Thursday 24 December 2020

A Merry Christmas to All!


Here in the BigRedBatCave we are hunkered down in tier 4, with only a few modest survival rations to see us through the lead-up to Christmas. 

I hope we all get as great break as we can in current the difficult circumstances, and that things get very easier for us all, at some conveniently point early in the New Year! I'm very much hoping to see some of you across a gaming table in the Spring. I have a lot of freshly-painted units that will, no doubt, perform very badly, indeed. ;-)  

Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

Sunday 20 December 2020

Switzers XI- Schweiz and Glarus

The project has slowed, slightly, in the face of the Tyranny that is Christmas Preparation. I've managed though, to finish 24 minis for a second Schweiz contingent, and 15 for a new Glarus contingent. Both are mainly in red, but Glarus have black and white accents. Many were painted by Shaun, but needed some overpainting as I didn't originally specify the correct colours- I've learned more about the Swiss as I go along with the project. I'm not going to base these, yet, because I want to incorporate some other minis from Shaun that aren't in cantonal colours, to mix things up a bit.

Here's the plan I'm working from. The green-highlighted units are finished, the blue-highlighted are under way. The cantons are arranged very roughly in order of becoming independent, with the original Waldstätte ("forest") cantons in the first keil (1&2).

Thursday 10 December 2020

New Activation and Stratagem Chits for To the Strongest!

The new activation and stratagem chits are in the shop. They are 20mm diameter and in glorious technicolour- it's easy to make the values out at a distance. I chose TtS! purple, green and burnt orange for the initial colours, because they contrast well with each other, so it is easy to distinguish between them if your opponent is also using chits (just so long as he's using a different colour!). 

The activation chits come in packs of 80. They are two-sided, so play is quicker than with the previous single-sided MDF chits, since you don't need to flip them.

There are also three matching sets of stratagem tokens. These have plain colours on the back. The advantage over the previous version is that it tells you what the stratagem is, rather than there being a symbol you need to look up.

You can find them in the BigRedBatShop

Thursday 3 December 2020

Switzers X - almost half way!


Terrible photos but I'm overdue posting an update. The new sub-unit is the blue-themed contingent in the above keil, above; 32 Freiburgers. The super flag is from Flags of War. The  minis were mostly painted or heavily overpainted by me (!), but there are a few of David Imrie's in the front rank and some of Shaun McTague's in there, too.

Above is the first keil, and below, the second. I now have eight of the 32-man "strips" based (but not grouted), three more out with painter chums, and one more here, ready to repaint/finish, which I'll probably tackle next. But I will need to prepare another 192 minis, at some stage. Gulp. Still, though, I'm almost half way there with the project.

In other news, I've published new versions of the Ancient and Medieval army list books for To the Strongest! with new lists, edits, and tons more background material- you can find them here. 

Tuesday 1 December 2020

New To the Strongest! Army List eBooks published

I've just published updated versions of the Ancient and Medieval Army List eBooks for To the Strongest! Since the last version, I've made many edits, added two new army lists to each book together with a huge amount of additional historical background, lots of army information and more images. There are now a mighty 246 army lists across the two books. The eBooks are now priced at £9.99 each.

Should you order the lists you'll receive regular updates every three months until the end of 2022 (by which time I expect to have pretty much finished the 100ish remaining lists), with new lists and additional material added each time.

I've also published a free army list eBook, with 30 popular army lists in it, drawn from both the above books (you won't need to download this if you have ordered them).

I do hope that you enjoy the lists! You can fins them here.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Swiss IX


Latest shot of the Swiss, with a second Bern contingent added (third flag from the left). Next I'm going to paint Fribourg, which has an attractive pale-blue and black heraldry.

In other news, watched a cracking online battle on Saturday between Antony Spencer and Andy Lyons, using the Wars of the Roses Tabletop Simulator setup that Antony made. It was one of those glorious battles that swung first one way, and then the other. Such fun!

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Twelth Bloggiversary

The eponymous Bat that named this blog- yes, that is a 28mm model- almost a metre wide

A reminder popped up on Sunday to remind me that I have been blogging for 12 years, since 8th November 2008; how quickly the years have rushed past! Here are twelve links to some of my favourite blog posts from the duodecennial period. Links will take you to each blog post. All images will expand, if clicked.

