Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Hordes of the Things - Ratmen vs Dwarves, Round 2

Our latest Monday evening game of Hordes at The Stronghold Gaming Club was a rematch for my Ratmen Vs Kev's Dwarves. It was a darn close run thing as the Ratmen almost took down the Dwarves. At one point both armies were down to 14AP (12 AP and you lose).

Hero General 4AP x1
Trolls - Behemoth 4AP x1
Ogres - Behemoth 4AP x1
Dwarven X Bows - Shooters 2AP x1
Dwarven Warriors - Blades 2AP x5

The Dwarves got to defend so had a Stronghold.

Joolius Cheezer - Magician General 4AP x1
Spears 2AP x2
Shooters 2AP x2
Warbands 2AP x6

We dice for randomised terrain. This time we got a couple of patches of woodland and a couple of Hills.

Both armies advance towards each other in good order. Bad going on both flanks narrow the battlefield.

The Dwarves allied Ogres are lured into an ambush by plucky Ratmen snipers and cut to pieces in the woods!

Confusion abounds as the battle lines break up and it's every Rat or Dwarf for them self!

Both armies are disordered and down to half strength.
The Dwarves hero General stepped into the fray and saved the day for his army, organising a critical counter attack that broke the remaining Ratman army.
The Ratman general, Joolius Cheezer was mostly ineffective. His recent spell as an amphibian must have sapped his confidence!

The dead units pile up on both sides.

The Dwarves remain undefeated but this was a pyrrhic victory.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Hordes of the Things - ongoing games at The Stronghold

Since November 2017 Kev Stillyards and I have been playing semi regular games of Hordes of the Things at The Stronghold Gaming Club, Hessle Road, Hull.

We meet most Monday evenings between 7pm and 9pm and usually manage to get a game in. I had diaried some of our games and thought it worth recording.

6th November 2017
Dwarves vs Lizardmen 
Our first match, Kev took the Dwarves and wiped the floor with the Lizardmen. The Dwarves are always a tough army but the Lizardmen fared particularly badly.

5th December 2017
Steppe Goblins vs Ratmen

11th December 2017
Savage Orcs vs Eastern Empire
Kev's first outing with his Savage Orcs. The Empire's Knight General overextended himself (as usual) and got killed off fairly quickly. Win for the Orcs.

Orc Warhorde:
Orc General (Orc King in Chariot) @ 4AP (1);
Flyers (Bat Swarm) @ 2AP (x2) ;
Artillery (Bolt Thrower) @ 3AP (1) ;
Beasts (Wolves) @ 2AP (1) ;
Shooters (Orc Archers) @ 2AP (x2) ;
Hordes (Orc Warriors) @ 1AP (x5) ;
Behemoth (Troop of Trolls) @ 4AP (1);

This is pretty much the by-the-book army list from HotT 2.0.
It has a three heavy units (Hero, Behemoth and Artillery) plus Aerials and Beasts supported by massed Hordes and a couple of Shooters.
The Orcs were defending so got a Stronghold too.

Opposing them I brought out my Eastern Empire for a re-match.
They had fared very badly on their last outing.

Eastern Empire:
Knight General @ 2AP (1);
Iron Dragons Cataphracts (Knights) @ 2AP (x2);
Red Griffons Heavy Cavalry (Riders) @ 2AP (x3);
Varangian Dwarves (Spears) @ 2AP (x2);
Empire Levy (Shooters) @ 2AP (x4);

These are my Fantasy Byzantines with an impressive mass of Knights and Heavy Cavalry backed up by some useful infantry.

For the last couple of games we have been dicing for terrain placement. The defender chooses a piece of terrain then we dice to see which quarter or players choice for where it goes. For this game we got a large wood on the attackers left flank and a small wood on the defenders left flank.

The Orc defenders lined up across the board. Their Hordes lined up on the left around their artillery. Their Shooters, Wolves, Bats, Trolls and General line up on their right.

The Empire formed up in a single phalanx of four ranks; Cavalry, Knights, Shooters then Spears bringing up the rear.

Early in the game. The Orcs have lost both their Bats to an overconfident sortie against the Empire shooters. The Empire has lost a unit of Heavy cavalry to the Orcs fearsome Artillery. The Orcs are holding the line while the Empire advances.

29 January 2018

Savage Orcs vs Dwarves

Win for the Dwarves. My first win since we started playing.

