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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 27 April 2013

Knights and more knights

When we started the Muret 1213 project there was a naive assumption that we had most of the figures required. Of course when we came to look at army lists we realised how many knights would be required. After further research it also became apparent that most of club members collections were later Hundred Year's War knights with all too much plate armour for Muret.

So, not for the first time we are in mad painting mode. Carronade is only two weeks away and I have been away on business for a week.

Thankfully Andy McGeary's  skilled brushwork has helped with this unit of Templars. They are Old Glory figures.

This is my more modest contribution from the Gripping Beast range. A particular irritation was the prelate. In a rush I gave him a sword, but it didn't look right, even for a medieval bishop. My nighttime reading is on the period when the author reminded me that fighting prelates used maces so they didn't spill blood. Apparently bashing your enemies head in with a mace was fine!

More on the painting baton. Some late nights ahead!

Monday 8 April 2013

Grande Armee - Talavera

Got a game of Grande Armee in over Easter. We refought Talavera, very doable in this scale as are all the big battles of the Naploeonic wars.

I took the British and Spanish. The French came at my British left flank and ignored the Spanish. I extended my flank to meet them, but had strong units on the ridge. This is a battlefield I have visited so I could picture the terrain. My recollection was that it was much more rugged than the scenario, but we got to the same point of decision as in the actual battle.

Somewhat disconcertingly my veteran British line collapsed and I was struggling to plug the gaps with cavalry while they rallied. In fairness to the scenario my dice throwing was abysmal. None the less I think it is important that the effectiveness of British volleys is reflected better in the strength points in the scenario. There are few variable factors in the rules to keep it simple, so the British advantage needs to be reflected in strength points.

This picture shows the point of near disaster.

The rally rules are a particular feature of Grande Armee and certainly saved my bacon. The cavalry held up the French and my line brigades rallied and held the line.

Despite some faults with the scenario, I think the rules are still good for big battles in 15mm.

Muret 1213 Update

We tested a cut down version of the scenario for our Carronade display game, Muret 1213, at the club on Sunday 8 April. The basic idea worked fine using Hail Caesar rules. Unlike Black Powder there are no rallying rules in Hail Caesar so we will have to introduce them for this battle, otherwise the French Crusaders will be too weak by the time they get around to the Toulouse forces.

As usual there will be some last minute painting. We have plenty of foot figures but not enough feudal knights. Masses of Hundred Years War figures but they have too much plate armour. Fortunately, the Spanish and Southern French hadn't moved on so much, so our Normans and El Cid figures can be deployed there.

Crusaders crash into the Spanish forces

The besieging forces

Two fingers from the Castle of Muret!

Sources in English for this battle are limited. Oman's classic Art of War in the Middle Ages covers it. Happily there is a Spanish Osprey look alike on the battle and campaigns. In Spanish but the pictures and battle plan are excellent.

la batalla de muret 1213 (guerreros y batallas, 80)-ruben saez abad-9788492714414

Thursday 4 April 2013

Panzerschlacht - Hungarian Plains 1944

My Easter reading has been Perry Moore's book 'Panzerschlacht: Armoured operations on the Hungarian Plains, September- November 1944.'

The text covers, in some detail, the battles on the Hungarian Plain in the autumn of 1944. In particular the battles at Torda and Debrecen. I have driven around this area and can confirm that this is prime tank country, broken only by the many rivers that became a feature of the defensive positions.

Front CoverHungary became a battlefield in late 1944, when the Romanian border was breached by the Russians and the Romanians switched sides. Heavily outnumbered Hungarian and German units fought a series of strategically defensive operations, with some local counter attacks. They often held up large Russian and Romanian units, but in the end numbers prevailed.

This is a big book physically, almost coffee table size. The level of detail is a remarkable testimony to the research that must have gone into this book. Ideal for wargamers, as it describes German battle groups down to the numbers of men and tanks for a huge number of actions. It is not so strong on the Russian and Romanian units.

The level of detail makes the narrative hard going in places, but it's supported by good maps and plenty of them. Again, something you don't often get with this type of publication. Helion's high standards show throughout this book. However, the book is worth the price for the photographs alone. Hundreds of them that make full use of the books size. Plus orbats and some nice colour plates of the main AFV's.

If you are planning on gaming this section of the Eastern Front - this is a must have book.