Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Hungarians are up to something.....

A message from our spy in Vienna....he has intercepted this intelligence about Hungarian troops massing on the Trans Syldavian border.

Gruss Gott!

The Hungarian Government is sending 2 battalions of Szekely Grenz infantry from Transylvania to the Serbian border. Each battalion has six company of 140 light infantrymen (16 marksmen with rifles) against the Serbian Rebels (The fools cannot tell the difference between Trans Syldavians and Serbians). These are trained light infantry, the same veteran troops, as our own Serb Grenz infantry. They will also send a battalion of line infantry from the Don Miguel regiment, veteran troops, all Hungarians, loyal to the new goverment. And a battery of 6pdr guns, with newly recruit volunteer students crew. The Home Guard (nemzetor) organisation is very slow, and they are short of muskets and uniforms, we do not expect this force earlier than March.

From the Capital (Buda) they send a battalion of Red caps volunteer infantry as well, highly motivated but green troops. The Hungarians are calling them Honved (National Guard), be careful with the battalion commander, he is an ex Austrian captain, called Janos Damjanich (Jovan Damjanić his real serb name). He is a Serb, but he is a more Patriotic Hungarian than the real Hungarians, he wants to kill all the Serbs, to that end he will kill himself as well, just to be sure the whole nation is destroyed. This traitor rebel dog is very skillful, and the Red caps are ready to die for him. He had served in Italy as a Grenadier Captain, against the Italian rebels.

The Hungarians are starting to mobilise the Transylvanian Szekely Hussars, and this traitor Damjanich has a company of Hungarian Betyar (Brigand and Highwayman), they are irregular murders, fighting for the New Government. They have amnesty to be a volunteer, they are very good to plunder and raid against villages, hang them all Sahib!

Good bless You Sir, when I have more information, I will let You know.



Ps: The Ulans are not too keen to fight for the Hungarian Goverment, so just let them leave, don`t attack them!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Chauchat Redemption

For some time I have had a Greek WW1/1920's Byzantia Evzones need Chauchat gunners, and no-one makes the figure. However, I then found out that Gripping Beast's New moon range does headless Chauchat gunners, so all that remained was to find Evzone heads (I had none spare to hack off existing troops).

Enter the Perry's American Civil War Zouave Officer  set, which I picked up second hand for my 1848 project. It has lots of heads, and it seemed one Zouave tasselled cap looked a lot like the Greek Pharaon cap - well, near enough - so, on they went (picture above). Bit of filing to talke away the puttees and presto - believable Evzone chauchat gunners.

Next are rifle grenadiers....

Interestingly, although the Chauchat had a poor reliability reputation in the mud of the Western front, it was found to be pretty useful in the dryer regions the Greeks operated in.

(The Perry officer set truly is the Gift That Keeps on Giving - it has provided officers, standard bearers and drummers for my balkan/turkic style 1848 army units (as well as the other "straight" bodies being converted to artillerymen with tassled caps - will put some up at Xmas when I finish them)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I have just finished painting this Reaper Miniatures figure as the 2,000 year old Egyptian Priestess Ayesha (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) from the Rider Haggard novels, to head up my Darkest Africa/Lost World army for Victorian Sci/Fi and Fantasy gaming. It also explains my tardiness in completing my 1848* and 7YW projects, but She appears in my first game of Kings of War next week, and a game in the hand.....

Nothing to do with the Imagi-Nations I know, but she leaves other things open to the imagination :)

* First game in a mini campaign in January, watch this space for revolutionary activity!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Future Byzantium

Plastic Soldier's T-34 conversions with various turrets in a Hammers Slammer game 
( photo by John Treadaway)
I dabble in Sci Fi gaming in 15mm and 28mm, with small forces like my 15mm lot above (spot the T-34 conversions)  and (I am ashamed to say) I am imagining what Byzantium might be like in the future, as a way of building a structured, comprehensive force with a backstory model. Of course, it fits beautifully:

- Varangians - mercenary very heavy infantry (with Space Axes as per EE Doc Smith's "Lensman" series)
- Latnikon/Normans - mercenary armoured cavalry, whatever cavalry comes out as
- Skythicon/Turcopoloi - mercenary light cavalry, whatever cavalry comes out as
- Gianitzaroi - mercenary light infantry

Mercenaries in the future may of course be Aliens  (not Alans) :)

Added to that the home grown elite forces (Tagmata) with an extremely heavy cavalry force (klibanophoi) and regional (aka planetary) forces (Themata), with border region warlords and their Boukellarii ("biscuit eaters - effectively huscarls). Mixing up my Byzantine eras I know, but hey....

And then there is the Navy, with Dromons and Greek Fire.....

But despite all this, my overwhelming urge is to put kepis on Space Troopers and call them the Legion Etraterrestriale :)

Monday, 28 November 2011

There may be trouble ahead.....

Rumours of stirrings across the borders in Hungary, and the Honved Horde is massing:

1848 promises to be an interesting year. The Duke (Zhupan) of Trans Syldavia is mustering our forces. For you delectation here are some of Trans Syldavia's forces massing on the border.:

Some of the Zhupan's Guard Zhouaves, moved up Just In Case:

The 4th company, 1st (and only) battalion, 2nd Trans-Syldavian Infantry Regiment

And ever watchful, the Tran Syldavian Grenz Infantry

As you can see, there needs to be some flogging flocking done back at base and everyone's faces need a good wash (and drybrush). Standards and drummers are still being done because I havent thought of a decent flag yet there is much painting to do, and pictures of the Town Militia and local bandits auxiliaries as soon as the lazy buggers get up they arrive in camp. Artillery is in train, and the cavalry will hopefully arrive in the nick of time.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A more colourful real nation than any Imagi-Nation

Trans-Syldavia 1848's Worthy Opponent, building 1848 Hungarians, showed me a book yersterday (in Hungarian sadly) showing the uniforms of the 1848 Hungarian army - they are extraordinarly colourful, and with a wide variety of uniform styles - so anyone who was thinking of holding back on their more outrageous Imagi-Nation colours/uniforms etc should worry no more!

Trans-Syldavia will definitely need a kick up its carefully tailored pants to match the revolting Honved!

(Incidentally, the last month has been taken up by getting the Welsh and Anglo-Saxons ready for SAGA, and the Phenix Moirots ready for Hammers Slammers games. That has now been done, so normal Imagi-Nation service will be resumed - on the table is Saxe-Märchen's Leib-Dragoner Regiment Malthus, and the 2nd Trans-Syldavian Infantry, while ACW Zoave command plastics are being converted to Trans Syldavian artillery crews)

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Went to SELWG show today, they were selling off various Foundry figures at about half price so I grabbed most of the  7YW I could find, the net result is that Saxe-Märchen has had some uniform decisions made for it, ie Musicians and Standard bearers proudly wear the Prussian Fusilier's mitre. Also scored some (I think AWI) guys with a standard black hat but turned up on one side with a feather, they shall be the Grimmwald Jaegers.

Not only that but I managed to score enough bits and pieces for one squadron each of Cuirassiers and Grenadiers zu Pferd to form a combined Garde regiment, to join the Dragoon Regiment.

It's nice to have it all come about organically, as it were.

Update - even better, I know that Hanover had the same - a Garde du Corps/Grenadiers zu Pferd regiment, one squadron of each, and I have enough bits to do that too for my Perfidious Albion army. Not only that but they were the only Hanoverian troops in red, so I just have to build the Blues now to accompany them!

Also scored a broken box of Perry ACW Zouave Command with some bits missing for 50p, they shall be the Artillery and some command figs for my 1848 Trans Syldavians.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Perfidious Albion takes the (painting) field...

I mentioned that 2 friends had donated their British 7YW armies to me, I have sorted all the figures and the following is what I have decided to do (in 12 man Age of Reason battalions - I like Corps scale actions)


- British brigade - 3 Line, 1 Fusilier battalion
- German Brigade - 2 Hanoverian, 1 Hessian, 1 Brunswick
- Mixed Brigade - 2 Highland, 2 Legion Britanique
- Reserve Brigade - 2 converged Grenadier Battalions, 1 British, 1 German
- Lights - 1 Legion Britanique, 1 mixed Jaeger/British Pickets


- Hanoverian Garde du Corps and Grenadiers a Cheval in one heavy Regiment of 2 squadrons
- Scots Greys (Dragoons) - 4 squadrons
- British Light Dragoons - one regiment of 2 squadrons.

