The Battle of the Crossroads

This is a scenario for the fantasy miniature combat rules Hordes of the Things. See also the very nice unofficial web-site for 'Hordes of the Things', the Stronghold, for lots more on the rules.

The evil Nalmian Empire has invaded the peaceful land of Nimolee. The disorganized Nimoleeans have at last managed to cooperate enough to field a large army of the three peoples to oppose the evil Emperor's invasion. After lifting the siege of the holy city of Alpium the Dwarf and Elf Army joined the human army of the Pope to confront the Emperor's army at the Crossroads. There one Imperial legion holds the Crossroads while the main body under the Emperor rushes down from the north to avoid being cut off by the Nimoleean force. As the main armies clash the forces of the Necromancer, who carries some unknown enmity for the Emperor arrive on the scene to try to ensure an Imperial defeat. Also the Frogfolk led by a multitentacled horror from the deep arrive to ravage the Nimoleeans to ensure that the united Nimoleeans do not turn on them next.

The Forces

Side Army Elements Player
Nimolee Elves 1 Mage General,2 Mages, 2 Knights, 4 Shooters Dave Reynolds
Nimolee Dwarves 1 Hero General, 9 Blades, 1 Shooter Jeff Herzog
Nimolee Pope 2 Paladin, 1 Cleric, 1 Knight General, 2 Knights, 2 Flyers, 3 Hordes Dave Potter
Nimolee Necromancer 1 Mage General (Cadaverous Magician), 1 Sneaker (Wraithes or ghosts), 1 Behemoth (Skeletal Mastodon), 1 Knight (Skeletal chariot or big orcs on horses), 2 Riders (Skeletal or orc cavalry), 6 Hordes (skeletons, zombies, orcs), 1 Lurker (rats) George Hinman
Nimolee Orcs 1 Hero General, 7 Warbands, 2 Riders, 2 Lurkers Bob Beattie
Imperial Crossroads Legion 1 Mage General, 2 Airboats, 4 Blades, 3 Shooters Justin Herzog
Imperial Crossroad Fortress 1 Stronghold Justin Herzog
Imperial Emperor's Legion 1 Mage General (the Emperor), 2 Behemoths, 3 Blades, 3 Shooters Steve Roper
Imperial Second Legion 1 Mage General, 2 Artillery, 4 Blades, 3 Shooters Steve Catherman
Imperial Southron Allies Aerial Hero General (Flying Carpet), 1 Behemoths, 3 Knights, 4 Shooters Jay Langone
Imperial Frogman 1 Mage General (Octopus like-thing, a Cthulu would be ideal), 2 Behemoths (Dinosaurs), 1 Flyer (pterosaurs), 2 Riders (mounted lizards), 6 Hordes (lizardmen or frogfolk) Charlie Zwinik

The map has a crossroads at the center. The Crossroads Legion and their stronghold should start around the crossroads. To the west and south of the crossroads there are woods (a big giant area of bad going that does offers protection from aerials) and a scattering of easy going hills everywhere. The Elves, Dwarves, and Pope should start just popping out of the forest to the west side of the crossroads while the rest of the Imperials and their Southron allies should start on the north edge. The Imperial legion around the crossroads sets up first, followed by the three Nimoleeans and finally the Imperial main body. The Nimoleeans move first. During the second turn the Necromancer and his Orc allies should enter at the NW corner during the Nimoleeans move. During the third turn the Frogs should enter anywhere on the East edge during the Imperial turn.

Click map for a large version Crossroads Map

The Elves, Dwarves and Pope are a unified command, that is one commander throws 3 Pip die and allocates them to the sub-commands. The main body of the imperials also behaves this way. The legion at the cross roads is treated as an independent command until the main body "contacts" it after which time the entire Imperial force is a unified command. The Necromancer and Frogs are independent commands.

Note that if the stronghold is defeated the attacker can allocate one of their elements of any type currently in contact with the stronghold to man the stronghold. Then the stronghold will act as their own sides stronghold giving aid to nearby mages, defending itself versus attack by the other side etc. The side that takes the stronghold does not have to man the stronghold. If left empty the stronghold does not give aid to nearby mages, defend itself versus attack, etc. An empty stronghold can be taken and manned by any element from any side that contacts it during movement. The AP of an element that mans a stronghold are not counted as lost unless the stronghold is subsequently defeated in combat. An element that mans a stronghold can never abandon the stronghold and is lost if the stronghold is defeated. Note that at the start of this scenario the stronghold is manned by the Imperials and its loss does not count as an AP loss to any Imperial legion.

Victory Conditions

Side Army Condition
Nimolee Elves, Dwarves, Pope Hold the Imperial Stronghold
Nimolee Necromancer, Orc Kill the Emperor (one of the Mage Generals of the Imperial force that starts on the North Edge)
Imperial Imperials, Southron Hold the Imperial Stronghold
Imperial Frogs Break two of the three Elf, Dwarf, or Pope Nimoleean armies

Each army breaks when they have lost 12 or more AP or their general. The remaining units flee towards their home board edge. Note that the Imperials will flee south if possible, or north if their are hostiles to the south. The Necromancer and Frog armies also break when their victory conditions have been achieved.

