Showing posts with label mythology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mythology. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunday Dreamtime

I got out my Indigenous Australian matched HOTT armies this morning, since I have been promising myself for ages that I'd try a couple of games and see if the matchup really is as unbalanced as I think it is.

I'm happy with the Heroes of the Dreamtime (shown here). They're a nice mix of warband and flyers, with a single beast and hero in support, and a god and some lurkers waiting in the wings.

The Horrors of the Dreamtime are more of a problem, mostly because they have a single flyer general and no other aerials, making him rather vulnerable, since the opposing army has two flyers and (potentially) a god. Oh, and the hero. The two behemoths are quite dangerous to the opposing warband, it's true, and there's a magician to cause the enemy flyers a few hairy moments, but really it doesn't seem enough. The rest of the army is beasts, hordes and lurkers.

So in the first game the Horrors attacked the Heroes. The Heroes got themselves onto a hill, whilst the Horrors advanced.

The Heroes' god appeared, and immediately attacked the Horrors' general.

The Horrors continued their advance, but the god kept up his attack and killed their general. Game over.

The second game saw the Horrors defending. Both armies ended up fighting a very fragmented battle.

This was due, in part, to the Heroes opting to ignore a frontal assault on the enemy Behemoths (sensible) and send the warbands on a flank march through some woods. Rubbish PIPs meant that the Whowhie was able to move to intercept them.

The Winjarning Brothers, the heroes of the Heroes, rushed to the warriors' aid.

Meanwhile the mighty Wulgaru was having trouble with some domesticated dingoes.

He recoiled into the Goose Women (magician), destroying them.

It was all looking a bit of a mess for the Horrors.

The Horrors got a line together, but the Heroes attacked. The Whowie was driven back by the heroes and ...

... a lucky combat roll saw Marmoo The Evil One killed by some whirlwind-spirits, ending the battle with another defeat for the Horrors.

My conclusion? The Horrors need a rethink. I'm tempted to drop one of the beasts (since they are very similar in background) in favour of a second flyer, and even two of the hordes in favour of a third. This would give the Horrors a decent supported aerial force, albeit one hampered by the PIP costs of having a magician in the same army. I shall have a think about how I want to depict these new elements, and give them  a try. Sometime in the next ten years or so ...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Army Showcase - Prester John

Many years ago I picked up a pile of HOTT armies on a bring and buy - and when I say 'many years' I mean 'back when I was living in the UK'. It seemed like a good purchase at the time, but when I got them home I realised that what I'd bought was a pile of badly-painted and very unexciting miniatures. They went into a box where they have remained ever since.

Until the other week, when I was looking for something else, and came across them again. Maybe I've mellowed with age, but I felt sorry for them, and decided to salvage at least some of them. A good proportion of them were medieval knights and foot-soldiers, so I decided to tidy up or redo the painting on them, and assemble a basic army out of what I had. A simple medieval European HOTT army is always worth having in one's collection, after all.

Then I started reading the army lists for David Brown's in-playtest 'Last Stand' fantasy rules. Two of them covered the mythical medieval king Prester John, and I was inspired to change the direction of my repainting project.

Prester John was a legendary Christian patriarch and king popular in European writings and legends during medieval and renaissance times. He was said to rule over a mighty Christian nation, lost amid the Muslims and pagans of the Orient or, in later writings, Africa. The legends seem to be based on accounts of isolated Christian groups beyond Europe, both in India and in Ethiopia, inflating them to mighty empires which would ride up and aid Europe against Muslim and pagan invasions.

I decided to switch my army to Africa, but go down the medieval route of assuming that they'd still mostly look like medieval Europeans in terms of weapons and armour. Essentially I did a core medieval European army, but gave all of the troops dark skin, and added in some native troops and elements for local colour.

Here's the whole army:

1 x Cleric General (Prester John)
2 x Knights (Knights. Of course)
2 x Blades (Armoured foot-soldiers)
1 x Behemoth (War Elephant)
1 x Shooter (Armoured Bowmen)
1 x Shooter (Native Subjects with Bow)
2 x Warband (Native Subject Warriors)
1 x Lurker (Crocodiles)

Here's Prester John himself, and his noble knights. The original figures had this blue and while colour scheme, but with some additional jarring purple as well I de-purpled them, and tidied up the rest.

