Wednesday 23 December 2015

A HotT day's work at Christmas


Once again, it's the time of year when I pull my Santa army for Hordes of the Things out from storage and set them up against some noxious enemy.  You can read about previous encounters here:
So far, Santa hasn't done too badly, but what about 2015?  Read on to find out what happened next.

The Forces

The Good Guys

My younger son (A.) was very keen to try his part-complete elf army, but he has only completed 12 points worth so far (a standard HotT army is 24AP).  To handle this, we decided that these elves would be the cream of the cream, the bee's knees, the real deal, the very best warriors that elfdom has to offer!

To model this, we pulled in the a rule from DBMM (HotT's "sister" rules for ancient & medieval battles) and made the entire elf contingent superior quality.  Roughly speaking, this means that if they lose in a shooting duel then their opponents take an additional -1 die modifier and if they tie in a melee then the elves get a last minute +1 modifier.  This isn't earth-shattering, but could be helpful.

  • Santa: 24AP of assorted troops led by an aerial hero general.
  • Elves: 12AP of superior spears, one superior bow and a superior hero general

The Baddies

The goblins are my prime "Christmas-spoiling" villains; they just can't wait to get their hands on all the presents and break them, drink all the booze and stuff their faces with rich food!  This year, they would assault Santa's house with the following force:
  • Left flank: 22AP, made up from goblin hordes, 2 trolls, 1 bolt thrower and a warband general.
  • Right Flank: 22AP; goblin hordes, 2 trolls, some wolves and a warband general.

The Battle

Straight away, both sides charged, screaming, at each other (what, you expect subtlety in my household?  We're dealing with teenage boys here...).  The goblins were faster than the good guys and managed to grab both the hill on the left and the woods on the right.

First blood went to the goblin ballista, as it disintegrated a horde of snowmen (no, I've no idea how they did this.  Perhaps they used a flaming bolt?).

To the right, the goblin attack was disrupted by massed gunfire from the elves (Santa's short, fat, jolly helper elves, that is.  Not the tall, elegant, sophisticated beings of A.'s elf army).

The firing line was then extended by the elf bowmen (that's the tall, green-armoured elves joining the short, green-costumed elves); together they caused some serious hurt to the attacking goblin column.

Realising that the woods were full of dire wolves and worse, the elf hero stepped forward to face the enemy.  He charged some of the wolves and put them to flight, but with an immovable troll behind them they had nowhere to go and were cut down.

The goblins charged forward to attack on the left flank.  Fighting downhill should have given them some slight advantage against the ice bears, but they lost 4 of the 5 combats for all that (well, OK - the horde that was facing Santa was never going to win).  Still, at least they had broken up the bears' formation; the impetuous beasts would have a hard time re-making it.

To add insult to injury, Santa's popgun blew away another goblin horde.  This might be the very first time in history that the toy cannon has been effective; it's a momentous occasion!

Over the next few turns, the hill became a bloody, confused battleground.  Angry bears pursued and slew some goblins, whilst hordes of the evil little creatures cut off and surrounded other bears.  No quarter was asked or given.

Perhaps encouraged by the bears' continuing rampage, even the snowmen started to kill goblins (how do they do this, I wonder?  Do snowmen smother their enemies or tear them apart?  Or just freeze them?).  The elf/elf firing squad continued its execution; this time they felled the right-wing goblin general and caused that entire command to become demoralised.

Suddenly, the entire goblin front line had virtually disintegrated.  All that was left was a lone troll chasing the elf hero out from the woods.

With the goblin right wing fleeing for their lives, it was time for one last, desperate act.  The left-flank goblin general ordered his trolls forward.  The ice bears were distracted, trying to hunt down the last goblin horde, whilst Santa's snowmen were fixated on attacking the goblin bolt thrower.  There was a small window of opportunity where Santa himself could be attacked and (perhaps) surrounded.

Chaaarge!  OK, let's see: Santa is facing a behemoth and is flanked on both sides.  In addition, he's pinned so that he cannot retreat and will be destroyed if he loses.  Combat factors are as follows:
  • Troll (behemoth vs mounted) = +5
  • Santa (aerial hero): +5, +1 for being the general, -2 for flanked on 2 sides = +4
This is about as good as it gets for the goblins; all they need to do is win the modified dice roll and they have a +5 to +4 advantage in combat factors.

Of course, being bad guys, the goblins fluffed it and Santa drove the troll back...

