Wednesday 22 July 2015

To the Strongest! with the Essex Warriors

Here are some pictures of Last Sunday's games of To the Strongest! that I played with the Essex Warriors in their Writtle fastness.  

We fought Nicopolis 48BC, a scenario set during Caesar's Civil War, twice. A Pontic army under Pharnaces, son of the near-indestructible Mithridates, attacked one of Caesar's subordinates in Armenia. The Romans were soundly defeated, but soon after Caesar arrived in person and defeated Pharnaces in less time than it takes to say veni vidi vici.

I used pikes for the Pontic army, although it is more likely that by this time they would have been imitation legionaries. Pikes are so...  moreish; and they might have been there.

Above is the view from behind the Pontic lines. The Romans look somewhat outnumbered! Below the Pontic scythed chariots are revving up. They performed very poorly in the first game but rather well in the second.

The Roman line is thin and mostly of raw recruits, to boot. The skirmishers are less than enthusiastic asiatic archers.

Above, Pharnaces' bodyguard see off the Roman cavalry. Below the Romans (unwisely) advance to meet the phalanx. No good ever came of fighting a phalanx on the flat...

The Roman left (top above) was made of sterner stuff; the veteran XXXVIth legion. These performed well in both games.

Above, thureophoroi steel themselves for the fight.

In the first game (above)  a single phalanx fought three cohorts to a standstill. Below, in the second game, the Pontic's Skythian cataphract allies (on the right) rolled up the Roman wing.

The Pontics won the first game and the Romans (very narrowly) won the second. Below are some of the Essex Warriors; a fine bunch of chaps! Around a dozen Warriors played across the two games. I hope to revisit later in the year!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Small but beautiful

Not everyone plays TtS! in 28mm; this week I've seen some lovely pics of 6mm figures. First, here are some pics of part of Ray Ashton's collection in Australia.

His Romans are on the left and Seleucids on the right.  I am guessing that the Romans might be Caesarians; it looks like the Seleucids moved first.

The lines close. I like the subtle grid; easy to see if one wants too, but unobtrusive.

The minis look terrific in closeup! Below, Ray is using activation chits instead of cards. These are de rigueur for the smaller scales where cards don't always fit into the smaller boxes.

I think it is a terrific looking game! Note the dinky elephants in the background... I gather that the Seleucids won by turning a flank. 

In other 6mm news, Richard Crawley has made a splendid 6mm wagon laager for To the Strongest!; you just have to have a look at this:

I could be very tempted to collect some 6mm myself, perhaps in periods like pike and shot that I've not previously tackled. Space is at a premium here in the BigRedBatCave...

Finally if you are going to Historicon this weekend, please drop by and say hello to the chaps at Footsore Miniatures. They are the exclusive US distributor of my rules and I'll be working on some projects with them in the coming months. They will only have two dozen hard copies on their stand at Historicon, so if you want to pick up a copy without paying for International postage, please get in sharpish!

Sunday 12 July 2015

Athens and Sparta Part III

Here's the situation in mid-game; the Spartan units are circled in red.  Top right are the Spartiates, who have moved past the flank of the Athenian line, accompanied by a unit of psiloi. The rest of the line are stepped back in echelon with a unit of lights on the extreme left of the line. The Spartan cavalry are in reserve, but a unit of Athenian psiloi (who had been wandering lost off the table) have turned up behind them (below). Have a look at the tunic borders; Steve Jones painted these, he's very talented.

Below the Spartans having chased the Athenian cavalry and lights off of the table, are starting to turn towards the enemy camp. The Athenian cavalry have returned behind them. The Athenians now outflank the Spartan left, and several units on both sides are in states of disorder.

Above a view down the line. Below the Spartiates and cavalry have managed to redeploy squarely across the Athenian flank.

Below late in the game here is an unusual scene; the Athenian cavalry (left) are charging the flank of the Spartan phalanx, whilst the Spartan cavalry (right) have just been charging the flank of the Athenians in the lower right corner (who are doing their best to charge their own way out of trouble!). The Spartan horse have been charged in the flank and disordered by the Athenan lights. I've never seen cavalry on opposing sides charge in parallel before. An exceedingly confusing melee!

I don't have photos of the very end of the game, which was won by the Spartans who broke two of the Athenian phalanx and captured their camp. It was closer than it sounds from this; the Athenians were themselves close to breaking the Spartan left. All in all a very enjoyable game, and a fine outing for the new Athenian units who were necessarily crushed in their baptism of fire!

If you don't already have them, the Athenian and Spartan lists can be downloaded from here.

Friday 10 July 2015

Athens and Sparta Part II

This is the second part of my after action review of this week's ancients game. We left the two sides deployed in long lines facing each other, the Athenians commanded by Strategos Shaun and the Spartans by Ephor Ian. Both sides had their better units on their right wing. A couple of light units, one on each side, were off-table due to Stratagem cards, of which more anon.  

The Spartans had out-scouted the Athenians and so moved first. They advanced diagonally to the right, using "hoplite drift." Unfortunately their leftmost phalanx (in the foreground) failed to activate (on an Ace) and a gap opened in their line...

In the Athenian turn (below) they advanced their right but their activations weren't good enough to get into the gap. By the way, I'm using my new Deep Cut Studios mats. These are really good, particularly the cloth ones (the vinyl ones are too shiny for good photography). I marked the grid out by eye, using tufts.

Below is a shot of the test of the table, with the Spartan camp in the foreground. Note that the Spartan hoplites now outflank their Athenian equivalents. Beyond the hoplites the Spartan cavalry, on their nags, face their better-mounted Athenian adversaries, whilst light infantry lurk in the olive groves.

In their second turn the Spartans (below) managed to close the gap in the phalanx and brought on the light infantry  unit that was missing at the start of the game to cover their extreme left. It turned out to have been in reserve off table (as per the stratagem card). 

And finally, for today's post, the battle lines clash.  The Spartan phalanx, having inclined right a second time, now outflanks the Athenian hoplites by two units (and two elite Spartiate units at that). Opposite them is just a unit of Cretans and the Athenian horse, who can't challenge a phalanx frontally with any hope of success...  On the other hand, though, the incline has left a gap in the Spartan line that is held only by a unit of ekdromoi lights! A calculate risk, as Ephor Ian put it.  

Stay posted for the conclusion of the battle, tomorrow...

The Great Wargaming Survey 2015

The survey is once again upon us!  I urge you to go forth and enter, it only takes 5-10 minutes and the results are invariably interesting.  I would also like to see the few, the happy few, the band of brothers that are the Ancients and Medieval wargaming communities as fully represented as possible.

You can enter here.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Athens and Sparta Part I

Last night I decided that I had had just about* enough Athenians to provide some opposition up against my Spartans. Here are pictures of three of the five Athenian phalanx; the newly raised phalanx is at the top. I love Steve's hand-painted Octopus! The single figures are hero markers.

N.B. One doesn't need to use this many figures to represent a phalanx; 18 or so would do just as well. However I do like to "go large."

I drew up rosters for my To the Strongest! rules by editing the appropriate army lists in the free "Frogs around a Pond" booklet.  Here are the Athenians; currently quite a high quality force. Later I will field more raw allied hoplites so that I can extend the line.

Here is the Spartan phalanx, waiting, silently for the pipers to signal the advance:

And here's the opposing Spartan list:

Both armies are 100 points in TtS! terms. The Spartans have a pair of elite Spartiate units, which, unlike other hoplites, can turn without penalty. The Athenian light troops and cavalry are slightly higher quality than their Lacedaemonian equivalents. 

Tomorrow I'll show some photos of the battle and write a brief review.

* I had to use a few Bruttians to bolster the Athenian ranks and later Thessalian cavalry pending the arrival of the Hippeis.

Wednesday 1 July 2015


At Partizan Steve Jones very kindly sold me his WAB-based Greek army, and I'm around 70% of the way through rebasing them as an Athenian force to fight my Spartans. It is just too hot to take proper photos today, but here are the fruits of my labours, so far; the first seven units.

I have based all of the light infantry on my new large 18cm wide bases. This is fast becoming my personal standard for use with "To the Strongest!". They look great on such bases, and are really easy to move around the table. I have far too many lights compared to hoplites. I think this is partly due to Foundry selling a high ratio of lights to hoplites, and partly because the lights are so much easier to paint! The hoplites are based 12 to a stand.

Steve did a stunning job painting these including tunic borders and shield designs. I'll show photos of the individual units during the course of this week.