Sunday, August 23, 2020

D&D Tactics -Goblin Arrows Part 1, the Ambush


This is first post of this series where I am going to demo the combat  of the Introductory scene of  the D&D 5e Adventure, The Lost Mines of Phandelver.  This is in preparation of running the RPG session but for purposes of this log, I’m just going to run the combat with some generic characters and models I like,  No idea who the characters will in the  RPG session are yet but I assume similar since we are only using The basic profiles or the pre gens if they wish.  

Pre Game Notes

I’m running 5 characters as that’s what  we will be running in the session and characters are starting off at level 2 because I am going to level  them up as a milestone before  they hit the road. After watching  several good ‘advice” videos on running the game , it seems it still no fun to die in the first 20 mins of the game as a 1st level noob -even all these years later.

I wont  be using a grid, while some of my terrain is constructed with a built in grid, much isnt , I've been doing this long enough that I can accurately measure 1"-5' scale without need of a grid.

 The Characters for our combat sim all are level 2.

 Folke Hillsharp  - Human Ranger

Grond Mudrock- Half Orc Fighter

Brother Hammond- Human Cleric

Swift Felhand- Human Rogue

Vatanis Darkwhisper- Tiefling Warlock


Hired to deliver a wagon full  of supplies to the small mining town of Phandalin. The group’s employer is the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker who with his companion Sildar Hallwinter, rode out ahead of the group  the previous day to arrange for  the sale and delivery  of the goods. About a half day into groups  journey , they stop to  find what appears to be the pairs  horses, dead –  blocking the road.

Goblins- are the bad guys in the scenario, weak and cowardly they are alot tougher for low level characters in 5e because of the action/bonus action mechanic, the can attack, use stealth and hide all in the same turn , so they are not excellent at hit and run tactics.

Set up

Since the Character are level 2, I have increased the difficulty by adding two things”

+2 Goblins to a Total of 6

The goblins automatically all have Surprise on the Heroes the 1st round.

I unfortunately don’t have any dead horse models sans riders so the overturned cart is the scene of the fight while

Combat begins as soon as the PC’s approach either of the clue markers to investigate the dead horses

 About Surprise- The Goblins stealth check is +6 none of Characters passive perception is higher then  14, so for the initial encounter,  I gave them a 14 +6 = 20. Surprise in  5e simply means Characters who are Surprised do not act.


Our Rogue , Swift triggers the Ambush by investigating the saddle bags on one of the dead horses ,

Initiative is rolled

21 Swift Felhand, Rogue

20 Goblin #1 bow

16 Grond Mudrock, Fighter

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper, Warlock

15 Goblin # 2 bow

13 Goblin # 3  

11 Brother Hammond, Cleric

10 Goblin # 4 bow

9 Goblin # 5 bow

7 Folke Hillsharp, Ranger

6 Goblin # 6

 Goblins  # 1 and # 2 are on the hilltop to the upper left of the wreck , they both have bows and will shoot and then hide, they have advantage due to elevation shoot at the closest hero, Grond our Half orc fighter, who is 60 feet away . Grond is going to get +2 to his AC due to “half cover” from the Wagon

 Goblin  # 1  Fires an Arrow with Advantage , (highest of 2 dice)  Roll 8 +4  = 12 vs AC 21 miss

Goblin Hides  Roll 7 +6 = 13

Goblin # 2 Fires an Arrow with Advantage  Roll  17+4 = 21 vs AC 21 hit!

Grond gets hit early and keeps taking the hits, he's the only one thats damaged.

Grond  takes 5 damage.

Goblin then Hides Roll 17 =6 = 23!!

Goblin # 3 charges out some nearby brush  Dashing behind the Cart opposite Swift and Grond,

He will also try to hide under the cart and just out and attack anyone passing by , due to the proximity of the PC’s I give him a disadvantage (lowest of two dice) he rolls a 10 +6 = 16

Goblins # 4 and # 5 are on lower right side on a hillslope

Goblin # 4 has a shot at Swift , I give her half cover due to the trees, so shes AC 16

He shoots Roll 1, Miss

Hides 6 +6 =14

 Goblin #5 takes a Shot at Folke our Ranger, he has a clean line of sight at a 60 foot range

Against  AC 16

Roll 9 + 4= 13 miss!

