Wednesday 30 May 2012

HOTT: The defence of the Tower Perilous


For some time now, I've had it in mind to play a triple-sized game of Hordes of the Things (HotT) at the Helensburgh Games Club.  Yesterday evening it all came together: I finally had enough bases for 72AP from each of my 2 largest ex-Warhammer armies and there were enough players for 3 on each side.  Game on!


The Knights of Lyonesse own a small fortress (the "Tower Perilous") close to the Black Mountains.  This is used to hold political exiles, recalcitrant princesses or spare Holy Grails; whatever might be needed at the time.  Normally the tower would be safe enough against attack, but recently the Black Mountain Goblins have united their normally fractious tribes into a large and dangerous alliance.  The Knights have assembled a glittering array of the finest warriors in the kingdom to deal with the new menace.

The Knights are to the left of the picture above.  From the front:
  • Right wing: Sir Vergain du Droit (Knight General), Sir Alain Fleury (Aerial Hero), lots of knights, some infantry and riders
  • Centre: Lord Vesper de Centres (Knight General, Commander-in-Chief), Sir Roger the Castellan (Hero), Saint Florence of Artenay (Paladin), lots of knights, few infantry.
  • Left: Le Seigneur de Gauches (Knight General), the enigmatic Red Knight (Hero), lots of knights, some infantry.
The goblins are to the right.  Presumably they have names, but these are not pronounceable in any human tongue.  They have a fair number of trolls (Behemoths), wolves (Riders and Beasts), a few larger goblins (Warband) and countless hordes.  Oh, also they have a crude bolt-thrower (Artillery) somewhere in the centre.

The Charge of the Heavy Brigade

Straight away, the massed band of trolls in the goblin's centre-left charged forward as fast as they could.  At the same time, the goblin left wing and the infantry from the knight's right wing both advanced to contest the hill in the foreground.

The trolls met the advancing knights with a resounding crash.  Although they killed some knights, the rest fought back with vigour - possibly their nerve was strengthened by the presence of Saint Florence!  Inevitably, the two lines broke up into a swirling, confused melee.

While the attention of the goblin chieftains was on the big fight in the centre, the right wing infantry managed to climb to the summit of the near hill.  The odds against them looked formidable, but if they could advance a little further then they would be fighting downhill and this would give them quite an advantage.

To distract the goblins, Sir Alain spurred his winged horse across the battlefield, over the heads of the masses and landed behind the hill.  He immediately charged a group of goblins who had become separated from the mass.

Goblins on the Move

The far wing of the goblin army started to curve in towards the centre, threatening Sir Roger and even Lord Vesper himself!  Meanwhile, despite pleas for them to advance, the forces of Le Seigneur de Gauches stood impassively behind the river.

In the middle, the trolls caused mayhem - even Saint Florence herself was nearly killed, let alone the lesser knights.  Finally, however, forces from the knights' right and centre commands managed to surround some of the monsters and kill one.

Sir Alain was in trouble.  Astonishingly, his first attack had failed to rout the goblin horde (tied combat result!).  Immediately, more and more hordes engaged him, denying his mount the opportunity to take to the skies again.  Even when he did kill any of them, further hordes just kept pouring into the fight.  A fast unit of riders was sent to help, but they were blocked and unable to join him.

Death of a Hero

Even as Saint Florence killed the second of the trolls, the third one threw a huge rock at Sir Vergain (the right wing's general).  The boulder knocked the knight from the saddle, whereupon the disgusting creature stomped on him.

Retaliation was swift, as Saint Florence led the attack on the surrounded behemoth.  It didn't really stand much of a chance against the mass of enraged chivalry.

Sir Alain fought valiantly, but there were just too many enemies.  Eventually he fell, mortally injured.  Both the hero and his mount disappeared beneath a wave of shrieking goblins.

 The foot soldiers who had been valiantly contesting the top of the near hill saw their hero fall and vanish.  This was the final straw; their general was dead along with some of his knights and now their last hope was gone.  Demoralised, the knight army's right wing started to disintegrate and flee.


