Thursday, 17 November 2022

The Battle of Ceresole 1544

I've long been a fan of Blaise de Monluc, an indefatigable Gascon who, as commander of the French enfants perdus, played a critical role in the Battle of Ceresole, 1544, a major engagement in the Italian Wars. His captivating account inspired me to research the battle, reviewing the various original accounts (some of which were kindly translated for me from French, Spanish and Castilian by my French friend Loic) and the surviving terrain features to (I believe) accurately place the battle in the countryside to the west of Ceresole d'Alba. I have come up with a reconstruction of the battle which differs in several respects to the well-known account by Oman in his "Art of War in the Sixteenth Century." 

When I heard that Massimo Predonzani was revising his 2012 book on the battle for publication by Helion, I got in contact to share my research. I was delighted when he invited me to rewrite the chapters relating directly to the battle, to include my theories and other information that I'd come across. I've written about the skirmish the day before the battle and extended the chapters that recount the battle itself. I've also designed four diagrams that show the deployment and manoeuvres of the two armies during the battle, and discuss the importance of artillery to the outcome of the battle.

Ceresole is a fascinating engagement that will transfer very well to the wargames table (I'm working on a TtS! scenario). The book has now been published and can be purchased at:

It's currently on promotion!

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Second Mantinea at SELWG

The weekend before last I took the Second Battle of Mantinea (362 BCE) to SELWG, and I have finally found time to post the images! Above, that's me looming like mighty Zeus above the extra deep Theban phalanx. (All pictures are clickable).

Here's the deployment, with the Spartan/Mantinean/Athenian force (lower left), drawn up in front of the Pelagos Wood (where many of their soldiers were enjoying a late breakfast). The Thebans and Tegeans are at the top right. The battlefield is 3m wide.

Below is the deployment plan from my current scenario, which I will likely revise when I receive the Society of Ancients Battle Day pack for their event in March. It gives a super game!

Above is a photo of the Spartans, and below of some Thessalian cavalry from the Theban army.

Above are some peltasts (possibly ex Steve Jones?). It dawned on me, recently, that I don't have nearly enough peltasts, and I'm currently raising several more units. Few will be as nice as the above unit, though! Below is the rear of the extra-deep Theban phalanx (currently 6 ranks deep- I'd love to add another rank or two).

Here are a couple more shots of some of the Greek hoplites. These are mostly Foundry Athenians, lovely sculpts, beautifully painted by various people who are far more competent, than I. I'm planning to add another block this winter, from my "reserves" boxes. Below, the Spartans have been flanked and are in deep trouble!

I was always a bit doubtful whether hoplite battles would work well on a grid, but they certainly do! We enjoyed a couple of cracking games, both narrowly won by the Thebans, and each in under two hours.

Many thanks to Ian Notter (who took most of the above photos), Tim Thompson, Shaun McTague and David Millett who helped to run the game.

In other news, yesterday I published the latest quarterly release of the TtS! Ancient Army List eBook. This new release includes two new lists: Early Macedonian and Paeonian. I've also added historical backgrounds to the Illyrians, Huns and Gepid lists, and edited many of the other lists. There are now 160 army lists in the Ancient book, and 132 in the Medieval; when the next medieval release comes out, there might be as many as 300 lists in total.

Postscript- I've added a brief in-game video, here: 

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Chalgrove 2022

Here are a few (clickable) images from the games I played yesterday at the Chalgrove "Worlds" - apologies if you've seen some already on Facebook. Above is game 1 vs. Sid Bennett's newly painted and very pretty Samnites. Sid's javelin-chucking Samnites out all too many of my nellies, I think I had just two units left at the end- he was well ahead on points. Always great to play Sid, he's really knowledgeable about the rules.

A quick note on my Classical Indian army- my objective was to maximise the number of elephants on the table, so I picked eight small units and represented each with two models, for a total of 16 pachyderms. I suppose I could have fitted even more elephants in the baggage- perhaps an idea for a future outing!

Here's game two against Kurt from Belgium. Kurt had a splendid army of Teutonic knights, including militant nuns. I began the game supremely confident that my nellies would trample the knights, but it was not to be. Even though my save was excellent (in some cases 3+ vs mounted, on one occasion, when uphill, 2+ !!), on the rare occasions I failed a save, the subsequent rampages often killed several additional units. This army is very much a "glass hammer." Kurt was ahead on points at the end. Below is a shot of the "thin grey line" resisting the charges of the knights.

Here's the last photo I took, of Andy Powell and his Crusaders, mid-game. On the left I managed to squish the mounted Crusader knights. Eventually I took out most of the foot knights in the centre, too, but I lost a fair number of nellies along the way and failed to win outright.

Unfortunately I forgot to photograph my final game against Tony Horobin's (left, photo taken after the end of the game so unfortunately, none of his minis) Middle Imperial Romans, which is a great, pity as it was very a friendly game which I won, with seconds to spare, just before the end of the tournament.

The tournament was won by Peter Ryding (again!) with a Timurid army, very well done to him. He practices very hard for the tournament. I ended up right in the middle of the field. Unfortunately I don't have all the scores but I think Alex and Kurt from Belgium came second and third.

Steve Dover, with help from chums Simon Purchon, Peter Ryding and John (? sorry can't recall surname) did a fantastic job setting up and running the tournament, huge thanks to them. Below is a photo of all those participants who hadn't legged it by the time we got around to taking the group photo.

