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.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Hellfire & Back

This is the latest Flames of War supplement covering the early war battles in North Africa. Usual FoW format with high quality production values, well laid out organisational charts and some fine eye candy.

Hellfire and Back!: Early War Battles in North Africa, 1940-1941I largely bought it for the stats for my Greek campaign, only to learn that a further supplement is due out next month that will specifically cover this and other 'fringe' campaigns around the Med. Look forward to that.

Then it occurred to me that while I don't have 15mm figures for the desert, I do have lots of 1/200 figures based for Spearhead. So Italian and British tank companies duly assembled and onto the table. It made a short and sharp battle with the Italians coming out on top. I will try some Afrika Corps next. Using 1/200 opens up some other campaigns as well.

FoW has somewhat rebuilt the reputation of Italian troops in WW2, at least from a British perspective. My recent reading has been on this subject including Iron Arm, the story of the mechanisation of Mussolini's army 1920 to 1940.  Creating a mechanised army in a non mechanised society was beyond the capability of Italian industry and the army. Non the less an armoured force was developed and at one stage arguably led the world. This book takes the reader through all the stages.

Iron Arm: The Mechanization of Mussolini's Army, 1920-1940

Wellesley in India

The Black Powder supplement Last Argument of Kings got its first run out on Sunday. We did a Wellesley in India scenario using the colonial India data from the supplement.

The opposing forces:
British
Unit Size Type Weapon H to Hand Shoot Morale Stamina Special
Wellesley (9)
Dragoons Small  Reg. Cav Sword 4 1 3+ 3 Ferocious Charge, Valiant, Marauders
Dragoons Small  Reg. Cav Sword 4 1 3+ 3 Ferocious Charge, Valiant, Marauders
Sepoy Btn Small  Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 4+ 3 First Fire 
1st Foot Brigade (8)
Line Regt Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 3+ 3 First Fire, Reliable, Steady
Sepoy Regt  Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 4+ 3 First Fire 
Artillery Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
2nd Foot Brigade (8)
Line Regt Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 3+ 3 First Fire, Reliable, Steady
Sepoy Regt  Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 4+ 3 First Fire 
Artillery Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Native Prince
Unit Size Type Weapon H to Hand Shoot Morale Stamina Special
Nawab (7)
Bodyguard Small Reg. Cavalry Sword 6 3 5+ 3 Lancers
Artillery Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Artillery Smoothbore 1 3-2-1 4+ 2
Rockets 1 2 4+ 2
Ist Brigade (7)
French' Battalion Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Reliable
Native Infantry Standard Irr. Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 5+ ? Untested, warband
Native Infantry Standard Irr. Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 5+ 3 Unreliable, warband
Native skirmishers Small Irr. Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 2 5+ 2 Skirmish
2nd Brigade (7)
Sepoy Battalion Standard 18 Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Reliable
Native Infantry Standard Irr. Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 3 5+ 3 Bloodthirsty, warband
Native skirmishers Small Irr. Infantry Smoothbore Musket 6 2 5+ 2 Skirmish
Right Wing Cavalry (6)
Native Horse Standard Cavalry Sword 6 1 5+ 3 Warband, 
Native Horse Standard Cavalry Sword 6 1 5+ 3 Warband, Wavering
Right Wing Cavalry (6)
Native Horse Standard Cavalry Sword 6 1 5+ 3 Warband, 
Native Horse Standard Cavalry Sword 6 1 5+ 3 Warband, Wavering

The native cavalry started the battle with a bold sweep on the left that was eventually fought off by the dragoons. The British infantry advanced and engaged the native infantry. Superior fire power won through but it took some time. The right flank cavalry battle was less decisive.

The rules played well and gave a pretty accurate feel for the period. Artillery isn't very effective at long range, and don't bother with rockets - they killed more friendly troops than the enemy! By beefing up the dragoons with special rules they were able to disperse the native cavalry, but it wasn't a foregone conclusion. The infantry battles were more closely fought affairs.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

VBCW - The People's Armies

Picked up a nice booklet on the Very British Civil War theme called The People's Armies. This is available from Solway Miniatures.

This booklet describes the various Worker's Defence Corps, largely based on trade unions, that sprung up around the country to resist Moseley's Blackshirts.  My own Clydeside Brigade fits in with this idea very well. Plus Anarchists and the Communist People's Assault Columns.

The text covers the type of unit together with their weapons and uniforms. Poorly equipped compared with government forces some French and Russian equipment started to arrive together with some foreign volunteers. Similar to the Spanish Civil War.

The booklet has some nice photies of available models and excellent 'Osprey' style colour plates by Peter Barfield. The naval figure is particularly good and an order has been dispatched to 1st Corps who do a suitable figure. These will make a new platoon to add to the Clydeside Brigade. All very Battleship Potemkin!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Last Argument of Kings

Just finished working my way through the first Black Powder supplement The Last Argument of Kings.

Pete Brown has done a lovely job with this supplement covering the main conflicts of the 18th Century, in Europe and the colonies. After a general introduction each section gives an overview of the conflict, some detail on the armies together with army lists and special rules. Finally a battle scenario together with an ORBAT.

And of course no rule set would be complete today without eye candy. This supplement has it in buckets. I know some gamers criticise this trend, but I simply don't agree. Well painted and displayed wargame figures should inspire the reader. Several members at my club are looking to try new periods based on this.

I am planning to use two sections as soon as possible.  Storm on the Danube covers the Ottoman conflicts with the Austrians. I also plan to dust down my Mughals for Plassey and other battles in India.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Hail Caesar

Played my first game of the new ancient rules, Hail Caesar today. We have been playing Black Powder for some time and the mechanisms are similar. So the learning curve was not too steep.

Hail Caesar (Wargaming)
I brought an Ottoman army with a foot division based on Janissaries and two flank divisions of cavalry. My opponent brought a Wallachian army. Although the rules don't have a cut off date, there aren't many troop types for the medieval period, so you need to improvise.

The game was very enjoyable and like Black Powder full of uncertainty in the movement phase. My left flank stubbornly refused to move for the whole game. Other divisions charged across the table and got into contact quickly. What we really like is the simple mechanisms and the absence of  micro measurement and other complexities that complicate other systems.

We really do have a glut of good rule systems at present. All have their strong features and I expect we will play most of them for now. 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sworn Sword

New historical fiction authors appear to be pouring off the shelves recently. As regular readers of this bog will know I am fascinated by the Normans, so spotting a novel based on the period is a guaranteed buy for me.
Sworn Sword
Sworn Sword is the first novel by James Aitcheson. Based on the period after 1066, it covers the northern rebellion against Norman rule. Durham is captured and York besieged, before William comes north with an army to relieve the siege.

In that historical context our hero, Tancred, not only gets involved in every battle, but also a sub plot involving the hidden body of King Harold. The battle scenes are excellent, covering the typical clash of mounted Norman knights against spear armed foot in shieldwall formation well. I enjoyed this and I hope to read more by this author.