Saturday 6 April 2024

The Hattingen Incident (Austro-Bavaria vs Burgundy, 1936)

An Austro-Bavarian force was moving south-west into Baden on the south bank of the Danube to cut off Burgundian communations to the Untersee area, but met a Burgundian force moving north-east along the same south bank. They met near Hattingen, and the first shots were fired in what is now known as the ABB War (by the Austro Bavarian artillery, as it happened).  


 Austro Bavarian artillery preparing to fire on Burgundian units advancing towards Hattingen (top of the picture)


How did it come to this, I hear you ask. Why are Austro-Bavaria and Burgundy at War on the Danube? 

Well, after WW1, as you may recall, the Allies wanted to make sure the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans could never again threaten their hegemoney. So these were all broken up, but some of these changes had unforeseen coonsequences.

Firstly, when Bavaria was broken off from Germany, no one predicted it would unite with the other major Catholic German state, Austria, who had been split from its Hungarian and Italian posessions. Using a structure remarkable similar to the Austro-Hungarian one, Austro-Bavaria has become a major MittelEuropa state.

Also, if you recall, the Allies desire to build a buffer state between Germany and France had led to the formation of a new Lotharingia - parts of North France and Southern Gemany were put together as a "buffer" state between the two (with some objection by the France and Germany and the delight of the newly formed country's folk, given the US had promised a lot of recosntruction money). 

What no one anticipated is that some parts of France, fed up with the Paris-central government after WW1, united with this new state to form a New Burgundy.

And of course no sooner was this done than these two new states grabbed another German split-off state, Baden-Wurttemburg, between them. Burgundy took Baden (and Pfalz to boot), Austro-Bavaria took Wurttemburg.

But the bit of Baden that projected far east to the Bodensee was, in Austria-Hungary's opinion, too stratgically sensitive to allow Burgundy to own. Similarly, Burgundy consided the piece of Wurrtemburg that pushed down into "Baden lands" was not acceptable. Both launched surprise attacks at the same time.......

Anyway, we are where we are, and the Burgundians have just had an unpleasant surprise as artillery came thumping down on their advanced positions. Both sides rapidly advanced towards Hattingen.


Burgundians advance from the south - west, occupying the high ground by the the Beau Gaste Inn while their armour (bottom) moves right

A Bavarian unit moved rapidly to occupy the Inn, while anorther Bavarian unit moved to occupy Hattingen itself. The Inn, built in North African style was a famous landmark in the area at the time, built by an Austrian who had served in the Foreign Legion. It was heavily damaged in this battle.

Bavarian Infantry supported by Ford Tankettes advances  towards Hattingen iteslf  .   

The Bavarians were now in Hattingen and occupying the Inn, but the Bugundians mounted a major attack on the Inn from the high ground and surrounding buildings and subjected it to artillery and fire from tankettes. The Bavarian and Burgundians tankettes also started shooting at each other

In the meanwhile, the Austro-Bavarians had launched an Austrian cavalry and armoured car pincer attack on their right flank... 

Austrian armoured cars, cavalry and horse artillery advance to their right (west) to make a pincer move around Hattingen

 ..but this was stopped by Burgundian tanks rushing to block them, and later followed up by Burgundian infantry. The Austrians cavalry dismounted and called down artillery on the tanks but it had turned into a stalemate


Burgundian multi-turreted British supplied medium tanks stopped the Austrian cavalry, but came under heavy shell fire themselves.  

Both sides' flank attacks were neutralized and it became a battle of attrition. The Burgundians eventually forced the Austrian out of the Inn and could start to push again on their right. This overwhelmed the Austro-Bavarians and they were forced to withdraw. (We used O Group rules, roughly level pegging until last turn when Burgundy inflicted 2 FUBARS, winning 4-2)

Both armies follow the Imagi-Nations code of "Invent your counry, design your flag, paint your army - and in the Interwar era , choose the 1920's/30's armour you love - and assert your right to rule!.

Also, each time a new Imagi-Nation is invented, we have to bend the Versailles Treaty ever further. Thank heavens the next two entrants are a British  privateering Foreign Legion and the US Marines, neither of whom need Treaty-bending. 

PS - re the Beau Gaste Inn -  we had that model of a North African building complex, on it went, and to justify it being in Germany the name and alt-history backstory followed. (In Alt-operetta-plot, Leopold does join the Foreign Legion, and all else follows from that.)

Friday 29 March 2024

Action at Stare Sztretum, Trans Syldavia

A Bordurian force was very nearly destroyed at Stare Sztretum, but the cavalry (and air force) arrived in the nick of time!