The blades. They are made up of those terrible figures that have a bent sword cast across the face that's almost impossible to cleanly cut away without hacking the figure about.

The elephant. Because who doesn't want an elephant in their army? It's from HAT's 20mm Carthaginian range; oversized for 15mm, but suitably heroic for an elephant in the army of a legendary figure like Prester John. The crew are more of those wonderful medieval figures, though.

Archers. The 'regulars' are a mix of spearmen and bowmen, but count as shooters for HOTT. There was only one element of archers in the  collection, so I mixed them with an element of spearmen to stretch them out a bit. Then I only used on of them in the finished army. There's still room for expansion. The irregular archers are some 15mm Tupi I had going spare. Not African, I know, but the average medieval chronicler wouldn't care, and neither do I.

Native ally warbands. More Tupi. I seriously don't care.

Crocodiles. Nothing says Africa like crocodile lurkers. And, again, they were going spare.

The whole army again.

Now let's see how they fight.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Second Battle of Moytura

The Second Battle of Moytura is an epic struggle chronicled in the Irish mythological cycle, 'The Book of Invasions'. 'The Book of Invasions' purports to give a history of the various peoples that settled Ireland, their heroes and gods and their conflicts with each other. The battle was fought between the Tuatha De Danaan and what seem to be the villains of the cycle, the Formorians. 

I put together a couple of HOTT lists for the battle many years ago:

Tuatha De Danaan

Hero General @ 4AP
(Lugh Long-Arm in chariot)
Hero @ 4AP
(Nuada Silver-Hand in chariot)
Magician @ 4AP
(Sorcerors, witches, druids and satirists)
Knights @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes, such as Ogma in chariots)
Blades @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes on foot)
Hordes @ 1AP
(Other warriors)
Options: Behemoth @ 4AP (The Dagda)

The Tuatha De Danaan had more heroes in their army than can be adequately represented by a 24AP HOTT army. Lugh is classed as the general, as although not the king he seemed to inspire the army in battle. Nuada Silver-Hand was the king, so is included as the other Hero, although other named characters could be substituted instead. The Tuatha De Danaan made much use of offensive magic to disrupt the Formorian army, so include a Magician element. The ordinary warriors are classed as Hordes, as part of the De Danaan victory was attributed to the work of Diancecht, Credne and others in repairing weapons and healing the wounded. Thus, their warriors were able to return to the fray.
The Dagda perfromed prodigious feats, many of which were associated with his tremendous size. He may be included as a Behemoth if desired.


Magician General @ 4AP
Blades @ 2AP
(Formorian Heroes on foot)
Spears @ 2AP
(Formorian Warriors)
Warbands @ 2AP
(Islemen Mercenaries)
Options: Riders @ 2AP (Scythians), Hero @ 4AP (Bres)

The Formorian warriors are classified as Spears, rather than Warband or Hordes, as at one stage attacking their army is described as like hitting one's head against a cliff. Spears gives the army this 'immovable object' characteristic that other troop types lack. None of the Formorian heroes seem to have shone in this battle, indeed few are mentioned apart from Bres, so they are relegated to Blades. Bres may be upgraded as an option, but there is no mention of any battlefield prowess on his part in the account of the battle. There appears to be no reference to Formorian chariots, so none have been included. Balor led the Formorian army, and is described as having a single eye, the gaze of which could slay whole armies. The lid was so heavy that four men were needed to open it, using a pulley and handle system. He slew Nuada Silver-Hand with this eye, but was killed by Lugh with a sling-shot.

The Formorians marched with mercenaries from the Isles and beyond. These wilder, less civilised folk are classed as Warband. The account also mentions Skythians, so these are included as an option.

I put together the Tuatha De Danaan force as well, although experience in playing it over the years suggested that the Lesser Heroes were best represented by Warband rather than Blades, and that's how I run them now.

I took the Tuatha De Danaan away on my camping trip this weekend, along with a few other HOTT armies. When setting up a game for them I realised that I had the necessary bits to actually try a game based on the battle. For the Formorians I took a lot of artistic licence and used my Fishmen. The myths suggested they were monsters in some parts, so it wasn't too much of a stretch. For the Islemen mercenaries I used some of my wilder-looking Elves. Cthulhu stood in for the Formorian leader, Balor of the Evil Eye. In the above list he is a Magician, but these days I would be inclined to run him as a Behemoth instead  In fact I even considered Artillery.

