Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy New Year, all!

I have decided to see the New Year in with a little gentle basing- here are four units of Carthaginian veterans for one of the WHC games at the end of March. They are suitably grim- they have probably just heard that the Numidian cavalry have just defected! Around half were painted by Shaun McTague- the others are from various sources, tarted up by me. They are on a new set of magnetic bases I've designed that lock loosely together in pairs or fours. More pictures in a week or two.

Can I wish a very Happy Year to all who read the blog, play To the Strongest! or shift lead (or plastic) around any gaming table! May we all have great 2017s and may none of our cards be Aces!

Tuesday 20 December 2016

An end to flocking block

Since the summer I've been basing but haven't been able to bring myself to get out the flock box. Consequently I've built up a backlog of at least 60 unflocked units (mostly Numidians, per a previous post). Last night I actually made a start! I'll be OK so long as the Bob Dylan collection holds out.  ;-)

I can't recall where I got the flock box but it is really good find- the flock stands nicely to attention- and I've not lost my eyebrows yet.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Like buses

You wait weeks for a post, and then two come along at once.

Here's a very bad photo of some lovely minis that Shaun (Redzedz) painted for me; it really doesn't do them justice (see here for better photos). These Foundry Casting Room Persian heavy cavalry will also be in the Ipsus game at the Wargames Holiday Centre next March, in the role of Satrapal horse.

I'm basing them on my irregular magnetic "Batbases" which are 19cm wide with a break in the middle (so I can easily indicate when the unit is disordered). The bases are grouted and ready for painting!

Parthian shot

Here's a WIP shot of the Parthian light horse I'm assembling for the WHC ancients day in March, when they will form part of Seleucus' host for Ipsus. Here are 30 of the 40 I need, all painted by Shaun McTague and high-lighted by me. Most of the riders are Aventines on a range of horses including some plastic LotR steeds that actually work quite well, being very animated. Once I have the remaining 10, I shall get basing!

Thursday 8 December 2016

Turning out the lights

Over the summer and autumn, I've been refitting and extending my Numidian army. The above photo is of the light troops, who will form just over half of the completed army. So far, I have 22 units of nine light infantry and 22 of  five light cavalry, grouped into pairs (for TtS! players, they will be 2 hit light units each with 4 ammo). None of the bases are properly flocked, yet, I have that joy to come!

All are based on my magnetic "bat bases" which are 19cm wide. They fit together in pairs with a disguised seam. The cloth they are on is the sagebrush steppe design (which is much greener than the Deep-Cut photos suggest) and which is great for North Africa.

A lot of the minis were painted by Shaun McTague and Nick Speller, others came from eBay. I even painted a few, myself.

The minis are a mix of the excellent Foundry Numidians, Foundry Greeks and some A&A miniatures for variety. I do love the Foundry range- next time I see them I'll suggest they add some more minis to round the range out.

The other half of the army (not shown) will comprise King Juba I, General Petreius, Marcus Labienus, Spanish and German heavy cavalry, a mass of formed infantry and, of course, the elephant corp.

The completed army will have its first outing on the next Wargames Holiday Centre Ancients weekend- 31st March to 2nd April 2017. This time Mark Freeth and I have booked a large room at the Basingstoke Hilton hotel to accommodate what promise to be four (perhaps five) extremely large games. I'll talk more about the other games in the coming weeks, but they include a rather larger Successor game than was Raphia. We have a maximum capacity of 20 but are already more than half booked so if you fancy coming please email me or Mark, ASAP.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Carthaginian veterans

I'm conscious that I've been posting much less frequently of late- it's not that I've been painting and basing less, but rather that I've not had sufficient time to take pictures and post them. I shall endeavour to post rather more regularly! Here are some 28mm Carthaginians veterans. Around a half were painted by Shaun McTague, and the other half by Steve? from Newark Irregulars.

They are a mix of A&A, Crusader and Aventine. At some point soon I shall base them as four units of  grim Carthaginian veterans. I feel a Zama coming on...

Sunday 6 November 2016

Magnesia at Crisis

I've just returned from a splendid trip to Crisis in Antwerp with mates Ian Notter and Andrew Brentnall. The show war excellent, the Tin Soldiers great hosts and I ran into dozens of wargaming chums including many who I've previously only met online. Andrew displayed considerable sang froid in the face of some challenging roadworks and diversions. Antwerp is a great city to visit and a good deal of food, beer and wine was consumed!

Here are some photos of the game, which we ran using my "To the Strongest!" rules. All the minis were painted by Ian, and he took the great photos, too.

Deployment; Seleucids on the left.  The mat is a gigantic "Sagebrush steppe" mat that I've had specially made; it is 16' long!

The Roman camp; my only contribution! The Roman legions are Donnington.

Seleucid phalanxes interspersed with elephants and screened by innumerable lights. The Seleucids are mostly Xyston.

View from behind the phalanx, towards the cavalry on the Roman right.

Roman triplex axies; we used the "alternative Polybian list- worked great!

Late in the battle- cataphracts charge! The Roman triarii fought like the veterans of Zama they were and skewered Antiochus!

