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"Recommend rules for early WW1" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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OSL200014 Feb 2017 9:02 a.m. PST

Hi I'm thinking about doing a early WW1 period. Eastern front Germans vs Russians. I want to stay away from the bogged down trench warfare. What rules do you recommend for this period. Also I plan on using 20mm figures. Thanks

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 9:14 a.m. PST

What size actions do you want to play? If I ever get around to it, I am thinking about using a modified Volley and Bayonet.

vtsaogames14 Feb 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

For operational level, where 4 figures = 1 brigade, go looking for old issues of the Nugget, online magazine of Wargame Developments. The rule set is OP14, as in Operational 1914. It is in #236, June 2010 issue. The price is right.

If you prefer a platoon per side try TFL's The Mud and the Blood.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 9:31 a.m. PST

A few suggestions:

For larger battles:

Black Powder
Neil Thomas 19th C. rules
Great War Spearhead

For smaller battles/semi skirmishes:

The Men Who Would Be Kings

Martin Rapier14 Feb 2017 9:31 a.m. PST

Great War Spearhead is a good bet for actions in the Division-Corps range.

A lot of my WW1 stuff is 20mm.

For bigger games I use OP14 (as mentioned above).

OSL200014 Feb 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

What are the units sizes for Great War Spearhead?

vtsaogames14 Feb 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

Each stand = 1 company, so an infantry battalion = 3 or 4 stands.

Have not played GWS. Anyone who has, how long does an average game take to play?

Prince Alberts Revenge14 Feb 2017 10:12 a.m. PST

Funny you should ask this question as I am knee deep in trying to answer this for myself. I am looking at the battalion as the basic element of maneuver with maybe a few brigades to a division per side. I just received an older set called Battles with Brusilov. It seems that it has regiments as the basic element and each regiment comprised of 3-4 battalions of 4 bases (12-16 bases), not what I'm looking for. I have the played Flames of War Great War and its just not for me; the rules are simple but there's close to 300 pages of them (in the mini book)! I ordered Field of Battle WW1, hopefully that pdf arrives soon. There are alot rulesets out there for smaller sized battles but not many that cratch the itvh I have.

OSL200014 Feb 2017 10:20 a.m. PST

PRINCE ALBERT who makes and sells the Field of battle WW1?

Prince Alberts Revenge14 Feb 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

I found it on Brent Oman's blog site for Piquet rules. It seems you can send payment via PayPal and he will email your the PDF version.

I submitted payment last night and hope to receive the rules soon. I will keep you posted!

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 12:00 p.m. PST

Do consider "Square bashing". 4x 3 table in 15mm. Changeable to other sizes too. game lasts about 2 hours. more detail on PP website!

John Leahy14 Feb 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

We have been using Field of Battle WWI for our 1914 Eastern front games in 1/72 scale. My Germans have both won and lost vs the Russians. Of course they are terribly outnumbered by the Russkies. I ran one of the larger battles leading up to Tannenberg. Actually ran it the same date it happened.

Personal logo Cheriton Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 1:28 p.m. PST


A lot of my WW1 stuff is 20mm<?q>

I'd like to start 1914 in 20mm, what is available?


monk2002uk14 Feb 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

Great War Spearhead games take around 2 hours on average for division vs division. Corps vs corps is longer, more like 3 hours. 20mm is just fine. Robin's Great Adventure web site features several battles in this scale, including Eastern Front:

The Great War Spearhead site is here:

The next GWSH supplement will cover the battles of Stallupönen, Gumbinnen, and Tannenberg. The scenarios are undergoing final testing so shouldn't be too long now.


hornblaeser14 Feb 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

Kallistra has a free wargames set especially for the early war. designed for 10mm.

Tony S14 Feb 2017 5:46 p.m. PST

I've had great fun with Peter Pig's Square Bashing.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2017 6:44 p.m. PST

I think I'v mentioned this before, but Square Bashing really makes you think like a WWI general: "If I only had 3 or 4 more divisions, I could really win big!"

Martin Rapier15 Feb 2017 12:07 a.m. PST

You can use stuff based for GWSH and Square Bashing interchangeably as they both us one base to one company, squadron or battery.