Back on the far end of the field, the goblin right wing was putting pressure on the knights' centre.  Sir Roger the Castellan had fallen, but the attackers had become dangerously split up and disorganised by the fighting.  At this moment, Le Seigneur de Gauches (the left-wing general) chose to act.  So far, his entire force had stood still throughout the battle.  He now ordered them to advance across the river, intending to take advantage of the goblin's disarray.

With a whoop of joy, every goblin within sight turned as one and charged down the hill, catching the knights as they scrambled to climb the riverbank (if ever there was a good time to throw a '6' for PiPs, this was it!).

Many of the knights fell before the fierce assault, unable to rise from the cold waters, though a few were made of sterner stuff and fought back.  de Gauches and some of his companions made their way onto dry land, only to face the (left-wing) goblin chieftain himself!  Isolated and at a tactical disadvantage, the Seigneur de Gauches fell to his opponent and the knights' left wing was suddenly leaderless and in disarray!  Although the Red Knight attempted to stem the flood, the goblins swarmed across the river.

The Final Curtain

In desperation, Lord Vesper and Saint Florence charged into the middle of the opposing army with only a few scattered troops to support them.  They killed a fair number of the horde, but not enough.  As night fell, they were still fighting, but more and more goblins were closing in...

Sunday 27 May 2012

Army Showcase: HOTT Kung Fu

Army Showcase: HotT Kung Fu



One of the things I like about the Hordes of the Things (HotT) wargaming rules is their incredible versatility when it comes to creating an army.  The publication even gives a lot of suggested army lists for a wide range of genres.  This is is just such an example; it's my take on the (good) Kung Fu army, made with 28mm figures.  These are the heroes who defend remote villages from their oppressors, who stand for truth and justice, who fight against corruption and inequality and who kill legions of bad guys with their bare hands.

The Leaders

The army is led by Li Feng, a warrior with enemies at court.  He is a hero general (worth 4AP) and is always closely followed by Mai Ling.  On the surface she's an apprentice hero who wants to see the world, but secretly she has quite a crush on Li Feng.  Figures are from Hasslefree's range of martial artists.
Note that in HotT, heroes have a large movement allowance.  Normally this would reflect the use of a horse or perhaps another type of steed.  However, I think the fast movement still works for these heroes on foot as well.  Firstly, many Chinese heroes can perform superhuman feats, including running faster than arrows or cars (let alone a mere horse).  Secondly, it may just reflect the hero's innate ability to be in the right place at the right time.

The army has another hero (4AP) called Lin Jie.  Jie is a martial arts master who has devoted his life towards perfecting his skill.  He also has a sidekick; in this case the comic relief in the form of Fu Peng.  Despite his bad haircut and his strange antics, Peng is quite a decent fighter in his own right.  These miniatures are also from Hasslefree.


Spiritual support comes from Abbot Chao Kung (cleric: 3AP).  He is, of course, well practiced in protection against the dark arts and other such ethereal issues.  However, if a more physical defence is required then his loyal deacon (known only as "Mountain") will intervene.  Models are from Black Hat Miniatures "Tales of the Dragon Kings" range.

The Troops

The more mundane elements start with 4 elements of blades (total of 8AP).  These are the better-armed villagers - possibly ex-soldiers or reformed bandits.  The figures are from Redoubt Enterprises "Boxer Rebellion" swordsmen.

A Kung Fu army that fights to defend a small settlement wouldn't be complete without the peasants.  So here are 5 horde elements (5AP) to finish it off.  There's even the village matriarch in the second rank, egging on all the farmers and local tradesmen.  These are from Curteys Miniatures Sung Chinese range - the Rabble and Peasants packs, if I remember correctly.

The Stronghold

The village is represented by a single outlying house.  It doesn't really look that defensible, but maybe there's a ditch or paddy field just in front of it to make an assault more difficult.  The model is a cheap woodcraft kit that I found through eBay.  It's had some filler applied to cover some of the corner joints.  Although I've painted it, the house really needs a bit more work on it - but I'm clean out of inspiration for such a job.

How does it play?

