While the origins of World War I (know at the time as “The” Great War) lie back in the latter part of the 19th Century from a wargaming perspective it really begins with the two Balkan Wars (in 1912-13), although the Russo-Japanese War (in 1904-1905) is also nominally part of this period; while the latter saw the first significant use of modern ‘Dreadnought’ style warships with a few large guns in rotating turrets, the former was the immediate forerunner to the out break of WWI and occurred in land warfare terms after the culmination of about 30 years of continuous major improvements in Weapons (Pistols, Rifles, Machine-Guns, Quick Firing Artillery, etc).
When the powder keg was finally lit in 1914 everyone expected to soundly thrash their opponents and to be home by Christmas, no one truly appreciated the full effects of the massive changes European military forces & warfare had gone through in the preceding 40 years!
Some of the traditional views of World War I history are now also being shown as overly emotional or inaccurate – yes the war was horrific, but no, the Generals weren’t all incompetent, the Tank didn’t miraculously save the day, and even the Machine-Gun, while a major influence, was not the one and only critical factor. Much of our traditional views of the Great War are tainted by the need for the society of the time to explain what they had done and to justify the horrific losses and the way it had changed the world forever. In fact it is now generally acknowledged, not through ‘revisionist’ history but a deeper analysis of the facts and experiences of the troops, that the developments in Artillery & Artillery techniques, combined with new Infantry Tactics, that were the two major features that came out of and ultimately decided World War I.
Recommended Wargaming Website: The Great Adventure by Robin Sutton.
Wargaming World War I
I have a hankering to do some World War I land action – one particular area that interests me is the Romanians, who joined the Allies in 1916 and participated with Russian support in what was arguably the last big Summer Offensive against Austro-Hungary & Bulgaria, although the delay in its commencement may have prevented a decisive Russian victory to the north for Brusilov earlier in the Summer, and ultimately it failed and the Germans took control of a sizable part of Romania. They fought on however through the rest of 1917 supporting the Kerensky Offensive, and having some limited successes against the Austro-Hungarians, but ultimately Russia’s failed offensive in 1917 ended Romania’s hopes and she surrendered to Germany in May 1918; although she later rejoined the Allies once Bulgaria was defeated, declaring war (again) on 10 November 1918 – a day before the final armistice…
Of course I could also be tempted by some Balkan action with Serbs vs. Austro-Hungarians, Turks vs. ANZACs, or perhaps even Palestine… Currently the biggest dilemmas are scale (both figure and unit) and rule set – preferences for figures are 1/76th (20mm) Crossfire (Company/Battalion Level) or 28mm with a modified TSATF at a similar scale (this latter my current preference). I’ll add more on this as I (eventually) delve into it further…
Early 20th Century Conflicts
- Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)
- Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912)
- Balkan Wars (1912–1913 & 1913)
- World War I (1914–1918)
- Russian Civil War (1917–1921)
- Finnish Civil War (1918)
- Polish-Czech Silesian war (1918)
- Polish-Ukrainian War & Polish Uprising (1918–1919)
- Estonian Liberation War & Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920)
- Czechoslovakian-Hungarian War (1919–1920)
- Silesian Uprisings, Polish-Soviet War, & Polish-Lithuanian War (1919–1921)
- Anglo-Irish War followed by the Irish Civil War (1919-1923)