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To the Strongest! Version 2.1g

(“To the Strongest” were Alexander the Great’s reputed deathbed words to his generals, when handing over his signet ring to indicate who should succeed him)

Contents

Introduction and Design Notes

1.0

Preparations for Battle

 
 

1.

What any Aspiring General Will Need in Order to Fight a Battle

2.0

The “To the Strongest!” Basic Rules

 

3.0

The “To the Strongest!” Advanced Rules

 
 

1. Further guidance on activations

 

2. Terrain

 

3. Specialist units

4. Advanced set up

 

5. Optional rules

 

6. Stratagems

7. Advice for aspiring generals

 

4.0

Competitive Play

 

1. Point values and saves

2. Army lists

3. Club games

4. Scenarios

5.0 Campaign Rules

2. Army lists 3. Club games 4. Scenarios 5.0 Campaign Rules To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
2. Army lists 3. Club games 4. Scenarios 5.0 Campaign Rules To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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Introduction and Design Notes

Introduction

To the Strongest! is a set of rules for tabletop wargaming, designed to give novices an easy entertaining introduction to ancient wargaming, whilst as the same time providing seasoned gamers with a challenging battle that can comfortably be concluded in an evening, with a glass of wine or beer to hand. They enable players to fight ancient battles from the emergence of massed warfare, through the period of the great empires of Rome, Macedon and China (amongst others), until the introduction of cannon in the 14 th Century.

The rules are designed to be scale-able, so that they can be used for anything from solo play with 100 or so miniatures, through to multiplayer games with 2000 plus miniatures and up to 5 players a side. A square grid has been used to promote speed of play. This also means that figures which have based for different rule systems, or are singly based, can be used together on the same battlefield.

The basic rule mechanics are simple enough that engage players who haven’t previously used them, can be taught the basics of the basic rules in around 10 minutes and will have a fair grasp of the rules by the end of their first game. These can be printed on a two-sided sheet of A4 paper, for easy use at the table. Once players have mastered the basic rules, they can progressively introduce rules from the additional optional sections, dealing with specialist unit types and formations. Further sections include examples of play, competitive play and sample army lists. The rules are written in plain English, and jargon has been kept to a minimum. The rules will be supported by additional publications including army lists, scenarios, and campaign material.

Absolutely no dice are used in TtS! Instead, an innovative (and entertaining) mechanic uses playing cards to activate units, which can potentially move or fight multiple times during a turn. Missile fire and melee are resolved both speedily and decisively.

The author believes that the rules will be easily grasped by gamers new to the hobby or the period, and yet that the more seasoned gamer will find sufficient command decisions to entertain and challenge him or her. Despite the relative simplicity of the rules, the author believes that they capture the essential flavour of an ancient battle.

Design Notes

In the view of the author, ancient battles were, generally, linear affairs, where the two sides lined up parallel to each other and advanced more or less directly forward, into contact with the enemy. Formations of part-time ancient warriors usually lacked the drill required to change facing quickly, so punching through an enemy line was often the best they could hope to achieve. However, there were exceptions: the Spartans, for example, could march rings around their neighbours, and professional armies such as the Romans spent long enough under arms to become far more capable than their opponents. Further, exceptional generals such as Epaminondas, Alexander and Caesar were able to win victories by training and organising their troops well, and also, sometimes, through innovative deployments of their armies.

TtS! is played on a simple, square grid. The author had become concerned that the hexagonal grids that he used in most games, favoured inclining attacks. He was often able to bring part of his centre in contact with an enemy wing. A square grid means that, in general, most units will advance to fight the enemy directly opposite them.

The use of a grid also means that figures based for different systems can be freely used against each other, so WAB-based minis can happily fight against those figures based for the WRG rule systems, or Impetus. Moreover he estimates that the use of a grid saves thirty minutes to an hour in every game, as there is no need for measurement, nor indeed measures, templates or suchlike flummery. A square grid can be marked out in 10 minutes or so, and rendered almost invisible, because subtle markings are required only at the corners of the squares.

In TtS!, battlefield friction, the “force that makes the apparently easy, so difficult”, is simulated by simple activation tests, made in seconds using playing cards, that units must pass to move, charge, evade or rally. Failure in any test usually ends the turn for the entire command to which the unit belongs. A player will, therefore, have a rather greater chance of successfully activating all of the units in a small command than a large one. Professional armies, such as those of the Romans and the Macedonians, will generally include more generals, and are consequently able to organise their forces in smaller, more effective commands than barbarian armies.

As with activations, melees are resolved simply, again using playing cards.

the system, he will find that most melees will be resolved in less than 10 seconds, as a flurry of playing cards

Once the player is familiar with

a flurry of playing cards Once the player is familiar with To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
a flurry of playing cards Once the player is familiar with To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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are thrown onto the table. In general, melees will be won by the side in the better tactical situation and with the better troops. However, the melee rules are designed to throw up the occasional shock; sometimes an elite unit will unexpectedly break, in combat, as they did in history.

The author very much enjoys card-based rule systems, but has elected not to use specially printed cards with this version of the rules, because they add considerably to the cost, if professionally printed, or when distributed as a pdf, are rarely printed out and used. Instead, this game requires each player to bring only two decks of standard playing cards.

player to bring only two decks of standard playing cards. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
player to bring only two decks of standard playing cards. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

Part 1 Preparations for Battle

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1.1 What an Aspiring General Will Need in Order to Fight a Battle

This section briefly describes the table, models, cards and markers needed in order to play a game.

Two Armies

Two armies of miniatures are required to play this game. These can be in any size from 2mm to 54mm tall. If miniatures aren’t available, though, the game can always be played with cut-out pieces of cardboard, or even with Lego bricks (with which the author’s earliest battles were fought).

These miniatures will need to be grouped into units. Ideally, these units should be slightly less wide than are the boxes. 12cm wide units work well with 15cm boxes, and 18cm wide with 20cm, but exact unit widths are not important. One great advantage of this grid-based system is that figures can be individually based, or based in “elements” of 2-4 figures, or even the larger Impetus-based elements can be used. Moreover, opposing armies don’t even need to be based for the same rule system.

The author feels that it adds a great deal to the “colour” of the game when units are individually named (3 rd Quingenary Cohort of Tungrians or, perhaps, “the Warband of the Leaping Salmon”).

Generals are usually represented by a small vignette depicting the commander, perhaps accompanied by a standard bearer or cornicen. More senior officers will have more “flunkeys” hanging around them, on a larger diameter dioramic base. It is convenient (but far from essential) that command bases be circular, to make them stand out amongst the rectangular units. As with units, it is great for gaming “colour” to be able to see a general’s name, inscribed on the base.

Many gamers use a representative scale around 1:30, with units of 16 miniatures based on 20mm per miniature frontage; this would also work well with the above box dimensions.

The author is blessed with a substantial collection of miniatures, and finds that, for him, a representative scale around 1:20 works well. He uses foot units of 24 minis based on a 15mm per figure frontage, representing a cohort-sized body of up to 480 men. His cavalry and light units are smaller, with 6-10 miniatures. Deeper units such as phalangitae and warbands field 36 or 48 miniatures, with some huge units (levy phalangitae, for example) reaching 72 miniatures. In 1:20 representative scale, a 20cm box represents an area of roughly 80m on each side.

For larger battles, the author uses a scale of 1:50, with a Roman legion represented by 4 units of 24 figures each, plus a command stand. In 1:50 representative scale, a box represents an area around 200m on each side.

This said, these rules are extremely flexible; do please feel free to use a representative scale that suits your

collection!

Expanded section on Basing, with photos

A gaming table marked with a square grid

To the Strongest! is an unapologetically grid-based set of rules. There was a time when the author hated grids, but he eventually came to realise that he hated measurement even more!

A huge upside of grids is increased speed of play, and TtS! permits a 1000+ mini game to be completed in

around 2 hours, even by relatively inexperienced players. Moreover, the use of grids does away with the need

for the precision-engineered measuring sticks and wheeling templates that, in the opinion of the author, contribute little to the world of wargaming. Grids also greatly diminish the likelihood of disagreements between players.

Regarding aesthetics; one potential downside of grids is that they can be fearfully ugly. In the author’s view, the best grid is an almost invisible grid; more often than not players encountering his games do not even realise that there is a grid involved. With his much-used arid “Zama” terrain boards, he used map pins, painted beige, to mark the grid intersections. These can just be distinguished, when one knows what to look for. On static-grass boards, he uses a tiny black dot at the corners, instead. It isn’t necessary to drawn the full lines along the edges of the boxes. Natural terrain pieces, such as woods, should not be exactly square, and ideally have irregular edges. It is quite acceptable for these pieces to be slightly smaller or larger than the grid, and it helps the table to look much more naturalistic.

The table should be divided into a central zone and two flank zones, each of a broadly similar width. When the number of boxes across the table width is not exactly divisibly by three, then the central zone should be made a little wider than the flank zones. For example, on a 12 box-wide table, all three zones would be 4 boxes wide, but on a 16 box-wide table, the central zone would be 6 boxes wide and the flank zones, 5 each.

zone would be 6 boxes wide and the flank zones, 5 each. To the Strongest! ©Simon
zone would be 6 boxes wide and the flank zones, 5 each. To the Strongest! ©Simon

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Below are the author’s recommended grid and table dimensions, and the suggested figure scales and unit sizes that work best with them. The midi-level game, highlighted in blue, below, is recommended for beginners as it can be played on the traditional 6’ by 4’ table, much beloved by gamers, with armies of around a dozen units a side.

Recommended grid and table sizes for 15mm or smaller figures

 

Game size

Unit Size

Unit Frontage

Grid size

Recommended

table size

Mini

Small units

40mm frontage

50mm

600mm x 400mm

Midi

Medium sized-units

80mm frontage

100mm

1200mm x 800mm

Maxi

Large units

120mm frontage

150mm

1800mm x 1200mm

Recommended grid and table sizes for 20mm and larger figures

 

Game Size

Unit Size

Unit Frontage

Grid size

Recommended

table size

Mini

Small units

60mm frontage

75mm

900mm x 600mm

Midi

Medium sized-units

120mm frontage

150mm

1800mm x 1200mm

Maxi

Large units

180mm frontage

200mm

2400mm x 1800mm

Two decks of playing cards

TtS! dispenses with the handfuls of dice that are used in the majority of wargames. Instead it uses decks of playing cards, which enable movement and combat to be resolved rather more quickly than they could be with dice.

Each player will need a deck of 80 playing cards, consisting of two packs of 52 cards, with the court cards and jokers removed (although the game can be played, at a pinch, with a single pack of cards for each player). The court cards are used to generate random events in the Campaign game.

