As the designers explain, Hordes of the Things was designed:
Armies From Elements
Before the game can begin, both players must have an army. The gamer can select from the large selection of pre-designed armies at the back of the rulebook, or design his own.
When designing an army, each player is given a budget of Army Points (AP's) to spend (24 AP's for a typical game). Each stand or element in the game costs a certain number of points. The only restriction is that at least half of any army must consist of low-point-cost elements (you can't build an all-dragon army, for instance).
The possible elements (troop types) are:
Note that the same stats are used for all troops within the same element class -- for instance, there is no game difference between Elven Crossbowmen and the Red Gunners of Mars (both are Shooters).
Before play, one element in each army is designated to include that side's General. Certain elements (i.e., Gods, Lurkers) cannot "host" the general.
The Sequence of Play
During play, both players alternate taking Bounds (turns). Each Bound consists of the following steps:
During the Initiative Phase, the player rolls a die to discover how many PIPs he has that turn. PIPs can then be spent for --
Unused PIPs are lost at the end of the player's Bound.
To move an element, the player must spend a PIP. The exact cost depends upon the situation and troop type -- for instance, it is more costly to move troops not within sight of their general. Each troop type has a basic movement rate, given in terms of Paces. That rate might change depending upon terrain. For instance, Blades move 200 paces when off-road, or 400 paces on a road.
Generally speaking, elements can't move through other elements, though there are exceptions (Sneakers, for instance, can move through friendly or enemy elements).
Any number of extra PIPs can be spent to boost the movement of elements traveling by road with their general.
One way to conserve PIPs is to move elements by group rather than individually. Generally speaking, "groups" are elements moving in line or column formations, and not in contact with the enemy.
There are two forms of combat -- Ranged and Melee.
Melee Combat. During the Melee Combat Phase, adjacent elements must fight one another. If an element has more than one enemy, only one enemy can attack.
A dieroll is made for each element, and a bonus (determined by the element's type) is added to the result. In addition, an element might qualify for the following combat bonuses or penalties:
The two scores are compared, and the element with the high score is the victor. Two results are possible -- a minor or a major success.
A major success is achieved if the high score is double or more than the low score. In most cases, this causes the losing element to be removed from play.
A minor success is any victory which is not a major success. Many possible consequences are possible, depending upon the type of the victor and loser. For example, a Cleric who achieves a minor success against a God causes the God to flee; scoring a minor success against a Rider in rough terrain causes that element to be destroyed.
As a result of a minor success, a losing element might have to Recoil (back up) or Flee (back up, change direction, then move whatever distance is required by the minor success result). When their opponents retreat, certain element types (for instance, Knights) must initiate a pursuit.
Ranged Combat. The same combat system is used for ranged combat, with the exception that the attacker is immune to adverse combat results (unless the enemy is capable of firing back, and chooses to do so). The attacker must be able to trace a clear line of sight to his intended target, and must generally be facing in that direction.
Artillery has the special restriction of only being able to attack during the enemy player's Bound, and only if it didn't move or pivot in its last Bound. No ranged attack may be made if the firing element is in contact with an enemy.
A penalty applies to ranged attacks against elements in the woods or buildings. If multiple (up to three) elements attack the same target, the "extra attacks" are not resolved, but instead a penalty applies to the defender's dieroll.
Magical Attacks. In HOTT, only Magicians are capable of using battlefield magic. As the designers explain:
In the worlds of fantasy fiction, magic really works, though apparently more effectively on a personal scale than in the clash of armies... In this rule set, magicians and their magic are mainly treated analogously to powerful long range artillery, but with the chance of disaster to inept practitioners, inhibition in the immediate presence of clerics, and the imposition of movement constraints on the user's side.
Magicians are limited in that there is an extra PIP cost for movement involving them, and that PIPs must be spent each time they attack (which means they can never attack during the enemy player's Bound).
The magical attack is treated similarly to a normal ranged attack, though the Magician has greater range and can attack in any direction. However, if during the course of a game, a Magician rolls a "1" for the second time when attacking, he is removed from play. (Or, if a suitable figure is available, the Magician is turned into a frog or insect.)
If a Magician scores a minor success vs. a Hero or another Magician, his victim becomes Ensorcelled and is removed from play. The victim is returned to play if the offending Magician is removed from play, or if PIPs are spent to Desorcel him (very expensive).
Battles and Campaigns
In a typical encounter, both players dice to determine which will be the defender. The defending player sets up the terrain. (According to the rules, the optimum playing area when using 15mm figures is 24" square, or 36" when using 25mm figures.)
The defender designates the four map edges as 1-4. The attacking player designates two of the edges as 5 and 6. A dieroll then determines which side will be the one from which the attack comes.
The attacker deploys his army within a short distance of his map edge, following which the defender deploys near the opposite map edge. (However, certain unusual elements are not deployed at start, but come into play during the course of the battle.)
The defender also places his stronghold during his deployment. A stronghold is a terrain objective of the defender's choice (i.e., castle, village, enchanted forest, etc.). Friendly troops cannot enter the stronghold (it is assumed to be fully garrisoned). One attack can be made per turn against the stronghold, but only during close combat. Strongholds have a high combat factor, but if an attacker achieves a "minor success" the stronghold is captured.
The defender begins the game, taking the first Bound.
The battle continues until one side loses. An army loses if its general is dead or if it has lost half its force (in Army Points), and if its AP total is lower than the opposing army. An army automatically loses if its stronghold is captured. The defeated army is assumed to flee from the field of battle.
Campaign Games. The rulebook includes a simple system for resolving multi-year wars involving any number of players. An area map is used, with links showing which regions connect to other regions (see rulebook sample, below).
Each "turn" of the Campaign Game represents one of the three war seasons of the year (nobody fights in the winter). When an army invades a region, the ruler of that place can decide whether or not to fight.
Allies also play a role in the Campaign Game. When an invasion is declared, other players have the option of coming to the aid of the attacker. Later, if the defending player decides to stand and fight, the other players can opt to ally with him.
When other players aid in a battle, they are allowed to send a small contingent to help in that combat. The allied force enters player at a random moment after the game as begun, from a map edge reflecting where they have marched from on the campaign map.
During the winter, each player has the chance to rebuild his army. Army Points are received according to the number of regions controlled, allowing the player to return to play those elements destroyed in battle. Armies can never grow larger than their initial strength.
The Campaign Game continues for a pre-determined number of Seasons. Victory Points are given for each city under a player's direct control, as well as for cities under the control of tributary players (those which have accepted that player as overlord). The player with the most points wins.
The Army Lists
Nearly half of the rulebook is made up of pre-generated armies, based on mythology or various works of fantasy. Each listing shows a basic army, then usually gives options for additional element types. For example, the basic Goblin Army consists of a Goblin chieftain with bodyguards, a vampire bat swarm, goblin wolf riders, a wolf pack, nine Goblin hordes, and some lurking spiders. The options are to trade out the Goblin chieftain for a Dark Sorcerer, or trade out two regular units in exchange for a troop of trolls (Behemoths).
The Army Lists provided with HOTT are:
|4 September 1999||page redesigned|
|11 May 1998||clarifications added|
|3 July 1997||reformatted|
|19 June 1996||reformatted|
|17 April 1996||reorganized|
|Comments or corrections?|