This game was of Ian’s devising, using his figures, army lists, game cloth and markers etc. I must admit to being rather lazy and did not research ‘To The Strongest’ (TTS) rules or lists before the game, and my knowledge was therefore based on games of FK&P played a couple of months ago. We randomly diced for which army we would use, and I got the Thracians whilst Ian commanded the Lysimachids. The Thracians would clearly benefit from cluttered, difficult terrain and needed to shoot as much as possible during the opening moves to try a disorder/disrupt the heavier Lysimachid pikes and cavalry. I duly placed as much difficult terrain as allowed whilst Ian placed open areas. Then each terrain feature is assigned a card and the effects worked out. I like this randomising aspect, but it does radically alter the battlefield and makes pre-planning very uncertain. In this game virtually all my difficult terrain was removed and we were left with an open plain with a few gentle hills and a bit of woods on my far left flank. I therefore had a ‘bad’ feeling even before the game started!
|Thracians at the bottom of picture.|
After we deployed, Ian activated his ‘stratagem’ which allowed his own Thracian (traitor) forces to move forwards and take control of that lone wood I might have benefited from! A ‘sinking’ feeling became apparent in the mind of the Thracian commander. I did have a numerically strong light cavalry force on my right flank which I moved forward to engage the smaller Lysimachid cavalry and threaten the flanks of the pike blocks. I launched a hail of missiles for next few turns but to little avail. I even managed to charge the enemy horse in the rear, and bounced! I soon began to realise the weakness of light horse when charged by any heavier cavalry; they have to attempt to evade (so ground is rapidly lost) and if they fail to evade they get hit (and therefore killed) without any opportunity to hit back! I did have a few successes on this flank; I disrupted his pike blocks by shooting, and killed a few of Ian’s skirmishers and light cavalry, and wounded both of his commanders.
|Thracian light cavalry facing the Lysimachid heavies!|
On my left flank, my Thracian foot engaged Ian’s Thracians. I thought I would have the upper-hand because half my units were veteran and had heavy cutting weapons, but no, Ian’s forces prevailed in fairly slow grind. I also played my ‘stratagem’ to hit his commander, but only achieved a light wound. I must admit that I was not focussed on the game as much as I should have been, and simply allowed Ian to work out the values of the chits I needed to draw etc. The reason for this lack of engagement was due to the fact I had done a ‘mischief’ to my back a couple of days earlier, and although I could walk etc., I was finding concentration hard to maintain (a lame excuse, I know!).
|Thracian left flank about to go in|
In the centre Ian’s disrupted pikes seemed inspired, making difficult retirement moves followed by rally actions. I had little available to stop the pike juggernaut rolling forwards, and in the end I conceded the game. Ian’s winning streak continues. In this game I felt defeat staring me in the face from the very start, but I still enjoyed playing and look forward to future games using TTS. I certainly intend buying my own copy when I attend the Warfare show next weekend.
To conclude; I really like ‘To The Strongest’ rules, they give an interesting, fast-paced game that is perfect for a club session. The activation mechanic forces a nice degree of decision making and prioritisation. Melee seems much more decisive when compared to the ECW version of the rules. I think using chits rather than playing cards is the best way to play. Overall I think I still prefer both ‘Impetus’ and ‘Sword & Spear’ rules, but ‘To The Strongest’ is a good alternative.