Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Creatures of the Chaos Pack

These are the start of a MicroHotT army of chaos creatures. Each infantry-thing will count as a horde element (no matter how fierce it might look), and they'll be accompanied by behemoths, flyers and beasts. I'll probably throw in the odd sorcerer or champion too.

Of course, as individually based models, they'll be handy for RPGs and skirmishes too. I can see a mini-campaign arising from this army, with each wretched beastman having a personality and traits of its own. 

The marsh creeper (below) will also make a decent 1/72 troll of the Poul Anderson/D&D variety:

I might do something a bit more elaborate with the bases - perhaps initially picking out a few rocks and bits of debris, and slopping on various washes here and there.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

A little more progress ...

Some progress with my 40K Hordes of the Things project. I've also been on a bit of a basing spree and have six gretchin 'horde' elements to finish off.

Thanks to the hefty proportions of these orks, getting HotT elements done for this project is much quicker than for most 28mm armies - especially with the hordes. I'm using three or four figures to a base for a horde, rather than the standard five to eight. And with warbands at two miniatures and shooters at one, I should have the first standard (24AP) army completed very shortly.

Although I'm aiming for two 36AP ork armies (to fight on the same side in a four-player game), the first 24AP off the block will look something like this:

4 x warbands
2 x shooters
1 x hero (general)
1 x magician
1 x behemoth

The core of the next 24AP will be gretchin hordes, I think. And then I'll fatten each army up with additional elements until we get to a total of 72AP for both.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

MicroHotT - Hordes of the Things with individually based miniatures

Hordes of the Things is the best mass-battle fantasy ruleset around, I reckon. It's quick to set up, quick to play and brimming with tactical depth. And it copes with any vaguely fantastical period - hence my current 40K HotT project (designed both to use up spare miniatures and to introduce 40K-attuned friends to the glories of HotT).

Standard HotT games use 24AP armies and strict victory conditions. But we often play much bigger games: 36 or more AP a side. We also tend to play to the death or surrender rather than achieving 'technical' victories (as when a general is destroyed as the first casualty of the game). Those are fine for tournaments, but the game's mechanic for the loss of a general (troops become twice as hard to manoeuvre) is a perfectly good penalty if you just play on.

So the game's certainly good for a bit of stretching beyond its usual rigid parameters. Last week, my son and I decided to stretch it a bit more by playing it with individually based miniatures rather than the usual 'elements' of three or four figures.

We used 28mm infantry figures based on 25mm squares and cavalry based on 25mm x 50mm. So all frontages were 25mm, as opposed to the usual HotT practice of 40mm for 10 or 15mm and 60mm for 25mm or 28mm. Each individual miniature counted as a full element, and we used a 3' x 3' table (the 28mm standard) with 15mm movement rates. We also started with 54AP armies - huge by HotT standards - but kept the PIPs (activation points) roll at a single d6.

Orc warbands and spears await goblin riders and reptilian behemoths. The smaller cold one on its own was classed as a knight element.

So how did it go? Well, it was great. My son said that he preferred it to normal HotT (and he's an enthusiast). The larger table, relative to both bases and movement ranges, opened up a lot of space for manoeuvre. And the standardised base depths caused no problems. They theoretically entail very slight advantages for pursuing troops, as those would end up aligned again after pushing back or destroying elements that would usually have different base depths. But that's a trivial consideration. And all HotT base depths are "suggested minima" in any case, so this is still "rules as written".

The only other disadvantage I could see was that square, single-figure elements can look a little odd when one element is providing rear support to another (as with spears and warbands). Having figures standing in columns of two men isn't as convincing as having two rectangular elements backing each other up. It's a very minor point, though.

Other than that, I thought this version of the game offered several advantages:

1. It's a rank-and-flank game for individual figures that's much quicker to play than most of the alternatives (Warhammer, for example).

