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

Saturday 19 May 2012

International Brigades

Fought my first full game with the revised edition of Flames of War. Also an opportunity to field some recent reinforcements for my International Brigades fighting off Franco's forces and their Italian allies in the Spanish Civil War.

It may just be my inexperience in playing these rules, but I struggled to find too many changes in the revised rules. Assaults are certainly simpler but the other changes have largely passed me by. I know a lot of wargamers get a bit sniffy about Flames of War, but I think they are an elegant system that give a good game. 

For this game the International Brigade was occupying a reasonably strong position based on a village with hills on either side. The Nationalist launched pinning attacks on the right and centre while the Italians, supported by tanks and artillery, attacked the left. They were initially successful but a counterattack drove them back. The forces of fascism held back, at least for another day.

The full tabletop

Italian left flank attack

The village and International Brigade position

Moors and Carlists in the centre

Lots of 75th anniversaries for the Spanish Civil War at present. It was 75 years ago last October when Largo Caballero, Prime Minister of the Republic authorised the raising of foreign volunteers. Last February was the anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, where the International Brigades, British Battalion in particular, lost many men defending Madrid.

The International Brigade Memorial Trust is currently taking an exhibition around the country and it's well worth a look if it's in your area.  

Friday 18 May 2012

Marius' Mules - Invasion of Gaul

Marius' Mules

My latest Kindle read has been Marius' Mules - Invasion of Gaul by S.J.A.Turney.

I am something of a sucker for Roman fiction so here we go again with another story of the Legions and their wars. This time none other than Julius Ceasar and the Gallic wars.

The story takes us through the early stages of the invasion, up to the defeat of Ariovistus, showing how Ceasar engineered conflict in Gaul for his own purposes. It describes camp life in some detail and the internal as well as external conflicts.

Now this isn't in the Scarrow league. It can be heavy going at times, the dialogue is a bit cliched and the characters rather predictable. Very much black and white with few shades of grey. However, I was never tempted to give it up. I see two more in the series so I might be tempted - but not just yet. 

Monday 14 May 2012

Road to Manzikert

Just finished Brian Todd's book 'Road to Manzikert - Byzantine and Islamic Warfare 527 - 1071'.

Road to Manzikert: Byzantine and Islamic Warfare 527-1071Manzikert is of course one of the decisive battles in medieval history. The defeat of the Byzantine Empire, including the capture of the Emperor, by the Seljuk Turks resulted in the loss of Anatolia to the Empire. While there was something of a recovery, the Byzantine Empire lost key revenue, manpower and horse breeding areas to the Turks.

This book is about much more than the battle. The authors take us through 500 years of conflict from Justinian through the rise of Islam to the coming of the Turks. Usefully, not just a focus on the Byzantine Empire but good chapters on Islamic warfare as well.

The narrative is well written, but the strength of the book is in the maps and diagrams of the key battles. This really brings the text alive. Recommended.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Pike & Shotte

I played my first game today of the new Black Powder renaissance variant, Pike & Shotte. I play tested with a small Polish v Austrian Imperial clash. First impressions, very positive.

Those familiar with Black Powder will have few problems as the basic game mechanisms are the same. Few annoying differences that are not justified by the period, as I found with FoGR. The same chaotic order system, blunders and the rest that take a bit of getting used to, but great fun. Like the other variants, this is not a system for the rules lawyer or tournament player. 

My first reaction to the concept of units that appear to split up pike & shot 'regiments' was not positive. However, I realised that it forces you to adopt 'brigade' size formations of infantry, rather than having units in unhistorical positions as is allowed under other rules. I suspect I will shift to the 2/3rds distances that I use for Black Powder, when playing on a standard 4 feet deep board. At 28mm, units can fly across the table.

I have a few issues with the army lists. No Croat foot skirmishers for the Austrians or war wagons for the Poles. But these are simple to add on given the annex on army lists and points.

The presentation is up to the usual Warlord standard. Well laid out, clear tables and plenty of eye candy. A potted history for those not familiar with the period, plus army lists for all the main conflicts. No need for an extensive (and expensive) range of supplements. And a quick reference sheet that appears to work. Not something you can say about most rules. Recommended.


I was at the Falkirk show, Carronade yesterday. Well organised as always by the Falkirk lads in a good venue. Excellent spread of traders and I picked up a number of items for current projects.

The GDWS WW2 group put on a good display of very unusual armour with their Barbarossa 1942 display.

and here a few other displays that caught my eye.

Saturday 5 May 2012

First Germans

First German troops for the Seelowe Nord project. Decided my Gebirgsjager will need some armoured support if they are to rampage across Yorkshire.

These are Panzer II tanks and some field cars. From the Forged in Battle range and very good they are. Good raised detail makes painting a joy, particularly with a drybrush. The gun barrels were a bit fiddly but that would be my only reservation. Bought some more today at the Carronade show.

The last of the Italians (for now!) lurking at the back in the form of a truck mounted AA gun. Nice Battlefront model, but I do find them very fiddly, parts don't fit well and could do with some instructions.


Tuesday 1 May 2012


A somewhat belated post on my visit to the Salute show.

As most will know this is the largest wargame show in the UK, held at the Excel Centre in London. Bit of a hike from Scotland, but I linked it up with a rare visit to Craven Cottage to see Fulham beat Wigan. Good day all round!

Most people go to Salute because just about every trader is there and this year was no exception. It took most of my available time just getting round the stalls. Having to fly back later in the day restricted the size of my purchases, but I picked up lots of bits and pieces for current projects. Bumped into another GDWS pal with many carrier bags and an airline challenge to follow.

On my last visit to Salute I was a bit disappointed with the display games. Not this time. There were several I could have watched all day. Particular pleased to see the Warlords South American Wars of Liberation  after having followed its progress on the Liberators Forum.

Snapped a few games that caught my eye:

Awesome Peninsular War game using 54mm Vitrix figures

Nice VBCW game

Very scenic Franco-Prussian War game