Saturday, January 11, 2014

World War One miniatures - 1914/2014

So, it is (as mentioned in the preceding post about Siege of Augusta) the year of Our Lord 2014.  That means one hundred years since the dreadful (but fascinating) conflict known as The Great War began in Western Europe with the machinations of the German Schlieffen Plan, and the response by Belgium, France, and Britain.

This, of course, warrants a great deal of interest for wargaming, as well as general history reading.

Historical Miniatures

On the miniatures front, I have recently acquired a pair of early war armies, consisting of 180 French figures, one tank, and a number of machine guns for one side.  For the other, I have 190 German figures, some machine guns, and seven field guns.  Both of these forces are painted.  Which opens up the question of Rules. The first obvious choice is a variation of my Russian Civil War rules. Other possible choices are Square Bashing from Peter Pig; Volley and Bayonet; Over the Top; or a new set of rules written here at GwC HQ.

The French and ~half (110 figures) of the Germans came from my friend Bob, who was going to sell them at a convention.  The other 80 German infantry, and the seven field guns, came from eBay.

Early war German Infantry, via eBay

Field Guns - will be used for a variety of nationalities...also from eBay

As far as manufacture, the Germans certainly, and probably the French, are from Minifigs.  Minifigs early war Germans, with the Pickelhaub, are the best I have ever seen.  Funny, because I don't like their early war British figures at all.  I don't know who to deal with in the U.S. any longer for Minifigs, but the shipping terms from Spirit Games in the UK are always nice, and they carry the WW1 line.

Balkanian Imaginations

In a totally different scale, and focus, it turns out that the ImagiNations group that I am in, with the fictional states of Balkania at nearly constant war with each other, is also interested in 1914 wargaming. In this case, it is done in 54mm, using chiefly plastic figures.

In the case of Balkania, it appears saber rattling has given way to Furstenburg arming and mobilizing under General Plan Number 14.2.  The various Balkanian ethnic groups (Urbiks, Suburbiks, Bosniaks, TransTurkylvanians) saw this as reason to take up arms themselves, in response to the earlier punitive conflict known generally as the Frontier Adjustment Wars. The target of Furstenburg Aggression? None other than The Kingdom of 2.5 Sicilys.

Here is the original dispatch, from one of the Balkanian Gentleman in the group, describing the opening of the conflict.

...and the winds of war are stirring in Balkainia, according to the Gazette and Daily Post. The GADP reports that in an unusually energetic move, the Kingdom of 2.5 Sicilies is reorganizing and updating their mobilization plan. Rumored as Plan 14 1/4, it is designed to mobilize the military quickly and strike hard to recover the Lost Province brutally ripped from Balkainian Sicily by the Furstenberg led Third Coalition during the War of Frontier Adjustments, Part II. To that end all the painted figures (which look remarkably like 54mm plastic 1900 AIP French) have been rebased and terraformed, included appropriate command and artillery bases, into 3 Corps (if each base = 1 infantry or artillery regiment) or alternatively 1 division (if each base = 1 infantry or artillery battalion). Only two guns and 4 gunners remain to be converted to 1914, primed and painted for the mobilization of these Corps to be complete.

An order for these two guns has been placed with the Schnidely Cannon and Ordnance Works Ltd (SCOWL). Along with 4 additional guns for export to other Minor Powers (e.g., the Bosniaks, Suburbiks, and the Turklyvanians have all expressed an interest), 6  field guns are in the process of being completed by the SCOWL. Once the gun shields and a few other details have been added,  they will be ready for priming...

Alas, intelligence reports that the Furstenbergers have been busy rebasing and terriforming their troops as well. Due to concerns of a two-front war looming with the Vulgarian Empire, the Furstenbergers rebased and terraformed enough painted soldiers (that bear a remarkable resemblance to 1914 Germans) to creat 4 Corps (!). The 3 Regular Corps have almost all their artillery, while the Reserve Corps is equipped with the older non-quick firing breech-loaded guns. All the Corps are missing their Corps HQs (the political rivalries among the Great Squash and Pumpkin Families are holding things up...). The remaining 3 field guns and 3 howitzers for the Regular Corps have be ordered from Ackerwerks Gmb (rumored to be controlled Behind the Scenes by none other than the Karltoe Armaments Ltd; a rumor denied by both organizations).