So here are the Formorians: a Behemoth general, six Spears, two Blades and two Warband.

And the Tuatha De Danaan: Hero general, a Hero, two Warband, two Knights, one Magician and four Hordes.

The Tuatha De Danaan defended, and I ended up with the following terrain.

Opening moves; the armies advanced towards each other, Both forces had the generals out on a flank, and effectively opposing each other. As the lines closed there was some shuffling of troops, with the De Danaan Knights trying to avoid being matched against the Behemoth Balor. In the background the Islemen closed with the De Danaan lesser heroes.

And that was the first contact; Warband against Warband. For several bounds it was a shoving match, until the Islemen scored a 6-1 combat result and wiped out their foes.

On the other flank the De Danaan troops solved the problem of Balor by committing their Magicians to the fight.

Nuada of the Silver Hand swept out in his chariot to engage the Islemen.

Meanwhile Lugh led the De Danaan heroes in an attack on Balor and the Formorian heroes ...

... with mixed results. Balor fled, but so did one base of chariots.

The Islemen were out for blood, driving Nuada into some woods where the advantage of his chariot was nullified.

Balor returned to the fray.

Nuada died amongst the trees, and the Islemen charged towards the De Danaan stronghold.

Meanwhile the bulk of the Formorian army was advancing on the hill defended by De Danaan's warriors.

The Islemen attacked teh stronghold, but failed to take it.

The Formorian and De Danaan lines met ...

... but the hill was insufficient advantage and the De Danaan warriors were scattered, breaking the army.

A victory for Balor!

The armies seemed to match up nicely, and I enjoyed the game a lot. The Tuatha De Danaan had quite  run of bad luck; some 6-1 combats and low PIPs meant that they were on the back-foot for a lot of the game, trying to find an opening. But it could have so easily gone the other way.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Army Showcase - Asag And The Stone Allies

One of the first army lists in HOTT which seems to grab people's attention is that for Asag and the Stone Allies. This is an army derived from Sumerian mythology; the demon Asag raised an army from the very earth itself, and waged was on men until he was defeated by the hero Ninurta. The army essentially consists of the demon himself, and then lots of rocks; big ones, small ones and ... medium ones. And that's attractive to the first-time army builder, since you can put one together with stones from your garden.

I out together my Asag army many years ago, and decided that it required a little more effort than just gluing a few rocks to bases. In the end that's really all I did, but I like to think I did it with a bit of style.

Here's the whole army - Asag in the centre is an Aerial Hero general. To the right of the picture are eight Hordes, and to the left are three Beasts and a Behemoth. The Hordes, Beasts and Behemoth represent small, medium and large animated rocks and boulders.

The medium and large rocks and boulders were easy to put together. The Beasts I did with three different colours of gravel. I selected pieces which I could lean forward on the base slightly, as this gave a sense of movement and also made it easier to identify the element's front. I adopted the same approach for the Behemoth, but I actually bought and paid for that element; it's made up of two mineral samples from the gift-shop in the Natural History Museum in London. 

I carefully selected two pieces that, firstly, would fit on the element base (I took a blank one into the shop in order to check) and secondly were shaped to give a sense of movement.

And this is the bulk of the army - Hordes made up of gravel. Now it would have been easy to have just glued these small stones to a base and leave them at that.

However, I chose to glue them to each other as well, making little (and not so little) rock-humanoids. I felt this gave the bases more animation and, from a practical point of view, made the front of the element easier to identify.

And, finally, Asag.

Asag started life as a resin griffon from a gift-shop here in Australia. However I replaced its head with that from a Games Workshop Temple Dog, to create the hideous monster you see below. I wouldn't say he looks particularly Sumerian, but he does look fairly demonic, and makes an excellent centrepiece for the army.

 One day - a phrase I say a lot, so don't get too excited - I will put together an army covering his arch-enemy Ninurta, and have an epic Sumerian mythological battle. You'll probably be waiting a while for that though.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Manx Legends for HOTT

(This is another post from the original Stronghold - an army list based on myths and legends from the Isle of Man and written by Tim Sharrock. It includes pictures of his 15mm army.)

