In Hordes of the Things (HOTT) players alternate turns in a move / counter-move system. In their own turn a player starts by rolling a six-sided dice to determine their Player Initiative Points (PIPs). PIPs determine the number of actions a player may make that turn. These actions are to move elements, cast spells or perform some special actions.
Spell casting and shooting is resolved next, then any close combat. Shooting, spell casting and close combat is resolved the same way. Combat results usually cause elements to recoil, flee or be destroyed. An army that loses its general, half its army points or its stronghold (if defender) has lost the game. A game often lasts less than an hour.
The basic unit of an army is known as an element. The number of elements in an army is based on a points system. Each element costs 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 Army Points (AP) depending on its type. A basic army is made up of 24AP worth of elements. No more than half the points can be spent on elements costing 3 or more AP. A basic army is therefore normally made up of 9 to 12 elements, although 24 element armies are possible ! Elements are of basic types – examples are Knights (mounted troops relying on a fierce charge), Blades (skilled fencing infantry), Heroes (superhuman individuals), Lurkers (things that hide and ambush) and Magicians (practitioners of magic). One element is always the army’s commander.
The point cost system allows players to invent their own armies, although the rulebook contains a large number of armies from a variety of fantasy genres.
The rules are suitable for 25mm, 15mm, or 6mm figures.
Ground scale is 1″ = 100 paces (when using 15mm figures or smaller) or 10mm = 25 paces (25mm figures).
One turn represents 15 minutes, although this is not important within the rules.
The figure scale is variable as it is the effect of a unit that is important, not the number of creatures that is being represented. For example, a unit may have a single figure representing one hero or dragon, whereas a unit of goblins may have 5 figures representing several hundred goblins.
Each element is a rectangular base with a varying number of figures mounted upon it. There is a recommended number of figures for each different type of element to aid recognition, but this is not essential and only needs to be what gives a good look. The width of the base depends upon the size of figures being used. The depth of the base also depends upon the type of element. The recommended number of figures per base also depends upon the type of element. For example with 15mm model figures, an element of swordsmen is composed of 4 figures mounted on a 40mm (frontage) x 15mm (depth) base; a 15mm dragon is mounted alone on a 40mm (frontage) x 60mm (depth) base.
The rules were designed by Phil Barker, Sue Laflin Barker and Richard Bodley Scott. They are published by Wargames Research Group and are now into their second version.