It's Christmas Eve and Santa is busy preparing for the night ahead. Suddenly, in the distance, there is a rhythmic, throbbing sound as battleaxes are beaten against shields. With a series of loud, whooping battle cries, hordes of rapacious barbarians appear on the skyline.
Alarms sound as Santa's helpers grab weapons and hastily muster outside his house. Fortunately for the big man in red, some tall, serious forest elves have come to visit their short, jolly cousins (and to check that they're not being exploited too much). These visitors are few in number, but expert with bow and spear; they'll be most welcome allies!
It's time for us to play my annual, Christmas game of Hordes of the Things, where Santa's army and a random ally stand up for all that's good and cheerful by fighting against the forces of gluttony, pillage and humbug!
Santa's army is used just this one time a year; it is described here for anyone who is interested:
Previous battles have mostly been victories for decency, truthfulness and mince pies - but not always:
- 2016: HotT: Santa vs the Barbarians
- 2015: A HotT day's work at Christmas
- 2014: HOTT: Christmas vs. Halloween!
- 2013: One of our Santas is missing
- 2012: HOTT: It Was The Week Before Christmas...
Red, White and Green
- Santa's army:
Aerial hero general, shooters, beasts, artillery and hordes of snowmen
- Forest elf detachment:
Hero general, shooters and spears. Note that this small force only came to 16AP instead of the more normal 24AP. We compensated for this by giving them Superior status. This isn't part of the Hordes of the Things rules, but comes from the DBM sister rule set. It gives them +1 to their combat result if they win whilst shooting and +1 if they lose while in melee.
Smelly and Unwashed
- 1st Barbarian tribe:
Hero general, 2nd hero, some shooters, lots of warband.
- 2nd Barbarian tribe:
Behemoth general and an even mix of warband & panther-riding knights.
Predictably, the barbarians surged forwards - though they didn't have enough PiPs (command points) to move their king. He was left behind, caught out by the over-enthusiasm of his tribesmen and women.
First blood went to the defenders as the toy cannon scored an unlikely direct hit with its opening shot. Scratch one warband!
On the other flank, the barbarian cavalry raced around the forest in a direct line for Santa's cottage! The ice bears had been attempting to reach the forest, knowing that they were outclassed in the open, but they had to turn at bay when confronted with this threat.
Fortunately for Santa's home, the nimble elves raced forwards and reached the crest of the hill just ahead of the foot barbarians. Even so, they looked horribly outnumbered...
The first line of barbarian cavalry smacked into the waiting ice bears, who - surprisingly - held [aided considerably by a misinterpretation of the rules].
An over-eager element from the second line of cavalry charged into the elf hero, who showed them very quickly how good a swordsman can be after 1,000 years of practice.
Meanwhile, in a bitter and long-fought contest, the elf archers held the hill against all comers.
The barbarians facing Santa continued to advance, though the weight of missile fire had broken up their lines somewhat. One warband peeled off to assist the behemoth in front of the wood; with this flank attack the facing ice bear didn't stand a chance.
On the other side, one of the units of elf spearmen turned to attack the first wave of barbarian cavalry in the rear. This was now caught in a sandwich between the elves and the remaining bears and was destroyed with ease.
Elsewhere, the elf hero was attacked by the second wave of mounted barbarians, whilst the warbands and elf archers continued to wrestle for possession of the hill.
The leading barbarian warbands finally made contact with Santa's line and immediately destroyed the toy cannon. Santa counter-attacked and wiped out these intruders...
...whilst elsewhere the elf commander and his spearmen wiped out the remaining barbarian panther riders. [That's a contest which was only ever going to end one way! The only question was how long it would take the disciplined elf infantry to obliterate the rash cavalry, rather than if it would happen at all.]
It was about this point that we realised that the barbarian's Behemoth General (the wooly rhino) couldn't be pushed back [at least, not by any of the units belonging to the forces of light. It would take another behemoth, a magician or the like and we didn't have any of those.]. That meant the only way to destroy it would be to double its combat score in a melee - but even if the behemoth was surrounded on all sides this would be a difficult thing to achieve.