In theory, the 2 heroes and the blades make up a very powerful strike force.  They do need to be supported by the cleric, else the heroes will be vulnerable to magicians.  The hordes are really there to guard the flanks, although they're more of a speed bump than a significant holding force.  Overall, the army might struggle against a very mobile opponent in open terrain, just like any other mostly-infantry force.


So there we are: 24AP worth of Kung Fu heroes and their sidekicks and allies.  Now all I need is for some black-clad marauders to try to terrorise their village.  No Mexican banditos need apply...

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Settlement: When Tribes Collide...

Club Tuesday

Tonight at the Helensburgh games club, most of the older members were rejuvenating some of the house terrain, which had become somewhat battered with heavy use.  It was left to me to host a game for the younger members and for any others who didn't wish to paint.  I chose to bring Prehistoric Settlement.

Prehistoric Settlement

Prehistoric Settlement is an empire-building game by Steve Barber Models.  As might be expected from the title, it's set in the stone age, though this probably owes more to Hollywood's vision of those times than to any real paleolithic struggle for existence.  Each side starts with just a handful of cavemen who have to acquire resources (flint and food) as well as defend against perils (mostly other cavemen, but also mammoths, sabre-tooth cats and the like on occasion).  Resources are spent to expand the side's settlement with new and better tents and also to recruit more cavemen.

The Game

The game began with the small tribe who called themselves the Wolf People (grey furs, brown hair) surveying the land before them.  There were trees for shade, a river for water and they could see a few deer grazing close by.  There were even several likely locations where good quality flint might be found.  It seemed like a veritable paradise.  Little did the Wolf People know that on the far side of the volcano, the Bear Clan (brown furs, blond hair) laid claim to the same lands!

The Wolf People decided to start a settlement near the forest and flint mine, south of the volcano.  Initial work went swiftly; a tent was erected and a berry picker was recruited.

To the north of the volcano, the Bear Clan proceeded in much the same way.  They were slightly luckier though; there were more deer close at hand and so the hunting was better.

Tensions rose when the Wolf People chased a deer round the volcano and killed it within sight of the Bear Clan's chieftain!

A hastily-thrown spear injured the interloper's chief, but although there was much posturing, nothing else happened - for a while.

The Wolf People stood and waited.  Their chieftain had a plan: his builder would come forward and construct a tent nearby, well inside Bear Clan territory.  The tribe could then recruit more warriors just where they were needed!

However, the defenders sensed something of the threat.  They started to move to surround the grey-clad foreigners, whilst also bringing up some reinforcements.

Then, disaster struck the Wolf People.  Who knows which god or gods they had offended, but for 2 turns running they suffered a calamity!  Firstly, immediately after their builder completed the nearby tent storms and high winds caused them to miss a turn.  Then on the turn following that, a cyclone struck!  Most of the force was felt back in their homelands, where their only berry picker was lost.  This, along with the expense of constructing the second tent, left the Wolf People very low on food.

In desperation, the Wolf People's chief and his attendants charged the Bear Clan's isolated chieftain.  Although they did manage to wound him, the attacking leader took a second wound in return.

The Bear Clan weren't going to stand by idly, so their tribesmen rushed in to assist their leader.  Even as the Wolf People's new tent started to produce warriors, both chieftains killed each other in the ensuing melee!


The Wolf People, impoverished by the construction of their second tent and the recruitment of a spearman from it, couldn't afford the 100 food needed to elect a new chief.  The Bear Clan were rich enough, so they buried their fallen leader with honours and then appointed a clubman as his successor, while their dispirited enemies were broken and scattered.  The tribe of the Wolf People was no more!

Sunday 20 May 2012

ATZ Campaign, Game 4: Quarantine!


It seems that some of my family have become interested in ATZ, at least to the extent of wishing to see their games made public via this blog.  My brother visited us this weekend, so we played another game in my campaign series.  I'm not at all sure that we can or will maintain this rate, but for now, here it is...


