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 24 September 2012

War in the East

It's a holiday weekend in the West of Scotland so took advantage of the rare fine weather to get outdoors. Shot my best round of the year on the golf course on Friday, drove down to Wigan to see Fulham grab a fine away win, then overnight in the Lake District for some walking on Sunday. Topped this by getting engaged to my partner Liz as well!

But another highlight was a parcel with my review copy of Quintin Barry's book War in the East published by Helion. This is a military history of the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78, one of the most interesting Balkan conflicts of the 19th Century. An added pleasure is that it includes several photos of mine, taken at the battlefields today.

There is only one word to describe this book, magisterial. This is the first military history of the conflict in English for over a century and it has everything you would expect. A detailed text covering the war on land and sea, coverage of the major and minor battles, together with all the context you need. Plus, something modern historians sometimes miss, lots of orbats. It also has lots of period illustrations (nearly 300) and maps.

Even I drew the line at taking this with me on a romantic weekend away, so I haven't read it yet. However, a skim read this morning was a joy.

I have the armies for this conflict in 15mm and a current, slow moving project, has been to add 28mm units using Outpost Miniatures stunning range. This is just the incentive I need to crack on.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Bolt Action

Bolt Action is a new set of WW2 rules published by Osprey and Warlord, primarily for 28mm figures. My copy arrived yesterday and I played my first game today.

Bolt Action: World War II Wargames Rules
A typical force is a reinforced platoon made up of three or more squads with a tank and support weapons. Artillery and air support are delivered by attached spotters and observers. 

The basic game system is very straightforward and quickly learned. Each unit has a special dice and the order of movement is selected by the simple expedient of picking the dice out of a cup. In the early stages units generally do what you want. But as they come under fire and suffer pinning points, you have to pass morale checks to get them moving and firing. Firing and assaults are also fairly straightforward with a couple of simple charts and only limited modifiers. While the game system is simple it has a subtlety of play that makes you use the tactics of the period.

The hardback rulebook has high production values, clearly laid out with plenty of eye candy. Some irritations though. No index, something I find inexcusable from a professional publishing house. It also needs an order of play sheet, FoG style. That's because there are several important add on rules in different chapters, like the effect of headquarters and medics that you are likely to forget. There are four army lists with the rules and it is pretty easy to adapt these to your existing armies. But the inevitable supplements are on the way.

My test game had three squads of Tito's partisans attacking two squads of Italians in a mill with woods and gentle hills around. Just MMG and mortars for support to keep it simple. The inexperienced partisans started well, but quickly found it difficult to keep moving once they started to take casualties and the attack petered out after 4 turns.

Despite the irritations I think Warlord are on to a winner with these. They won't please the purists as too much detail is abstracted. But as someone who likes to play different games, that suits me fine. I can see me using these for VBCW as my recent games with A World Aflame have been less than satisfactory. The quirky use of every dice in the box, coupled with old style long lists of modifiers, was entertaining retro the first time, but now simply bores. I have been planning a new project on the partisan war in Yugoslavia and these rules are just the incentive I need. Recommended.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

WW2 Greeks in 15mm

I'm afraid my painting productivity has dropped off since the holidays. Work and other commitments conspire to get in the way of the hobby. Plus having a show to prepare for is a great way to get me to step up a gear.

Anyway, David Burns of Burns Miniatures had sent me some review samples of his latest World War Two Greeks, this time in 15mm. These looked great unpainted and unlike the 28mm versions I can always use another unit for my FoW army.

So a quick paint job and we have a rifle platoon. These are in the 'Italian' uniform that many units wore in 1940. Most of my other figures are in the earlier more traditional Greek uniform or the later British battledress. There are also more colour variants in the books and photos than I can keep up with. So this time I have gone for the whole 'Italian' option favoured by the FoW supplement 'Burning Empires'.

What I really like about these figures are the poses and animation. Even in 15mm they look active. David's figures are usually sold through Rif Raf miniatures, but they don't appear to be up on the site yet. So apologies if I am teasing you all!

Monday 10 September 2012

Byzantine Imperial Guardsman 925-1025

Byzantine Imperial Guardsmen, 925-1025: The Taghmata and Imperial Guard

This is the latest Osprey Elite (No.187) on Byzantine Imperial Guardsman 925-1025.

It covers the units of the Taghmata and Imperial Guard of the period. Most people think of the gradual decline of the Empire, but in fact this period was one of considerable success. It overcame Bulgarian and Rus invasions through the Balkans and Islamic enemies from the East. By Basil II's death in 1025, what we call the Byzantine Empire, ruled from the Danube to the Euphrates. They would have called themselves Romans or Rhomaioi.

The regiments of the Taghmata were an important part of that success. Raffaele D'Amato takes us through the organisation of each unit and how they were commanded. This is followed by a chapter on weapons and equipment. As you would expect there are excellent colour plates and the book includes many photos.

Must have for anyone interested in the Byzantine army.