Balagan HOTT – House Rules for Hordes of the Things

Hordes of the Things (HOTT) is pretty good but not perfect. I wondered what house rules to use to make it better and had a quick google for inspiration. I don’t actually use these house rules but if I wanted to make HOTT a better game then I’d consider them.

Grand Tactical Movement

Suggestion from Big Battles Hordes of the Things

Elements or groups that are more than 600p from a known enemy and remain more than 600p throughout their bound from a known enemy can move again for each extra PIP spent. This movement can include deploying.

Getting bang for your buck

Suggestion from Stronghold: Proposed Changes to ‘Hordes of the Things” Version 3

Some troop types seem under or over powered for the AP cost. Various suggestions have been made for rectifying these imbalances. The most popular seem to be for:

  • Shooters
  • Warband
  • Sneakers
  • Water Lurkers


Reduce move to 200p.


Increase move to 300p.


Ignore the extra PIP cost for being out of sight or out of range of their CinC.

Water Lurkers

Suggestion from Stronghold: Water Lurkers Variant

In standard HOTT a Water Lurker can be deployed in a water feature (river, sea or lake) or marsh. Alan Saunders has proposed a Stronghold: Water Lurkers Variant to increase the number and type of features a Water Lurker can appear in.

Define the ‘water’ features at the beginning of a game. A terrain feature is a ‘water’ feature if it

  • Is a river, sea, lake, marsh, bog or swamp
  • If it is woods or flat bad going of any kind that is physically touching:
    • The board edge.
    • Another feature that is already defined as a ‘water’ feature.

A Water Lurker may be deployed in:

  • A ‘water’ feature as per the HOTT rules but bearing in mind the definition above.
  • In contact with an enemy element that has just moved to within 100p of a river, sea or lake, but not other ‘water’ features, so long as the Water Lurker is itself at least partially within the river, sea or lake feature.

DBA Style Built Up Areas

In HOTT a Built Up Area (BUA) is simply a type of bad going but DBA v2.2 has special rules for BUA. These special rules offer a couple of advantages:

  • They encourage a BUA as a diorama rather than a template defining an area with movable houses.
  • They acknowledge the DBA/HOTT campaign rules (such as Britannia 600 AD).

Some of the provisions of the DBA rule are inconsistent with the time scale of a battle, but are necessary for a campaign where treachery was the most common reason for a city falling to the enemy.

BUA Terrain Features

A BUA is optional, but if taken replaces the defender’s Stronghold.

A BUA represents a large palisaded or walled village, a hill fort or a walled town or castle.

BUA can be bigger than a Stronghold. A Stronghold is up to 4 base widths (160mm in 15mm), but BUA are at most 9 base widths (360mm in 15mm) in Length + Width. The Length must not exceed twice the width. For example, these are all valid dimensions for a large BUA:

  • 240mm x 120mm – longest rectangle
  • 180mm x 180mm – square
  • 200mm x 160mm – biggest rectangle with dimensions in whole base widths

All of a BUA must be placed within 900 paces of two battlefield edges. These two battlefield edges cannot be the invader’s preferred edge (i.e. the one they roll 4-6 to get).

Any roads must contact the BUA or pass through it. Friendly troops following such a road can pass through the BUA, even if it is occupied, adding the internal distance to the normal road movement.

A BUA is neither good nor bad going, but gives a combat:

  • Advantage (+3) to a 1-element foot garrison or, if there is none, to its denizens.
  • Disadvantage (-2) to attacking or occupying mounted troops (Behemoths attacking the BUA do not suffer this factor).

Unlike Strongholds, BUA do not defend themselves, and have garrisons instead (see below).

Replacement Hordes appear next to the BUA if this is on the base edge, otherwise on their base edge.

Other special rules of BUA and Strongholds in HOTT are retained, for example:

  • Aerials cannot end their move in/over a BUA (p. 18).
  • BUA block distant shooting (p. 20).
  • Overlaps are determined as per Strongholds.
  • Loss of the BUA is handled like loss of the Stronghold.
  • Aerials cannot attack a BUA unless assisted by ground troops.


A BUA can be garrisoned by:

  • A single troop element of mounted or foot (not aerials).
  • Denizens not represented by an element.

When a garrison is destroyed in close combat the victorious enemy element immediately occupies the BUA (unless aerials) and remains sacking it until its player has a PIP score of 5 or 6. It can then garrison the BUA or vacate it. Prior to that it does not get the garrison tactical factor and cannot shoot or be shot at.

All garrisons:

Do not pursue defeated attackers as an outcome move.

Can benefit from the tactical factor for “defending a river bank” if appropriate.

Never benefit from the tactical factor for “defending up hill” as any hill will be incorporated into the defences.

Prevent enemy troops occupying the BUA.

Troop element garrisons

Troop element garrisons are a single element of mounted or foot (not aerials). They can be deployed at the start of the battle inside the BUA even if the BUA is outside the army’s deployment zone. They are positioned roughly at its centre of the BUA, but represent defenders manning its perimeter. They are the sole occupant of the BUA, so prevent friendly troops occupying the BUA. Can vacate voluntarily using a tactical move.

In combat, troop element garrisons:

  • If foot (but not mounted), get a tactical factor in combat (+3) for the BUA defences.
  • Are destroyed if they suffer a recoil result in combat.
  • Substitute recoil for any auto-kill benefits for their type (e.g. Warband garrisons do not auto-kill attacking Blades, but recoil them instead).

Denizen garrisons

Denizens take over defence of the BUA if the:

  • BUA was never garrisoned by a troop element.
  • Troop element garrison vacated voluntarily.
  • Troop element garrison was destroyed by distant shooting.

Denizen garrisons are not possible if the troop element garrison was destroyed in close combat.

Denizens are not represented by an element so do not prevent friendly elements occupying the BUA.

In combat Denizens:

  • Get +1 versus any enemy, whether foot, mounted or aerial.
  • Get a tactical factor in combat (+3) for the BUA defences.
  • Suffer these combat results:
    • If its total is less than that of its opponent but more than half:
      • Are destroyed if in close combat; surrender if shot at by artillery; otherwise no effect.
    • If its total is half or less than half that of its opponent:
      • Destroyed.

Denizens are loyal to one side or the other. They:

  • Are initially loyal to the defender.
  • Change sides, and fight for the enemy, if they surrender when shot at by artillery. This also prevents the BUA being sacked. An enemy foot troop element can now freely move into the BUA to become the new garrison.
  • Can revolt. The player that originally owned an enemy-controlled BUA can try to get any surviving denizens to revolt. This is regardless of whether the BUA surrendered or was captured during battle, whether in the current battle or in a previous battle in the campaign. Revolts are not possible when the enemy-controlled BUA is garrisoned by a troop element or when the denizens have been destroyed in the current battle. The player pays 6 PIPS at the start of any of his side’s bounds and the denizens change back to his side and will garrison the BUA.


Barker, P., Laffin Barker, S., and Bodley Scott, R. (2002). Hordes of the Things [2nd Ed.]. Wargames Research Group.

Barker, P., Bodley Scott, R., and Laffin Barker, S., (2004). De Bellis Antiquitatis [Version 2.2]. Wargames Research Group.

Saunders, Alan., The Stronghold.

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