Hides 10+6 = 16.

Goblins , bad aim..

 Goblin # 6 moves 20  feet  behind a log and starts jumping and down banging on his shield yelling obscenities in Goblin hoping to draw someone toward him so the the Goblin hiding behind the cart can attack,,

End of Round.



(Numbers are Initiative)

21 Swift Felhand, The Rogue she has a dagger, shortsword, light crossbow and leather armor.

goblin #4 is hidden on a 16, she must make a perception check against that at +4 , Roll  20 +4 +24…and spots him easily.

Swift ‘s action is to  shoot her light crossbow and Goblin # 4 who fired at her roll 18+5 =23 , even giving the goblin the same +2 she got as half cover  that is a Hit.. for 8+3= 11 piercing damage,,,that goblin takes in the face and drop dead…1 down.

She then can take a bonus action which is to DASH past Folke the Ranger to heavy cover and engage the Goblins on the big hill

The rogue with the 1st of 2 kills, no backstabbing necessary.


20 Goblin #1 bow

Comes out of Hiding to take another shot at Grond,, 9+4 =13 versus AC 21 with cover.  MISS
he hides again 18+6..=24 !!

16 Grond Mudrock, Grond has a Battle Axe, 3  Javelins, Chainmail and Shield.

Grond has had enough and is going to charge the hill,  his action is too  DASH 60 feet up the hill and right into those two goblin bowman , though they are hidden and he cant see them  even with great spot roll of 18 they are hidden on a 23 and 24

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper  has a staff, dagger and wears studded leather armor.

Has cover from the wagon between himself the hidden archer on the low hill, He sees the Goblin jumping up and down trying to draw attention to itself 80 feet away , he uses his bonus action to cast HEX, and then follows it up with an Eldritch Blast  roll 6 +5 =11, but against AC 17 with cover that’s a miss

15 Goblin # 2 bow

Comes out of hiding and shoot grond almost point blank roll 20+4 = 24 Critical hit! Ooof!

Grond  takes 10 damage from a goblin arrow.

Goblin tries to hide but at disadvantage this time Since Grond is right there..

Roll 2=4= 6…he’s attempt to hide is terrible..all the characters passive perception will see him


13 Goblin # 3   realizing he isn’t going to get anyone to fall for his ruse..DASHs up the hill and into mele with the badly wounded Grond he cant attack he used his full action to engage

Healing Word with a 60ft range is going to be handy.

11 Brother Hammond  Our Cleric who was driving the supply wagon , has a quarterstaff, a sling and wears Ringmail under his robes…he immediately use DASH to head toward Grond who is in trouble with low Health.  He get within 50 feet of Grond and uses his bonus action to cast Healing Word which heals Grond for  5 Hit Points!

10 Goblin # 4 bow  DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2

9 Goblin # 5 bow

Takes and another shot at Folke the Ranger  11+4 =15 vs AC 16 , miss just barely

The goblin moves 30 feet behind the large treeline and hides  7+4= 11..

 7 Folke Hillsharp Move over to the wagon and fires an arrow at the goblin on the hill Roll 7+5=12

It misses.

6 Goblin #6   moves up to the wagon keeping heavy cover

And hides hoping to sneak up on someone next round,  Hides 10+6 = 16.

End of Round




21 Swift Felhand

Her action is try to shoot the terribly hidden Goblin# 2 who hit Grond with the Critical, shes got a clean line of Sight Rolls a 11=5 for 16 vs Ac 15 then rolls 10 damage,

More lucky crossbow sniping from the Rogue., she actually has the "lucky' feat..didnt need it.

Shes got two kills…

20 Goblin #1 bow

Comes out of hiding to engage Grond on the hill as they now flank him on the hilltop and have advantage in their attacks,  Attacking with Advantage the Goblin gets the second critical hit of the game on poor Grond  doing 10 damage, Grond is barely standing at 2 Hp

16 Grond Mudrock

Finally some payback.

Grond Responds with an attack on Goblin # 1 from his battle axe roll 10+5 vs  AC 15  HIT!, 11 Slashing Damage cuts the Goblin down..

