Friday, 30 October 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 44 - Aztec vs Inca

I hadn't seen my Inca HOTT army in ages, but pulled out the box the other day and decided that they'd feature in this week's HOTT 52 game. Geoff was looking for a club game, so I took along my South/Central American armies for an evening of feathers, obsidian and Conquistadors.

I selected the Inca, obviously. Geoff went for the Aztecs. The Inca defended, deploying a terribly anachronistic village (I just used the terrain I'd packed for my holiday).

Geoff got his feathered serpent dragon on the table on the first turn.



Both armies advanced as the serpent circled into the Inca rear.


The Aucakpussak veterans (hero) engaged the serpent, and were held to a draw, but lesser Inca warriors joined the fight next bound and the serpent was slain.


The armies met and the serious fighting began.


At first the Inca got the upper-hand, and quickly pushed the Aztecs close to defeat.


But as the lines fragmented, Geoff got a better run of PIPs. The Inca struggled to organise such that they could strike the killing blow, whilst the Aztecs kept up a steady pressure on their opponents.


The lines met again ...


... and the Aucakpussak were surrounded and slaughtered.


I fell back, reorganising my line and looking for an opprtunity to hit back at the Aztecs. Geoff did a great job using his numerous hordes to limit my movement with their threat zones.


My hordes were boxed in by a patach of bad going, and had done little in the battle so far.


Hordes vs hordes in bad going - a fight which saw base combat factors of zero and less.


Things were looking dodgy for the Great Inca in his litter, as Aztecs closed in on all sides.


Both of us were staving off defeat by bringing back hordes. In the middle of this picture you can see Geoff's Jaguar Knights carving their way towards my stronghold.


Some neat side-stepping by the litter bearers put them on the flank of the Aztec general, supporting an attack by the surviving Inca regulars. And the Aztec general fell, giving the Inca a narow victory.


It was a very close game. I thought I had a quick victory on the cards at the start, but couldn't finish Geoff off in the middle. He cam back fighting and pushed me to the brink of defeat. The end-game was lots of desperate shuffling as we both tried to inflict critical kills on the other. HOTT at its best.

So that was my HOTT 52 game dome for the week, but we had time for a second game (albeit that this first one took well over an hour to play). I carried on with the Inca, whilst Geoff switched to the Conquistadirs, who need some urget repairs (their angel has lost his wings - we need a George Bailey there - and their saint his banner).

The Inca defended again. I deployed that village again.


The angel got off to a great start, destroying some Inca blades from behind. The heroes then killed the angel.


Geoff then sent in Saint James to kill the Inca heroes, but they did for him as well, despite his uphill advantage.


On the Inca right the hordes charged the Conquistador crossbows and arquebus, and paid the price, but they just kept coming in wave after wave.


The armies met across the hill, and it was the Conquistador spears that held the attack, almost killing the Inca heroes at one stage.


The Great Inca fell back, ready to face the threat of the Conquistador knights.


Geoff pulled the knights back into the village to try and disrupt the Inca's behemoth attack ... and they were ambushed by Amazonian ally lurkers, and wiped out.


Shrugging off shots from the Spanish artillery, the Great Inca engaged the Conquistador general, and in a brief fight killed him, giving the Inca a second victory of the evening.



Thursday, 29 October 2020

Noggin the Nog: Wargaming the Sagas

This is another article from the old Stronghold, from the prolific Paul Grace. As ever all I have done is some minor editorial work and stuck in some pictures; the rest is Paul's own material.



Background

"..In the lands of the North where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale...."

Thus began each episode of "The Saga of Noggin The Nog : Tales of The Northlands", a children's television animation written and drawn by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, first broadcast in the late 1960's. As a child, I was enthralled by the tales and as a thirty something wargamer I find this humorous world of dragons, djinn, flying carpets, Vikings, Arabs, wicked uncles and eccentric inventors irresistible as material for a fantasy campaign. The characters and armies fit easily into the popular 'Hordes of the Things' (HOTT) rule system.

The setting is the Nordic Dark Ages with a few anachronisms thrown in (eg Nogbad gleefully uses cannon against Noggin in "Noggin & The Ice Dragon"). The land of the Nogs includes the magic forest of Troldeskow and the icy Glass Mountains which guard access to the Hot-water Valley (named after its hot springs). Noggin's castle (more Medieval than Dark Ages) stands on the coast. Across the sea to the east, lies the Land of Silver Sand (an Arabian Nights parody). Sailing northwards one will eventually reach the Land of the Midnight Sun (home of the Nooks).