The Manoeuvre units in GWSH are regiments (composed of multiple battalions).

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Feb 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

Yes Square bashing works very well for 20mm. I did do some playtesting with the old airfx (now HAT) figures. I should have said that . Use 2 figures per base or MMG team etc. Each infantry/cav unit has 4 bases and represents a battalion. Keep the 6" grid and the table can be kept to 3 x4 feet. If you have a lot of space then increase the grid to 7" and make the table 56" by 42" ( or roughly 5 feet by 4 feet) Any scaling up and down is easy because the game system works in terms of squares with no ruler measurement.

womble67 Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2017 3:11 a.m. PST

You could Try, Home Before The Leaves Fall Black Powder Rules Amendments For Early World War I by friends Of General Haig. or World War I Rules Rapid Fire Rules Adaptations.

Take care


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2017 8:06 a.m. PST

Bloody Big Battles for larger battles. La Cateau is already a scenario. When I am done with the Balkan Wars I might tackle some of the 1914 battles.

ChrisBBB Inactive Member16 Feb 2017 5:06 a.m. PST

I do think BBB probably needs one or two simple mods for WWI: eg, an infantry unit only gets to fire if it is either moving itself or firing at a moving target.

Le Cateau / The Retreat from Mons did play well (with mods), and Kirkkilise was also a good game (unmodified).


Bloody Big BATTLES!

Prince Alberts Revenge16 Feb 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

Not too hijack OSL2000's thread but I feel like Goldilocks and none of the porridge out there seems just right for me in regards to early WW1 rules. I'm not keen on drawing maps of my plan on paper prior to playing as it seems GW Spearhead requires, Battles with Brusilov and the Kallistra set seem to have large unit sizes of 12-20 bases that seem unwieldy on the tabletop. Fields of Battle WW1 has potential but I don't know if I like the fact that HMGS are factored into the battalion and not represented and the use of dice ranging from D4 to D20 seems fiddly to me. Thus far looks like Square Bashing a convention set I used at last Fall In are the ones that still interest me.

alan lockhart Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

I do hope that a definitive mod for BBB in the Great War will be produced as the rules would do well for battles above the level of GWSH.

They certainly give good games for the late 19th c.

KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

We have been discussing things in the BBB Group. There are two factions or tendencies if you will 1) The mod group 2) the vanilla group. I am of the vanilla faction that argues that the rules can work for early 1914 as is (and for any front were artillery indirect fire did not become the dominant weapon).

The main question is treating indirect fire, and our discussion in the Yahoo Group have not persuaded me that indirect fire was so prevalent outside of sieges (Liege, Lille) in 1914 as to warrant too much of special rules.

So my view is that with the existing BBB unit traits one can cover a lot of the early WWI as long as they remember that they are dealing with a level of analysis that represents Divisions, Corps, Armies and Armies group. i.e Machine guns should by folded into higher organisation that are given a relevant trait to indicate that they are above average in that regards (in my Balkan Wars scenarios i give the D trait (devastating volleys) to brigades and divisions with significant machine gun elements)

The biggest issue is the massive ground scale of the battles. But that too can be fixed by breaking the battles down to their constituent parts. I recently read the two Osprey's on First Ypres, and on Marne, and it seems to me one could represent specific battles within the mega-battle with no issues.

Again I see no reason why a set of rules that works fine for 1912-1913 in the Balkans, will not work well for 1914.

But that is my view.

monk2002uk17 Feb 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Thank you for raising these issues. I can't speak to the existing BBB unit traits. In general, indirect artillery was prevalent from the outset in WW1. This reflected the practice in the Sino-Japanese War that carried through into the Balkans Wars. Examples of the latter include the Ottoman Army defence of Constantinople and the Bulgarian defence of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

I respectfully recommend revisiting the D trait and machine guns. I don't know of any clear evidence that brigades and divisions without machine guns did worse than their equivalents with MGs. German reserve units without MGs did not perform less well at the level of BBB IMHO.

Your point about ground scale is well made but there is another big issue. The significant use of aerial reconnaissance had major impacts on the planning and execution of battles in the early weeks of WW1. We had a discussion about this around Le Cateau previously. It is extremely difficult (in any ruleset, not just BBB) to reproduce what happened in that battle. The Fog of War played a major role in corps and division dispositions and movement.

