Sunday, 12 December 2010
An even Newer Byzantium
It did occur to me that Imagi-Nation readers may be interested in 1920's and 30's Newer Byzantium, set in the 1920's/30's as a way of playing Balkan Back of Beyond type games - basically WW1 with all that wonderfully weird 'tween the wars kit, and lots of political intrigue.
It springboards off my Greek WW1 army. (I was offered c 80 Eureka Greek Evzones of the 1908 - 1918 period few years back and just had to buy them). Evzones are the men in skirts (called the fustinella), tassled hats and pompoms on their shoes who now function as the Greek guards - but a cursory glance at their history will tell you they were top class troops. The Greeks were present in various Balkan wars, WW1 (see here for my army) as well as fighting in the Russian Civil War (that's the picture above) and vs Turkey, so are quite active anyway, but I wanted to mix battles, intrigue and the small political struggles that characterised the 1920's and 30's, so I always had in the back of my mind that they would be the foot soldiers of a 1920's Balkan nation..
The backstory is that New Byzantium comes into being after World War One, and is created independently because none of the major powers can agree who to give this (fairly vaguely defined) bit of the Balkans to, and thus they make it independent again. (New Byzantium was re-absorbed by the Ottoman Empire after the Napoleonic Wars, and despite agitating did not achive independence in the Balkan Wars period.
As with my 18th century outfit, I have reached back to Olde Byzantium for the regiments. The Guard now comprises of:
- The Varangian Guard (Armoured Stormtroopers), many ex White Russians now serve in it.
- The Gianitzaroi (Elite assault troops of Turkic origin who for various reasons dn't want to be in Turkey)
- The Scholae (heavy tanks)
- Trapezitae (top class lancers but also trained to operate as crack rifle armed cavalry)
Latinikon - not Guard, but certainly elite - the New Byzantines were impressed with the French Foreign Legion idea, and have thus recruited de-mobbed soldiers from Western Europe to an outfit based on the same lines.But, being Byzabtine no-one is a Real man if not mounted, so they function as Dragoons/mounted infantry
WW1 finally having convinced the powers that be that the heavy cavalry days are over, New Byzantium has resurrected the idea of provincial territorial heavy cavalry but put them in armoured cars (the local nobles being very keen on motoring, this went down well). The Skythikon and Turkopoloi remain as cavalry units but operate as any other cavalry of this period.
As always, the Vardariots function as police/gendarmes so are often first to be involved in any Troubles.
There is of course a vast difference between the dress uniforms of the army which hark back to more gaudy times, and their standard dusty khaki in real operations.
And of course, there is a small Air Corps, operating with (initially) easy-to-get WW1 cast-offfs and then getting 1920's/30's aircraft a few years later than the major powers.
As the main victorious powers in the region were Britain and France, and France seemed to be the more influential, New Byzantium begins it's life with primarly French organisation and equipment, but also quite a few bits purloined from defeated Bulgarian, Ottoman and German forces (and neighbouring Balkan nations).
This is the period of the first editions of Tintin and other literary Imagi-Nations, so New Byzantium is certainly well aware of the tensions between Syldavia and Borduria, unsettled intrigues in Ruritania, even peaceful Herzoslovakia is not untouched, and it also has Johnny Turk breathing down its back. This is also the period of Communist and Fascist demagogues, and dangerously democratic ideals fomented by Secret Societies, never mind the crackpot schemes of various Mad Professors in Transylvanian castles....