Guns - 1 British, 1 Hanover, 1 Brunswick, 1 Hessian

And there was enough left over to build a unit of horse, 3 line foot and a converged Grenadier battalion for Saxe-Märchen (just as well, as the French Corps du Vin foot are now feeling very outnumbered from their shelf, and after Minden they don't hold much cop for a cavalry superiority...) plus there was a small Russian guard contingent who shall become New Byzantium's Varangian Guard and Guard Balkan light infantry to brigade with the Turkish Janitzaroi  .

A huge amount of painting then (and more horse required), that should keep me busy well into next year, but they will have to take their turn behind Trans Syldavia 1848 (first game due in 2 weeks) and finishing Byzantia 1920's cavalry, and a Hammers' Slammers future Imagi-Regiment, the Boucaniers for their first game in November.....

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

On the Perils of being a Small Principality

Saw this on the Not by Appointment blog, and thought it was relevant:

The County of Henneberg was a detached part of Saxony well to the west in Franconia. As it was so isolated the inhabitants were expected to raise militia companies for their own defence; they were probably first raised in 1730 and disbanded in 1756.

Saxe-Märchen is another of those detached Saxon lands, so has exactly the same issues as Hessenberg, abd that has of course impacted the development of its military.....

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Introducing Saxe-Märchen

A Traveller's map of  Saxe-Märchen, showing main towns and other features

The Principality of Saxe-Märchen lies in the farthest southern lands of  the Saxon duchies, almost in Thuringia / Franconia, the Palatinate, and Bamberg - all who have claimed it at some point (In fact it's by by judicously either marrying into or playing off all these parties, that succeeding generations of Saxe-Märchen Princelings have managed to keep a modicum of independence).

Geographically, Saxe-Märchen is bordered to the south side by the Fluss, which originates in the West Thuringian heights and eventually joins the Weser many leagues to the north. A visitor to Saxe-Märchen, boating down the Fluss would notice how it cuts through the high Nebelbergen, (which themselves are an echo of those larger Thuringian heights), flowing vigorously through these high cliffs until it eventually (and with some relief to those nervous of water travel) reaches a point where the river wiidens and becomes more gentle. A small town on the North bank appears - this is Keinbrucken, the first Saxe-Märchen village and the best place in from where a ferry across the Fluss can be taken. After a league or so the Fluss then makes a wide bend  to the east, and on its northern lea shore are wide, flat sands, separated by a small rocky outcrop jutting into the river on which a small fort now stands. These sands are known as the Westerstrand and Osterstrand respectively. 

On the eastern side of the Osterstrand there is a confluence of the Fluss and a smaller tributary stream, the Ang, which flows in from the north. At this confluence are the twin towns of Driebrucken and Koblerz, on opposite sides of the Ang.. 

Koblerz (originally derived from the Latin confluentes for a river confluence, the name bestowed on the town by Charlemagne in his More Roman than Thou phase) has been settled forever, but when two bridges were thrown across the Ang many centuries ago, the settlement that grew on the western side was called Zweibrucken. In the Sixteenth century a channel was cut through the OsterStrang marshes to the Ang, thus avoiding the turbulent water-race where the waters meet. A bridge was eventually thrown over that channel too for the Keinbrucken road, and thus Zweibrucken became Driebrucken. Koblerz is now the junior town, and its inhabitants feel the slight and are famously given to exaggeration to compemsate, so in Saxe-Märchen whenever anyone tells a tall story, he or she is is known to be "talking Koblerz"

From Koblerz, the Fluss takes a very slow curve to the right for a number of leagues, and the steep north slopes of the river face the sun all year round, so have been used for grape growing for centuries. The Fluss then turns sharply left and northeast, and narrows again, and to the north can be seen the dark, brooding Grimmwald. Soon after this great forest starts, a small brook, the Offenbach, flows into the Fluss and this is where the last Saxe-Märchen riverside village - Muhl am Fluss - is located. About a half-league north, on a high promontory jutting out from the forest (at the first cataract of the Offenbach) is the Schwharz Turm, the castle of robber barons from the dark ages on but now used by the Saxe-Märchen army as a border watch point and local headquarters.

But let us assume the traveller puts in at Driebrucken, and takes passage through the marsh, up the Ang into Saxe-Märchen. The barge is pulled up the Ang along the west bank, as the Ang flows along the floor of a valley, the Gluchlichstal. To the west are the high Nebelbergen, to the east are the lower wooded hills of the Grunhöhe, and further north, in the distance, are the higher Blauerhöhe.

After several leagues the visitor will reach the medieval castle and town of Schonburg, the Principal town of Saxe-Märchen. It has always been a fairly well to do town as it is at the conjunction between the Ang and the road from the Nebelberg to the GrimmWald and beyond, but was made even more prosperous in the middle ages, owing to it being the stopping off point for the monastery at KlosterBaden.

Up on the forested heights of the Nebelberg, there are warm springs, and while shrines, hermits and quack doctors had been there for aeons, a monastery - the Kloster-Baden - was eventually set up, and a few years later miraculously announced they had a relic, the big toe of St Simeon Stylites. Not only that, but the monks brewed very good beer. The big toe plus spa waters (plus beer) prompted a medieval tourist rush, and as Klosterbad's reputation grew, Schonberg's inns, taverns and souvenir shops grew with it. 

Not to be outdone, a Nunnery was set up on the other side of the Ang, on the road up to the Blauerhöhe, and the dark blue habits of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy of the Blue Hills gave them the nickname "Blue Nuns". They specialised in winemaking, a light white wine being their speciality ("Our Lady's little helper" the Nuns called it) from the grapes of the wine-slopes on the Fluss, and they started an industry that continues to this day. 

However, the attraction of saintly big toes has long since waned, and KlosterBad and Schonberg are in genteel and sleepy decline, nothing much has happened since the Thirty Years War - and the Princes of the House of  C...  like it that way. However, as Schonburg is about a day's water travel up the Ang from Driebrucken in the south,  and Wahlheim and the Werzel Kanal in the north, it retains its attraction as a stop off point for all manner of merchants and travellers, and market day is not to be missed.

So our traveller, stopping at Schonberg, is at a crossroads - literally. This is the KreuzungPlatz, the main square of Schonberg. South is the road and river to Koblerz-Driebrucken from whence he or she has come, west is the road to KlosterBad and then over the Nebelbergen, East is the road up to the Blue Nunnery and the town that grew around it, Höhekirchen. Carrying on past Höhekirchen the road winds between the BlauerHöhe and GrunHöhe, through the hamlet of Hochenhöhe and down into the dark Grimmwald, and on through that huge forest until it meets the Offenbach, which is the eastern border of Saxe-Märchen. 

There, at the forest hamlet of Offenfurt the traveller can take a forest road south along the babbling Offenbach to the Schwarz Turm and Muhl am Fluss. Many do not like this dark road and prefer the High Road from HochenHöhe along the windy, winding slopes of the Grunhöhe that then cuts down to Muhl am Fluss 

Now, if our travellers in the KreuzungPlatz go north, by road or river, they will see the Glucklichstal widen until the flat northern plain of the Sonnefeldt opens out before them. Rising from the Sonnefeldt plain is the tall spire of Wahlheim's small Cathedral. Wahlheim is near where the Ang and Werzel Kanal meet, at a weir complex nicknamed the "Sturm und Drang". Wahlheim and the canal mark the northern border of Saxe-Märchen, (Theoretically the Saxe-Märchen Princes own some of the meadows on the far side, and the Bishopric owns parts of Wahlheim, but over the decades for convenience the Werzel has been seen as the border between the Princedom and the Bishopric. 

There is also a poorer road around the eastern slopes of the Blauhohe to Wahlheim though the Feeland, , but most people prefer to travel over the Hochhohe pass to ovaer to Grunberg and up the Ang from to Wahlheim instead, stopping at HoheKirchen and "taking in the waters" there as they go. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A "Proper" German 18th century Imagi-Nation

It's funny how things twist and turn...I started the New Byzantium project as a way to get my Balkan/Turkic 18th/19th century models into games, but it turns out they are now all going to be employed in the Imagi-Nation Trans Syldavia 1848 project*. And then two friends donated a huge (unpainted) British/Hanoverian army to me, to oppose my WAS/7YW French...who are now looking distinctly weak compared to that mass of perfiidous Albionese.

Anyway, last post I looked at having an Imagi-Brigade for the French, but a bit of research on a typical small ReichsArmee force showed that what I need translates into a typical small Small Imagi-Nation, to whit:

- 1 Kurassier Regiment
- 1 Dragoon Regiment
- 3 Infantry Regiments
- 1 converged Grenadier Battalion
- 1 Battalion of Jaegers
- Artillery

I have all the figures, so next step is to find a name, a location, a uniform (dark blue, I think...) and a flag......and I think it will be Saxe-something as the figures being donated have such a profusion of the Scots Greys in cavalry mitres that some will be given to the Dragoon Regiment above - and the only unit I have seen that has a similar hat is the Saxon von Bruhl's Dragoons. 

