Friday 30 January 2015

Back to basing

I'm hurrying to finish a new Roman army for the first To the Strongest! Tournament on Saturday week.  I'm using the repaint eBay minis technique that I described in Wargames Soldiers Strategy.   The knack is to get the minis from 3 or 4 different painters to match- retouching, ink washes and muddying up the shields does a good job of this.

I need to finish a cohort of legionaries, one of auxiliaries, some slingers, two command stands and a hero (the auxiliary cavalryman, who I've given a lozenge-shaped base so that he's not confused with a command stand).  The other units in the army can be seen here; it is composed of the smaller Perry minis, with a few Warlord and First Corp for variety.  The bases are Impetus-stylee.

As you can see I'm quite far advanced with the process; basing tonight!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Not Noreia 112BC

Here are some shots of a game of "To the Strongest" I played with mate Ian last week. In the foreground a horde of migrating Germans approach a Roman blocking force protecting a town. Below is a photo of the Roman centre and right, including three of their four legions. All of the photos are clickable.

The Roman force was Polybian, organised into small units of 8-16 figures, whereas the Germans (proxied with Gallic figures) were in 40+ strong blocks. One of the reasons I wanted to fight this match up was because I'd read an account of one test game where the small units of the Roman legions were entirely swept away by a wild Gallic charge, and I wanted to check that this wasn't going to happen every game!

Below Ianus advances the Roman and Numidian cavalry screening his left, against my rather scruffy German cavalry (most of whom were "raw").  

The velites also rushed forward and showered the German warriors with their javelins, disordering several of them (note the stepped-back element in the right foreground). Disordered warriors only hit on an 8 instead of a 6, and are really hard to rally. I pushed the warriors forward as quickly as I could, in an attempt to minimise Roman shooting, and eventually managed to catch and kill a couple of units of pesky velites.

Below is a view from behind the German right.  At one point I managed to get a scruffy German cavalry unit onto the flank of the left-hand Roman legion (rear, centre, in the wheat field). Unfortunately the legion's Triarii flanked them, in return, and drove them off.

In the centre, below, the warbands collided with the Roman line. They managed to smash through the Roman Hastati and then the Principes, but took a lot of casualties along the way, becoming progressively disordered.  It is very hard to rally warriors when the enemy are in charge or shooting range.

Unfortunately the Roman Triarii proved too tough a nut to crack, and I just couldn't kill them and break through to loot the temples on the edge of the town. It turned into a very narrow Roman victory - they had one medal left when the Germans ran out!

It was a very enjoyable game that lasted around two and a half hours.  I took some video clips- I'll see if I can work out how to post them, tomorrow. We played the game using my new "Chits of War" instead of playing cards, you should be able to make them out in some of the photographs.  The last two sets of chits (more to come in a couple of weeks) and the rules are available in my shop.

Monday 26 January 2015

Aepycamelus cast!

Here are my Aepycamelus, now cast, and standing a lofty 60mm or so tall..  When I have time, I need to make reins and harness, and sculpt some riders.  This will not be an easy task; I am to sculpting as Morokanth are to hitch-hiking.  

Friday 23 January 2015

Chits of War

I've just added what I call "Chits of War" to the BigRedBatShop.  These are intended as an alternative to using playing cards in a game of To the Strongest!, and are likely to appeal to those who don't like the look of cards on a table or who are gaming on smaller grids, perhaps with 15mm minis.  I used them in a game last night and I am very taken with them- I'll certainly use them myself in games that will be photographed for this blog.

These chits have been cut from 2mm MDF. The activation chits are designed to be drawn from a cup or small pot and used in exactly the same manner as playing cards are in a game of To the Strongest! The ammunition markers have a dinky little arrow on them, and the playing card-shaped chits are perfect for stratagems.  The set includes a total of 143 chits:

  • 80 TtS! activation chits numbered from 1-10
  • 13 TtS! playing card court card chits for use as stratagem cards
  • 50 TtS! ammunition markers

The full set can be purchased for £9.99 plus shipping from here.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Cap'n hook

This little chappy is a 28mm oarsman I've been sculpting for a future project. The head is a temporary one borrowed from an Aventine mini. The plan is to make a simple oarsman in a tunic who can take a range of different heads, and who can crew barges, rowing boats and galleys. 

He is the first 28mm human I've sculpted from scratch, and I am coming to appreciate that I'm going to need more magnification to see what I'm doing; my specs just aren't cutting it! I am very happy with the pose, though.