5 February 2018
Black Orcs vs Savage Orcs
I can't recall this game at all, no idea who won.

19 February 2018
Savage Orcs vs Eastern Empire
We played two games. Kev's Savage Orcs won the first battle when my Empire general rashly tried to tackle the trolls on his own. As that game finished rather quicker than expected we had a rematch.

The Empire reorganised and put their strong cavalry front and centre with the infantry (bows supported by spears) on either flank.
The Empire infantry managed to hold off the Orc's Trolls and Bats while the Empire cavalry rolled over the Orc Shooters in their centre.

Aftermath of the second battle. Once the Empire cavalry hit the Orc's center it was all over. The Knights are still in reserve here keeping their General safe!

12 March 2018
Savage Orcs vs Ratmen
Win for the Rats.

9 April 2018
Lizardmen Army of the Basilisk vs Dwarves

I tried remodelling my Lizardmen army. The Basilisk is a magic using monster with lots of fast moving little legs and a petrifying magic gaze. If you have the Pip’s to spare this gives it a range attack. I never got enough Pips so the Basilisk did not really contribute to the battle. The Dinosaur Riders got away from their support and cut down by the Dwarven Blades. With their best units gone or out of reach there was not a lot the main body could do once they contacted the Dwarves.

Army of the Basilisk
Lizard King - Blades General 2AP
The Basilisk - Magician 4AP
Dinosaur Riders - Behemoth x2 8AP
Brontosaur riders - Knights x2 4AP
Lizardmen - Hordes x6 6AP

Win for the Dwarves.

23rd April 2018
Ratmen vs Dwarves
My Ratmen vs Kev's Dwarves. The Dwarves remain undefeated, the Ratties had a very bad night of it, their Magician general Joolius Cheezer distinguished himself by rolling two ones in succession and inadvertently turned himself into a frog. Good game!

30th April 2018
New Reformed Dwarves vs Savage Orcs.
My New Reformed Dwarves vs Kev's Savage Orcs produced a fun game. The Dwarves remain undefeated, but they did not win! We had to stop the game as the shutters were coming down and the store was closing.

The Dwarves had pushed through the Orcs centre but then faced a second line of revived Hordes pouring out of the Orcs stronghold. Also the Orcs had mobile units of Beasts and Bats behind the Dwarves flanks.

Both sides had an artillery piece so we checked the rules and found we had been playing them wrong all this time. Artillery only shoots in its own bound and not if it has moved. This made a significant difference but better balanced as a unit.
Also we tried a unit of Sneakers for the first time. These acted as fast Blades and should have provided useful support to the Shooters except they ran away!

Amalgamated Union of Dwarven Ironworkers (AUDI)
t'Gaffer, the Iron Master - Blades General x1 = 2AP;
Forge Brethren - Blades x4 = 8AP;
Dwarf Stokers - Spears x2 = 4AP;
Dwarf Riveters - Shooters x2 = 4AP;
Engineers & Boiler Makers - Artillery x1 = 3AP;
Flying Pickets - Sneakers x1 = 3AP;
Red Sven, Shop Steward - Cleric x1 = 3AP

The Crunch! Orcs and Dwarves clash in the centre.

Trolls and Orcs battle Dwarven shooters on the flank.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Hordes of the Things: Rats vs Goblins

We played another game of Hordes of the Things last night at the Stronghold. Kev went with the Steppe Goblins, I tried out the Ratmen. It's an odd matchup as the Goblins are mostly Mounted and the Ratmen are all Foot;
Steppe Goblins:
Wolf Chariot (Knight) General, 2x Chariot/Knights, 6x Wolf Riders, 2x Spears, 1 Warband.

Magician General, 6x Warband, 2x Spear, 2x Shooters. The Ratmen were defending so get a Stronghold.