2008 - The very first post - looks like I failed to add a title! I was also experimenting with formats. A democrat had just won the US election and there was a major economic crisis underway, so no change there. Mind you, there wasn't also a plague back then. :-/

2008 - My first phalanx - I had a modest 60 phalangites back then. To see how it has swelled over the years, see also the Magnesia phalanx, below!

An early game in the BigRedBatCave- Ruspina 46 BCE, played back in '09

2009 - Zama at Salute - this super Command and Colours game was run at Bletchley and later at Salute- lots of fun with chums including Dug, Ian, Nick Speller and Keith and Adam from Aventine. We even won a prize!

2009 - Glorantha - I'm a big fan of Gloranthan fantasy - the BigRedBat title of the blog comes from the Lunar Empire. Below is one of my favourite models. One day I'll write that fantasy version of TtS!...

2011 - Hail Caesar - I played this game of Hail Caesar with chum my good chum Ian - had great hopes for the rules- but that night we fell out over measurements and angles. After the game I decided to write a set of grid-based rules, which Ian was a huge help with. If we hadn't scrapped, that night, I'd never have written TtS!

2014 - Cremona at Partizan-in-the-park - possibly my favourite display game at the best-ever Partizan. The best lighting I ever experienced at Kelham Hall, by a factor of ten! ;-)

2015 - To the Strongest! - was released. It had taken me four years to get the rules right - I'm not the world's fastest writer! :-) Happily they have proved popular and enduring- I'm currently working on some army list books and the 

2017 - The Wargames Holiday Centre - I've enjoyed a great many gigs with Mark Freeth at the Wargames Holiday Centre. This event in 2017 was one of the largest!

The Battle of Ipsus at the Wargames Holiday Centre - not skirmish!

2018 - Soggy Bottom - This huge ECW For King and Parliament game visited most of the big shows, I think it looks a million dollars, and we had such fun with it.

2018 - Leviathans There have been many posts with images of elephants, but this is one of my favourites. Heck- just found this post- it's even better! I have been modelling a lot more elephants for a big projected Ipsus game, but that's all been delayed by Covid- hopefully next year, if there are any shows.

2018 - Magnesia Phalanx - at another Partizan, I modelled a 1:1 section through a 32-rank deep Seleucid phalanx. This by no means marks the end of my phalanx ambitions- Shaun McTague is painting a load more for me at the moment.

2019 - Mancetter at Salute - this was the first outing of last year's huge Mancetter game- we had such a lot of fun with it! Won a trophy, too. 

So far the blog has had 1,276,284 page views, and, at a time when blogs are in something of a decline, still tracks at 12-14K views per month. A big shout out to everyone who has visited over the years, even to the numerous Russian bots! Thanks to all those who have helped me put on the demo games, helped me with the rules, or bought the rules which fund me to keep on writing the rules! Here's to many more blog posts!

So to sign off, here's a picture of Cremona at Salute at Partizan in the Park back in '15. I just love that pontoon bridge, I really should run that game again...

Cremona at Partizan back in 2014

Monday 9 November 2020

Switzers VIII - Bern baby Bern

Yesterday, I added Bern with its bear standard and natty red/black colour scheme, to the second Swiss keil, which is now complete bar the base texturing (Solothurn - Schwyz- Bern). This puts me 1/3 of the way into the six-keil Swiss project, which will inevitably slow down since I am running out of painted Swiss in my "reserves" boxes. I hope to finish a third block around Christmas - in the meanwhile, I'll continue with their Burgundian opposition and the Italian wars knights.

Again the minis were painted by Shaun McTague, finished by me, and incorporate some very nice minis that David Imrie kindly swapped with me. 

PS the title references the 1976 classic Disco Inferno by the Trammps (sic). I have a soft spot for Disco. :-)

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Switzers VII


This is 2/3 of my second Swiss pike block. On the left is Solothurn, and on the right is Schwyz. I may end up doing extra contingents for both, as I like the uniforms and have suitable minis. Most of these were painted by Shaun McTague, finished by me, with some from David Imrie.

Next I plan to tackle Basle; black and red, what's not to like? I hope to have them on bases early next week.

Friday 30 October 2020

Switzers VI


I've started work on the second pike keil. There are the next three sub-units, contingents from Solothurn, Bern and Schwyz respectively. Schwyz is almost done; it should take a week each to lick the other two into shape. 

Monday 26 October 2020

Switzers V


Here is the latest work in progress image of my Uri Swiss keil. I've now placed all 96 minis on their bases, although they are as yet ungrouted.

