Monday 27 November 2017

All basing and no posting...

...makes Simon a dull lad.

I am very much up against it, as I need to finish basing seven foot regiments, four regiments of horse and five command stands by 13th December. Some terrain would be nice, too...

Sunday 12 November 2017

Meeples Podcast

I recently had a fine chat with the guys at Meeples about forthcoming To the Strongest! developments and the forthcoming TtS! "For King and Parliament" English Civil War rules, which they have kindly made into a Podcast which you can download from here:-

It is always a great pleasure to chat with Neil, Mike and Mike!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

St Crispin's Day

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."

(Minis painted by David Imrie and based by me for a projected To the Strongest! army).

Monday 23 October 2017

Ruspina 46 BCE

"Caesar once again returned to the town of Ruspina, drew up his camp there, and then set out himself with thirty cohorts in light order to forage."

Yesterday I ran an extended version of the Ruspina 46 BCE battle that is one of my favourite ancient engagements. NB all photos are clickable! 

Below are the massed Numidian cavalry, thaaaasands of them (well, 120).

The miniatures are almost all Foundry Numidians or Caesarians, with a degree of admixture of Crusader and conversions from other ranges. 

Above, lines of grim-faced legionaries. Below Caesar surveys the situation. In To the Strongest! terms he is a brilliant general, and very handy, too!

More Numidians, above and below.

Above, I based some palms with the minis, just for fun. Below, you can see how well the BatBases blend in with the Sagebrush Steppe design mat. Look- no straight lines!

We played the first part of the battle, twice, with novice players; everyone seemed to have fun, especially the kids, one of whom played for the third year in a row. SELWG is always a fun show! Huge thanks to chum Ian for the beautiful photography and to Mike Brian and his son Alex, and Robert, for helping with setup, and to the SELWGers. Thanks also to Foundry for the nellie and hippo and 1st Corps for all the sheep!  :-)

PS We have one place left on Saturday for a rerun of the battle at the Wargames Holiday Centre, near Basingstoke,; I'm also running the battle of Gaza with Demetrius Poliocretes, elephants and a forest of pikes.  If you are free drop me a line, i believe the day's gaming costs £75.

Friday 20 October 2017

Out of Africa(ns)

With the above Numidians based, I have finally have as many as I anticipate needing for the foreseeable futire.... These minis, mostly lovely Wargames Foundry from the Caesarians range, bring me to a total of 120 light horse which should be enough for most battles, even those battles where both sides had Numidian cavalry, such as Zama.The minis were painted by Shaun McTague and finished by me; the bases are my famous Batbases.

I'll be running the big Ruspina game at SELWG on Sunday  and we'll see how they do! If you are coming and want to play, please drop me a line. I won't be selling anything at SELWG, but if anyone wants to order things from the BigRedbatShop by, say, 6PM on Saturday, I can bring them along for collection and refund your postage.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Announcing the 2018 To the Strongest Worlds!

The fourth "To the Strongest!" World Championships will take place in the village of Chalgrove in Oxfordshire on Saturday 24th February 2018. We believe that "Worlds" is the largest big-battle ancient/medieval tournament in, well, the world. This year we hope to have 50 players from at least four countries who will each fight four battles using 28mm figures, to establish who is the World’s Strongest! 

The atmosphere is more good-natured than competitive; that said, the competition for the wooden spoon can be fierce. ;-) If you'd like to throw your hat in the ring, you can pick an ancient or medieval army from any of the 178 official "To the Strongest!" ancient and medieval lists, up to 130 points. If the list for your favourite 28mm historical army isn't already written, let me know and I will write the list for you. If you don't have a suitable 28mm army, I may be able to lend you one.

There will be prizes for the winner, the best army, the best camp and for sportsmanship, amongst others- and, of course, the wooden spoon. The cost of entry is £9 (includes tea/coffee and biscuits). 

To register, please email steve.dover (at) 3dsystems (dot) com. Steve will send you out a template to enter your army. Please don't wait too long, as there are fewer than twenty places remaining.

I hope to see you in Chalgrove in February!

Tuesday 10 October 2017

With Ruspina to SELWG!

The annual SELWG show (Crystal Palace on Sunday week) is now just ten days away and I'll be putting on a rather grand game of To the Strongest!

