Army List Notes: Goblins

Goblins (Orc is the Sindarin word for goblin) were created by Morgoth, the Great Enemy. After his defeat at the end of the first age, the Orcs became independent, but periodically came under the sway of other Evil Powers, such as Sauron, or his servants such as the Witchlord of Angmar, and later, his rival Saruman. This list covers those independent tribes that were not directly under such a Power's sway. Examples include those Orcs that invaded the White Mountains (Ered Nimrais) and attacked Rohan (RotK, p434); those of the Misty Mountains (Hithaeglir) both before the realm of Angmar was established, and surviving after its destruction; and preminently those of Mount Gundabad and the Grey Mountains (Ered Mithrin) to its east (Hob, p136).

Aggression is rated as 3, since these Goblins more often attacked their neighbours than vice versa - the only real campaign being mounted against them in their own territory was by the Dwarves, 3A2793-9.

As befits a race dwelling in the mountains, climate is rated Cold, and steep hills are a compulsory terrain choice. No goblins lived near the sea, so no WW is allowed, but mountain rivers are allowed. Wd are allowed, since the Ered Mithrin bordered the northern eaves of Mirkwood, and a forest is recorded outside the gates of Moria, which was an Orcish stronghold during the latter third-age (RotK, p445). Rd are allowed, since the goblins might open their underground gates in positions to allow access to well-travelled paths (Hob, p97). As they lived underground, no BUA is allowed.

Generals had bodyguards (RotK, p443), goblins of exceptional size (Hob, p266) who fought better than the normal warriors (Hob, p267) and carried axes, scimitars (Hob, p69) and shields (Hob, p70). They can accordingly be graded as Bd (F). Guards are not classified as warband, since they fought in ranks, and slowly pushed back spearmen, rather than broke through them quickly (Hob, p267). Classification as Ax (S) is also allowed, as heavily armoured chieftains (FotR, p422) and guards (Hob, p91) could use spear and shield (FotR, p423) rather than axes or other chopping weapons (RotK, p443).

Ally-generals are compulsory, as goblins were fractious, and prone to in-fighting even when under the 'control' of a Power (eg. RotK, p213), and accordingly only one sub-general is allowed - most likely the son of the greatest chief present, as Bolg was the son of Azog (Hob, p263).

The average goblin, being a mountain-dweller, and fast moving (Hob, p91), is classified as Ax. Goblins did not engage in impetuous behaviour or wild and charges, so ruling out a classification as Wb (or Hd (S) for that matter). Most carried spear and shield (Hob, p106), the spears being short (UT, p273) but broad-bladed (Sil, p133) and heavy weapons that could be thrown at need (Hob, p108). Scimitars ('crooked' or 'bent' swords) were the side-arm of choice (FotR, p428). Since goblins were on the whole smaller than Dwarves, Elves or men (UT, p362), and performed badly in battle on the whole, classification as Ax (I) is best, despite the common ownership of at least helmets (Hob, p105) and mail (RotK, p226). Bigger ones (these might be the ones termed 'hobgoblins'), or those with full armour (Hob, p91) may be classified as Ax (O) - but they were still smaller than men (UT, p273) and do not warrant classification as Ax (S) which is reserved for only the very largest and best armed. Goblins may be downgraded to Hd, since sometimes they were dragooned into fighting unwillingly, leaders customarily carrying whips (RotK, p249), and also since they could not endure open sunlight (Hob, p293; TT, p59) they sometimes fought even more poorly than normal.

Some goblins were archers (FotR, p502). Some put up a hail of arrows (UT, p273, RotK, p202), so classification as Bw might be best; others seemed to have acted more like skirmishers (UT, p275), or shooting over the heads of other troops (TT, p169), and scouts are several times mentioned (eg. TT, p57), and so are classified as Ps (O). A few Bw (O) are allowed since some archers had bow, spear and armour, but it is more likely that most bowmen were provided by the smaller orcs (RotK, p241). Ps (O) may support goblin Ax, since archers that shot overhead did so into enemy already engaged by those the goblins were supporting (TT, p169).

Some goblins rode upon wolves (Hob, p103, 263). Wolf-riders were swift, and since they worked best at picking off isolated companies, yet were quite effective at attacking knights such as the Riders of Rohan, classification as LH (O) is best. (F) is not warranted, since the wolves were quite a bit smaller than horses (their jaws slashed horse's bellies) and so would likely have somewhat encumbered by their rider - even a small rider such as a goblin (UT, p365). As they were not bow-armed, (S) is not warranted either - and would make them too effective against Rohirrim graded as Kn (F).

Wolves without riders are graded as LH (I) since they had no rider to give them an additional combat capability over their fangs, and a wolf by itself would make quite a vulnerable target without a rider to help shield it from attack. It seems that most, if not all wolves in goblin armies (as opposed to armies containing goblins) were ridden, and hence riderless wolves are only allowed as part of a Warg allied command unless used in small numbers (Hob, p103).

Wargs, great wolves speaking their own language frequently worked in alliance with goblins (Hob, p130, 263), and having their own chieftain are therefore classified as allies (Hob, p103).

Trolls could also be found working with goblins (FotR, p428) - although more likely to be found below ground than above it. Trolls were incredibly tough (FotR, p428) and are rated as a Bd (S); the Bd (O) supports double-based with them mean that they will not be overrun by Kn easily, while at the same time enabling their bases to be bigger, so that their figures can be more accomodated easily! The more evil giants and ogres might possibly substitute for trolls (Hob, p82), although none are actually recorded serving with goblins.

Some Dwarves allied with Goblins (Hob, p69), but not Durin's tribe, so they may not include any regular troops.

Goblin banners at the battle of the Five Armies were black and red (Hob, p265).

Return to the Middle-Earth introductory page.

This page last modified 14 May 2006.