Alternatively, instead of playing cards, chits printed with playing card symbols and numbers can be used, drawn from a drawstring bag. These chits work particularly well with the relatively small 50mm grids used on the 2mm/6mm/15mm table, where it’s not possible to place normal playing cards on the table, as the grid is physically too small to accommodate them! Such chits are used in the Crosshand Poker board game, and used sets can be purchased quite cheaply, on eBay.

Suitable terrain

Unless the battle is to be fought on a featureless plain (and of course, many were), one or both players will provide terrain pieces. The size of these will need to approximately correspond to the grid, although they can be larger; a long ridge, for example, composed of several hills placed next to each other, might extend across 5 or 6 boxes. In the case of woods, it is nice to use a dark piece of cloth, cut very roughly but irregularly to the shape of the box, with free-standing trees on top of it, that can be moved to accommodate figures as required. Roads run through the centre of boxes, and streams along their edge. Rivers fill a row of boxes, and are one or more boxes wide.

Picture of a hill, and woods

Sundry markers

Three types of markers are used in TtS!.

Firstly, victory medals are coins or gaming tokens which are used to visually track which side is winning the game and which losing. A couple of dozen bronze, silver or gold tokens should be enough for even the largest games. Modern coins, or even chocolate coins, will do, but replica ancient coins, if available, add character. The gamer with exceptionally deep pockets might use original Roman aurei and denarii

Victory medals, left and ammo markers, right

Secondly, ammunition markers are used to keep track of the limited supply of ammunition that those ancient units, equipped with missile weapons, could carry to the battlefield. Ammunition markers should be relatively inconspicuous; the author uses MDF discs, sprayed in an earth tone. Model javelins or arrows can be stuck to these, if desired. One, two or three ammunition markers will be needed for each missile-armed unit.

markers will be needed for each missile-armed unit. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014
markers will be needed for each missile-armed unit. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014

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Third and finally, games require baggage markers, typically three for each side for a medium-sized game. Baggage markers can be simply a folded piece of paper, indicating a tent, but are ideally depicted using the excellent vignettes that many miniatures companies produce: tents, or perhaps a wagon with a pay chest and a broken wheel, a herd of fat cattle, or a camp scene.

Photo of baggage markers

of fat cattle, or a camp scene. Photo of baggage markers To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
of fat cattle, or a camp scene. Photo of baggage markers To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

Part 2 The “To the Strongest!” Basic Rules

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The Table should be marked with a grid of squares, hereafter referred to as “boxes”, each wide enough to accommodate a unit of miniatures in line. A practical grid size for most games is 12 boxes wide by 8 deep.

Armies Two armies are required; each consisting of several commandsled by a general and typically composed of 4-12 units. Each army will be led by a commanding general, who may or may not have a command of his own. Players will typically be responsible for managing one to three commands each.

Units Formed infantry units include legionaries, auxiliaries, hoplites, phalangites and warband. Unformed infantry include light infantry and elephants. Some infantry units are double depth or “deep”. Formed mounted units include cavalry/chariots, and unformed mounted include light cavalry/chariots and scythed chariots.

Cards Each player will need a deck of 80 cards, composed of 2 packs of playing cards with the court cards and jokers removed. Ideally, each player’s cards should have different coloured backs to help to keep the decks distinct. In play, “activationcards are always placed behind the unit concerned. Cards played for all other purposes (shooting, melee, saves, etc.) are placed in a discard deck on the base line.

Set up The host sets up terrain and the other players decide which side of the table they prefer to play from. One player on each side cuts the deck; the highest becomes active”. The inactive player places 3 baggage markers in separate boxes, with at least one in the central zone, and then the active player does likewise. One of the “inactive” players then deploys a command somewhere in the 2 rows of boxes nearest him (if the table is 7 or less boxes deep), or 3 rows (if 8 or more). No units may be placed in the extreme left or right columns. All units in a command must be placed in adjacent boxes. Next, one of the active players places a command, and this alternating process continues until all commands have been deployed on the table.

Player turn sequence Firstly, the active army’s commanding general may make a “command move” of 2 boxes including diagonals, if on foot, or 3 if mounted, to position him where he will be most useful. Next, each player on the active side decides which of his commands he prefers to activate first. Before any units are activated, each command’s general may also make a command move, as above.

After this, the player picks any box containing units from the command, and states what either one unit or both units within it will attempt to do, e.g. Third and fourth cohorts will move here(pointing). He then plays the top card from his deck in an attempt to activate the unit or units, to either:-

Move or charge one box straight forwards (or two if mounted)

Move or charge one box diagonally forward, facing in the same direction (+1 more ahead, if mounted)

Move or charge into rough terrain

Move backwards one box (or two if mounted), facing in the same or the opposite direction

Move, permitting units to change facing within a box (and move one box directly ahead if mounted)

Shoot, or replenish one ammunition marker

Rally

Initial activations (unless one of the difficult activations, indicated in red italics above) succeed on a 2 or greater pip-value card. If successful, another card can be played to activate the unit/s again, but this will only succeed if the pip value of the new card is greater than that of any previous card played upon it. Alternatively, the player might choose to attempt to activate any other unit within the same command on a 2+ card (unless difficult). A player can later return to activate previously activated units again, so a unit might be able to activate multiple times in a turn, perhaps moving, charging, rallying and charging again. However, once any activation attempt fails, then the turn ends for that entire command, except when the command’s general or the commanding general is present in the box with the failing unit. If this is the case, the general may, once in each player turn, discard an activation card that has just been played either to draw a replacement card in a second (and final) attempt to activate the unit/s, or in the hope of playing a lower-pip card.

To successfully perform difficult activations, units other than unformed lights must play a card one pip greater than would otherwise be required. For example, a formed unit would need a 3+ pip card (rather than the usual 2+) to enter a forest during an initial activation. Elephants and deep units find difficult activations particularly challenging, and only succeed when the card played is two pips greater than is normally required.

Once a unit has failed to activate, or when a player has activated all the units within a command that he wishes, he can move on to begin to activate another command, if he has one. Once all of the players on a side have finished activating all their commands, the player turn is complete. Cards are gathered up, shuffled and passed to the player on the left, and the other side begins their player turn.

Moving Foot units move one box and mounted move two (but mounted must halt upon entering rough terrain). All units can move an additional box if their move does not take them either adjacent to, or within charge reach or missile range of an enemy unit.

or within charge reach or missile range of an enemy unit. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
or within charge reach or missile range of an enemy unit. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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Formed troops can move or charge through friendly unformed troops that are facing in the same or opposite direction, and vice versa. Troops cannot enter a box containing enemy units, although they may enter a box containing a lone enemy general, who is immediately displaced to join the nearest unit in his command.

In addition to the command move, described above, a general may accompany any unit, in the same box, that moves or charges. A general may be able to move several times during the same turn.

Charging Units that successfully charge, “melee” with a defending unit across the intervening box edge. They don’t enter the box into which they are charging (although see “advances”).

Infantry can charge straight or diagonally ahead into an adjacent box. Mounted can move one box directly forward, and then charge likewise. A unit cannot charge diagonally when there is an enemy unit directly to its front, or through a gap between friendly units to both its front and flank. Light troops cannot charge a formed unit frontally, unless the formed unit is disordered. Mounted cannot charge elephants.

Shooting After a unit successfully activates to shoot, a second card is played and a hit is achieved on an 8+. Targets that are hit must “save” (see below). Shooters must target the nearest enemy. Javelinmen can shoot into the 3 boxes to their front; bow or sling armed units can shoot into these boxes and the 3 boxes, beyond.

Units start with a limited supply of ammunition (“ammo), indicated by a pile of counters behind the unit. Archers/slingers start with 3 ammo and javelinmen with 2. 1 ammo is expended each time a unit shoots. Instead of shooting, a successful activation can instead be used to replace 1 previously-expended ammo.

Rallying A successful rally activation allows a disorderedunit (see below), to draw a saving card. If the unit passes this save, then a disorder marker is removed. Rallies are always difficult activations.

Evading Mounted, charged by infantry or elephants, may attempt to evade. A light unit charged by any formed unit must attempt to evade, except when in rough terrain, when it may choose to stand.

Evades must be into an adjacent box that the unit could legitimately enter, either directly away from the

direction of the charge or to its rear. Additionally, lights may interpenetrate friendly troops and pass through to

a box beyond, or evade behind a formed unit within the same box. Should a unit be unable to evade, or fail to,

a melee is resolved normally. Mounted evades succeed on a 4+ card, and infantry on 6+.

Melee Charging units play one card, hitting on 6+, or 8+ if disordered or lights. Charging elephants, or warband making their first charge of a game, play two hit cards. Units charging against an enemy unit’s flank or rear play an additional card. After making any required saves, the defending unit may play a card to hit back, unless it has been destroyed, has retreated, or the attack came from its flank or rear. A general must save whenever any unit in his box is lost.

Retreats A unit forced to retreat may move either to its rear or directly away from the direction of the attack. If

it can do neither, it must save against an additional hit. Any other unit present in the box must remain there.

Advances Following evades or melee, should no defending units remain in the box, then the charging unit must advance in. Any other unit or general in the same box may accompany.

Saves In order to save, a unit must draw a card equal to or greater than its modified saving factor:-

All mounted, light infantry, elephants, warband, phalangitae 7+

Legionaries/auxiliaries/hoplites 6+

Generals 3+

+1/-1 defender/attacker save modifiers if in melee with tactical advantage, or shot at in cover

Elephants or scythed chariots who fail to save, rampage either one box (1-5) or two boxes (6-10) to their rear. Units in their box or along the rampage path must save. After this, the elephant or chariot model is removed.

Failing to save Should a formed unit fail to save, it becomes disordered. Unformed units, formed units that are already disordered, deep formed units that are disordered for a second time, or generals, are lost, and their models are removed from play. Units and generals leaving the table for any reason also count as lost.

Victory At the outset of a battle, each side counts:

3 points for its commanding general, and for each deep unit in the army (3 medals surrendered, if lost)

2 points for every other general, formed unit, or baggage marker (2 medals surrendered, if lost)

1 point for each unformed unit (1 medal surrendered, if lost)

Divide the points total by 4, rounding to the nearest whole number, and give the side this number of “victory medals”. During play, medals are surrendered as units, generals and baggage markers are lost. An army is defeated in the instant in which it has no remaining victory medals.

in the instant in which it has no remaining victory medals. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
in the instant in which it has no remaining victory medals. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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Part 3 The “To the Strongest!” Advanced Rules

The advanced rules take the concepts explained in the basic rules, and add extra detail and period colour.

3.1 More about activations

In general, the activation process is very straightforward. However it is useful to clarify some unusual circumstances that can occasionally arise.

Where there are two units in a box, the activating player must specify whether he wants to activate just one, or both of them simultaneously.

