Thursday, May 13, 2010

Enlightened Imaginations - Early 18th Century Balkania

A few friends of mine and I share in some Imagi-Nation wargaming activities concerning an imaginary region of the world known as Balkania. In the words of Eric the Wise (one of the original crafters of the concept of Balkania),
Welcome to Balkania! It is a fictitious land of petty princes and minor monarchs, located East of Venice, South of Vienna, West of Istanbul, and North of the Nile.

A good bit of the emphasis has been on late 19th century (roughly from about 1850-1915) period. Look for games, coming up at the Guns of August. Some of my own writings on the topic can be seen here. Notably, I have developed the imagi-nation of the Margravate of Furstenberg, and their centuries old foe, the Earldom of Rumpwhistle (later, after the revolution, the Confederated Cantons of Rumpwhistle). This has been accompanied with histories and military unit information, as well as some wargaming plans. The island of San Balkano was devised to serve as the backdrop for fictional Spanish-American War gaming. More coming about these fictional nations. Other states, created by my co-conspirators, include Trans-Turkylvania, the Kingdom of the Three Sicilies, The Empire of Vulgaria, Kingdome of Payepal, and others.

However, inspired by a desire to do some 18th century wargaming (Age of Enlightenment), as well as all of the inspiring 18th century Imagi-Nation work done on the internet (the activity is not limited to, but is broadly connected to the website Emperor vs. Elector), the editorial staff of Gaming with Chuck has decided to venture into the early 18th Century of Balkania.

Taking the nation of Furstenberg as my starting point, I wanted to come up with a couple of minor states that could serve for Marlborough-era wargaming, using fairly generic armies. This then morphed into developing some Great Northern War armies, but using them to represent my fictional principalities. This is leading to the conflict known alternately as the "Great Northern Furstenberg War", or the "War of the Pumpkin-King Succession".The gently rolling farmland and pasture country of the Simian plains of northern Furstenberg (later to become the agricultural province of Simia) was home to two petty principalities. Those were the Grand Duchy of Poppenheim, and the Principality of Bombastia. These self-styled petty kingdoms were really based around the medieval castles of some local barons, and their dependent villages and market-towns. However, one thing led to another, and in 1696, when the annual Pumpkin Faire was held at the Church of St. Gourdfellow, the judges of the annual Pumpkin-King contest were all found poisoned. The clergyman present, Father Squashnot of the Holy See of Balkania (later the kingdom of Payepal) declared the office of Pumpkin-King to be unclaimed, and the throne vacant. The two competing nobles, Duke Charles of Poppenheim and Prince Peter of Bombastia each claimed the throne, and the gauntlets were thrown. It could only end in war.

The blue uniforms of Poppenheim bear a passing resemblance to the uniforms of the Swedish Army in the Great Northern War.It has been mentioned that the green uniforms of Bombastia can sometimes be compared favorably to the uniforms of the Russian Army from the same conflict. It is not the place of the editorial staff of "Gaming with Chuck" to decide.Anyway, watch for further posting on this project, and also to watch painting progress. The staff will probably wait for the release of the new WSS (War of the Spanish Succession) figures from Wargames Factory before starting this project, but who knows?


abdul666 said...

A very enjoyable presentation of your pair of 'hereditary enemies'.
I did not play 'Empire : Total War' (and read mitigated reviews), but from the excerpts "available on YouTube the game is a great source of 'not perfectly historical' but pleasant and inspirational uniforms -a good source for 'Imagi-Native' regiments.

chuck said...

Abdul666 thanks so much for your kind comments! I have been quite busy over the past year or so in my final preparations of my PhD, so I haven't done any painting or miniatures projects at all. I have gotten several hundred of the new plastic Wargames Factory figures for Marlburian infantry modeling, and I think I will rely on them. It looks like the company is going through some difficulty under the new management, and this project was definitely a legacy of the old management, so I will probably have to look elsewhere for artillery, cavalry and other figures. The core of the project, however, is there - I have something like 432 infantry in the 12 boxes I have...and they can serve as musketry, pikes, grenadiers, musicians, officers - all the basic troop types. So, at some point in the near future, I will start painting up the regiments and battalions of Poppenheim and Bombastia.