Monday, 18 May 2020

Midsummer Madness- Week 1 results!

We've been running the online To the Strongest! 1066 online tournament for a week, and, so far, ten players have played eight games between them- which is a super start.

Here's a shot from a game I played with Alex Meyers, this week. Alex played a bewildering number of Aces- four, out of eight cards, in one (all-to-brief for Alex) turn, captured in the photo. The game was very close- I won by only two medals.

One of the nice things about an online tournament is that once can play people all around the world- Alex is in Belgium. Next week I hope to play some US opponents.

Here are the scores at the end of week one; points depend upon victories and the number of games played, with a positive bonus for playing at least one game in a week. Most of us played one or two games, Paul played three. 

STOP-PRESS corrected results!

We have a couple more players starting this week, and I'm hoping to game with a couple of the other players, this week, who have signed up but haven't played yet. If you'd like to join in, just drop em an email at the address on the left and I'll help you to sort out your first game!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Mid-Summer Madness Tournament- first game!

Last night I played the first game of the To the Strongest! 1066 online tournament against Howard Litton (Limejelly3). I drew Harald Hardrada's Norwegians (ie Vikings), and Howard drew King Malcolm's Scots. The terrain was one of the more open versions.

I won't go through the game in too much details but I planned to charge and chop my way through his line with my Huscarls, and he to outflank me. We both achieved our objectives, more or less, as you can see above. King Malcolm was seriously wounded and carried from the field, and I was lucky enough to win the game by a slender one victory medal margin.

A huge hats-off to Antony, who set the online version up, and to Paul Thompson who showed us how to play online.

The tournament will run until Mid-Summer Day (24th June) and it's not too late to join in- if you'd like to turn a few virtual cards, drop me an email at simonmiller60 at gmail dot com!

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Knights of Terra Firma II

Here's my second unit of Venetian knights. These are a repaint, re-base and  and expansion of an earlier unit (below); they look all the better for it. They were too drab, before. There's a WIP shot, here.  On the painting tray, I have the figures required to add a second rank- I'll be using units of 18 knights and cousilliers on a 20cm grid. I find myself drifting towards modelling the battle of Fornovo.

In other news, I'm recruiting players for an online TtS! tournament, called Midsummer Madness, starting next week. If you'd like to join in, please drop me an email at the address above and to the left. It'll be a blast!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

TtS! Midsummer Madness

Midsummer Madness is a pop-up on-line To the Strongest! tournament designed to while away the isolated evenings of early summer 2020. The tournament will commence on Monday 11th May and finish on Wednesday 24th June- Midsummer’s Day- with a Grand Final between the two players who had recorded the highest scores on the previous Sunday (21st June). I’ll provide various prizes.

Simply email me at the address above, giving me your “Discord” handle and I will record you as a participant.  n.b. I will need to publish names and email addresses in the form “simonmiller60 at gmail dot com” so that we can contact each other to arrange games (if this is a problem for you, let me know, there may be a work around). I'm particularly keen to attract players from Europe and further afield, who can't usually make it to the UK-based tournaments. If you've not previously played TtS!, don't worry, we can teach you. I'll be gentle on you. Promise.  ;-)

Booking a Game
Any entrant will be able to arrange an online game of To the Strongest! 1066, with any other player who has registered for the event, at a mutually convenient time, using the "arrange a game" section on Discord or by email. Players are encouraged to book the games as multiplayer and publish the server name and password so that people can drop in and observe, or have a chat.

Armies and terrain should be randomly selected from the 5 available armies (“1-2 I play the Normans, 3-4 etc…”) or agreed between the players. Games timings start with the roll for scouting. After 1 hour and 50 minutes have elapsed, the phasing player finishes his turn. After this, the non-phasing player gets a final turn, if he lost the scouting, so as to even out the number of turns played. Should players both prefer, though, they are welcome to battle on to a conclusion. 