Sometimes, a situation will arise when two units will end up in the same box, but with different pip-value cards on them, from previous activations. In this instance, a player wishing to activate both units together must play

a card that is greater in pip-value than the higher of the two cards.

Where two units are in a box that have previously activated together and one of them then activates an additional time on its own, then put the new activation card on this unit and leave the previous (lower pip) card on the previous unit.

3.2 Terrain

It was always challenging to deploy and control large armies in ancient times, and even more difficult when

terrain or weather conditions blocked a general’s line of sight. For this reason, the majority of ancient battles, especially the larger ones, were fought on plains, and sometimes completely featureless plains, at that. However engagements sometimes took place in very difficult terrain, which could have a major influence on the outcome.

In TtS!, terrain is the term used to describe the roads, trees, buildings, hills and so forth that can influence the course of the battle, usually by impeding movement activations, melee and shooting. Terrain that impedes the movement of some or all types of troop is called “rough terrain”. Some types of terrain provide limited protection against enemy shooting and block “line of sight”.

3.2.1 Terrain features

Terrain features that sit inside a box include:-

Open spaces represent fields, meadows or similar, and impede neither movement nor line of sight. They are important in TtS!, as they can be used to restrict the other player’s terrain placement. Ideally open spaces should be attractively modelled, to add to the variety and aesthetic appeal of the table

Broken ground represents a range of terrain types, including small rocky outcrops, thick ground vegetation such as heather, soft sand, or exceptionally wet and muddy ground. Broken ground counts as rough terrain to mounted and phalangitae, only. Broken ground doesn’t block line of sight

Dense forests, which are completely impassable to all troops, and block line of sight

Woods, or vine-stakes are rough terrain, provide cover and block line of sight

Marshes counts as rough terrain, but don’t provide cover or block line of sight

Low hills grant a tactical advantage to defending infantry, when defending in melee. Note that infantry do not get the same benefit attacking out of them. They block line of sight, but troops on hills can see over troops and over other terrain features, except for low hills

Steep hills count as low hills, but are additionally rough terrain. Again, defending infantry count tactical advantage in melee. Steep hills also provide cover against missile attacks (due to the extra difficulty of shooting uphill) and block line of sight. Troops on steep hills can see over troops and over all other terrain features, except for steep hills

Baggage counts as rough terrain, provides cover and blocks line of sight

Buildings count as rough terrain, and infantry defending buildings have tactical advantage in melee, and count cover against missile attacks. Buildings block line of sight. Troops in buildings can see over other troops but not over hills

Rivers are major waterways that occupy entire rows of boxes, and can be up to 3 boxes wide. They are impassable to troops, unless crossing over a bridge, or in boats, or to troops specially trained to swim rivers, such as Rome’s Batavian auxiliaries, where specified in an army list. Such troops can treat rivers as rough terrain

Lakes are completely impassable to all troops (except as rivers, above), but don’t block line of sight

Linear terrain features, which run along the edges of boxes, include:-

features, which run along the edges of boxes, include:- To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January
features, which run along the edges of boxes, include:- To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January

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Streams represent rather less significant waterways than rivers, and run along the edge of boxes. Crossing a stream (except along a road) provides the same movement and charge activation penalties as entering rough terrain. Units defending against attacks across a stream count tactical advantage in melee, and attackers do not gain the usual additional hit dice when attacking a defender’s flank or rear across a stream

Field fortifications include the marching camps surrounded by ditches and banks of the Romans, the wagon laagers drawn up by the Gauls and Germans and other defences that were (rarely) erected on the ancient battlefield. Players often use field fortifications to protect their baggage markers. They are particularly hard to cross, and units attempting to charge or move across them need to draw a card two pips higher than usual, except when moving through an undefended gateway, which they

can do without penalty.

Fortifications improve the saves of defending units which are shot at, across

them, or attacked across them in melee, and decrease the saves of units attacking across them, by

two.

Units defending field fortifications have access to additional ammunition supplies, and do not

need to expend ammo in order to shoot. Units do not gain the usual additional hit dice when attacking a defender’s flank or rear across fortifications. Fortifications block line of sight, except for units inside, who can see and fire over friendly troops.

Linear terrain features which run through the centre of a box, include:-

Roads or tracks. These had relatively little import on the ancient battlefield, where units generally moved in lines or in deep formations, such as the Macedonian pike phalanx. However, roads/tracks remove the “difficult” activation penalty for units moving (but not charging) along them, through rough terrain

3.2.2 Terrain density

In many games, one or both players will position a number of terrain pieces by agreement with each other. However, sometimes for a more formal, competitive game, such as a tournament, it is useful to have a set of rules to regulate the amount and positioning of terrain.

For every 24 boxes on the gaming table, each player should receive a single box-sized terrain piece and a double box-sized terrain piece. So, for a typical medium-sized, 96 box table, each player would receive four single box-sized terrain pieces, and four double box pieces.

No more than half of the terrain pieces received should be rough or impassable terrain, and no more than half open spaces. Players may choose replace one of their pieces with a road or track, and another with a stream.

At least some and ideally all of the terrain pieces should be appropriate for their army, so a player with an Arab army, for example, might chose to provide one single box and two double box sand dunes (low hills), an oasis (an impassable small lake) and one large, steep hill.

Players might also like to bring a few trees and other character pieces that can be dotted around the board, for aesthetic purposes, but which have no impact on the game. The player with the Arab army might perhaps bring some date palms to sit alongside the oasis, some olive trees and an olive press. Players will also want to bring two to four baggage markers, such as Bedouin tents or a herd of tethered camels.

3.2.3 Terrain positioning

Players take it in turn to place terrain pieces, starting with the pieces that sit within boxes. Pieces may be placed anywhere on the table, but each player must place at least one non-open space piece in each of the three zones. Terrain pieces of different types may only be placed diagonally adjacent to other terrain pieces, although terrain pieces of similar types may be placed next to each other, enabling, for example, a long ridge to be assembled by placing a number of low hills.

Once all of the terrain pieces that fit within boxes are on the table, then any linear pieces are placed. Streams run along the edges of boxes and, unlike the previous placements, can be placed adjacent to other terrain pieces. Roads or tracks pass though the centres of boxes and through most terrain (but not up steep hills, or through rivers/lakes).

Finally, a card is placed on top of each terrain piece, except for clear pieces and roads/tracks. If the piece:-

Is entirely in a flank zone, then it is removed if the card is 8 or greater

Is at least partially in the central zone, then it is removed if rough terrain and if the card is 6 or greater

Is at least partially in the central zone, then it is removed if impassable terrain and if the card is 4 or greater

If the card is an Ace, there is a chance that the piece will move, unless it is a stream. Play a further card upon it, and on a 1 through 8 the piece moves one box in that direction. If this move is not possible because there

that direction. If this move is not possible because there To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
that direction. If this move is not possible because there To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

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is already a terrain piece in that box, or because it would take the piece off the table, or if the card is a 9 or 10

then it remains where it is.

3.2.4 Line of sight

Line of sight is important to units equipped with missile weapons, because troops who cannot trace line of sight to a target, are not permitted to shoot. Line of sight is traced from the centre point of the firing box to the centre point of the target box.

Line of sight can be traced into boxes containing some terrain types, such as woods, but not through them into

a box beyond. It cannot be traced through boxes containing units unless the shooter is elevated on a hill,

building or in a fortification, as described above. Finally, line of sight cannot be traced along a diagonal between two units.

sight cannot be traced along a diagonal between two units. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
sight cannot be traced along a diagonal between two units. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

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4.0 Specialist units

The rules in this section expand upon the basic rules, providing descriptions and details of the troop-types already described and introducing additional categories of ancient soldiery to those .

Artillery was rarely used on the ancient battlefield, but is included in the rules because the Romans and Macedonians did occasionally deploy it, and because the author suspects that it may have been used more often than the written records suggest.

Artillery is an unformed unit type. It can shoot at any troops within 4 boxes, including diagonals. Artillery commences a battle with 3 ammo, and saves on an 8+.

Artillery cannot move, except when mounted in carts, when it can move as if infantry. charge.

Auxiliaries in TtS! describe the formations of non-citizen infantry raised in the Roman Empire from the reign of Augustus onward, and the Germanic auxiliarii that increasingly replaced legionarii in the later Empire. They are adequately armoured and protected with shields, but lack the drill and pila of the legionaries. However they are sound troops, and less expensive!

Camelry were occasionally used on the ancient battlefield in place of cavalry. The fact that they were but rarely used on the ancient battlefield suggests to the author that the camel was a rather less reliable fighting platform than was the horse. In TtS!, the unreliability of the camel as a steed is considered to cancel out the disorder experienced by unfamiliar cavalry when first encountering them.

Cataphracts were exceptionally well-armoured cavalrymen, riding protected horses, first introduced within nomad cultures, but later favoured by eastern kingdoms of Parthia and Sassanid Persia, and the later Romans. Their heavy armour enables them to save on a 5+.

The exceptional weight of their rider’s armour meant that cataphracts horses tired easily, and the lack of visibility and poor hearing of the riders due to their face-protecting helmets seems to have made them particularly prone to disorder. Consequently, cataphracts take a hit each time an ace is played whilst attempting to activate to move them two or more boxes, or to charge. This hit applies even in the event that the card is subsequently replaced by a general, and cannot be saved against.

Chariots in TtS! refers to those two and four horse heavier chariots that were used by the Carthaginians and Indians, amongst others. They are more stoutly built than light chariots, and typically carried crews of 3-4 men. They perform in much the same manner as the cavalry who eventually superseded them on the battlefield, as horses became larger and better able to carry riders.

Their crew are armed with either with javelin or bow (with 2 or 3 ammo respectively). rough terrain.

A commanding general is in overall command of an army. In armies such as those of the Spartans and

Macedonians, where there was an emphasis on heroic leadership, a commanding general usually led a command of his own, often from the front rank. In other armies, such as those of the Roman Republic and Empire, a commanding general may not have a command of his own, instead managing the battle from behind the lines, and perhaps moving to a point of crisis, later on in the battle. The loss of a commanding general is particularly keenly felt by his army, who lose three victory medals, rather than the two when lesser generals are slain.

They can never enter

Artillery can never

The elephants referred to in the basic rules are the small (now extinct) North African variety, as used by the Carthaginians, Numidians and Romans. They are assumed to be without a significant missile capability, and lacking an escort of light infantry.

Both African and Indian elephants can, additionally, be

escorted by light infantry.

Escorted elephants are accompanied by a screen of light infantry, who keep enemy skirmishers at a distance with their missile weapons and protect the vulnerable flanks of the beasts from attack.

Escorted elephants have greater “staying power” than their unescorted peers. They therefore become disordered after a first failed save (rather than rampaging), and rampage only after a second failed save. They are also able to shoot as bows, with three ammo. However, two medals (rather than the standard one) are surrendered when an escorted elephant is lost.