We left the terrain fairly open with a couple of easy hills on the centre line.
Ratmen deployed first with their Wizard general in the centre flanked by two spears, then two blocks of 3 Warband and one Shooter. The Goblins put their Chariots in the centre along with their foot and two blocks of 3 Riders on each flank.
First couple of turns saw both armies advancing towards each other. The Goblin's wolf-riders easily beat the Rats to the Hills and started to menace their flanks. The Ratty warbands and shooters advanced on each flank to try and dislodge the enemy Riders. The goblins uphill advantage resulted in an early kill of one Rat Warband but mostly the Riders were pushed back. This activity continued for the rest of the game as Rats and Goblins played King of the castle taking turns to push each other off the hill with occasional losses to either side.
In the centre the Goblin general and his companion chariots advanced into range of the Rat wizard Joolius Cheezer. A fortunate PIP roll gave the wizard enough points to risk casting at the nearest chariot, resulting in the chariot recoiling and a lingering aroma of singed wolf-hair.
The right flank Rat warband realised they were threatened by the remaining Chariots (Knights destroy Warbands) so they got their charge in first and overturned the goblin general's chariot! If the Goblin's had lost more troops than the Rats this would have been an instant defeat. Fortunately for the Goblins they had killed more than they had lost and were still ahead on points, so the battle continued.
Loss of their general meant the Goblins now needed two Pips for each tactical move.
By this stage of the battle most troops on both sides were engaged. It came down to a war of attrition as units on both sides were lost. Warbands are impetuous so they always follow up on a victory. They just kept on chasing after their more mobile opponents.
The Ratmen reached their break point first, giving a hard fought posthumous victory to the Steppe Goblin general.
It was good fun. I have had both armies for years, but it was the first time I have played the Ratmen. They worked pretty well and I suspect could do much better against an infantry army. Their general 'Joolius Cheeser' did well and the Warbands exceeded all expectations, crazy little buggers YOLO'ing across the tabletop! These could be the army to finally take down the Dwarves.
The Goblins won the game despite their General and his Chariots. These are tin Soldier figures and some of my first 15mm Fantasy units. The Chariots look wonderful, but have failed badly in every game I can recall playing them.
Next week Kev is bringing his new armies...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Dragon Fight - Gold Rush - Scenario

Dragon Fight - Gold Rush!

I have been playing a 1990's PC game Drakan - Order of the Flame recently and it got me thinking about Dragon Fight again. But until I get a load of mountain scenery, catapults, Crow Dragons and Wartoks, this will have to do...

Dragon Fight - Gold Rush, or the Treasure of Skegness is a scenario seed for Dragon Fight! 
It borrows a scenario from the Pirates of the Spanish Main CSG game. 

Skegness, the greatest Dragon of the realm has been robbed by mannish adventurers and her golden hoard scattered! As an up-and-coming greatest Dragon, this is your opportunity to grab GOLD, show the other Dragons who's boss and earn some Prowess.

You will need:
  • At least three players, more is better;
  • A Playing area; a 6x4 table top should be fine.
  • One Dragon (or other Flier) for each player; Each Dragon should start with 20GP distributed between Strength, Agility and Combat. Each Dragon can also have up to 12 GP to spend on Prowess, Defence or Breath Weapon/Special Attacks.
  • Each Dragon will need their own Lair; Each Lair is a scenic item, such as a cave mouth, ruined tower, mountain top, volcano or deep dark lake. Use your imagination. Lairs are chosen and located in Strength order, roll Strength Dice for each Dragon. Highest gets first choice. Might is Right! Lairs should be located around the perimeter of the Playing area. Roll 1D6 for each Lair, this is the height band each Lair is placed at. note the Height Band next to each Lair.
  • In the middle of the playing area is the Lair of Skegness. This should be suitably impressive. (Any one who has actually been to Skegness will know what to look for!)
  • Scattered around the Lair of Skegness are the bits of her Hoard. If you don't have piles of gold, items of magic or caskets of precious jewels handy, you can use dice instead. You will need two bits of treasure for each player. Players take it in turn to place Treasure on the Playing Area. (Alt. Scenery and Treasure could all be placed by a referee before hand.)
Each Dragon starts in their Lair. Use the Lair's HB when rolling for Precedence on the first turn.

The object of the game is to steal treasure and return it to your Lair. You can take treasure from the scattered bits of hoard, or try to steal it from another Dragon. You can not take Treasure from another Dragons Lair. They are well guarded and hidden even if the owning Dragon is away.

Dragon's pick up Treasure from the Ground by landing next to the item. They can attempt to take off again on the following round.

Dragons can carry upto their capacity of Treasure items. Note: A Strength D4 Dragon can carry one Item without penalty.

Dragon's can steal Treasure from each other by winning a round of combat. The winning Dragon can choose to take an item of Treasure rather than inflicting a wound. The robbed Dragon chooses which item is taken.

