Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Here in the BigRedBatCave, the presents are under the tree (all of mine would block radiation), the stockings are up and I'm about to tuck into a festive cocktail. Can I take this opportunity to wish all my readers and fellow bloggistas a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Best, Simon

Tuesday 22 December 2015

White (shield) Christmas

The "Leukaspides" (white shields) from a previous post are now on their bases. The Leukaspides were the less well trained element of the phalanx and presumably included the youngest and oldest men of the levy. To indicate this I have given some of them pikes of various lengths, held awkwardly. Very few of them have armour and only around half have helmets. I'll do a close-up when they are finished, in the New Year.

Most of the above are ex-Craig Davey's collection, with replacement pikes and shields.  I painted 24 more to join them. The above, along with two elements left over from Raphia, give me four new phalanx blocks putting me 80% of the way towards my one metre of phalanx target. I hope to close this remaining gap before New Year.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Pike Fever II

I'm afraid that I have been too busy painting pikes for much posting. However, here are some WIP shots of some of the units.

Above are the better part of two phalanx blocks, a mix of my painting and Craig Davey's. These just need shields, snagging and basing. These will be scruffy leukaspides with white shields.

Above is a new unit of argyraspides silver shields painted by Shaun McTague. These need pikes attaching, varnish and basing. 
Shaun is currently painting another 125 leukaspides and chalkaspides bronze shields for me, to go with the 30 or so finished minis below. All of these will need to be varnished and based.

Finally (below) are the two blocks from my last post.

In theory, if I can find time to finish and base all of these minis, this would give me another 1.6 metres of phalanx to join the 2 metres that I already own. This would make for a most satisfactory Raphia at the WHC in April!

Monday 7 December 2015

Pike Fever

It's been almost 2 weeks since my last post and this is because in the meanwhile I been modelling like a madman. Above are 2/3 of the minis that I recently bought from Craig Davey, now re-piked, re-shielded and mostly re-based. The blue helmets are Ptolemaic Agema, and the red Peltastoi. I'll take a proper photo when the bases are finished.

I have decided to use the remaining weeks of 2015 by basing up more phalangites- I intend to add a whole metre of pikemen (240) to my phalanx for my big Raphia game at the Wargames Holiday Centre in April. I am just about 2/5 of the way there! I will be able to carry the phalanx to Basingstoke in the bags under my eyes.  ;-)

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Pikes, pikes, pikes.

At the Wargames Holiday Centre I was running four games at the same time and briefly ran out of both pikemen and Hellenistic cavalry. I've therefore decided to invest in some more miniatures, below are some Foundry pikemen that I've bought from chum Craig Davey. 

I've removed the previous shields and am going to give them some snazzy new shields that I've bought from Mike at Relik. These have a Medusa head and are perfect for Ptolemaic shields, being identical to the ones in Soldat Lagide. I need to paint twice as many again.

Below are 48 odd pikes; I need to do twice as many again.

Finally I've based up a wedge of companions painted by Nick Speller (left below) and rebased my Thessalians into rhomboid (centre below). These still need to be flocked. I am in the process of recruiting several new regiments to join them; I hope to end up with 8 or 9, enough for 2 cavalry wings each for two large armies.

I shall need them all; I plan to run Raphia again in the spring at the Wargames Holiday centre over the weekend 22nd to 24th April.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Norfolk bows

Here are the archer counterparts to the earlier billmen, again beautifully painted by Patrick Connor and based by me on one of my new Bat bases. Those Perry plastics are really lovely. :-)

A pleasant surprise is that they are fairly rugged- not at all brittle. Now I just need another 22 elements and I'll have the pair of armies that I need for a game. I had better consult my army list...

Monday 16 November 2015

Norfolk billmen

I mentioned a while back that I have bitten the bullet and started to collect my first medieval army. These stunning minis were painted by Patrick Connor and I've unit based them on one of my new MDF "bat bases", of which more anon.

I really like the Perry plastics (and metals) and I am certainly going to need a lot more of them!

In other news, there are a couple of places left for the second To the Strongest World Championships on Saturday February 13th 2016. If you are available please drop me a line via my email address on the left and I'll put you in touch with the organiser. Loan armies are available.

Lastly, yesterday I posted a new Mongol Conquest list in the Later Medieval booklet, which was written by Peter Ryding with a little assistance from me. Looks like a fast "shooty" army with an interesting twist...

Thursday 12 November 2015

Last weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre

Last weekend I had a super time running a weekend of To the Strongest! at the Wargames Holiday Centre with Mark Freeth and 14 gamers, many of them veterans of previous events. I'm afraid I was too busy to take very many photos but here are a few that I snapped during brief lulls in the fighting. All photos are clickable.

Above, we ran four games at a time (eight in total). The below game, set in the Peloponnesian War, was one of my personal favourites. The Athenians have the Spartan lights penned into a corner of the table - they chased them off and they returned several times. I believe that Spartan discipline led to them winning most or all of their games. For this game we used a pair of the 20 cm gridded DeepCut mats.