Fanatics are a rare subset of warband, and represent warriors inspired by religious fervour or by a sense of their own invulnerability. This could include some naked Galatians, the fiercest German tribesmen, or zealots

in the Jewish revolt.

In advanced TtS!, elephants can also be Indian.

revolt. In advanced TtS!, elephants can also be Indian. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January
revolt. In advanced TtS!, elephants can also be Indian. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January

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In TtS!, fanatics, like warband, are always deep units. When attempting their first charge of a game, if this is successful, fanatics may play two cards to hit (instead of the usual one). The only difference between fanatics and warband is that the former always hit on a 6+, even after they have become disordered.

Hoplites are the heavy infantry of the classical Greek world. They were exceptionally well protected for the time, with large shield, bronze helmet, linen or metal cuirass, and sometimes greaves. The long reach of their relatively long spears provides a tactical advantage against cavalry who are attacking them from the front.

Hoplite formations tended to drift to the right, as each man tried to tuck himself in behind his neighbour’s protective shield. Hoplite units can, therefore, move diagonally to the right without the standard difficult penalty. They are not permitted, however, to move diagonally to their left front. Hoplites can fight as deep units.

Indian elephants were generally larger and better trained than the African elephants in the basic rules, and consequently save on a 6+, rather than the 7+ of the African beast.

Javelinmen in TtS! describe those troops who are armed with a javelin and a relatively small shield, and who group loosely together to fight in the line of battle. These include and formed infantry with one ammo, such as Spanish scutarii or Samnites.

Legionaries represent the professional troops of the Romans, from the Polybian army in its triple axies formation, through the Empire until the later period when professional infantry was progressively replaced by infantry and cavalry of Germanic origin. They also include foreign troops trained and equipped to fight in the Roman manner. They have a relatively high save factor of between 5+ and 7+, depending upon the level of their experience, due to their superior drill, armour and large shields.

Legionaries (including spear-armed triarii, and velite or lanciarii light infantry) fought in highly flexible maniples or cohortes, and have an additional move activation not permitted to other troops:-

Move, permitting two legionary units within the same box to exchange places, or a legionary unit to exchange places with another unit facing the same direction, in the box in front or behind*

Legionaries begin a game with a single pila ammunition marker. Pila are a missile weapon, but unusually are thrown when the unit is frontally charged, or is charging an enemy unit, just prior to resolving the melee. It is therefore possible that the enemy may be disordered before the melee, with the consequent penalties in the melee phase. The pila ammo marker, unlike other ammo markers, cannot be replaced during play.

In games such as Roman Civil War battles, where the majority of units are legionaries, consider omitting pila in order to speed play.

Light infantry in TtS! refers to the infantry skirmishers that ancient generals often used to screen their armies, and to provide missile support. These include:-

Light Infantry archers, such as the famous Cretan mercenaries, and the Idumeans who served in the Roman army

Light Infantry slingers, such as the Carthaginian’s Balaeric mercenaries

Light infantry javelinmen, covering a wide range of skirmishers ranging from the Greek psiloi, Spanish caetrati and the Roman velite

Archers and slingers have three ammo, and javelinmen two ammo.

Light cavalry in TtS! refer to cavalry who were the eyes and ears of the army, off the battlefield, and fought on the battlefield primarily with ranged missile weapons. Light cavalry were always on the lookout for opportunity, however, and might descend upon the vulnerable flank or rear of an enemy unit, or to loot a camp.

Light cavalry are armed with either with javelin or bow (with two or three ammo, respectively). They can enter rough terrain boxes, but must halt upon doing so.

Typical light cavalry types were:-

Light cavalry javelinmen, such as Masinissa’s famous Numidians, Greek mercenary Tarantines and Late Roman Illyrians and Dalmatians

Light cavalry archers, mostly originating from the East and including the Parthians and the dread Huns

Light chariots refer to the light-weight two-man, two-horse chariots used by the ancient Britons and Egyptians, principally as fast-moving missile platforms. They perform exactly the same as the light cavalry that eventually replaced their battlefield role.

cavalry that eventually replaced their battlefield role. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page
cavalry that eventually replaced their battlefield role. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page

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Phalangitae are the drilled professional and semi-professional soldiers of Macedon and the Successor states. Equipped with 16’ to 20’ long sarissa pikes gripped two-handed, they fought shoulder-to-shoulder in exceptionally deep formations.

In TtS!, phalangitae always fight as deep units. When a unit of phalangitae, itself in clear terrain, both charges and hits a less-deep enemy unit which is also in clear terrain, the enemy must retreat, and cannot hit back, even if it saves.

Scythed chariots were sturdily constructed, and festooned with blades and scythes. They usually had a single crewman and four horses. Driven directly at enemy formations, the crewman might bail before contact, or swerve away if the enemy did not break and run. Although much beloved by despots from Asia Minor and Syria, the results they achieved in battle were distinctly mixed; often they inflicted more damage on their own side, than on the enemy.

Scythed chariots cannot enter any form of rough terrain. They can evade.

Scythed chariots need to build up momentum when charging. When charging 2 boxes, they may play 2 cards to hit. When charged, or when they are charging only into an adjacent box, they play a single card.

Sparabara are an Ancient Persian troop type, where the front rank soldiers carried a large shield and spear but all the following ranks were archers. Densely-packed sparabara archers could put out a very high volume of arrows, for which reason the Athenians charged them at the double, at Marathon. However, lacking personal shields, sparabara were vulnerable in close combat against determined opponents, as was demonstrated at Plataea.

Sparabara are deep units and start with three ammo. When they successfully activate to shoot, they expend one ammo but draw two to hit cards, instead of the usual one, so can potentially inflict two hits on a target. Sparabara count as in cover against missile fire, however any troops fighting against them count tactical advantage in melee.

Spearmen in TtS! describe those troops who are armed with a relatively long spear, used two handed, and a smallish shield, who group together closely to fight in the line of battle. The length of their spears provides a tactical advantage against cavalry who are attacking them from the front. These include the Picts and Welsh.

Thorakitae were a more heavily armed version of Thureophoroi, wearing new-fangled chain cuirasses. As with thureophoroi, they can be deployed either as a formed or as a deep formed javelin-armed unit, with one ammo, but they have a higher save of 6+.

Thureophoroi were Hellenistic mercenary infantry equipped with oval “door stop” shaped shields, spears and javelins. In TtS!, they can be deployed either as a formed or as a deep formed javelin-armed unit, with one ammo and a save of 7+.

Warband are masses of tribesmen, such as the Celts or Germans, or countrymen such as the warlike mobs of the Jewish revolt, fighting in large irregular masses. They are assumed to be led by chiefs and the more enthusiastic, better equipped warriors.

In TtS!, warband are always deep units. When attempting their first charge of a game, if this is successful, warband may play two cards to hit (instead of the usual one). See also fanatics.

cards to hit (instead of the usual one). See also fanatics. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
cards to hit (instead of the usual one). See also fanatics. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

3.4 Advanced set up

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In the advanced games, this replaces the setup section in the Basic rules.

First, players decide whether they to play the standard “fair and open battle”, or a scenario.

Terrain is chosen and placed as described either according to the rules on terrain positioning, or according to the scenario description.

Deployment

One player on each side cuts the deck, and the pip value of the card is modified as described in scouting. The highest becomes the “active” side, and the other, the “inactive”.

The inactive player places his baggage markers. These must be in separate boxes, within the row of boxes along his baseline. At least one of the markers must be placed in the central zone. A baggage marker may replace any existing terrain in a box. Once the inactive player has finished placing his baggage, then the active player places his baggage.

The inactive player now places any field fortifications, and then the active player does likewise.

Players draw a number of Stratagem cards from their Stratagem deck, according to the number purchased in their order of battle.

One of the inactive players then deploys a command somewhere in the first 2 rows of boxes nearest him (if the table is 7 or less boxes deep), or first 3 rows (if 8 boxes or more deep). No units may be placed in the extreme left or right columns. All units within a command must be placed in adjacent boxes. Next, one of the active players places a command, and this alternating process continues until all of the commands have

beenodeployed on the table.

(Mention off table units)

have beenodeployed on the table. (Mention off table units) To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January
have beenodeployed on the table. (Mention off table units) To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January

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3.5 Optional rules

These optional rules are not recommended for novice players, who will already have plenty to take on board in their first few games. However, they add “colour” and players are likely to enjoy them once they have become familiar with the main rules.

Deep units include all phalangitae, sparabara and warband, and some hoplites, thureophoroi and thorakitae, amongst others. Historically these formations were often around 16 ranks deep, and formations 32 and 50 ranks deep are recorded.

They are represented on the table by a formation deeper than usual, typically 3 or 4 ranks, or more ranks still

if the miniatures are available.

As in the basic rules, deep units become disordered after failing a first save, and double-disordered after a second. They are lost if they should fail a further save.

The depth of a deep unit makes it particularly challenging for them to manoeuvre, or move or charge when in rough terrain, and so these difficult manoeuvres only succeed when the card played is two pips greater than

would normally be required for a normal move or charge.

Great Generals are the military prodigies of their age: Epaminondas, Alexander or Caesar. They are always the commander-in-chief of their army.

(Is this in the right place?)

In the instance that a unit has failed to activate, a great general may make an additional special command move of up to 3 boxes, including diagonals, to join it and allow it to draw a replacement card. This special move is not permitted in the event that a replacement card has already been drawn for the unit by a sub- general who was already present in the box.

The special command move is in addition to any command move made at the beginning of the player turn.

Heroes represent the exceptionally brave unit commanders, junior officers and rankers whose names sometimes come down to us in the surviving ancient texts: the centurions Scaeva at Dyrrachium and Crastinus at Pharsalus, and the auxiliary cavalryman Longinus at the siege of Jerusalem, for example. Their heroic behaviour can inspire a unit and reverse a failing situation.

Heroes are assigned to units at the outset of the game, when indicated by a scenario. Once per game, they

permit their unit to retake either a failed charge test, or a failed saving roll, and are then removed from play. In

a campaign, heroes survive their act of heroism on a 3+ card, and can be used again in the next battle.

Orbis is a defensive formation in which the troops of a formed infantry unit are drawn up, facing outwards in all directions. The advantage of being in orbis is that a unit counts as having no flanks or rear. Units in orbis, however, cannot charge. To form orbis, or form line from orbis, a unit must make a difficult move.

Returning evaders Unlike in the basic game, units that evade, or retreat off the table as a result of combat, may return to it. They re-enter into a box within the zone from which they departed, in exactly the same manner as reserves (see below).

When units evade or retreat off the table an appropriate number of victory medals must be surrendered. These medals are replaced, once they return to the table.

