Ancient Warfare VIII/3 – Horsemen of the Steppes

One of the magazines I always look forward to is Ancient Warfare and this latest issue is of particular interest to me for two reasons:

  1. There is no coverage of the Mongols – they deserve separate treatment purely because of their success and the size of their eventual empire
  2. The coverage of the Amazons – something that has been an interest to me since seeing the Amazon sculpture frieze and mosaic in the Louvre
The Amazon Mosaic from the Louvre in Paris
The Amazon Mosaic from the Louvre in Paris

This issue then covers many of my interests whilst focussing on the Pontic Steppes where the majority of classical period nomadic horsemen originated. Included then are articles about the Amazons; a look at Herodotus’s examination of the Skythians; Dugdammi (Lygdamis), who managed to cause some trepidation in Ashurbanipal of Assyria when he united a number of nomadic tribes; Darius the Great’s Scythian expedition, 512 BCE; The battle for the Bosporan Kingdom, 310/309 BCE (Skythians face off against Sarmatians); and Alexander the Great’s mauling of the Skythians at the  Battle of the Jaxartes.

The Amazon sculptures from the Louvre in Paris
The Amazon sculptures from the Louvre in Paris

There are a number of other articles as well on Rome and Egypt but perhaps most interesting for me was the article noted as an obscure debate over a very long spear – How Long was the Macedonian Sarissa? There are a couple of good illustrations of both the reported length of that spear and it relative reach compared to the spears of regular hoplites.

It is also strangely appropriate and good timing that this issue comes out during the Naadam festival, the celebration of Mongolia. As I type this I have been watching the nine standards of Chinggis Khaan paraded and placed for the festival.

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Warning Order — Issue 35

wo35I’m a bit behind with my reading and only now starting to catch up with some of my favourite reads. Warning Order is the Warning Order is the official online magazine of the Wasatch Front Historical Gaming Society (WFHGS) — a wargaming club. Yes, I had to read for an atlas (or at least Google Maps) to work out where Wasatch was.

It is a free, full colour online club magazine that can be downloaded in PDF format. It is also a good read and generally there is something interesting in it. The  WFHGS concentrates mainly on 15mm gaming for large games and skirmishes in 25mm. Apart from the 25mm, that fits with most of my gaming as well — at least where there are non-mechanized armies involved rather than navies, tanks and the other weird stuff I get in to.

This issue has some Colonial action on the Northwest frontier, some Napoleonic action in the Peninsula, some Fire and Fury American Civil War, reviews and a reflection on the past.

It is worth having a look – it can be downloaded from:

And for the record, Wasatch is in Utah, USA.

Strategy and Tactics – Fail Safe: Nuclear Warfare in the Cold War

ST283M-2I remember the Cold War. Seeing the title of issue 283 of Strategy & Tactics when I took it out of the envelope in the elevator heading back up to the apartment last night brought back some memories.

I can remember life in the early 1970s in particular, the Cold War was well underway and at that time it was not clear who was winning. At that time many of us thought it was better not to win the Cold War as we didn’t want to upset the other guy – after all, they were always considered a bit unstable in the eyes of the Free World.

Ban the Bomb, protests against stationing US Nuclear Forces in Britain, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the gulags, so many memories flooding back in. Really, it had me feeling that Generation X and Generation Y never understood the stress of being a Baby Boomer.

Fail Safe ((now there is another term fresh from the Cold War that takes on a whole new meaning these days)) is a look at the manned bombers carrying nuclear weapons in the period 1945 to 1960 and the story of the doctrine that directed and restricted their use. For another view on that, I can thoroughly recommend watching Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. That really caught the mood of the time well and is a superb black comedy. The article in S&T however has some really neat photographs of some of the nuclear capable aircraft of the time – I can almost feel another wargaming period coming on!

In this issue also is a look at Saladin – not so much the chivalrous warrior this time but more the ruthless contender reaching for power.

Pontiac_conspiracy
The Pontiac Conspiracy

In 1763, after the British had won the French-Indian Wars, Fort Pitt was besieged by a confederation of Indians unhappy with British rule and the policies of General Jeffrey Amherst in particular. This was the decisive battle in what became known as Pontiac’s War. Pontiac was an Ottowa Indian and leader of the confederation.

At this battle, British officers at Fort Pitt attempted to infect the besieging Native Americans with smallpox – an early example of biochemical warfare. The plan was to send blankets exposed to the smallpox virus to the Indians and hope it caught. The article also looks at the Battle of Bushy Run where the British did manage some effective infantry tactics.

There is an examination of Tulagi, the August 1942 landing on Tulagi to support the Guadalcanal landings.

Other notes and articles this month deal with the birth of the Roman Navy; Japan’s rise to naval dominance; submarines in the Gallipoli Campaign; and a piece on Admiral George Stephen Morrison (father of singer Jim Morrison of the Doors fame) and one of the commanders of the US naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin at the opening of the Vietnam War when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked US Navy warships.