This shot shows the flags, from Peter's Flags and Flags of War. I've used small flags as the Swiss liked them on the small side. I went with a yellow and black theme to match the colours I used on the minis. Most of the figures in the front rank were painted by David Imrie, with the bulk of the minis coming from Shaun McTague.

Here's the whole unit. I've built it so that I can field it for a 20cm grid, but by removing the central files of bases and some of the rear bases, I can field a sawn-down 48 man keil to suit a 15cm grid, for competition gaming on a 6'x4'. I have enough painted minis for two more of these, which I'll work on over the winter. I hope to eventually field four or five, and perhaps some early units with halberds instead of pike. The bases are all my FK&P13c's, which comfortably take eight minis each.

If you play TtS! you may have seen the Swiss lists in the free Medieval book and the special "field square" rule for keils in the Even Stronger supplement. It's a most unusual army, which I've fought against a few times in competitions; very hard to beat! I'm looking forward to trying it out, myself, hopefully in the spring.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Switzers IV

Last night I had a bit of a push on the first keil and finished the flags. I went with the Uri flag (Flags of War) and a couple of other flags in similar yellow/black colours (Pete's Flags), which tied in with the Uri colour theme.

You can see that I've based the core of the keil, including the command, halberdiers and less-armoured pikes, many of these have cantonal colours. The better-equipped pikes will be around the outside- these will have partial or, in a few cases, full plate, and are in generally less bright clothing.

Here's the Uri flag which depicts an auroch- I slightly overpainted the very nice Flags of War flag- gives it a nice texture. Iain very kindly re-sized the flag for me to make it slightly smaller- I wanted to put it on a spear rather than a pike. These minis are mostly by Shaun McTague.

All things being equal, I should be able to get the other 64 minis on their bases, tonight. Can't wait to see how they look! I've had a quick count- I have another 200+ painted Swiss with pikes and halberds, so hopefully will have three keils "in the field" by Christmas.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Kingmaker Tournament approaches its conclusion

The TtS! Kingmaker is now in its sixth and final week, and the players have ratcheted up a mighty 35 online Wars of the Roses battles between them, so far!

All of the terrain is based on WotR battles, as are the army lists. Antony Spencer, who designed, organised and is running it, has written a summary of the campaign, so far, including a campaign map. You can find it at this link on the TtS! forum. Fascinating stuff!

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Switzers III

I've finally bitten the bullet and started to base some Swiss, that were painted by Shaun and finished by myself, earlier this year. I have accumulated several hundred minis- it's now a matter of assembling them into suitable units. This block will be mostly Uri. Other blocks are likely to be a mix of cantons. I'll need to paint/repaint the minis to get a suitable blend of cantonal colours.

Each block will have a group of halberdiers at its core, with a colour party in front of them. The rest of the blocks will be pike or pike and command. David Imrie kindly sold me some Swiss pike, and I'll be mixing them in, too. Eventually I'd like 5 blocks of 96, but I'll start with two.

I'm looking at the bases, on the basing sheet, and thinking that I might make up some larger bases that could take 16 minis on each- fewer bases is always better! 

Sunday 11 October 2020

Florentine knights WIP

Here are my Florentine knights, still forming up for action at San Romano.

The more I get into the period, the more I discover- it's like hitting a moving target. In this latest incarnation I've added glorious tall plumes from Mirliton in Italy to most of the knights in the leading unit. Unfortunately, very few of the knights currently have the characteristic giornea tabards, and some even have tunics, which aren't particularly Italian. Once I get the next batch of painted knights back from Shaun McT there will be some swapping in and out. Any knights who no longer qualifies for the Florentine host will be used, elsewhere- the ones with tunics will be joining the Burgundian army. I'll add more full-faced helmets with plumes, too.

My plan is to have three units of 18 Florentine knights, and then to move on to Milan, replacing my current Milanese with 54 more Italian-looking elmeti, some with Milanese heraldry- then I'll either do the same for Venice, or perhaps base up some Burgundians.

Friday 9 October 2020

Boar Spears


I need to model some spear heads for the bulk of my Italian infantry. These will be plastic Perrys, and I could probably fit spearheads onto the spear-shafts they come with. But from whence can I source the spearheads? They are an unusual shape and rather large - I'd estimate at least 8 or 9mm long - and I believe they are a sort of boar spear, without the cross bar. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Plastic would be perfect since they could be glued in place, but I could drill and glue metal. 