Scouting Armies which included a greater proportion of light cavalry were at a considerable advantage in terms of locating the enemy. After the terrain has been set up, when the deck of cards is cut to determine which side will first become active. The pip value of the card drawn by each side is modified upwards by the number of light cavalry and/or light chariot units in their order of battle. In the event of a draw, the side with the highest total number of cavalry units goes first; if this is a draw, again, cut the deck afresh. The side with the higher score becomes active, and the inactive side must deploy a command first.

This rule makes it more probable that the army with more light cavalry (which were invaluable for reconnaissance) will be able to deploy more advantageously, and move first.

Under-strength Armies in the field often suffered considerable losses from hardship, disease and in battle, greatly reducing their numbers of effective combatants.

Under-strength cohorts can be modelled in TTS! by representing them with a unit containing around half of the number of miniatures that a normally-sized unit would contain. They fight as normal units but do not draw a saving card, so any hit inflicted upon is effective.

Before a game, a pair of under-strength units of similar type can be combined to form a normal unit. In this case they take on the qualities of the poorer unit. So, if an under-strength cohort of seasoned legionaries is combined with a veteran legionary cohort, they would fight, together, as a seasoned cohort.

cohort, they would fight, together, as a seasoned cohort. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January
cohort, they would fight, together, as a seasoned cohort. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January

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Testudo is the Roman formation, much beloved of Hollywood (and British!) film-makers, where Roman legionaries form a shell of shields to protect themselves against attacks from all direction, including from above. Historically, this formation, which is only available to Roman legionaries, was used to assault fortifications. In TTS! it reduces the standard +2/-2 (defender/attacker) tactical advantage when charging field fortifications to +1/-1, and confers a +1 modifier on saves vs. missile attacks. Despite what one sees in the movies, however, testudo was not a viable combat formation and troops in testudo are at tactical disadvantage in melee in all other circumstances other than when charging field fortifications (-1/+1 on saves). To form testudo, or form line from testudo, a unit must make a difficult move.

Veteran units represent those formations who, through a mixture of battle, campaigning and training have become markedly more effective than the average. They receive a

Raw units represent those formations whose training and experience are of a markedly poorer quality than the average.

Macedonian companions, Thessalian and some Byzantine cavalry regularly fought in wedge

Wedge

formation. Wedges were designed to be highly manoeuvrable, and could change direction far more easily than could a line, turning 90 or 180 degrees. Accordingly, wedges disregard the difficult penalty when moving or charging diagonally. Where two wedges share a box, one should be positioned slightly ahead of the other, to indicate that it is the leading unit. To form wedge, or form line from wedge, a unit must make a difficult move.

or form line from wedge, a unit must make a difficult move. To the Strongest! ©Simon
or form line from wedge, a unit must make a difficult move. To the Strongest! ©Simon

3.6 Stratagems

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Stratagems are an additional section of optional rules that add even more colour to the basic rules. They represent the ploys that generals adopted to gain an advantage on the battlefield, and the occasional random event that could change the course of a battle.

Stratagems may be purchased from the army list, when building an army, or awarded as part of a scenario. Once the battlefield has been set up, and before deployment, each player draws a card for every stratagem he has purchased in his army list, from the Stratagem deck, which is composed of the court cards left over when the activation decks are built. This should have 26 cards; two of each of the court cards, and 2 jokers.

Jack of Hearts- Forced march

Jack of Clubs- Delay

Jack of Diamonds- Confusion

Jack of Spades- Treachery!

Queen of Hearts- Where in Hades did that come from?

Queen of Clubs- Cry havoc, and loose the pigs of war!

Queen of Diamonds- Inclement weather

Queen of Spades- Tonight we dine in hell!

King of Hearts- Ambush

King of Clubs- Flank march

King of Diamonds- Reserves

King of Spades- Lost!

Joker- Player’s choice

The first type of stratagem card must be played just before deployment commences:-

Forced march (Jack of Hearts) is a stratagem which enables a player to place a unit in an advanced position at the outset of a battle, perhaps to seize a critical piece of terrain, or to deliver an early attack early on in the battle. A single unit may be placed in a box in the 3 rd row from the player (if the table is 7 or fewer rows deep) or the 4 th row (if 8 or more). This takes place before any other units of either side are deployed.

The second type of card is played right at the end of deployment, once all commands are on the table.

Delay (Jack of Clubs)

Misleading directions, provided by a false deserter in your employ, delay the

arrival of an enemy command on the battlefield. All the units in the command must move one box back. Any units in the rearmost row of boxes are removed from the table and placed into the enemy

reserve zone, behind the location where they were formerly deployed. If impassable terrain should prevent any units from falling back, then they may remain where they are.

The remaining ten types of stratagem cards are retained until used during play. Until required, the card or cards are best placed under one of the players baggage markers, so that it doesn’t get accidently shuffled into the deck with the numbered cards. The remaining stratagems include:-

Confusion (Jack of Diamonds) causes any one successful activation card that a player on the enemy team has just played, to fail, ending that command’s turn (unless, possibly, an enemy general is in a position to intervene)

Treachery! (Jack of Spades) can be played at any time when the enemy declares that he will activate a unit. It must be played before the enemy player actually plays an activation card. The player of the stratagem card will, instead of the enemy, decide how the unit will be activated; he could nominate it to move in any legal manner, or charge, for example. The enemy player will play the activation card and, if the activation is successful, may continue to activate other units within that command.

Where in Hades did that come from? (Queen of Hearts) enables a player to place a previously- unnoticed area of broken ground within a box containing clear terrain, into which an enemy unit is currently moving or charging. This can be valuable as it may, for example, slow the advance or halt the charge of enemy cavalry or reduce the impact of charging phalangitae. If placed in the path of chariots or scythed chariots, it actually prevents them from entering the box

Cry havoc, and loose the pigs of war! represent the use of one of a range of obscure instruments of war such as caltrops, spiked chains, incendiary pigs, Palestinian clubs and concealed pits that were occasionally deployed on the battlefield by well-read (or desperate) ancient generals. The card may be played when any friendly infantry unit is charged by enemy mounted, scythed chariots or elephants, before they take the charge activation test. The potential enemy charge is cancelled, and

test. The potential enemy charge is cancelled, and To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014
test. The potential enemy charge is cancelled, and To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014

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the chargers must make a save or become disordered. After they have done this, the card is discarded

Inclement weather, perhaps a sudden shower of rain, dust storm or the glare of a low sun, temporarily halts missile fire. This card prevents archers and ballistae from shooting during the entire player turn in which it is played

Tonight we dine in hell! (Queen of Spades) Perhaps in response to an enemy atrocity, a desire for loot or simply due to an excess of mead, a single unit, selected by the player, comes to the battle exceptionally highly motivated. The player should write down which unit he has chosen before deployment. When the card is played, the unit receives a hero, unless it already has one, and may remove any one disorder marker that is on the unit. The unit may not, however, be rallied for the remainder of the battle.

The next four stratagems all require the player to not deploy one of his units at the start of the game. The unit selected may not be either elephants or scythed chariots. The unit, if in a single-unit command, may be accompanied by its general. The activation tests required to bring a unit onto the table will either be made by the command from which the unit was taken, or by its own general if in a single unit command. It may be apparent to the other player, because of the off-table unit, that one of the below stratagems is in play. However, even when making activation attempts the owning player does not need to advise which stratagem card or cards he has, and indeed there can be considerable advantage in maintaining an air of suspense as to where the missing unit actually is

Ambush A player with this stratagem may conceal a single unit of light infantry or light cavalry/chariots in ambush in any once piece of terrain that blocks line of sight, including hills, or (infantry only) in an area of broken terrain, anywhere on his half of the table. He must record where the unit is hiding. The unit will be placed on the table either once it has been activated by the owning player in the normal manner, or in the instant that any enemy unit moves adjacent to the unit

Flank march is a stratagem that enables a unit, marching off-table, to suddenly appear on the enemy’s wing. The unit arrives in any turn of the owning player’s choice, after the first, in which their player plays an activation card of 4 pips or greater value. The unit arrives, facing onto the table, in any table-edge box on that flank, which is not occupied by an enemy unit

Reserves are a stratagem that enables a unit to remain off-table at the beginning of a game. The owning player must specify behind which zone of his base line the unit is in reserve (i.e. left, centre or right). The unit arrives in any turn of the owning player’s choice, after the first, in which their player plays an activation card of 4 pips or greater value. The unit arrives, facing onto the table, in any table- edge box in that zone, which is not occupied by an enemy unit

Lost! A lost unit is deemed to have become separated from the rest of the army before the battle, and is wandering in the area of the battlefield. The lost unit arrives in any turn of the owning player’s choice, after the first, in which their player plays an activation card of 4 pips or greater value. The zone where the unit appears is determined randomly:-

1. Left flank

2. Left flank

3. Friendly left zone

4. Friendly centre zone

5. Friendly right zone

6. Right flank

7. Right Flank

8. Enemy left zone

9. Enemy centre zone

10. Enemy right zone

It can arrive, facing onto the table, in any table-edge box, which is not occupied by an enemy unit.

The final stratagem is:-

Player’s Choice (Joker) This card enables the player to choose his preferred stratagem from amongst all the other stratagems. This must be done before deployment; the joker is replaced in the pack, and the appropriate court card is taken, instead.

the pack, and the appropriate court card is taken, instead. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
the pack, and the appropriate court card is taken, instead. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

Tactical Advantage

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Tactical advantage describes whether a unit benefits from a bonus (or penalty) to its saving rolls, either due to terrain, to its formation or to the nature of a particular weapon with which it is equipped. It is expressed as +1/-1, where the first number is the modifier to the pip value of any saving cards that the defender may draw, and the second that of the attacker.

Normal tactical advantages due to terrain include:-

Infantry uphill, defending vs. charge

Any, defending vs. charge across a stream

Any, in rough going, defending vs. charging mounted or phalangitae

Any, charging mounted or phalangitae who are in rough going

Troops defending field fortifications gain a special +2/-2 tactical advantage:-

Any, charged across field fortifications

Tactical advantage related to weapons include:-

Cavalry vs. infantry with long spear or pike, frontally

Tactical advantage due to formation include:-

Any troops fighting sparabara

Any troops fighting units in testudo, except across fortifications

Example: A Roman auxiliary cavalry unit is charging uphill against a unit of Goths, and

Example: A Roman auxiliary cavalry unit is charging uphill against a unit of Goths, and inflicts a hit. The Goths would normally need a 7 to save, but instead need a 6 because of the hill. Saving, they in response inflict a hit upon the cavalry, who also normally save on a 7 but instead require an 8, due to the hill. If,

instead, the infantry were charging downhill against the cavalry, tactical advantage would not apply.

due to the hill. If, instead, the infantry were charging downhill against the cavalry, tactical advantage
against the cavalry, tactical advantage would not apply. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014
against the cavalry, tactical advantage would not apply. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014

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3.7 Advice for aspiring generals

At the start of any command’s turn, a player should remember to use a command move to position its general in the most useful position for the activations that will shortly follow. The general might need, for example, to lead a critical charge, or bring up a unit that has fallen behind, or rally a disordered unit.

