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

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone. This is where I look back on the previous year and plan projects for the new year.

My lead pile hasn't diminished much, although they are mostly newer additions. I did finish the Yugoslavian WW2 project last year and even did the Hungarians, inspired by the Fortress Budapest supplement for Bolt Action. I have made a start on the Soviets, and Santa brought me the remaining infantry units.

The 15mm Assyrians got done, and they have even been on the tabletop a few times. This project reminds me not to go to British Museum exhibitions! I also painted quite a lot of Cruel Seas boats, and the first Black Seas sailing ships are done and made it to the tabletop.

The 20mm moderns have progressed with more Russians, and I have made a start on more eastern European insurgent types. The Game of Thrones project is completed, not for the first time thanks to the discipline of show deadline.

Travel has also inspired new projects that I need to complete this year. My holiday to Crete in May resulted in various figures for the 17thC Cretan War, and they should be ready for the tabletop soon. An extended work trip to South Africa in September resulted in hordes of Zulu War and Boer War figures in 10mm. The British and Boers are nearly done, but a large pack of Pendraken Zulus haven’t even been opened yet.

I am off to Sweden in a couple of weeks for a work conference, so who knows what that will inspire!

I also have a few niche projects to finish, including a shield maiden Warband, led by Lagertha. I must stop watching the new Vikings season! Not least because it reminds me that I have always wanted to build a Rus army. I am on my third Catherine the Great Russian TV series at present, so there are bound to be consequences! This might get serious if a possible trip to St Petersburg comes off.

We had some great new wargame rules last year. It’s interesting to look back on my reviews to see which ones I am still playing! Rebels and Patriots is now my standard horse and musket rules, except for the occasional big battle using Black Powder. I have played a few games using the Bloody Big Balkan Battles supplement, but I hope to find the time for more.

I played a lot more Cruel Seas than I expected, not least because of my regular opponent at Prestwick Wargames enthusiasm for naval games, despite my remarkable dice throws. Black Seas is likely to feature similarly in the coming year. Blitzkrieg Commander is a new edition of an old favourite, which is now my go-to set of WW2 rules for 15mm and smaller - although Rommel is also good for the massive battles. 

To the Strongest! will continue to be my main ancients and medieval rules. We had a good event at GDWS last year, which is followed up by a club competition. I have also promised Simon some Balkan army lists.

Bolt Action remains my 28mm rules of choice for the 20thC and the modern adaptation. I also play a bit of ADLG, and I will undoubtedly give their new Napoleonic version a go.

I haven't done as much historical writing as I had hoped in my semi-retirement. Several weighty work papers somewhat dented my enthusiasm and time for the book project, but I did spend a couple of weeks in the National Archives doing the research. I have managed a record 100 blog posts this year and a couple of journal articles.

Anniversaries are always a hobby inspiration for me. However, it looks like the historical '20s were particularly peaceful, unusually so in the Balkans. The Illyrians were winding up the Romans in 220BC, and the Goths invaded the Balkans in 220AD. In 620 the Slavs besieged Salonika unsuccessfully but did control the countryside across much of the Balkans. In 1320 the Byzantines were reconquering parts of Greece, and in 1420 Michael I of Wallachia was defeated and killed by his cousin Dan II with Ottoman support.

In 1770 the Russo-Turkish War was still ranging and this year is the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Kagul. Into the 20thC we have the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920, which temporarily settled the borders of the what would become Yugoslavia, and the Treaty of Sevres, which partitioned the Ottoman Empire.

The respective 80th and 75th WW2 anniversaries are likely to feature strongly this year. The Italian invasion of Greece is an interesting campaign, as is the Norway campaign. The fall of France and Operation Sealion will be popular, and will be the GDWS display game this year – Captain Mannering as well!

1945 signals the end of WW2 and a public holiday will be moved to recognise VE Day in the UK. We shouldn’t forget the Pacific War and the often forgotten Soviet-Japanese War. In the Balkans, we had the siege of Budapest and the race for Trieste. Not to mention the founding of my adopted Balkan football team, Red Star Belgrade!

Outwith the Balkans, modern wargamers might be attracted to the conflicts in Lebanon and Jordan 50 years ago as well as the latter stages of the Vietnam War. The Polish-Soviet war in 1920 is pretty epic. The Mexican Revolution comes to a sort of end with Pancho Villa surrendering and the Irish War of Independence ends with the partition of Ireland in the same year. 

Earlier, the Thirty Years War was grinding on in 1620 with the Battle of White Mountain. In the medieval period we have the Hussite Wars in 1420, the Livonian Crusade and Mongol invasions of 1320, and crusader campaigns in Spain and the Levant in 1120. For those reading Bernard Cornwell’s current series, Uhtred and his brother Ealdred submitted to the overlordship of the Saxon King Edward in 920 – surely not!

So, that’s it for the coming year. Here’s wishing everyone an enjoyable year ahead and say hello on-line or at the shows. Make sure you make time for the hobby in your busy lives – it's an important element of good mental health, and it's fun!

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