"But officer, our homes are over there!" Bomber explained to the cop.  He, John and Terry had been out on a walk into a neighbouring district to look for food, only to discover when attempting to return that the police had cordoned off the area.  There were roadblocks on all the streets and no-one was being allowed in or out.
"I'm sorry" replied the policeman.  "Please go back the way you came.  Our orders are clear: you may not pass!"
John tugged at Bomber's sleeve.  "Come on" he said.  Then, more quietly "There may be somewhere else where the cordon isn't so well established.  We might be able to get through there..."

The police have set up roadblocks across the far end of the game board.  John, Bomber and Terry have to get past in order to return home.  Of course, they're not the only ones with the same idea.
There are several PEFs (possible enemy forces) on the edges of the map and more may appear as the game progresses; the players can choose any one to be their group of characters...

The north-western roadblock
The north-eastern roadblock

Sneaking About

John and Bomber chose to approach the abandoned garbage truck, whilst Terry investigated the garage a little further on.  "Hey!" called Bomber.  "Someone left the keys in this one!  Do you think it still goes?  Maybe we could use it to crash through the roadblock?"
"Um, I don't know" replied John.  "I was hoping for something a little lower profile.  I don't really want the cops to be shooting at me or chasing us.  Let's see if we can find another way first; we'll come back to this if we need to."

Terry signaled urgently to them and mimed lifting up the garage door.  "What's up with him?" queried Bomber.
"I think that garage is unlocked.  Perhaps we could find a way through there" answered John.


As the party investigated the eastern side of the map, a small blue car came from the south-west.  It contained 3 teenagers; when the driver saw the police roadblock, she hesitated.  Then, egged on by her friends, she accelerated and drove straight at it in an attempt to break through.  Most of the cops just stood and waved at her to stop, but when it became obvious that she had no intention of doing so then officer Starsky fired his shotgun at the vehicle.  He blew out the windscreen and severely wounded the driver; the car slid to a halt in a mess of barriers.

Within moments, the vehicle was surrounded by angry policemen.  "Get out of the car!  Now!" Starsky yelled at the 2 passengers.  "Dalgliesh - call for an ambulance!"


While the police were making their arrests, a group of civilians appeared near the subway entrance.  It appeared to be a family group, but there was something furtive about the way they moved.  "What do you think they're doing?" asked John, as he peered round the garbage truck.
"Looters, maybe?" said Bomber.  "Looks like they're up to no good, anyway".  This was confirmed as the newcomers broke open the door to the bookshop and vanished inside.

Only moments later, however, the looters came running out again.  "Looks like they found something they didn't like!" grinned Bomber, as a low moan was heard from the direction of the store.


Close by, on the west side of the map, a strange collection of civilians came round the corner and into sight of the police barricade.  2 of them were weaving about as they walked and were obviously drunk, while the others were obviously agitated about something.

As the family of looters ran past them, some of the civilians looked round.  Most just carried on up the street, towards the police, but 2 of the least fit ones saw the zombies that were following the looters out of the bookstore.  They both started to point and scream!
The terrified citizens stood rooted to the spot, when a further patrol car came round the corner of the road.  It swiftly drove past and then turned so as to interpose itself between most of the zombies and the people.
A shotgun blast rang out from the car window, felling one zombie.

Even as zombies started to pour into the area from the size streets and (especially) from the subway entrance, 2 men leaped out of the stalled vehicle.  Detective Lestrade kept the zombies from the subway at bay with his shotgun, whilst officer Columbo watched the side street.  "Go!  Run!" he called to the 2 screaming civilians, as he hustled them up the road.

Man Down!

Further up the street, near the quarantine barrier, the policemen were having a hard time.  Initially, Starsky had refused to let any of the civilians approach the barricade, but officer Clouseau had more heart.  "They're people, sarge!" he called.  "We can't send them back - they'll die!"  As the sergeant dithered, a stray zombie from the basketball court  attacked one of the drunks and felled him.

 Without hesitation, handler Clouseau and his dog (Rex) waded in to rescue the injured man.  They destroyed the zombie and then started to drag the drunk back towards the rest of the cops.