Another good read coming up over the next few nights. I do enjoy this magazine, even without the game it is good value for money and any of the games that are interesting can be purchased later anyway. In fact, after a quick read of the Cold War piece I am starting to consider that as a board game to add to the collection.

Strategy and Tactics – War in the Pacific

S_TAlso arriving last Friday in Singapore and adding to my reading list pile was issue #282 of Strategy and Tactics magazine. The issue with this issue for me is the main article concerns the War of the Pacific (Guerra del Pacífico).

War of the Pacific was a war fought between Chile on the one side and Bolivia and Peru on the other over a piece of desert rich with one of the key ingredients to gunpowder. Bolivia lost its access to the sea as a result of this war.

I have some ships in 1/2400th on my painting queue for this war as well as some 10mm figures from Pendraken Miniatures. I also discussed a brief history of this conflict in The War of the Pacific – 1879 to 1883 – Naval Matters and War of the Pacific – 1879 to 1883.

Why is this an issue? It is tempting to put everything aside tonight and start painting these little beasties – sigh, another bright shiny object.

Other Articles in the latest issue of Strategy and Tactics includes:

Churchill (Winston) vs. the Zeppelins – the story of the WW1 German zeppelin blitz against England in 1915

Charlemagne’s Empire – a military analysis of the founding of the Holy Roman Empire in AD 800

The Indo-Pakistan Wars – a detailed analysis of the wars India has fought and won against Pakistan since 1948 (which kind of fits in with the naval vessels I’ve been painting recently)

Another good issue and recommended.

Wargames Illustrated – Review Subscription or Not?

imageIt used to be Miniature Wargames that I looked at from time to time and thought, “once again, it promises so much but it never actually delivers”. At those times I was receiving Wargames Illustrated (WI) on subscription in Australia. Then I moved to Singapore and took a subscription here for WI – starved as I was at the time for Wargaming content to life. To be honest, for a house magazine, it was good. It almost persuaded me to try Flames of War, or at least the eye candy almost persuaded me.

Lately though there has been a sameness about each issue and whilst I appreciate the attempt to ensure that about half the magazine only is devoted to Flames of War the magazine is, just, well, boring really.

However, in what is one of those twists of annoying fate, the issue immediately after the one my subscription finished on is an issue about the Russian and Japanese. This is because they are covering the addition of the Japanese to Flames of War, but one of the battles they are covering is Nomonhan (more correctly Khalkin-gol as that is the name in the local language). After my time in Mongolia, this is a battle I have an interest in. There is also a piece on the Russian Civil War, also something of interest, in part as it spilled into Mongolia.

But subscribe for another year? Fork out US $96 ((how do they justify AU $144 for Aussie and New Zealand subscriptions?)) for another 12 months of hard copy magazines? Yes, I can get some nice figures from them if I subscribe but it is a hard copy magazine at a time when I like digital magazines – they arrive in my inbox straight away and are light and easy to carry and store – and they are considerably cheaper.

Sigh – maybe a quick look at Anthony’s before I make up my mind. Last thing I need is some figures in a period I am not involved in yet to send me off an yet another tangent!

Wargames Illustrated! Go digital please!

Strategy and Tactics; World at War

SnTI’m falling behind in my reading doubly so as there is a new Ancient Warfare due any day soon and with it another Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. A new Strategy and Tactics hit my desk yesterday (actually I think it arrived last week but I was off with the manflu).

This issue has the Reconquista as its main theme. Apart from Charlton Heston as el Cid, about all I knew of the Reconquista was that the Christian princes of Spain along with their knights threw the Almoravid Muslims out of Spain with Granada being the last place to be liberated. I guess I have some reading to do there. I just hope it will not be too bright and shiny and dazzle me away from my other wargame projects.

Also in this issue is a piece on the Chinese v the Dutch in Taiwan in 1661 and 1683, especially around Fort Zeelandia. That is another out of the way campaign that has interested me for a while and in particular since March 2009.

The other two main pieces are a Campaign Analysis on the Battle of Peleliu in 1944 in the Pacific. There is also an analysis of the T-55 tank.

I enjoy reading Strategy and Tactics, doubly so as they supply the magazine only or the magazine with game. Getting the magazine only means I don’t end up with a room full of games that never get played ((like that could happen to any wargamer … right!)).

WatWThe other magazine I have not had a chance to read through yet is last month’s World at War. I have managed to read most of the article on The Naval War on Lake Lagoda. That was fascinating enough to have me start looking for models at Skytrex or the PT Dockyard. At least I would not require too many models for gaming this fascinating part of the struggles between the Soviet Union and Finland in World War 2 – doubly fascinating because of the German and Italian boats that also found their way to the lake. More on that in a later post.

Also in the last issue of World at War is a piece on the Battle of Burma (also fascinating for me), the Aero-Naval Siege of Malta, the Strategic Bombing of Panacea and lastly a piece called “Ugly, Slow, Low and Lethal” – a piece on the Ju-87 Stuka.

Sigh – so much reading, so little time. Next business trip is 4 March 2013 so I will catch up on some reading that week at least.