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

Thursday, 30 March 2023





Above  - glorious Atlantic & Airfix plastic figures, source of many ancient starter armies in the 70's


Went to the RAF Wargames Association annual day to play 2 days of Big Triumph, the Triumph ancients rules expanded for larger armies. This was played in 20mm which meant I could get out my old skool Atlantic plastic army, consisting of their Greek, Roman and Trojan sets plus Airfix & Revell Gauls - all modelled as that great "anything goes in it" of Ancient armies, the Carthaginians,.

The scenario was "Africa v Rome" - what would have happened if the African nations united against the Roman boot. This pitted Carthaginian, Numidian and Ptolemaic Egyptian Triumph armies against Roman legions, who also recruited a bunch of Galatian mercenaries for that phalanx cracking task.

Anyway, in an enjoyable series of 3 big games it was Rome 1, Africa 1, Inconclusive draw 1. For the Galatian v Phalanx action, it was 1 - 1. Whoever got the advantage early on won the fight, and getting the advantage early on was also a function of messing up the other sides' advance to contact. 

So, for the Carthaginian general the fiery furnace was avoided for this campaign, and Roman strategy shifted to seducing the Queen of Egypt, which would turn out to be a winner one day. 

The rules are fast play and on the surface very simple, but once the armies are large like the ones  we used, the "simple" game becomes more about anticipation, moving reserves and - as always - throwing better dice when it counts ;)  Net net, a good set of rules for playing the big games we like, we have found time and again that simple fast play rules are the best way of playing large games, the devil moves from the details to the deployment and decisions on the day. 



Thursday, 16 February 2023

Valour & Fortitude Napoleonic Rules

Action somewhere on the endless Russian steppes!

We've been trying out the Perry Valour & Fortitude rules for our big battle obession, and they work pretty well. They are a 6 page free ruleset and each army also has a 2 page ruleset (see page here). 

This is the entire Austrian Corps in Russia, 1812 fighting equal points of Russians, c 600 points.The armies are built up from battalions / cavalry regiments / gun  batteries, which are then organised into brigades, each brigade has a commander and these brigades are the main operating elements of the game.

We used ground scale at 2/3 the Perry rules scale, it worked well even on the 10 x 6 table we were using.

Because shooting happens before you move, and often you can't move after you shoot, we used cotton wool to represent unts that had shot, which gives the table a realistic-ish look (see pic above). You also need also need battalion casualties, shaken and wavering markers.

Shooting and combat are handled very elegantly, but the game really runs off the morale rules ("Valour" is the degradation of a battalion in action as it moves from fresh to shaken, and "Fortitude" is what the Brigade commander needs as more  of his battalions become shaken. Bad things happen when already shaken battalions are hit again, and wavering brigades have to deal with these new shocks. Units then disappear quite fast, and ditto brigades break and run quickly too. 

The main role of artillery and skirmishers is to degrade units, if you can put a first casualty on a unit it is no longer fresh which impacts its ability to take more shooting, and its melee capability. Small skirmish foot detachments and cavalry vedettes using carbines are also quite useful for this reason, and they are hard to hit but need to be dealt with, wasting time and resource. 

This is great as a big battle ruleset, as individual unit actions are quick to resolve and disappear quite quickly, so it plays well to armies with lots of units on the table. You have to start thinking about reinforcements, about retiring units etc - the battle starts to resemble the books that talk about how senior commanders saw the battles.

Also, little touch - you have to have gun limbers to represent moving/stationary and direction of travel. Just makes the battlefield look more complete.

The game at present only has one general, and he has an influence range of 4' (at 2/3 ground scale) so on a 10 x 6' table we used a simple CiC + Sub Generals structure, each sub General counting as a V&F General, so we could command brigades over the whole table, and we played you just handed over reseve brigades from one general to another as they moved (mainly the cavalry brgades). It worked well, we may make something a bit more structured (maybe handovers need a messenger test) but this level of simplicity sort of fits the high level view of the rules.  


Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Interbellum Wars - Borduria

 слава бордурія ! (Glory to Borduria)


Bordurian Interbellum equipment - armour and heavy weapons (still thinking about other camouflage)

The previous post introduced Byzantium in the 1920's and 30's. I realised I needed some imaginary opponents, and the first state that came to mind was Borduria, from the Tintin books.

To those unfamiliar with The Adventures of Tintin, the Balkan state of  Borduria is mentioned in the 1939 book  King Ottokar's Sceptre, ruled by the Fascistic dictator Musstler (I'm sure you can see where that came from). In the The Calculus Affair (1956), Borduria is depicted as a stereotypical Stalinist regime, ruled by Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch - and the symbol of the Kûrvi-Tasch regime is a large moustache. Here is the Bordurian flag of the Tasch Regime:

I wanted my Bordurian imaginary nation to be the Kûrvi-Tasch regime and not the Musstler one as (i) the moustache symbol is a must-have and (ii) because 1930's Russian gear looks far cooler than German. So, obviously at some time in the late 1930's the Musstler regime was overthrown via a Soviet sponsored takeover, and Kûrvi-Tasch was set up in its place. One last thing - Tintin's Borduria seems to wrote in Latin lettering but I want Cyrillic - clearly one of  Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch's crash programs was to go Cyrillic like his masters! So, with that:

To bring Borduria into being in the Balkans required a bit of rejigging of history. Since Byzantium's existence depended on it being formed as a class C mandate in 1919 at the partiale xpense of Yugoslavia, it seemed that one may as well throw the whole Balkan settlement up in the air and delete Yugoslavia before it occurred, and allow Borduria and other imaginary Balkan nations to emerge instead. 

As mentioned in the preceding Byzantium post, one of the issues in the later 1930's was the smaller states getting equipment from major nations, they tended to produce for themselves and their client states. The Soviet Union was no different, but as a Stalinist client state Borduria has no problems getting (fairly) up to date equipment.

Incidentally, for no other reason than one of the other players has a 15mm WW1 Austro Hungarian army to use in this project, it was clear that Austria and Hungary must still be kept together. But Czechoslovakia had to be hived off in order to keep all their arms exports flowing through to Byzantium and other Balkan imagi-nations, ditto all Austria-Hungary's other Balkan possessions had to be confiscated so various other imaginary Balkan nations could emerge. (More on this later, readers of this blog may recall the 1848 independence  struggles of Trans Syldavia......)  

At any rate, for the purposes of Interbellum gaming, Borduria is equipped with all the Russian 1930's stuff I have collected, with the German equipment inherited from the earlier Musstler era (mainly aircraft, infantry weapons and artillery). So in short, Borduria fields:

- Scout / Light Armoured car - Sd Kfz 221

- Heavy armoured car - BA-6 (later 10)

- Light/Cavalry tank - BT-5 (later 7)

- Medium / Infantry tank - T-28

- They also use the German 37mm Pak 30, and the Russian 45mm infantry field gun.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

1930's Interbellum Byzantia


Above - the emergence of an Imagi-Nation - see text for forces used and why

Some years ago I sketched out Byzantium re-emerging, as a Mandate state after WW1 (see here for the back story). I started building a force for project this in 28mm using Greek Evzone models from Eureka miniatures (and Disney Atlantic tanks of course) but it never really went that far. (Interestingly these Evzones, used as Real Greeks, turned into one of my most played armies because the Evzones look much the same in Balkan Wars, WW1, Russian Civil War and WW2 - and so I have gamed with them across all these periods.)

But of my clubmates and his son have built 1930's Imagi-Nations in 15mm, so it is time to restart my own project, albeit in 15mm scale. The benefit I am finding is that its cheaper, armies are bigger, and less detail = less work = faster gaming.

In the 1920's there was little appetite for war and most armies had huge stocks of WW1 equipment to work through before there was any justification for bringing in new weaponry. But by the early 1930's the delayed technical advances were coming quickly, and drove a lot of debate and change (and also rate of change meant systems that were a few years old were almost obsolescent and constantly forced new thinking).

