Okay, goblins are tough, but they’re not THAT bad. They’re a danger in the early game, sure, and you can lose some guys to them in the late game if you’re really unlucky, but you generally shouldn’t have any trouble defeating them if you can make it to the late game.
I’ll be assuming in this post, however, that you’re fighting them in the early game.
Goblins have a high defense, sure – but their HP is horrible. A stray breeze knocks them dead. They also don’t deal very much damage save for the Overseers, and the wolf-riders are honestly a laughable threat. Goblin melee damage is awful.
The main dangers when fighting goblins are:
1) The archers, and…
2) The shamans.
Given that, you should equip yourself differently when going up against Goblins. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of winning.
First: Get Kite Shields or Feral Shields; those will help you deal with their ranged attacks. Don’t worry about wasting your movement points putting up a shield wall, though; chances are you’ll need those movement points.
Second: When you start the battle, count how many archers they have. If they’re got a lot of them, they’re going to be your priority to kill… and the best way to do so is to back up. I know that sounds weird, but that forces the archers to step forward to shoot at you, and it lets you reposition and find better vantage points from which to fight. Indeed, doing this seems to make the pikemen lurk along the sides or even behind the archers, making it easier for you to rush forward and deal with them (or to rush forward and release the hounds).
Third: Speaking of releasing the hounds, dogs are great. 2-3 cheap dogs released at a line of exposed archers will keep them from firing arrows for a turn or two, and should give you time to engage yourself. Is it costly? A little. I’d argue it’s worth it.
Fourth: Your biggest problem arises when there’s a shaman in their ranks. That shaman can immobilize several guys at once, so if you fight one, stay spread out. Keep a loose formation until you can engage.
And finally: If you lose a battle where you have 30 guys vs. their 6 and you lose, either the RNG hates you or you really need to rethink how you play this game.
Goblins aren’t unstoppable. They’re rough, and they force you to play the game differently than you might play against other enemies. Indeed, whenever we can finally have more than 12 guys in our army (I assume we’ll eventually have reserves), I’m probably going to make a few Anti-Goblin tanks with high ranged defense and kite shields. Until then, you just need to fight them carefully, use dogs as distractions, or else throw human meatshields you don’t care about forward as bait. Step back, let them expose their archers, and then go for the kill.
They’re way easier for me to fight than an army of Vampires, Fallen Heroes and Necromancers, I’ll tell you that.