In To the Strongest!, attacking units do not receive a bonus for the presence of a general. However, the presence of a general in a box enables a player to draw a replacement card should a charge fail, or a replacement rally card in the event of a setback. This greatly reduces the risk of a turn ending in the box that the general is in.

After this, careful thought should be given to the order of activation of the units within the command, in order that the most critical moves are made before a failed activation ends the command’s turn. There is at least a 10% chance of the command’s turn ending each time a unit or units are activated, and a rather greater chance of failure when any are activated a second or third time. For this reason, it is usually best to activate most units in a command once, before returning to activate any for a rather riskier second or third time. It is also often worth activating any units in the box with the general, early in the sequence, due to his replacement card.

Example of play

In the below example, it is the Roman player’s move. He decides to activate a command led by his tribune, and consisting of 3 cohorts of legionaries, one of foederati javelinmen and one of auxiliary infantry.

one of foederati javelinmen and one of auxiliary infantry. 1. The player begins by using his

1. The player begins by using his command move to reposition the command’s general with the 3 rd and

4 th

cohorts, whom he intends will spearhead his attack

and 4 th cohort.

2. Next, the player activates the 3 rd

They play a 4 pip card and advance 1 box.

The

general elects to move forward with them

3. The player decides to bring up his Foederati light infantry javelinmen and the 5 th cohort, as he wants to guard the right flank of the attacking legionaries. He succeeds on a 2 pip card

4. Encouraged by the low card drawn in the previous turn, he successfully activates the javelin-armed Foederati with a 3 pip card, to shoot at the Cherusci warband. The first of the foederati’s two ammo

Cherusci warband. The first of the f oederati’s two ammo To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
Cherusci warband. The first of the f oederati’s two ammo To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

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markers is removed. He plays an 8 pip card (on his baseline) to hit, and so the Cherusci need to make a save (on their baseline), which they fail on a 2, becoming disordered

5. To protect his left flank, he charges the Chatti light infantrywith the 2 nd Tungrians. These need a 3 or more to charge, due to the rough terrain of the wood, and succeed on an 8. The Chatti could choose to stand and fight, as they are in rough terrain, but instead elect to evade. Paying a 6 pip card (on their baseline), they succeed and fall back 1 box

6. Having advanced all his units, the general finally decides to attack the Chatti warband with the 3 rd Cohort. He needs to play a 5 or greater pip card (exceeding the earlier 4) in order to succeed, and luckily plays a 7. He then plays a 4 pip card (on his baseline) to hit, missing. The Chatti hit back with a 7 pip card (on their baseline), forcing the 3 rd Cohort to attempt a save. Requiring a 6, the Romans instead play an ace (on their baseline), fail and become disordered

Rather than attempt a further attack with his now-disordered unit, the Roman player decides that he must either rally the disordered 3 rd Cohort, or exchange its position with the fresh 4 th Cohort. This latter would be a difficult manoeuvre, with a -1 penalty and hence requiring a 9 or 10 pip card, whereas the rally would succeed on an 8 (one greater than the previous 7 pip card). Opting for the rally he plays a 4 pip, failing, but uses the general’s ability to replace the card and succeeds on the second attempt, with a 10 pip.

Example of permitted charges

second attempt, with a 10 pip. Example of permitted charges In the above diagram:- 1. 1

In the above diagram:-

1. 1 st Cohort can attempt to charge the Nervii to its front

2. 2 nd Cohort cannot charge, due to the presence of the 1 st cohort in front of it. However, if the 1 st Cohort

was to charge and be destroyed in combat, 2

nd

could then attempt to charge

3. 3 rd Cohort cannot charge, because there are friendly units to both its front and on its flank, and units

are not allowed to charge through such a diagonal gap

4. 4 th Cohort cannot charge the Nervii, because it is not facing them. However, it could use a move activation to turn 90 degrees anti-clockwise, and then attempt to charge; this would be a flank charge

5. 5 th Cohort can attempt to charge the Nervii; this would be a rear charge

6. 6 th Cohort can attempt to charge the Nervii diagonally. This would be a flank charge, rather than a rear charge, as they are not directly behind the Nervii

a rear charge, as they are not directly behind the Nervii To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
a rear charge, as they are not directly behind the Nervii To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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7. 7 th cohort can charge the Nervii diagonally, because there is no enemy unit to its front

How a charge/melee can be resolved inside 10 seconds

The card-based rules enable melees to be resolved rather more quickly than in most other systems. With practise, a melee can usually be resolved inside 10 seconds.

1. Charge - the attacker plays a card to activate a unit to charge

2. Evade - Some defenders may be able to evade. If the evade is successful, and the box is now vacant, the attacker must move in, and the melee is concluded

3. Attacker hits if the charge was successful the attacker plays a card to hit, requiring either a 6 or 8 hit depending upon whether it is formed, or unformed/disordered.

4. Defender saves if hit, the defender must make a save. Each unit has a save factor, sometimes modified by terrain. If the defender fails, the unit may be disordered, or lost. If lost, and the box is now vacant, the attacker must move in, and that melee is concluded

5. Defender hits back assuming it has survived, the defending unit hits back, again most likely needing a 6 or more to hit

6. Attacker saves If hit, the attacker saves using its save factor with any terrain modifications. If the attacking unit is lost, the defender does not move in to its box

unit is lost, the defender does not move in to its box To the Strongest! ©Simon
unit is lost, the defender does not move in to its box To the Strongest! ©Simon

4.0 Competitive Play

4.1 Points Values and Saves

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Many players will want to fight battles with armies that are broadly matched in terms of combat strength, or an approximate measure of how powerful one army is, compared to another, for a scenario.

Below are point values for the troop-types used in TtS! Unit costs are normally coloured red in order to distinguish them from saving card numbers. Costs in parentheses are for deep units.

Players should each build an army to an agreed total points total. 100 points gives a good two player game, playable in 1-2 hours. 130 points will be enough to keep four players interested.

 

Save

Cost

Artillery

8+

6

Auxiliaries

6+

7

Cataphracts

5+

10

Cavalry/chariots

7+

8

Chariots, scythed

7+

5

Downgrade any unit to raw*

-1

-1(-2)

Elephants, African (escorted)

7+

6(10)

Elephants, Indian (escorted)

6+

7(11)

Field fortifications, per box edge

2

Generals

3+

6

Heroes

2

Hoplites (deep)

6+

7(14)

Javelinmen (deep)

7+

6(12)

Legionaries

6+

8

Light cavalry/chariots, javelin or bow

7+

5

Light infantry archers, slingers or javelinmen

7+

4

Phalangitae (deep)

7+

(14)

Sparabara (deep)

6+

(12)

Spearmen (deep)

7+

6(12)

Stratagems

3

Upgrade a formed unit to veteran*

+1

+2(+4)

Upgrade an unformed unit to veteran*

+1

+1

Warbands (deep)

7+

(12)

Warbands (deep), fanatics

7+

(16)

Armies should include one baggage marker per 50 points, or fraction of 50, in their army list.

marker per 50 points, or fraction of 50, in their army list. To the Strongest! ©Simon
marker per 50 points, or fraction of 50, in their army list. To the Strongest! ©Simon

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*It costs more to upgrade formed units to veteran, than it does lights, as they become rather more powerful.

Conversely, light units downgraded to raw include those units poorly trained or equipped for close

Conversely, light units downgraded to raw include those units poorly trained or equipped for close combat

(typically shield-less and without a sword).

to raw include those units poorly trained or equipped for close combat (typically shield-less and without
combat (typically shield-less and without a sword). To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page
combat (typically shield-less and without a sword). To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page

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4.2 Army Lists

Army lists provide an excellent and quick way to build an army which has a composition broadly similar to

those used in historical conflicts.

100 points should give a good-sized game, easily playable in an evening.

Below are two sample army lists:-

Early Principate (or Early Imperial) Roman 27BC to 96AD

Generals (mounted)

3-5 @6

Equites Singulares- cavalry, veteran, javelin, save 6+

0-1* @10

Equites Alares- cavalry, veteran, javelin, save 6+

1-3 @10

Equites Cohortales- cavalry, javelin, save 7+

0-2 @8

Equites Numidarum or Maurorum- light cavalry, javelin, save 7+

0-2 @5

Equites Sagitarii- light cavalry, bow, save 7+

0-1** @5

Lanciarii- light infantry, javelinmen, veteran, save 6+

0-1 @8

Lanciarii- light infantry, javelinmen, save 7+

0-1 @4

Praetorianii- legionaries, save 6+

1-3* @7

Legionarii- legionaries, save 6+

5-10 @8

Upgrade praetorianii or legionarii to veterans, save 5+

Up to half @2

Downgrade legionarii to raw, as recently promoted Marines, save 7+

Up to half @-1

Auxiliarii - auxiliaries, save 6+

3-6 @7

Upgrade auxiliaries to veterans, save 5+

Up to half @2

Downgrade auxiliaries to raw, save 7+

Up to half @-1

Auxiliary archers- light infantry, archers, save 7+

0-1 @4

Gladiators- as javelinmen, veteran, save 6+

1-2*** @8

Armed or rioting civilians- as javelinmen, raw, save 8+

0-2*** @5

Symmachiarii- as warband, save 7+

0-1*** @12

Symmachiarii- light infantry, slingers or archers, save 7+

0-1 @4

Symmachiarii- light infantry, javelinmen, save 7+

0-2 @4

Servus castrensis - light infantry, javelinmen, raw, save 8+

0-2 @3

Ballistarii

0-2 @6

Mount Ballistae in carts

Any or all @1

Field fortifications, protecting up to 5 box edges along the baseline

0-5 @2

Stratagem- draw a card to pick 1 from the list of stratagems

0-1 @3

*Minima applies only when some troops of this type are fielded

**Only in Eastern armies

***Only in Western armies

fielded **Only in Eastern armies ***Only in Western armies To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January
fielded **Only in Eastern armies ***Only in Western armies To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January

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This list covers the early Roman Empire, from the beginning of the reign of Augustus 27BC to the end of the Flavian dynasty in 96AD.

The Early Imperial Romans are a classic wargaming army that I’ve loved passionately, ever since Airfix brought out their 20mm range, in their plastic pteurge hot-pants.

Equites singulars are the mounted element of the Praetorian Guard. Equites Alares are the troopers of the auxiliary alae, the pick of the auxiliary forces. Equites Cohortales, on the other hand, are the mounted elements of the mixed auxiliary cohorts, temporarily combined into cohort-sized formations, for the battlefield, and not as well drilled, well mounted, or as “smart”.