There is another high level consideration. The Battle of Gumbinnen illustrates it well. There were several examples on both the German and Russian side where divisions were able to outflank their counterparts in part but were unable to exploit this to achieve a Cannae equivalent.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

1) Sure as I said at Sieges. Both Edirne, Gallipoli, Bizani (where the greeks used indirect fire) etc were against defensive positions that had been held for a long period of time and where it was possible to pre-plot. The same at Kilkis-Lahana where the Bulgarians had a good idea of the potential axis of a greek advance, and Chataltza where the Ottomans had pre-determined fire points and operational level fire control.

But that was not the case in the mobile field battles like Kumanovo, Kalimanchi, Breglanitsa, Yiannitsa, Bitola, kresna-Gorge, Dioran, Lule-Burgas, Kalimanchi. Keep that in mind as it is very important when considering how to tackle indirect fire.

2) This might be the case in 1914. But in the Balkan Wars some units were given machine guns or a lot of them, and others none, or some. I am not that much an iconoclast as to say that this had no effect at the tactical level.

3) I have yet to see a Cannae type result in BBB. It is very hard to pull off as defensive fire is withering, and the battle fields too large for that.

4) The point on air-units is taken. But as you pointed out there is a limit to what a miniatures war-game can do. You can never simulate them,but perhaps playing with activation roll modifiers you can simulate the operational penalty the army with less planes will face.

Anyway, the point is that it is a rich enough toolkit as to permit use for 1914, or even 1922 in some places. It is not perfect, but it is built for Bloody Big Battles :p

For example, I do not see why BBB could not for example be used to represent the Battle of Mojkovac in 1916.

monk2002uk17 Feb 2017 10:24 a.m. PST

Just a brief further note. My interest is accurate representations of historical battles. I have no problem with scenarios that approximate these battles, FWIIW. This is a normal part of wargaming. My comments are not intended as criticisms but as a stimulus for further debate.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

I understood that Robert, and your points were well taken. Again I think that players need to think about what they are looking for. There are certain battles in 1914, 1915, and even 1916 that could be done with Vannila BBB. And there are others that could not. Indeed in the same mega-battle, there might be one phase that is do-able and another that is not.

Also some abstractions will work for one person and not for another.

For example if I was doing Marne in BBB, I would deal with the superior air recon of the French by either making the German units Passive, or giving a command bonus to the French. This might bring about at the abstract level the accumulated advantage the French had. But it might also not satisfy others that would want the advantages to be more contingent.

monk2002uk17 Feb 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

I am familiar with the battles in the Balkans that you listed but not to the level of having studied detailed accounts from individual artillery regiments. This information is available from the first weeks of WW1 in English, German, and French. There were numerous examples of indirect fire on all sides. For example at Le Cateau only some of the artillery batteries fought over open sights.

There were German and French divisions that had few or no MGs in the first weeks of WW1, which fought against units that had the full complement of MGs. I have studied several of these engagements down to detailed regimental histories in the case of the infantry and to MG companies where these existed.


monk2002uk17 Feb 2017 2:01 p.m. PST

Konstantinos, I totally understand your point about the Cannae effect. You cited withering defensive fire and battlefield size as mitigating factors. This helped me to clarify my point further. When the battlefield was big enough and when there was no brigade or higher level defensive fire at all, there were other factors that severely limited the ability of large formations to exploit gaps or open flanks.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 4:17 p.m. PST

Robert, that is impressive sure as sure. Why not take a stab at some BBB scenarios for the Western Front 1914? That might lead you to develop modifications you consider required. Chris is always willing to help scenario writers.

monk2002uk18 Feb 2017 12:31 a.m. PST

Konstantinos, here are some more thoughts on the MG issue. Another way to approach this is to ask how the presence of MGs would affect command decisions. Given that a commander tends to think down two levels at most, the decision about a brigade's role in a battle would be influenced (but not directly) by a corps commander. With BBB, you can fit whole divisions on table. This means that an army commander's decision-making process is in focus. Returning to the case of a brigade, would a corps commander decide on his tactics based on whether the brigades under his indirect command have MGs whereas the enemy brigades do not? You can apply the same principle to an army commander thinking about how his corps, and therefore indirectly the divisions, should operate.

