Thursday 17 November 2022

The Battle of Ceresole 1544

I've long been a fan of Blaise de Monluc, an indefatigable Gascon who, as commander of the French enfants perdus, played a critical role in the Battle of Ceresole, 1544, a major engagement in the Italian Wars. His captivating account inspired me to research the battle, reviewing the various original accounts (some of which were kindly translated for me from French, Spanish and Castilian by my French friend Loic) and the surviving terrain features to (I believe) accurately place the battle in the countryside to the west of Ceresole d'Alba. I have come up with a reconstruction of the battle which differs in several respects to the well-known account by Oman in his "Art of War in the Sixteenth Century." 

When I heard that Massimo Predonzani was revising his 2012 book on the battle for publication by Helion, I got in contact to share my research. I was delighted when he invited me to rewrite the chapters relating directly to the battle, to include my theories and other information that I'd come across. I've written about the skirmish the day before the battle and extended the chapters that recount the battle itself. I've also designed four diagrams that show the deployment and manoeuvres of the two armies during the battle, and discuss the importance of artillery to the outcome of the battle.

Ceresole is a fascinating engagement that will transfer very well to the wargames table (I'm working on a TtS! scenario). The book has now been published and can be purchased at:

It's currently on promotion!

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Second Mantinea at SELWG

The weekend before last I took the Second Battle of Mantinea (362 BCE) to SELWG, and I have finally found time to post the images! Above, that's me looming like mighty Zeus above the extra deep Theban phalanx. (All pictures are clickable).

Here's the deployment, with the Spartan/Mantinean/Athenian force (lower left), drawn up in front of the Pelagos Wood (where many of their soldiers were enjoying a late breakfast). The Thebans and Tegeans are at the top right. The battlefield is 3m wide.

Below is the deployment plan from my current scenario, which I will likely revise when I receive the Society of Ancients Battle Day pack for their event in March. It gives a super game!

Above is a photo of the Spartans, and below of some Thessalian cavalry from the Theban army.

Above are some peltasts (possibly ex Steve Jones?). It dawned on me, recently, that I don't have nearly enough peltasts, and I'm currently raising several more units. Few will be as nice as the above unit, though! Below is the rear of the extra-deep Theban phalanx (currently 6 ranks deep- I'd love to add another rank or two).

Here are a couple more shots of some of the Greek hoplites. These are mostly Foundry Athenians, lovely sculpts, beautifully painted by various people who are far more competent, than I. I'm planning to add another block this winter, from my "reserves" boxes. Below, the Spartans have been flanked and are in deep trouble!

I was always a bit doubtful whether hoplite battles would work well on a grid, but they certainly do! We enjoyed a couple of cracking games, both narrowly won by the Thebans, and each in under two hours.

Many thanks to Ian Notter (who took most of the above photos), Tim Thompson, Shaun McTague and David Millett who helped to run the game.

In other news, yesterday I published the latest quarterly release of the TtS! Ancient Army List eBook. This new release includes two new lists: Early Macedonian and Paeonian. I've also added historical backgrounds to the Illyrians, Huns and Gepid lists, and edited many of the other lists. There are now 160 army lists in the Ancient book, and 132 in the Medieval; when the next medieval release comes out, there might be as many as 300 lists in total.

Postscript- I've added a brief in-game video, here: 

Sunday 18 September 2022

Chalgrove 2022

Here are a few (clickable) images from the games I played yesterday at the Chalgrove "Worlds" - apologies if you've seen some already on Facebook. Above is game 1 vs. Sid Bennett's newly painted and very pretty Samnites. Sid's javelin-chucking Samnites out all too many of my nellies, I think I had just two units left at the end- he was well ahead on points. Always great to play Sid, he's really knowledgeable about the rules.

A quick note on my Classical Indian army- my objective was to maximise the number of elephants on the table, so I picked eight small units and represented each with two models, for a total of 16 pachyderms. I suppose I could have fitted even more elephants in the baggage- perhaps an idea for a future outing!

Here's game two against Kurt from Belgium. Kurt had a splendid army of Teutonic knights, including militant nuns. I began the game supremely confident that my nellies would trample the knights, but it was not to be. Even though my save was excellent (in some cases 3+ vs mounted, on one occasion, when uphill, 2+ !!), on the rare occasions I failed a save, the subsequent rampages often killed several additional units. This army is very much a "glass hammer." Kurt was ahead on points at the end. Below is a shot of the "thin grey line" resisting the charges of the knights.

