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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, 81, Feb 2016

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, 81, Feb 2016

The rise of the Condottieri

Column: Rick Priestley, "This gaming life - It’s all about the base(s)"

How often do we hear our fellow gamers bemoaning the fact that some new game, or perhaps the latest edition of an old favourite, necessitates an immediate and laborious rebasing of carefully-assembled model armies? Collections built up over years become redundant overnight until the whole lot are rebased onto new sizes, shapes or styles of base. Isn’t it just one of these facts of life we wargamers have to live with – as unwelcome as the common cold and apparently equally resistant to eradication?

Feature: Warwick Kinrade, "A Bitesize battle for Soldiers of God - Richard I at Arsuf"

Having arrived in the Holy Lands to recover Jerusalum, the third Crusade successfully besieged Acre and stormed it in July 1191. After retaking the port from Saladin’s forces, the Crusader’s next target was Jerusalem itself, via the port-city of Jaffa - south, down the coast. But the Crusader’s leaders many disagreements led to Phillip of France and Leopold of Austria returning home with most of their troops.

Feature: Rob Harper, "Imperial versus Royalist French in 1815 - How Grouchy won his Baton"

The much maligned Marshal Grouchy, vilified by Bonapartists for his failure to march to the sound of the guns at Waterloo, had only been promoted to the marshalate on 15 April 1815. But how did he initially win his baton? This article reveals the chaotic circumstances of switching loyalties in dangerous times, through which Grouchy emerged with this highly-prized promotion.

Feature: Rolf Grein and Jim Hale, "“What if?” intervention in the Abyssinian War - A Beating for Benito"

You may have heard of Italy’s invasion of Haile Selassie’s Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia), and seen old newsreel footage of the then-modern mechanized Italian forces crushing an army largely composed of spear-armed tribesmen. Who could forget the indiscriminate aerial bombing and gas attacks against a defenceless civilian population? The partly-uniformed, ragtag set of soldiers that passed for Ethiopia’s regular army, occasionally besting their opponents, sometimes immobilizing armoured vehicles with little more than ‘lion pits’, sections of rail line, and a lot of courage.

Feature: Jasper Oorthuys, "Is there hobby in numbers? - The great wargaming survey 2015"

After the amazing results of 2014’s Great Wargaming Survey, I suppose it was inevitable to try and see if its success could be repeated. Not just because that would be great fun (it is!), but also to correct some errors. Also, only a repeated survey would come close to indicating continuing trends in this hobby. Hence the Great Wargaming Survey 2015.

Theme: Eoghan Kelly, "Mercenaries in Italy- The Contract Men"

The Italian states developed a slightly different form of governance from the rest of Europe. While most took a similar feudal route, the Italian states were developing their own unique form of government – a mix of city states ruled by an oligarch or by merchant princes. The Vatican remained (theoretically) a theocratic island in the midst of all this. As a result, these states gradually developed a more abstract style of warfare, where small armies fought almost ritualized combats, keeping casualties to a minimum and losses low – after all, arms and armour cost money!

The forces of John Hawkwood

Theme: Andrew Lavoie, "Mercenary warfare in the age of John Hawkwood - Cry ‘Carne!’"

Mercenaries have been a part of the military and political landscape for centuries. Xenophon’s Anabasis is one of the earliest texts to focus on the mercenary, and remains a classic of both literature and military history. It is the start of a rich tradition in western culture of writing about the mercenary profession, generally with a tone of anger and dismay at their usage, that reached its peak under the pen of the famed Florentine Niccolò Machiavelli in the fifteenth century.

Theme: Michael Leck, "With a Swedish connection - Life and Death of an Italian Condottiere"

The era of the Italian condottieri really caught my interest after watching the TV series The Borgias, with Jeremy Irons in the lead role as Pope Alexander VI. What I really like about this period is the backstabbing and plotting for influence and power amongst the different families and cities, and, of course, the Pope himself. This gives good inspiration for some nice wargaming adventures.