Monday 19 January 2015


I'm back onto ancients, and am busily basing up minis for a game on Thursday.  In the front of the tray are celts, around half of whom are freshly painted by Nick Speller, and the remainder veterans undergoing rebasing.  Behind them are some stunning Polybian Roman cavalry from Shaun (Redzed), and at the back some of his Late Romans that I didn't get around to tufting, before Christmas.  Busy, busy, busy!

In other news, I have just added a Viking list to the Medieval booklet in the "To the Strongest!" catalog, and revised the English Kingdom list. 

Thursday 15 January 2015

Slow sculpting

Last night I finished some aepycamelus greens, for a long-delayed fantasy project.

The aepycamelus is an extinct llama-like creature.  These are a lofty 65mm tall.

Below are the greens; I started these almost 10 years ago, and last worked on them back in 2009!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

World's Strongest

Plans for the first ever "To the Strongest Tournament!"proceed apace, and I'm just starting to think about the loan armies I'll be bringing along for anyone who needs to borrow one.  I am minded to paint and base the last couple of units I need to base to be able to field this army:

We still have 2 places left for the tournament - if you are free on Saturday 7th Feb and can get to the Oxford area, please drop me a line at the address on the left and I'll book you in!  

Monday 12 January 2015

Sable Clan

These are mate Ian Notter's Sable Clan.  The Sables ride and herd Sable antelopes across the plains of Prax, and are pro-Lunar, so we often use them as allies for a Lunar army. There is a lot of work in this army; Ian needed to drill and mount each horn onto each antelope, which I gather was neither a quick nor an easy job.  

Above are the bulk of the tribesmen. We treat the closer-formation cavalry as lancers, and the others as bow and javelin-armed skirmishers.  Below is a close-up of the Khan.

The Shaman, above, is summoning spirits, and the giant blue sable below represents the tribe's founder, who may return in time of extreme need, along with spirits.

Above is a view of their camp and a herd. There's a lot of detail in these- have a look at the sable children play-fighting, below, and the woman with papoose on the left.

I do hope you have enjoyed these.  In a few days I will post some photos of some of the small independent Praxian tribes.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Bison Clan

There was a lot of interest in yesterday's Praxian post, so I thought I'd show some close-ups of Ian Notter's lovely collection of nomads (shot against the vintage "Nomad Gods" board game).  Today- the Bison clan.

Above the mass of bison riders, mostly mounted on Westwind bisons.  These weigh a ton!  Below is a close-up of the khan.

Above is the bison shaman and a summoned spirit and below the tribe's founder.

Above, bison herds.  I have an idea that these could be stampeded within the game, perhaps moving somewhat randomly.  Below is the bison camp.

I love the care that Ian put into these; almost every mini is a conversion, and the tepees are scratchbuilt.  Tomorrow I'll post photos of the Bison clan's Sable foes.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Back to Prax

In days of distant memory, long before I got into Ancients, I used to do a lot of Gloranthan gaming with a group of friends known as the "Glorygeeks".  We used the Hordes of the Things rules, and later Command and Colors to run battles set in the Runequest world of Glorantha.

I thought it would be a lot of fun to get some of the old models out and try them with a slightly adapted version of my "To the Strongest!" rules. The majority of the figures are from Ian Notter's collection. It proved pretty easy to fit all of the troop types in- the Lunar mages of the Minor Classes became cannon, for example, and the Rhino Riders cataphracts. 

I played the progressive (=evil expansionist) Lunar forces, with their Sable rider allies, fighting against Ian's coalition of reactionary (=freedom loving) Praxian nomads.  My left consisted of the Sable riders; more skirmish-y than their Bison-riding foes, and moreover half of the heavier sables were "lost!" off table, to boot. Below the chief and his shaman look down from the hill upon a rather scary buffalo herd!  All photos are clickable.

My right had a screen of Lunar infantry (the Red Dragoons and Steel Sword Legion) protecting no less than three units of Minor Classes spell casters. You may be able to make out the summoned "Lunes" that will shortly be driving some of the nomads (and Ian) insane.  On either flank of the line are a pair of War Triceratops, with archer crew.  Opposite the mass of crimson soldiery is the lighter Praxian wing; Pol Joni horse-riders (looking very much like native Americans), the Pavis Royal Guard on their zebras, a combined unit of Ostrich riders and the virgin Yelnorans on their unicorns. On the hill are the Baboon Troop and some Rhino riders are in reserve.

I'll briefly describe the game.  In the first turn, the Praxians rode forward and fired a withering volley at the Lunars. The very first arrow...

...seriously wounded the Lunar commander, who retired form the field, calling for a healer. In the first Lunar turn the furious mages launched wave after wave of Lunes against the Praxians, and one unit after another was driven screaming from the battlefield (I was phenomenally lucky).  