Here's the last photo I took, of Andy Powell and his Crusaders, mid-game. On the left I managed to squish the mounted Crusader knights. Eventually I took out most of the foot knights in the centre, too, but I lost a fair number of nellies along the way and failed to win outright.

Unfortunately I forgot to photograph my final game against Tony Horobin's (left, photo taken after the end of the game so unfortunately, none of his minis) Middle Imperial Romans, which is a great, pity as it was very a friendly game which I won, with seconds to spare, just before the end of the tournament.

The tournament was won by Peter Ryding (again!) with a Timurid army, very well done to him. He practices very hard for the tournament. I ended up right in the middle of the field. Unfortunately I don't have all the scores but I think Alex and Kurt from Belgium came second and third.

Steve Dover, with help from chums Simon Purchon, Peter Ryding and John (? sorry can't recall surname) did a fantastic job setting up and running the tournament, huge thanks to them. Below is a photo of all those participants who hadn't legged it by the time we got around to taking the group photo.

 Finally, we have two more tournament coming up later this year:

The first is the TtS! Opens, part of the BHGS Historical Teams event at the Lee Valley Leisure Centre in north London on Saturday 15th October. Like Chalgrove, there are four games in one day. You can use any army list from the Ancient Army List eBook. You can book this here. The ticket also gets you entry to SELWG which is in the same venue on the Sunday, a great show where I'll be running a participation game - Second Mantinea - which features Epaminondas and the Theban mega phalanx.

The last tournament will be at Warfare at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on Saturday 12th or Sunday 13th November (we haven't decided which day yet). If you think you'd like to come to this one, please email me and I'll forward to the organiser.

I hope to see you at one event or t'other!

Saturday 10 September 2022

Building Roundway Down out of Really Useful Boxes and Masking Tape

For our refight of Roundway Down, I decided wanted to have a hill 12' long, covering the entire battlefield. Here are the stages involved in assembling it, for the big game on Saturday.

First, we arranged 36 spare (!) Really Useful Boxes on a table. I had thought I'd brought way too many, since they filled the car but in fact I only had just enough. The top of the hill, at the back, is two 9L boxes high, around 12".

Above, next we covered the boxes with 6mm MDF boards

Next (again above) we taped the edges of the boards together, to stop them slipping.

Next we covered the boards with rug gripper. This adds structural strength and stops the top cloths slipping during play.

Finally, we laid a black cloth over it, covering the sides, another layer of rug gripper with a terrain cloth over the top of that, and a light random scattering of trees.  Job done, ready for the troops to be set up in the morning!

Below is the real hill at Roundway Down, looking up towards the Parliamentarian position on the crest, as photographed on a recent research trip with Andrew Brentnall, on the anniversary of the battle, showing the slightly-parched July pasture, which is a pretty good match for our cloth.

I hope to see lots of you at Colours tomorrow! We are on the second floor, near the Bring and Buy.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Roundway Down at Colours

I'm in the process of finishing off the extra elements I have planned for our extended Battle of Roundway Down For King and Parliament game at the Colours show in Newbury on Saturday. Above are the new units- Prince Maurice's horse, Captain ffoulkes' firelocks*, some battalion guns and some extra casualty stands. Below is my forming baggage park, now with three teams of horses. 

Many of the minis were painted by chum Shaun McTague or eBay purchases, although Prince Maurice's are built around a core of minis originally painted by chum George Moraitis. I painted the wagons and highlighted/finished everything, Ian flocked all the bases, which I'm in the process of tufting - they will all be finished by the day. I will take some proper photos, later on, when everything is completely finished.

If you fancy playing on Saturday, drop me an email at simonmiller60 at and I'll hopefully be able to fit you in. It should be a relatively short game- around 90 minutes, I expect. If not just drop by and marvel at the size of our hill! I hope to see lots of you there.

* There wasn't an actual ECW unit of this name, although there were a number of small units of firelocks on both sides. Captain ffoulkes is a Welsh officer and entirely a figment of my imagination.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Infanterie Regiment van Birkenfeld


This is my first Dutch Regiment, van Birkenfeld. It was raised by Holland in 1672 and commanded from 1673 by Johann Karl, Prins Palzgraf von Birkenfeld (below). 

Johann started his military career as a cavalry commander in the army of a Palatine cousin, Charles Gustav, who, in 1654, became Charles X King of Sweden, and fought in the Denmark campaign. Later, he fought against the Turks in Hungary, before entering Dutch service. As a Colonel, he led his eponymous regiment at the Battle of Seneffe in 1674. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General of Foot in 1688.