This army is based on stories from "Manx Fairy Tales" by Sophia Morrison (1911) as found at:

The Army
Blade general (Olaf Goddardson and his huscarls) @ 2AP 1
Blades (More Norsemen) @ 2AP 2
Shooters (Celtic shepherds with slings) @ 2AP 2
Warband (South Manx Women) @ 2AP 1
Beasts (Hunting Pack of the Little People) @ 2AP 2
Behemoth (The Buggane of St Trinians) @ 4AP 1
God (Manannan Mac y Leirr) @ 4AP 1
Stronghold: a mist-covered hill
Home terrain: Tynwald Hill, or Peel Castle.

Manx society included strong Norse and Celtic influences, hence the Blades and Shooters. Olaf Goddardson owned the sword Macabuin, which was made by Loan Maclibuin, the Dark Smith of Drontheim.

"The south side women, at one battle, had followed the men and were watching from a little distance, but when they saw that the north people were winning they rushed down, and into the heart of the fight, with bratfuls of stones and with hacks, and won the day for the south."

South Side Women
The Little People can be represented as beasts or riders - depending on the ratio of hounds to horses, or even as cow-mounted knights:

"in came a whole lot of Little Men, dressed in green coats and leather caps. Keeking through the straw, he saw their horns hung by their sides, their whips in their hands, and scores of little dogs of every colour-green, blue, yellow, scarlet, and every colour you can think of-at their heels. The cows were lying down. The Little Fellows loosed the yokes from the cows' necks, hopped on their backs, a dozen, maybe, on each cow, and cracked their little whips."

The Buggane of St Trinians was defeated by a tailor - Timothy, who would ideally be depicted on the base - running away carrying a newly made pair of breeches. As to the Buggane itself, it had:

* a head covered with a mane of coarse, black hair
* eyes like torches
* glittering sharp tusks in its big, ugly, red mouth
* a big broad pair of shoulders, thick arms great fists
* a horrible form, black as ebony, and covered with wrinkles like the leather of a blacksmith's bellows
* sharp claws
* cloven feet
* rough arms, bony fingers, hard fists etc

The Buggane and Manannan Mac y Leirr
When the Buggane failed to catch Tim: "So furious was the monster at this that he seized his own head with his two hands, tore it off his body and sent it flying over the wall after the Tailor. It burst at his feet with a terrific explosion"... so you could also class it as artillery.

Manannan Mac y Leirr, "the Son of the Sea, was the first Ruler of Mann. He was a great Wizard, and he was so powerful that afterwards he was looked on as a god." so could also be represented as a magician general. On one occasion "... he made himself into the shape of three legs and rolled like a wheel down from the mountain top as fast as the wind". In another story he was opposed by St Patrick, who had ridden "in his shining armour on [his] snow-white steed". Manannan hid the whole island in mist (hence the stronghold) but Patrick with the help of several creatures landed at Peel "and he saw a great host of warriors round Manannan's Faery Mound, with the first rays of the rising sun shining on their spears. But the saint knew that they were phantoms raised by Manannan's magic power and he bade them to be gone. And, behold, they and their master, in the shape of three-legged men, whirled round and round like wheels before the swift wind..."

The Stronghold
An alternative approach would be to split the Manx into two lists, with the non-humans - typically more associated with the south of the Island. Manannan would be the magician general, and you could add more little people (as riders or knights), Nyker, the Water Goblin as a water-lurker, the Moddey Doo (a big black dog with rough curly hair) as a lurker, possibly another magician (such as Caillagh-ny-Faashagh, who could change himself into any shape he liked; sometimes he would be a goat with big, fiery eyes as big as dishes; at other times a tall, tall man as tall as two men with great, big, burning eyes, as big as plates). I do not know how to classify Ned Quayles fairy pig: "its tail was feathery and spread out like a fan, and it had long lapping ears that swept the ling. Now and again it turned its head and looked at me, and its eyes were burning like fire."

The Human Manx, could have a Norse blade general, as above, or St Patrick as a cleric general (or with the shining armour he could be classed as a paladin). St Patrick's monks could be a cleric, and perhaps the gentler North Manx women should be added as a horde.

Little People and Norse

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