  • Eventually going to kill stuctures with Fire Arrows
The scariest thing a player can do to them in a regular fight is to focus fire one of them with his own ranged units, but all the Goblin has to do is to retreat the targetted battalion. And that applies to every unit that is somewhat decent against Spider Riders (like Sharku); they can always only target one battalion and the Goblin just retreats that one/keeps it running until the opponent attacks another battalion. Then they run with that one and let the previous one fire again. Once the meatshield for them is gone, they just retreat, waiting for new Goblins and increase the Spider count even more.

It is a never-dying ranged support army that can quickly reinforce anywhere on the map or just to switch to spears and harass. Also, do not forget the efficiency of such a unit when benefiting from Scavenger. The only way to seriously damage them are Stuns or instant damaging powers like Barrage, Sunflare or Avalanche.

That's my five points, but before the "Goblins OP" concerns arise, keep in mind that most of them require a level of multitasking and mechanics that is beyond what casual players will be able to do, especially when it comes to simultaneously applying a combination of the above points mentioned. Nevertheless I also hope that some of the things mentioned might help my fellow readers improve their Goblin gameplay a bit.

Which faction do you think would eventually turn out to be the strongest?
Could Angmar maybe stand a chance against those Goblins?

Discuss this article here!