Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The last few weeks have been rather disrupted; a house reno that was supposed to last a week  turned into a three week affair. Not much hobby-ing got done. One thing I did while the kitchen was a mess was tart up an old GW 'Battlemat' by adding some spray paint and static grass here and there. I also added a grid so I could play some games of To the Strongest! on it.

With the reno halted I got a few toy soldiers out for a brief solo game to get my head around the rules (actually quite easy to do). A new direction for me: I hadn't much experience with card driven games before; a couple of games each of the Sword and The Flame and Victory Without Quarter both of which were not entirely reliant on cards as TTS! is. Neither had I played any grid-based games. I was more concerned that I would have a problem with the former rather than the latter as the grid seems restrictive when I imagine how it would play out. As it turned out, that wasn't a problem. The game is very easy to pick up and I found the card use very efficient and intuitive; I didn't find the grid limiting. The grid-based movement doesn't really prevent you from doing a lot of the things you would do without it and not having to be specific in measuring was quite liberating! 

     As it was a just a brief run through I only used a Command per side:
- Andalusian Taifa Kingdoms:  a unit each of Veteran Cavalry w/javelins, Cavalry w/javelins, light cavalry w/bows, Shieldwall infantry, Bowmen, Crossbowmen
 - Christian Spanish w/Frankish mercenarys: a unit of cavalry w/javelins, shieldwall, bowmen, veteran cavalry, veteran shieldwall. For what it's worth, the Andalusians' had a slight advantage in points.

     I also only used half the terrain recommended as I was only using a Command per side and to keep things simple. The terrain placement system worked quite well with a couple of pieces being removed before the game and a couple shifting around a bit. I also didn't use the 'Stratagems' cards (all the face cards from the game decks) although these look like they could add quite a bit to the game; neither did make use of 'Heros'; once again, I was just trying to get feel for the game.

Here are Andalusians on the left, Christian Spanish on the right:

In an effort to protect the bowmen, the Andalusian Nobles charge the Frankish foot. Oddly enough the cavalry are seen off by the Franks who, in their following turn charge the archers, and are repelled in a similar fashion!

The Andalusian light cavalry sneak around the shrubbery whilst the Spanish infantry are held in place by the Andalusian infantry.
The Jinetes on the other flank attempt the same maneuver, only this time their target is the Frankish cavalry.
Which they do at the same time as the Andalusian foot break through the Spanish cavalry and bowmen, leaving just the Frankish foot (seen hiding in rough terrain in the background).

One aspect of the game that may not appeal to some are the cards on the table; the cards used for activation get placed behind the units they apply too (I removed them for the photos). It can get crowded especially when you have 2 or 3 grid boxes adjacent to each other and there are two units in a couple of those boxes. The Big Red Bat Shop sells chits for use in place of cards (as well as ammo markers and such) and they take up much less space. 

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