Friday, 29 November 2013

When In Rome....

Hi everyone I'm James, I'm based in Bournemouth and Southampton and I'm new to Flames of War!

I've been asked by the awesome guys at Breakthrough Assault to write a few blogs about my first company as I’I've chosen an army outside of the big four Allied and Axis powers.  So hopefully you all enjoy reading about it and at some point, playing against them! Painting these models has been awesome because I really wanted to collect the army but haven't played any proper games. So for this first blog, I'll explain why I picked what I picked.

Here I am on holiday with my partner’s little girl…
there might be a clues about the articles I'm writing behind me!
For my first Flames of War Company, I picked…

An Eastern Front, Battaglione Alpine! More specifically, it’s the Tirano Battalion of the Tridentina Alpini Division with its support. This is an elite, Italian Infantry Company that is structured at battalion level like many other Eastern Front companies but it suffers from lack of supply and the heavier kit that characterise Italian Companies in the desert. I picked them for several reasons and so far it’s been very rewarding as working on something I really want to paint and play games with is so much fun! 
These are the finished models so far!
The first reason I’m collecting this army is the fantastic history of the Alpini Corp in Russia! However historically biased records might be, it’s clear some exceptional acts of bravery and stoicism were committed by the Alpini. With poor equipment, support and supply they held the Don Front against Soviet Attack in Operation Little Saturn before the Tridentina Division led 40,000 Italian, German and Hungarian non-combat ready survivors to safety on a two week hike and running battle through freezing conditions culminating in the Battle of Nikolajewka. Reading about these events solidified my choice of company!
The long walk back to safety and the new front
Secondly, this is not the first Alpini army I have collected. My first war-games experience; back at secondary school, was playing Rapid Fire every Saturday morning at the school club. The first box of soldiers that I ever bought was a battalion of Alpini for this game.  I picked them off a shelf in the local shop because the feathers “looked cool!” and no one had any Italians. Picking Alpini again, for very different reasons and because they're still a rare army, has allowed me to revisit that thoroughly enjoyable experience from my past. This time though, I've been able to go into more detail:
Semovente 47/32 self-propelled guns, fresh from the desert, slathered in mud
by their crews to help them blend in to the Russian Steppe before the snow comes
Thirdly, it’s a challenge! Each infantry Fucilieri figure is converted with sculpting putty to add a boss and feather to every helmet which, along with the different colour scheme I researched, sets them apart from other companies sent to the Eastern Front. To convert the miniatures I followed the guide on the Battlefront website. Though, partly due to my skill level and partly because I wanted the feathers to be slightly more noticeable after spending so long on them, they're slightly bigger than those in the guide. With platoons also being different sizes, the Italian reputation for poor equipment translated into game stats and the different national special rules the Italians have there was something for me to think about at every stage.
Here’s  a section of Alpini with heavy machine guns and an anti-tank rifle with their characteristic
red boss representing the Tirano Battalion and the black feathers tucked into them
Finally, thought I didn't find this out till much later… I can use almost every model I own in an Early war Company from Burning Empires and Late War briefings for both Axis and Allies. By adding a few models this means I get lots of value out of my collection in all three World War Two periods! I’m hoping that in early 2014, when Road to Rome and Fortress Italy are released there will be an Alpini company in these supplements!

Thank you for reading everyone, next time I'll write about how I've done the modelling and painting on this project and discuss the Italian National Rules as I get ready for my first game… and figure out how I’m going to deal with the Soviet Armour that’s probably going to rumble towards me!

Happy hobby everyone,

Avanti Savoia!

James McMeiken


  1. Very cool to see a rarely played army getting some love. I'm sure it will bring you a lot of satisfaction and probably spring a few surprises on unsuspecting opponents. Welcome to FoW too :-)

  2. Very nice army James, and I love the premise. My own force is historical based on family history, and I agree that having an army you have a passion for makes the painting and collecting go easier!

  3. Awesome! Thanks for sharing your army. Looks like you've got a lot done! Keep up the good work and I look forward to more updates!