Thursday 8 October 2020

Venetian Spearmen II


There was a lot of interest in my last Venetian post, so I thought I'd show a second WIP shot.

All of the minis are finished and based. The eight new minis (painted by Shaun McTague) are mostly on the right, but I mixed some in with the original minis, and vice versa. Similarly, I included some of the shields with Ian's Venetian transfers on each base- this helps the unit to look homogenous. I'm very pleased with the amount of variation in the clothing, colours and shield designs in the unit. It looks pleasingly non-uniform.

Just need to grout and flock the base- might take a week or two to get around to that as I want to do a batch of units together for flocking.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Venetian spearmen


Recently, I've been busy modelling things but failing to post pictures, so here is an image of a unit of Venetian spearmen that I'm currently working on. I'm retouching and expanding my old 17-man unit to a 25 man unit on a 19cm frontage for the 20cm grid. All the minis are Perry plastics, with a few light conversions. The shields are pavises* decorated with Venetian lion transfers designed by my talented chum Ian Notter. I made up rather too many of these, and plan to use up the spares on a unit of crossbowmen. The background colour is "Venetian Red", which is pretty much a brown, in my books!

*If I was starting afresh, I'd give the unit oval shields like the one carried by the halberdier.

Monday 5 October 2020

Updated Army List books

I’ve recently (30/9/20) published updated version of the army lists for To the Strongest! There are now a total of 242 different lists, many with additional content, and some now including images. The newly published lists are:

  • Bithynian, Bosporan, Commagene, Illyrian and Tribal Hebrew lists in the Ancient army list eBook.
  • Nanzhao Chinese, Kamakura Samurai and Muromachi Samurai lists in the Medieval army list eBook.
.If you haven't received a download link, you can download the eBooks, for free, from 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Birthday and Rules Sale

Since it's my Birthday, and a significant Birthday at that, I've put the To the Strongest! and For King and Parlaiment rules on my traditional Simon's Birthday sale, whilst I settle down, with a war film and a cuppa, to address at least some of my epic basing backlog (currently I have several hundred minis and around 30 elephants part-based).

I had hoped to run a huge Birthday game to celebrate, but clearly that's not going to happen before the spring, at earliest. But I will, at the earliest (safe-ish) opportunity next year, declare an "official" birthday and get a load of lead on a table. This might be at Salute or a local venue, we'll see how things are looking after Christmas!

Monday 21 September 2020

Italian knights take #2


I've discovered (courtesy of some research, confirmed by asking Simon Chick) that all my Italian knights are on the wrong hosses, at least the wrong hosses for the late c. 15th. Apparently the pesky Italians almost invariably rode leather-armoured hosses, not at all like the metal ones that my current Italians ride. Also the pesky riders wore a distinctive sort of tabard called a giornea; who knew?

Essentially, I find that I need to convert 80 or so knights to form an entirely new army, and convert the existing 50 or so knights to become a different army of an early c. 16th nature. Such is the hard life of a mildly OCD gamer.

The upside is that the leather horse armour was richly decorated with heraldry and I can give them great big plumes. Simply ginormous plumes, in fact, from Mirliton in Italy. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday 17 September 2020

Dungeon Level, explored


...since there was so much interest in the hatch, I thought I'd post some images of the new dungeon level at the BigRedBatCave. Above is the larger end of the space, with the old, damp, clinker floor removed. This will, shortly, be covered with a concrete slab.

Here's the area under the hallway, before painting. 

...and after, now coated with a damp-resistant slurry, in a dungeon-friendly battleship grey. I may add some manacles.

Next step is for the concrete slab to go in. In the coming weeks, I plan to get the pipework tucked away and put in some ventilation.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

New Dungeon Level for the BigRedBatCave


During lock-down, it dawned on me that I have, at last, completely run out of figure storage space, with every corner of the house currently packed with miniatures. Nil desperandum, dear viewer! I've decided to extend the BigRedBatCave by excavating a new "dungeon level". The first step is to install a trap door, which you can see marked out, above.

Above you can see the initial hole cut, exposing the beam, and below the reinforced hatch.

Finally, below, is the finished hatch from above- I just need to remove the labels I used to mark it out.

In a later post, I'll show some photos taken within the new dungeon level, itself, which is currently being excavated by a crack team of dwarven miners.