Hearing the sounds of continuing battle, the elf hero stopped taunting the demoralised troll near the woods and came racing across the field.  The goblin general saw him coming and turned to face; perhaps this would give the evil creature another chance to even the odds?

Now here's something we have never encountered in our games of Hordes of the Things before.  Santa was engaged from the side by a troll, but wasn't facing an enemy to his front any more.  Normally, he would just have turned to face this new threat.  However, the rule states that to make such a turn, an element must have room for its base in the new orientation and must have space to recoil, even if such a recoil isn't a possible combat outcome.

There was room for Santa's sleigh to turn, but there wasn't any recoil room and so we ruled that he had to stay as he was.  This gave the still-engaged troll a second opportunity to destroy Santa (who was still pinned in the flank and therefore couldn't retreat if beaten).  Mind you, the troll's odds were lower now, though still plausible as a threat.

Even though he was being attacked from the side, Santa beat the troll off and sent it reeling - straight into the path of some enraged ice bears.  They blocked the troll's retreat and tore it to shreds!  Gah!

On the bright side for the goblins, the elf hero retreated from their chieftain and his bodyguard.  The undisciplined warband gloated as they pursued the retreating elf - but it was a trap!

The elf hero turned at bay and hordes of snowmen closed in from all sides.  The goblin general realised too late what a stupid, puny creature he was, trying to challenge the power of good.  He perished and was buried under mounds of snow, never to be seen again.  Game over, man!


This was another totally disastrous outing for the goblins; Santa (and allies) wins again!  Total losses:
  • Good guys: 2 ice bears (the second was killed just off shot towards the end of the game).  Oh, also a few snowmen hordes, but they were remade every time they were destroyed.
  • Goblins: pretty much everything.  Technically, most of the trolls, 1 wolf, 1 warband and the bolt thrower weren't killed, but they ran away all the same.  Some hordes were recycled, but not quickly enough; they fled as well.
The goblins were unable to get the trolls into action in good time and the elf/elf firing line completely prevented any serious advance on the right flank.  The only bright(ish) spot was the confused melee on the hill, where the goblin hordes traded losses on almost even terms with the ice bears.

Oh well, I'll just have to stop trying to ruin Christmas and join in the festivities instead.

Merry Christmas to one and all!


  1. Merry Christmas Hugh, and what a crackingly good festive game that sounds like you had. Wonderful stuff and there's clearly nothing more frightening for a Goblin leader than to find himself surrounded by angry lumps of snow :-)

    1. And a rather belated Merry Christmas to you as well. Would have been sooner, but I've been under the weather with a bad cold (again!).

  2. Thanks for that Hugh, a much needed laugh ;-)

    1. Glad you read it, dGG. Even better if you found it amusing :-) .

  3. All is well with the world as Santa triumphs once again. Woot!

    1. He is doing quite well in these yearly matches, isn't he? Maybe I should create a HotT army with a god in it, just to see how Santa copes when facing a deity?

  4. I always look forward to this time of year, a great game and a very Happy Christmas to you.

    1. Thanks, Michael - and a Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. It just wouldn't feel right if Santa lost - and it all went down to a single die roll really.
    Always a joy to read these aars = Merrry Xmas C6 to you and yours.

    1. I think there was one turn where my goblins rolled nothing but 1 for *every* combat in the entire round. Now I'm not usually one to blame the dice, but I had the4 distinct feeling that some supernatural power wanted good to triumph over evil in this battle...

  6. I held my breath and waited as Santa faced off the worst that the goblins could throw at him. Thank goodness the big guy won - and in some style.

    Another victory for the forces of goodness. Villainy, barbarism, bogey flicking and all sorts of other goblin perversions are banished until December 2016.

    Merry Christmas, and best wishes for 2016.

    1. Bah, humbug! Us goblins *like* bogey flicking! (and you forgot about some of the other "perversions", like secretly sticking a "kick me" label to someone's backside.

  7. Yay Santa!!! A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

    1. Thanks, F.E.M. A Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you and your loved ones too.

  8. Go Santa and Elves (of both types)!
    Merry Christmas

    1. Bah, I hate elves! They're so darned smug and superior!

  9. I enjoy these Hordes battles every year. Long may they continue.

    1. Thanks, Clint. I plan to keep these annual events going for the foreseeable future.

  10. Great to see Santa winning his annual battle against evil. Merry Crimbo C6!