The broader question that you highlighted at the beginning can be reinterpreted as: 'Is a 1914 brigade, division, corps, or army more effective than its 1912 counterpart?' If the answer is no then the general approach would be to apply the rules system across both eras without any modifications, as you rightly suggest. If the answer is yes then some sort of modification might be needed.

There are a couple of ways (not exhaustive) to approach this question. The first is to look at things like intrinsic firepower. This is where the issue of MGs surfaces but the issue is only a proxy for a broader question – did 1914 formations have more firepower than their 1912 counterparts? You have had to address this question more directly when comparing formations in the same time period that had MGs versus did not have them. Intuitively it seems that weapons systems with significant tactical benefits at the small unit level might translate to additional benefits at the brigade or division level. At some level this is true – there must be a point where certain weapons systems are so powerful that they confer a significant advantage. My observation, FWIIW, is that the differences were not so great as we might expect. Certainly I don't get an impression that higher level commanders changed their thinking and planning, for example becoming much more aggressive, because the forces under their command had MGs and the enemy did not.

The second way to approach this issue is to ask whether there were examples of a 1912 formation coming up against a 1914 formation. Clearly not from an historical perspective, given the time differences. Assuming that the firepower effect of both formations was the same, might it be the case that other factors would enable a 1914 formation to perform better than its 1912 equivalent? This is a very hard question to answer. Comparing TO&Es and OOBs is very easy. I remain uneasy about how complete an answer this provides. I have pointed to examples in 1914 where there were 1912-like differences in some formations, such as Landwehr formations that fought on the Eastern Front in August 1914 versus their regular army counterparts.

There is, possibly, an interesting situation that gives important clues. I have long been interested in Romania's entry into the war in 1916. Here you have a country with no direct exposure to the first two years of the war coming up against a country whose forces, arguably, had the most experience. The effects were devastating, though not complete annihilation. My study of this conflict is far from complete but I have had the opportunity to access the Romanian accounts and primary sources. I have been building up the German primary sources as well but have not had a chance to read many of these yet. It is particularly important to compare the details for the same battles.

What might some of the variables be, other than intrinsic unit firepower, that mark 1914 as different from 1912 from a larger unit perspective (brigade and up)? You mentioned the First Battle of the Marne as a target example. I have had the opportunity to recreate the whole battlefield down to the company level:


Just to reiterate from previous posts, I am not arguing that this is the way to replay big battles. It is a fantastic experience, which provides fabulous insights, but is hugely resource and time/space intensive. As an aside, a group of us are planning to do something similar again over a long weekend or perhaps a whole week. Several of us experienced the Spearhead mega-games as they were called, which were the inspiration. I will make sure that the invite is extended because it is very informative when thinking about higher level rules systems, at least for the Great War.

The most significant thing is the sheer size of the battlefields. Le Cateau is manageable. It is a lovely self-contained example that is not too dissimilar in scale to some of the actions in the Balkans Wars. As you rightly recognise, the First Battle of the Marne is wholly different. And this battle was just a part of the much much wider series of battles along the entire Western Front. The fighting around Verdun, for example, had a significant effect on the thinking behind the Marne. You can break the First Battle of the Marne into smaller groups of battles for sure. This is a perfectly appropriate approach and you will find that the Osprey book is great for helping you to do this. FWIIW, you can model the Battle of the Ourcq, the Battle of St Gond Marshes, and the Battle of the Morins as separate actions for sure (the latter will need to be split too). Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions on this as I would be only too glad to offer what advice and experience that I can.

Having played the 'whole', there is no doubt that there were factors that influenced the outcomes of each of the separate battles that lay outside these separate battlefields. It is my strong impression that these factors are the true determinants of the differences between 1912 and 1914.

All of this is up for debate though.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 5:20 a.m. PST

Wow, that setup is very cool, but I will be frank, not something I would like to play. (I do have all the scenario books for GWSH by the way :))

The problem with 1912-1913 is that while it is clear from the OOBs were MGs were present, as you pointed out regimental histories are not rich. Thus the staff histories really do not permit one to make a educated call on the effect of MGs.My feel is that probably the armies did not know how to use them and thus they did not have a big effect. But I cannot also discount them, as I really do not have the info. So my decision was to put some more variety in the game, and create some more interesting options for players by differentiating some units on that ground.

