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Monday, 19 February 2018

In Which I Try Out 'To The Strongest'

I was glad to have the opportunity to try out these popular ancients rules, thanks to my good friend Steve who had invested in a set recently. Being stuck in my ways (see previous post), I had regularly looked into buying these rules, then just as regularly rejected them. Grids? Playing cards? No, don't do none of that shit (as the young people say). 

But it was time to turn over a new leaf. All that was necessary was to mark out a grid with some scenic scatter and trim down my units to fit into the 6" square boxes. Steve came over to Northleach and provided the rules and the know-how.

The set-up. It was about 20 minutes work to mark out the grid.

We played two games, sticking to the basics and leaving out some of the more advanced rules. I can certainly see why these rules have been so well received - they are obviously the product of a clever mind, being original and easy to grasp. Just like everyone says, using grids does away with fiddly measuring, and using the cards also speeds things up. In fact, we played through the two games rapidly and easily. Leaving out some of the more subtle rules detracted from the game a bit, I reckon - but this was hardly the fault of the rules. 

With the inclusion of a good, old-fashioned 'march' rule, units get into action quickly.

The use of grids doesn't necessarily mean that the battles appear too formal and tidy.

Downsides? I had the feeling that the games were over a bit too quickly, for my personal taste. A bit too 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am', if you know what I mean. But adding in more of the game detail that we deliberately left out may fix this. Certainly, I would need to spend more time making sure that the parameters for my various unit types were set correctly - this is very important in any set of wargames rules, but particularly so for ancients with such a variety of troops.

"We were just standing there minding our own business when this bunch of Numidians when galloping past right behind us!'
Once again I find that 'grids' doesn't mean 'boring'.

The author, Simon Miller, has quickly acquired a reputation for being available to answer online questions, and being very open to suggestions and critiques. This is greatly to his credit, as is the availability of army lists and amendments as free downloads. Well done sir.

Elephant/heavy chariot face-off.

As the pictures show, with a little care the cards can be kept off the actual playing area, so they needn't become too intrusive. Overall, this brief taster left me keen to investigate further and learn more. I had to be strong with myself and hold back my natural wargamer's instinct to buy the book straight away (it's very well presented and written, by the way). Yes, the benefits of being careful with your cash go to the strongest.

To get the view from the other side of the hill, see Steve's own blog post.

See you again soon.

6 comments:

Steve J. said...

I agree that keeping the rules relatively simple led to some rather quick games, but I found it the easiest way to get to grips with the core mechanics. Certainly next time round I think a full blown game is on the cards (excuse the pun). As discussed during the game, a better QRS would have helped and one kind soul has already done this, as can be seen on the following link:

https://blundersonthedanube.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/to-strongest-expanded-summary-sheet.html?m=1

As you say, getting the troop 'stats' right is very important in an Ancients game and would be something to explore in more detail in advance of another game. The use of Victory Points and the Camp for each Army also alters things, but in a good way.

So my plan is to now try and get some 'full blown' games in with all the bells and whistles attached, just to see how things play. It certainly has re-kindled my interest in Ancients gaming, which had frankly started to wane given my dabbling in other areas of late.

Keith Flint said...

Sounds good Steve. Thanks for introducing this set to me.

Keith Flint said...

BTW Steve, as a true technophobe, I found the link below useful. You can get your blog comments to include a live link:

Making a Live Link

Jonathan Freitag said...

A game that remains on my To Do List.

Carlo said...

Hi Steve and a very good post. Our group has been playing TTS a for about fifteen months now and are well and truly converted to them as our “go to” Ancients set. The grid mat took some of my older playing companions a bit of time to adjust yo however they are now very happy with the lack of “friendly yet animated discussions” on whether a charge can reach, dooming ranges etc.
I very quickly purchased the playing aids including the playing cards chits in the Bigredbatcave store as I didn’t like the look of the large playing cards on the table. Very good investment.

Anonymous said...

Cool article, thanks for the introduction. I've been on the fence of starting ancient wargaming (I mostly play fantasy/sci-fi skirmishers) but this rules-system seems very good.

And nice looking models, btw.:-)