( *a few will still appear as the Legion d'Orient in my 7YW French )

Yes, dear reader - the Brigade Imaginaire will join the Corps du Vin for the next camapaign season I think....

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Seven Years War Imagi-Brigade

The New Byzantium Project seems to have gone in a number of different directions, and here is yet another one...

First one, and now another friend has donated some 7YW British, with the result that the British army I now have is bigger than my original French, even with the Legion d'Orient (my specific New Byzantine units) attached! Even with the imaginary Chasseurs de Bergerac and the Swiss Batalion Valaison!.

Thus, I need to recruit another Brigade (4 battalions), a Heavy and Light Horse regiment, and could fit in some more guns and probably another Grenadier unit or even two.

My French are based on the well known wine producing areas, but I am running out of Regiments (I have even had to think about inserting cheese!) and have recruited my first Imaginary French battalion, the Batalion Valaise (My Swiss regiment, from the Valais wine area).

So, a new Brigade is required, maybe even time for a German ally (after 3 French brigades), and if so....well, why not an imaginary one of those too?

So far the only thing I have in mind is that the Heavy horse will be named after one of my army donors, and I fancy a Lorraine sourced Regiment Mosel, and I have another regiment of unpainted hussars I can use..

FYI it is currently at::

Brigade Champagne:
Champagne, Medoc, Beaujolais, Royal Italian

Brigade Touraine
Touraine, Provence, Perigord, Alsace

Brigade Imaginaire?:
Batalion Valais, Milices de Bordeaux* (or maybe Poictesme),  and 2 more (thinking of a Mosel regiment)

Chevaux Legere:
Royal Roussillon, Fleury, Bourgogne

Languedoc, Schomberg, one more needed

Unattached Lights (foot are c 1/2 battalion strength, Horse are 2 squadrons)

- Fischers (both Hussars and Foot Chasseurs)
- Clermont Prince (Foot)
- Legion d'Orient (Foot Chasseurs and Uhlan Lancers)
- Chasseurs de Bergerac*


Grenadiers Royaux de Chantilly
Gendarmes d'Anjou /Chevau Legeer d'Anjou (one Regiment)

(Probably need one more regiment of foot and heavy horse types now, if not two)

 *Existing Imaginary Units in paint

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The 1848 Nationalist Spring

A new chapter is to be added to New Byzantium's chequered history, and that is the 1848 Revolts. In 1848 a wave of nationalism swept Europe.

In nearby Austria-Hungary from March 1848 through July 1849, the  Hungarians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Romanians, Serbs and Italians, all attempted revolution to either achieve autonomy, independence, or even hegemony over other nationalities. A Romanian liberal and Romantic nationalist uprising began in June in the principality of Wallachia, closely connected with the 1848 unsuccessful revolution in Moldavia, it sought to overturn the administration imposed by Imperial Russian authorities.

New Byzantium*, in common with many Balkan principalities under Turkish rule, was slowly re-gaining a form of internal independence, but this event proved too compelling for the ambitious Grand Zupan of Trans Syldavia, which is the north-western most province of New Byzantium, who saw an opportunity to increase his personal power, prestige and wealth from the Austro-Hungarian civil war.

In short, we have decided to do the "1848" for skirmish gaming (small and large), and my Worthy Opponent is building Hungarians while my Imagi Nation of Trans-Syldavia will try and get their grubby paws on some Magyar Banat.

Trans Syldavian  Forces are taken from the bits and pieces of Balkan and Turkish stuff I have collected over the years:

-  The Zupan's Guard Zouaves
-  The two battalions of the local Trans Syldavian Infantry 
-  Ditto the Trans Syldavian Artillery Company
-  Trans Syldavian City Militias and Gendarmes
-  The Austrian TransSyldaviner Grenz (Border) Regiment that has turned to defend the homeland
-  Tran-Syldavian local Balkan light horse companies (Deli/Huszar style)
-  Local bandits/peasants/mountain men/etc 

(*The New Byzantine Conquest of Trans Syldavia in 1761, which was the original project, has been shelved for this newer, shinier, bigger project. We will have to get back to that one, one day)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

More good bad news....

...a nice man at our club has given me about 100 7YW figures as he will never paint them, of which 30 or so are Highlanders - so a British army to face my French beckons. (I could fill out my French with the Tricornes and ditch the Highlanders, but building British to match the French has the advantage that they can fight each other all over the world.)

Means more distractions though.....

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Time passes, things happen....

Work has sadly got in the way of building the forcs of New Byzantium*, but not in accumulating them. Over the past few weeks the forces have been increased by:

- 16 Zouaves in Turbans, perfect for New Byzantium's local infantry militia.
- 20 WW1 Russians, for Bolshevik Bad Guys to fight in Between The Wars Byzantium
- Ditto 20 WW1 Austrians, for Nazi nasties.
- Another regiment of tricorne-men - yes, new Byzantium's Marine Regt have finally arrived

In addition, New Byzantium's time of operation has been expanded to a 3rd period - yes, its 1848, the year of Nationalisr fervour and the Hungarian uprising, and our Imagi-Nation forces will once again enter the fray against my evil scheming honorouable opponent's Hungarian-based force!

(The Turks and Albanians I found, plus my Trapezitae lanncers, Gianitzaroi and the new Zouaves are all detailed for this period - we both fancied mid 19th century skirmish with Sharpe Practice and cobbled together various bits we had ncluding a few Austrian regulars, Hungarians and my lot). I may have to invent a new Imagi-Nation for them ,closer to the Hungarian border. I was thinking of Trans-Syldavia, a villainous bunch of bandits small state on our borders!

*And priorities - the start of the club 40K campaign required the Imperial Grots to be completed, and my son and I building up our WW2 forces to have a proper go at each other has taken priority as war was imminent in both those sectors!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New Recruits....

The ongoing Clearing Out Of Things Still In Boxes (from the attic), while stopping actual painting, has yielded another fortuitous result, a discovery of a bag of 10 Turkish Deli Light Horse from Old Glory, which I had totally forgotten I had bought, years ago. (I think I bought them with the Nizam i Cedit - now the New Byzantine Ianitzaroi - a long time back with an eye to a 7YW Ottoman army).

They are of course perfect for a regiment of New Byzantium Turkopoloi, and counter-act the discovery some weeks ago of reinforcementds for dastardly "Don" Dharko!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Black Bird joins the navy

Picture of Black Bird being captured by Tartanes of New Byzantium's Navy

Originally from La Rochelle, the privateer Black Bird has been captured as a prize by New Byzantium's navy this weekend*. She has been found to be in good shape still, and has been made the fleet's Flagship. She is a big 40  gun (with 18 pounders too!) French Frigate. Tales of Heroic Naval action abound in the Byzantia Chronicle

Details of the action are classified, but down the the waterfront, Kostas Bravos was heard to grumble that he took it while the crew had all rowed away onto some small island and the Navy only got involved later when the original crew got grumpy stuck on the island. Why French privateers were all on the island he knew not, but scurrilous rumours are that they were after Commodore Villaneuse for some past slight.

(* My son brought back a pirate ship model from a school trip to la Rochelle for me....) 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Good Bad News

The Good News - was rummaging in my drawers yesterday (Ooo-er missus), and found 15 forgotten Old Glory 18th century Albanian bandits (see pic above) I had mislaid some years ago, some are even painted!

Bad news - those bandits double the forces that "Don" Dharko has available to him in his Trans-Syldavial lair and who are making travelling on the Klow-Byzantia road such a nightmare, even raiding our towns at times.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

All El Presidente's Men

A different time, a different Imagi-nation. Last week I played my French Foreign Legion (c 1985) vs a colleague's "AK-47" army. Great fun. I have some other various 1960s/70s bits and pieces in 1/300th scale and was thinking of rounding it out into a Banana Republic army to face him (In the rules we play ( CWC ) c 15 - 20 models = 1 battalion). I put the question about what it might consist of to the gurus on TMP, got an interesting outcome - first, some replies:

Central American forces in 1981, according to Janes'

Stuart, Sherman, M3 scout, M8 a/car, M3 halftrack, HWK11 (Postwar German) APC, M8 Scott HMC, M7 Priest, 105mm M101 howitzer, 75mm M116 pack howitzer

1 British infantry Bn, 1 recce troop, 1 arty bty, so probably Scorpions, 105mm light gun or pack how etc

Stuart, Sherman, M3 scout, M113, RBY-1 Israeli APC, Commando APC, 105mm M101 howitzer, 75mm M116 pack howitzer

El Salvador:
AMX-13, Stuart, UR-416 Postwar German APC, 105mm M101 howitzer

Sherman, Staghound, M3 scout, 105mm M101 howitzer, 40mm Bofors AA

Costa Rica:
no army

M8 or M20 a/cars

Check Out Peru :-)
- 300 T-55 main battle tank
- 110 AMX-13 light tank
- 130 M-113A1 APCs
- 130 UR-416 APCs
- 30 BRDM-2/Malyutka armored car
- 45 Fiat 6616 armored cars
- 45 Fiat 6614 APCs
- 12 BTR-60 APCs
- 12 HMMWV light utility vehicle
- 60 M8 Greyhound armored cars
- 20 Casspir APCs
- and Russian helos as well….


