Hammering Route 66 at Salute 2013

A Hammer’s Slammers ‘Thunder Run’


Brief Introduction

The game is set in the Hammer’s Slammers universe, made very popular in the eponymous books by author David Drake. Hammer’s Slammers are a mercenary company who fight on distant worlds for pay in the twenty seventh century using fusion powered tanks and vicious determination for their commander and founder, Colonel Alois Hammer.

Game Background

The planet Cullen has become a battleground. Consortiums from the Antargran worlds, the New Ukrainian system and the Solace Federation have developed a lucrative business in anti-agapic drugs grown in deep in forested valleys in the northern continent by local farmers and life for the indentured workforce has become intolerable since they were both denied the drug themselves and were being worked to death to produce it.

The farmers had previously benefited from the consortiums turning a blind eye to their extramural sales to off-world traders who would land small freighters in forest clearings and deal only in cash, but now the big players have clamped down on even this ‘perk’. So the farmers argued and the arguments turned to violence. The local Cullen forces kicked off and the farmers kicked back. So the consortium first sent in their own regular armies and - when that failed - they hired mercenaries to back them up.

Then the farmers took all of their savings and bet everything they would earn for most of their foreseeable futures and hired the Slammers.


The Scenario

Colonel Hammer has landed armoured forces on a number of locations all over the less forested western continent of Cullen that, fortuitously, also boasts the administrative capitol of  Clyde City. Connecting many of the local townships is the extensive highway system enabling shipments of raw product to processing plants and the space port.

‘Route 66’ is the adopted name of the transcontinental highway (no one seems to remember where the name came from) that passes by the space port and then leads past Clyde City. Colonel Hammer’s plan is to have his troops carry out what’s known as a ‘Thunder Run’ to land at the star port and then smash their way through whatever local and consortium forces exist and take the administrative complex in the capital or destroy it in the process.

Rules and scales

The game will be using the Hammer’s Slammers: The Crucible rule set and using 15mm scale (or 1/100th) models. Although mainly a demonstration, the game will be open to participation in sections for members of the public who wish to try their hand at playing a tank commander.



All scenery has been built - either from scratch or built from kits and other models - by the participants. Special thanks must go to Roger Dixon and Kevin Dallimore for their work in this area. 15mm scale vehicles and figures come from club members’ collections and a variety of sources including Ground Zero Games, Old Crow, Khurasan, Rebel Miniatures, Antenociti and the new Hammer’s Slammers: The Crucible range from Ainsty Castings.


Special Rules

This game introduces two rules that have been requested by players using Hammer’s Slammers: The Crucible.

The points raised by players were:


1)       “Why can’t I just give my troops the order to follow a road? (and not have to keep ‘nudging them along it with extra Leadership Points)”.

2)       “Can I play games with smaller units?”

3)       “What is the point of a Sergeant if he only gets to be in charge if his officer gets shot?”


All good questions and excellent player feedback! The following rules, especially in the light of a 36ft table with small units that players can dip into during the day, seemed an ideal place to introduce them.

Salute 2013 will be the biggest Slammers game our group has ever done: it’s 50% bigger than the 28mm game we did in Birmingham in 2010 and more than twice the size of the games we did in Sheffield in 2011.

It’s designed as a showcase for the models we have painted and the scenery we have built and to give people a taste of the rule set that is popular both within and outside of the South London Warlords.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I !!

Alongside the new manufacturers with compatible forces already mentioned, it will also mark the arrival of new Slammers forces by Ainsty Castings which will give players even more options.

So – come along and get Hammered!

Optional Rule: Troops

Normally the rules stipulate that the forces are split into Detachments – a force of between 8 to 30 Tactical Units (depending on the quality of the troops). For this game a new optional rule is being adopted which is designed to allow for using a smaller unit – a half sized force called a Troop.

A Troop is a smaller than detachment unit. It is half the size of a detachment for any given force, so an Elite Troop is 4TUs (4 Vehicles or infantry groups) – half the size of the 8 in a Detachment. A Veteran troop is 5 TUs (half of 10TUs); a Trained Troop is 8TUs (half [or so] of 15TUs) and an Untrained Troop is 15TUs (half of 30TUs).

A troop is led by a Sergeant, not an Lieutenant (as a full Detachment is). Leadership points are bowled in the same way as for a Detachment: 2 D6 plus the leaders skill which – for a Sergeant – is Elite: 4, Veteran: 2, Trained: 1, Untrained: 0.

A troop may be comprised of ANY subset of the TUs available in any legitimate detachment for the given force selected by the player (downloadable free from the website).

The sergeant may be a purchased Insurance Sergeant (page 80 main Crucible rules) with the qualities of a Lt if the extra costs are paid for – it raises the cost of the sergeant to, effectively, a Lieutenant.