16 Vantanis Darkwhisper

Hex and Eldritch Blast = Vaporized Goblin

Vantanis moves up 30 feet  make a perception check and rolls 20..he seems him easily and corresponding Eldritch Blast is a hit with 17+5 for 22!  With this goblin already being Hexed  by Vantanis last round..the extra D6 basically vaporize this goblin with 16 damage!

15 Goblin # 2 bow DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 3

13 Goblin # 3   At this point this Goblin would normally try to flee but its engaged with Grond whose barely standing so he attacks 19+ 4= 22 , Grond takes 5 damage and collapses.. Goblin Runs off over the hill and hides  badly with a “6”

11 Brother Hammond

Again the Cleric uses DASH to reach the fallen Grond, and his Bonus action to cast Healing Word again and healing him 5 points again bringing back to 2 Hp

10 Goblin # 4 bow DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2


9 Goblin # 5 bow moves Hides again 22, Flees combat

this was the smart goblin, he ran.

7 Folke Hillsharp  quickly moves 30 feet to get a line of sight on the fleeing  goblin # 3 that put Grond down, since the goblin is fleeing , unhidden and he has clear LOS  I give Folke advantage on the shot, he rolls a 16 +5 for 21 vs AC 15 a Hit, and 8 damage  just puts the goblin down.

Very classic fantasy, shooting the fleeing guy in back as he runs away to warn the hideout, though one still got away

6 Goblin # 6  DEAD- Eldritch Blast, Hex, Vantanis Rnd 3

End of Round.


Combat Ends -Quick Recap

So 3 Full rounds in real time that battle lasted  less than 30 secs, Goblins opened fire via Ambush,  wounding Grond.

Swift Immediately returned fire killing the goblin shot at her and  moves to cover.

Grond Charges the Hill he was ambushed from , splitting the two goblins who were  moving  to melee shaving one follow him to engage while the other was blown to bits by Vantanis

3 goblins on the Hill engage Grond  where he takes two critical hits, he kills one of them, Swift shoots another, Despite Brother Hammond stepping up to support Grond with some Healing  the third Goblin manages to put Grond down but flees when Folke the Ranger puts an arrow into hits fleeing backside from about 80 feet killing him , Brother Hammond heals Grond before he even needs to begin making death saves while  the last goblin in good hiding position flees, and sulks off back to the hideout.

The Ranger then finds the Trail to the Goblin Hideout.

Nominibus Mortuorum

Cragmaw Tribe Goblins.-

#1 DEAD- Battle Axe, Grond, Rnd 3

#2 DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 3

#3 DEAD- Shot in the back while fleeing, Longbow, Folke. Rnd 3

#4 DEAD- Crossbow Shot, Swift. Rnd 2

#5 Escaped/ Fled

#6 DEAD- Eldritch Blast, Hex, Vantanis Rnd 3


Final thoughts , smooth and  fast, I was using an online die roller and they sometimes get a bit wonky I rolled 4 or 5 , 20’s in those quick 3 rounds every damage roll I did to a goblin was more than their 7 HP and that’s just luck…I’m going to run the next one with real dice, its lacks some of nuance of the usual skirmish games I play, but that because the GM involvement creates more wiggle room  than these games that are built to be competitive or even semi competitive.

Regardless its great practice for laying out what might happen in encounters in a real D&D games session, I suspect with bunch of rookie kids , I’ll need watch my aggression with the bad guys…

I’ll move on to the Cragmaw Hideout next,  I spent about 20 hours or so building the board , finally finding a use for the foam carving tools I got last Christmas, should be a fun one.

L to R  "The Crew" Grond, Brother Hammond, Folke, Swift, and Vatanis.

 To be continued....... 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

New Series: D&D tactics: 5E Style.

14 years of hobby/gaming blogging and scant mention of Dungeons and Dragons. Its interesting to note since D&D is literally what introduced me wargaming in the late 1970’s.  Other than brief mention of some OSR rules I used for an early version of my Blackbarrow Chronicles series I don’t think I have mentioned the worlds oldest roleplaying game at all, it doesnt even have a label and there is well over 100  labels in the sidebar.

