Sunday, 22 November 2015


Finally, some gaming! A welcome opportunity to get down to Aaron's came about today, so I packed the car with some 1981 Czechs and my terrain mats, while Aaron got some ancients stuff organised. The moderns game I will comment on in my next post, for first up was a game of "To the Stongest", which I have played just twice before, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aaron has by now built up a very respectable collection of late Republican Romans indeed, plus a bunch of western European enemies and allies. So I thought a game featuring the noble and glorious Sertorius on one side (that would be me, you understand), versus the villainous and unnamed optimates (Aaron, naturally...) would go down well. Aaron proposed a points budget of just 130 points each to keep things simple, so we had to cut down a bit on the troops present - Sertorius wasn't rated as "brilliant" for example.  My army, having large numbers of Lusitanian caetrati (light infantry) was a bit bigger than his, due to his larger numbers of more expensive legionaries.

Deployment, viewed from the rear of my left flank.
We rolled terrain as per the rules, and I was pretty satisfied with what I got; the flanks were dominated by rocky hills and the like, just right for my light troops to lurk in. Note the mats making up the playing field - see Aaron's post on these for details.

My centre was anchored between theses hills, as I thought it would be weaker than his, and I wanted to work the flanks. I had a unit of heavy horse and a unit of light horse on each flank, plus a bunch of light troops. Sertorius took my right, while the left and the centre had a sub-general each.
My light horse on the extreme right, working the flank.

As it turned out, Aaron's horse was slightly meatier than mine, with three heavies and one light unit as opposed to my two of each. Still, I had a lot of light troops to support them, and I figured the terrain was with me, so I pressed forward on both flanks, while keeping my centre back.

On my right, I moved up quickly, aided by Sertorius being there in person, keeping the activation points coming. Combat didn't go quite so well, however, with no rapid breakthroughs. I attempted some outflanking manoeuvres here, but not mcuh came of it, as my heavy cavalry were struggling, and Aaron was able to manoeuvre his own heavy cavalry to advantge. Soon my heavy cavalry here had been removed from play, and Sertorius had to transfer to the light horse, leaving my grand plans for attack in this sector in tatters.

The flanks are fully engaged, but the centres have yet to meet.
On my left, I similarly moved forwards, but failed to make any headway with my shooting.  Our cavalry clashed, and it was a more bloody affair than of the other flank.

I was able to take out Aaron's sole light horse unit, but unfortunately lost not only my own in the process, but also my general in the aftermath, thus starving my forces here of leadership. Over the subsequent turns Aaron was able to take out my heavy horse as well, but his remaining horse unit was unwilling to try and force the issue with my lght infantry holding the heights, stimmying his advance.

The view from behind Aaron's centre. All figures are his.
Having been bested on the flanks, my remaining hope lay with the centre. As it happened, I was not as weak here as I had feared I would be. We both had solid line of legionaries. Aaron had a second reserve line of veteran legionaries, but they were few in number. My second line was of Spanish scutarii, and thus not as strong, individually, but they were much more numerous, and thus could potentially take more of a beating before folding. So I moved forwards my centre to meet his, and the main lines clashed. The initial voleys of thrwoing weapons were resisted stoutly by both sides, and thus our front lines settled down to sword play.

The breakthrough! That's my sub-general rolling up his line...
And here luck went my way. Aaron's units could hit me well enough, but I saved an awful lot of hits, while my return strikes often went unsaved by him. Further, his activations went AWOL at critical points, leaving him unable to rally units, and leaving them very vulnerable to subsequent attacks. On my right flank, the crappy terrain frustrated him in being able to move his cavalry across to influence the centre, and likewsie on my left, the crappy terrain frustrated him there too. Terrain in hindsight that had been very well-positioned by myself! My superior numbers in the centre eventually wore his down, and a line swap did little to stem the tide, for his veterans were too few in numbers to resist my weightier centre. Eventually the legion led by my sub-general routed their oppoistes, cracking his line open, and the proverbial fat lady started winding for her aria...

Technically not yet "game over", but irretrievable...
With his centre split and being rolled up, soon four more of his six original legions routed, with just his own center general's legion holding on - barely. And with the equivalent of five legions in front of it, the writing was not merely on the wall, but spelled out a hundred times all over the forum...

A corker of a game, with lots of interesting decision points; a bunch of realistic outcomes, (with no senior general on the Roman side, Sertorius won, as he was wont to do...), and nothing happend on the table that jarred my sense of historical accuracy. I'm liking this system more and more! I guess the next step is to see how well it plays outside the classical Mediterranean...

Aaron's take here.


  1. Great stuff. It's good to see those jigsaw teddy fur tiles in use. Sertorius is a favourite of mine too.

    1. Yes, and yes! My wife tells me the website that she found this evening that sells them has a minimum order size of 500. Clearly not aiming at your average wargamer there... Still, I reckon I just have to keep popping into the shop every few weeks or so, and I should be able to get what I need.

      As for Sertorius, yeah, I made up a revised army list for him back when the old DBM Spanish list simply didn't cater for him, so I've had a long-term interest.

  2. You are too modest, Luke. Good terrain placement, good army choice, good play and a victory well deserved! Can't wait for our next game.


    1. So what do you reckon? Something medieval? My stuff there is either 13th century or 15th century, so unlikley to match anything you have, no doubt...

    2. Yes, medieval sounds good. You'll have to supply the figures though, unless you can wait until the Crusades project is completed, in which case you'd probably be waiting a long time!

  3. Thanks for the great AAR, Luke. I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on how the game works for Medievals, especially the longbow vs. knight exchange that is so dear to wargamers' hearts. In a future edition I would like to do some work on knights; their high save means they rally relatively easily...

    Best, Simon

    1. One of the disadvantages of simplifying things by coupling rallying and saving throw attempts is that this sort of thing happens, whether you want it or not.

      In my mind, the perfect set of rules would have no saving throws, theywould be subsumed by a single to hit chance; saving throws are an extra step that I see as unnecessary. Therefore rallying would be totally separate. It's what I've done in my (currently too complicated for other rasons) AoTrules.

      The problem with that is you need to modify the chance to hit depending on certain factors, which complicates things; TtS has a flat chane, which is nice and easy.

      Given you already have some rally modifiers that are not applicable to saving throw modifiers, however, would it be too much of a distraction to introduce a couple more? Alternatively, have a "base rally" column separate fom a "base save" column. An extra complication, but it could save other stuff, since you could actually elimiate e.g. the +/- for being vetran/raw from the rally table, as it would automatically be there in the troop type's listing.

      (This is how I would imagine for example Benevento French being separated from Germans - the former withmore elan (i.e. rally chance), and the latter with better armour (better saving throw = harder to hit), even though both might actually be classed as "veterans")

      Anyway, will have to do some test-driving of the game first...

  4. Hi Luke,

    Funnily enough you've hit on both solutions I've been thinking about. The first is to introduce additional rally modifiers to the ancients rules- a -1 for knights and cataphracts might be a useful start. Secondly, in the fantasy rules that I am putting together, units are going to have different base saves against different attacks (ie melee, missile, mind spells) which will include the veteran and raw factors too, and a base rally. I'll try this out in the fantasy version. The only downside is that there will be three saves and a rally for each unit instead of the one in TtS; I'll need to have a little marker behind each unit to record them.

    Best, Simon