I.e I sacrificed fidelity to create some more options.

On the 1912 v.s 1914 part I would say that we do have some examples. I am not sure if Romania counts, this might be more 1914 army vs. 1916 armies.

But the Serbian Army of 1914 is not that different from 1912-1913. Thu the KuK vs. Serbians in 1914 might count (that said you might know this much better than me)

Definitely Montenegrin's vs. Austrians in 1914 and 1915

And I have to ask, how much really different is the Belgian Army of 1914 from a Balkan Army of 1912?

Good points though! I really like the work done at GWSH but the level of analysis is a bit too detailed for me. BBB hits my soft spot.

On mega-balttles the closest to that in the 2nd Balkan War is Bregalnitsa. It is an 80 km battle. I had to sacrifice the northern front and create special scenario rules in order to represent its effect on the front presented by the game. This is probably a good approach.

Another is to connect battles. I have special scenario rules for linking the battles of Kalimantsi and Kresna Gorge, for those players with space etc.

KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 5:41 a.m. PST

BTW one of the most frustrating things in my visit to Romania beyond been completely unable to find the uniform book on the 1877-1878 army, and the fact that the 19th-20th century wars specific exhibits in the Army museum were closed, was the complete inability to find even one book in English, or at least illustrated in Romanian, on the 1916-1918 war.

I was very very late down.

SO Robert, am I to understand a GWSH book on the Eastern Front 1914-1916 is coming up? :)

Vimy Ridge Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 12:35 p.m. PST

We are doing the battle of August September first – so Tannenberg/Masurian lakes, Gummbinnen and so on. After that we will follow up with future books on the rest of 1914, 1915, 1916, Busilov, 1917 and 1918. This will include the Germans and the Austrian for each operations area on the Eastern Front – we will also eventually get to the Balkan war as well as the Italian front and all other theatres.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

So these are in addition to the Galicia-Serbia book that is already out?

NKL AeroTom18 Feb 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

Hi OSL2000, You could try Westfront, it was designed with 20mm in mind, but could also handle smaller scales.

Its a good balance between historical accuracy and simplicity, with the war being broken into 3 periods – early, mid and late. Early war sees only limited artillery tactics (no creeping barrages) and the lack of any tanks. The game covers communication issues, random events like aircraft strafing or reinforcements arriving, and can be as static or as fluid as you like!


The army lists included cover allied and central powers forces, with Russian forces easily being made from the allied list, there are some Russian armored cars in there too. Specific Russian units like the Tchanka aren't covered, (although horse-drawn Machine Gun teams are – they just can't fire on the move) but the specific Russian units and early war "tactics" (like withdrawing artillery before the infantry had finished fighting….) will be covered in the upcoming Campaign book, including large campaign maps as well as a Russian Civil War specific campaign and units.

Vimy Ridge Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 8:01 p.m. PST

Yes they are indeed :)

monk2002uk18 Feb 2017 11:23 p.m. PST

Konstantinos, I can understand your frustration about the visit to Romania. Glenn Torrey is the author on Romania (in English) and the Great War, particularly this book:


There is an earlier book too, in case you haven't come across it yet:


You raise an interesting point about other potential examples. The Serbian army was, on paper, similar in composition in the Great War versus the Balkan Wars. There was a subtle but important difference, I think. This relates the experience of the Balkan Wars, informing things like training and command, communication, & control capabilities. The Serbian army that took the field in 1914 had a leavening of officers and men experienced in combat. The same effect was evident in the Ottoman army too, for example. Although the time interval was longer, the Boer War had the same effect on the British army. The experience of that war had a profound effect on improving the BEF in 1914.

It is these changes in performance through experience that makes Romania a more interesting case study IMHO. The Romanian army had fought in the Balkans Wars but it had missed the first two years of the Great War, during which the nature of 3Cs had moved on significantly.

I can totally understand that BBB hits your sweet spot. There will always be more than enough room for a rich diversity of rule sets.