Ruspina is one of Caesar's less well known battles, but one of my favourites because the great man came within a whisker of defeat. It is also an asymmetrical battle, with legionaries matched against masses of light troops. Here are some shots of the game as run earlier this year at the Wargames Holiday Centre; I hope to have a couple more units finished by Sunday week. All photos are clickable!

There will be Romans, Caesar and baggage...

...there will be elephants... savage Germans and proud Pompeians....

...and probably more Numidians than you will ever have seen on a gaming table!

If you are coming and want to play or help or both, please mail me or post in comments!

Saturday 7 October 2017

Mea culpa...

...mea maxima culpa- it has been six weeks since my last blog post in the BigRedBatCave! 

I have been posting on my new ECW blog, For King nd Parliament, but writing and modelling time has temporarily cut across my ancients posting. I shall see if I can remedy that.... in the meanwhile, here are some lovely Caesarian Romans that Andrés Amián Fernández very generously gifted to me earlier this year. There are some fine painters out there but none who are better at hand-painted shields. The minis are Warlord Caesarian plastics and metals- the photo is clickable. They make my other Romans look shabby!

In other news... in the BigRedBatShop  have some gaming cloths on sale this week- mostly gridded, some ungridded. If you need a cheap cloth, you can find them here!

Friday 25 August 2017

Leuctra at Partizan

Hi all, I'm still playing catch up after Partizan but here are a couple of photos of the game, taken by chum Ian Notter.

Above is the Spartan deployment- that's Cleombrotos I at the start of the battle. 

Below is the Theban extra-deep phalanx. The speed of the Theban advance in the first game was astonishing (hilariously the new pack of cards they were using for activations wasn't completely shuffled and they played the 6, 7 and the 8 of Hearts in a row, advancing straight into melee and clobbering the Spartans).

In both games Epaminondas' phalanx got off to a cracking start, but narrowly failed to break the opposing Spartans and was pushed back, disordered. In the second game it was routed. Despite this, both games eventually ended in extremely narrow Theban victories due to their superior cavalry (and in particular a large unit of very scruffy raw light cavalry) getting behind the Spartans and causing mayhem. Next week, when I have the time, I'll post the scenario in the BigRedBatShop for downloading; it's a cracker!

A huge thank you to Ian, Andrew Brentnall, Simon Williams, Phil Hamer and all those who helped, played or dropped by for a chat! It was a very enjoyable day at a terrific show. We were surrounded by lovely games with astonishing modelling- but I don't think any games were played by more people or with more good-natured enthusiasm than was ours.

Friday 18 August 2017

Mega phalanx 4

Here are a couple of WIP shots of the Theban phalanx for Sunday. This will represent the very deep Theban phalanx used at Leuctra. 

The bases are only part painted and also need to be flocked, but should be finished today/tomorrow in time for the show on Sunday. I'm very much looking forward to Partizan, especially as I want to see the stunning Crecy game that David Imrie and Simon Chick have been working on.

In other news, for "To the Strongest!" fans... I've just released a revised version of Even Stronger- this free supplement  includes additional rules that can be used with the To the Strongest! rules. This latest version includes changes to combined light troops, who may now charge formed troops regardless of how they are armed. I have re-written the light lance rule. There are extra sections on ammunition (including a very important change regarding lances and shock and lance chits) and extra weapons. Supported cavalry have become deep units. Artillery have had a boost with a new type – Artillery (field gun), and these and bombards are now very effective against dense targets.

The free supplement can be downloaded from:-

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Mega Phalanx 3

A quick WIP shot of the forming phalanx; all minis finished and varnished. Ranking up is always a challenge with animated minis like the ones I'm using here. 

Happily I am currently ahead of target for Partizan! :-)

Friday 11 August 2017

Mega-phalanx 2

A hastily snatched shot of Thebans forming up for Sunday-week's mega phalanx. Here are the 70-odd hoplites (Lucid Eye, Foundry and Victrix) that will constitute the 6-deep formation. They are all in active poses - I want the finished unit to have a send of mass and momentum. The minis were all painted by Shaun McTague but I'm in the process of adding some detailing, ink and varnish. I'm getting back on schedule by dint of some rare, daytime painting.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Thebans at the charge

I have around 10 painting sessions before Partizan and have been racing to finish what I'm calling the Theban mega-phalanx for Leuctra- it'll be touch and go. Here are the shields- painted, varnished and awaiting their clubs of Heracles. The figures (not shown) are mostly-painted by chum Shaun McTague but need finishing, basing etc, there will be 72 of the blighters plus Epaminondas.