The town of Stare Sztretum lies (right hand side of table) at a key branching point of major roads  -one  to the North, one to the sea (West), and one to the main port city of Szeszik (south - west).

In a repeat of the pattern so far, Syldavian forces set up defences in the town and neighbouring hamlets, and stopped the main frontal Bordurian thrust in its tracks (well strictly speaking, in its boots - Borduria has less armour than Syldavia). 

And again the Bordurians were surprised to see Burgundian Italiian forces fighting with the Syldavians

However, a Bordurian Advanced Recce force of armoured cars and cavalry, with its horse artillery and machine gun Tchanka waggons., managed to work around the right flank

But it was hard going - firstly, the supporting BA-10 armoured cars were destroyed by Syldavian 25mm anti tank guns hidden in the woods, and the cavalry was then attacked by Burgundian tankettes and retired behind the hill while the horse artillery deployed and attempted to destroy the tankettes. (Above picture, bottom left). 

A key to the battle - as with the 2 previous ones - was to call up the air support. The dreaded Polikarpov Po 2's of the Bordurian Air Force bombed the woods where the Syldavian forces were entrenched (below)  and you can see the Syldavian tankettes are taking damage from the Bordurian horse artillery  (which fortunately was very accurate -  those tankettes were unstoppable by cavalry or tchanka MMGs, but a 75mm Schneider shell is a different matter),

(As an aside - did you know, in Russia, that when the KV-1s appeared the Germans had no effective anti tank to match it so rushed old French Schneiders up to the front as they could at least disable the Russian tanks at a decent range)

The Bordurian cavalry were then able to advance behind the town, cutting communications and forcing the Syldavians to retire again. Aircraft can reach parts of the table other troops can't.....   

This was the first "real" Bordurian victory, we used points based on capturing enough on-field objectives and the Bordurians  getting round the flank of the Syldavian forces was one way of achieving that. 

The cavalry managed it, by the whiskers of Kurvi Tasch! (It was also the first use of a cavalry force in any of our games, apart from pure scouting.) 

(In) Conclusion

Three battles into the Invasion, this has proved great fun so far. As with all good Imagi-Nations, the army structures, unifiorms etc are of our own devising. It is also an oppoprtunity to field all sorts of 1930's vehicles - a real rivet fest!

The Mysterious Burgundians are part of a developing Alt-Hustory story (as more players get involved and armies are produced

All of us have gone for large variety of different vehicles in our armies in (signifing the rapid development of weapons, and the huge experimetation in the 1930's of course, nothing to with our desire to field loads of interesting machines nonono :D ).

Borduria I imagine (using the Tintin books as reference) as fairly undeveloped and rural.and their military is not very efficient. But it has a larger population than the more advanced and mechanised Syldavian forces.

Borduria starts the 1930's under Italian/German influence (Musstler) but after the failed invasion of Syldavia a Russian leaning Taschist regime putsches them out and takes power. Borduria thus has a collection of (mainly) German and Russian equipment. Borduria also has a much bigger reliance on horses in the military (the role of the horse in the 1930's was hugely disputed) and struggles with getting enough fuel for the limited number of trucks (another reason it wants Szeszik, it gains  ots own port).

Syldavia (again from Tinitin) is seen as a typical 1930's Balkan country, with a hereditary king and aristocracy, and has invested heavily in modernising itself under its young King's reign. Syldavia threw in its lot with the victorious allies after WW1, and has a bias towards British and French equipment.

The broader Alt - History picture will unfold over the next, but for now it's worth knowing that Europe post WW1 was a very fractious place, and we imagine some fracture that could have occurred, actually did. Hence Italian troops of the Burgundian Commonwealth appearing in defence of Trans Syldavia. 

Next to enter the stage will be the Austro-Bavarian Dual Kingdom...(see below). Austro-Bavaria and Burgundy will be fighting the next battle in the series.



Saturday 24 February 2024

Stop Press! Bordurians Invade Trans Syldavia!

The Bordurians have crossed the Trans Syldavian border in a number of places, their strategy seems to be to send a large column to try and set up blockades at the main passes over the Syldavian Alps so Syldavian reinforcements can't get into Trans Syldavia easily, while another column is moving straight for the port city of Szeszik, and a third is crossing at he area around Kustomz to follow the northern road, probably to try and go around any opposition eho is trying to prevent the direct advance to Szeszik.

Our Man on the spot  has ieced together what haoppened at Kustomz and filed thsi report befire having to leave in a hurry. The Syldavian forces at Kustomz fought well (see last post) but were eventually overcome by sheer numbers and had to retire.  (The Syldavians won the actual battle, but they had to achieve a  high kill rate to force Borduria back, so we judged - for this mini campaign - that the Bordurian 2nd wave would have over-run Kustomz.)