Below is a shot of the action; being flank-charged by Thessalian cavalry whilst double-disordered is no one's idea of fun! That's one of the hills I've re-flocked in the foreground.

Above the three-dimensional nature of the WHC terrain is a nice change from flat boards. Below, a one hit-unit of Roman Principes is flank-charged by Celtic fanatics. Gulp.

This game featured Germans (I used my Celts as proxies) fighting Polybian Romans at Arausio 151 BC. The Germans rather had the better of it, but then they did back in the day, too.

Finally I have a few shots of the Late Roman scenario, which featured Huns and Goths ambushing a Roman baggage train near Chalons in 451 BC.

Above the Martenses are inspired by Bishop Germanus of Auxerre (who died in 448BC, but then, who is counting?). Below is a charge by massed Gothic horse by painter mate Shaun.

Above an ala of light horse lurk improbably in the woods. Below, the Roman baggage train escaped in this game but was "bagged" in the other.

We had a great weekend- I reckon we fought around 2 dozen battles. Even I got to play in a couple of games, notably an epic uphill struggle against Emperor Baz' Spartans, in which he gained a moral victory. There are more pics on his blog.

A fine time was had by all, many thanks to Mark Freeth for hosting. Mark and I have set a date for another TtS! day in the spring, on the weekend 23rd to 24th April. I'll be bringing new scenarios and a lot of new troops, too. We are almost at maximum capacity for the venue so early booking is recommended! Mark can be reached at the Wargames Holiday Centre.

Friday 6 November 2015


53 boxes of minis loaded for a weekend of TtS at the Wargames Holiday Centre, I reckon there are just over 4000 miniatures plus terrain. Should be a riot! I am hoping that I've not forgotten anything... 

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Terrain Boards

A friend is looking to sell these- they are unused and custom made by TSS.  They are 600mm square, 20mm thick and marked with a 20cm grid.  He's looking for £145 including UK P&P.  Please mail me if they are of interest.  Best, Simon

Aventine archers

David Imrie very kindly sold these lovely Aventine Miniatures Hellenistic archers to me last year.

I felt the original 3mm thick bases were a little too thick, so I soaked and trimmed away the MDF, leaving only the grout and minis behind. I then rebased them on a single 18cm-wide card element (for use with a 20cm grid with To the Strongest!) and overflocked with mid green tufts so as to better match my "plains" gaming mat. They will see action in Pyrrhus' army on  Friday at the Wargames Holiday Centre! Doubtless, as a beautifully painted unit in the front rank, they will last for less than a minute.  ;-)

Monday 2 November 2015

Valtierra 1110 AD

Yesterday I drove (through dense fog) up to the Hereward show in Peterborough to help James Morris and Scrivs lay on a fantastic game using parts of their "El Cid" collections as previously seen in the excellent eponymous Warhammer Historical publication. We gamed the battle using my To the Strongest! rules and the newly-written Andalusian and Early Feudal Spanish army lists.

The scenario was written by James and featured an attack upon an Andalusian army led by the Amir of Zaragoza, returning from a raid and encumbered with loot, by the forces of King Alfonso I "the Battler" of Aragon.

Here are some random shots I took of the two games on my phone. All the pics are "clickable".

Above Alfonso leads the charge in the first game. I've rarely seen a game where the cards were so favourable to one side; he broke right through the Andalusian lines and took a camp. Below is the Andalusian Emir, at the head of a stunningly painted bodyguard.

Above are some more Spanish caballeros; all of the units had super hand-painted banners. Below, Scrivs has been on something of a painting spree. I asked about the lettering on the banners; apparently it is genuine Arabic poetry that he has copied by hand. Astonishing!

The Aragonese caballeros, above, with Alphonso leading the charge stormed to a swift victory in the morning, but were repulsed and defeated in the afternoon game. 

The layout included the gateway of the city of Valtierra, modelled by James, shot here from outside:

and below, from within.

And lastly for Valtierra we have a pic of Scrivs, yours truly and James Morris; it was such a pleasure to game with their great collections! I seem to have become an irregular Newark Irregular.

I failed to get pictures of the other games which included Huntingdon's "Stop the pigeon" which was a big hit with the kids, and a very impressive Dambusters game. I did take a picture of a demo game of Dan Mersey's coming "The Men who Would be Kings" rules, which was being run by Guitar Hero Andy on a couple of my wastelands gaming cloths. It looked great and like a lot of fun! Oh, and I had an enjoyable interview with the Meeples lads. 

The Peterborough show was very impressive especially as it was the first show there. There was plenty of room, the ceilings were high, the lighting excellent and the food and drink very satisfactory. The Peterborough Club (especially Mike Whittaker) did a fantastic job and I expect the show to become a regular feature of my wargaming calendar!