The Roman line bows but does not break.
We had such a fantastic weekend- I very much hope to make it back to Crisis next year- perhaps with a different sort of pike!

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Magnesia 190 BCE at Crisis

A quick reminder that I will be visiting the Crisis show on 5th November in Antwerp, bringing a "to the Strongest!" participation version of the Battle of Magnesia, 190 BCE. The game will feature my friend Ian Notter's 15mm collection, and Andrew Brentnall (with whom I'm working on the ECW rules) will be with us too.

We will be at g10b01 in Hall 2, near (but not too near!) to the toilets- I've circled the location in red.

We will run the game twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If you would like to play, please email me via the address to the left.

I won't be selling stuff at the show, but if you would like to order anything from the BigRedBatShop for collection at Crisis, please do so and I will refund your postage and bring it over with me. Postage free and with the current low, low pound, it's a great opportunity to pick up a set of the rules, some of the chits or one of the excellent Deep-Cut mats at a very much reduced price! Last orders for collection will be tomorrow, Wednesday 2/11/2016.

Friday 28 October 2016

The 2017 To the Strongest! World Championships

The third annual "To the Strongest" World championship will take place in the (otherwise) quiet village of Chalgrove in southern Oxfordshire on the 25th of February 2017. The event is a friendly contest, hosted by the South Oxfordshire Generals, in which players get to fight three battles during the day against ancient or medieval armies. We hope to have thirty or more entrants this year. The atmosphere is more good-natured than competitive.

If you'd like to throw your hat in the ring, you can choose your army from any of the official "To the Strongest!" ancient and medieval lists, up to 130 points. If the list isn't already written for your favourite 28mm historical army, let me know and I will write a list for you. If you don't have a suitable 28mm army, mail me and I will lend you one from my collection. 

There will be prizes for the winner, for the best army, for sportsmanship and also a "wooden spoon." 

In addition to the ancients tournament, Andrew Brentnall and I will be bringing a demonstration game of "For King and Parliament", the English Civil War version of the rules that will be published in Q2 next year, and will be able to answer questions about it.

The "Worlds" is always a great event.  If you can make it, please email me at the address in the panel to the left and I'll forward your details to the organiser, Steve Dover. We hope to see you there

Sunday 23 October 2016

An unusual "for King and Parliament" play test

On Thursday night I went to my first wargames club night in over a decade. Surprisingly it wasn't my local club (I think of myself as a somewhat lapsed Central London gamer) but rather the South East Scotland Wargames Club in Edinburgh, just over 400 miles from where I live. David Imrie had very kindly invited me up for a game and we'd decided to use the "for King and Parliament" ECW play test version to run a Seven Years War game (ECW minis weren't available, but several lovely SYW collections were). David Imrie, Angus Konstam, Ken Pearce and Jack Glanville played, whilst I helped out with the rules. Here are some shots of the game- below, David's Austrians pummel a British brigade.

Angus' Reicharmee very nearly took the hill and objectives from he Prussian grenadiers.
Throwing caution to the winds, I decided to trial diagonal movement. This turned out to be a great success and I'll look at it for games set after the period of the ECW, particularly the War of the Spanish Succession, where it seems to me that diagonal movement becomes more important. I've had some other ideas how fKaP could be adapted for later periods.

This pretty Austrian battery really clobbered the British!
A pic of the grenadiers who were so comprehensively out-shot by some very dubious Reicharmee.
Jack the Great of  Prussia
There are some super wide shots of the game on Jack's Pioneer Painting blog, and Jack describes the game very well.

South East Scotland Wargames club is very friendly and in a great venue with a nice bar, and the chaps were terrifically welcoming! It was great to see such a wide variety of different games being played. I very much hope to make it up there again!

Austrian hussars clash with the British cavalry that subsequently routed them.

Wednesday 19 October 2016


Here are some images of the Edgehill game I recently played at Andrew Brentnall's place with his lovely 12mm English Civil War collection. I posted them on Facebook, at the time, but neglected to blog them. All photos are clickable!

Parliament further table edge, Royalists, nearer.
The rules are an English Civil War re-engineering by myself and Andrew of my "To the Strongest" Ancients set. They are grid based, with activations driven by D10 or playing cards, and rattle along at a terrific pace!

The Royal Standard
Parliamentarian horse about to get Rupert-ed
The mat is a gridded Deep-Cut plains mat- I sell them in a variety of grid sizes (or without grids for that matter).

Dragoons fight it out in the hedges
The infantry lines close.

We had a great day running this epic play-test! It ended with a narrow Royalist victory, that wouldn't have been decisive. The working title of the rules is "For King and Parliament". I expect to publish them next May/June.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Crisis, what Crisis?

On November the 5th I will be at the Crisis show in Antwerp with chums Ian Notter and Andrew Brentnall.

The battle we are taking is Magnesia 190 BCE, which will pit upstart Rome against the might of the Seleucid Empire. Unusually, we will be playing in 15mm with substantially new armies that Ian has been raising all summer. Here are a couple of shots of the Seleucid phalanx, which is but one element of their vast host. Sticking elephants in the phalanx; will it work for Antiochus? 