 Finally, we have two more tournament coming up later this year:

The first is the TtS! Opens, part of the BHGS Historical Teams event at the Lee Valley Leisure Centre in north London on Saturday 15th October. Like Chalgrove, there are four games in one day. You can use any army list from the Ancient Army List eBook. You can book this here. The ticket also gets you entry to SELWG which is in the same venue on the Sunday, a great show where I'll be running a participation game - Second Mantinea - which features Epaminondas and the Theban mega phalanx.

The last tournament will be at Warfare at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on Saturday 12th or Sunday 13th November (we haven't decided which day yet). If you think you'd like to come to this one, please email me and I'll forward to the organiser.

I hope to see you at one event or t'other!

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Building Roundway Down out of Really Useful Boxes and Masking Tape

For our refight of Roundway Down, I decided wanted to have a hill 12' long, covering the entire battlefield. Here are the stages involved in assembling it, for the big game on Saturday.

First, we arranged 36 spare (!) Really Useful Boxes on a table. I had thought I'd brought way too many, since they filled the car but in fact I only had just enough. The top of the hill, at the back, is two 9L boxes high, around 12".

Above, next we covered the boxes with 6mm MDF boards

Next (again above) we taped the edges of the boards together, to stop them slipping.

Next we covered the boards with rug gripper. This adds structural strength and stops the top cloths slipping during play.

Finally, we laid a black cloth over it, covering the sides, another layer of rug gripper with a terrain cloth over the top of that, and a light random scattering of trees.  Job done, ready for the troops to be set up in the morning!

Below is the real hill at Roundway Down, looking up towards the Parliamentarian position on the crest, as photographed on a recent research trip with Andrew Brentnall, on the anniversary of the battle, showing the slightly-parched July pasture, which is a pretty good match for our cloth.

I hope to see lots of you at Colours tomorrow! We are on the second floor, near the Bring and Buy.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Roundway Down at Colours

I'm in the process of finishing off the extra elements I have planned for our extended Battle of Roundway Down For King and Parliament game at the Colours show in Newbury on Saturday. Above are the new units- Prince Maurice's horse, Captain ffoulkes' firelocks*, some battalion guns and some extra casualty stands. Below is my forming baggage park, now with three teams of horses. 

Many of the minis were painted by chum Shaun McTague or eBay purchases, although Prince Maurice's are built around a core of minis originally painted by chum George Moraitis. I painted the wagons and highlighted/finished everything, Ian flocked all the bases, which I'm in the process of tufting - they will all be finished by the day. I will take some proper photos, later on, when everything is completely finished.

If you fancy playing on Saturday, drop me an email at simonmiller60 at and I'll hopefully be able to fit you in. It should be a relatively short game- around 90 minutes, I expect. If not just drop by and marvel at the size of our hill! I hope to see lots of you there.

* There wasn't an actual ECW unit of this name, although there were a number of small units of firelocks on both sides. Captain ffoulkes is a Welsh officer and entirely a figment of my imagination.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Infanterie Regiment van Birkenfeld


This is my first Dutch Regiment, van Birkenfeld. It was raised by Holland in 1672 and commanded from 1673 by Johann Karl, Prins Palzgraf von Birkenfeld (below). 

Johann started his military career as a cavalry commander in the army of a Palatine cousin, Charles Gustav, who, in 1654, became Charles X King of Sweden, and fought in the Denmark campaign. Later, he fought against the Turks in Hungary, before entering Dutch service. As a Colonel, he led his eponymous regiment at the Battle of Seneffe in 1674. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General of Foot in 1688.

Most of the 1672 minis came from an internet purchase, which I overpainted, but I did the officers from scratch. The early 1670's uniforms of this unit are unknown, so I went with pale grey coats, lined red with red breeches, as these were recorded as worn by the unit a few years later. The officers have coats in contrasting colours, which makes for a brave look (and which must have rendered them a not-inconspicuous target!). The bases are as ever my trusty FK&P6 bases, flocked by chum Ian and heavily tufted, dry brushed and matt varnished by me.

The flags were tricky- no one makes them and the design is not certain. However, there is an image of a fragment of a flag recorded for Birkenfeld in Triomphes that appears to depict the lion of Holland, so I copied and resized a Holland flag image from t'Internet, and then created a greyscale version for the colonel's flag (which make or may not be correct in the Dutch army at this time?). I then overpainted both flags which came out pretty well, I think. This is good as I will need to make other flags from scratch in this somewhat-too-obscure-for-flag-manufacturers period.

In other news, I'm finishing the last minis for the extended Roundway Down game at Colours in Newbury on Saturday 10th September, where several chums will join me to put on the game (shown below at Partizan). If you'd like to play, please email me.

Friday, 26 August 2022

Régiment de Pfyffer

This is another regiment for my progressing-in-the-background 1672 project. This is Régiment de Pfyffer, circa 1672, a Swiss regiment in French service, painted for the Franco-Dutch War. The photo is clickable.

The minis are from the 1672 range, owned by Nick at North Star. The Swiss are some of the finest minis in this fine range. I painted the pike and most of the officers, the other minis were beautifully painted by Richard O'Connor. My friend Ian designed the flags; because of the way I folded them, half the detail (like the painting of the annunciation on the Colonel's flag) is, unfortunately, obscured. :-/  The wobbly-edged bases are my own trusty FK&P6's, with built-in magnets. Ian also flocked the base, which I tufted.

Above is the eponymous Colonel, that's one of my favourite sculpts, reminds me very much of the 1950's Disney Captain Hook. The colonel is on a separate base because I need some officers to command brigades. Battalions will typically be grouped in brigades of four (representing 8 real-world battalions), in two lines. 

I have five battalions finished, and perhaps 15 more mostly painted, but which I am struggling to get over the line, due to other commitments. I'll try to finish one a month over the winter, which will give me enough for a small battle in the spring.