OK, new plan: use spearmen [who stood a very good chance of surviving its attacks, even if they couldn't defeat it themselves] to occupy the rhino and kill all the other barbarians in that command until the monster becomes demoralised and therefore no longer a threat!
On the right, a barbarian hero had reached the waiting lines of snowmen and was busy demolishing them. With the loss of the ice bears and the toy cannon, Santa's army was perilously close to breaking. On top of this, even if the behemoth had been stopped, there were other barbarians who now had a nearly clear run at Santa's house. Help!
And still the elven archers and the barbarians jostled, shoved, scratched, stabbed and bit for possession of the hill. Occasionally an elf element would be pushed back and the barbarians would flood forward, but somehow the elves always managed to restore the line and hold the attackers.
OK, first things first: the newly-victorious elf hero charged into the flank of the engaged warbands on the hill. His arrival changed the balance of the fight completely and as the tired archers cheered, the general and his bodyguards swept along the line of barbarians dealing death and destruction to all. That's one barbarian command reduced below half strength and thoroughly demoralised!
Next act: while more elf spearmen rushed to help pin down the behemoth, Santa flew his sleigh towards the most vulnerable-looking of the various scattered warbands and crushed it completely. He then took to the skies again, thus making himself pretty much immune to counter-attack [or so I thought!].
Simultaneously, more snowmen were formed in front of the house. At least the barbarians wouldn't be sacking his workshop that easily!
Remember the barbarian king, who had been left behind when his whole tribe surged forwards right at the start of the game? Well, he was in range to reach Santa (just). Also, in Hordes of the Things, a Hero can choose to initiate combat with a flyer [presumably they taunt them into accepting a challenge, or trick them into landing, or have physical powers or magic items which enable them to fight in mid air, if only briefly...]
Santa was forced to land and fight, at which point one of the nearby Barbarian warbands charged into his flank as well. With the odds slightly against him the man in red was defeated and vanished, leaving his sleigh to be ransacked and broken!
Unsurprisingly, this demoralised the remainder of Santa's troops; most of them fled off the board immediately. Just 2 bases of nervous snowmen were left to defend the house.
With the big man down, it was up to the elves to protect Santa's domain. The spearmen were still occupied in corralling the behemoth and the archers were a long way off. The task fell to their hero; he raced across the battlefield before the scattered barbarians could regroup and advance [remember, heroes can move a very long way in HotT!].
The remaining barbarians could almost smell the plunder now. Their lesser hero raced past the North Pole to engage some of the demoralised snowmen who were the sole remaining defenders. Astonishingly, the barbarians slipped on an icy patch and the melee was an inconclusive draw.
In the middle, the barbarian king saw the elf hero approaching. He wasn't one to shirk a fight; with a mighty bellow, he charged his foe. This single combat would pretty much decide the outcome of the battle!
It wasn't to be, though. The elf hero quickly sent his challenger to the halls of his ancestors and with that, the second barbarian tribe became demoralised and the remnants started to flee from the battlefield. And they had been so close to taking Santa's toyshop!
Well, it's a win for the forces of good, if not for Santa personally. After this, the visiting elves are going to have to sing laments for the dead at the same time as putting in many hours in the workshop making presents (and a new sleigh) in time for Christmas. And they were worried about their short, chubby kin being exploited!
No elves were killed in the making of this battle. The forest elves didn't take a single casualty and Santa's short, round elf shooters ran away rather than wait to be annihilated. Of course, lots of snowmen, bears, panthers and barbarians perished!
Man of the match: for me, it has to be the elf general. Although he did have some very easy match-ups for most of the game, his contribution was enormous. He personally destroyed at least 4 barbarian elements and then finished this off with a successful duel against the enemy king.
I suspect that the dispirited and sullen Barbarian behemoth is still standing near to Santa's house, quietly sulking...