A decisive victory is won when one player takes all of the other players medals. Otherwise, the player who has taken the most medals wins a tactical victory. A draw occurs when both players have taken exactly the same number of medals. Should the game have to be abandoned for technical reasons, the player who has taken the most medals wins a tactical victory.

This is designed to encourage players to play at least one game in each week (n.b. this is subject to change at my whim- it's possible may increase the points awarded during in the latter weeks of the competition).
  • 3 points for a decisive victory/ 2 points for a tactical victory against a player on the ladder with more points than you, or during the first week (before the ladder is published), or against someone who isn't yet on the ladder.
  • 2.5 points for a decisive victory/1.5 points for a tactical victory against a player with the same points as you.
  • 2 points for a decisive victory/ 1 point for a tactical victory against a player with fewer points than you.
  • 1 point each for a draw.
  • 1 bonus point for the first game played in a week.
  • A penalty point applied to each game played, after the second, in any given week (so that people don’t play endless games!).
  • Only the first game against a particular opponent, during the period of the tournament, will count towards the competition score. This is to encourage people to play against as many opponents as possible.
Example: Macbeth plays three games in a week. 
  • Game one is a draw- 1 point plus 1 bonus point for his first game of the week, so 2 points.
  • Game two he wins, against a player above him on the ladder, scoring 3 points.  
  • Game three he loses, scoring -1 point (since it is his third game in the week).  
  • Macbeth therefore scores a total of 4 points for the week.
Results should be posted in the results section on the discord forum and emailed to me (simonmiller60 at gmail dot com). Please let me know the date, players’ names, who won and whether decisively or tactically. I’ll record scores and publish an updated ladder, either late on the Sunday night or early on the Monday morning, ready for the next week's play.

That's it- it's simpler than it sounds. :-)  I do hope you can join us- I've been playing online for three weeks, already, and it's been really great to chuck down some (virtual) cards, and enjoy the usual banter with my opponents! I hope to cross swords with you, soon!

Monday, 27 April 2020

To the Strongest! 1066, unleashed online!

I'm very pleased to announce that friends and I have been able to set up an online version of To the Strongest!, for your isolation gaming pleasure! It has been developed by Antony Unwin, with Paul Thompson sorting some of the technical and organisational aspects and me doing army lists. It enables up to six players to play a game of TtS!, very much as one would at home or in a room above a pub, but, instead, online. It doesn't have an AI, so you need to know the TtS! rules- if you don't already own them, you can buy a digital set, here.

Here's a shot of the table, from above. For the sake of simplicity (and for various technical reasons) we have started with five pre-set armies, all roughly themed to the year 1066 (Normans, Anglo-Saxons, Norwegian vikings, Scots and Welsh). Below, you can see the Norman army ; lots of hard-hitting milites lancers, some spearmen, archers and crossbowmen. Everything you'd expect to see on a TtS! table, is there, including the camp, cards and the army list. Each of the armies is divided into three commands (distinguished by slightly different base colours). Flags indicate the generals (William the Bastard) and army standards (Papal Banner), where appropriate. There's a camp, too. Dice record ammunition, and the yellow sticks are lances. The smaller medallions are heroes, and the large coins, victory medals.

There are also terrain pieces, stored in bags.

The blue bags contain individual pieces, and the ten brown bags contain completed terrain setups; there's a deck of 10 cards next to them, in case you want to pick a random set. You lift the terrain over the table, line it up carefully, lower it and then use the right mouse button to "lock" it in place.

Here's the table, above, set up with a set of terrain pulled, as if by magic, from one of the brown bags.The markers on the side are to record disorder, and there's a quick reference sheet.

I'll post some in-game shots over the next few days.