However despite the changes there were some standard trends, vehicle types etc that emerged in this period, and general principles in how they are to be used:

The Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Amoured cars - there were "Light" and "Heavy" cars, usually grouped together in Reconnaisance Units

- Light were mainly for scouting and typically caried a machine gun or (later)  a heavy machine gun or anti-tank rifle level main gun. One sub-type of light armoured car is the Scout car, which can also carry a few troops.

- Heavy tended to be better armoured ans carried heavier weapons

Tanks - in this era theer were quite a few tank types. As well as Light, Medium and Heavy tanaks there were also Infantry and Cavalry tanks.

- Light were "scouting" tanks and were typically lightly armed and armoured

- "Cavalry" or cruiser tanks - were fast light tanks, used to outmanouvre eemies and and pursue after the breakthrough, so they should have longer range and carry more fuel and so were bigger than most light tanks 

- Medium were the "battle" tank, they were to destroy any enemy formations. Oddly in the early days they often have general purpose medium calibre howitzers guns but over time they inceasingly have anti ank main guns.

- Heavy tanks are attached to the infantry and help with breaking through enemy formations. They start with carrying large (typically 75mm) howitzers. In WW2 they also start to sport larger anti tanks guns (often repurposed anti aircraft guns)

- "Infantry" tanks' role is to support infanry. Speed is not an issue, so these are typically slow. They are mobile pillboxes. As infantry anti tank capability increases the need for better armour becomes clear. 

One interestng feature of the 1930's is the multi turret tank. There is an idea that tanks (especially infanty tanks) are "landships" and must carry weapons in different turrets. The French Char 2c, British Independet Tank and Russian T-28 and T-35 are the most over the top examples 

Two other AFV systems emerged in this period - tankettes and tank destroyers.

- Tankettes were very popular in the early part of this period, they were seen as either tracked scouting vehicles or infantry supporting mobile MG nests (or both) - is smaller, faster (and cheaper) lower versions of an Infantry tank. They died out as they were typically too lightly armoured when infantry anti tank improved, but the Britsh "Bren carrier" became very succesful in WW2 as it also had a transport capability.(Many tankettes were re-used as trailer or artillery tows)

- Tank Destroyers were lightly armoured tanks, armoured cars and even trucks with larger anti tank guns.

Also, from WW1 days Anti Aircraft trucks were built, and in the 1930's anti aircraft AFVs emerge. built  These were mainly based on existing armoured car or tank hulls. The armoured ones could be used in combat.


Trucks are increasingly being used to transport troops and supplies over this period, and some unts have dedicated truck transport. Various fully tracked vehicles are used as artillery tows. 

The Kegresse and "Halftrack" emerge in this period, and are quite popular for a while. The aim is to get tracked vehicle cross country performamce and wheeled vehicle ease/speed of travel. It turns out they also had the maintenance problems of tanks. Some halftracks are also used as armoured cars.

Horses are still fairly common in rear echelon transport and artillery tows.

The Infantry

WW1 saw a number of weapons appear (machine guns, mortars, rifle grenades, light machine guns, submacine guns) that had to be worked into infantry formations. Over time the increasing use of tanks forced the emergence of anti tank infantry weapons (initially large calibre rifles) and anti tank (higher muzzle velocity) guns. 

Structure wise, there was also debate about the traditional "Square" unit (4 platoons, companies etc) vs the triangular (3 platoons, companies etc). Cavalry was still a thing in this period, they had proven very useful in the Russian Civil War, and a horse was still a very effcetive way of moving men or materiel fast in this era. A major problem was how to structure units to integrate tanks (of all sorts), with infantry, cavalry, motor and horse transport. Many counries at this time had structures where the tank units were only integrated with infantry units at a high (typically divisional) level. Some countries just dumped them all in the same Division.

Those that fought in the Spanish Civil War start to understand that integration needs to happen at a lower level, and the Germans had the radical concept of infantry in hafltracks working with the tanks - but this was still not common in 1939

Special forces didn't really exist yet, Mountain Infantry, Marines and the new fangled Parachute troops are the main major specialist formations with their own (typically lighter) equipment. 