Guatemala still has C47s and Hueys at their International Airport. Troops (and they are all over he place are in US kit that looks right out of Vietnam. The police are in brown Technicals. The special/private police are in the black Technicals.


(Refurbished) Mustangs were popular with a number of South American airforces [via US MAP programs], as were turreted TDs such as the M36.

SU100, there are still quite a few parked around the airport near the Special Forces barracks in Havana.

As per the recent article in the SOTCW Journal, no less than four Renault FT-17s have recently been found in Afghanistan…. (37mm turreted versions). They aren't in terribly good condition though:)

Plus this link to a thread on longest serving WW2 equipment.

In other words, seems the most flexible option is to build out a bog standard late US or British WW2 force (US - M3, M4, M5, M8, M36, a few M24 - British replace with Comets, Humbers etc) and then add interesting bits and pieces one can find to supplement it. So, for example - an Ex British colony might have British 1950/60's, Russian/Chinese stuff given to 3rd world countries in 60's/70's, some US Military assistance Plan stuff in the 80's (of 60's/70's gear) and a smattering of French light stuff through the period (AMX 13, AML etc). Top of with a tiny bit of fairly modern equipmenet for El Presidente's guard and there you are.

There were some states that were initially Russian (or on-aligned) so you could also potentially start out with a Soviet Late WW2/early 1940's base (T34/85 instead of M4, Katyushkas etc).

And of course a few obligatory oddities - the last Marmon Herringtons saw service in the Cyprus civil war, A few WW2 German and pre WW2 French kit survived in the Balkans, Pz IVs served in the Middle East.

But the most interesting thing (to me) is you can build it off a "standard" WW2 force so you get 2 armies for (almost) the price of one!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Army Sizing 1920

Following the analysis of Army Sizing in 1756, the next step is to define the size of the military in the 1920's. Firstly, the initial analysis is c 1810 when Ottoman Europe was about 8m strong. By 1910 the population was about 24m, a 3 - fold increase. World War one ensured little growth.

Thus New Byzantium, reconstituted as Byzantia in 1919, re-emerged with a 3 fold population increase, from 800,000 to 2.4m. Using the 1% rule, we can calculate that a peacetime military of c 24,000 is affordable, and with Militias, trainees etc it can rapidly mobilise to c 48,000. Assuming again a c 1/3rd tail (Typical World War One level), that is a 16,000 person effective standing military. About 1/3rd are in the Navy and Air Arm, leaving c 11,000 in the Army. This gives (at about 600 men per Battalion) about 18 Battalion sized formations, roughly doubling at the time of callup.

As with the Napoleonic wars. the Great Powers bled themselves white in World War One, running between c 15% and 20% of all the population called up - so double that for % of males - (Russia was less, at c 7.5%, but that is partly a function of the society structure and partly exiting early). At full stretch, Greece as a late entrant in World War One had 230,000 men in arms with a population of  c 4.8m (ie c 5% of the population). The other Balkan states, fighting more intensively, averaged c 13% (Bulgaria at 20% was at major state levels)

(Warning - stats differ wildly per source so these are orders-of-magnitude views)

Assuming the same difference between large and small states in troop raising capabilty,  I set the 1% limit as a peacetime standing army, the 2% limit as with reserves called up, 5% as a state at war with a draft, and 10% as a small state at near total war. That means that in a major conflict Byzantia can mobilise about 120,000 men and at full stretch will be at c 240,000 (10 %)  Once you get to Bulgarian levels of 20% (480,000) the state is ruined whether they win or lose.

Most of New Byzantium fought in the Turkish army in World War One, but in the aftermath of the war the Byzantia view was that the defeated Germans and Turks were not the best example, and so they re-modelled themselves on the French army they served alongside in the Russian Civil War (most commentators there confused Byzantia with Greek troops, probbaly because they were both French equiped and used the Greek alphabet)

The big lessons from that conflict was the usefulness of fast moving Armoured Car and Cavalry, and easy to move medium artillery, and that has influenced Byantia's thinking. Tanks were felt to be less useful so they equip just one Guard unit.(Tanks also were less reliable and needed a larger support structure than armoured cars, about 20 men per tank as opposed to 10 per car)

Byzantia managed to wheedle a War Gift from the French and British, ostensibly to help fight in the Russian Civil War, so loaded up on decommissioned armoured cars, tanks, guns (and planes) from the two great powers over the 1919 - 1922 period.

The current structure of the army is:

Guards Brigade - these are a Battalion each of Tanks (Scholae Klibanaroi), Armoured Cars (Trapezitae), two Line Infantry (Varangians, Les Biscotins) and one Light Infantry (Gianitzaroi) - making five of the 18 peacetime Battalions, leaving 13 for the regular Army.

The rest of the battalions are re-constituted as per the regimental organisation of 1756, but re-equipped:

- an Armoured Car Regiment (Battalion sized) - the Latinikon (many are demobbed White Russian, French and British soldiers familar with the cars)
- A "Heavy" cavalry regiment - the Sipahoi - though some are not quite clear on the use of heavy cavalry going forward and there is talk of conversion to armoured cars. Others of course feel a Gentleman should always and only be on a saddle.
- Two Cavalry Regiments - the Skythikon and Turcopoloi
- Six Infantry Regiments of 1 (standing) Battalion
- Two Light Infantry (Evzone) Battalions who can operate in mountains and the deep woods
- An Artillery Regiment, supplying all the heavier Artillery (as per Byzantine tradition, mortars and light mountain guns are attached to infantry and cavalry Battalions)
How to organise them is the great debate in the mid 1920s - concentrate the cavalry and armour to break through at a point, or disperse it to stiffen the infantry?

1756 Army Sizing Explanation

A brief explanation of Army Structure. Following on from my analysis of army size vs population, I calculated that New Byzantium (pop c 800,000) can field an army of about 8,000 men without any major economic problems, probably going up to c 16,000 in war-time without a general call-up.

In order to structure the force, I used a historical models of Wurttemburg, about 50% bigger in population, and assumed that New Byzantiun - which is semi at war and also has a rich trading capital - could exist in these troubled times on a force of c 1.5% of its population. Assuming that about 1/3rd of the force is the "tail", a population of c 800,000 at 1.5% yields 12,000 souls, of which about 8,000 are effectives.The force is made up of:

- 6 Line Regiments, each of 1 battalion - (c 3,600 effectives) - increased from 4 regiments
- The Latinikon - 2 Heavy Horse squadrons ( c 600 effectives )
- The Sipahoi - 2 Medium Horse Squadrons (c 600 effectives)

- 2 Light Horse Regiments (Skythicon, Turcopoloi) each of c 400 light horse  (800 total)
- 2 Light Infantry Battalions of 400 men (800 total)

This brings the total to a round 6,400. The "other" 1/3rd in the tail is assumed to be the depot, senior officers, backup services (such as they are) etc etc. In addition to this, there is the small matter of the Guard. This comprises of:

- The Scolae heavy cavalry (300 lances)
- Two Grenadier Half-Battalions, the Varangian Guard and Les Biscotins (600 men)
- The Trapezitae (400 Light Cavalry lances)
- One Light Battalion - The Gianitzaroi - (400 men)

Giving a total Guard of  2,100 for a total of 8,500. I assumed most of the heavy artillery is in the tail (horses, ammo waggons etc) - the battalion guns are with the battalions of course.

One caveat - quite a bit of this force is of mercenaries - the Varangian Guard and Biscotin, nearly all of the Latinikon, and at least half the Line battalions are currently mercenaries - about 3,000 men. Byzantion's wealth is paying in silver rather than in population. The aim is to replace the mercenary Line infantry over time, but there is no real equivalent of heavy horse in the Ottoman/Rumelian tradition.  The Basileos rather likes having a mercenary Guard regiment, as their allegiance is to him personally

Now, you may also be aware that the Basileos has given permission for a unit of Marines (400 men) to be formed, add to that there is a Navy of some 1,000 sailing effectives - so New Byzantium is clearly moving substantially to a war footing as we enter this year of 1757.....

