Sunday 18 February 2018

Paphlagonia vs Latium - a To the Strongest intro game

My plan to try and get more games in in 2018 had taken a knock over the past few weeks or so, due to having to deal with Local Government, which at times felt like trying to get blood out of a stone whilst swimming through treacle. Salvation came in the form of my good friend and gaming chum Keith Flint, who was keen to have a go at 'To the Strongest' ruleset. 

So a pleasant drive through the Cotswolds saw me arrive with the table already set up and some figures on the table. In advance I had knocked up some basic army lists based upon Keith's 'Trimsos' armies, nothing too fancy, so that we could focus on the game mechanics and simply having a good time. Once again it was a pleasure to be able to play a game with Keith's wonderful 28mm figures that are certainly colourful and full of character.

For the first game, we simply chose a good mix of units, including Elephants, Chariots (both light and heavy), Cataphracts, Hoplites etc, in fact anything that grabbed our eye. This game took a while to get going, as neither of us could hit a barn door with our missile troops and our weapons must have been made of rubber. In the end my troops (Latium) prevailed, but the game could have gone either way. 

In the second game, we selected units appropriate to Keith's army lists, so I got the Elephants, whilst Keith had some rather tasty looking Phalanxes and Chariots. This game was brief and bloody, with the cards certainly favouring my Latium troops, as Keith's centre and left flank collapsed in short order. Fortunately he was unable to take advantage of his numerical superiority on his right flank before the aforementioned collapse. Still it was a fun game.

Given that these were test games and very much aimed at getting Keith au fait with the game mechanics, I didn't take any notes. However I did find time to take some pics which will hopefully give you an idea of how things unfolded.

Both armies arrayed for battle, with my Latium troops closest to the camera.

The Paphlagonian Elephants and Phalanxes look somewhat daunting.

The core of the Latium army, their infantry.

The armies advance, with the Latium archers supporting the right flank.

Some failed activation cards led to a broken Latium line.

In contrast the ordered Paphlagonian line.

The infantry clash.

They may only be javelin armed skirmishers, but I loved the shields. Sadly they don't make anything like this in 10mm, so maybe some conversions will have to be done...

The centres clash whilst both sides skirmishers try and gain control of the flanks.

From a Latium point of view, the Paphlagonian centre looks too strong.

However looks can be deceptive.

Nelly feeling somewhat vulnerable.

With the centre gone, the Paphlagonian right flank had no option but to withdraw.

With Game 2 underway, the action happened thick and fast. The Latium right flank quickly gained ascendancy and turned in on the Paphlagonian centre.

This time the Latium 'Nelly' felt confident and proved her worth on the battlefield.

The action continued thick and fast, with both sides losing units, but the Latium troops were marginally on top.

The end for Paphlagonia, as their army had vanish as quickly as Summer mist.

The Latium troops looking for someone to fight.

The Latium army in complete control of the battlefield.

Post Game Thoughts
Both games proved to be very enjoyable affairs, despite the second game being a tad more one sided. Not having played 'To the Strongest' for sometime, I was unsure as to whether I would still enjoy them. In fact I need not have worried. In fact the opposite as it re-confirmed that they have become my current Ancients & Medieval' rules of choice. As always, a few thoughts on the game, the rules and Ancients gaming in general;

  • I need to create a better QRS sheet than the one contained in the book. this is mainly to allow me to easily remember things such as +1 card to be played on Flank Attacks, a -1 Save to units being attacked in the Flank etc. I'm sure this would become second nature with lots of playing, but with erratic outings of the rules it will simply make things easier.
  • A more detailed roster for each army will make game play much quicker, such as adding in Attack and Save details, for similar reasons outlined above.
  • TtS certainly gives a fun and relatively quick game, compared to the likes of 'Hail Caesar!' I no longer think of it as a grid based game, but a game that really allows me to concentrate on my tactics.
  • For my next game I will give the ammunition supply rules a go, now that I have, hopefully, got the game basics nailed down. I'm intrigued to see how this affects the use of Light Infantry.
  • I really need to make some Army camps for both of my planned ImagiAncients armies, so plenty of opportunity for some creativity.
  • The same could be said for adding a few more Generals to my armies, as well as the one use Heroic ones. Time to have a browse of the Pendraken catalogue as well as my lead pile.
  • Of late I have been making some terrain in the limited time I have had, to which I need to add a baseboard. I have some ideas on how to make it work for a grid based game but not look too grid like. Some tests are required to see whether my ideas work or not. I also need to bear in mind that this board will be used with the forthcoming 'For King & Parliament' rules that are due for release at Salute.
  • I thought the rules worked well for units such as Chariots and Elephants, that can in other rules feel a bit clunky or unsure as to what they are trying to achieve. They also work well for ImagiAncients armies as it is so easy to select troops and create balanced armies due to the points cost and Victory Points system.

So I'm looking forward to trying to get in some more games in the near future, using my Viking and Saxon armies. A campaign of some sort would be nice, but I don't want to run before I can walk.