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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

Monday 26 May 2014


I picked up a set of the League of Augsburg's latest rules, 'Donnybrook' at Carronade. These are skirmish rules for the period 1660-1760.

I am not a big fan of their rules so far - I just couldn't get into Lily Banners and so they have gathered dust. I don't think the same will happen with these.

The rules system is very simple with shades of Saga and can certainly deliver a fast paced game in an hour or so. The layout of the rules is straightforward and the QRF was good enough to play straight from it after just one read through the main rulebook. The rulebook is a very nice piece of work, plenty of eye candy, army lists and scenarios.

The three main unit types have ability levels of 6, 8 or 10 and they fire and engage in close combat based on D6, D8 or D10 - needing a six or higher to hit. Modifiers are kept to the minimum with as many special rules for weapons as you want. Each force is led by a character, supplemented by junior officer characters. There are some cracking special features for these in the army lists.

It's a card driven activation system, with a card for each unit and character, plus a reload and reshuffle card. I tend to find these a bit too random (as in Sharp Practice) and I am obviously not alone as the rules leave these as optional.

My test game was Hauptmann Eugen's Austrian regulars on a raid against an Ottoman block house defended by Bosnian militia led by Ahmed Aga. Some skirmishing in the woods on either side followed by a somewhat reckless charge from our hero Eugen and the dragoons. They were sent packing and that was game over for the Austrian's.

Good game and these rules are certainly worth a go if you like this period.

Life and Death in the Balkans

'Life and Death in the Balkans' is the family story of Bato Tomasevic. He was born in Montenegro and he tells the story of the region through the eyes of his family.

It starts from the wars of liberation against the Turks and the occupation of Montenegro by the Austrians in World War One. Between the wars his father was a police officer and spent some time in Kossova before returning to Cetinje.

He takes up his own story during the Second World War when Cetinje was occupied by the Italians and then the Germans. His sister Stana was a communist and he joined the Partisans at age 13. He fought the Chetniks and nearly died during the vicious fighting.

After the war he studied law at Belgrade, became a diplomat and married his English wife. He survived the Munich air crash that took the lives of several Manchester United players. Later he looked after foreign visitors including Denis Healy and Hugh Gaitskell. He ran a short lived TV station before it was consumed by the conflagration of the Balkan wars of the 1990's.

This is not just a remarkable story of the author's own life. It gives a real insight into how the turbulent events of Balkans in the last century impacted on his family. Highly recommended.



Wednesday 21 May 2014

Romans, Brits and odds and ends

With the Bannockburn project and Carronade out of the way I have been focusing on finishing some other projects.

First up are some command bases for my Imperial Romans to take on the Dacians.

Then some heavy weapons for the Brits in Malaya. Mortar, HMG and a command base plus medic.

And finally the 15mm houses I picked up at Carronade produced by Games of War Terrain. Very like the battlefront range with removable roofs and room for two Flames of War bases. They come ready painted, so I just gave them an ink wash, rubbing off the excess to give that more lived in look.

Saturday 10 May 2014

Carronade 2014

The poor weather helped bring out the crowds at today's Carronade show at Falkirk.

Our participation game was Bannockburn 1314, based on the less well known first day of the battle. The challenge was to break the Scottish schiltrons. Of the various attempts, it turned out pretty even and Robert the Bruce survived all bar one attempt by de Bohun to kill him in single combat. A number of players who had not tried the Hail Caesar rules liked them.

Here are a few pictures of the game.

Below is Gloucester's advanced guard crossing the Bannockburn to be faced by Robert Bruce's division.

Earl of Moray's division guard the flank approach to Stirling

Clifford's flank attack comes through the woods

Moray's division close up

Bruce's division close up


Bannockburn 1314 was not the only GDWS game on show today. The Battletech lads got into the anniversary spirit, well sort of, with their Battle of Bannockburn Bog.

I expected lots of Bannockburn games this year at the Scottish shows, but this was the only other display at Falkirk at least. In 10mm.

For me, the stand out game was Gleaming Katanas, Japanese warfare in 28mm. The culmination of two years work in Brian Phillip's painting cabin. The use of Black Powder style group bases means a lot of effort can be put into the bases, that are all individual vignettes.

There were more games than ever at this year's show. Here are a few more that caught my eye.

I do like trains in an ACW game.

No idea what this was about, but eye catching!

English Civil War, lots of figures, like that

Kirriemuir club's Thracians and Macedonians. Nice figures and quality effort with the terrain

The battle of Trafalgar Square - Thatcher v Scargill

54mm Napoleonics, always eye catching

The traders certainly did well out of me. Some more fine buildings from Caliver's new range as well as a few books. Well more than a few actually. Reviews when I get around to reading them. A whole village of very good value plastic 15mm houses, ready painted, for around £12 a building. Lost their card and they aren't listed on the show website, but no doubt someone will remind me. And finally, Warlord tempted me with Chindits, Commandos and sundry Italian armour.

Overall, a very good day and as always full credit to the hard work of the Falkirk club.


Monday 5 May 2014

The Thief's Tale

The Thief's Tale is the first in the Ottoman Cycle series by S.J.A Turney. The author is probably better known for the Marius series on the Roman army. 

This is as much a crime thriller as historical fiction. The action takes place in Istanbul in 1481 when two Greek brothers, Skiouros and Lykaion, are conscripted into the Janissaries and taken to the city. Skiouros escapes into the Greek quarter and vanishes among its streets to survive as a thief, while Lykaion remains with the elite corps and becomes an Islamic convert. The brothers loosely keep in touch, but their fates become linked when Skiouros picks a pocket that leads him to a plot to kill the Sultan.

I found the the first Marius book a little hard going, but this is a great read. The story is fast paced with several twists. The description of Istanbul in the period is also very good. I have already downloaded the next in the series and might even give the Marius series another go.