 Let start with some backstory: As far gaming and this hobby goes I’ve been around a long time,  I go so far back that I played the original Dungeons and Dragons getting the “Holmes” Blue box when its was a "new thing"  back in the fall of 1977. That Summer two of my favorite movies of my adolescences came out , Star Wars and Ralph Bashki’s Lord of Rings,  I had local game store in my town that I used to go to easily a couple times a week and where my previous fix had been Airfix plastic soldiers. As all these new games started showing up and I was drawn to both D&D and its Sci Fi counterpart Traveller .  I remember taking the money I got for my birthday and getting that blue box and bunch of Heritage miniatures and rushing home with a gleam in my eye.

The box that started it all..

 My brother and I and some neighborhood kids , played D&D , and other RPG’s  close to weekly right thru about 1983…we had a heck of good time as kids but then inevitable other interests took over my late teens, then I was off to college and didn’t really do much gaming other than occasional  video games for a long time , so long In fact- I was like Gandalf disappearing for 17 years to search the archives of Minas Tirith.. ” as it was exactly 17 years before D&D and I crossed paths again.  Somewhere in 2000 rumblings of 3rd Edition caught my attention, I had missed the entire second edition of the game  with no interest in gaming at all other than some of the early gold box computer games.

 Out at a bookstore one day (we still did that back then ) I picked up some 3rd Ed books and soon enough thru the wonders of technology I got into some early online D&D gaming this was before things like Fantasy Grounds where you were just had a chat window and die roller and you could post images, we may have some type of trackable grid with chits , eventually I moved up into the early editions of Fantasy Grounds..I ran two online campaigns 3.0 and 3.5  with the latter burning out over the game becoming ridiculously overpowered and way over complicated with high level creatures with massive 2 page stat blocks and players showing up with some silly new book almost weekly giving them more and more super powered abilities it was to the point of crushing my old school sensibilities and I was done. 

 I was already doing plenty of PC gaming and getting into wargames at that point so D&D again disappeared into a box in the closet for another long sabbatical.  Not too long after that my incessant interest with vintage miniatures leads me to check out some Warhammer Fantasy and you can check out the last 14 years on this blog to see where it goes after that

Which leads me to the current date of 2020…43 years after getting that Holmes blue box,  My now 13 year old daughter after binging  “Stranger Things”  earlier this summer  comes home from a trip to Barnes and Noble with a bunch of manga books and  the 5th Ed D&D starter set.  Apparently All the wargames, miniatures and terrain and years of games in the basement rubbed off, “I thought you could run this for me and some friends since we have all the stuff, I heard its pretty fun” Done, and Done I said..

40+ years later........

 This was awhile back earlier in July , I off course had to do some research as I had no idea what was going on with the rules , I completely missed the 4th edition of the game (apparently no great loss) and D&D is now so mainstream, its crazy, with all the streamed gameplay and things on You Tube.  

 I was most surprised by the 5th ed rules out for like what ? 6 years now? I wasnt close to aware how "old school" these rules seem to me. Of course there is going to be some stuff I raise a 1st ed eyebrow to. But hey its 40+ years later and given the shit-show that was 3rd  edition? , I’m pleasantly surprised. ,I’ve watched a bunch of videos on running the game but that leads me to this series, what about the combats?

 Obviously- that’s my interests and I’m not going to hammer a bunch of teens with my uber nerd tactical combats that I spend much of my late nights running in the basement. For them its about the social aspects and story of the game

But as Im prepping for this , I am of course going to build some cool stuff, paint some miniatures and roll some dice because that’s what I like to do..

As I prep to run this great adventure “The lost mines of Phandelver” I am going to demo these combats so I can a run them properly during an actual D&D session and figure out how I can make this fun for them by getting my kicks now

If you've played this adventure you should instantly recognize this, more on how I built it later.
If your familiar with this adventure this should be instantly recognizable, more on how I made it in a future post.

Running these tactical battles and working out all  the rules, I already have the terrain all planned out for all but the last chapter , so I’ll run a couple of these write it up as a bat rep, and then I will run the the RPG session for the kids.