He deceded discretion was the better part of valour and retired back into Trans Syldavia, But the next morning was  manabegd to photograph Bordurian BT-5 tanks rolling through town he was staying in and decided to leg it again.


He retired as far as the hamlets of Velke and Male Klenplek where  Syldavian forces had set up a defendive line. But no sonner had he filled up teh car than Bordurians advance forces attacked. 

The Bordurians again had bigger numbers but the Syldavians have better armour.and training. Our man was ALSO very surprised to see a a small force of Burgundians from Italy fighting with the Syldavian forces (more on this later....)  

 (Above) Bordurian troops preparing to attack Syldavian forces n the hamlets.moving down the main road to Szeszik

Again the Bordurians struggled to make headway against the better equipped Syldavians in defence, and again the use of aircraft was effective. 

In this game we also introduced a Bordurian Mountain Infantry unit (aka better infantry than the poor quality Bordurian line troops) and they had more impact in assaulting built up areas.

Again it was a Syldavian victory in numbers, but the Bordurians carried the attack into Velke Klenplek, thus securing the main road forward and we judged the Bordurians would secure it and the Syldavians would retire again (and thus of course, another battle would have to be fought....).  

 (Below) Bordurian Polikarpov Po 2 attacking Burgundian troops. The Syldavians command were taken by surprise by the Bordurian invasion and have few air assets in TransSyldavia.

Sunday 7 January 2024

The Trans-Syldavian War of 1938 starts......

One of the things the Tintin books oddly do not cover is Trans-Syldavia, that region north of the Syldavian Alps whose history which has been covered in this blog over the years. Now as you all know, in 1867 Trans-Syldavia was awarded to Borduria as part of the Austro-Hungarian compromise and in WW1 Borduria supported the Austro Hungarian empire (when it looked like they would win) , whereas Syldavia had (belatedly) supported the Allies and was thus rewarded with Trans-Syldavia  at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. 

Of course, ever since then, Bordurian foreign policy as been to get Trans-Syldavia back, as it had given that most coveted of things, a route to the sea. When the attempt of Anschluss failed (covered in the Tintin book "King Ottokar's Sceptre" and Kûrvi-Tasch putsched Musstler out of power, Borduria's aims were reduced to getting Trans-Syldavia back. Borduria has been "testing" the Syldavians by "exercising" on the border and occasionally "accidently" going across it.

But news hitting the wires today, it looks like phony war may be over.......our correspondent in Klow  was travelling to Szohod yesterday, and had just breakfasted at the Hotel XXXX in the Syldavian border town of Kustomzs and was travelling the to the nearby border post when Bordurian cavalry clattered past racing the other way, into Syldavia. On nearing border the post he realised it was now a Bordurian operational HQ and started to take some photographs when Bordurian troops ran up and put him in the cell at the border post, along with a the Syldavian Borders Officials and a few hapless civilians caught up in the affray.


Senior Bordurian Army staff at the border post near Kustomsz, as Bordurian armoured cars roll over into Syldavia

Fortunately the Bordurians were too busy with invading to pay them much notice, and in all the chaos no one had checked if the Syldavian border guards had keys to the cell (they did) and - no one is quite sure how - the guards and he made their escape while the Bordurian officers were at lunch, making their way back carefully across country as the action unfolded.

Arriving back long after dark (and nearly getting shot by jumpy Syldavian pickets near Kustomsz and wired this report.

"We escaped from the border post by crawling along a ditch for several hundred meters and them making a run for some woods .From there we saw Bordurian armoured cars and horse artillery racing into Syldavia along the road to Kustomz. Soon affter that Bordurian infantry started marching through. We were nearly discovered when Bordurian infantry started moving close to the woods on the other side. They were Mountain troops, the Syldavian customs officials said.

And last but not least, the Bordurian Air Force attacked in support, attacking the Syldavian positions around Kustomz.

We await more information...




Sunday 7 May 2023

Interbellum Imagi-Nations in the Balkans - O Group Rules

Yesterday saw the clash between a number of our Interwar Imagi-Nations being built - Syldavia and Burgundy faced up to Borduria and the Austro-Bavarians somewhere in the Balkans, using O Group rules.

Burgundian Independent tanks and Rolls Royce armoured cars support Syldavian infantry. In the far disance, Bordurian AH-1V tankettes advance along the main road to Sprodj

This Imagi-Nation project is mainly concocted to allow troops dressed in unlikely uniforms from countries that never existed to use weapons that never fought. The background assumes a somewhat different Treaty of Versailles, plus some regions of Europe unilaterally declaring indpendence in the chaos after WW1, yet another Civil War in the US, plus Red Russian attempts to retake their territories on the North American West Coast. So far Syldavia, Borduria, Byzantium, Burgundy, Austro-Bavaria and both sides the US 2nd Civil war have taken the field. 