Bicycles are used to move infantry and don't require huge logistics effort (fuel/repair), reserve infantry battalions in foot formations were often bicycle troops so they could move fast to where they were needed. Downside is troops are tired after cycling long distances.

Cavalry arguably fight more like mounted infantry so is in effect a type of mobile infantry.

Recconnaisance troops were a specialism, they were usually kept at brigade and divisional level. Non armoured cars, lightly armoured Scout cars and motorcycles are often used by these troops and they are often combined with armoured cars and/or light tanks/tankettes.

Building a Force

We are using O Group battalion level rules for this project, so for my Battalion structure I went for the compromise "3+1" battalion - 3 Infantry Companies and a Heavy Weapons Company with mortar, machine gun and anti tank gun platoons. The rules also are designed for "Reinforced battalions" with a few vehicles etc. 

(Note also these levels of forces can easily step up a level to the Brigade level action using Fistful of ToWs rules for example)

There are 3 cases where a Reinforced Battalion occurs as far as I can see:

(i) "Recce in strength - Infantry company plus some of the Divisional Recce units

(ii) Armour and Infantry working together (oddly enough, in a lot of the 1930's TO&E structures armour and infantry were separated, the German integrated approach was relatively radical.)

(iii) "Reinforced" means having divisional infantry heavy weapons (artillery, anti-tank, machine guns etc added) 

So all that remains is to choose the equipment that you fancy modelling. Rule 1 is they have to have been available pre 1939. Rule 2 is the nation making them had to want to sell them. Rule 3 is they had to be weird /cool looking/weird/interesting:

Update - I have changed the equipment allocation from when I started the project, as I have bought more tanls :D The Russian gear initially cited is now used by Byzantium's hostile Balkan neighbour Borduria (see this post) - this is the New History;

Byzantium is assumed to have mainly bought what was available on the export market. By the late 1930's the major powers are using everything new they build for themselves. 

So I scoured the equipment of other similar smaller nations, and this list below is what Byzantium could arguably have obtained (apart from WW1 and 1920's kit) - whether bought, built (I assume they have some level of technical ability like say Hungary or Rumania) or otherwise attained:

Light Scout car -  The Citroen Kegresse halftrack line was around cince c 1934 and the US White M2A1 scout car came out in 1935 and either could arguably have been copied by a country that wanted something like it. The Czech OA vz. 30 6-wheel light armoured car found its way to a few countries.

Armoured car - The French tried to export the Citroen P-16 halftrack armoured car, and the Swedes exported the Landswerk L-180. A Byzantine own design - based on designs by the Hungarian designer Nicholas Straussner for Hungary (39m Csaba), or maybe designing something like South Africa's Marmon Herrington would be very possible. 

Tankettes ; Everyone bought or modified the British Carden Lloyd, and the Czech AH-1V and Italian L3/33 were exported.

Light tank - Swedish Landsverk L-60 tank (also modified into a Tank Destroyer), Czech LT 35 and Lt 38  (both used by Germans as Pz 35t and Pz 38t respectively) and Soviet T-26 were exported. The UK 6-ton tank was exported widely, Mk VI is a maybe (exported but only to Commonwealth).

Medium Tank - The"light medium" Hotchkiss H-35 or a "true medium" from Czech designs (e.g. Hungarian Turan )

Infantry Tank - Some countries obtained Renault R-35s. I assume Byzantium like many countries could buy WW1 Renault FT tanks that it could upgrade, these were still used as mobile infantry support into WW2.

Heavy Tank- No really heavy infantry tank was exported in this era. Arguably Byzantium could have modified WW1 tanks like the State of Hatay did, or maybe The Old Gang would have been amenable....

A few countries used tankettes or developed them (eg Renault UE Chenillette tractor-tankette) to pull battalion heavy weapons (AT guns etc).

Also some poweful anti tank guns were available to uparmour tanks or use as towed guns (or in tank destroyers) for example the French 25mm, Czech 37mm and 47mm guns were all exported.