Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday wargaming for duh-mes

Jon and Scott showed about 1, and we couldn't get in touch with Chris, so we played a 3 player game of Pacific Typhoon. I was behind in the last round, but a tie and the last battle's second round gave me a chance to distribute a larger than normal pile of cards among the 3 of us, which meant I could keep enough big cards to end ahead.

T & E was next. I think my lowest was 11, while Jon and Scott both had 12, but Jon won the next tie breaker.

Chris showed and all agreed to humor me through a game of Hordes of the Things. HOTT is possibly the most universal set of miniature rules ever written; it can handle any period of history, just about anything from a fantasy novel or setting, and it even does a very good job for science fiction space operas like Star Wars. It is also one of the best balanced gaming systems I know.

None of which guarantees that it's fun for everyone.

HOTT defines troops by function. First, it has foot, mounted, and aerial classes. Foot includes magicians, clerics, blades, spears, hordes, shooters, and so on. Mounted includes knights, riders (faster, less potent, but controllable), heroes, paladins, behemoths like elephants or giants, etc. Aerials include such things as flyers (harpies, flying monkies, etc.), dragons, gods, and aerial heroes. There is a definite rock, scissors, paper aspect to the game, and the person who best manages their random movement points to seek the best match ups wins a significant majority of the time. But rolling 6s against 1s at the right time can carry the day.

Chris and Jon took the forces of evil, which I selected from my Lord of the Rings figures.

Center command.
CnC: Balrog, an aerial hero
8 orc warbands
1 troll, a behemoth

Right command
1 nazgul, a knight general
1 giant spider, a behemoth
8 goblin hordes
3 goblin warg riders

1 magician general, Saruman
4 uruk-hai, blades
2 uruk-hai crossbows, shooters
1 artillery, a berzerker with a torch and gunpowder
2 goblin warg riders

Scott and I took the good guys

Aragorn, hero general
Gandalf, cleric (protective rather than offensive magic)
2 gondor sword units, blades
4 gondor spears
1 sneaker, hobbits (we never put these to good use)
1 dragon (no reason, just had one and wanted to use it)

1 paladin, Eowyn
1 knight general, Eomer
3 rohan knights
2 rohan riders
3 rohan spears
1 rohan bow, shooters

2 elf blades, one the general
4 elf shooters
Treebeard, a behemoth
2 elf riders
2 flyers, owls since the figures looked better than the eagles from WotC

HOTT is one of those games where no single rule is hard, there's just a lot to absorb, and it's far better just to muddle through and play. I think everyone picked up the general flow very quickly, and if they're willing to try it again, then they'll be a lot more comfortable with seeking the good matches and avoiding bad. The grid I use makes it a lot easier since there's no need for measuring, which I've found is one of the largest sources of hard feelings in many miniatures games.

Scott had to leave around 5:30, so we played a bit more and called it. Evil had lost 26 of their original 72 points and was close to breaking, but another elf loss followed by a bad command roll would have made it very tight. This is a game you usually can't win everywhere, so pushing your advantages while delaying where you are weak is a good overall game strategy.

Hopefully Dennis and Ben can play soon, as well as anyone else who'd like to give it a try.


At 10:18 PM, January 25, 2009, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Dangit -- I knew grading essays would cost me.

Still working on my Ayyubid Egyptians (aka Saladin and the Saracens), and I have 2 potential HOTT armies from Warmaster figures. Maybe next Saturday?

At 11:01 PM, January 25, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was actually (and usually is) a lot of fun once the carnage started. It takes a while to not only see matchups that are advantageous, but to be able to anticipate what your opponent is going to do on their turn and not leave yourself any more vulnerable than you have to.

The grid works great. And the figures looked great.

The dragon that the good forces brought on the board was tough. Evil had a pretty solid center command, but the dragon moves incredibly fast and it ripped through the center command's flank, sending the troll to its doom and shortly thereafter killing the Balrog, which left the warbands a huddled mess in the middle of the field waiting for their fate.

Saruman actually got off a few shots and took out a flying giant owl and a mounted rider from distance. But the remainder of the left command basically was a series of mounted rider engagements and elven archer volleys, which didn't kill anyone but several times forced the warbands in the center to retreat and slow the progress of the entire center command.

The evil right command (Jon's side) was absolute carnage, as Jon is kind of a "less talk, more action!" guy. Although it was chaotic, his strategy actually got the most accomplished for the forces of evil. The right command charged into their opponents, and the warg riders and Rohan riders really got into a lot of back and forth fighting, with the forces of good finally wiping out the wargs by forcing them into situations where they had no place to retreat (which means death). The Nazgul seemed to deal some damage, but when the forces of good finally got close, they struck the fatal blow and the Nazgul general fell. The knights rode through the evil goblin hordes like they weren't even there. Normally, this would be pretty devastating, but hordes are funny in that as soon as you kill them, new ones step in to take their place. They're the equivalent of the Japanese Banzai in Combat Commander: Pacific--they don't die, they just regenerate. So their loss ended up being more inconvenient than devastating, since they start back on the map edge and cost die pips (like giving orders) to regenerate.

I wonder what the swing point was in the battle today. I think it was the dragon getting into the fray. Overall, the more I think about it, the more I really liked seeing the battle unfold. It would be interesting to see the battle again and see if evil has a chance.

At 11:21 PM, January 25, 2009, Blogger Schifani said...

Oh, I forgot! Sauron was attached to the right command as a God, and he never got the 6 pips needed to enter the game. Gods are a lot like dragons; 6 pips to appear, both have a combat factor of +6 against both foot and mounted/aerials, and not much can hurt them. Their big weakness is that when you roll a one for pips, they leave. Reminds one of Diomedes chasing off Ares and Aphrodite, Sauron suffering a paper cut and disappearing, or simply a god getting bored.

Dragons' big negative; if they suffer a close call, which in the game is something simply exceeding them in combat, they flee the battlefield. The effect for a single-off game is the same as being destroyed, though they could be brought back in a campaign.

Sauron's entry and pounding of Rohan's knights might have meant that both good guy flanks collapsed before enough damage could be done to the evil center.
As we discussed, the more spread out your command happens to be when you become demoralized, the less likely you are to keep individual fragments from fleeing the field.

A good game, with lots of variations to explore and keep it fresh. Part of the fun is coming up with your own force composition.

Terrain and potential lurkers are another fun aspect we haven't tried yet.

At 11:29 PM, January 25, 2009, Blogger Schifani said...

Dennis, I have to show late on Saturday, but we can still fit in a game, or if not Sunday looks good before the Super Bowl.

For future gaming, anywhere we can manage an 8 by 5 table, we can set up the grid.

I'm working on Haradrim and Easterling stuff to play with as well.

At 6:57 PM, January 26, 2009, Blogger Ben said...

Wow! What a battle report!

If we could now come up with some form of seige rules, we could play WotR with minis to resolve the battles. This might actually make multi-player WotR fun.

...and, of course, my mind turns to applying this system to the upcoming Conan game as well.

At 7:19 PM, January 26, 2009, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Great thread. I would totaly give this a thumbs-up.

Many simple rules do indeed quickly become complex.

The grid I use makes it a lot easier since there's no need for measuring, which I've found is one of the largest sources of hard feelings in many miniatures games.

Amen brother.

This sounds pretty interesting, although these days I'm trying to get BattleLore back to the table more.


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