Facing them will be a large Polybian Roman army. If you are coming to the Crisis show and would like to play either in the morning or afternoon game, please do drop me an email via the address on my shop

I won't be selling stuff at the show, but if you would like to order anything from the BigRedBatShop for collection at Crisis, please do so and I will bring it over and refund your postage. With no postage and the current low, low pound against the euro, it's a great opportunity to pick up a set of the rules, some of the chits or one of the excellent Deep-Cut mats at a very much reduced price!

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Nellie B

I'm sculpting an elephant as a master for next year's planned Successor battles. I have called her nellie B because I sculpted an elephant once before. She'll be a female Indian elephant; no one makes one, as far as I know. As such she will be a little smaller than the Aventine males that I favour, and tusk-less.

So far I've made the armature (from paper clips) and bulked out the body with a mix of Milliput and green stuff. The next stage will be to add the ears and trunk. After that I'll need to see if I can manage wrinkly skin.

Monday 10 October 2016

Raphia at SELWG

I had a very enjoyable day yesterday at SELWG, running Raphia again. Here are some shots of the game taken by mate Ian- lovely rich colours! The elephants (mostly Aventines) look brilliant.

To cap it all, SELWG awarded us best participation game! Thanks to Ian for the carrying and for taking all the photos, to Mike for his help setting up and to everyone who played or chatted! As ever, SELWG was a friendly and well-organised show- it was nice how a SELWG team came around at the start to greet us and check we had everything we needed.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Tribola at Hereward

On Sunday I motored across to Peterborough for the Hereward show, where mates James Morris, Mog and Matt were putting on a spectacular game using "To the Strongest!". I travelled up with mate Dug who very kindly took these photos.

Our "Tribola" game featured an attack on a Roman column by Lusitanian freedom fighter led by Viriatus. I won't write much about it as I understand that James plans to publish the scenario in one of the magazines. As well as James and Mog's minis, the game featured James' superb mountain that was used for Keren, admirably re-purposed as well as some new rocky outcrops.

In the game a Roman column of four legions has been lured into a trap by vengeful Lusitanian rebels. You may just be able to make out the grid which was marked with tufts; the shot is taken at the start of the battle.

James' mountain towered over the other end of the table. It is absolutely huge and the build quality is superb; the design is really well thought out with panels bolting on to a wooden frame.

Above, a shot from late in the battle, when the action became confused as Lusitanian horse harrassed isolated Roman units. The minis were beautifully painted by James and Mog. Below, I contributed a few units of Roman baggage to the game- pack mules from Tiger Miniatures, some lightly converted, temporarily based to match James' terrain.


We played the scenario twice and it was a lot of fun. We used the "experimental" Polybian list which has more resilient Roman units that performed well even when attacked from multiple directions- "Form orbis!"

This was the Hereward show's second year and somewhat larger than the first. The venue was very good and the event has become a regular in my gaming calendar.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Raphia at t'other Partizan

I had a fine weekend travelling to Newark for my favourite wargames show, Partizan. My extended Raphia  had its first public outing.

Above, the view from behind the Ptolemaic left; those are the (supposedly) inferior African elephants. In the photo below are the more numerous and heftier Seleucid pachyderms.

The cloths we used are the new Sagebrush Steppe mats from Deep Cut Studios. I was really pleased with these as I had them designed to match my bases.  Note that they have a good deal of green in them, as well as the dusty beiges and ochres; indeed very much more green than the Deep Cut thumbnail would suggest...

The game was particularly exciting. Usually the Seleucid Indian elephants sweep all before them, but yesterday the Ptolemaic African beasts overthrew them. To add insult to injury, the inferior and outnumbered Ptolemaic cavalry managed to seriously wound Antiochus the Great (next to the man on the white horse, below), who retired from the field.

In the centre (below) both phalanx hit each other and became locked in a shoving match in which honours were broadly even.

On the other wing, though, the Seleucids gained the upper hand and routed the Ptolemaic cavalry. They then turned onto the flank of the Galatians (below) and were well positioned to roll up the Ptolemaic line; it was looking sticky.

Just at this point a wonderful wargaming event occurred.  A 13-year-old named Matthew was commanding the Ptolemaic centre- he'd had a fairly uneventful battle, so far, but had picked up the basics of the rules. He noticed that a couple of units on the Seleucid left had failed to advance, leaving the left hand side of their phalanx temporarily unsupported; it was "hanging in the air". Matthew saw an opportunity to turn his rightmost phalanx unit onto the Seleucid flank. This might have gone very badly for him (I told him it was very risky), as it exposed this unit's own flank, but luckily the opposing Seleucid general was temporarily distracted and the young Alexander proceeded to slaughter not one but two phalanx with flank attacks, winning the game for Ptolemy! I should imagine he won't forget that in a while.  :-)

Many thanks to all who played and all who helped, especially Ian Notter (who took the photos), Andrew Brentnall and Dave Lycett who helped hugely with packing. Another fantastic show organised by Tricks, Laurence and the Newark Irregulars! Oh and we won the raffle, too.  ;-)