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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
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Wednesday 10 August 2016

1914 Serbia Must Die

I am not a huge fan of board wargames, but I am inevitably drawn to one covering a Balkan subject. So, I was parted with my cash at Claymore for '1914 Serbien muss sterbien (Serbia must die)'. This was the jingoistic jingle shouted throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the outbreak of war.

For £36 you get a very nice map of northern Serbia and the surrounding regions (modern day Croatia and Bosnia), counters for the units at divisional level with some brigades and regiments, as well as supply and other game markers. 

The playbook offers four scenarios. An introductory scenario for the August 1914 Battle of the Macva, followed by the grand campaign and finally the Serbian counterattack over the Drina. The fourth scenario is an alternative history in which Russia does not intervene and the Empire is allowed a short punitive war with a significant numerical superiority.

Regular boardgamers will no doubt be familiar with the game mechanics of this type of game. For those who are not, it’s very hard going. The sample of play in the playbook is helpful, but you are still left with some overly complex mechanics which make for very slow play. However, I concede that it is a very good way of understanding the campaign. There is a decent bibliography, to which I would add Max Hastings' ‘Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War’, for a sense of the chaotic Austrian advance. I summarise the opening shots here, with some pictures of tabletop models.

I would have bought this game just for the map and counters - using them for a campaign that fights the battles on the tabletop. Otherwise, it’s one for the specialist boardgamers and a headache for everyone else.

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