This is an interesting point, though I’d also go the other route and say they should have more ways to make use of having relatively cheap militarized population. With only a single +3 General, it’s just not very meaningful to have lots of Goblins, no matter how easy it is to get them. But I have a lot of thoughts on this and I hope you’ll read them all, because this post got away from me a bit.
I think what it comes down to is that there are two competing visions for the Goblins, both implemented partway.
High Value Heroes: This is the vision that’s most realized in the current game.
The key facets of this vision are:
- Big Gold Generation
- Weak base units
- Potent but highly specialized Heroes
Plague of Imps: This is what Jay is talking about above, which is not seen much except in Nightmare (where you have to fight with everything available) and public games (where players may have fewer heroes).
The key facets of this vision are:
- Cheap generation of weak, but innumerable, base units
- Efficient buffs when applied to the huge swarm
One Viable Option
The best possible scenario for me would be for both of these approaches to be legitimately viable. I’d love to be able to go into a game and decide which of these playstyles I’d like to try out, and build the right deck for the job. However, there are basically two facts that totally kill the Swarm strategy in the current state of the race:
High-value civilian population: Each civilian is 2G/d, and there are only 400 civilians in a 3-settlement group. Better than Trolls/Elves, but Humans and Orcs have over twice as many people to work with, and they train twice as fast.
Limited available buffs: “Limited” as in only the Bigwig. A grand total of +3 to the army.
Goblins have a cool niche at the moment as the back-line gold-generators with a bevy of special-purpose “fixer” heroes for lots of different challenges. It’s extremely fun. But because their economy is so dependent on their civilian population, and because that population really can’t be put to use effectively as a military horde, it’s also the only viable strategy. If you can never train Goblin Bows, that’s always the best plan, because they’re too expensive in the long run. Don’t believe me? Thought I’d get through this post without math and/or tables? Think again!
| Race | POP | STR | Flat Cost | Cost/STR | Daily Cost | 3d Total | 3d Cost/STR |
| Trolls | 25 | 450 | 150 | 0.333 | 25 | 225 | 0.5 |
| Orcs | 50 | 600 | 300 | 0.5 | 25 | 375 | 0.625 |
| Humans | 50 | 500 | 250 | 0.5 | 25 | 325 | 0.65 |
| Dwarves | 40 | 640 | 200 | 0.3125 | 80 | 440 | 0.6875 |
| Elves | 25 | 300 | 225 | 0.75 | 25 | 300 | 1.0 |
| Goblins | 25 | 150 | 125 | 0.833 | 50 | 275 | 1.833 |
This table sorts the races by the total cost, after three days, of training one unit, divided by the strength of that unit. Sort of a “how expensive is it to make a melee army out of this unit” comparison. It’s critical to include the future cost of training a unit, because while all units draw down your gold-producing population, they don’t do so evenly. Well actually, most of them are surprisingly very even, with one unit of most races costing 25 Gold per day. Except… the Dwarves and Goblins.
The Dwarves, at least, are extremely sturdy, and actually aren’t much more expensive after three days than Orcs or Humans thanks to their low up-front training cost. Goblins, however, come in dead last on this table by an enormous margin even before factoring in future costs. When you consider the mitigating factors that aren’t represented, like availability and efficacy of army buffs, the Goblins suffer even more, as they lack in both of those categories as well.
And to Jay’s point that Goblins can get a lot of population together for cheap (I haven’t forgotten), I think I just have to disagree with you. This one looks good for the Goblins until you include a couple days of lost gold, and then it all falls apart immediately (though when we’re only looking at cost/individual, the same is true for the Dwarves).
| Race | POP | Flat Cost | Cost/POP | 3d Total | 3d Cost/POP | 5d Total | 5d Cost/POP |
| Humans | 50 | 250 | 5 | 325 | 6.5 | 375 | 7.5 |
| Orcs | 50 | 300 | 6 | 375 | 7.5 | 425 | 8.5 |
| Trolls | 25 | 150 | 6 | 225 | 9 | 275 | 11 |
| Elves | 25 | 225 | 9 | 300 | 12 | 350 | 14 |
| Dwarves | 40 | 200 | 5 | 440 | 11 | 600 | 15 |
| Goblins | 25 | 125 | 5 | 275 | 11 | 375 | 15 |
What To Do?
If the Huge Swarm of Weak Gobbos Strategy is to be made viable (and as I said, I think that would be very cool), the big problems need to be addressed. My “must-haves” list looks like this:
- Must be quicker to produce: 25 units at a time is much too slow when they’re weak units.
- Must be more numerous overall: 400 civilians per settlement grouping just isn’t enough to build the kind of army we’re talking about.
- Building a large army must not hamstring the economy: either the gold-generating heroes would need buffs, or the population would have to be less valuable as civilians.
- The army must have more buffs available to it. Whether this is in the form of Generals, or general-like units that get stronger for ever Goblin Bow in their army it doesn’t matter, but to be relevant in a swarm, there must be a way to take advantage of the large military population.
Besides this little list of demands, I do actually have a concrete suggestion.
Retool the Goblin settlements and base unit, but go hard in the opposite direction. Let each civilian only produce 0.2 Gold, put 2000 Goblins in the big settlements, drop their individual strength to 4, take away their ranged attack and put 100 individuals in each unit. Give them a couple more army-focused effects. Make it attractive to unleash the horde, rather than “possible as a last resort.” I think it’s totally possible to make the “huge masses of individuals” thing work, but it’s got to be easier to do it with Goblins than anyone else, or I’ll just keep on happily playing the Orcs every time I get a hankering for basic units.