To cut a long story short the ponderous Bison advance pushed the Sables back, and flanked them; it was looking pretty hairy on my left.  However the Lunars drove all before them and were threatening the Praxian camp, and the nomads decided to "leg it" whilst they still had a chance.  

My shooting and spell casting was incredibly lucky, not least because there is a roughly 1 in 12 chance of the mages (= cannon) driving themselves insane up each time they cast a spell! We had a very enjoyable game, washed down with a delightful bottle of Trivento Argentinian Malbec. After the game we have both started to plot expansions to our Praxian forces, of which more, anon.

As well as being a fantasy game, this was unusual because it was the first time we played with numbered chits, drawn from a cup, instead of playing cards. You may be able to make some out in the photo above. They worked really well and I'll start selling them from the To the Strongest! shop in the next week or so. 

Monday 5 January 2015

The first ever "To the Strongest!" Tournament

A friend, Stephen Dover, is organising the first ever "TtS!" tournament called "The World's Strongest".

It will be a fun open competition using the “To the Strongest” Rules run in 28mm at 120 points (roughly a dozen medium sized units a side) on Saturday 7th February 2015.  It will be held at the Millstream Day Centre Benson, Oxfordshire, OX10 6RL, with registration from 9.00 AM for a 9:30 AM start. 

Everyone will get three games in during the day, so it'll be a great chance to see how the rules work. It isn't intended to be unduly competitive, more a fun day out with some limited death and destruction!

You can build an army using any of the free army lists in the TtS! shop:  If there isn't already a list for your favourite 28mm army, I will write one for you. If you don't have a suitable 28mm army, I can lend you one of mine- I will be there purely to help with the umpiring (unless the numbers are odd, muwhaha...).

Entry costs £6, and if you are interested, mail me at the address on the panel just to the left of this post and I'll send you the full details, including Stephen's contact address. The Day Centre is a relatively small venue and we only have around a dozen places, so please book early to avoid disappointment!

Thursday 1 January 2015

BigRedBat's 2014

For BigRedBat, 2014 was a year of much wargaming, even more painting and vast amounts of word-processing!

2014 highlights

Partizan in the Park was my favourite wargaming event of the year.There was a positively Churchillian vibe when the event had to be moved into tents at the last minute. On the day the sun shone and the atmosphere (and lighting) inside the tents was fantastic. It was a great game and I met lots of friends!

T'other Partizan was my second favourite gig of the year; me and a bunch of mates put an awful lot of lead on a table and refought the battle of Pydna 168BC. It looked good and it was a whole lot of fun! Perseus' phalanx reversed history when it managed to hack its way up Mount Olocrus. I also really enjoyed meeting Scrivs, Mog and the Wargames Illustrated crew.

On 28th November I published the "To the Strongest!" rules that I've developed to run games large and small. I'm pleased to report that these have sold very well, and I have a lot of plans to develop them next year, including a hard copy version in March and, hopefully, a Napoleonic version late in the year. If you've not picked up your set yet, you can find them here:

2014 lowlights

The main (only?) 2014 lowlight was the unexpected and sad death of Allen Curtis. Allen was a brilliant chap to turn to when one had a question on anything "Ancients", and has left a very big hole in the heart of the hobby.

Scores on the doors

Last year I based 954 miniatures in 50 units. I had hoped to get a round 1,000 minis on bases, but in the event 954 feels like quite enough. Next year I resolve to base fewer miniatures! Anyhow, I'm running out of space to store the blighters.

Despite these prodigies of basing, the lead mountain grew by an alarming 559 unpainted miniatures, and now includes no less than 1,927 part-painted but un-based 28mm minis.  

Unexpected obsessions

Late in the year I suffered a very severe attack of my Spanish Ulcer. Consequently I barely based any ancients in November and December, but I do now have three divisions-worth of 1814 French Napoleonics. As yet virtually no artillery, though, and no opposition apart from a lonely dozen Prussians. And not enough time to take photos.

The pen is mightier than the sword

Due to the pressure of writing my rules, I have played fewer games myself this year than usual, and less time to blog. I shall try to fix that next year!

2015 plans

I'm going to run an extended version of the big Cremona game at Salute in April; this will mean painting Romans in considerable numbers and terrain building. I'll expect be doing something at both Partizans- not quite sure what, yet, but I would love to do a bigger game, even, than Pydna.  And a massive weekend of gaming at the Wargames Holiday Centre in May. And there is talk of a "To the Strongest!" competition in February... 

And finally, Happy New Year, everyone! I hope we all have a great 2015. May all your dice roll 6's, and none of your cards be Aces!