Theme: Eoghan Kelly, "The Battle of Fornovo, 1495 - Against the ‘Barbarians’"

In April 1454, three Italian states, Milan, Naples and Florence, signed the Peace of Lodi. This ended a decades-long struggle between an expansionist Milan, led by the Visconti, and the attempts by Florence (with Venetian and Neapolitan support) to curtail the Milanese growth in Lombardy.

Marching Condottieri

Theme: Simon MacDowall, "Refight of Ravenna 1512 - The Pope Gets a Bloody Nose"

The Italian Wars of the early 16th century are probably pretty hard to beat if you like conspicuous displays of colour. With pike blocks of gaudy landsknechts in multicoloured, slashed clothing and armoured gendarmes wearing plumed helmets and their banners flying proudly overhead — you’d be hard pressed to find anything more colourful. Even the dour Swiss dress up in colour combinations that would make Jean-Paul Gaultier’s modern creations seem rather drab and ordinary by comparison.

Theme: Guy Bowers, "Building a Condottieri army - A fistful of Florins"

The mercenaries of the Italian middle ages were abhorred by Machiavelli but were a convenient way for city states to fight their quarrels. If a state needed a professional addition to support their standing army, they simply hired a Condottieri captain and his men – dismissing them when they were no longer needed. Caution was needed lest they changed sides, went to work for a rival when they were dismissed or worse, took over a state (such as the Sforza in Milan).

Theme: Sascha Herm, "On the Cover - The Battle of San Romano"

I was so excited and honoured to be asked to contribute the front cover vignette for WS&S magazine, especially as the subject matter was different from what I usually paint. After all, everyone likes a change from time to time. During the initial discussion with Guy (Mr. Editor), we agreed on a command base vignette, depicting Niccolò da Tolentino with some of his retinue during the Battle of San Romano on 1 June 1432.

Column: Eric Lauterbach, "The irregular - Terrain Feng-Shui"

I have a reputation among my gaming buddies as the ‘Terrain Dick’. For me, a gaming table has to look really good and has to make sense. It’s nothing for me to spend four months of the hobby year working solely on a new batch of buildings, hills, or trees. There is no environment on earth that I don’t have some terrain to replicate. Wait … under the sea – I can’t do that, but if I ever get that ‘James Bond frogmen’ army painted, I’m sure I’ll spend hours making seaweed forests.

Hobby: Tony Harwood, "Building a classic ‘Spy-Fi’ vehicle - The Dragon Tank"

For some time now, I’ve wanted to build a model of the fire-breathing tank from the James Bond film Dr No, and have in the past sketched out ideas as to how I would do a vehicle like this. Late in 2014, looking through my scrap books, I came across one of my earlier drawings and decided that it was high time I built a 1/56th scale model of this iconic vehicle.

Elite Gauls in 15mm

Hobby: Ruben Torregrosa, "Painting 15mm Gauls - The Gaul of it"

It’s always nice to see new brands or ranges emerging in our tiny world. Recently, Forged in Battle (from West Wind Productions) has completed a huge ancient range in 15mm for its new rules set, War & Empire. After a very successful Kickstarter project, they have sculpted and produced over 3000 models in a few months!

Let's play: Paul Burkin, "The new crusader game by Warwick Kinrade - Let’s Play Soldiers of God"

Being a fan of Warwick Kinrade’s Battlegroup series for WWII, I was keen to see what he would do with Soldiers of God, his new rules set during the Crusades. When I was handed the rule book and cards, I did wonder about its contents, as I’d expected a hefty tome in my hands. Instead, I received a slim A5 softback publication; but once I opened up this little gem, I was pleasantly surprised.

Reviews: Guy Bowers, "Game Reviews"

In this installment, our reviewers take a look at Legion of Honour, Liber Militum: Tercios, Daisho, Maalintii Rangers and Frostgrave: Thaw of the Lich King.

Column: Richard Clarke, "Up Front - National Characteristics"

Every now and then the population of Lard Island reaches a point where Mrs C approaches me and makes it quite clear that it’s time for a cull if I want our marriage to continue on cordial terms. It’s a difficult point in any wargamer’s existence, when the number of books on our shelves reaches the point where they are, in fact, not on our shelves, but are distributed liberally over every load-bearing surface in the house.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy