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. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
or on Mastodon @balkandave@mastodon.scot, or Threads @davewatson1683

Monday 31 October 2011

The Pillars of Rome

Having really enjoyed Jack Ludlow's Conquest trilogy I decided to try his Republic trilogy, starting with The Pillars of Rome.
The Pillars of Rome
This is set in the post Punic Wars Roman Republic. Two young boys of noble birth get a glimpse into the future when they visit an oracle. Then we fast forward 30 years and the same boys are now senators. One made his name as a soldier in the Macedonian wars and the other as a wily politician. The scene moves from Rome to Spain and Illyria engaging families and their allies in the events and plots of the period.

The strength of the tale is the understanding of the power structures of Republican Rome. The factions and role of senators being different to the more familiar Imperial Rome.  This does slow the pace of the story somewhat and involves a number of sub-plots that requires some skill in knitting them together.

I didn't enjoy this as much as the Conquest trilogy, but it is still a good read and I will probably persevere with the trilogy.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Over the Top

Just scanned the arrival of the Great War supplement 'Over the Top'. Half price at present from Warhammer Historical.
The Great War - Over The Top
This supplement primarily covers trench warfare in WW1. Not the most attractive gaming option but Alex Buchel has developed a very playable game using the excellent GW rules. He starts with an historical overview before setting out a whole batch of new rules and what he calls 'grand manoevres'. These add in heavy artillery barrages and some special troop types together with fortifications for defenders and stratagems for attackers. These are built into the points options so you can opt for bigger fortifications at the cost of troops.

There are new missions that are set in the context of actual battleground operations throughout the war. Followed by new army lists for the major combatants. All of this is generously illustrated with good figures and great scenery.

The supplement only covers the Western Front. So I will have to give some thought to how this could be applied to the Salonika campaign. Doiran is an obvious scenario choice. I also use these rules for A Very British Civil War and parts of the supplement will be useful for that.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Polish Renaissance

First time out for my FoGR Polish army today in the GDWS competition. And very well they did too with a 25-0 win. Aided it has to be said with some early devastating artillery fire and very poor dice work from my opponent.

This was one of my favourite DBR armies utilising the war wagons and firepower infantry on one side and charging Winged Hussars on the other. FoGR puts an end to that tactic as the battle wagons (as they are now classified) are far less manoeuvrable. But they can still help block off a flank, allowing a concentration of cavalry elsewhere on the table. Winning the initiative and getting a nice empty steppe helps.

It was also a sad day for all the members of GDWS. One of our longest serving members Iain Forrest passed away suddenly yesterday. Iain was a great guy to play with and will be missed by everyone. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Wars against Napoleon

The Wars Against Napoleon: Debunking the Myth of the Napoleonic Wars

This is a book for the Napoleon buff. If you think Napoleon has been harshly treated by history you will love this book. The sub title is "Debunking the Myth of the Napoleonic Wars". The authors, Michel Franceschi and Ben Weider take on the role of historical spin doctors for the great man.

They take the reader through each stage of the Napoleonic wars to show that Napoleon was a builder in love with peace and an enemy of war. His strategy was to build defensive alliances to protect France and each conflict was forced upon him. The usual culprit was Perfidious Albion.

There is no doubt that, in English speaking history at least, insufficient credit is given to the positive aspects of Napoleon's rule. The laws, infrastructure, education and economy of France were revolutionised by Napoleon and his legacy can still be seen in France today. The case for Napoleon the peacemaker is less convincing. However, he certainly wasn't the only villain in Europe and the reactionary regimes certainly conspired in most conflicts.

So on balance the authors make a good case for Napoleon, even if they stretch their case on a few occasions. A good balancing work.

Sunday 2 October 2011

The Ismaili Assassins

Just finished James Waterson's The Ismaili Assassins. This is the story of a religious sect based in the Middle East that waged war primarily through assassination.
The Ismail: Assassins: A History of Medieval Murder
I picked the book up some months ago having heard of them, but without any real understanding of their role during the medieval era. The author explains the religious and social context before setting out their impact on the empires of the period. They were largely successful in the early period and in their conflict with the disunited Seljuk's. However, as the initial fervour declined they became less effective before finally picking an unwinnable fight with the Mongols. Interestingly, I didn't know that the sect's modern day successors include the Aga Khan.

This is not a light read by any means, but worth the effort to dispel some myths and learn more about them.