Friday, 24 March 2023

Salute VI - Last of the Phalangites

Here's a quick update on the Salute phalanx. I took delivery of the last required minis from Shaun this morning, and am hammering through highlights/varnishing/piking-up the remaining 288 phalangites, prior to the Big Base, which will be week after next, I hope. I'm highlighting them in batches of 48; just 3 batches left to do, perhaps 8 evenings work.

After these are finished, there will be the small matter of finishing the casualties and some new command stands to lead the formations. Early next week I'll post an image of what's completed, so far. I'm still on target for Salute, although it's going to be tight!

I still have some opportunities for players at Salute, in what is likely to be one of the largest (perhaps even the largest) Ancient Wargames ever to be run at a show. Drop me an email if you are coming and fancy playing To the Strongest! for an hour or two. 

In other news... I've just published v.12 of Even Stronger, the TtS! rules supplement. It's free, you can download it from here. 

Monday, 6 March 2023

Salute V - all the Silver Shields

Here is a work-in-progress shot of my new Silver Shields. They will constitute the right-most two units of my "Great" phalanx. I feel very reassured now that I know, for sure, that the front ranks will rank-up acceptably. All of these minis were painted by Shaun McTague and highlighted/finished by me. Chum Ian flocked the bases. I still need to grout around the bases of the front rank minis, a filthy, time-consuming job that I will save for later. You can click the photo for a close-up.

The key to ranking up the front rank pikes was to mount all the pikes at the same, correct angle to the horizontal. To facilitate this, I made a template out of MDF, sticky labels and a spare pike. The Blu Tack holds it upright. Next, I bend the arms of all the front rankers so that their hands "hold" the template's pike. Then I remove the template. Finally I glue a pre-painted pike in place, having scraped away paint so as to ensure a metal-to-metal contact. It works really well, I can fit a pike or more every minute.

The phalanx as a whole is progressing satisfactorily and the other 8 units should be finished in time, so long as I keep plugging away every night on it. I'll show some WIP photos in a few days time.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Salute Phalanx IV; the Silver Shields

Here is a work-in-progress shot of the new phalanx. These are two thirds of the silver shields that will constitute the two right hand units of the ten unit "Great Phalanx." I finished the rear rank elements earlier, and this week got the middle ranks mostly based- they just need their bases dry brushing and flocking by chum Ian. I've just started work on highlighting and basing the 48 front rankers (painted by Shaun McTague last year)- they are perhaps a week away from basing. In terms of the project as a whole, the last of the required minis being painted this week. I'm:
  • 55% done with finishing/basing the rear ranks
  • 95% done with finishing/basing the middle ranks
  • 0% done with finishing/basing the front ranks

So almost half way. However, I expect the lowered pikes of the front ranks to be particularly challenging to base. Still, though, I should be just about OK to get them all finished in time.

In other news, I'm finalising the next release of the TtS! Medieval Army List eBook- due out on the 28th. There will be two new lists and some more background material. One of the new lists will cover the peasants for the German Peasants' War- I've been hugely enjoying the Helion on the Swabian Wars and am struggling to resist ordering the pretty new Steel Fist minis. :-)

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Salute Phalanx III

Here is a work in progress shot of the mostly new "Great" phalanx I'm building for Salute. These are the middle ranks (3rd and 4th) for eight out of the ten projected blocks, the other two being purple-clad guards. When deployed in line, these will be 160cm wide. They are all Wargames Foundry models, painted by Shaun McTague and Craig Davey with a little finishing by me. They weigh a ton! I'm now 1/3 of the way to getting the phalanx finished and based, perhaps a little behind target. There will be a brief hiatus, because I've run out of painted pikes!

Monday, 6 February 2023

Salute Phalanx II

I've made a fair amount of progress in the last ten days. There are more minis than before, although rather less than half are completely finished and inked. I'm hoping that the indefatigable Shaun McTague will help with these...  At least they all have shields attached, and almost half have pikes fitted. Still 44 more required, but they are in hand. 

I've also made up a load of bases for them, a mix of 60x40mm, 120x40mm and whopping great 120x120mm bases for the front rank elements that will have lowered pikes. Since the minis and pikes are pretty heavy, and I want them to hold securely, I fitted extra magnets where I felt there weren't sufficient. These bases are square, rather than my more usual wobbly-edged bases, because I had to match my existing Hellenistic units.

The next step will be to try to get some minis finished and on bases! I partly need to do this for purposes of my own morale, and partly because I've run out of storage space for the unbased minis.

Friday, 27 January 2023

New Year, new Phalanx

I've been working, in the background, on a new phalanx for my huge Ipsus game at Salute in April. This will consist of ten units, each 72 men-strong, drawn up in six ranks. Two of the units will be silver shields. Above are most of the new ones. There are roughly another 140 in progress, not shown above. Also not shown are 218 that are already finished and based. These can be seen below- the first two ranks with the angled pikes and roughly six ranks more of the ones behind them with vertical pikes in the further block.

I prepped all the minis and they are returning, painted, from painter chums. I'm fitting pikes and shields (where not already fitted). Next I'll need to do snagging, ink/varnish and assemble. Basing is going to be a bit of a nightmare, because of the sheer scale of the project, but I think it'll look imposing when complete. I should have enough time if I focus on the project.

The new pikemen will give me 4.8 linear metres of six-deep pike phalanx, which will be supported by a couple of metres-worth of six-deep hoplites.

I will need around a dozen players for the big Salute game, which I am confident will see the most pikemen ever deployed on a gaming table. If you are coming to Salute and can spare around 2 hours to play, please email me!

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!