Main Characters


Noggin The Nog

King of the Nogs. Hero of the Sagas of the Men of the North. Son of the late King Knut, a brave and thoroughly decent young chap. He's so nice that one might argue the case for classing him as a Paladin, but I prefer to make him a hero as this enables him to act as general.

Nogbad The Bad

Noggin's wicked uncle (He reminds me of Basil Rathbone). Nogbad believes that the Crown of the Northlands is rightfully his and is always planning ways of usurping his nephew. Where there are dirty deeds afoot you'll be sure to find Uncle Nogbad. In HOTT terms, classify him as Hero (evil) General.

Thor Nogson

Captain of the King's Guard, hero of a hundred battles. A seasoned campaigner and devoted friend and companion to Noggin. Hero and sub General for armies in excess of 24 AP.

Olaf the Lofty

Court inventor and friend to Noggin. He is the inventor of a flying machine (a longboat with clockwork powered wings) and a steam powered horse-less wagon (which he calls a 'fire engine'). Despite being descended from Long Olaf, the sorcerer of Nudrug, Olaf does not like magic (it makes his toes curl up). He possesses the Stone of Nudrug, a ring which protects the wearer from magic. He makes an ideal Cleric.

Graculus

Royal Bird and Protector of Noggin. A great green bird with the power of speech. Class as a Flyer.

Nooka

The Fair Nooka, daughter of Nan of the Nooks and Noggin's Queen, does not need to be represented on the wargames table.

Ronf

Leader of the little people of the Hot-water Valley. With beard and kilt and a fiery temper (don't call him little) he is a sort of Highland Hobbit or Dwarf. His people were able to hide themselves away from Grolliffe the Ice Dragon for 3 weeks which makes them ideal Sneakers.

Grolliffe

He describes himself as "just an ordinary small ice dragon, established clerical grade." Grolliffe is in fact a very large creature breathing ice instead of fire, the treasurer of the Dragon's Friendly Society. Noggin helps rescue his treasure after Nogbad steals it. Noggin is rewarded with a medal, which if struck with silver will enable him to summon a dragon to his assistance. Needless to say class Grolliffe as a Dragon.

Emperor Ahmed el Ahmed

Another wicked uncle, he usurped the throne of his young nephew King Rashid, king of the Land of Silver Sand. He is friend and helper of Nogbad. He has a guard of Moors and employs magicians, magic carpets and djinn. Hero (evil) General.

Ahmed's Djinni

Kept in a large vase, this djinni can transform itself into a huge black cloud. I feel that the power and fickleness of the djinn is best expressed as a God element and not a behemoth (as suggested in HOTTs Arabian Myth List).

Haroun Ibn Doud

"not an evil magician at all, just a nice, kind old gentleman with a djinni kept in a jar". His power is limited to what his djinn can or will do. Not worth representing separately on the wargames table.

Haroun's Djinni

A magic spirit of white smoke. Not in the same league as Ahmed's Djinn (when faced against him he shoots back into his jar and secures the stopper!).

King Rashid

Young King indebted to Noggin for restoring his throne. Too young to play a military role. He is only referred to by name in the animation.

Arab Magician / Thief

Nameless character: a magician and servant of Ahmed el Ahmed. Stole Noggin's crown and escaped on a magic carpet.

His carpet is too slow to claim any benefit as a flyer: I would classify the little Arab as either a Sneaker or Magician.

Groont

Court inventor to the King-under-the-Hill. His people are known as the Omrud, tiny folk who live underground. The Omrud are very sensitive to sunlight. I have never used them as part of an army but they could be included in a D&D role play environment.



Army Lists

When playing HOTT, I tend to use double size (ie 48 AP) armies. Half the army is made up of ordinary mortals (usually based on a 12 element DBA army list) the remaining 24 AP comprise of HOTT elements. Included in the above will be two generals : one C in C and one Sub General.

The Goodies

The Army of Noggin

Based on an Anglo-Saxon / Danish army (DBA list 116).

3 Blade6 AP
8 Spear16 AP
1 Shooter2 AP
1 Hero4 APNoggin, General, C in C
1 Hero4 APThor Nogson, Sub Commander
1 Dragon4 APGrolliffe
1 Flyer2 APGraculus
1 Cleric3 APOlaf
1 Sneaker3 APRonf
1 Horde1 APLittle People of Hot-water Valley
1 Airboat3 AP

Alternatives : Instead of the Airboat and Horde, have 2 additional Flyers (great green birds), as relatives of Graculus (eg Uncle Cronk and cousin Arkly); or replace the Dragon with Olaf's fire-engine, classed as a Behemoth (warwagon) @ 4 AP.

If you wish, you could also include Haroun Ibn Doud's Djinni as a God (4 AP) but with -2 on combat against other djinn.