Shawn has picked up on your question about the latest scenario book. Specifically it covers Stallupönen, Gumbinnen, and Tannenberg. There is a Denmark versus Germany 'what if' thrown in as well ;-)


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 5:37 a.m. PST

Robert on the Serbians I cam going to offer a counter-argument. They might had that experience as you say, but that did not change the fact that they were severely deficient in number of officers (ergo why they still used unwieldy massive divisions in 1914). Also those veteran units would be diluted by the influx of "South-Serbian" Bans.

In another name, even if you troops and officers had more experience at the tactical level I am not sure it amounted to much on the operational-strategic level since the Serbians lacked the Staff capacity to translate that information to army wide changes. Do you see my point?

The difference with the Ottomans was that they did have that Staff Capacity. Indeed the major gain for the Ottomans was not per se combat experience, but their ability to perfect their triangular command system and their Corps staff support.

I.E I am just not sure the experience of 1912-1913 did really impact the conduct of the 1914 campaign is a way that makes the two armies (say 1913 vs. 1914) radically different. Again you know more about the 1914 army, but my "feel" is that it was not that different from the 1913 army.

The Romanians only gained logistic experience in the 2nd Balkan War. Not really combat experience. Keep that in mind.

The Danish army would definitely count as a 1890s vs. 1914 fight :p

monk2002uk19 Feb 2017 10:08 a.m. PST

I wouldn't argue that the two armies (1912/13 vs 14) were radically different, no. A leavening of experienced soldiers, NCOs, and junior officers can make a difference at the lower tactical level. You can see this in detailed descriptions of the BEF in the first weeks of the war, where very few of even the regular soldiers had seen action before. Those who had were able to interpret what was happening around them and react more effectively. These lower level actions are not, however, key determinants of what happens at the brigade and division level or, more particularly, at the corps and army commander levels. At these levels, even logistics experience has an important effect. Not only were there senior staff officers with direct experience but you have to recall that there was significant input from external observers and military advisors. The Serbian army had fewer staff officers but they were, on the whole, better trained and more experienced second time around. The Serbian army acquitted itself well in the first months of the war, all things considered.

The lessons of the Balkans Wars were not just limited to those who fought directly. The Romanians, as well as the French, Russians, British, and Germans all observed what happened. The feedback to the respective high commands was almost immediate and often quite detailed.

The change in Ottoman command structure, with the move to triangular formations and more corps staff officers, might have worked in and of itself. You cannot, however, take away from the extensive experience of the senior Ottoman commanders who made it through to 1914. The severe problems during the Balkans Wars had made them more keen to learn from their German advisors too. Not that the relationship was smooth and harmonious, far from it.

My point is that there was not a lot of difference at all at the lower unit level once units were engaged in combat. The differences applied higher up the chain of command. The effects are much harder to model because, for example, they involve the ability to interpret and react to the fog of war more effectively. The challenge is to model these differences in the opening battles of WW1.


Vimy Ridge Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 12:02 p.m. PST

This is a very interesting discussion and brings to light not only what was learned pre 1914, but also between 1914 and 1916 when mindsets started to change to modern warfare (well modern as in mg/indirect artillery and how to win). In my reading of the war in the Balkans and Russo-Japanese and opening moves of 1914 there are some distinct lessons learned from those that chose to use them. The Austrians for example, had all the lessons available to them that the Germans, Russians and Serbs had, but they, because of where they were in a space in time, couldn't accept many as part of their own doctrine. Some of it had to do with industry and internal pressures and fears but some was just good old dogma. My impression of the Serbs in August 1914 was that Operationally they had a far better understanding of the Austrians positions and likely axis of advance and they used that and interior lines to win the day. However at the Divisional level their Generals were by and large no better at command and control than their Austrian counterparts. Tactical units were different and within the Austrian context varied greatly in the sense of execution of their tasks. The Serbs in defense tended to be every bit as cagey as the Russians but with less firepower from their artillery. On attack however, they were pretty much a throw back to the Balkan war. What saved them from the same fate as the Austrians is that they let the Austrians exhaust themselves first them hit back. There were squandered moments from the Serb perspective almost as much as the Austrians. Further the supply system the Serbs had was really not very good and this, while not unusual does show that some lessons were not taken from the Balkans Wars from a Command and Control perspective. Throw in the Russians and you have an army (in my opinion) tactically more advanced in many ways than their opposition – certainly the Austrians by far, yet they were so rife with corruption that they couldn't supply ammunition to front line units on a regular basis and they never did manage to correct their lack of artillery rounds. But tactically, deployment of their units at the brigade and down, when in contact was good, on defense very good – but only in a fixed fight. Meeting engagements and encounter type actions showed many of their weaknesses, like the propensity of their cavalry to dismount immediately when encountering the enemy, thus taking away their advantage. They were cumbersome to move and slow to do so at the Divisional level and above. Also their lack of understanding of feeding and supply to the front line was inexcusable from a nation that had fought a relatively modern war in 1904/05, some of this was caused by their own streamlining of mobilization but much of it was due to corruption and poor choices for leaders at key function points.