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Race for Cars

In this scenario, played as a Russian Civil War game , the Bad Guys (Bolsheviks) had a convoy travelling along a sunken road in a wood that was shelled by our Good Guys (White Russian and French) side. The Bad Guys deserted their vehicles and run for cover, and we have sent a platoon to retrieve the trucks for ourselves. Only problem is, the Bad Guy platoon has collected its wits and is also returning.

Mud & Blood rules, the opposing forces had equal numbers and organisation - each a platoon of 4 squads of 9 men and an HQ section of 9 men commanded by a Lieutenant (Level IV Big Man), assisted by a Sergeant (Level III) and each squad had a Lance Corporal equivalent (Level I).

Abandoned convoy in a wood - each side enters from opposite table corners, armoured car in centre

The French approach approach was to send 4 squads to the right side (closer) side of the column - 2 units of very poor White Russian line infantry stiffened by one of French poilu and one of crack Foreign Legion and a diversionary force (the newly painted Turcos) to our left. The Bad Guys sent 3 sections to their right (our right), and 2 to their left, hoping to grab the whole convoy.

In essence, the 3 Section unit of Bad Guys drew really great cards, and moved forward rapidly with their Lieutenant. The one section of Turcos were thus rapidly mown down and retired with over 50% losses. This allowed the Bad Guys to commandeer 2 vehicles

On our side, the Big Force moved more slowly, and a firefight with the 2 delaying sections of the Bad Guys took time but they were eventually sorted out by a Legion bayonet charge on the cars they were sheltering behind.

A bayonet charge by the Foreign Legion (White hatted Good Guys) sends the Bad Guys packing

There was then a tussle for the Putilov arnoured car in the centre - the Bad Guys had got to it and started driving it away, but lost a lot of their men in the process (including their Lieutenant). I shouldaddd at this time that both sides artillery were making random shots still as no one had told them that a rescue/snaffle sortie was happening.

The game ended with the Good Guys pursuing the rapidly fleeing remnants of the Bad Guys through the forest, taking potshots as they ran, and trying to puncture the tyres of the escaping Putilov. A stray bullet did cause a breakdown but the crew were able to get out and fix it despite pinging bullets and drove off.

Result - Bad Guys got 2 trucks and their armoured car away, heroic Good Guy French captured 2 trucks and caused 70% losses to their platoon with only 30% losses to us and were in command of the field. The points system we were using judged it a narrow 52 to 48 for us Good Guys (Hurrah). I think our concentration strategy was probably superior, as (i) the concentartion of 4 squads firepower took a huge toll on the Bad Guys and (ii) if the Bad Guys hadn't had that great rush of initiative earlier they would would have been delayed a bit longer by the Turcos and struggled to get the armoured car.

Mud and Blood yielded an enjoyable game from a simple scenario (we had played the same awhile ago with another set of rules, but it wasnt as much fun - the M&B random card system really adds interest). Owing to the more unpredictable nature its important to get your grand strategy right.

Friday, 25 March 2011

New Byzantinomics, cloaks and daggers....

I published a bit of research I did today on army size vs population size on Emperor & Elector - in essence it showed that a "peacetime" army of the period was typically c 1 % of the population (give or take +/- 33% anyway) and of that about 1/3rd is the "tail". I also found that "European" Turkey in c 1810 was about 8m people. In my mind I had New Byzantium as carving out about 10% of the land, ie (on average) c 800,000 people - or an army of about 8,000.  Unfortunately, the army structure I designed is about 16,000 strong in peacetime.

Now all is not lost, as it was already made clear that the 1st battalion of the 6 Line regiments were mainly mercenaries, as were the bulk of half the heavy cavalry (the Latinikon) as well as 2 mercenary regiments (the Varangian Guard and Biscotins) and some of the artillery - so I know where the extra people come from.

However, the next issue is paying for them - population is a largely function of land productivity in this period, except if you have a trade hub (it being a bit early for the Industrial Revolution) - which of course Byzantion is. It is a port city and a good stopping off point to and from Istanbul.

But the city's real asset is the Byzantion - Klow road, as this allows goods to be unloaded at Byzantion and sent over the to the Adriatic by road, as from Klow its a short hop to the Syldavian ports, thus totally removing the need to travel around the whole of Greece by sea.

The one problem with this road is that it passes through Trans-Syldavia, a wild, forested and hilly land ruled over by a few semi autonomous Duchies etc before reaching Syldavia. Ever since the depradations of "Don" Dharko and his bandits in the Trans-Syldavian hills, robbery of traffic has been increasing and merchants are starting to complain to the Basileos - and more worryingly, threatening to go sailing around Greece thus cutting Byzantion off from all sorts of revenues, which go to pay for a larger than normally affordable army, which in turn is necessaryy to keep greedy Balkan neighbours and Johnny Turk at bay.

A pretty pickle indeed.

What no-one is clear about is just why Darko et al are starting up now, and - more suspiciously - is anyone putting them up to it, are the Trans Syldavian statelets sponsoring this, or is it just normal Balkan banditry that has found a new sweet spot? Enquiries to the various statelets about protecting their bits of the road have been met with "not our problem, we're fine here" responses, along with coldly polite suggestions not to send Byzantine troops to protect the traffic on the road.

At a time like this, there is only one person the State can call on - Diogenes Orczy, who some call the Crimson  Paeonia (others call him the cuck(old)ing fop)...... He is to join the second mapping expedition (the first one disappeared about 2 years ago in the Trans-Syladavian winter), which is due to set off to AplTrnova within weeks as Spring is a-coming in...

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Drawings of P.Joux

If you have never seen them, well worth a look - over here (I have the above regiment, hence the interest. The picture he drew of one of my others is not printable in polite society ;-)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Imaginary Enemies

With the 1920's Byzantia army now nearly fully built, and the 1756 army in full rebase mode, plus the summer campaigning season approaching, it is time to expand the horizons to the neighbouring states and see who is surrounding the Pocket Empire Holy Kingdom of New Byzantium.

And here we come to the first problem - shall they be Imaginary or Real, and if Imagined, how so - from my own (hopefully) fertile imagination, from others' - Tintin's Syldavia and Borduria, Hope's Ruritania, Christie's Herzoslovakia - or (and this seems most attractive) from some of the other members of the August community of Imagi-Nation creators. All have advantages and disadvantages:

- Real nations have the advantage of being known, in all sorts of ways, and any opposing force so built can play other opponents without them asking embarassing questions about why you have American Civil War Zouaves painted up like that

- One's own imagination can furnish more opponents than one can shake a stick at, but the worry is that they are all a bit same-ey.

- Literary Imagi-nations are a good bet, as you can glean something of them from the books/films/comics/whatever, but you risk the "how come your Bordurian Mountain Regiment  look like Greek Evzones, when everyone knows they should look more like American Civial War zouaves" issue* :-)

Besides, sources of Bordurian history in 1756 are sadly sparse.

- Other people's Imagi-Nations are very tempting, as there is a backstory and (in theory) two heads are better than one in creating campaigns etc, even though the endgame is to lop one head off. (Owing to poor translation, New Byzantium takes Kipling's advice rather literally, and have worked out the best way to cut to the chase is to ensure that all around you do actually lose their heads...). The problem with playing with Other People is thay can be so ill mannered as to win the battles, so this option shall have to be watched with great care.

Sadly, the current knowledge of the surrounding area is sketchy (literally - all there are are sketches). West and Northwest lies Habsburg land and other small states, to our East lies the Sublime Porte, to the Northeast lie unknown lands and mountains and eventually the Black Sea, to the South is the sea and (further on) Greece, still (in 1756) under the Ottoman boot.

In fact it is a bit embarrassing, as the physical geography of the region is fairly unclear still (never mind the political lie of the land), and while it sounds very romantic to say that Byzantion is six days hard ride from Strelsau, it is not helpful in planning the movement of the entire 1st Corps. (In fact, even the Gianitzaroi got lost on their way to Trnova, as "over yonder hill" is not entirely helpful, so Don Dharko got away - for now!).

This spring, His Excellency will despatch a second mapping team, this time with a guard detachment, as the last one disappeared somewhere in the Trans-Syldavian mountains**

So if anyone is on our borders, declare yourself now and let diplomacy (by all other means) commence! Besides, it saves money on the mapping project.....

* Well, it wasn't a problem till I just started it :-D

** The only survivor of the first Geographical Survey had an attack of the humours and keeps on screaming about "where - wolves" or baying at the full moon, poor fellow.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Odessa Files - Part VI - Defence of Malodrevnya

A small action using Price of Glory rules, with converted lists and some amendments to the "To Hit" and To Save" rules which we felt was too bloody when we first tried them out.