Most of the 1672 minis came from an internet purchase, which I overpainted, but I did the officers from scratch. The early 1670's uniforms of this unit are unknown, so I went with pale grey coats, lined red with red breeches, as these were recorded as worn by the unit a few years later. The officers have coats in contrasting colours, which makes for a brave look (and which must have rendered them a not-inconspicuous target!). The bases are as ever my trusty FK&P6 bases, flocked by chum Ian and heavily tufted, dry brushed and matt varnished by me.

The flags were tricky- no one makes them and the design is not certain. However, there is an image of a fragment of a flag recorded for Birkenfeld in Triomphes that appears to depict the lion of Holland, so I copied and resized a Holland flag image from t'Internet, and then created a greyscale version for the colonel's flag (which make or may not be correct in the Dutch army at this time?). I then overpainted both flags which came out pretty well, I think. This is good as I will need to make other flags from scratch in this somewhat-too-obscure-for-flag-manufacturers period.

In other news, I'm finishing the last minis for the extended Roundway Down game at Colours in Newbury on Saturday 10th September, where several chums will join me to put on the game (shown below at Partizan). If you'd like to play, please email me.

Friday 26 August 2022

Régiment de Pfyffer

This is another regiment for my progressing-in-the-background 1672 project. This is Régiment de Pfyffer, circa 1672, a Swiss regiment in French service, painted for the Franco-Dutch War. The photo is clickable.

The minis are from the 1672 range, owned by Nick at North Star. The Swiss are some of the finest minis in this fine range. I painted the pike and most of the officers, the other minis were beautifully painted by Richard O'Connor. My friend Ian designed the flags; because of the way I folded them, half the detail (like the painting of the annunciation on the Colonel's flag) is, unfortunately, obscured. :-/  The wobbly-edged bases are my own trusty FK&P6's, with built-in magnets. Ian also flocked the base, which I tufted.

Above is the eponymous Colonel, that's one of my favourite sculpts, reminds me very much of the 1950's Disney Captain Hook. The colonel is on a separate base because I need some officers to command brigades. Battalions will typically be grouped in brigades of four (representing 8 real-world battalions), in two lines. 

I have five battalions finished, and perhaps 15 more mostly painted, but which I am struggling to get over the line, due to other commitments. I'll try to finish one a month over the winter, which will give me enough for a small battle in the spring.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Swiss army- first muster!

This is my Swiss army, forming up for its first outing at the weekend.

At the moment I have four decent pike blocks, a couple of units of halberdiers, six units of skirmishers and various command stands, heroes etc. 

And a bear.

A lot of the minis were painted by Shaun McTague, but David Imrie painted some fantastic ones with great faces, which I mostly used in the front ranks or as officers.

Here's a video of the army, where I talk about what's what and my plans for it.  

I'd say there are perhaps 170 points-worth of troops in To the Strongest! terms, and I can only take 140 to the tournament (Britcon in Nottingham, this weekend). I'll try to get some images of the army in action. It is going to be a very odd army to use- I won't have played a single practice game. I'm not sure whether I'll get any wins with it, but I'll have fun trying!

Monday 8 August 2022

Flockbox Monday

Usually chum Ian flocks my bases, but recently I've been basing so many things I have felt I should help to lighten his load, somewhat, and so have taken my trusty Flockbox out of storage.

The Flockbox is brilliant at some things- terrain, flat bases and skirmishers. It's much less effective at crowded bases with strong vertical elements, such as 28mm cavalry and pike. Ian does much better at these with his trusty Noch puffer bottle- he really gets between the legs. Luckily, this week's basing don't include anything difficult - the Swiss for this weekend's tournament and the baggage train for Roundway Down. I made the point of re-reading the instructions that come with the box which are very helpful. If you don't have one, and do a lot of basing, I'd recommend buying one, you can easily find it via Google.

Friday 5 August 2022

Cranking out crossbows

Next weekend I'll be at the Britcon tournament. I'll be taking a Swiss army along; my earlier Condottieri plan was cancelled for fear of an excess of enemy elephants, which they lack an answer to, other than dismounting on which point the rules were a little... opaque. The Swiss, on the other hand, don't care about elephants- in fact, they don't care much about anything very much at all! You plonk them on the table, facing straight ahead and they do, or die. A perfect army for a morning's gaming with a hangover.