The Leuctra "To the Strongest!" game at Partizan will take six players and I'll run it twice. It will be short and bloody. I'm taking bookings....

Monday 7 August 2017

28mm Desert buildings

Chum Welsh Raglan is trying to persuade Total Battle Miniatures to replicate this range of 10mm buildings in the larger 28mm scale. The lovely buildings are cast in light weight resin. They would be very useful to us 28mm gamers; I'm thinking Hatra, Palmyra and the Crusades, for starters. To help persuade TBM to manufacture them, please post an expression of interest on Raglan's blog (or here if you prefer); just say something like "I'd buy some!"  And let your friends, know, too!

The full range of buildings are illustrated on Raglan's excellent blog at: -

Sunday 30 July 2017

More Greek horse!

Mea culpa- it has been over three weeks since my last blog post here.

After a lengthy busman's holiday on my new English Civil War blog I have returned from an actual holiday (Whitby) to ancients. Here are some Greek cavalry, painted by Nick Speller, that I am readying for a big Leuctra game at t'other Partizan on 20th August. My plan is to mix the new minis in the foreground with the older minis at the back and form two units of eight to engage their Spartan equivalents.

I also need to finish and base the "mega phalanx" of 72 Thebans, drawn up six deep, for the same game, of which more anon.

In other news....
  • I finished and posted eight new army lists for "To the Strongest!"whilst on my hols- you can find them via the Index, here
  • I am selling some super new "Western Desert" battle mats wot Deep-Cut designed for me; best ones yet! If you want a different grid or size, or find them sold out, please drop me a line, I can order them in.
  • If you'd like to be an Epaminondas or Cleombrotus at Partizan, please drop me a line! 

Thursday 6 July 2017

New "For King and Parliament" Blog

I'll be posting a great deal about the English Civil War during the coming year, so have decided to set up a dedicated ECW blog- it's called For King and Parliament (the same name as that of the rules Andrew and I will be publishing later this year)- better bookmark it now before you forget!  :-)  I've been posting pics, there, of my first ECW units as they go onto my FK&P bases; here's one as a taster.

In other news... for the final 48 hours of the BigRedBatShop Summer Sale, I've added even more Deep-Cut mats, MDF gaming tokens, bases and victory medal coins. The sale must finish on Friday night!

Friday 30 June 2017

Summer sale!

I will be holding a summer sale of the “To the Strongest!” ancient and medieval wargames rules, lasting until midnight UK time on Friday 7th July.

The rules' unique activation mechanism and simple grid enables battles to be fought to a bloody conclusion in around 90 minutes, and they are supported by over 150 free army lists, with more added each month.

The digital version of the rules, the hard copy rules and both sets together will all be discounted by 25%. Moreover, with each order I’ll include a sample pack of 20-or-so of the chits that are used with the game.

I have also put some other products on sale, including quite a few Deep-Cut Mats and Batbases, and will be adding more products during the course of the week.

Finally, I have also published an updated version of the "Even Stronger" supplement with some important updates to the rules (a free hero with every warband!), and updated several of the army list booklets.

Thursday 22 June 2017


Progress on my first regiment- the command stand and casualty minis are blocked in and the rest are inked. Turns out that command minis are even slower to paint than musketeers! Still, I am on the final lap with perhaps two painting sessions left, which is just as well as my special designer bases are due to arrive next week...

Most of the units in this army will be painted by other people but it is nice to start with one that I have painted pretty much from scratch.

Thursday 15 June 2017


Steady progress with the ECW minis- I'm around 70% in on the first (front) regiment now, they need to be piked, inked and varnished. The command stand are mustering at the rear...  They are going to be, most appropriately, New Model Army.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Norman foot

Here are some of the Norman foot that Shaun McTague has painted for me- I hope to eventually have around four times this many. They are mounted on temporary painting blocks- I really should be finishing them, but am currently addicted to the ECW!