In order to play To the Strongest 1066!, you'll need a reasonably modern PC and to buy some software called Tabletop Simulator, which is available on Steam for £15. You can download a free PDF of instructions on the PC specifications and how to install it and get going from the BigRedBatShop. There's also a new online section, supporting it, on the To the Strongest! forum

I've played a few games, myself, and it's very easy to pick up and a whole lot of fun! We use Discord to chat, and there is all the usual banter, expletives, etc. that one associates with a game of TtS! Once we have a critical mass of players behind it, I'll organise some informal online tournaments; perhaps even some sort of league- I really want to keep my hand in!  I very much hope you enjoy it.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Venetian knights II part 2

Four or five painting sessions haven't got me very much further, with these, I seem to be getting slower and slower, and my sessions getting shorter and shorter. :-(  But the three new horses are mostly finished, most of the older minis have been retouched and the lances on the new knights are painted. A couple more sessions should do it!

Part of the reason I've been busy is that the shop has been lively- thanks for all the orders! Any and all panic-buying of rules is most welcome as I have plenty of stock. I've notice a big upturn on sales of bases- I can see that lots of you are getting down to some serious isolation re-basing!

Also, I'm working hard with a couple of groups who are developing modules that will enable both TtS! Ancients/Medieval and FK&P to be played online,  which is very exciting! Here's a screenshot from a prototype of the TtS! game I played last week.

And below, For King and Parliament.

I'll provide more information later this week!

Monday, 13 April 2020

Venetian knights II

I've started to prepare a second unit of Venetian knights. I'm cannibalising a unit I based last year- I plan to repaint 5 of the 6 models (they weren't originally painted by me, and need some TLC), and I will add four new ones, painted from scratch, to give me a larger unit of 9. Later, I will add coustilliers to both units, which will then each become 18 strong.

I'm trying something new here- I've sprayed the horse armour and knights aluminium (a trick from Mr Imrie). I've painted the unarmoured parts of the horses and will add the armour after they are finished, which should save time and be less fiddly.  Hopefully these will take around a week to do.

In other news, some Burgundian knights are on the way from France. 

And finally, the garden is looking stunning; it is currently a mass of blossom! Yesterday I couldn't hear any traffic, at all, over the noise of the bees in the crab apple tree. Such a delight in tough times.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Swords to Ploughshares III

Garden- latest! During the current emergency I've taken a brief pause from modelling to transform the back garden into a big vegetable patch.

I conscripted all the Bat-lings this weekend, for a Big Push, and it's all starting to come together. Above are the first proper plantings- some broad beans that will hopefully grow up the tripods. Last year our crop amounted to 8 beans- this year I hope to grow kilos of them 

Below is the new main planting area, which looks like a swimming pool filled with mud. We've dug a lot of compost into it and taken a lot of stones out, and planted the first French beans in the corner. Later we will landscape around it.

Above are improvised planters with early crop potatoes in them. The cardboard boxes are what the magnetic sheets arrive here in- they are very substantial, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will survive the spring showers. Nothing much lost, if they don't.

Below is the small planter- we have onions, spring onions, spinach, peas and beetroot in there.

And finally, here is the new raised bed, pretty much as before except I took out the great big bush by the steps and its roots last week, and a couple of sacks of stones, and Harry and I dug the earth over, again. This will be where we will grow most of the root vegetables- it's too shady for much else. Later, I plan to put a water butt in the corner.

So that's where we are; this evening we sat out with a round of gin and tonics and surveyed our domain, with considerable satisfaction. I've already done more gardening than I do in most full years and it's been a comfort, in difficult times. It's going to rain tomorrow, though, and I hope to get back to the modelling! Take care, all.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Burgundian Arquebusiers

Here are the last of the Burgundians, for the time being, a unit of skirmishing arquebusiers painted, once again, by Lionel Bechara. These Perry plastics are superb minis- feather-trimmed hats off to the brothers!

I've just realised that this is my 11th blog post in March, the most blog posts I have made in a single month since March 2016. A Covid dividend! I do hope you all stay well, out there, as I plan to do, here.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Burgundian Crossbowmen

This unit of crossbowmen is my favourite Burgundian unit, so far. The Perry plastic minis were all painted by Lionel Bechara, although I did the Little Big Men Studios pavises and (with the help of Ian Notter) the basing.