All that to be said, to me Serbian high command was superior to the Austrians. Tactically they were about on par (for the most part – not talking morale here just tactical employment of companies/battalions and Regiments) with the Serbs artillery performing better than the Austrians.

Move this to the Balkans. Konstantinos I think you are likely better read in than I am on this subject, but I will give my two cents. I don't think the Ottoman higher command was as bad as it looks on the surface, they were plagued by corruption, poor supply and a lack of understanding of how much the Balkan nations wanted them gone. The initial deployment shows that they had poor understanding of the Bulgarian/Serbian and Greek ability to hit so hard and dare I say quickly :) They tried to defend everything which over stretched their supply chain, their ability properly command and then support their own garrisons and they had done very little to modernize their weapons systems looking very much like an army from the 1870s/80s.

I have not read over BBB, a couple AARs but not the rules, so I cannot speak to specifics in that regards. My gut feel though is that the Serbs and Bulgarians were a notch above their Ottoman counter parts at the Division level – for the most part, but better from a supply perspective across the board. Operationally I think the Ottomans' were poorly disposed of to begin with and saw the writing on the wall too late, they did however make some better decisions to actually save themselves. Couple this with some squandered opportunity (for a variety of reason – distrust of each other being one of them) from the Balkan nations and I think its fair to say they were about on par.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

I agre Robert.

Shawn on Ottomans

Oh no, I consider the Ottoman commanders of the Balkan Wars excellent as staff officers. All of the plans of the Vardar and Eastern Army are logical (see Ericksson) The problem for them is that they did not take into consideration the material they had. Their plans were just beyond the ability of the forces they had available, and of course they blundered big time at the strategic level on many fronts (defend everything, not avoid a early Greek war entry).

In my scenarios I tend to rate the Bulgarian Ban I as the best available, with Serbian Ban I, Bulgarian Ban II, Serbian Ban II being in similar levels, but the Serbian Ban I like the Bulgarian Ban I being Aggressive (to represent bayonet charges elan). The Nizam Ottoman divisions are same training as Serb Ban I, but might suffer from the Fragile condition (representing anything from lack of full complement, to fatique and de-moralization), while the Redif, barring some that did do well in the battles are given a worse rating than Bulgarian and Serbian Ban II.

You can see my scenarios for BBB here link

or at the BBB yahoo page


Vimy Ridge Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

Thanks Konstantinos, I will have a look thru the scenarios.


KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

Robert thank you for the Romanian books citations.

laretenue25 Feb 2017 2:57 p.m. PST

Q for PA's Revenge:

Where did you manage to track down a copy of Battles with Brusilov? I've never yet managed to examine a copy, but knowing (1) the scale (unlike you, I favour this) and (2) that the rules are F&F-derived … all this has me intrigued. The rules seem long OOP. I even once emailed someone I believed to be the author, but never got a reply.

So, where can I find this? Your advice appreciated.

Prince Alberts Revenge07 Apr 2017 2:32 p.m. PST

Iarentenue. I did some deep google searching and found a single copy in a hobby shop someplace in British Canada. Shipping was expensive but I decided it was worth the price since I went thru so much effort to locate them. Email me at lecoqfou at gmail for com for more information, I'd be willing to sell them off at a reasonable price and more than willing to look thru them to answer any questions you have on them.

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