Each army breaks on its own without regard to the losses the others on its side have taken. For the Nimoleeans and the independent commands this is clear, but for the Imperials this is not so obvious. The legions tend to be organized around one noble blood commander and thus are nearly autonomous unless the Emperor is around to enforce unified action. Even then when most of a single legion or its commander goes down the rest of that legion tends to loose heart and breaks.

After Action Report

We played out this scenario in Bob's basement on the evening of 12 May 1998.

The Crossroads legion set up along the NS road with its mage general on the extreme left, the blades in the center, the shooters to the right and the airboats to the rear. The Nimoleeans set up on the forest edge just to the west of crossroads with the Dwarves in a long thin line astride the road in the center, the Elves to the left, and the pope to the right. The main imperial body set up with the Southrons in column on the NS roard, the Second Legion to their right, and the Emperor to the left, as far away from the Necromancer's forces as possible.

The game opened with the Elf mages and shooters hitting the right and the Pope's flyers hitting the left of the Crossroads Legion. This legion's general was killed by the Pope's flyers which then slipped around to the rear of the legion's main line. As the slow moving Dwarves arrived this legion's fate was sealed and only the airboats escaped the carnage.

To the north the Emperor sent the Southrons ahead led by their flying hero to try to save the Crossroads Fortress. The Second Legion peeled off to form a line anchored by its artillery to deal with the forces of the Necromancer which could dimly be seen picking their way through the trees to the west. The emperor continued to lumber forward.

The Elves swung around to meet the threat from the north and their mages managed to ensorcel the Southron's flying hero general slowing the Southron advance to a crawl. The Dwarves swarmed around the Crossroads Fortress and after a mighty effort led by their hero king they destroyed the garrison and took the tower for Nimolee. The Pope's army continued east to meet the new threat of the Frogs who advanced west just on the edge of the forest. They were in a long line with the tentacled horror from the deep warily behind realizing that its magic would be ineffective versus the paladins and cleric of the Pope's army.

The orc hero general impetuously swept ahead of his army and attacked one of the Imperial artillery pieces of the Second Legion arrayed against his advance. He destroyed one, but as he screamed in triumph and turned on the other he was cut down by a boulder launched by the desperate crew. At the same time the Necromancer's horrible skeletal behemoth broke out of the trees and lumbered towards the Second Legion. It was turned back by a spell from the Second Legion's mage general.

The Frog's advanced to the top of a low hill and the Pope's forces swept up the hill to attack. The Frog hordes and behemoths tore into the Pope's forces and aided by the remaining Imperial airboats and Frog flyer who moved to the rear of the line the Pope's army disintegrated under the hopping feet of the horrific Frogs with only a single paladin left alive.

To the north the Elves mages and shooters were punishing the Southrons as they advanced on the Crossroads with the Emperor's legion starting to enter the fray. The dwarf king was leading part of his army to shore up the Elvish line, while the main body of dwarves looked grimly on as the triumphant Frogs, who had only lost one Behemoth to the Pope's army, started to turn their way. The main body of the Necromancer and his Orc allies were stymied at the forest edge by the remaining artillery and mage of the Second Legion.

At this point time ran out in the real world. Victory was awarded to the Nimoleeans for taking the tower, and the Frogs for their destruction of the Pope's army. Another few turns and we would have seen if the Elves could continue to hold off the advancing Imperial main body and if the Frogs could have brushed aside the Dwarves as easily as they dealt with the Pope's army.

Notes on the Battle and the Rules

I need to come up for better rules to deal with broken armies. We did not have the heart to make Justin sit out after he drew the tough assignment of the Crossroads Legion and was fairly quickly and not unexpectedly broken. We let him continue to fight his troops and his airboats were very helpful in destroying the Pope's army. Probably we should adopt our DBR house rule of once you loose a general you sit for a turn, then you designate a new general for command purposes only. Once you have lost your first general every action that requires expending Pips costs one extra pip. Groups of the broken command can be rallied by expending 2 Pips or automatically if they are in combat at the time of breaking. This is not perfect in HOTT as the surviving units, as in this case, tend to be the nearly unstopable types and can really punish the victor in the later turns. Maybe we can change it so it takes 2 Pips to rally ordinary units, but the AP value to rally the 3, 4, and 6 AP HOTT units. I will try these rules for our next HOTT scenario.

Also here there was nothing for the lurker units to do. Not a surprise, but I have to remember to scatter around some bad going. Maybe better would be to give the army commander the option of replacing lurkers with hordes. This would have worked well here.

The Necromancer and Orc armies were pretty ineffective not only due to Steve's play of the Second Legion, but also due to how long it took them to get into action from the NW corner. There is no good way to fix this except to thin the forest up there, but then the Imperials have little chance to get mostly unscathed to the crossroads. It probably should have been thin enough that it takes them 4-6 turns to get to the good going rather than the 5-7 they spent.

All in all it went pretty well and the scenario was fun. Too bad we ran out of time to finish it off. Thanks much to Bob for supplying most of the troops, the table, the terrain, and the basement. Thanks to Jay who supplied the bulk of Necromancer's army. Also thanks to all the players. I hope they enjoyed it.

Scenario by Dave Cinabro