A second feature of my Swiss is that they are mostly plastic and so sufficiently portable for a train journey. Although I luckily had just enough pikes and halberdiers, I still need generals, heroes and crossbowmen, so I'm busily basing up some minis from "the reserves". Most of these came from David Imrie's collection- I swapped him for them- they are lovely minis and should look brilliant when based. With any luck it'll give me the push I need to finish the rest of the Swiss army, which has been languishing in storage for far too long.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Baggage Trayne III with added firelocks!

Here's an update on my baggage train for the extended Roundway Down game at Partizan. The (clickable image) wagons have been joined by a guard of firelocks, which I'll take proper photos of, later, once flocked. I've only managed five wagons, but I'll add a few more in the fullness of time, also drivers and horses, sutlers, harlots etc.

Here's a clear shot of the wagons, which are mostly very nice resin/metal models from Warfare Miniatures, and which I painted to match one that David Imrie gave me. For dry brushing, I used make-up brushes from eBay, a tip I got from Redzed. They are cheap as chips so you can throw them away when they inevitably get caked with dry paint- much more cost effective than using sable! 

In other news, I just published the latest update to the TtS! Ancient Army list eBook. I've published four new lists but have moved the eight African lists with Medieval dates over to the Medieval book, where they fit better. It still contains 161 lists, and I'm very proud of it!  That's around 6p per list.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Precautionary pedestrian knights

I'm at the TtS! Britcon event on the 12th of August with an army of mounted knights, the only army that I have that is portable enough to carry on the train. Unfortunately it is any army that struggles with elephants (chum Sid held up my whole army with a single pachyderm, last year), and I suspect that elephants will be very "à la mode" at this year's events. So, as an anti-nellie precaution, I'm preparing dismounted versions of my mounted knights. I plan to do a speed paint job on two dozen Perry plastic knights I had lying around, assembled, and add them to a few finished minis I found in my "reserves". Here I've sprayed them all chrome and washed with Army Painter Dark Tone (they might well need a second coat). Plan is to paint the flesh, wooden handles and sword belts, then highlight the armour again and do a quick basing job. Sounds easy enough- but because of other commitments I only have a few painting sessions available- we'll see how it goes.

Just to recap, we have three TtS! tournaments planned for the second half of 2022. The first event is Britcon in Nottingham on 13th/14th August, less than two weeks away, but you can still enter if you get your skates on!, we had an entry yesterday.

The second event is the To the Strongest! Worlds in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire on Saturday 17th September. This is the most venerable and illustrious TtS! tournament, now in its eighth (or ninth?) year. It’s a thrilling event with four nail-biting games in one day. It is organised by Steve Dover (who you can mail to book your place by contacting StephenJamesDover at There are details on the forum here.

The third and final event is the BHGS Historical Teams event at the Lee Valley Leisure Centre in north London on Saturday 15th October. Like Chalgrove, there are four games in one day and you can use any army list from the Ancient Army List eBook. You can book this here. The ticket also gets you entry to SELWG which is in the same venue on the Sunday, a great show where I'll be running a game. Incidentally I'm looking for people who can play (and perhaps help set up) the big game on the Sunday, so if you are coming feel free to let me know.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Baggage Trayne II - wet palette


Last night I finished dry brushing the woodwork on the new baggage wagons (note to future self- I used a Rhinox Hide base, Gorthor Brown layer and Vallejo Silver Grey highlight). Tonight I hope to paint the ironwork and, ideally, the canvas covers. The current extreme weather necessitated the first ever deployment of a wet palette in the BigRedBatCave, simply a lid with a wet sponge and some baking sheet on top. This was a revelation- on an exceptionally hot night I hardly wasted any paint.

Tomorrow is the 379th anniversary of the Battle of Roundway Down- I'm off to visit the battlefield with chum Andrew- hopefully some photos will follow!

Thursday 7 July 2022

Baggage Trayne and TtS! Digital Sale

I've decided to build a substantial baggage train for my ECW army, which, with careful planning, will also be usable with the both the late c.17th armies and a newly planned Thirty Years War force that I'm assembling. I plan to have at least six wagons with four horses teams, some smaller carts and all of the ephemera one would expect to find around a camp. I'll need baggage guards - firelocks, for the earlier period - sutlers - wives and girlfriends and so forth. Later I'll add tents.

Here is the first wave- I've partially assembled and base coated the first six vehicles, many of which are from Warfare Miniatures. I've worked out a way that I can base the wagons so that I can depict them with moving horses, standing horses or drawn up in a defensive laager. I am confident that most of the new vehicles will make the Roundway Down participation game, which I plan to run at Colours and SELWG.