The Bolsheviks are advancing on Odessa, and a platoon size group of (2 squads of) Greek Evzones and 1 squad of French troops, plus 2 machine Guns are thrown together to defend the hamlet of Malodrevnya,. Scale 1:1 (below):

Defending Malodrevnya - troops occupy all the houses, Foreign Legion right bottom behind wall

It wasn't clear where the Bolsheviks would attack from so the troops occupied all the houses, except the Foreign Legion detachment who occupied some ruined walls on the most likely direction of attack (bottom right of picture).

The Bolshevik attack, when it came, came across the whole of the right and top of the table - as seen from the other side of the table, below - two big platoons plus some other troops and outnumbering the Allies c 3:1, but the Greek and French troops were higher grade

Here come the Bolshies!

The heaviest action were on the two left  hand buildings, the Foreign Legion (top) were shot down very fast (too close to enemy coming on table) but two Chauchat teams in the house held the Russians off for quite a while, until finally being overwhelmed and the remnants retiring, but the shaken Russians stayed behind the cover of the wall even then. Where is a Comissar when you need one?.

The main action was on the bottom left house, where 2 machine guns and a sniper took a big toll of Russian troops, an fought off two attempts to take the building by charge before finally succumbing to huge Russian firepower concentration and another mass charge. Lieutenant Metaxa was the last to die in the house, bravely defending it to his last gasp.

What's left of the Russian assault on the house (still a lot of them) finally breaks in

At this point, with c 1/3rd of the troops remaining, the Greeks chose to retire. They had taken nearly double their number of Bolsheviks with them but there were still hordes of bolshie Bolshies on table.

Rules wise the game was a bit less "bang - all fall down" with our mods, but I still prefer Mud & Blood for small actions, the "Initiate" workflow here I found more cumbersome than M&B's card system.  My honourable opponent, on the other hand, really likes the initiation system so it's clear its an individual taste thing (but then, he is a Bolshie beggar after all....)

Relevant Imagi-nation Content:

This is a dry run of my Byzantia Imagi-Nation army - decent line infantry and a few elites vs the continually border-bashing Bolshie hordes of neighbouring Bolshovia.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Byzantia - I love it when a plan comes together

Byzantia's elite Varangian Guard assault a farmhouse strongpoint

A bit of background - I have a Greek World War One/1920's army, which I got mainly because:

(i) I have had a plan for doing Back of Beyond post-WW1 Imagi-nation gaming for some years.

(ii) I also have a thing going (you may have noticed) for Byzantium, so the Balkans were my chosen turf.

(iii) About 5 years ago I was offered c 100 Eureka specially made c 1900 Evzones at a good price (Evzones are the Greek elite light infantry - the guys who now stand guard and ponce about in skirts, tassels and pompoms but who have a war record the Foreign Legion would be proud of.). Ideal for the rank and file of a Balkan Imagi-nation, as the Evzone uniform - being quite different - stands up fairly well into the 1920's and makes them ideal Imagi-Nation material.

Byzantia Infantry in action in Trans-Syldavia

(iv) Last year some guys at my club decided to get into WW1, but we decided to do Eastern / Salonika Front as (a) it seemed less written about, more mobile and thus more interesting and (ii) one of the guys wanted to build Russians anyway. I immediately bid my Greeks for the project, and we were off

After building the WW1 armies, we kinda fell into the Russian Civil War to allow my friend's Russians to fight my Greeks (see the Odessa Files posts here) as they are on the same side in WW1.

Anyway, the Russian Civil War (for those who are not familiar with it) is full of the most weird and wonderful troops, contraptions and personalities and I have managed to build my Imagi-Nation up while also building up a (reasonably) believable Greek/Allied army for WW1 and the Russian Civil War. The combination of Greek, French and White Russian troops has allowed ample scope for my Imagi-Nation of Byzantia, so I thought I'd reel it off so you could see how the plan (all accidentally, I swear) came together:

- The Varangian Guard - traditionally wore blue and were heavily armoured - however, someone gave me some poilu, and these are now French Trench Stormers in Varangian Horizon blue

- The Gianitzaroi - my guard Turkish regiment - they are actually Turks, but double as Turcos in my French army - there are minor differences to Turcos, but first you have to know what a 1918-20 Turco without his  overcoat on looks looks like to pull me up :-)

- My own Fluff has a western mercenary unit - les Biscotins (aka Byzantine Boukellari, or Biscuit Eaters) and they double as the Foreign Legion.

Les Biscotins prepare to defend a Byzantia border village, Varangian Guard can be seen in the house behind.

- as to the 1920's Byzantine cavalry, between the French, Greek, Cossack and White Russian volunteer/mercenary cavalry there is every permutation and combination you could dream of!

- the Latinikon drive tanks (Brrrrm Brrrm) and the Tagmatic heavies are in (still got to build them) Ford Model T Armoured Cars

So - Result. I now have a WW1, RCW and Byzantia army in one build. Pictures to follow, Varangian Guard up top.

.....just wait till you see the specially designed Renault-Danglis tank......

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Odessa Files Part V - Action at Srednogorod

One of the small skirmishes in the Bolshevik advance on Odessa. The small town of Srednogorod was the scene of an encounter battle between Bolsheviks and Graeco-French allies, trying out Contemptible Little Armies (CLA) rules. The objective was simple - take the town!

CLA only defines "units" of 8 - 18 figures so we went for 1:1 scale, both sides c1,000 points (c 100 figure armies - about 2 platoons plus support weapons)

The Bolsheviks fielded 2 platoons of 4 squads of 10, one being elite, and also had a unit of Cossacks, 3 Machine Guns, 3 Field Guns....and a Putilov Armoured Car. 

The Greeks fielded 2 platoons, each of 4 squads of 9 men, including a Chauchat per squad, 2 Machine Guns, a Mortar and a Schneider-Danglis 75mm mountain gun'. You can only field 2 units of Evzones in an army in CLA, so all the Evzones were played as ordinary troops

The Greeks also has French support for the first time, a unit of Poilu in Bleu, and a unit of the Legion d'Etrangere (Elite) (It's interesting, once people in the club knew we were doing eastern World War One Salonika Front / Russian Civil War / Back of Balkan Beyond Imagii- Nations they started donating various figures here and there, so I now have enough for a squad/platoon/company of Poilu in bleu, similar Foreign Legion, a Machine Gun, and enough other various bit and pieces to move the Byzantia Imagi-Nation along quite nicely - of which more, later)

To be honest though , the Russian Civil War is so "back of beyond" it has been quite fascinating in its own right. We fell into it just to allow Greeks to play Russians to test various WW1 rulesets (our German opponent not being around), but it has proven a fairly fascinating gaming environment owing to the variety of nations and troops involved, the open nature of the games, the penny packet armour used)

(Greeks on the left, Bolsheviks on the right, armoured car at the bottom)

The two armies raced for the town, the Cossack cavalry and the armoured car tried to attack down one flank so they could get into the Greek rear. (Above). The first action occurred as two units of Greeks saw the Cossacks heave into view and let fly with Chauchat and rifle fire, toppling some of the Cossacks. The 75mm gun also fired at the Cossacks, to some effect but when one of the Greek machine guns and the mortar opened up, they had had enough and fled. Sadly for the Greeks, the Putilov car then rolled up and its murderous fire swept the Greeks - those who didn't fall ran (caught in open by enemy armour), and the Greek flank was about to collapse with 2 squads gone and two more Russsian units moving up on foot behind the Car.

It was at this point the Mountain Gun saved the day, the Greeks stopped their knees knocking and fired over open sites - and scored a direct hit on the Armoured Car, destroying it!. This cheered up the Greeks no end, and caused the Bolshevik foot to rethink their option against a flank still covered by a machine gun and Mountain Gun.

Over open sights, the Greek mountain gun prepares to try and stop ther Charge of the Putilov Car!

On the other flank the Bolshevik artillery made things very hot for the Greeks until they could shelter in some thick woods and a small hamlet nearby, where they stayed, slowly being whittled away by Russian assaults while desperately trying to drag a machine gun and mortar over to help (heavy weapons move slowly and can only shoot in line of sight)

While this was occurring, French Poilu and Bolsheviks troops clashed in the village, and desperate close range shooting and hand to hand fighting started. The Russians committed the Bolshevik Elite commanded by a Komissar, the French Foreign Legion also joined in the fray. The Bolshies slowly won via pure numbers (although a lot cheaper, they fight better in hand to hand than Greeks or French troops as they count as Ferocious - only the Legion could match them.)

 The game ended with the Greeks retiring to lick their wounds , the French wiped out in their debut game.

