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Making Unit Trays for TtS

If your club is anything like mine, you find there are some periods or genres for which you are constantly trying to find good rules. My club struggled with ancients. We have a good number of DBA players, but those rules are not suited for our style of club game - typically 6-8 players on tables from 8 - 16’ in length!

We have tried and now enjoy playing To the Strongest. The grid based nature of the game eliminate any worries about basing so we can use multiple collections in one game. As one of the regular GMs I wanted to speed up ease of play (and clean up) by making some movement trays for our units. They have had a positive reception and so I thought I’d detail their construction for others.

These are built, obviously, for one set of rules and for a certain size of table. But the principle is easily adapted to any rule set.

To start with, all of my own troops are based on 40mm frontage steel bases. So it made sense to use sheet magnet to make the trays. I buy my sheet magnet in rolls (I use it for everything) from - for movement trays I buy the thickest, vinyl backed magnet.

The sheet magnet is easily cut with a utility knife. Using a steel rule, I cut the magnet into rectangles. You don’t need to cut all the way through - give it a good score and it will snap, then just cut thru the vinyl backing. My bases are 130mm wide. I make them in two depths - 40 and 75mm deep.

The way we base is to put one row of troops for each “hit” a unit can take. So Light units get one row of figures (on the shallow bases). Normal units get two rows of figures, and deep units get three rows. A nice way to visually show the strengths of each unit.

This system allows me to fit three bases across with a little “slack” and the base will fit inside our squares (we use 6” squares on our game mat). The bases are now painted in cheap green craft paint (if you have a garage, use spray paint).


As you can see using cheap paint may require two coats. Once painted, give them a good seal coat (I use cheap hair spray from the dollar store):


I decided I wanted to find a way to get the cards off the table, as at times some of the battles look more like a card game than a battle. So I decided to put an activation track on each base. This is a series of numbers that are printed on label stock and affixed to the rear edge of each base. I made the labels using simple PowerPoint graphics.


To show the current activation number I made another sheet magnet piece - about 12 x 40mm (I did not measure) and glued a twig to it. This can be slid from left to right. The number ot the left of the slider is the current activation number.

Lastly, using yet another piece of sheet magnet, I made a unit ID and ammo tracker. These are dice docks made by laser cutter. I made these in sets of 12. The dice dock holds a small die to track ammunition. The block from the middle of the dice dock is color coded for each command, then given a number from 1-12 using a sticker I bought at a craft store. The color coding lets players see which units are theirs (handy when a lot of them look alike - like Vikings and Saxons).

Here is a shot of all of the components of one unit tray:


Here is a shot of a unit on the tray. As you can see, it is unit 2 from the green command. It has one ammunition left. And it has a current activation number of 4. The three rows of figures tell us it is a deep unit (Saxon Warriors in this case) and takes three hits to eliminate.


And finally, here are a few pictures of the bases in action from various games. ONE NOTE: On a 4’ deep table I found the sliders worked great. But on bigger tables, reaching 6’ deep, they could be hard to reach. So in some games we still use the cards. But I found half-size decks of playing cards so, when slid under a unit base, the table clutter is somewhat reduced.

Huns Versus Romans:



Vikings Versus Saxons:




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