Issue: 31
System: Hordes of the Things
Publisher: Wargames Research Group

Some Like It Hot(t)
Adding flame throwers and other exotica to 'Hordes Of The Things'
by Paul Grace

You can blame it on Ragnacon III: Flushed with success, having taken part in the Klingon annihilation of both DS9 and USS Defiant, I sauntered over to the Second City stall and made an impulse purchase of a rat army of GW Skaven figures.

On returning home I based them for use with Hordes Of The Things (fantasy rules by Phil Barker) but found one or two figures that seemed to defy troop classification. One rat figure wore a gasmask and carried a globe (containing poison gas presumably). Another pair were operating a flame thrower. I already possessed a Dwarf flame thrower team which had given me trouble fitting into a HOTT army list and so I decided that it was time to ammend the rules to fit the figures.

Seemingly simple modifications can have disastrous knock-on effects to rule systems and play balance. To keep disruption to a minimum, I decided to adopt a modular approach creating a new troop type.

The new category needed to represent specialist troops armed with unusual weaponry used at close to short range. It is interesting to note that De Bellis Multitudinis (Phil Barker's ancient period wargame rules) includes a category for flame throwers. In DBM the troop type Exceptional Psiloi - Ps(X) is defined as: Light troops "...armed with incendiaries, corrosives or biologicals such as Greek-fire siphons, hand-hurled naptha bombs, Chinese fire lances, quick lime or hornets' nests." They are treated as inferior psiloi (light foot) except being given the same close combat value as artillery. Yes, these were the boys for me - the trouble being that HOTT has no equivalent to Psiloi - inferior, exceptional or otherwise! Using Ps(X) as a rough guide, but giving them a bit more spice, I have added the following HOTT troop category :

Extraordinaires (Ex)

Troop Type:Foot.
Troop definition:Specialist troops armed with incendiary, chemical or explosive close range weapons such as flame throwers, gas globadiers, grenade armed assault engineers or even alchemists with a penchant for creating nitroglycerin! The weapons can have a devastating effect but their instability can cause unnerving misfires. A Paladin has little fear of fire or noxious vapours.
AP value:3 points.
Basing:1 - 4 figures per base.
Base size:60mm x 40mm (25mm scale); 40mm x 30mm (15mm scale).
Movement:300 paces off road; 400 paces on road.
Close combat value:+4 against all.
Tactical Factors:Ex do not suffer a -2 for combat in (or against elements in) bad going.

Combat outcome:

Score not doubled
Destroyed by any mounted, else recoil.
Double or greater score
Less than double
Destroy: Hero, artillery, sneakers, behemoths, riders (in bad going), knights (in bad going or if they have moved into contact this bound).
Flee the battlefield: Lurkers, Dragons, Gods.
Flee 600 paces : Horde, warband, beasts, flyers, riders (in good going).
Recoil : Paladin, airboats, clerics, shooters, blade, spear, magicians, extraordinaires, knights (in good going or having not moved into contact this bound).
Stronghold captured.
Double or greater score
All elements destroyed.
Equal score in combat results in a dramatic misfireRoll d6 for each element (both friend and foe) in edge or corner contact with the extraordinaire. A roll of 1 is treated as a successful close combat result (but less than double score) against that element by the extraordinaire. The extraordinaire also rolls a d6 for itself, being destroyed on a score of 1 or 2 ('hoist with its own petard').

You might wish to consider adding a +1 tactical factor for Ex elements armed with incendiary weapons when fighting against highly combustible opponents such as Ents and Dryads. This must be agreed in advance by both players, making it clear which elements are considered vulnerable.

Well there you have it, an eccentric troop unit that can wreak havoc against the enemy lines and cause almost as much trouble for its friends. Needs careful handling!

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.