In the spirit of Imagi-nations, it's locate your country, design your flag and uniform, pick your tanks and guns, and assert your right to rule!


Burgundians with tankette support moving through the cornfield to attack Bordurians in the woods

 For the cognoscenti, the battle pitted Burgundian Char D's, Independent Tanks, Rolls Royce armoured cars and Polish TKS tankettes and 2 pounder guns against the Indiana Jones tanks of Austro-Bavaria (ever cautious, they have gone for upgrading trusted technology) and the Czech-equipped Bordurians with AH-1V tankettes, Vz 30 six wheel armoured cars and Lt 35 tanks,  with French 25mm and 47mm AT guns

 Czech vz 30 armoured cars of the Bordurian Splozh  Huszars attempt to outflank the Burgundian left

 And by the whiskers of Kurvi Tasch, it was a glorious Bordurian victory!

We had to build a fairly comprehensive set of data on all the 1920's/30's equipment used (getting data on the Indiana Jones Tank was tricky) but O Grou is vfairly good for thi as  ts a "category" based ruleset - you just have to decicde whether the tanks had thin armour, negligently thin armour, or ludicrously thin armour

Next time - inventing our own army org structures...

Sunday 16 April 2023

Borodinette - Valour & Fortitude, 1812


 Played in glorious 25mm on a 12 x 6 table. Russians on the left, French on the right.

Borodino refought using Valour & Fortitude rules, with about 1/3rd of the battalions / cavalry regiments actually used. Biggest game we have tried so far with V&F, c 20 Brigades on table for each side. Scenario plan & layout was adapted from a Command & Colours one.

It was maginifcent, and it was (model) war!

Rules flowed very well. At this scale it becomes all about retiring units and entire brigades before they collapse so you can reform them in the rear, and anticipating where pressure will come in advance. You also really undrstand the value of heavy cavalry, as you can move them around the field quickly to solve problems.
In the game, the Russian error of over-egging their their well-protected right flank (bottom left in picture) was really noticeable. This was pounced upon by the French, who did not copy Napoleon's error of charging up the centre in the face of 2 hilltop fortifications but instead mounted a huge assault on the Russan left flank (top left of picture) and a big feinting attack on the right flank.
With the home fronts calling we had to stop after c 6 hours of hard pounding. But it was already clear that the main Russian objective in reality, of killing enough French to seriously damage their campaign, was being achieved and in fact at this point in reality the Russian army started to retire to achieve their 2nd objectve of keeping an army in the field.
Historically Napoleon refused to commit his Imperial Guard and (maybe) destroy the Russians at the end of the day, which some of his generals and many armchair generals and historians see as a big error. If our game was anything to go by, with parts of the Guard already committed and the Russians still a viable force, Boney may well have also wanted to make sure he also kept an army in being!
Fortitude before Valour, and all that.... 

Monday 10 April 2023

Valour & Fortitude in the Peninsula


Valour & Fortitude game, 25mm Anglo-Portuguese vs Franco-Spanish on 12' x 5' table

2 Corps of a Franco-Spanish-Italian-Wurttemburg-German army attacked 1 1/2 Corps of an Anglo Portuguese army (complete with Brunswickers). And when we say Corps, we mean each battalion on the table is 16 - 24 figures. None of this 1 stand = 1 battalion stuff....
The British were on the Heights, but they had to take the town - only problem was a French army had arrived, and - worse luck - its Spanish allies arrived in bound 1. 
Though outnumbered the plucky British were doing quite well - until a Spanish priest saw a vison and incited a bunch of peasants to attack a Portuguese gun battery, which they destroyed and they then proceeded to sweep down the line helping destroy a Portuguese infantry battalion and a British Hussar regiment, which set off a domino like collapse of the Portuguese Division, and then the British right flank. (Lesson - do not ignore Spanish Guerillas that dice 6 on their "Unpredictable" score….)
By day's end, (literally - took us c 11am - 6 pm to play) with Spanish cavalry pouring into the British rear and nearly all the Britsh brigades wavering or worse, it was all over and the Britsh ran for the hills.
This game let us try out the British and Spanish army lists which we havent used before, as well as the new French & British Allies list with Portuguese, Brunswickers, Italians, Wurttemburgers / Germans and Guerillas - and a Congreve rocket!

Very happy with the V&F rules, they handle these big battles well, though I think they may need to expand the 4 pages of the rulebook with another page to add a bunch finesses