It's a most unusual unit, because it looks better from the back (below) than it does the front, where you can see the details of the reloading crossbowmen (protected by their pavises). So I will be able to enjoy both the appearance of the unit and the effect of its shooting!

Above; lovely painting by Lionel! Below, I used the flag image from the Perry box.

Finally, you can see I've again used three of my favourite FK&P6 bases, so that I can field the unit either on a 15cm or on a 20cm grid. From this angle, you might also be able to make out the arrows stuck in the ground and pavises.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Swords to ploughshares II

Here's the second in what will be a very occasional series of posts on the garden work that I'm doing when I really should be basing minis.  ;-)  The plan is to grow tons of vegetables that we can eat or give way in the summer/autumn/winter of Covid.

Above is the new small terrain feature (=vegetable patch). This is shady, so it'll only suit root vegetables. We took tons of rock, stones and roots out of this.  That bush got chopped, this afternoon.

And above is the new two-box terrain feature; a massive 16' x 8' potato bed, on the site of a long-defunct play area formerly covered in gravel. The soil here is really cloggy, since there's lots of clay mixed in and poor drainage table, so it qualifies as rough ground. This was an absolute back-breaker; we found a stone path buried 6" under the surface, that we had to remove. I bought a cheap rotavator from Aldi, that worked wonders on breaking up the clumps of soil.

And last (and least) a trough that we built last year, when Covid was but a glint in the Grim Reaper's eye. Although small, this proved fertile ground for green beans and lettuces. 

So the hardest part of the work is done and I hope to get back to writing, next week, interspersed with a little digging and planting. And some modelling. Huzzah! 

In other news, if you play TtS!, there's a new version of Even Stronger! out, you can download it from here:

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Blue horsemen

Here are some minis I bought on eBay a while back, and retouched and rebased. They are a somewhat generic troop of Late c.17th horse, that I'll later expand to a full unit. I'm not sure what I'll use them for, exactly, perhaps militia; I've not come across a regiment that is recorded as having worn uniforms in these colours. They are a tough-looking bunch! Front Rank Minis, of course.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Burgundian archers

Here are two new companies of Burgundian archers, painted by chum Lionel Bechara. I'm really pleased with how they came out! They are on four of my FK&P6 bases; more than ably flocked by my chum Ian Notter. The flower tufts are mostly from Debris of War. You can click the image to enlarge it.

I've made stakes for one of the units, I'll need more. It's a pity that I didn't see images of the period Burgundian mixed unit etchings until after I'd already based these; I'd love to depict bows or crossbows screened by men-at-arms or pike, and I also suspect they would be more effective on the "To the Strongest!" battlefield. I'll certainly do a polearm/mounted archer unit, later on.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

First Burgundians

Here's a modest beginning to my new Burgundian army. It's a vintage Citadel gun with two Perry and two vintage Citadel Brettonian crewmen that I must have owned for at least 20 years. Hopefully it'll do sterling work against the feared Swiss pike blocks! Most unusually, I painted these myself.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Swords to ploughshares I

I've been working on a new terrain feature for BigRedBat Mansions (above). The feature is designed to fit a 300cm grid, and the 180cm mini is included for size comparison purposes, only.

It sits in a formerly unused portion of the garden that was formerly a dump for unwanted paving stones.

On Wednesday I had an excellent chippy build a wooden retaining wall, so two sides are now fortified, with impassible terrain on a third.

Flippancy aside, this is going to be one of a number of a number of garden projects that I plan to fit in alongside the wargaming, this year. In response to Covid, I intend to turn a good portion of the garden over to vegetables, with the intention of feeding the family and, hopefully, generating a useful surplus that we can give away, locally, since food is likely to be at something of a premium later this year. We are all going to be spending more time at home, and I can testify (after digging just a single square metre of the new area) that gardening is excellent exercise! March/April is also a great time of year to be planting stuff out. Feel free to join me "Digging for Victory over Covid!" Stay tuned for more posts over the coming weeks...