CLA Is the 5th ruleset we have used for Eastern Front WW1/RCW, it is the simplest - very "beer and pretzels" so we got the game finished quickly. It has the most comprehensive army lists of all the sets (The Salonika Front and armies in the East like Greeks are ignored by all the others, which is odd as the more open nature of the warfare makes for much more excting games in our opinion). However, we felt the rules were a bit too simple for our needs, and (unless we were reading it wrong) having 5 point "Ferocious" poorly trained (but clearly very motivated)  Bolsheviks troops beating 10 point French Poilu and being the equal of Legionaires in H2H was a bit rich.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Orchestrated Manouevres in the Park

Byzantine Tagmatic Sipahoi and Guard Trapezitae Lancer

As spring blossoms, the Guard New Byzantine cavalry units can be seen in the Hippodrome, exercising to keep them fresh (aka getting out to be rebased) as the storm clouds gather.  As you can imagine, I have a unit of the left hand side cavalry here (Front Rank) but I am scratching my head on where to get those on the right in 28mm

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Military Bases

New Byzantium's elite Gianizaroi riflemen, still unwashed and drybrushed on their new 2p pieces


My Lace Wars troops were originally based for Warfare in the Age of Reason (AoR), 1/2" per figure frontage and depth. This was a tight squeeze even 15 years ago when the first Old Glory and Front Rank troops were recruited, newer recruits for New Byzantium are quite a bit bigger!

But the army has now been been hit by 2 dilemmas:

(i)  I moved city, and AoR is not played where I now play - in fact a whole host of new 18th century rulesets have emerged, with wider basing (thank heavens) but they are all different base sizes.

(ii) I am increasingly enjoying the new generation of "big skirmish" games like Sharp Practice, which require individually based figures to work best

Thus one is in the situation of trying to find a Universal Basing that allows you to play as many of the rulesets as possible.

You can see the various main heritages - the DBx lineage with the 15mm per close order / 30mm open order infantry,  20mm heavy cavalry, 30mm light cavalry, based on 60mm frontage elements (in 28mm). Then there is the Warhammer heritage, 20mm frontage per foot, 25mm per horse, single mounted or sabot (though there is a convention to base 2 wide to more easily move figs, but so they can form OK looking columns.

Separate bases seem to be nearly universally done on the 1" per man round base (or in the UK, the 2p piece)


Well, I decided to decide on aesthetics in this most Reasonable of Ages. Close order foot at 15mm frontage look "right" to me, at 20mm frontage they look too far apart for 18th century close order foot in my opinion, but most rules are now at 20mm. However, 3 men on a 2" frontage look like a decent compromise of looks and are close enough to 20mm frontage.

Also, 2 men on 1" round bases are 2" as well, so you can get a 2" frontage "elemet" with 3 close order or 2 open order troops on it - works for me. In other words, all my Light foot troops are available for Sharp Practice games as individuals.

The DBx heavy horse on 20mm are just too boot-to-boot, its more lap-to-lap with todays' bigger figures. 25mm is a bit far apart to be totally boot to boot, but is OK. Personally I prefer my light horse to be further apart, but many new rules in the period don't differentiate.

Keepng to my 2" frontage element idea though, 2 heavies in an element work just fine - and I have based my lights singly - so they can be used in Sharp Practice as well as single men.

Depth for all close order foot will be 20mm (as that seems to be the one standard), and cavalry 2"

So - the die is cast, let the basing begin! Photos to follow....

(Now all I have to do is work out how to optimise battalion size - AoR is 12, Kriegkunst is 16, Black Powder is 24+..... )

Monday, 31 January 2011

Odessa Files Part IV - Assault at Czerizy


The day before, a battalion of Bolsheviks threw the White Russians out of the town of Czerizy, north of Odessa but on the Allied side of the River Bog (the map above is French, hence the spellings) and thus now occupy a key bridge over the river, and reconnaisance shows that more Bolshevik forces are moving towards it to cross (see Part I for the overall tactical situation). The Greek 5/42nd Evzones are ordered to re-take Czerizy, and control the bridge. They are reinforced with a company of White Russian cavalry, and 2 French tank squadrons are also moving up to support and will reach the battlefield later in the day. Dawn breaks with a battalion of Bolsheviks trying to dig-in in the town while the rest of the 3rd Red Rifle Regiment plus an Artillery company is moving up to cross the bridge and are strung out on road through Czipili . Dawn also sees the Greeks marching rapidly along all the roads to the right of the map - a battalion on each of the two right hand roads and the bottom one, (three battalions in all), and the White Russian cavalry entering from the bottom. What the Greeks do not know is 2 Red Armoured Car squadrons have rushed to the village overnight. (The map is from TooFatLardies WW1 scenario book, the scenario design is our own.)


Bolsheviks - 3rd Red Rifle Regiment:

Regiment HQ + Commissar
- Artillery 3 x Batteries of 75mm inf guns

3 Battalions of infantry each:
- Bat'n HQ
- 3 Infantry Companies
- MMG Platoon

2 Troops of Armoured Cars (1 of Putilov, 1 of Rolls Royces)

Allies - Greek 5/42nd Evzone Regiment.

Regimental HQ plus attached forces
- Cavalry Scout Platoons
- Mortar Platoon
- Attached 75mm Mountain Gun battery

3 Battalions, each of:
- Bat'n HQ
- 3 Infantry Companies
- MMG Platoon


- French support - 2 x attached light tank Troops

- White Russian cavalry company

The Battle...

....opens at near dawn with the Greeks  marching along the roads, screened by Greek (top of map) and White Russian (Centre and bottom) cavalry scouts.

As the Greek forces get to the road junction in the mddle of the table, they are shocked to see 2 companies of Red armoured cars charging out from the village. The machine-gun fire shakes the White Russian cavalry, who flee, as do the advance companies of the central Greek battalion. TheGreek left hand battalion (bottom of table) is made of sterner stuff and assaults the one company of armoured cars with grenades, knocking them out. The other squadron then retires to the village post haste, especially as clanking up the road from the bottom it sees 2 squadrons of French light tanks which have started to take pot shots at them..

Shaky camera footage as Greek Evzones race past a burning Bolshevik Putilov armoured car

At this point the Red commander has a hard decision to make - the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Regiment has just started crossing the bridge, an essential reinforcement as the Bolshevik troops are outnumbered over 2:1 as the crack Evzones approach, so more uinfantry is urgently required - but the Greeks also have tanks! So the Bolsheviks push their own infantry off the road (some are even driven over or have to dive off the bridge) as they drive the Artillery Company over into the town.

Bolshevik guns move across the Bridge, a race against time and tanks..... 

Bolshevik guns deploy in the nick of time, but block the bridge to others......

The Reds deploy the guns in the nick of time, and destroy the first tank squadron at close range as it tries to enter the town on the main road, but prioritising the guns means that the lack of Red infantry in the houses now starts to tell, the Greeks coming in fast with less losses than one would expect,  and at the top of the map one of the Evzone battalions enters the town, wiping out the Bolsheviks in the houses above the main road in fierce fighting. The Bolshevik CO, the Commissar and the HQ platoon then rush into the buildings throwing grenades at the Greeks, and their brave but suicidal delaying action (For the Motherland!) is just long enough to gain time for elements of the 2nd Russian Battalion to cross the bridge and start to fight for the buildings - otherwise the Evzones would have got perfect firing positions over the bridge and also swept down through the town behind the Red defenders.

Greek Evzones storm the top o' the town, the Bolshevik CO and his platoon prepare to sell themselves dearly

In the centre and bottom of the town, the Evzones are assaulting across the board, now taking heavier casualties but also starting to cause casualties on the Russian defenders as the Greek mountain gun battery, machine guns and mortar platoon have set up and are shooting and shelling the Bolsheviks in the buildings.  The White Russian cavalry, having recovered their nerves, try to come around in a wide circle into the bottom of the town, but meet Russian trroops dug in, and take fearful casualties in close fighting in the orchards there.

And then, night starts to fall and utimately the Reds have kept the Greeks from taking the town, thay have blocked the streets with their guns, artillery tractors and bodies so the Evzones and tanks can't get in and get to the bridge, and this allows the third Russian battalion to start coming over the bridge, so the Greeks (feeling their losses now) and French retire. Tomorrow is another day....


We used Rapid Fire rules to play a Regimental level game, albeit with 28mm figures. They very worked well - the lack of lots of armour, its relative fragility vs WW2 armour (even Machine Guns at close range can KO a light tank or armoured car) balanced by teh dearth of anti-tank weaponry. The race between early Greek numerical superiority vs Bolshevik problems with reinforcing over a narrow bridge bottleneck made for a very exciting game, with the advantage swinging both ways. 

