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.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Chalgrove 2020

Here's a shot of Chalgrove- setting up for the 2020 World Championships! The players are staggering in from their dawn vigil in the car park. Apologies in advance- I was very distracted and took painfully few photos.

My game one- versus Sid Bennett. I groaned as I realised Sid had a pike army; one of four in the tournament, deadly opponents for my knights. And he had elephants, too.

My knights successfully avoided Sid's pikes but had a lot of difficulty with his elephants. He beat me, but only by a few medals.

Game two- alas no photos! I get terribly focussed on the game and forgot. I played Gary Stark with his Imperial Seleucids. Again, pikes and elephants. This time it went a lot better. From memory, I clobbered both wings whilst largely avoiding the pikes in the centre.

Game three- Garry Chapman and his Swiss. In three games, I'd met 75% of the pike armies in the competition. This was a really interesting one, as it was the first time I'd encountered the Swiss since writing the  Swiss Keil rules in the last "Even Stronger", which enables Swiss to fight to the flank. I was able to pick off most of the Swiss light troops and capture the camp with a flank march. This left me short of four victory medals, so I needed to kill a pike block. In the end I managed it, by dint of attacking a Keil from three sides with almost my entire army and playing a lot of lucky cards! Garry struggled to pin my manoeuvrable knights down.

I found the current Keil rule to be poorly worded and possibly a little overpowered- I'll revise it in the next Even Stronger. It was a very good-natured and enjoyable game though; a bit like the battle of Grandison, without the Swiss reinforcements arriving.

Two decisive victories threw me into the path of Jan de Neve, near the top of the leader table. By this point, I was fully expecting to meet the final pike army in the event (another Swiss), but instead Jan had the doppleganger of my own army- Later Italian Condottieri (Venetian). He had more knights, whereas I had heavier knights and more heroes.

This was a cracking game. It started with me losing three or four units in the first two turns, and I was, indeed, on the back foot throughout the game, but somehow managed to end up slightly ahead at the end. I think Jan and I are very evenly-matched players.

Alas I don't have any photos of the presentations and can't even remember who won what, except that Peter Ryding won first place with his Komnenon Byzantines (which had outmanoeuvred me in Cardiff). He's a cracking player! I believe Simon Purchon came second with his dreadful Sassanids and Tim Thompson came third with his Normans. Tony Horobin took the Dead Elephant award, with his Marian Romans 

I'll see whether I can get some more photos and the names of those who won the other prices. It was a splendid day, many thanks to Steve Dover and the South Oxfordshire Generals for hosting, and to Tim Thompson for checking all of the army lists.

Friday 21 February 2020

Packing for Chalgrove

Tomorrow it is the 2020 To the Strongest! World Championships at Chalgrove, and here is much-sought-after Dead Elephant award! I am very much looking forward to catching up with all my chums, crushing their armies and hearing the lamentations of their women. ;-)

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Whim writ large

Last year, I bought some Roman walls on eBay as a whim. I subsequently bought a load more from Dave Bodley at Grand Manner, who make excellent resin buildings, and chum Ian Notter has been filling the interior with Roman blocks. It'll be around 4' square, when complete. Hopefully we'll get it painted this summer, and on a gaming table in 2021.

A proper gateway! I have the gates, somewhere...

There are still a few more bits to come, but it already makes a statement.  :-)  Would make a good Bedriacum, perhaps.

Monday 10 February 2020

TtS! Welsh Opens at Godendag

On Saturday, with Storm Ciara looming ominously overhead, a hardy band of TtS!ers travelled to Cardiff for the one-day Godendag tournament at Firestorm Games.

I will apologise in advance for the partial nature of the photos, I only managed to take pics of my armies and my opponents. Above is my completed Later Condottieri army (Venetian) that I'll also be taking to Chalgrove in 2 weeks. 12 units, 6 heroes and the camp. It's on my new fleece mat from Geek Villain, and very nice it was to play on, too.

Above are some of my new "Venetian" knights; I went with a red and gold colour scheme and one of Pete's super flags, from eBay. Below are some of my mounted crossbows, with a Bande Nere banner.

Above, Milanese knights, painted by Lionel Bechara, and below, the raw Venetian spearmen who typically guard my camp.

Above, part of a new unit of Stradiots, painted by Shaun Watson.

Here's my new fleece mat from Geek Villain. Saturday was the first time I played on it, and I was  very taken with it! It has a soft, slightly furry surface and a an intense green, which matched my hills very nicely. Has a nifty TtS! logo, too.  :-)

Above and below, Game 1, vs. Phil Sweeting. Phil had a Komnenon Byzantine army, very pretty! Unluckily for Phil, his Varangian Guard, with a general and army standard perished in very short order to some unlucky saves, yielding 7 victory medals, and it was a shorter gamer than it should have been.

Above and below, game 2 vs. Tony Horobin. Tony had a Marian Roman army, deployed very wide across the table. I slammed into it several times, but wasn't able to kill enough units to achieve a decisive victory.

Game 3 vs. Connor Truby. Connor had a splendid Carthaginian army, mostly Victrix, with super hand-painted shields. Out-scouting him, I was able to mostly avoid his left wing and clobber his right centre. Below, his right wing cavalry attacked my camp, which was valiantly and ably defended by my spearmen, in orbis, with the spiritual assistance of  my new cardinal.

....with two decisive victories, I found myself playing in the final against Peter Ryding. Peter is a formidable (and charming) player. He out-scouted me, out-deployed me and then dismembered my army from the right. It was very elegant; I could see he was much more familiar with his army than I was, with mine. A very enjoyable game, though, despite my loss! The highlight form me was using a stratagem in the last turn to ride one of his generals off the table, together with it's unit, which gained me seven VPs in total- four more than I deserved! This is the fourth successive final I've played in (Roll Call, Knight Fever, Glasgow and now Godendag), and the fourth time I've lost!

Above and below, the prizes; Roger Calderbank took the annual dead sheep award....

...and Peter, above, presented by Ty with the victor's laurels, with Tim Thompson (not shown) second, Sid Bennett third and me fourth.

Finally here's the group photo. It was a super day, I hope to be back next year!

Friday 7 February 2020

Venetians to Godendag!

Here's my slightly revised Condottieri army for Godendag in Cardiff, tomorrow, and, later, for Chalgrove. I'll take proper pictures next week. It's a lethal 50/50 blend of extra heavy knights and light troops. The similar army I took around the tournaments, last year, did very well and I have a lot of confidence in this one! It's 90% plastic, so mercifully light, which is just as well as I'm getting the train.

If you are in South Wales and at a loose end tomorrow, pop in to Firestorm and say hello!

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Reinforcements, Temporal and Spiritual

A quick work-in-progress shot of some new Venetian elements for my Condottieri army. I'll take proper photos later, when complete.

The knights in the front are partial repaints of an old unit, with new minis mixed in. To the rear are new stradiotti, beautifully painted by Shaun Watson, and likewise some super cardinals, on the left.

These are on a crash basing programme, as I need to finish them tomorrow, to take to the To the Strongest!  tournament on Saturday as part of the Godendag event at Firestorm games in Cardiff. If you are local, please drop by and say hello!