I’ve already built some great new stuff and its some prophetic how useful things like my modular tiles and skirmish dungeon and my Inn, suddenly become.  So this is going to keep me hoping the next couple months,  especially since I’ll want to squeeze a Rangers of Shadow Deep or Fallout Wasteland Warfare game in there as well..  so D&D Tactics, 5e Style coming up,  The first skirmish consists of two battles,  from Chapter 1 : Goblin Arrows.



Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Tale of Two Companies...

 While I'm currently working on something quite different than I have done in awhile for my next series of battle reports , I had incident happen in the last week that merits a post because both companies involved  deserve a mention for going above and beyond with their customer service . Its these little details that keep me coming back as a customer, and why I want fully endorse that you should too.

Here's the story: Earlier this month I needed  some miniatures for the current project I'm working on, some classic old school figs, that I was amiss to have " zero"  of in my collection of countless fantasy figures.

I knew Reaper Miniatures had the figures I was looking for but unfortunately  they aren't yet in cast in bones plastic  and probably won't ever be as they are quite old sculpts. A single blister of 3 was going to cost me about $20 before I either keep buying and go for free shipping or end up paying about 8 bucks per figure on a single blister as a solo purchase. This projects a "one off" and that's not the kind of cabbage I wanted to spend on what probably a one time encounter . so in comes eBay.

Browsing my saved sellers i find Noble Knight Games in nearby Wisconsin has the blister I'm looking for at about $11 and change so around roughly 33% discount. I've bought quite a few things  from them over the years  they often discount old stock and overstock items with reasonable and quick shipping . I have  never had an issue, buying from them so   I picked up a couple more things while I was at it and made my purchase

When the package shows up days later, all the items purchased are for this current project I'm well into -  so I crack it open and start prepping the figs for the paint bench. When I get to the blister in question I  open it,  then immediately notice it's missing a figure , weird?  I say , then I notice a sticker on the blister saying plain as day it's missing a figure ( obviously a mispack from Reaper they never returned and sold as a discount)  I'm somewhat peeved because , I'm like -how HELL did I miss this.?  Well NKG's listing didn't mention anything it in the listing title and they showed the stock photo with 3 figures in the listing. But down below in the listings small print in their full text description it clearly says - it's missing a figure , I then check my receipt and its listed  there too!.

Well at that point I'm figure I'm screwed, I've been an eBay 'er for 20 years now and I know better than to not read the fine print , but when its a saved seller you've never had an issue with, it's easy to get lazy and that's when you get bit, That's my only excuse, other than I just screwed up.

I sent a email off the NKG customer service  saying I'm not looking for a refund or anything , I'm a big boy and didn't read all the way thru the listing ,But i said please do us all a favor a mention this kind of thing in the damn listing title even a "2 of 3 "in the title  would have alerted me this was not a full blister. I was more annoyed with myself when I sent email and did not expect a response.

The next day I contact Reaper Miniatures  explaining the situation , That I accidentally  bought a mispacked factory blister from a 3rd party seller  , opened it and wondered if I could buy the single figure . I have been a customer long enough  to remember the old  days before  plastic Bones where they had a a " bones graveyard" where you could buy loose metal figures from blisters. 

Reaper  surprises me by not only saying sure! But only asking me to pay the shipping for the missing fig, I am of course saying, thank you , thank you . Now I have all 3 figures and I'm still slightly under retail and im reminded why I just should of have bought it from Reaper in the 1st place, because trying to bargain  shop sometimes is more trouble than the few bucks you save. Right? , 

Wrong, the next day, NKG customer  service gets ahold of me and says. " Hey, sorry- that sucks. We have a massive inventory and our system won't let us change catalog titles to mention things like that,  so detail are  always in the description. I know you weren't asking for anything in return but we are going to credit you $4 for the hassle. I'm like - Wow? ok thanks!

Not the ideal way to end up with 50% discount on an old blister but that's what I ended up with. 

The main reason I'm writing this is that in these difficult  times of social strife and division,  it's nice to see how just a simple misunderstanding can be easily  solved by just a little goodwill between people who don't even know each other. 

It  was nice to see it and brightened up what was otherwise a dour week. and as a result I have two virtual shopping carts loaded up and ready to go for new purchases from both places.

Hats off to both Reaper Miniatures  and Noble Knight Games , thanks all.


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