As they did so, the ambulance arrived at the north-western barrier.  Hearing all the noise, officer Krupke left the north-eastern barrier and headed towards the fracas.  "Stay here!" he called to the rookie officer Cagney.  "Don't let anyone through.   I've got to help over there!"

At the junction, Lestrade called out "Columbo!  I can't hold them - there are too many!" as more and more zombies poured out of the subway.
"OK, let's get out of here" answered the other cop.  Both of them started to back up the street towards the barricade, gunning down any zombie that came too close.

Back at the Garage

"They sound pretty busy over there.  Now's our chance; let's go!" shouted John.  He and Bomber heaved up the door of the garage and rushed inside.  There was an occupant, of course: a single zombie was clearly trying to get out of the other door, towards the noise.  It was all too easy; John distracted it whilst Bomber felled it with his baseball bat.  Terry grabbed several packets of cookies off the bench.  "What?" he asked as the others stared at him.  "It's not as if he needs them any more".  John glanced briefly around; there were some car keys on the key rack, but they weren't labelled and it would have been difficult to figure out to which vehicle they belonged.

The Last Stand

At the north-western barrier, things were unraveling fast.  Officer Columbo and Detective Lestrade formed a rearguard whilst the rest of the cops hustled the civilians along the road.  Denis, the injured drunk was loaded into the ambulance, as was the driver of the blue car who had been shot by officer Starsky.  The 2 passengers from the blue car were bundled into one of the patrol cars, handcuffed and under arrest.

The ambulance started up and began to reverse back along the road with lights and siren blaring.  "Switch that off!" called Lestrade.  "I think it might be the noise that's attracting them!"

Once again, Clouseau sent his dog, Rex, to attack a lone zombie.  He had intended to follow, but hesitated when he saw the approaching horde in the distance.  Before he could react further, the zombies rushed forward and the dog was surrounded and torn apart.  "Nooo!  Rex!" he called as he fired into the mob and then drew his night-stick as if to charge.
"Leave it!  He's gone!" commanded Columbo.  "There's nothing you can do now - but I promise you we'll get even, somehow."

By now, all the civilians had left the area, escorted by the policemen.  Apart from Larry, that is.  He was hiding in a small clump of trees and crying to himself.  Lestrade had tried everything he could think of to get the man moving, but Larry just wasn't listening.  Eventually, the cop had given up and left him, just as the zombie horde approached...

The Rookie

"I think the coast is clear.  They've all gone" said John.  He, Bomber and Terry came out of the back door of the garage and started to make their way across the wasteland beyond.
"Halt!  You're all under arrest!" came a woman's voice.
"Naw, I don't think so" droned Bomber.  "Just stand aside and no-one need get hurt".
"Put your hands where I can see them!" ordered officer Cagney.
"Err...Look out!  Behind you!" called John, as he saw a couple of zombies approaching.
For a moment, the woman looked doubtful.  Then she replied "Oh, come on!  I'm not that stupid!"

She edged towards the men, keeping them covered with her gun.  As she came round the corner of the burnt-out wreck, she noticed movement out of the corner of her eye.  "Oh, shit" she swore as the zombies closed in.  She spun round and opened fire.

"Come on.  Let's give her a hand" John said to Bomber and Terry.  He vaulted over the obstacle and attacked one of the approaching zombies.

The men easily dispatched the remaining zeds, before turning back to officer Cagney.  She was visibly shaking as she tried to call for assistance on her radio, but there was no reply.  Without saying a further word to anyone, Cagney stomped over to her car, started the engine and left the scene.  The 3 men looked at each other, shrugged and walked on home.


Amazingly, John, Bomber and Terry all earned a REP increase from this game.  I guess that sometimes hiding and skulking is the smart thing to do.

As the ambulance carrying the injured civilians sped across the city, Denis (the drunk) went into a cardiac arrest and his vital signs flatlined.  "I think we've lost this one!" called the paramedic in the back to his driver.  While his back was turned, Denis' body stirred again.  There was a horrible moaning sound as Denis' arm reached out and pulled the crewman down so that he could bite his throat out...

Campaign Game 5 is here.