Monday, 16 March 2020

Indian elephant progress

I'm plugging away at two new herds of Indian elephants, for the Ipsus game, This is the first, and more advanced, herd, consisting of Indian elephants with Indian escorts. The nellies are painted and based, but need more tufts and crew to be added- oh, and one elephant is still with the painter, although the base is done (there's a first!). The elephants are mostly Aventine with some Essex and Vendel. The Aventines are superb.

The second (similarly-sized) herd will have Macedonian ride-on crews and Greek archers escorting.

Obviously in the current difficult times, we don't know whether Salute is still happening- I hope so- but if not I still plan to have the minis finished in time and will run the game at the earliest opportunity once normality returns. Stay safe, everyone!

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Knights of Terra Firma

Here are some more minis for my Italian Wars; these are Venetian men-at-arms. Unusually, I painted these myself (well, I partially repainted some older minis and added some new ones) so they are a little rough around the edges, but acceptable. I decided to give them a Venetian red theme with some golden yellow details. For some reason, the bases came out particularly well.

At the moment, I'm pushing hard to finish the many elephants and scythed chariots for a huge Salute game. Post Salute, when I have more free time, I plan to add a second rank of coustilliers to complete a unit of 18 figures, and, later, I will add a second unit of 18. I also need several more Venetian infantry units.

The middle flag is one of Pete's excellent flags from eBay, and the left flag is an image I found on the 'net. 

These were painted a month or so back, and saw action at the Godendag and Chalgrove To the Strongest! events, where they performed well. This is the first time I've had a chance to photograph and post them. 

Monday, 2 March 2020


It is safe to say that I have come late to the Renaissance, but come, I have! These beautiful Perry stradioti, painted by Shaun Watson, are Balkan light cavalry, originally of Albanian origin, who served in the Venetian and other armies.

I really like their natty top hats, especially the officer with feather (below). Move over, Noddy Holder!

Finally, here is a top-down view. I've mounted them on my FK&P6 bases. These days, I mount most of my minis on them, because I can use them both on 15cm grids (two bases wide) and 20cm grids (three bases wide). For the 15cm grid my light cavalry units will be 3-4 men strong, and for the 20cm stradioti grid they will be 10 strong, as below). I have a second unit under way, which I hope will be enough for my Venetians, and I also hope to muster two units of 18 vero armigero (men-at-arms) and various militia types (archers, crossbows, spearmen) by the summer. We'll see!

In other news, chum "Balkan" Dave Watson has written nine new army lists, which I've combined with the four existing lists to make a comprehensive booklet of  no fewer than 13 Medieval Balkan lists for To the Strongest! There are some super new lists- not least the Catalan Company, Vlad III "the Impaler's" Wallachians and Skanderbeg's Albanians. Oh and there's a Venice Abroad list with lots of stradioti. :-) You can download the booklet, for free, from here.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Nobody expects...

... Perry 28mm Italian clergy, painted by Shaun Watson. These are lovely minis and he has really done them justice! The dismounted versions have already seen To the Strongest! action in Cardiff and Chalgrove, where their divine intercessions saved more than one game...

Saturday, 29 February 2020


I'm plugging my way through assembly and basing for Salute. Above are four Polemarch chariots that I've owned for a decade, and which have only just made it to the painting table, and below are four vintage Vendel chariots that I am in the process of refitting. All of the chariots were assembled by me and painted by Shaun McTague, who did a splendid job on them.


Above is a closeup of a Polemarch. These models are festooned with lethal spikes and scythes- they look really deadly, and the detailing of the cabs is excellent. Below, the vintage Vendels have far fewer sharp edges but retain a certain charm. I had to give one some Footsore horses. I still need to add scythes to two of the Vendels and whips to all eight crewmen.

So, I hear you say, why so many chariots, when they have a shorter lifespan than the mayfly? Well, there were 120 at Ipsus, so eight models doesn't seem excessive. Moreover, I already had them in the Lead Mountain. These are, of course, for my Salute Ipsus game, on which front I am making steady modelling progress.