When operating in or close to the Hot-water Valley, increase the number of Horde elements. Hordes work better in large numbers.

The Baddies

1) Nogbad's Rebel Army.

Based on a Viking army (DBA list 116):

3 Blade6 AP
8 Warband16 AP
1 Shooter2 AP
1 Hero4 APNogbad the Bad (General)
1 Hero4 APAhmed el Ahmed (Sub General)
3 Flyers6 APCrows of Nudrug (see notes).
Magician4 APMercenary Sorcerer (see notes).
Artillery3 APNogbad's Cannon
Sneaker3 APThief or Assassin.

Notes: Nogbad is assisted by an army of crows to occupy Noggin's castle in the fourth saga :'The Omruds'.

No Northland magicians appear in the books or animation, but The forest of Troldeskow is described in the book as being planted 'in the days of magic by a black sorcerer'. If any evil magicians remain, you can be assured that they would be in Nogbad's employ.

2) Emperor Ahmed el Ahmed's Army of the Silver Sand.

Based on an East Sudanese army (DBA list 101a):

3 Riders6 APCamelry
6 Warband12 AP
3 Shooter6 AP
1 Hero4 APNogbad the Bad (sub General)
1 Hero4 APAhmed el Ahmed (General)
1 Blade2 AAhmed's Body Guard (Moors)
God4 APDjinni
Magician4 APArab on flying Carpet
Artillery3 APNogbad's Cannon
Sneaker3 APArab Thief or Assassin.

Alternatives : Include some flying carpet flyers (2 AP).

Remove Ahmed's bodyguard, place Ahmed on a flying carpet and upgrade him to Flying Hero (6 AP).

Notes : When deploying elements that are represented on flying carpets it is most important that you inform your opponent of the exact nature of the element (ie magician / flying Hero / flyer etc) before starting the game.


Scenarios

1) Blood in the Sand.

With the help of Nogbad, Ahmed el Ahmed leads a successful coup against King Rashid. Noggin leads an expeditionary force to the Land of Silver Sand to help return his young friend to the throne.

As well as straight forward table top clashes between the Arabs and the "Cow-Hatted Barbarians", one could include sieges, naval clashes (longships -v- Arab dow) and beach assaults. If Noggin decides to invade from the air then you have the possibility of flying carpets dog-fighting with airboats !

2) Civil War in The Northlands

Nogbad is back on his home ground again and together with an army of discontented and disreputable Nogs (aided and abetted by Ahmed el Ahmed) tries to take Noggin's crown. This campaign could be played 'straight' just using DBA rules and elements as a Viking -v- Saxon conflict.

Figures

You will be surprised to read that as yet no manufacturer has seen fit to produce a range of Noggin figures!

(Alan Says: I don't think this is true any more - I seem to recall that there's been a recent kickstarter to prioduce Noggin the Nog miniatures

Update: Little Soldier Company - Noggin Figures)

Don't worry, any range of Dark Ages figures (Saxons, Vikings or even Arthurians) will do for the Nogs. The Arabs can be Bedouins, Moslem Warriors, Midianites. Village Green do a nice Longboat that can be converted to a flying boat (just find a suitable pair of large wings).

Sources

Book

The Saga of Noggin the Nog : Four Tales of the Northlands, by Oliver Postgate & Peter Firmin. Collins, 1992.

First published, 1968 , in 4 separate volumes :

King of the Nogs
The Ice Dragon
The Flying Machine
The Omruds.

Video

The Saga of Noggin the Nog : Tales of the Northlands.
BBC Enterprises Ltd, 1991 (running time 83 min.).
Includes 2 of the sagas : 'Noggin and The Ice Dragon' and 'Noggin and The Flying Machine'.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Holiday HOTT

I played a couple of games of HOTT last week on one of our campsites. From a HOTT 52 point of view they fell within a week I'd already done a game for, so these were simply 'normal' games simply for the sake of playing HOTT.

I got out the Swiss and Prester John, basically because, aside from the Elves and Dwarves, they were the only armies I had with me.

Prester John's army should pretty much be familiar to you by now. The Swiss are my DBA Early Swiss, so have the deep-based fast blades, which I generally run as warband - quite fun in HOTT as they work with an 80mm dept if double-ranked. They fielded nine warband, two spears (one of which is the general) ad a rider.

Prester John defended, securing one flank in a town and the other against a hill. The open flank consisted of knights and the behemoth, so was relatively safe from the main Swiss warband attack.



The Swiss didn't need to resort to subtlety; just get the warband moving forward as fast as possible seemed as good a plan as any.


Prester John extended his line in order to get overlaps.


The African warbands moved forward in order to halt the Swiss advance at archery range for their accompanying bowmen. This did nothing to slow the Swiss advance. In the centre a unit of blades had fallen to the Swissh attack, but Prester John and the other blades had turned the Swiss flank.


The elephant was cut off and surrounded by pikemen, and slain.


And here's the end - Prester John cut down by a furious Swiss charge after his accompanying blades were also slaughtered.

I didn't take any photos of the second game - my phone needed charging - but it went in a similar fashion. Prester John defended, opting to deploy his army on a large hill. The Swiss simply decided to take a risk and charged straight up the hill, got lucky and punched a hole through the enemy line. After that it was simply a mopping-up operation. An attack by some knights was halted and the warband on the receiving end then pushed the knights back (against the odds of an instant kill) and eventually destroyed them to win another battle.


Monday, 26 October 2020

Frocktober 2020 - Part 2

This year is the first time I've been on holiday whilst trying to do Frocktober. More specifically, a camping holiday. But I wasn't going to let my living in a tent for two weeks stop me from parading about in a frock, so took a few with me.

If you want to skip the frocks you can simply go to our Frocktober donations page here, and make a contribution towards the owrk of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation here in Australia: IT HAS POCKETS

Still here? Well, on with the frocks. There are only two, but I took plenty of pictures to make up for it.

Frock Five was this pink and blue beauty. Catherine matched it (indeed surpassed it) with one of her own. They're both from the same designer - Vanessa Tong.




We took our lovely dresses to Cowra's Japanese gardens; a prefect setting for some flounces and fundraising.







Frock Six - My second dres from this year's sponsor Little Party Dress. I thought gingham was a perfect look for wandering around country New South Wales, but ended up wearing it in the opal-mining town of Lightning Ridge.



Indeed I had to give up my cute straw hat for this more practical piece of headwear at some point.



Still, I got the hat back when we roamed around the nearby cactus garden.



So that's it - only two frocks in two weeks. But our fundraising is still going well. We'd love lots more cash though! So here's that link again: IT HAS POCKETS

One week to go. How many frocks can it fit in?

HOTT 52 - Week 43 - Elves vs Gnomes

My holiday covered one whole HOTT 52 week, as well as the tail-end of one and the start of another. I fitted in the game for the first part-week before I went, but took enough armies away with me to maybe fit in the game for the week which started whilst I was away. Unfortunately I was simply enjoying the holiday too much to be able to fit in the second HOTT 52 game, so I squeezed it in on the day after we got back.

One again I used the Elves, but this time they faced the Garden Gnomes, giving a battle between two spear armies supported by shooters.

The Gnomes fielded: Three spears (including the general), three shooters, two behemoths and a magician.

The Elves defended, and fielded: Two riders (including the general), one hero, one magician, four spears and two shooters.

The attacking gnomes deloyed between a twee village and a garden pond.


The Gnome shooters were deployed to the left of the village, and the Elves decided to eliminate them as the emerged from behind it, sweeping their riders and hero forward.

The Gnomes lacked the PIPs to safely fall back into the safety of the village, so shook out into a line.

Their first volley eliminated one element of Elven riders. Some spears moved up to the support the missile troops.

In fact the whole Gnome army shifted to the left, leaving the Elven mounted horribly exposed but with the option of a rapid withdrawal if things went really badly for them. The Elves moved their magician up in support, as their hero cut down an element of shooters.


The Elves kept up the attack on the shooters, eliminating another one.


The Gnome's magician ensorcelled the Elven hero, though.


Both armies had now closed up in order to cover the flanks of the fight on the Gnome's left, and the behemoth snail riders found themselves under pressure from a wall of Elven spears.


There was a large gap between the Elven right flank and their centre, however, and the Gnomes quickly exploted it. Their spears formed up into a phalanx and attacked the Elven magician, whilst their king swung onto the flank of the Elven spear-line as it came under a second attack by the snail-riders. Both combats were potentially fatal for the Elves, and if they lost both they would lose the battle.


The magician fell ...


... but the Elven spears held, destroying the behemoth attacking them.


Now the Gnomes were in trouble. The Elven spears pushed forward and eliminated the other behemoth. This was anough to break the Gnome's army.


This was a very close battle; the Elves had lost 10AP of troops by the end, and came within a single lost combat of losing the battle before they got the two reasonably lucky kills on the Gnomes. 


The flow of the battle was very much dictated by the Elven riders, whose fast movement enabled the Elves to choose where it took place. The slower Gnomes were forced to fight in place, and their early failure to move into advantageous terrain cost them badly.
 

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