Because of the large distances involved in the game, there will be an additional movement factor incorporated to hurry forces along the table – this is, after all, a ‘Thunder Run’ not a ‘Thunder leisurely saunter…’

Optional Rule: Thunder Run

This scenario uses a special optional rule called a Thunder Run – this allows a build up of speed for vehicles on a good road surface or something that equates with the Terrain Category of Easy (see Supplement 2*). It also allows vehicles to be given an order which - effectively - amounts to follow the road.

A vehicle that has moved exclusively on a road (or other Easy Terrain) in the previous turn for however many moves it made (which – using the 1-2-4 rule may be one, two or three moves in a turn) may maintain that speed without loss.

In the following turn, if that speed is not added to, then leadership points need not be expended to maintain that speed (the commander has given the order “Keep Thundering on - and follow the road/aim for that point on the horizon at maximum speed”). Place a marker next to any vehicles to which this applies.

If desired, in the following turn, more speed is required, leadership points can be applied as normal and the vehicles may accelerate again and, providing the vehicles stay exclusively on the road (or other Easy Going surface), the speed is added to the previous speed.

This may be extended to a third turn – again with the application of Leadership points. The speed may be built to have a cumulative effect, however, three turns of Thunder Run is the maximum. No more Leadership Points need be spent on movement to maintain this speed but leaving the road or entering terrain that is not defined as Easy Terrain will require leadership points and immediately reduce the vehicles speed to normal operations.

Note that it is entirely possible, with good planning, for a vehicle to manage, after three turns of Thunder Run to be travelling at a speed nine times the vehicles maximum stated move with the expenditure of no additional LPs.


Limitations and other quirks of the Thunder Run Optional rule:

  • It cannot be applied to infantry TUs
  • It must only be used over Easy Terrain
  • Engaging on a Thunder Run carries a disadvantage regarding firing ability:
    • in the second turn of a Thunder Run – when a vehicle has been marked with a single Thunder Run Token – the vehicle fires all weapon systems at Minus 1 Quality (so Elites fire as Veterans, Veterans fire as Trained, Trained fire as Untrained and Untrained simply cannot fire). This includes anti-missile systems and sniper detection but does not include anti-buzzbomb systems. They may fire normally
    • A Third turn of a Thunder Run reduces this one factor further, so Elites fire as Trained, Veterans fire as Untrained and Trained and Untrained cannot fire.


  • The Confire rule – 2 LPs to up a TUs quality level by one level on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis can be applied to mitigate against some of this loss, even if the troops are Elites

* Easy terrain in Supplement 2 is designated as:

For Heavy Hover, Wheeled and tracked vehicles: Well maintained concrete and ‘tarmac’ roads

Light Hover adds:  paddy fields, flat open water, slow calm rivers, snow to that.

NoE: are treated as Light Hover and may treat that Easy Terrain as applicable for a Thunder Run


Example: a Slammers tank using a Thunder Run (in 15mm scale).

Turn 1, the tank moves onto an Easy Terrain road – say Route 66! The edge of the road side is neither Difficult not Easy Terrain, as defined by the rules – it’s just Terrain. So the vehicle moves at its maximum speed of 10cm (Medium, Heavy Hover). This costs 1LP. In move 1 the commander of that tank troop decides to move that vehicle (and maybe some others) an extra move forward and, now that the tanks in on Easy Terrain, using the 1-2-4 rule, it costs 2LPs to move him forward again and – as it’s Easy – his speed of 10cm (medium) increases to 15cm (Fast). In the same turn, for 4LPs the leader moves the tank a further move of 15cm (Fast) and now the movement component of the turn is over, firing may commence etc. However, at the end of that turn, in Phase 9, the tank is declared as being on a Thunder Run and a marker is placed next to it.

In the next turn, the tank is already moving at a speed of 30cm (fast, twice for the two movements it spent on the Easy Terrain section of its turn) so – with the application of another 7LPs (using the 1-2-4 rule) the tank ends its turn travelling at 75cm (30cm from the previous turn plus three times 15cm for three movements in this turn. If it fires it will be firing at –1QR. In Phase 9, the tank is declared as still being on a Thunder Run and a second marker is placed next to it.

In Turn 3 the tank could accelerate again, say spend 1LP and add 15cm if it stays on the road to its current speed (making its move 85cm) or it could spend that 1LP and drive off of the road shedding enormous amounts of speed in regular terrain. Either way, with two turns of a Thunder Run, and two tokens, it would be firing at –2QR.

If the vehicle leaves the road, or simply declares that the breakneck rush for the horizon is over, and that the Thunder Run has ceased, the tokens will be removed in Phase 9 and movement and firing abilities return to normal in the following turn.


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