Saturday 10 June 2017


Terrible photo but the ECW minis are coming on- I now have 60 "under the brush". The chaps on the left will be Royalists and the right, New Model Army. Two things I have learned thus far:-
  1. ECW minis are not faster to paint than ancients; especially musketeers.
  2. One needs to do a bit of research to get them right, there's more to them than there might as first appear...

Friday 9 June 2017


I'm going to try to get back to two or three posts a week. Here are some Normans that Shaun McTague painted and which I've detailed. I plan to produce a good-sized Norman army and a Byzantine army to fight it- probably next year, though, as the ECW will take priority. Most of the minis are Crusader, with some from the newer Foundry range and a few GB veterans at the back.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Opening a new front...

I'm sorry for the recent lack of posts- I've been very busy writing "For King and Parliament" for release late this year and it's cut right across my blogging time. I still have loads of units that I completed for the last WHC gig in april that I've not photographed and posted, and a fair bit of other stuff, since.

In the meanwhile, here are some English Civil War minis which I've just repainted from eBay purchases, still on their painting blocks. I am assembling a generously-sized ECW army for a demo game at Salute next year. They are better than they look in the photo; will look great, based.

Also on my painting trays are three elephants, a unit of Galatian horse, a hundred or so Normans and half a Florentine army. I need to recover my focus...

Friday 19 May 2017

Nellie news

Aventine have produced some new ride on crew for their new resin elephants, and Keith kindly sent me some photos which I reproduce here. 

These are really great minis- all the heads are separate so it is possible to introduce extra variety. I plan to mount my crewmen on magnets so that I can interchange them with Indian riders; my elephants will be able to do double service, under Poros. It may also be possible to mount a howdah on the same magnets, which will give even more uses for them. Excited, I am!

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Edgehill at Partizan

On Sunday at Partizan (the excellent wargames show in Newark) Andrew Brentnall and I will be running a participation game of our forthcoming "For King and Parliament" ECW rules. We have spaces for players- if you'd like to book a 90 minute game, please drop me a line via ). Alternatively, just stop by for a chat!

The game will feature Andrew's 12mm collection, but I'll be bringing some 28's along, too.

We very much hope to see you there!

Sunday 23 April 2017

In-action shots of Raphia at Salute

Yesterday at Salute I was so busy failed to take a single photo, but happily chum Ian shot some lovely pics of our game. Most of the photos were shot during play and you may be able to make out chits, playing cards and ghostly hands, here and there.

The Egyptian phalanx- massed machimoi in the foreground.
The rather smaller Seleucid phalanx

Seleucid horse and elephants charge

Silver shields to the left rear

View from the dunes on the flank

Arabs- far from being the toughest unit on the table, but one of my personal favourites.

Almost 1K phalangites in this battle

The whole enchilada
A Ptolemaic "African" - they struggled against their larger adversaries

Ptolemaic xystophoroi

Clash of the  battle lines

Another African


Greek mercenaries on the Ptolemaic right

Ptolemaic guard (in the background)

Echecrates' Thessalians hold the Ptolemaic right
Galatian nudists in Ptolemaic service

Huge thanks to the team who worked so hard to set out  run the game- Ian Notter, Andrew Brentnall, Shaun McTague, Mike Brian, Mark "WHC" Freeth and Chris Cornwell. Many of the minis were painted by Shaun McTague and Craig Davey and some by Nick Spelller- hi Nick! The minis are a mixture of Foundry, Polemarch, Crusader and others. Most of the elephants are lovely Aventines.

Many thanks to the players- too- who really seemed to enjoy themselves! The first game was played in just over an hour, which absolutely astonished me and must be some kind of record for a 1600 mini game. The Seleucids won both games, although Antiochus was killed in the second one which was, therefore, something of a Pyrrhic victory.

Salute was a great show- although the venue is somewhat impersonal its meeting the people and many friends that makes it, for me. The Warlords organisation this year was extremely efficient and professional. A big hi! to every one I chatted with and to everyone I missed!  

On a final note, I have extended the current "To the Strongest!" rules sale to midnight tonight, for people who saw the game and want to buy a set with a 25% discount (or anyone else for that matter!). You can find them here: