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 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all got a good selection of books, and for the wargamers, new toys to play with!

Just looking back on 2017, I managed to keep up a fairly regular pace with the blog - over 70 posts is pretty good. Looking at the stats, I was surprised to see my review of Osprey modern Russian army titles as the the most read post. Valentine Baker at Tashkessen came second (My book of the year) and my review of Sam Mustapha's new Rommel rules, came a close third. My Game of Thrones project was also well read.

Most readers hail from the USA, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me given the population. The most read post of all time (I started the blog in 2010) is my visit to the French tank museum at Saumur.  My new Twitter account (@Balkan_Dave) is doing well, with over 650 followers in the first year.

My travels outwith Scotland this year, took me to northern Italy in May, with Lake Trasimene being the highlight. I have always had a soft spot for Hannibal's Carthaginian's - my first wargame army. In October, I returned to Serbia and visited the south of the country for the first time.

Maglic Castle in western Serbia
My Balkan Military History website comes of age this year. Hard to believe I started it 21 years ago. Easier to believe when I am plodding through the updates, as I transfer content to the new site address.

Glasgow and District Wargaming Society is doing well and a wide variety of games are played, reflecting my own approach to the hobby. My favourite rules this year have been Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, Pikemen's Lament and The Men Who Would Be Kings. I have also played a fair amount of L'Art de la Guerre and Bolt Action.

I haven't painted as much as I would have liked this year. The Hungarian 1848 project was the most significant, followed by early war British and now the French for Bolt Action. I also managed some smaller projects including more Game of Thrones units, Russian WW2 naval infantry and Romanians for 1877.

For the coming year I must finish the WW2 French, with more infantry, artillery and armour. I have two Kickstarter projects that are due in the first half of 2018, which include piles of figures. The first is Carnevale, a skirmish game set in Venice and the other is Game of Thrones. This will probably be our participation or display game at one Scottish wargame show this year - giving me a target for painting.

Anniversaries often drive my projects and the WW1 centenaries come to a conclusion this year. Another look at the Vardar offensive will be high on my list. 50 years ago in 1968 the Tet Offensive started in the Vietnam War. A sad non-wargaming fact - this was the year steam trains ended on passenger services in Britain.

150 years ago in 1868, Japan suffered plenty of civil wars, even if none of them actually included Tom Cruise! The British fought wars with the Maoris and the Paraguayan War raged in South America.

In 1818 the British widened its control of India with wars against the Marathas - an opportunity to dust down my Indian armies. I have one wargaming pal who is into Andrew Jackson's Seminole War, so he will be happy. The Chilean War of Independence including the Battle of Maipu, will be an opportunity to get my San Martin forces back on the tabletop.

1718 was the year of Blackbeard, for all those into pirates. The Treaty of Passarowitz meant peace broke out in Balkans - so not a good year for me! Better news for Malburian armies, the War of the Quadruple Alliance kicked off - with just about everyone against Spain.

1618 was the start of the Thirty Years War, so this should keep those renaissance armies busy for - well 30 years. I would recommend the Warlord Pike & Shotte supplement 'The Devils Playground' as a good starting point. The Polish-Musovite War was concluded in 1618. It had been raging since 1605 and resulted in a significant expansion of Polish territory. Poor old Sir Walter Raleigh got his head chopped off and Prussia was created. The Balkans were relatively peaceful with the Ottomans distracted in Persia. 1518 was pretty similar with Selim occupying Egypt and Syria.

The Hundred Years War was going strong in 1418 with Burgundy capturing Paris and the English Rouen and most of Normandy. 1318 includes Edward Bruce's campaign and death in Ireland. In the Balkans, the Catalans invaded Euboea, but later abandoned it and signed a peace treaty with Venice, putting a halt to Walter of Brienne's plans to recover the Duchy of Athens. The Byzantine recovery included occupying Thessaly. The Hungarian's advanced south of the Sava into Serbian lands, eventually regaining Belgrade.

In 1218 the Fifth Crusade lands in Egypt and besieges Damietta. In the Balkans, Theodore of Epirus was busy consolidating his control of Macedonia and invading Thessaly. 1118 was a a busy period in Spain with the Almoravids losing the Ebro Valley, then Zaragoza and Tarragona. Dates in the Balkans are much contested during this period, but there was plenty of warfare in Dukla and Raska.

1018 included the Battle of Cannae - not the famous one, but Lombards v Byzantines. The Battle of Carham is important in Scotland because it means Edinburgh is Scottish - well just about! The Picts defeated one Uhtred of Bamburgh - Bernard Cornwell didn't make him up entirely. In the Balkans it was Byzantium triumphant again, having quashed the last Bulgarian resistance.

In 718 the Arab siege of Constantinople is relieved by the Bulgars. Charles Martel becomes the undisputed Frankish leader after the Battle of Soissons.

Finally, a few ancient anniversaries. In 118BC Roman consul L. Caecilius Metellus, led a successful expedition against the Delmatae, in what we now call Dalmatia after them. Hannibal crosses the Alps in 218BC and defeats Roman armies at Ticinus and Trebia. In 418BC at the Battle of Mantinea, Sparta under King Agis II has a major victory over Argos. 

So, the highlight of that lot is probably the end of WW1, although the Thirty Years War and the Trebia will be popular. 1818 conflicts in India and Chile will be an opportunity to dust down some older
figures, rather than start new projects. Famous last words!

All the best for 2018!


  1. Happy New Year...great idea to do things around the xx18 theme!

  2. Happy 2018! And I went out and bought those Osprey Russian books after you mentioned them.