Thursday 29 October 2015

Tell Cid

On Sunday I'm driving up to the Hereward Wargames Show in Peterborough to help Ibn el Scrivs and Santiago Morris run an El Cid Game featuring minis from their collections as seen in the wonderful Warhammer Historical El Cid book. We'll be using To the Strongest! rules and in particular, the new Spanish, Andalusian and Moorish lists. I do hope I'll run into some of you there!

This afternoon, by way of research and to get into the right mindset, I plan to watch the film. It's a hard life. ;-) 

Tuesday 27 October 2015


Above, I've been painting some additional hoplites to provide a third rank for the three Athenian units at the front of my painting tray. 

Below, I've stuck 25mm extensions onto the back of the existing unit bases using superglue- each of the finished elements will be 60mm wide by 75mm deep. Later I might also add a small extension to the front of each base because the spears currently protrude forward somewhat and it would be a good idea to protect them.

And below the new miniatures have been stuck in place using wood glue. I always use wood glue because it is slow to set and allows repositioning. Moreover, if one should ever need to re-base, the job becomes a whole lot easier!

With the three Athenian units nearing completion, my mind turns towards Thebes and also the minor states such as Sicyon, Messene and Mantinea. I am pleased to report that I have located some of the former, conveniently located in the lead mountain of one of my painter mates...  :-)

Monday 26 October 2015

Sumer to Sargon

I've just uploaded a new booklet for To the Strongest! covering the Third Millennium BCE and including Sumer, Akkad and many more lists, which were largely written by mate Happy Wanderer who runs the excellent Sumer2Sargon blog (the pic is of one of the Big Men from his blog). They can be downloaded for free from here in the BigRedBatshop.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Spare Foundry Thebans or Spartans?

I'm coming to the end of my Foundry Athenians and want to get my mits on some of the World of the Greeks Thebans, and some more Spartans.  If you have any painted or unpainted that you'd like to sell or trade, please drop me a line.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Bucolic Interlude

This hill was a corner piece from the recent SELWG game; there was quite a bit of interest in it. It stands around 6" tall and is built from some old OOP foam railway terrain and features the excellent Gripping Beast Manx sheep. 

Thursday 15 October 2015

II Adiutrix

This lovely unit was painted by the most illustrious Saxon Dog. It used to be Impetus-sized but David very kindly painted another 6 minis to match so that I could extend the base to the 18cm frontage I use for most of my personal TtS! gaming.

I love the sculpts in this range which is sold by A&A Miniatures but which was sculpted by Adam "Smithy" Smith now at Aventine.

I added some spent arrows to the base and shields; I figure that they will mostly do service in the East where a hail of Sassanid arrows will be a regular event.

This cohort has a full complement of supporting light troops, which can be seen here.

I have a couple of units of legionaries already based and various others partly painted, to there is a distinct possibility that I will be able to get some Middle Roman gaming under way in the spring. I'm very curious to try Sam Mustafa's coming Aurelian rules and would also love to write and run a "To the Strongest!" campaign book loosely based on Harry Sidebottom's Ballista series.

If you look carefully in the below photo you can just make out where I've extended the base by 3cm on each side. I have a casualty figure that I can use to indicate when the cohort is disordered.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Ally Pally to Crystal Palace

On Sunday I motored from Alexandra Palace in North London to Crystal Palace in Sarf London, for what turned out to be a very enjoyable day at the SELWG show. 

This year I took a very portable ancients game.  Instead of the usual heavy terrain boards, I brought a large rubber mat and two of the Deep-Cut studios terrain cloths that I have recently started importing. I brought a relatively modest game, too, with only around 500 Spartan and Athenian minis, around 110 each points if you know To the Strongest! This lot weighed together was less than half the weight of my usual gaming load, and still looked very satisfactory.

Here are the Spartans in their crimson and bronze simplicity:

...and again from the other angle:

The Athenians (above) are an army that has only just reached critical mass; I'm painting more up for the coming Ancients Weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre.

Above, I've re-flocked some hills to match the new mats- I've very pleased with them!

We played two games to completion; one lasted 90 minutes and one 2 hours. The Spartans lost their general five minutes into the first battle (stabbed in the back by the "Infamy, infamy they've all got it in for me" card) but nonetheless still came close to winning. They triumphed in the second game. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I have no photos of the game in progress but there are some on Big Lee's blog, together with photos of the other games.

The SELWG club members were very helpful and friendly and I was delighted that the game was nominated in several categories, coming second in one (?) and winning "most child friendly" courtesy of  young gamers Emily, Alex and Nick (the latter has been playing TtS! since he was 8!). This was great since I felt the calibre of the games was really high this year and because I always hoped the game would be one that could lure in a new generation of gamers.

A big "hello" to everyone I met- there were so many of you! Particular thanks to those who played the game, the SELWG team for all their hard work, and to Ian for his duties as sherpa and photographer.