2. Huge battles are possible. 100 AP a side looks eminently doable. But 24AP games will work just fine too.

3. The single-figure basing keeps everything in scale. One of the few drawbacks of HotT is that certain elements can look oddly over- or underpowered on the table. This tends to apply particularly to behemoths. One player's behemoth might be a solitary, underfed-looking troll while another's might be some huge monster that takes up almost all of the available base space. In this game, we used GW cold-one riders as behemoths, and they looked just right: bigger and meaner than a knight, and dangerous to be near, but not oversized for their fighting ability. Similarly, dragons that fit on 25 x 50mm bases will tend to be appropriately sized, and the same goes for gods and heroes. Airboats might be a challenge, I admit - but then, they always are. Huge plastic vehicles could be supported on perspex rod and heavily weighted 25 x 50 bases, though.

4. Creating elements through painting up a single figure is an attractive option. Need a sneaker? That goblin looks suitably crafty. A flyer? Let's give the magician general an imp familiar. And so on. We found it remarkable easy to parse a batch of orcs into various battlefield roles: spears, warbands, shooters, blades, hordes, heroes, etc.

5. Using the same miniatures for different purposes. I have lots of square-based orcs because the EM4  ones come with square bases that are a paint to remove, and so I based matching Nick Lund metal figures similarly. I've used them for Saga in the past and intend to use them in Of Gods and Mortals, in which square bases are useful. This version of HotT gets still more use out of them.

All in all, I'd say that it's a good way to get a bit more out of both a common basing type and the excellent HotT rules.

Warbands drive through wolfriders

More orks!

Here's another warband element for my 40K Hordes of the Things project. I've refined (i.e. speeded up) the process for these, so that it now runs as follows:

1. Prime in black gesso.
2. Undercoat in Vallejo silver-grey.
3. Paint metal in Vallejo natural steel.
4. Wash everything in Agrax Earthshade.
5. Drybrush all the non-metal bits in white (it doesn't matter if the odd metal bit gets hit).
6. Slop on some contrast paints.
7. At a couple of points during these stages, paint the base grey, then wash it in Nightshade.
8. Add some rust to the weapons, etc.
9. Pick out eyes and teeth with quick highlights and do the same to the metals with silver.
10. Drybrush the base white, do a bit of blacklining to tidy up the figues, then edge the base in black.

It's not a clever or pretty method. But it is quick.

I also (more or less) finished off a shooter element (and painted the cables on the other warband's power axe, though not before these photos). So that's 6AP complete - a quarter of a normal HotT army. Experience shows, though, that HotT works very well with much bigger forces than that - so there are many more orks to come!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Hordes of the Things for 40K

It's not an original idea, but I've been thinking for a while of creating some Hordes of the Things armies from various accumulated 40K miniatures. A few judicious additions to the heaped-up plastic will need to be made, but I'm hoping to get four largish armies painted up in the next few weeks. The goal is a big game of HotT with some old friends later in the year.

Not quite finished, but getting there ...
The assumed figure scale of HotT is unstated but large. So most of these elements will do their fighting in close combat only; the two orks on a base represent several hundred or more, and the short ranges of 40K weapons mean that most shooting will be factored into the base-to-base clashes. 'Shooter' elements, like the terminator with the assault cannon above, are exceptions.

A great deal of the fun of HotT comes from fitting particular miniatures into the game's 20 element types. The orks will be 'warbands' for the most part, and ordinary space marines will be 'blades'. The big terminator base above will serve as a 'phalanx' using these variant rules. Imperial guard, colonial militias and any other normal human types will be 'hordes'.

Then there are bikes ('riders' or 'knights'?), tanks ('knights' or 'behemoths') and dreadnoughts ('behemoths'). Jetpacked troops can serve as 'flyers' or 'aerial heroes'. And demons of various sorts can be pressed into service as 'dragons' and 'gods' in HotT terms.

There's something pleasing about multi-based miniatures - and these HotT elements will also work well for 'large skirmish' games such as The Men Who Would Be Kings and Rampant. As my 'shooters' are all individually based figures, they'll serve to make up the odd numbers in those games as casualties mount. And it's a lot easier to move six multiple bases than 12 individual miniatures.