Wednesday 12 June 2013

HOTT: The Tower in the Wastelands


So, we're playing Hordes of the Things this week at the games club.  As usual, I'm providing all the forces and the terrain, which gives me the right to decide exactly how to set up the game.

When we last saw them, my Goblin army and my other 'evil' army, The Cabal of the Black Hand, had both been roundly defeated by the forces of good.  Now they are both combing the wastelands, looking for a new base from which to plot their nefarious schemes!

In the same area as the wandering armies is the Dark Tower, home to a very powerful hermit wizard.  Conveniently, the wizard has just died (probably caused by something he summoned) and thus the Dark Tower is vacant, protected only by whatever traps and enchantments he may have left there.  This would make an ideal base for any evil overlord, so all armies in the wastelands are heading straight for it as soon as the news reaches them.


This will be another big-battle game, with 3 commands of 24AP on each side.  Special rules as follows:
  • Neither side has a stronghold of their own.  Instead, the Dark Tower is placed in the centre of the board.  It counts as a stronghold and can be attacked by either side.  Victory at the end of the game (i.e. when time runs out and we have to pack up) is decided solely on possession of the tower: the last side to capture it will win!  Note that the tower cannot be garrisoned or make attacks of its own, but will always defend at full [stronghold] strength.
  • Before deployment, each side rolls a single d6.  The winner can choose to start setting up first and take the first turn, or to set up second and move second.  When deploying, each side takes it in turn to place one command at a time, anywhere along their base line or along their left flank (but not within 12" of any already-deployed enemy unit).  Any returning hordes or heroes escaping from ensorcelment  will come back at this position as well.
As can be seen from the picture above, the Goblins spread their forces along their own baseline and their extreme left flank.  In contrast, the 3 commands of the Cabal army were tightly packed (and in some very unusual formations as well!).

The Game

In their very first turn, the masses of Goblins surged forward.  Their rider general and his bodyguard reached the Dark Tower, defeated the protections and raised their standard from the highest point!

As the goblin cavalry swept on past the tower, the Cabal's response was disjointed.  Two necromancers rode out from the central command so that they could cast black magics (ineffectually) on a far-off troll.  This had a couple of consequences: firstly it used up most of that command's PIPs and so nothing else in the centre could move.  Secondly, the pair of magicians were now obstructing the corner command, so its infantry couldn't move to where it desired.

The North East

The wolves from the goblin flanking force and their troll raced forward, eager to catch the nearest Cabal command in the flank.  Low command rolls and an awkward deployment caused real problems for this undead brigade, but they did manage to defend with some skeletal horsemen as a stopgap.

Soon, the goblin warlord from the central command joined in, bringing his wolf riders with him.  The Cabal's magician general was forced into melee in a desperate attempt to survive.  Yet, even though the situation looked hopeless, he somehow managed to find the occasional reinforcement, win the important dice rolls and otherwise hold on until the end of the game.  The goblins were furious at being frustrated in this way!

The South

Separating himself from the tangled mess of deployment, the Cabal's only hero galloped to the top of the central ridge.  He reached the feature just in time to see the plains on the far side boil with approaching goblin hordes.  Anyone fancy a game of "King of the Hill"?  One undead lord against half the goblins in the world!

At the other end of the ridge, there was a troll.  It started to climb the hill, only to find itself face-to-face with some spirits.  I guess that trolls aren't imaginative enough to believe in ghosts; the resulting combat was predictably indecisive as neither side was able to hurt the other.

The wraiths drifted through the troll and carried on down the hill.  Near the foot, they encountered and attacked one of the goblin generals and his bodyguard.  Large swarms of giant bats joined in from all sides and the goblin chief was terrified into an early death!  The bats then flew off elsewhere.
The goblin bodyguard spent a number of turns trying to exact some revenge on the phantasms, but were completely unable to touch them.

The troll, on the other hand, just shrugged as the spirits moved through it.  Instead, it carried on stalking the wight who was busy ploughing through hordes of goblins.  This time it was the behemoth that had a height advantage; he flattened the undead hero with one swing of his huge club.  Moral: if you're going to play "king of the hill" then stay on the top of the hill, not the lower slopes!

The goblin right wing then poured over the hill; only a few desperate magicians were close enough to try to hold them up!

The End

As the battle came to a close, the Cabal's forces looked increasingly beleaguered on all fronts.  Apart from a few outliers, they were being driven into an ever-decreasing perimeter.  As this happened, their remaining forces became more and more constricted - if they were in each others' way before then they were even more so now!  But...

In the very last turn of the game, a base of ghosts (which could move through any enemies) and another of bats (which could move over enemies) slipped past the goblin stragglers and assaulted the Dark Tower.  This wasn't the first time in the game that the Cabal had attempted to take the stronghold, but all previous attempts had been by individual units and had failed miserably.  Everyone held their breath and predictably enough, on the last dice throw of the game, the sneaker captured the tower.  Victory to the Cabal!


Well, that was unexpected!
  • Firstly, I had imagined when setting these 2 armies against each other that there would be vast blocks of horde troops slugging it out with each other.  However, both sides relied almost entirely on their non-horde units, only moving the latter when they had a surfeit of PIPs (command points).  So the battle was really fought between beasts and riders, behemoths, magicians and heroes and so on.
  • Secondly, I think the goblins took their eye off the all-or-nothing victory condition.  Despite some terrible deployment (from which they never really recovered), the Cabal made very effective use of their more mobile units; the sneakers and flyers.  The goblins didn't really have any counter to this.
Man of the match (I use the word "man" in a figurative sense only!):
  • Goblins: probably the southern troll.  He (or she?) stalked and destroyed an undead hero and then led a ravening horde on a wild charge.  It also wasn't scared of no ghosts!
  • Cabal: definitely the last base of sneakers.  Even though other such phantasms had been chased off without achieving anything useful, this one gave a heart attack to a goblin warchief and went on to capture the stronghold (admittedly with assistance on both occasions).  It also said "boo" to a troll, only to discover that trolls don't really know about ghosts.


  1. Looked like a lot of fun, and what a lot of goblins. Iam not very familiar with this game but does it play anything like warhammer fantasy?

    1. Not really. Warhammer Fantasy is highly complex and ever-changing, whereas HOTT was designed as a "fast play" set of rules. Some people regard HOTT as one of the best sets of rules ever printed; it gets a very respectable rating of 7.27 on . And it's free: !

      Some reviews:


    2. Thanks for the links, iam going look into this game.

  2. Another epic game where the bad guys win (though hardly surprising in this case).
    I don't often chortle out loud reading an AAr, but I did reading this- highly entertaining .

    1. Thanks, Joe. Definitely a surprise ending (and yes, trolls are really dumb!).

  3. Great game. Sneakers are just sneaky. Gotta love Trolls.

    1. Sneakers usually don't achieve much, but in this game they were decisive. As for trolls, just point them in the right direction and stand back!