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.