Welcome to my blog!

News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. I hope you find it helpful and entertaining.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Game of Thrones - House Stark

Back to the Saga, Game of Thrones project this week.

I decided to use GW Lord of the Rings figures again, this time Riders of Rohan seemed the closest fit for House Stark. I know some war gamers regard GW as the evil empire, and it has to be said their figures don't come cheap. However, they are well sculpted and unlike a lot of historical plastics they fit together well with properly designed lugs etc.

I decided to go with the grunge look for the Stark's as in the TV series. The Direwolf shield transfers are again from Vini Vidi Vici. I have some banners from Flags of War, which i'll use with the command figures that are the next paint job

These are the hearthguard.

and these are a unit of mounted warriors.

I am thinking of starting a new blog on the perils of wargamers with cats. I left these outside while I got my iPad for the photos and came back to find the cat on top of them. Much glue required for repairs. More Grrrr from me rather than Meow!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Dividing the Spoils of Alexander's empire

I have had a Seleucid army for many years and I notice it is pretty popular amongst tournament FoG players. I can see why with its balance of quality cavalry and infantry together with exotic units such as elephants and chariots. However, my (and I suspect most players) understanding of the period was a bit sketchy.

Step up Robin Waterfield, author of 'Dividing the Spoils - The War for Alexander the Great's Empire'. It probably should have been called 'wars' for the empire, because there were at least four main wars and plenty of conflict in between. The period 323-281BC were filled, not just with conflict, but intrigue, diplomacy and treachery. Game of Thrones has nothing on this period!

Waterfield has narrated these conflicts well, almost in the style of a historical novel. It's one of those books you can pick up and read in short bursts, thanks to subchapter headings, without losing the flow of the story. Recommended.

A couple of units from my 28mm armies of the period

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Aussies in the Far East

Some reinforcements for the Empire forces in Malaya 1942, in the form of Aussies.

These are Warlord Chindits painted up as Australian infantry. The reluctant mule is a nice touch as are the native scouts.

I picked up some more Japanese off EBay, so that's just about the project finished. Of course there is always a 'but' there. A Lanchester armoured car would be nice and ......

Sunday, 31 August 2014

More on Vis during World War Two

I have just finished the September update of Balkan Military History.

The feature article is a more detailed account of how the allies used the island of Vis during WW2 as a base to attack German garrisons in the Adriatic. There are many small scale actions that are ideal for wargaming with Bolt Action. I have tried a couple out on the tabletop. This one involves a joint attack on a fortified position on the island of Solta by partisans and commandos. It's one of the earlier raids before the Germans really dug in.

This is the German position.

Here you can see the Commandos starting their attack. Still needs a figure for Colonel 'Mad Jack' Churchill, with his Claymore!

and then the Partisans launch a flank attack.

The allies had a 1,000 point force, the Germans 600 points. It was still a difficult job to break in and thats without mines and barbed wire. One German defence position had more than 30,000 mines!

If you want to get a real feel for what it was like on the island, Bill Strutton's 'Island of Terrible Friends' is a great read. The medical facilities can only be described as basic, even worse for the partisans.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Commandos on Vis

Back to the Second World War and my recent trip to the Adriatic island of Vis.

Following the Italian capitulation on 8 September 1943, the Germans poured troops into the Balkans, with the 114th Jager Division supressing the Italian divisions. The partisans were not equipped to fight set piece battles so they harassed the Germans and then withdrew to the hills. The islands created a different problem for the Germans, who had limited naval assets in the region, to capture and then to hold them. None the less they eventually captured the islands closest to the coast.

While this was going on the allies, having landed in Southern Italy, were looking for an advanced base with a defensible harbour. This would be a base for RN Coastal Forces (MTB and MGBs) to raid the coast and as a base for the island partisans. A landing strip to enable close support for the partisan operations was also planned. The obvious place for this base was Vis, the furthest out of the islands, closest to Italy and with two natural harbours. The island was not new to the British, who had used it as a naval base in the Napoleonic wars.

The allied liaison officer with the partisans, Fitzroy Maclean, persuaded Churchill and Tito of the merits of his plan and got the Commandos of No.2 Special Service Brigade assigned as a garrison for the island with a remit to raid from it. This included Churchill’s son, Major Randolph Churchill.

So, having collected partisans and Germans in 28mm, I need some Commandos. Well, need is perhaps a little strong! Fortunately, Warlord do a very nice box of them, reasonably priced in plastic. Usual fiddly assembly, but they do at least provide a wide range of positions, appropriate for Commandos.

I’ll be developing some scenarios, based on actual raids, for Bolt Action. But if you want to read more, I recommend Michael McConville ‘A Small War in the Balkans’; Bill Strutton ‘Island of Terrible Friends’ and of course Fitzroy Maclean ‘Eastern Approaches’. For the naval war there is ‘Secret Flotillas Vol2’ by Brooks Richards.

There aren't a lot of WW2 sites on the island, but this is what’s left of the airstrip. It's just about the only flat bit of land on the whole island!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Bolt Action - Serbian Army of WW1

A century ago, to this day, Austro-Hungarian troops reached the foothills of Mount Cer in western Serbia. In a four day battle they were heavily defeated and retreated back over the border into Bosnia. There is some video footage and a photo of the battlefield memorial here.

The Serbian Army of the early war period was the battle hardened force that had been victorious in the Balkan wars only two years earlier. However, there had been only limited requipment and they were heavily outnumbered. I have prepared a basic army list for Bolt Action rules.

The 28mm figures below are mostly from the Tiger Miniatures with some from the Old Glory range and represent the First Ban divisions that had the best equipment. Other troops had outdated rifles and few even had the full uniform. Yes they did favour a moustache!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bolt Action - Austro-Hungarian Army of WW1

Some reinforcements for the WW1 Austro-Hungarian army, in time to take the tabletop for the centenary of their offensive into Serbia in 1914.

28mm figures for the early period are a bit of challenge since Renegade has gone into hibernation. So these are Old Glory. Nice figures, but much smaller than the chunky Renegade figures. This still leaves me short of artillery, even if Hapsburg doctrine didn't bother with such niceties as preliminary bombardment.

First the infantry.

Then the machine guns.

I am using Bolt Action rules for 28mm WW1. So here is a basic Austro-Hungarian army list I have pulled together.