The Greek approach was simple - get there firstest with the mostest before the Reds could reinforce their position, and to put as much weight of fire on them across the board- a classic use of Evzone assault troops. The downside of this was inability to deply heavy weaepons ear;y, so the tanks were used to spearhead the attack.

The Russians eventually won by agressive (and suicidal) delaying tactics , to slow the Greek advance down (especially the "charge of the light armoured car brigade" early in the battle - in Rapid Fire, troops attacked by AFV and unsupported by their own AFVs are very likely to retire - and the Allies did!) . The Reds then very nearly lost it after the tanks arrived, but managed to KO the first French squadron at close range as it approached the town by rushing their guns over the bridge (Comrade Napoleonski to the rescue!). But by doing that, they nearly lost it as the lack of infantry allowed the Greeks to clear the top half of the town, and only the suicide attack of the CO and Commissar platoon bought enough time for reinforcements to rush over the bridge and slow the Greeks down with house to house fighting, and more importantly allow the rest of the Red third battalions to cross the bridge. At this point the Greeks losses, now at about 33% overall, started to tell against them as fresh Bolshevik units started to move into the fighting.

The Greek field hospital is kept very busy...Rapid Fire rewards use of medics in the rules

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Baroque and Roll

There were amazing scenes at the Byzantion Opera last night, when the English Baroque and Roll quartet known as the West Hampsteade Orchestra (The WHO) played, and young gentlemen of the town, all carrying their newly fashionable Guitars, set about each other afterwards in the foyer.

Apparently the behaviour of one Mr Peter Townshende, a member of the quartet, had so inflamed passions with his wild and abandoned playing of the instrument, that they became quite uncontrolled and the local Vardariots had to intervene and restore order.

We understand the young bloods of the town have picked up the guitar in order to serenade and so reduce their intended loves to a quivering passion.

There is some confusion as to where the new popularity comes from - some say from the Turkish quarter, some say from the Spanish and Italian mercenary troops in the Guard regiments who have been seen serenading their amours around town, some say from those very Vardariot troops, many of whom are gypsies from the Balkan hills. 

Chief of City Policing, Colonel Klulos, said that the guitar was inciting young men to become public menaces - "most people can put up with the serenading at all hours of the night", he said, "so long as the serenaders can actually sing and play, which too often is not the case". He muttered darkly about proposing a new byelaw that would allow immediate confiscation of the instruments and a fine, with no strings attached. "Lets see if they have the guts to play then".

(Guitar frenzy is not exactly a new thing..."the role of the guitar as a courtly instrument during the 17th and 18th C were largely over but it had always remained as a favorite of the lower classes. During the last third of the 18th century this success transferred to the fashionable salons and the domestic sphere of the bourgeoisie."

Original Painting by Charles de Marescot. "Discussion entre les Carulistes et les Molinistes". )

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Byzantine Regiments No. 1 - Les Biscotins

The oldest regiment in the New Byzantine army, and now one of the Guard regiments,they were originally personal troops belonging to the old Basileos in the early, frantic days of the country's formation, and was largely made up of men demobbed from the War of the Austrian Succession, They were experienced troops, drawn from most of the combatant countries, even previous foes. In order to get over the issue of which country was favoured, they were dressed in a brown coat, a colour that no country had as a main uniform.

In Olde Byzantium,a General's personal troops were called "Bukelarii" or "Biscuit Eaters".Whether it was for this reason,or that some wags said that their brown coats and red vests and trousers made them look like jam filled pastries , they acquired the nickname "Les Biscotins" - which they have kept ever after.

(A Biscotin is a soft pastry with a sweet filling, my gratitude to Armand on The Miniatures Page for the idea of the unit's nickname)

Friday, 21 January 2011

Byzantia's 1920's/1930's military doctrine debates

It is the late 1920's, and Byzantia's General Staff  is of course reading all the latest military theories and doctrines, while observing wnat people actually do asw ell. For example, looking at the Great States.

Firstly, Air Power:

The French air force was the world's largest and most powerful when World War I ended in 1918. Although not a separate service, it nonetheless enjoyed a certain prestige for its excellent performance during the war. Things soon deteriorated, however. Demobilization hit the air arm particularly hard, partly because the army officers in charge gave preference in funding to ground forces and equipment. In addition, French politicians reflected the mood of the people, who were increasingly fearful of and pessimistic about a German resurgence. Defense policy, readily supported by the army, increasingly focused on a defensive stance in the east. The Maginot Line would stand as an impregnable and concrete trench when the Germans returned. Air theory, which in France stressed the offensive and revolutionary nature of strategic air attack (as it did in Britain, the United States, and Italy), was distinctly unwelcome in such a passive environment.

In both Britain and the United States, budget cuts took a severe toll on the air arms. In Britain, for example, the Royal Air Force (RAF) received on average a mere 15 percent of the defense budget, and in the United States, the Air Corps had an even smaller share. Similarly, the RAF found itself constantly under attack from the army and navy which sought to disestablish the RAF as a separate service and take back the airplanes they had lost in 1918. In the United States, of course, the Army firmly controlled its Air Corps and quashed ail talk of a separate service.

As you can imagine, the Generals really like this - the Air Marshall is somehat annoyed, and instead quotes Billy Mitchell, dreaming of fleets of bombers that can fly higher and faster han any fighter and project power from on high. So much so that he is arguing for Byzantia to set up shop and manufacture the flown then dropped U S "Barling Bomber" (above picture)

Secondly, the Land War:

The victorious armies were saddled with huge stockpiles of 1918-model equipment and ammunition and had to use up these stockpiles at peacetime rates before major new expenditures could be justified, so real change is very slow (and Byzantia can get its hands on the most "modern" equipment easily - as can their foes, sadly).

JFC Fuller is oft quoted, with his ideas to defeat the enemy by a "pistol shot to the brain" of enemy headquarters and communications, instead of by destroying the combat elements through systematic attrition. But to do that Byzantia needs a fast twenty miles per hour tank, to exploit the rupture of trenches caused by slower heavy tanks. But Fuller is ignoring the role of infantry in the mechanized team, argue opponents. Men in trucks is all very well, but that can't safely get them fighting in close coordination with armor.

France is choosing to construct a sophisticated version of the defenses that had apparently worked so well at Verdun, they will call it the Maginot Line.  The French doctrine seems to be viewing combined arms as a process by which all other weapons systems assist the infantry in its forward progress. Tanks are considered to be "a sort of armored infantry," subordinated to the infantry. The French cavalry are experimenting extensively with armored cars and motorcycles, and even half-tracks. These half-tracks sometimes formed combat teams with armored cars and towed artillery! There is much excitement over an embryo Light Armoured Division, with lots of Armoured Cars.

Very interesting for a small country that can afford some cars, but new tanks, large underground fortifications and fleets of bombers are a tougher ask, esecially in the anti-war environment of the 1920's

Some are even arguing that the German approach, concentrating all their resources on a relatively narrow front for breakthrough. This concentration of forces requires the careful integration of all weapons and arms at battalion level or below to overcome the enemy's defenses. The infiltration tactics of 1917-18 reflected this viewpoint and were retained after the armistice,the 1921 German Regulation on Command and Combat of the Combined Arms included not only the infantry assault battalion and the carefully planned artillery and preparations of 1918, but also close air support, gas warfare, and tanks in an Infantry-support role. But the Germans lost the war, so what could they know?

Some of Byzantia's officers (quite a few ex White Russians and Greeks) fought in the Russian Civil War. Because of the vast distances and understrength armies involved In the Civil War, penetration and encirclement were no longer difficult, and fluid maneuver was the rule. Cavalry rules! shout the horey types. However, Russia was far more open than the hilly Balkans, so others are arguing for using the terrain as much as possible, and training specialist troops to use it well and "be like Ghosts".

There is also a trend in all armies to move from the "square" 4 platooon - 4 company structure to the "Triangular" 3-platoon - 3 company structure. Take the Americans for example, Pershing is banging on about moving the machine gun and other specialized heavy weapons into the infantry rifle organization at every level. To avoid an excessive span of control, each commander has a headquarters, three subordinate rifle units, plus a weapons unit--three rifle platoons and a heavy weapon platoon in each company, with three such companies plus a heavy weapons company in each battalion.

And then there is the question of how to pop enemy armour - Heavy Machine guns can nail armoured cars and light tanks, but you need something at a lower level, as combat experience showed. Last but not least is what to do with the Chauchat - Byzantia was equipped with them by the French and they arre still the primary squad Automatic Rifle, and it works far better in the hiolls of the Balkans thean the gritty trenches of France - but maybe a weapon with more firepower - or just more Chauchat teams?

So, a ferment of change.....

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