I would recommend that you do not play to the death! If a Dragon receives a fatal wound, they must drop half (rounded down) of any treasure they are carrying and flee back to their Lair until the next game.

The game is over when at least three quarters of the Treasure has been returned to a Lair.

Dragons earn one Victory Point for each piece of Treasure they return to their Lair.
Dragons earn one Victory Point for each round of Combat they win.

When the game finishes roll each Treasure dice and add up the total in each Dragon's possession. The Dragon with the highest total gets another Victory Point.

The Dragon with the most Victory Points gets possession of Skegness's Lair next game.

Have fun and play nice.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Breaking down Slammer's unit attributes.

As part of our project to reboot Star Force I am looking at adapting Slammer to the new setting. It would seem useful to look at Slammer to see how it works now and which bits will be useful in the new game.

Breaking down Slammer's unit attributes.

As written when you create a unit in Slammer you have a few choices which determine how the unit is played.
Picking a Unit's Troop Quality defines their Activation, To Hit Numbers and Close Combat Factors. 
Choosing their Armour determines the unit's Movement and Defence factors. This can lead to units looking rather samey.
If we can set the unit's individual attributes that gives us a bit more range for fine tuning.


Activation represents the unit's training, morale, initiative and willingness to fight. In Slammer basic, it is derived from the unit's 'Troop Quality'.
Normal range of 0-6 (for humans) reduced by attrition and modified by circumstance. If we separate Activation from Troop Quality it let's us field units with a high aggression or initiative without making them super soldiers too. It may also let us field a more defensive minded unit that is less inclined to rush into action.
As an option it may also be useful to let a unit recover Activation during a game.

Motivation (this needs a better term)

Troop Motivation should be a special case dependant on scenario or force rational. The following may be used in addition to the troop Quality Rating.

Motivation is an optional attribute that can affect the way a unit is played. 
There is a roleplaying element here intended to personalise a unit. Slammer has the following optional Motivation factors, others will be added.

Elite Troops believe that they are the best at what they do, (often with good cause). They try harder and will often do much better than would be expected of normal soldiers. Elite units are often innovative in their approach to warfare and may have unusual (and deadly) skills. 
When rolling for Activation for Elite, add the appropriate modifiers then move up one band to the next higher Activation level. 
Elite motivation may be combined with any troop quality rating, though Untrained Elite are fairly unlikely. 
The Shooting and Close Assault modifiers for Elite are cumulative with the team's quality rating.


Fanatics have a reckless disregard for personal safety in the service of The One True Cause. Fanatics may have lower levels of ability as they tend not to live long enough to learn from their mistakes. Also experience tends to erode fanaticism fairly quickly. They may be very single-minded in their pursuit of an objective.  
When activating Fanatics, they must take the most aggressive option available. 
The Activation modifier for Fanatics is used instead of the troop quality rating.


Warriors are in it for the fight. Whatever the strategic objective might be, Warriors will try to match themselves against the enemy troops. Warriors will tend to close with the enemy and may have higher close combat factors. They may prefer close range or melee weapons. Alien races are frequently played as Warriors. The movie Predator is a good example. 
When activating a Warrior team, the team will usually prefer an option that moves them closer to an enemy unit. 
The Movement and Close Assault modifiers for Warriors are c
umulative with the team's quality rating.

Reluctant / Unwilling

These teams may have found themselves involved in a fight they consider none of their business, they may have been in one fight too many or lost too many friends and comrades, or they may be constrained by higher authority e.g. as Peace Keepers. They have little interest in the rights or wrongs of the situation. Their main goal is to stay alive and get the heck outta here! If fired on or pressed they will defend themselves and their comrades, but will not go out looking for trouble. 
When rolling for Activation for Reluctant, add the appropriate modifiers then move down one band to the next lower Activation level.


Long service career Soldiers. This represents strength in defence and a tendency to hold formation even when everything is going to heck around you, it also means Steady troops are less likely to get carried away with enthusiasm and go chasing off after the enemy. 

When rolling for Activation for Steady, after adding dice and modifiers shift the Activation Level up or down one level towards 7 Advance.

Movement Distance

An infantry element's basic move distance is dependent on the equipment carried or armour worn by the figures in the unit. This may be reduced in difficult terrain, or if a figure attempts a particular action such as running, opening a door, taking cover or entering or leaving a vehicle. 
Movement adjustments due to troop quality are handled by the Action Table. Better quality troops will tend to make advance or close moves more often than poorer troops.