In other news, all of my digital products (rules, army lists, scenarios) are included in the Annual Summer Campaign Sale on the Wargames Vault site in the US, so I have decided to put the digital products in the BigRedBatShop on a parallel sale. So, for the next few days, all of the digital products are 25% off!

If you are within the EU, please purchase from Wargames Vault, because, unfortunately, I cannot sell digital products within the EU.

Here is the link to the BigRedBatShop

Here is the link to Wargames Vault

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Just-in-time TtS! Tournament Organisation!

We have three TtS! tournaments planned for the second half of 2022. The first event is Britcon in Nottingham on 13th/14th August, less than ten weeks away!  This two-day event with somewhat longer game durations- ideal if you are less familiar with the rules. I suspect there will be a great deal of socialising on the Friday and Saturday nights! The university accommodation is all booked so we will be staying in small hotels in the town itself. You can email me if you have any questions at the email on the left- or book, here.

The second event is the To the Strongest! Worlds in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire on Saturday 17th September. This is the most venerable and illustrious TtS! tournament, now in its eighth (or ninth?) year. It’s a thrilling event with four nail-biting games in one day. It is organised by Steve Dover (who you can mail to book your place by contacting StephenJamesDover at There are details on the forum here.

The third and final event is the BHGS Historical Teams event on Saturday 15th October.  This is held at the Lee Valley Leisure Centre in north London which is very easy to reach by car. Like Chalgrove, there are four games in one day and you can use any army list from the Ancient Army List eBook. You can book this here.  The ticket also gets you entry to SELWG which is in the same venue on the Sunday, where I'm hoping to run a big For King and Parliament demo game, assuming I can get the table space. It should be a glorious weekend of gaming!

If you have any questions about any of these, please mail me at the address to the left! I really hope to catch up with as many old friends (and new) as possible. That's me, below, I'll be bringing those 16 Indian nellies to at least one of the shows.

Sunday 26 June 2022

Later Thracians

I'm planning a very large Successor To the Strongest! game for Salute, and as such I need several more units of light horse of various nationalities. This unit is my first of Thracians, distinguished as such by their characteristic helmets, long boots and flowing cloaks. I didn't want early Thracians, with the soft caps, but rather later ones suitable for Lysimachus' army at Ipsus.

All of the riders are Wargames Foundry or Aventine Miniatures. Many are converted with heads from bought from Aventine, and all ride lovely Aventine horses. I added flowing cloaks to any minis that lacked them, which I think gives a real sense of movement. They were all painted by Shaun McTague - he did a fine job- and I highlighted and based them around 6 months ago- I only just got around to finishing them though.

I chose to depict them, skirmishing, in a Cantabrian circle.

In other news... if anyone was waiting for Geek Villain mats, I have them stock again.  I've also bought in a lot of cloth mats with a 7.5cm grid for people wanting to play TtS! with smaller 6mm or 2mm minis, or other games such as with Mark Backhouse's Strength and Honour. You can find the mats here. Finally, I'm back on editing the Renaissance rules, which are moving forward again, albeit at a glacial rate. I'm not yet ready for playtesting, but I'll keep you posted.

Friday 17 June 2022

Niccolò da Tolentino

This is Niccolò da Tolentino, commander of the Florentine coalition at the Battle of San Romano. He was painted by the very talented Redzed (Shaun Watson), some time ago. All the photos are clickable.

He's accompanied by a unit of Florentine knights painted by Shaun McTague and myself. Aside from Niccolò himself, the knights are mostly Perry plastics, lightly converted with beautiful high feather headdresses from Mirliton in Italy. I've given many of them giornea tunics. I've tried to get close to the famous "Rout of San Romano" painting. 

I bases on my trusty FK&P6's, Ian Notter flocked and I tufted. The unit is 18 strong, that's how I do all my mounted units, these days. I plan a full Florentine army with lots of militia types.

Here's Niccolò from a different angle, from which you can make out part of the magnificent standard that Pete of Pete's Flags has designed. It's huge and stunning. The red flag in the previous image is also by Pete- Orsini, if I recall correctly, hence the bear.

In other news, it is the final day of my To the Strongest! Flash Sale today (Friday). I've added some new items and further reduced the price of some other items, some of the stuff is 30-50% off. You can find them here.

Here's a clickable version of the full-unit shot.