Lanciarii represent a provincial governor’s or general’s bodyguard, as described in Josephus, composed of legionaries but armed with spears, rather than pila, and perhaps more lightly armoured. Lanciarii may also be deployed as un-armoured light infantry, such as those depicted on the Principia reliefs at Mainz. Either form of lanciarii may exchange places with legionaries, per the description on legionaries.

During the Civil Wars, marines from the Italian fleets were twice formed into legions (I and II Adiutrix). They seem to have been highly motivated, not least because their pay would have been tripled! Raw legionaries might otherwise refer to very recently raised cohorts, or cohorts with unusually poor morale.

Symmachiarii are barbarian auxiliaries, recruited to boost numbers in a crisis, and fighting in native gear under their own leaders. Such irregular clubmen and slingers are depicted on Hadrian’s column.

Armed civilians are included for the rare occasions when fighting takes place within a city, as in Rome, in 69AD. These mobs will include paramilitary vigiles, as well as gang members and civilian volunteers, some of whom would have likely been equipped with shields distributed from temples or armouries. As well as javelins they would have utilised improvised throwing weapons, such as half-bricks and roof tiles.

Servus castrensis are the numerous military slaves who supported each legion. Equipped and trained with javelins they would, in extremis, defend the camp. They must initially be deployed within the camp.

British 550BC to 407AD

Generals (in light chariot, on horseback or on foot)

2-3 @6

Light chariots or light cavalry - javelin, save 7+

4-8 @5

Upgrade light chariots, light cavalry or warband to veterans, save 6+

0-2** @1

Warband (deep), save 7+

5-10 @12

Upgrade warband to veterans, save 6+

0-1** @(2)

Downgrade warband to raw, as mobs, save 8+

Up to half @-2

Warbands, fanatics, save 7+

0-1* @16

Light infantry, slingers, save 7+

0-4 @4

Light Infantry, javelinmen, save 7+

0-2 @4

Wagon laager, protecting up to 5 box edges along the baseline

0-5 @2

Stratagem- draw a card to pick one from the list of stratagems

0-2 @3

*Only up to and including 61AD

** The British may either upgrade up to two chariots/light cavalry or one warband. In the latter case, this represents noblemen dismounting to stiffen the warband.

this represents noblemen dismounting to stiffen the warband. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014
this represents noblemen dismounting to stiffen the warband. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014

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This list covers the British from the appearance of chariot burials in the 6 th century BC, through the Roman conquest and (in the case of the Brigantines) up until the departure of the Roman field army in 407AD.

Chariots would have been used early in the period, and light cavalry, later. The Scots were still using chariots as late as 84AD, but these may have fallen out of use earlier, south of Hadrian’s Wall.

The option to upgrade one unit to veterans represents the warriors of a royal household. These can either fight mounted in chariots, or alight to provide the front ranks of a warband. The author represents dismounted veterans as armoured.

The option to downgrade some warband to raw, as mobs, represents occasions when entire tribes went on the march with their families, as during the Boudiccan revolt. These might be represented by poorly equipped figures, including older men, women and youths. With such a low save, these are not the most effective warriors, and might be best left to garrison the wagon laager, if available.

Fanatics are warriors inspired and led by druids, whose final stronghold in Anglesey was destroyed by Suetonius Paulinus in 61AD. Fanatics should include women brandishing torches, in robes of deathly black and with dishevelled hair, alongside druids raising their hands to heaven. These represent a terrific modelling opportunity!

There is little evidence for the presence of separate units of Celtic light infantry on the battlefield. Earlier continental Celtic armies (notably the Galatians) were often out-shot by their Roman foes. It is, however, clear that numerous slingers were employed in the defence of hill forts. A small number of light infantry javelinmen have been included for those players who feel they should be present on the battlefield.

players who feel they should be present on the battlefield. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
players who feel they should be present on the battlefield. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

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4.3 Scenarios

The standard scenario is "fair and open battle". In this, two armies, fully deployed, stare each other down across a plain, on which a number of terrain pieces are scattered. This is the “vanilla” ancient battle.

To add variety, though, ten other scenarios are available. These are numbered, so that they can be randomly selected, if desired. In the scenarios, terrain is positioned as per the terrain rules, unless otherwise specified:-

1. The plain. A battlefield with unusually few terrain features. In this scenario, half of the terrain pieces each player deploys must be clear pieces

2. Hill country. A battlefield where the terrain is unusually dense. Neither player may deploy clear terrain pieces. Terrain pieces are only removed when a card is both red and six pip or greater

3. Coastal. The coast, or bank of a major river, runs across one flank of the battlefield, filling the edge columns of boxes

4. Meeting Engagement. Neither army is expecting a battle to take place, today, but one happens, anyhow! All formed troops must save or begin the game disordered. Any unformed troops may deploy one box further in than usual

5. Guerrillas in the mist. Dense fog means that both armies stumble across each other, unexpectedly. This scenario is exactly as 4 above, except that both players must write down their deployments and reveal simultaneously

6. Hold the gap! A smaller force attempts to resist a more numerous enemy, with the assistance of challenging terrain. Cut the deck to determine who will be the defender. Terrain is deployed as described in the hill country scenario. The defender must surrender units equivalent to at least 20% of its army points, but may deploy one box further in than usual, and gains 3 additional victory medals

7. Flank march. One army may have marched a substantial force onto their enemy’s flank- but where will it arrive? Cut to determine which player is the flank marcher. He must select a command which can be either held in reserve, or flank march on one wing, or the other. The player must write down on which flank it will arrive, or in which zone, if in reserve. The flank-marching player moves first

8. Ambush! One or other army is attacked in the act of forming up- cut the deck to determine which. After it has deployed, each of its formed units must save, or begin the game disordered. The surprised army is given three additional victory medals

9. Fortified position. One army has prepared field fortifications, cut the deck to determine which. It must surrender either two formed units or four unformed units of its choice, and receives the equivalent point value in field fortifications. It may deploy one box further in than usual

10. Time is of the essence! One army must win the battle quickly, perhaps because it is running out of water, night is falling or substantial enemy reinforcements expected. This scenario uses the fair and open battle deployment. Cut the deck to determine who will be the attacker. The attacker moves first, and starts the game with three extra victory medals, but must surrender a victory medal at the beginning of each turn after the first

victory medal at the beginning of each turn after the first To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
victory medal at the beginning of each turn after the first To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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4.4 Club games

Because it is quick to set up and quick to play, the To the Strongest! rule set is extremely suitable for use in a club or tournament game.

Two different approaches are proposed to setting up such games. In either case, the scale of the miniatures, the grid and unit size should be agreed in advance by the players. Players will usually each bring an army of an agreed point value, although sometimes one player can provide a pair of matched historical foes. Players should also agree who will bring the terrain.

Standard approach

In this approach, a scenario is randomly selected, and terrain positioned (and some pieces removed) using the terrain positioning rules. If using this approach, in order to meet the scenario terms, players should bring nine terrain pieces each, of which three should be clear terrain.

The players then cut the deck to choose which long edge of the table they will play from, and who will move first, unless this is specified in the scenario.

Bid approach

This method provides an extremely quick and very fair way of setting up a game, but will often result in a player using the army that his opponent has brought to the table, and so won’t suit every player.

The terrain, the scenario and which long edge of the table that the armies deploy upon can be decided either by the host, or by agreement between the players.

The players then each secretly choose a card from their deck. The pip value of the card represents their bid for choice of army. The player with the highest-numbered card can choose which army he wishes to play, but surrenders that many victory medals from the army’s starting victory medal total. In the event of a draw, cut the deck to determine which player gets the choice of army.

the deck to determine which player gets the choice of army. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,
the deck to determine which player gets the choice of army. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller,

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Part V Campaign Rules

In “Setting up a Wargames Campaign, Tony Bath wrote “no real-life general could limit himself to the purely

tactical problems of the battlefield

horizons”. A campaign explains why a particular Aquilonian army is only half the size of the invading horde from Cimmeria, but largely composed of veterans. It explains why a Spartan army has marched deep into Attica, and why the Athenian army is grimly watching it from the Long Walls. And why the army of the Huns has camped in the plains of Northern France, and why is Aetius’ opposing Roman army, largely of Germans.

The battles fought in a wargames campaign can be very much more rewarding than a series of disconnected games, as it creates an exciting narrative within which such battles can take place. A general who falls whilst leading his troops to his fifth successive glorious victory, will be remembered (and mourned) far more than a general who cost 5 army points earlier in the evening, when the army list was drawn up.

The campaign system attached has been designed to support either a two or four player campaign, set in an ancient or medieval world.

The role of the umpire

A TtS! campaign can be run without a dedicated umpire. However if an umpire is available, he can add a

great deal of uncertainty to proceedings, by facilitating hidden movement, disseminating rumours and leaving players unsure whether events such as plagues and fires are natural, or caused by enemy intervention.

Moreover an umpire could produce a journal recording events, for posterity.

Generating a map

Maps can be randomly generated, using the deck of 80 playing cards used with the TtS! rules.

To generate a map:-

a campaign is the way in which the wargamer general widens his

For a 2 player campaign, a player lays out nine rows of seven cards, for a total of 63 cards

For a 4 player campaign, a player lays out nine rows of 9 cards, with the corner cards omitted, for a total of 77 cards

Higher numbered cards represent more difficult terrain, and will be more challenging for armies to traverse. The red cards represent farmland, interspersed with low hills and forests in the case of the higher numbered reds. The lower-numbered black cards represent heath, and the higher numbered hills, swamps, desert and mountains. Ten-pip black cards represent impassable mountains. The player dealing the cards may choose

to

exchange a few cards with neighbouring cards, in order to group nearby higher-valued black cards together

to

form mountain ranges.

Next, lay a piece of string across the cards to represent the line of a major river. This will pass across the map from one side to the other, along the edges between the two lowest numbered adjacent boxes on one side of the board, and the two lowest adjacent boxes on the other.

Players now cut cards for choice of from which side of the map they will play. Each player then places a coin to representing his capital city in the lowest numbered box in the end row. In the event of a draw, he may choose between the two (or even three) lowest boxes. Next, he places a smaller coin representing his first minor city in the lowest numbered space in the second row, which is not adjacent to the capital. Finally he places another representing his third minor city, in the lowest numbered space of the third row that is not adjacent to the other minor city.

For the two-player campaign, a player should lay another piece of string representing the main trunk road from one capital to the other, following whatever route seems most practical. In the case of the four player game, two roads will link capitals on opposite edges of the table, crossing somewhere near the centre of the table. Roads should pass through relatively low numbered terrain boxes, representing good road-building terrain, whilst remaining reasonably direct. It should pass over the flat sides of the boxes, rather than going through corners. Link any of the minor cities not already on the line of the trunk road, to it, by the easiest route.

