...On the Starboard Bow by James F. Clay

Issue: 11
System: Hordes of the Things
Publisher: Wargames Research Group

...On the Starboard Bow
Pirates in Hordes of the Things
by James F. Clay


pirate 1 n. sea faring robber attacking other ships; ship used by pirate

Since the dawn of time, the pirate has gone about his business on the high seas, relieving poor innocent sailors of their treasure and proceeding to the nearest desert island, where it would be buried in a huge wooden chest. A map would be made, the ink on the parchment showing the 'x' markded the spot. Accompanied by the cabin boy, a parrot and the ubiquitous wooden leg, pirates have entered our folklore. From Captain Pugwash via Stephen Speilberg's Hook to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island the spirit of the pirate has lived on through the ages.


I was tempted back in the far distant past by Citadel Miniatures' Pirates range, but resisted. This pretty good range is still available from Wargames Foundry for those wishing to use 25mm figures, and as you would expect the pronounced detailing makes them very easy to paint.

However, temptation once again reared its ugly head at Colours '93, I succumbed, and what did I purchase? Well Peter Pig and S.D.D. have collaborated in what I can only describe as an exquisite venture. I have bougth stuff off both companies before, mainly their 15mm Second World War ranges for games based around Operation Sealion. I was admiring both their stands, as I made a few purchases to boost my German, Home Guard and French forces, when whack. It hit me straight between the eyes, a delightful 15mm scale three masted frigate, over a foot in length. As I struggled for my wallet, I did have a sneak at the price tag, hmm 18.50, excellent value, but I didn't have that sort of money on me. All was not lost, as sailing right next to the frigate was a smaller (8 inch) two masted schooner, which was only 8.50, which meant that I had some spare money for the crew. These are made (as you might of guessed) by Peter Pig, their range includes unarmed pirates, those armed with swords, another pack has them armed with muskets, they also have a pack of officers, finally to keep the ship armed they also have gun crews. I bought just a few packs to make up what I saw as an ideal crew. Back to S.D.D. and I got the cannons - they also make further accessories including, sails, a ships boat and cannon ball splashes.

It was at home, that I finally asked myselff, what was I actually going to do with these really nice models, okay, they would make a pretty diorama, but I did buy them to game with. Why not try them in Hordes of the Things (HOTT) as pirates existed in our world, it is more than likely that they wil exist(!) in a fantasy world. Treasure Island is fantasy I guess.

Peter Pig - www.peterpig.demon.co.uk - currently offer a 10% discount to members of the SFSFW. The pirate range page also suggests various sources of 15mm scale ships.
The S.D.D. 15mm ships are available from Stronghold Miniatures - www.stronghold-miniatures.co.uk

Hordes of the Things

Pirates Semi-Historical

This army is based more on Hollywood than any historical example. I have also made a few alternatives that should appeal to fans of Captain Pugwash and Peter Pan.

Stronghold:Anchored Schooner (or if you don't have one of those, the stronghold can be a treasure chest in the sand)
Hero General (Pirate Captain)@ 4 AP1
Artillery (Medium Guns 12pdrs)@ 3 AP2
Blades (Pirates armed with Swords)@ 2 AP5
Shooters (Pirates armed with Muskets)@ 2 AP2
Water Lurkers (Crocodiles)@ 1 AP
Sneakers (Cabin Boy)@ 1 AP
Warband (Drunken Pirates)@ 2 AP

(Great Big Hordes)

For HOTT I have used my schooner as the stronghold, an unsatisfactoy arrangement I know, so while I was readng WRG's new large scale DBA rules De Bellis Multitudinis (DBM) I was really pleased to read that it incorporates naval rules - even if the largest recommended naval scale of 15mm figures is put at 6mm, if I want to use my schooner, I am darn well going to. Of course, DBM is for historical games, but we know pirates were around in reality so we can use the rules. However I haven't had much chance to put DBM into practice, so you will have to make do with the HOTT rules above. From what Graham Toone and Tim Moyse have said in previous articles there will eventually be a fantasy version of DBM, hence the title, I am working on my own conversion which is - not only not ready but also - beyond the scope of this article.

The "Bad Guys"

It is not much use having a Hordes Pirate Army if they have no one to fight, one option is to use another Pirate Army (pirates often use to fight amongst themselves) or a viable option is a native army from the desert island where the pirates are trying to bury their treasure.

Desert Island Natives

Stronghold:Small Wooden Villiage.
Magician General (Witch Doctor)@ 4 AP1
Hordes (Native Warriors)@ 1 AP10
Water Lurkers (Crocodiles)@ 1 AP.


After giving us his 15mm Eagle Army, Peter Pig has once more shown that new and differnt ranges can make interesting armies for Hordes. Couple this with the real nice ships from S.D.D. and you have a real eye-opener on your gaming table. I realise that Peter Pig's miniatures maybe are not to everyone's cup of tea, but they are fun, easy to paint and are value for money. My 15mm Hordes Pirate Army cost me 4.75 (using my society discount), now compare that to one figure that I saw a player of our society's Hordes participation game, Battle of the Five Armies, has just bought from Games Workshop in Reading, it had cost him only 4.99. Okay so he didn't get a society discount, but even if you buy a schooner, you are still spending less than fourteen pounds, but I suppose that is the beauty of 15mm Hordes of the Things.

See also:

Ed Note: Hordes of the Things is a generic set of Fantasy wargames rules produced by the Wargames Research Group and was reviewed in Ragnarok 1. A second edition is now available and was reviewed in Ragnarok 43. HOTT has won the Best Fantasy Wargames Rules category in the SFSFW Awards five times out of seven! For further details regarding price and availability, send an SSAE to Wargames Research Group, The Keep, Le Marchant Barracks, London Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 2ER.