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Building A First World War Italian Army

I confess to coming a bit late to WWI wargaming and the Square Bashing system specifically. Well, I’m here now, and getting to grips with putting together an Italian army to drive back the wicked Central Powers.
Why the Italians? Well:
Nobody else has them in the BAD Club…there are worse reasons to collect an army!
Some great troop types: Bersaglieri, Alpini, and armour-clad Arditi (the latter classed as Stormtroopers);
Actually, they engagement in WWI is much more interesting than people think (see below).

WWI Italian Alpini Infantry

The Italians in WWI
The stereotype of Italian involvement in WWI was the grinding slog on the Italian/Austrian frontier. Yes, in terms of sheer manpower, this was by far the most important contribution the Italians made. This front was largely in three unequal phases:
1915-17 The slow grinding Italian offensives against the Austrians, most famously on the Isonzo River, but also more interesting battles in the mountains of the Trentino. This phase of the Italian really a war of attrition;
Late 1917 The Carporetto Counter-offensive. With troops freed up by the surrender of Russia, and more importantly some help from the German army, the Austrians drove the Italians back to the gates of Venice. Over a third of the Italian army was captured or killed, and the leading general Cardona sacked;
1918 Eventual Victory. The Italians finally won an overwhelming victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, leading to an Austrian armistice.
But the italians were involved on other fronts, making them really interesting:
A volunteer expeditionary force sent to the Western Front in 1914-15 to aid the French, and some divisions in 1918 which saw action at the Second Battle of the Marne;
Putting down revolts in their newly established colonies in Libya and Eritrea;
A small expeditionary force to help the British in Palestine;
Most successfully, their offensive in the Balkans. They drove the Austrians out of Albania, and with the French and Serbians invaded Montenegro. They also sent a division to guard the Salonika Front.

Osprey’s Italian Army of WWI book

Wargaming the Italian Army
Most accounts of the performance of the Italians characterise their troops as being very brave and dogged, but commanded by incompetent and often brutal officers (executions for desertions were rife). Their performance was not helped by their apparently poor use of artillery.
All of this is represented in the SB Army Lists. They have a good mixture of troop quality, but they have a Poor Higher command rating and below average artillery assets.
In terms of other stuff:
Armoured Units. They tended not to use tanks (apart from a few loaned by the French) but did make extensive use of the armoured car;
Mortars and light guns were better than their heavier artillery;
Good use of MGs;
An early adopter of aircraft. In fact, their bombing sorties in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911 was the first use of fixed wing aircraft in any conflict;
The aforementioned Arditi are classed as Stormtroopers in the lists;
As they were fairly late into the War they made limited use of cavalry.
In terms of uniform colours, the Osprey Men At Arms book on the period is one of the better ones, having a clear and unambiguous description of Italian uniforms and their colours.

My own army
I’ve always been a fan of the very quirky Irregular Miniatures, ever since first using them at the end of the 1980s. So I was pleased to see an extensive range of WWI Italians made by them.

I’m going to go:
1 Unit of Stormtroopers (Arditi)
2 Units of Professionals (Bersaglieri)
6 Units of Regular (in French-style helmets)
4 Units of Reservists (in after cloth hats)

4 pieces of artillery
A bunch of machine guns
1 Mortar
1 Units of Cavalry
1 Heavy Armoured Car
This is a project which should take up the next few weeks, after which I’m looking forward to taking on my Austrian, German and Turkish opponents…

For the Emperor !

Helbrecht could taste the taint of Chaos on his tongue as he urged his sergeant to speed the Landraiders towards rthe industrial complex at Ikton 5 Khorne the most savage and abandoned of the Chaos filth were already there in strength.

This was my second game of 8th edition with the greatest chapter the Black Templars ( no magic loving close combat) against Khorne  close combat no magic and no shooting. the chaos node deployed worth marines on the left flank and vile demons on the left screened by flesh hounds urged on by a demon prince and the insane Kharn the Betrayer. Opposing the demons were two Landraiders full of marines led by the chapter master and the Emperors champion

The action began with the Khorne horde advancing mercifully too far away for a turn 4 chargeThe Templars responded with a hail of fire from the Landraiders and the dismounted marines which destroyed the fleshounds opening up a charge lane for the marines and Helbrecht to engage the bloodletters demons. On the other flank the predator and the storm talon destroyed a 10 man berserker unit

Crying vows of loyalty Hebrecht and his crusaders charged tied the demons. Whoops forgot the rerolls to hit so only killed 8 and they responded in kind with their hellblades – ouch!

Next turn saw the demons summon another swarm of bloodletters which surged forward to join the  Melendez and the swooping demon prince and kharn the betrayer also charged. In a whirlwind of blows Kharn’s axe Gorechild slew Helbrecht. At this point I used two command points to allow my remaining marines to strike before the charging demons and  removed the reamaing blood letters from play the demon price then killed a few marines.