At first sight movement distances may seem overlong, but bear in mind that unless the unit has a high Activation level they will be making half-moves most of the time.

None10"Civilians and figures in normal clothing. *
Light8"Ballistic cloth, flak jacket & helmet; Military and Police uniform.
Heavy6"Battle Suit; Ablative plate & helmet; Heavy Infantry Armour;
Hostile Environment Suits.
Armoured8"Power assisted heavy armour.
Aliens12"Bugs, Predators, Animals, etc.
Monsters8"Alien beasties of unusual size or strength.
Warriors+2"Troops specialising in close assault.

To Hit numbers:
    Ranged Combat

In order to cause a hit on the target the firer has to score their To-Hit number or more on two die six. 

Firer To-Hit numbers were tied to troop quality so:

Firer To-Hit numbers
Green Troops8
Trained Troops7
Veteran Troops6

We can change base to-Hit numbers to suit individual units depending on how capable they are with ranged weapons.
    Close Combat

Pair up the attackers and defenders so that each figure faces at least one opponent. For each figure involved in the close assault roll one die and add the Close Combat Factor for their weapon type. Add the Close Combat Modifiers from Table 5.

Close Combat is an opposed roll. The base factor is derived from the unit's main weapon modified by the unit's quality and tactical factors such as wounded, surprised or outnumbered, etc. If we take off the tactical factors we can give each unit or critter a single Close Combat factor.


    Target signature
In base Slammer a unit's target signature is derived from their quality, size and tactical factors. The result is a modifier to the firer's to hit score.
We can give each unit a base target factor then apply tactical modifiers.

If we go with opposed rolls then the attacker and defender both roll dice, add their firer or target factor, apply modifiers and compare scores.


Each weapon type has a damage rating listed on the weapons table as a die and modifier. When a hit is scored on a figure, the firer rolls the dice and adds the modifier listed on the weapons table. The defender rolls one die and add the modifiers listed on Table 4 for the weapon type at the target figures Armour rating.

Determining the effects of ranged combat uses opposed rolls. Each armour type has separate defence factors for Energy or Ballistic Weapons. There are also modifiers for a unit's quality or 'toughness'. This can be given as a dice plus a defence factor vs B or E.

Weapons and Equipment:

Slammer was written as a skirmish game with individual figures armed with a variety of weapons. Factors were given for each weapon in the following format:

Direct Fire Weapons: Type Damage Rating Close (<4") Effect 
Heavy Machine-gun BAH 1D+ 2 +0 36" Tripod or vehicle mounted, heavy calibre belt fed, etc 
Light Machine-gun /SAWBA 1D+1 +1 24" Rifle calibre, bipod, box, drum or belt fed.
Assault Rifle 1D +2 20" Semi-automatic. 
Sub-machine-gun BA 1D-1 +3 12" Pistol calibre, Automatic 
Sniper Rifle1D+1 +1 28" Accurised heavy calibre. 

Weapon Types; E - Energy weapons, B - Ballistic weapons, X - Explosive Effect,
A - Autofire weapons, H - Heavy weapons. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Reconstructing Star Force 300

Star Force 300 is a set of rules for SF micro-tank games. It was originally published by Tabletop Games in 1980. It was written by Bob Connor and intended for use with QT Models Star Force 300 1/300th scale SF models.

Recently I acquired a few SF300 models to add to my collection. I contacted Dave Hoyles who sculpted the original models and now runs Museum Miniatures. We discussed producing a new range of SF miniatures in 1/200th scale, along with a set of rules to use them with. Dave gets to sculpt and produce the figure, I get to work on the rules. 

For a start, I don't believe that the original rules are upto current game standards. They do have some good features that I want to retain but the mechanisms seem confusing or often contradictory. Also whilst they were play tested, that understanding of how the game worked does not come across well in the writing. There seem to be quite a few necessary assumptions missing from the rules. For example, there is remarkably little information about the Ramorians. QT Models models show them as crocodilian, but there is no mention of their physique, appearance or culture in the rules. The game goes into considerable detail on the armour and equipment for the two main forces but gives no information on setting up or starting a game.  

Some background. This is the introduction to the original rules.

