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Tyranny of Goblins
Design & Development
By Chris Dupuis

D ungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins is the third faction pack for the Dungeon Command miniatures skirmish game. Don’t know about Dungeon Command? It’s all explained here.

Now that you’ve had a taste of the first two faction packs, you have a good idea of what to expect in future ones. More creatures, more order cards, more fun! But the recipe for designing a faction pack for Dungeon Command is not as simple as just repeating the steps we used in the game’s creation.

One Game, Two Audiences

As a starting goal, we want all of the faction packs to balance well against each other. During development, we playtest a new faction pack by pitting it against other faction packs right out of their boxes (including the new pack itself). We want a player to be able to grab any of the Dungeon Command faction packs off the shelf and be able to field a competitive army.

Of course, we also want to feed cards into the larger competitive environment. So after we look at the balance of a complete faction pack, we then look at how that pack’s cards will influence constructed play.

The need to have each faction pack serve both of these functions is what makes the design work so challenging (and so rewarding, once we’re done).


We began designing this goblin-themed faction pack by considering what creatures we wanted to include:

  • Goblins: Goblins were a must, of course. We wanted the goblins to work together well with the drow, since they both have mechanics based on Dexterity.

  • Bruisers: Hobgoblins and bugbears were great flavorful allies that naturally fit into the faction, and the feral troll brought the right sense of unstoppable mayhem. All of these creatures rely on a large pool of hit points, and through them we could for the first time bring Constitution Order cards into the game.

  • Natural Leaders: Goblin warbands are ragtag groups, and they needed leaders to keep them in line. So we gave some of the creatures the Charisma ability, allowing them to use Charisma Order Cards. These let them take actions that benefit other members of their warband.

Faction Framework

From that starting point, we built the framework of our creature deck and began figuring out which abilities would be on which creatures (we wound up with a faction that included seven creatures with DEX, five with CON, four with CHA, two with STR, and one with INT). That list gave us the structure for our Order Card deck. We knew that we’d need a lot of Dexterity, but Constitution and Charisma would play a big part in the deck as well.

Key Creatures

Below are a few of the most iconic creatures to be found in the Tyranny of Goblins faction pack.

No, that melee attack of “0” is not a typo. He hits hard at range, but in melee, he’s a coward. He does still have a melee attack value though (as opposed to the units that have a blank area in their ranged attack section of the Creature Card, meaning that they can’t make ranged attacks at all). So if you have a way to increase that melee attack above zero, he can actually hit adjacent creatures.

We created the Goblin Wolf Rider to be a fast threat on the battlefield that could quickly come to the aid of allied troops. However, as we began developing the set’s creature abilities, we realized if we gave him the Rider ability, he would have an alternate use a troop deployment tool.

The Bugbear Berserker is one of the most versatile creatures in the faction pack. Thanks to his power, if you position him well, he has the ability to cleave through multiple creatures in a single activation.

We knew the goblins were going to have low hit points (they are goblins after all), so we wanted to give them a leader that could help them stay alive. Eventually, we loved his ability so much that we made it so he grants it to hobgoblins and bugbears, as well.


Tyranny of Goblins includes four new tiles, with new artwork by Jason Engle. We try to make each faction’s tiles feel visually suited to that faction, and in this set we added touches like the overturned burning cart, the obscured treasure spaces, and (on the dungeon side of the tiles) we introduced obstacle terrain in the form of doors.

The most important thing when designing the tiles for a faction pack is that its terrain plays to the strengths and abilities of the set’s creatures. If any of the creature’s abilities refer to a terrain type or special space, those details need to be included on the tiles. In this set, the Hobgoblin Sorcerer requires a magic circle to trigger his power, so we needed to include at least one on the terrain tiles.

Just the Beginning

Thanks for checking out this article. Come back next week, when I’ll discuss the design of the Commanders and the Order Cards. And be sure to check out your local gaming store on September 18th, when Tyranny of Goblins releases! Point your browser here to find stores in your area that are organizing Dungeon Command events.

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