Both sides are recruiting the associated cavalry, jaegers/chasseurs (foot and cyclist), and other specialists need to complete the forces.

With all this warlike activity can another war of Frontier Adjustment, Part II be long delayed?
I should point out that Gaming with Chuck staff are considering ordering some Armies in Plastic figures, to be painted up as TransTurkylvanians and Vulgarian Imperial Infantry.  For the great TransTurko-Vulgar War, as well as for use in 1914.  The TransTurko-Vulgar war (fought in the 1870s) was a natural carry over from the Crymea River war, where the Imperial Vulgarian army was stopped from conquering Suburbik homelands within the TransTurkylvanian Empire.  The troops that took part in the great Suburbo-Vulgar war could easily be reused for 1914, in a pinch.  The figures are also available from Armies in Plastic.
Vulgarian Empire Infantry
TransTurkylvanian Infantry
Once painted up, the Vulgarian infantry will be in their typical White and Green uniform, as seen here in this picture of painted figures from the Toy Soldier Company.
And here is an alternate view, all in green (as some Vulgarian units were so equipped).
Finally, some pictures of TransTurkylvanians.  Again, this picture below is from The Toy Soldier Company.

Historical Reading

So, along with the gaming acquisitions and orders, there has also been some new reading, and some review of old favorites.  The old stuff first.  So, I really enjoy Martin Gilbert, and I enjoy his book on the First World War.  As far as old stand-bys are concerned, Guns of August (Barbara Tuchman) is always worth a re-read as well.

As a new acquisition for me, although not a new book, is Marne, 1914 by Holger Herwig.  Near the top of my history book stack... And, also new to me, is Retreat and Rearguard by Jerry Murland.  The second is about the British Army and the BEF in particular, from Mons to the Marne (opening stages). 


Eric Ackermann said...

Well done sir! A model of what Journalism Should Be. The heating up of the TransTurko-Vulgarian rivalry sounds ominous though. One hopes those hot-headed Suburbiks don't cause any more trouble. His Most Sublime Incompetence King Birdenhando XIII, King of All the Sicilies (or at least of the 2.5 that are left) would not be pleased, His Indolence might even be provoked into some rash Foreign Adventure.

The situation merits further watching.

Eric, Count von Ackerberg, Minister for Observing Foreign Thnigs, Kingdom of 2.5 Sicilies Diplomacy Corps

chuck said...

Very good Sir! I think that my concentration on the TransTurko-Vulgarian rivalry may have something to do with the recent acquisition of Germans and French (er... Furstenburgers and Ko2.5S infantry) in 15mm. Also, I have always had a keen interest in everything Vulgarian. The Vulgarian Civil War is of interest as well, but I seem to have that well covered in 15mm.

-Generals Chuck Hobbiton-Haig, & Binky Foch, somewhere at the front, in the mud and the blood.

Elderac said...

How goes the search for a rule set for WWI?

Charles Turnitsa said...

Elderac - I have a set of rules, that I have written, for the Russian Civil War (and a version for the Russo-Japanese War), that I think would work pretty well for open field type battles, but not well for trench warfare.

Commercial rules that I think would work well, include both "Over the Top" from Frank Chadwick, and "Square Bashing" from Peter Pig Miniatures.

There are some other commercial rulesets available that would be interesting. The new miniatures I have acquired are, at least in part (the Germans), 1914 units. The French units are the light blue that replaced the original 1914 uniforms, later on that year (supposedly, practically not until early 1915, I don't think), so I could quite easily do anything that is late 1914 (with one eye closed to the light blue French) or early 1915. Which is fine with me - that means early days of the push, or perhaps actions in Belgium.

That might mean my rules would work - but I have been thinking of a variation of "Regimental Fire & Fury", or maybe even "Chassepot and Needlegun".

It would be great if we could get together for a game, later on this coming Spring, either in Macon or Columbus.