The remaining marines took advantage of the new rules to withdraw from combat carrying Helbrecht shattered form with them The Landraiders moved forward to exact  vengeance and The isolated Khorne heroes died in a hail of assault cannons rounds. Marine firepower is brutal and another squad of berserkers died to my two support units.

Turn 3 and the heralds summoned more blood letters and some long bomb charges saw my other crusader squad and the  emperors champion hit by a tide of berserkers and bloodletters. Iwas left with 4 neophyte marines and the champion though we took a toll of the heretics. Once again the marines survivors fell back and the Landraiders shot and charged (yes vehicles now have a melee value) and the support vehicles manoeuvred ans culled the remaining berserkers. Assault marines landed  on an objective in the KHorne rear areas. Drop troops now land where and when you want  but have to be deploy by turn 3.

Turn 4 saw the  Khorne heralds charge the newly arrived assault marines and kill most of them over 2 rounds of combat.

The marine supports killed the last of the blood letters and the Landraiders and the champion killed the last of the bloodletters and the berserkers.

Khorne at last  saw reason with 2 heralds facing the predator Landraiders and the stormtalon flier  and we called it . 11-4 to the Imperium

Lessons learnt

1. Infantry in  the open die easily

2. Marine firepower is their strength

I love8th edition





Warhammer 8th Edition…and Why You Should Play It

Like many current or former 40K players you may have become disenchanted over the past few years with the seemingly constant updates of the rules and codices. And given that Games Workshop’s stuff is not exactly cheap, have probably fallen off the 40K bandwagon along the way. You may have rolled your eyebrows at the thought of yet another edition (8th, which came out last month). However, here are a few reasons why you should pick up 8th edition 40K and roll with it:

Pricing Strategy
It’s all very well GW charging a premium price for a premium product. However, they clearly found that their prices were such that they were no longer the entry-level game of choice. Especially when you can pick up something like the X-Wing starter set and off you go. Having to pay £35 or more for rules, £25 for a Codex, and then the £100-200 for the starter army was definitely not entry-level. In competition with War Machine, Malifaux and the aforementioned X-Wing and there’s no comparison.

All that’s changed. You can now download the basic rules as a pdf for free. Yep, that’s right free. OK, you can still get the hardback rulebook for £35, if you like the background “fluff”, plus expanded stuff on scenarios, campaigns and other special rules.

ALL armies have now been converted into 8th edition and contained within five soft back volumes, called Indices, each £15 and containing 3-8 armies each. Bargain. Yes, they will be releasing all new codices throughout 2017 for completists, but the Indices are really all you need.

@ Games Workshop

The Return of Great Boxed Sets
My playing of 40K goes way back to 2004, and the halcyon days of 4th Edition. What really got me successfully into the game was the Battle for Macragge boxed set. A real bargain including Space Marine & Tyrannic armies, terrain, the rules, fast play sheet, dice, templates etc. There have been other good boxed sets but these have often cost circa £75…and at that price you’re generally committed to Dark Angels, Chaos Marines or whatever.

The great news is that the bargain box sets are back. In fact there are three. The Big Kahuna is Dark Imperium at £95. But you can also go low with Know No Fear at £50 and First Strike at £25 (which I think was the price of Macragge in 2005).

@ Games Workshop

The Rules
The core rules have really been stripped back. True, you can build into something as complicated as 7th edition, BUT you can start small and simple. The rules are condensed into about 12 pages of A4. This follows the path set by Warhammer : Age of Sigmar. So whilst at first glance they appear simpler, they actually contain many subtleties.

Highlights of the Rules:
Movement: Summarised into one page of A4. But different models now have different movement rates. The slower moving but relentless Necrons move at 5” for example, whereas most human types move at 6”;
Psychic Phase. Stripped down and simpler. Note that only Psykers can Deny The Witch, so armies like Necrons will suffer;
Shooting: Just 5 weapon types: Assault, Rapid Fire, Heavy, Pistol and Grenade. Interestingly certain types of weapon can erode an opponent’s armour save and do more than one point of damage. For example, a lascannon erodes an opponent’s armour save by -3, and does D6 points of damage…suddenly it’s worth having them!
Charge and Fight Phase. Ostensibly the simplest, but actually the subtlest, of the rules. Choosing which units you charge actually becomes crucial. And the new Heroic Intervention rule gives characters a bit more teeth.
Morale: Simplest of the lot, described in just two brief paragraphs.

@ Games Workshop

As I said, definitely worth checking out 8th edition…it’s really the best of both worlds, keeping the best of earlier editions, making the system more accessible but without chucking the baby out with the bathwater, which is arguably what happened with Age of Sigmar.