ARMOURED COMBAT In the 21st Century *

The Ramorian Empire was conquered by the Earth Federation in the year 2099. The war was short but one of the bloodiest on record, mainly due to the inability of the Ramorians to combat the Federation's armoured units. After only three months campaigning the Ramorian forces were totally defeated and driven from all of their planets except for the most outer asteroids and the planet Compran.
For the next sixty years, and with the aid of the Cossack like people of Compran, the remains of the Ramorian army have been actively engaged in guerrilla warfare while their leaders have been rebuilding the shattered army. This time, however, the lessons of armoured warfare have been learnt and each Ramorian Legion is built around its two heavy tank companies each being equipped with the new and powerful Solar Lance weapon system, a military development of the thermal lance used in their own mines.
Most of the Ramorian Empire comprises dry arid planets but planets that are amongst the most mineral rich in the Universe. The deposits lie far below the surface of the planets and the mines are only obvious by their terminal and ore shipment Building. The mines have been fully automated by the Federation, and the Ramorian plan is to destroy them all in the belief that without the ore the federation would leave them alone. The destruction is to be achieved by reprogramming the mines nuclear power plant computers such that they will cause the plant to detonate and thus render the mines and their vast underground areas of tunnels and processing plants unusable for the next two hundred years.
All is now ready; the ore ships have been fully converted to assault transports and escorted by the Scarab space fighters of the Narcom mercenaries, the first legions are setting out on their mission of reconquest and vengeance.

These rules are designed to give a large scale surface battle, of Brigade size, on the various planets. The forces of both sides are similar in composition being built around armoured formations which in turn are supported by infantry and other weapon systems. As the Ramorian commander (Legion Superior) your orders are to destroy the mines allocated to your Legion and also to inflict the maximum damage on the Federation forces. As the Federation commander (Brigade Captain) your orders are to destroy the Ramorian forces and protect the mines. This will invariably mean an encounter battle once the target mines have been identified.

<pedantry> * Whilst the game's subtitle describes it as Armoured Warfare in the 21st Century, the intro sets the main game 60 years into the 22nd century.</pedantry>  

There is plenty of room here for scenarios beyond the Ramorian Counterstrike. You have the first contact, invasion and conquest and then sixty years of Human colonial settlement and Ramorian resistance. Even in 1/300th scale creating two brigade sized opposing forces is going to take time and money. Playing with smaller forces gives you chance to learn the game and have some fun whilst you build up your armies.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Slammer - Activation Table explained

As part of the Star Force project I proposed creating an edition of Slammer using the Solar Federation / Ramorian Empire setting. This would include unit and equipment stats for troops and vehicles tied to proposed figure range. To help get my head around it all I printed off a copy of Slammer. Somehow a paper
copy seems much more tangible than the digital copies I have been playing with for years. Skimming through the paper rules I noticed something missing. I have been following the rules design discussion on Delta Vector and I wanted to check how Slammer treats troops reaction and opportunity fire.

I have always played the Activation Table so a higher Activation unit can make an early interrupt and take their turn before a lower Activation unit if necessary. I have always assumed this was written into the rules, but I could not find it.

I had to go back through the Yahoo Group message archive to 1999 before I found it written down in response to a player's query about the turn sequence.

I have attached the relevant passage below and emphasised the key bits.

When we first tried Slammer the turn sequence was reversed so higher activation troops moved first. This really didn't work. The best units became instant opportunity targets for every unit on the board and got cut to pieces before they could achieve anything. Lower activation troops have much more limited options, moving them first gets the 'compulsories' out of the way. If they are going to run or fall back, it's worthwhile giving them a head start then keep them running rather than catching them and having to fight. If your high activation unit is afraid they might get away you have the option to opportunity fire and shoot them as they run. If a low unit is firing they may be limited to return fire or panic fire and this is largely ineffective anyway. It's not a race to see who gets off the first shot!

Also a higher activation unit can choose to move at a lower activation level. Units can choose any of the options at their activation level or less, even an option that is nominally unfavourable, e.g. fall back.

I don't think this is stated clearly enough in the rules but it does happen in games I've run that a high activation unit chooses to make its move as an early interrupt, rather like opportunity fire.

 I think this needs repeating and adding to the rules because it's not clear at all. This can make quite a difference to the way troops react to opponents and gives players a bit more to think about rather than just waiting their turn.