December 9, 2018 by Lee
Recently Jamie and I took a trip down to Entoyment in Poole to meet up with a long time good friend and follower our blog Andy Barnett, to catch up on Andys recent outings at the Wargames Holiday Centre.
I was very keen to hear about Andys experience playing To the Strongest as we have been looking at starting Ancients for some time and really didn’t know what set of rules to use. Our fall back plan was that if we couldn’t find a set of rules then we would use Hail Caesar and so what ever rules we did try then our figures would have to be able to play both systems.
So What is To the Strongest ?
To the Strongest is a set of ancient to medieval rules written by Simon Miller which can be found here along with his other set of rules For King and Parliament ECW rules, bases, cards and tokens.
I will not go into a full blown review here at this time as I have only played one game, but you can find many reviews online if you search. But What I will say though is that To the Strongest has been receiving some very good and positive reviews ever since its launch. I had looked at it many times but I was slightly put off by the grid and the playing cards. But after playing the game I can honestly say that I didn’t notice the grid and using the playing cards was actually quite fun and quick.
As I mentioned, using the grid removes the need for tape measures and using the cards or chips removes the need for dice. These aspects are the heart of the game and makes it very easy to pick up. I can certainly see how it would be possible to play a small game right up to a very large battle with many players a side.
So how did our demo day go ?
Jamie, Mel and myself had headed off to Poole to meet up with Andy, Mike and Hobz. On getting Entoyment and after the most important shopping for those Christmas treats, Andy began to go through the rules and armies with us. Jamie and I were playing the Late Romans, Mel and Hobz were playing the Huns. I have to say all the figures were painted very nicely by Andy and Hobz and they really looked the part.
Mike along with Andy was overseeing the game helping out with rules and tactics as we played (you can certainly tell they are brothers, lol). The game started by seeing who had the most scouting points, which the Huns won. Next, both sides started choosing terrain and seeing if it stayed on the table or not. Next we deployed our armies, Andy had worked out the late Romans and Hobz had worked out the Huns. Both armies were divided up into 4 commands, which was quite nice as we all had two commands each.
Jamie and I managed to keep the rough ground on our right on the table, which was good as it would hamper the Huns cavalry on the side. It was difficult to know where to put our cavalry as the Huns had so much as you would expect, that we decided to concentrate them in the centre. This could have been a disaster and against all military thinking (but hey we were bold).
The first few turns went as you would expect with the Huns quickly advancing across the table and the Romans trying to hold firm and plug any gaps. The Huns had some good success early on as they destroyed a unit of Roman cavalry and also killing the general of that command. This meant that one cavalry command was without a leader and it was a little more difficult to activate them.
The battle continued with the Huns shooting and evading and the Romans slowly getting picked off.
We stopped for lunch and took stock of what we had learnt and how already we were getting used to the mechanics of the game. I think Simon has done a good job in creating the feel for the period and making the game simple to pick up but a harder task to master. After a well deserved break we went at it again, Jamie and I had to make the decision to advance and break the Huns line as otherwise the Huns would just pick us off at range.
Things were getting bad for both sides as we had to commit our generals to the fray, any gaps in our lines had to be plugged by whatever spare unit we had. For the Romans had now started to push the Huns back on the left flank and there was a big gap that if the Huns could exploit it, they could roll up the Roman right. But this was avoided as the Roman general along with his unit fought bravely and manged to push back Atilla and his retinue.
The fighting continued, the Huns resupplied their ammunition now for the last time but failed to cause any casualties. The battle now was heating up as both sides had lost units to a point where the romans had two victory points left and the Huns only one.
The battle finally came to a close when the Romans managed to push the Huns back to their camp and destroying a unit of light cavalry, which was the last victory point the Huns had to hand over.
We had a blast. We all said that for a demo game it couldn’t have gone any better, to have it so close meant that we all came away from the game winners. We really liked To the Strongest for its way of getting you engrossed in to the game. Like I said earlier, I didn’t notice the grids at all while we were playing and as for using the cards or chips instead of dice, well again for this type of game it works perfectly.
Will we play To the Strongest again? you bet we will as I’m sure Mel will want to try out her Ancient Britons at some point.
A big thank you to Andy for making it possible, Mike and Hobz lending a hand and also making the day a memorable one for us all. We certainly look forward to getting you guys round for a game in the Battle Bunker soon.
Well that’s it for now, I’m off to work out my Early Imperial Roman army so until next time, thanks for reading.
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