Each player may now position two fortresses as he chooses, perhaps to protect roads or to cover gaps between the areas of difficult terrain.

The player with the best drawing skills should now turn the chart into an illustrated map on a copy of the grid provided. This should reflect the terrain types of the armies that the players have chosen, so that, for example, map areas on representing an Arab Kingdom, might be illustrated as mountains, deserts, wadis and oases, depending upon the pip numbers and colours of the boxes.

depending upon the pip numbers and colours of the boxes. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
depending upon the pip numbers and colours of the boxes. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

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Write the pip number from each black card into the top right hand corner of the appropriate box, in black ink. Halve the values of the red cards, rounding down, and write the numbers in the appropriate boxes, in red ink.

Players should work together to name the cities, fortresses and terrain features. Names can be made up, or copied from history or fiction. It can be entertaining to use names linked by a theme, as in the map shown below. This can be a common theme or different themes for each player, related to the nations from which their armies are drawn. Named villages or terrain features of no military significance can be added for interest, and to provide names for the battles that will most certainly follow!

Each player now recruits an army to an agreed point value, either selected from an army list or from the available miniatures available to the players, using the point values listed in section XXX. 150 points might be a good starting size.

One unit should be designated as a garrison for each of the fortresses, and two units as garrisons for each of the cities, and the capital. The balance of the forces, including the best units, will form a field army based in the capital. It is desirable to link units with the place whence they are based, as it both adds character and simultaneously reminds the player where they will return to at the end of the campaign year. A unit in a fortress in a Late Imperial Roman-themed kingdom might, for example, be named the “Castris Ghori Limitanei” or “Sagittarii Ghorii”.

The bases of all the units can be recorded on paper, or markers can be made and placed on the map.

The campaign year

Random events

Player turns

Promotion/Attrition

Recruitment- both players recruit new units

Palace coup

Random events

Random events occur at the beginning of each year. Draw one card for each player.

Jack of Hearts- famine, agricultural lands produce only a single Talent, this year

Queen of Hearts- bumper harvest, agricultural lands produce three Talents this year

King of Hearts- cornucopia! Agricultural lands produce four Talents this year

Jack of Clubs- religious riots; cities produce no revenue this year

Queen of Clubs- cities produce double revenue this year (4/8 Talents)

King of Clubs- civic harmony; cities produce triple revenue this year (6/12Talents)

Jack of Diamonds- any silver mines belonging to the player are depleted

Queen of Diamonds- a silver mine yielding 2 Talents per annum is discovered in your row 1 or 2*

King of Diamonds- a silver mine yielding 4 Talents per annum is discovered in your row 3 or 4*

Jack of Spades- a unit of neutral bandits occupies the highest pip red box in your row 3 or 4

Queen of Spades- one of your minor city revolts and becomes neutral

King of Spades- Plague sweeps through the barracks! Play on all units; any unit is lost on an ace.

Joker- the garrison in any one of your former cities, currently held by the enemy, defects to you

*in a randomly determined black terrain box (excluding 9 or 10 pip boxes)

Glory points

“Glory points”, or GP, are a measure of a Kingdom’s success. Each kingdom starts with 3 GP. GP can be gained (or lost) by:-

winning a major victory 2GP

winning a minor victory 1GP

defeated in battle -1GP

capture of a minor city 1GP

capture of a major city 2GP

loss of a city -1GP

completion of a monument 1GP

loss of a monument 1GP

at the occasional whim of the umpire, for entertaining role-playing 1GP

Income and expenditure

for entertaining role-playing 1GP Income and expenditure To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page
for entertaining role-playing 1GP Income and expenditure To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London January 2014 Page

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Each player receives income from the taxation of lands into his treasury. This amounts to two talents per area

of farmland it controls, an additional two per minor city, and an additional four for the capital city, and may be

modified by the Random event cards.

From this income (and any reserve carried forward from the previous year) must be deducted an annual maintenance cost equivalent to one talent per unformed unit, and two talents per formed unit or general. If the costs exceed the number of talents available in the treasury, then units must be disbanded until the player breaks even.

In the event that either player has excess funds, then these may be expended to purchase additional units, at

recruit level, monuments or held in reserve in the treasury.

Players can expend excess funds to build monuments or public works in their capital, or in another friendly city. The first monument in a city costs 4 talents and takes a year to complete. To impress, subsequent monuments must be larger, and so cost 8 talents and 2 years (4 per year), for a second, and 12 talents and 3 years for a third. Only a single monument may be built in a minor city, but any number may be built in the capital.

Player turns

Take a deck of 40 numbered playing cards (or 80 for the 4 player version), and add a Joker. Cut the deck to see which player will have the first player turn. In the two player game, play alternates between the players.

In the 4 player game, play moves clockwise around the campaign map.

Each player turn, a player can buy a number of move cards:-

The first card is free

2 cards cost 1 talent

3 cards cost 3 talents

4 cards cost 6 talents

These are placed face-down if front of him. He can then attempt to move his field army, declaring which map box he intends to move into. Movement is always across the flat side of the map boxes, never the diagonal.

To successfully move, a player must turn over a move card that is equal to or higher than the number in the map box, or, if moving along a road, higher than half the number in the map box. Large armies move more slowly; if his army is larger than 100 army points in size, then he must play a card that is higher than the map- box number (rather than equal or higher).

Players cannot carry

If he fails, and has remaining cards, then he may try again, until he runs out of cards. cards over from one player turn to the next.

A field army in an enemy-owned map box can play a move card to try to take control of it.

successful, the ownership of the box is transferred to the active player.

If the move is

If

a field army successfully moves into a map box containing the enemy field army, the latter may play a card

in

an attempt to escape by moving into one of the adjacent map boxes (but not into the box that the enemy

has just attacked from). If the other player does not wish to move away, or is unsuccessful in doing so, then a

battle will take place that can be resolved on the gaming table using the TtS! rules.

Scouting

Players do not necessarily need to reveal the size and composition of their forces, to the other player(s).

If there is no umpire, a player may ask any other player how many units he has in a field army that is within

two boxes of his field army or of any friendly city (including diagonals). The other player must answer truthfully, but may elect to inflate or reduce the number of units he declares by up to 20%, either upwards or downwards.

If there is an umpire, he will provide an estimate, based upon the distance of the army to be scouted from the friendly army or city, and a random factor.

Resolving battles

If one player is convinced that he is too heavily outnumbered, and cannot win the battle, he can voluntarily

disperse his army. In this event, the other player gains a “glory point” for winning the battle, and the loser loses one. Play a card against all of the units in the dispersed losing army. On an Ace, a unit is lost; otherwise they return to the capital.

If both sides are happy to fight, then resolve the battle, in the usual manner.

At the end of the battle:-

the battle, in the usual manner. At the end of the battle:- To the Strongest! ©Simon
the battle, in the usual manner. At the end of the battle:- To the Strongest! ©Simon

Simonmiller60@gmail.com

Count up the number of non-disordered mounted units that the victor has remaining on the table, and subtract the number of similar units on the losing side. Play a card for any (positive) difference.

o

9 a randomly determined enemy unit is dispersed, but reforms back at their capital

o

10 a randomly determined enemy unit is destroyed

Draw a card for any units that were lost in the battle (n.b. units which retreated off the table during the battle, do not count as lost)

o

1-4 unit is permanently lost

o

5-6 unit is dispersed, but reforms back at their capital

o

7-10 unit rallies and rejoins the army

Units and generals who retreated off the table during the battle, now return to their armies

Draw a card for any units that survived the battle

o 9-10 units experience level improves by one (raw to standard, or standard to veteran)

Move the defeated field army into an adjacent box. Alternatively, the loser may now choose to disperse the survivors (losing individual units on an ace, as above) but without the loss of a glory point

Sieges

If a field army starts a turn in a map box containing an enemy fortress, he can either attempt to besiege it, or assault it. Besieging represents the process of cutting a city off from supplies; the defenders suffer from starvation, but the attackers can also suffer from shortages and from disease. Assaulting is quicker, but much bloodier for the attacker.

The player chooses whether to besiege, or assault, and plays a move card:

Besieging- If the result is 8 pips or higher, the defender must make a save. A hit will destroy an unformed unit, or demoralise a formed unit, in the normal manner. If the result is an ace or two, then the attacker will suffer a similar loss.

Assaulting- If the card is 7 pips or higher, the defender must make a save. If the result is 6 pips or lower, the attacker must make a save. Units are destroyed or demoralised as above.

Once no defending unit remains in a city, then it has fallen. Units demoralised during a siege remain demoralised until the end of that year; it isn’t possible to rally them.

Once a player has used all his cards, or has moved into a box containing an enemy city or fortress, or doesn’t wish to move further, then his player turn ends and the next player’s turn begins. In the 4 player game, play moves clockwise around the map. In the two player game, it alternates.

Promotion/Attrition

At the end of the campaign year, the quality of units may improve or deteriorate, or the unit may be lost due to

disease or desertion.

Play a card against each unit:-

Ace- the unit is lost due to disease

Ten- the unit is promoted from raw to seasoned, or seasoned to veteran

Palace Coup

If things are going particularly badly for a kingdom, its owning player may once, during the winter, declare a “palace coup”. In a coup, revolting palace guards depose the incompetent King or Emperor, who is replaced by a young noble from a cadet line of the royal family. In the first flush of enthusiasm for the new regime, new recruits rush to the colours and the army is recruited back to its original starting strength, in army points, and 25 talents are added to the treasury.

The end of the campaign year

The first time a player plays the Joker, his turn ends, even if he has paid for additional cards. Reshuffle the Joker into the deck. The second time the Joker is played, the campaign year immediately ends, and all units are returned to their home cities.

ends, and all units are returned to their home cities. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
ends, and all units are returned to their home cities. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London

Simonmiller60@gmail.com

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank all those gaming mates who have been patient with him during the play-testing process. These include fellow Muswell Militiamen Ian Notter (who contributed the name and suggested modifications to several of the mechanisms), Simon Moore, George Moraitis, Nigel Montford and Jay Stocks, and Dug Page-Croft for loaning me his legion of gaming mates in Cambridge, including Daz, Boot, Carlo, Fletch, Dave, Nigel and Mark. Thanks to Bevan Ferreira for his many helpful suggestions, and to Greg Privat and Aaron Bell for their heroic proof-reading efforts. He would also like to thank Simon MacDowall for sharing his experiences regarding publishing a set of rules. Finally, he would very much like to thank his wife, Jean, who has been so very supportive during his “labour of love”.

has been so very supportive during his “labour of love”. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London
has been so very supportive during his “labour of love”. To the Strongest! ©Simon Miller, London