Wednesday 8 May 2024

First time using To the Strongest

 Afternoon All

On a beautiful spring day I thought I'd share the latest from the Shed. Over the last couple of weeks we have been trialling for the first time Simon Miller's To the Strongest ruleset. You may recall that earlier in the year I finished painting my rather large Greek Army of ancient times (see below)

For sometime I have been wanting to get these chaps onto the table in city state v city state action (until the Persians turn up !) and have been agonizing over which rules to use. A short list was drawn up including our usual go to ancient rules, Hail Caesar. This was followed by Swordpoint, To the Strongest and a ruleset featured in Wargames Illustrated last month called Alala.

For our first game we elected to use To the Strongest. 

The following pictures are shots from our first two games.

The first thing I had to do was create a gridded table as TTS uses boxes for movement and shooting. Each box is 20cm square and is transposed onto the table by placing tufts at each of the corners. This can be seen in the picture below.

For our first games each player had a mixed force of about 10 units of which at least were heavy Hoplites, the remainder being light troops (javelins, slingers, light cavalry etc). In hindsight this was quite possibly too many units for our first games. All of my Greek light troops were pressed into action and I used about 2/3rds of my painted Hoplites

The battlefield was deliberately left sparse with just a few rocky outcrops and stands of trees.

To the Strongest works with playing cards to activate units, shoot, rally and save. Each player has a double pack of cards with all the picture cards removed. This leaves them with 80 cards numbered 1-10. At the end of each players command round the pack is shuffled. Many years ago I purchased a card shuffling machine and this was a real bonus.

The mechanics of the game are very straightforward but unlike Hail Caesar each command group (a group of units sharing the same commander) keeps going until it fails an activation/order. This essence means there is NO movement phase followed by a shooting phase or vice versa. It does work and is quite tactically nuanced. Using cards to denote success/failure is also somewhat fun and different to the use of dice.

The game does really seem to lend it self to the type of linear warfare you expect from ancient times. Once the players are familiar with the rules it can rattle along at a great pace.

Perhaps its biggest bonus is that it is perfect for multiplayer games. It can certainly handle three aside with no trouble.

Our two games featured units from Sparta and Thessaly versus two Athenian forces. These were assembled using the free to download army lists on Simon's website. They are comprehensive across all ancient and medieval periods/

Aside from playing cards and a gridded mat you will need some counters to highlight disordered units (we used red counters), a means of recording ammunition for missile troops (i used my WOTR arrow markers/small dice) and victory markers.

Like Never Mind the Billhooks To the Strongest uses a mechanic of victory points to determine victory. As units are destroyed or routed from the field the losing player coughs up a number of victory tokens from his set amount established at the beginning of the game. When he has no more he has lost the battle.

Inevitably our very first game was plagued with errors but is was great fun and looked great. With one engagement under our belts and a reread before the next game we corrected many of our errors we made first time round. 

 The second game was a very tight affair with the lights and skirmishers generally taking care of each other.  The big old Hoplite units soon came face to face and fighting was furious. 

Neither side could claim victory but had time permitted Sparta and their Thessalian Allies may well have prevailed. 

The table itself was 6ft x 12ft (somewhat smaller than our standard games). A few pictures left to show and final thoughts at the end.

So there we have it...our thoughts on To The Strongest. Generally speaking everybody enjoyed it and felt it did justice to the period of warfare we were replicating. However there were thoughts that it might not be fast enough like Hail Caesar. I suspect that our familiarity with HC  allows this to be played at real speed. I also think the activation process is wonderful but for those 'chess like' players who want go through every permutation before the commit to turning a card it will be daunting and arguably frustrating for other players.

Well done Simon on a cracking ruleset - so p[leased we finally played

PS - finally got back to painting. The next 300 Phalangites for my Macedonians are a third painted.

Monday 22 April 2024

Napoleonic adventures

 Afternoon all, its been a few weeks since I last posted and boy have things been busy here at the Shed. 

First up since I last posted back in early March I have not lifted a paintbrush so there has been no progress on the Macedonian front. On the odd occasion when I promised myself some painting time something else has cropped up or I just haven't been motivated. Hopefully things will change soon as I am eager to see these boys on the table.

On more positive matter I was delighted to welcome some old friends to the Shed. Five years ago I was fortunate enough to take part in the Great Game as an umpire. As a memory jogger this was an event hosted by the charity Waterloo Uncovered to refight the Battle of Waterloo over two days in Glasgow.

Link Here

During my stay in Glasgow I met up with a bunch of chaps from Australia who also had the honour of umpiring the game. We got on brilliantly and as a parting shot I stated that if they ever returned to the UK they would be most welcome to play a game in the shed. Five years later, and in a different shed they took up my offer,

I hosted a Napoleonic game (set in the peninsular) but we used their rules which were derived from Chain of Command. It was a cracking game (I managed to lose an entire French Division to British musketry) and if things work out we might see these published in the not too distant future.

A few photos from the game....

So a big thank you to Garry, Greg, Peter, Dave and Jon Paul for gracing the shed and a great game.

With the Napoleonics theme still running through my veins Monday night this week saw a rather large Black Powder game set up by Vince. This would feature French and their Allies versus a coalition force of Russians, Prussians and Austrians. The majority of troops were provided by Vince, Sven and Tony. It looked fabulous and the result could have swung either way. Sadly we ran out of time and for other reasons I had to break down the game later in the week.

One of the three French Corps


More soon....

Tuesday 5 March 2024

28mm Macedonian Army - part 1

 Good Morning All

Following on from my rather large 28mm Ancient Greek Army (see Here ), it was time to turn my attention to the next phase of this project - the Macedonians/Successor forces.

Over the last 6 months I have bought six boxes of the Warlord Hames Successor starter boxes off ebay for around £60 a pop. These give you 100 Phalangites (pikes), eight horse and one war elephant. Personally I hate the Warlord metal horse and these have all been sold off and the funds used to purchase 4 packs of Victrix Greek Heavy Cavalry. These have all now been assembled and primedas Alexanders's Companion Cavalry. 

Half the pike are now primed and ready for painting - that's 300 little chaps.

Three of the elephants have also hit the painting table....

and the first 300 Phalangites are now finished (these were done earlier in 2023 but I dont think I ever showed them off). Each unit is 32 figures strong and by the time this project is finished I should have 18 units ready for action.

The basing still needs to be done but like my Greek forces these will be done ar the end

Hopefully more updates soon....

Tuesday 20 February 2024

28mm Greek Army - Part 6 - All Complete

Well its been a long time coming but I can now finally reveal the full Ancient Greek Army in glorious 28mm. This has been very much a labour of love and I think the effort has all been worthwhile.

For the previous post head HERE

I do have one admission though - I thought I had painted up 32 units of Hoplites. It transpires that there are only 31. Which means there are only 992 rank and file Hoplites not the 1000 claimed. However there are at least 8 on the command stand bases so its not too wrong - STOP PRESS....I found the other unit in another box - it just didnt make the photo.

The frontage of the force presented is about 6ft - ranked in 6 ranks so I can easily accommodate this on the table.

There are 8 units of Spartans present -  256 in total - I will of course have to up this to 300 !!

By my reckoning there are 1300 figures on the table....

Most of the shields have come from the transfer sets in the Warlord games boxes however I have used some from other sources including old GW space marine transfers. I keep a big box of transfers for just such an occasion.

And there we have it - the Greek Army is ready to fight. At the moment it will be used in some small scale engagements from the Peloponesian Wars....

So what next - of course it has to be the Persians and the Macedonians. Several of my Greeks will be used as mercenaries on the other side....

Until next time