Saturday, 3 October 2015

Library additions for October 2015

Aside from the collecting and painting of figures my FLW hobby has lured me into becoming something of a (very) amateur historian of all things 19th and very early 20th century. I've collected a small library of books which cover military campaigns from the Franco-Prussian war (1870) to the Balkan Wars of 1912, mostly reference works about uniforms of the period.

This months additions to my library are rather niche and interesting - I think - and add to the range of scenarios that the FLW player can field.

Osprey's The Russo-Japanese War 1904–05
This is rather topical for me as part of last months pay day treat was my purchase of some Japanese
soldiers by The Virtual Armchair General, so it's interesting to read about a campaign in which these soldiers could be used (from a war gaming point of view). That's not to say I intend to expand my collection of TVAG figures or to war game with them, it's just interesting to have some historical context for the TVAG Japanese.

Additionally, I found it very intriguing to read about a war which is not so well know - at least here in the West. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904 is consigned to the bottom draw of Edwardian era campaigns mainly because it's 'not European' (as we have this tendency to get a little confused about whether Russia is European or not). Furthermore, we tend to be a bit snooty about the idea that a non-European nation - like Japan - could be modern enough (in the context of the 1900s) to merit the same attention as a European or American army of the same period...

Well, as it turned out this was exactly the same sort of misconception that the Russians appeared to be under and boy did they pay the price for their ignorance of the real facts!

Japanese assault on the entrenched Russian forces, 1904. Source: Wikipedia
Wikipedia entry (should you wish more information): Russo-Japanese War

In actuality, as some of us might be aware - as is related in the excellent movie 'The Last Samurai' - the Japanese enthusiastically embraced Western style modernisation in the mid-19th century and by the 1900s had a very modern and technically sophisticated military. Not only were the Japanese as technically up-to-date as European armies but they showed themselves to be extremely adept in all the latest military theory and strategy as well...Hence Russia's hugely humiliating and unexpected defeat.

Left: Plate from Osprey's book. As much as my emphasis has been on the Japanese involvement the book has some wonderful illustrations of Russian forces. What FLW general wouldn't want a squadron of these Cossacks? Source: Osprey

The Osprey book has - as usual - some wonderful colour plates of the uniforms in use by either belligerent during the war. And it's interesting to note that the Japanese of this time went through the same transition in uniform styles that their European counterparts did just prior to The Great War - from brightly coloured 19th century styled garb to the more subdued 'earthy' 20th century attire.

From an FLW point of view this book would make an ideal companion to AiP's Japanese and Russian plastic soldiers.

Author: Alexei Ivanov, Philip Jowett
Illustrator: Andrei Karachtchouk
Short code: MAA 414
Publication Date: 25 Jul 2004
Number of Pages: 48

Link to the book at Osprey's web site: The Russo-Japanese War 1904–05

A World Aflame - Interwar Wargame Rules 1918-39
My second Osprey book this month isn't about uniforms nor, indeed, strictly speaking the classic FLW period. Rather 'A World AFlame' deals with war gaming the inter-war period of 1919 to 1939.

While not strictly a war gamer - let's just call me 'war game curious' - I do find the notion of playing out some of the inter-war scenarios fascinating. It's a very exciting period in my opinion, one which was dominated by the initial clashes of the two giant ideological systems of the age - socialism and fascism. Or, as Osprey puts it:

"A World Aflame captures the adventurous nature of the time period to present a fun, fast-paced set of tabletop miniatures rules that can handle the many diverse conflicts of the period, from the Chinese Civil Wars and the "Great Game” in Central Asia, to the Irish War of Independence and the bitter ideological warfare of the Russian and Spanish Civil Wars."

Left: Women at the Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, 1936. The Spanish Civil War was but one of the conflagrations of the inter-war period, but it epitomised the growing blurring of the lines between civilians and combatants. Source: Wikipedia

Whether you see this era as the pre-amble to The Second World War (and bear in mind that the Chinese see the start of WW2 as when Japan invaded them in the mid-1930s and not in 1939) or as a revolutionary period or as one of the last great ages of adventure, the inter-war era is a vast resource of 'peculiar wars'. I say peculiar as - at least to me - a proportion of the conflicts of this time were more focused on the involvement of the general populous and their aspirations rather than the sabre-rattling imperialism of the previous century.

'British Bobbies on Patrol'. This photo from the book illustrates the greater
emphasise there is on irregular, civil and militia forces as belligerents in the
game. Source: Osprey.
Furthermore, I am somewhat intrigued to see how a set of war game rules will capture this aspect of the inter-war conflicts, involve the civilian populous and make provision for popular uprisings and ideological warfare. I'll give my thoughts on this once I've had a good read of the rules.

I am hoping that these game rules can shoe-horn into the actual FLW game rules as a means to expand the basic flexibility of the game. Another option might be to look at Solway's 'A Very British Civil War' gaming rules.

A World Aflame
by Paul Eaglestone
ISBN: 9781849086837
Order ID: 100169343

Link to the book at Osprey's web site: A World Aflame - Interwar Wargame Rules 1918-39

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