Saturday, December 24, 2016

An Imaginations Christmas

"Nothing makes me happier than to see my court enjoying a traditional Christmas Hugo!" exclaimed Herzog Mikhail.

"Indeed sire" replied General Generaloberst Hugo von Guus-Steppe. "There's something quite wondferul about a Christmas tree decorated with beets. It's the one thing we seem to agree on with our Northern neighbours."

"Perhaps there's hope for us all yet..." mused the Herzog.

"We can only hope. Merry Christmas sire."

"And to you Hugo. Now go home and see your family. There'll be no fighting today. It's time for a little peace."

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New recruits to the Army of Saxe-Coburn und Buchholz

Heartened by his recent victory at the Battle of Bystro, Herzog Mikhail Johann von Hollerenschaut IV of Saxe-Coburn und Buchholz has wasted no time in using the success to help swell his forces for the ongoing campaign. Consequently two now units have marched out of barracks and into the field this week.

AR No. 1, von Leightfynggar's Hussars

Wild and unpredictable, von Leightfynggar's Hussars are the envy of their fellow cavalrymen with their scarlet, black and silver uniforms. Womenfolk swoon and lesser men grind their teeth with envy when these dashing fellow pass by...

AR No. 1, von Fuse-leighter

Fresh from the artillery school at Bad Rücklauf in Katze-und-Hundmeim, von Fuse-leighter's Foot Battery refer to themselves as “wissenschaftliche soldaten” or “scientific soldiers”.

With such men as these Herzog Mikhail cannot fail to overcome his Northern foes...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Action at Bystro!

The phony war is well and truly over! Battle has at last been joined at the village of Bystro on the Eastern coast of the disputed province of Oberer Süßen Bagel, or Nizhny Bublik as it is also known in some quarters.

The engagement was fiercely contested and despite giving a good account of themselves, Velikye Byelgorodniyan forces were eventually driven from the field in some disarray. 

Victorious troops from the army of Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz celebrated long into the night. Unfortunately, many celebrated too hard and captured Velikye Byelgorodniyan troops were allowed to escape, a costly error that will surely return to haunt the victors in the future.

What follows are some incredibly realistic artists impressions of various actions during the battle.

Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz troops advance to contact:

Velikye Byelgorodniyan forces do likewise:

Velikye Byelgorodniyan infantry fighting back-to-back having been outflanked!

Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz infantry deploy when threatened by cavalry and then drive off the cavalry to record the first minor victory of the day!

Immediately thereafter the Velikye Byelgorodniyan 1st Novi Byelgorod Grenadiers show their quality in routing enemy infantry from the field:

Velikye Byelgorodniyan infantry see off the flighty Leightfynggar's Hussars, remaining unfazed by the presence of enemy heavies at the same time!

The battle petering out with all Velikye Byelgorodniyan cavalry and a quarter of their infantry routed. Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz forces were victorious shortly afterward.

What will happen now? The claim of Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz for the disputed province has been strengthened by victory however grand Prince Dimitry of Velikye Byelgorodniya will surely not give up so easily...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Subterfuges, Ruses de Guerre, and Other Falsehoods

It was another glorious morning in Novi Byelgorod, as the Grand Prince Dmitry IV embarked upon his third panic attack of the day. Pyotr Afanasyovich Bibliotekhsky, the Court Librarian, was following the Prince up and down the salon with bundles of maps, attempting to calm the situation. As the scholar was himself of a particularly nervous disposition, this wasn't helping.

The Grand Princess Olga sipped her tea and watched the pair with ill-disguised impatience. This was not how a Grand Prince was meant to behave. 

She had done her dynastic duty to her Prince and husband by producing an heir, a spare, and a daughter who might one day prove marriageable to a suitable ruler. She was determined not to risk her life (or her figure) with any more childbearing, and had made it firmly understood that she preferred to maintain a separate household in the East Wing of the sprawling Palace. 

Ordinarily, she left ruling to the ostensible rulers and declined to interfere in affairs of state, but matters were getting out of hand. She lifted a perfect hand to beckon a servant, and whispered to the footman from behind her fan. He nodded and left the room.

The Grand Prince was now in full flight.

"The Herzog's letter tells us that they're NOT in Nizhny Bublik! What on earth is going on? Am I plunging the nation into war for no reason? Am I making a ghastly mistake? Or am I imagining all this?"

"Sire, I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation..." Bibliotekhsky offered lamely. "Perhaps the Herzog has gone mad? There have been rumours of a strain of insanity in his family..."

Minister for State Security
Baron _____ _____of _____
The footman reappeared; "The Minister for State Security, Baron _____ _____of _____", he announced, effortlessly pronouncing a succession of blanks.

A tapestry at the opposite end of the room was flipped aside by the opening of a hidden oaken panel. The man who stepped into the room was dressed in the manner of a nobleman, but entirely in grey, without any of the colour which might otherwise be expected in a court functionary. His garments served only to accentuate his utter lack of distinguishing features.

Princess Olga, completely unfazed by the unorthodox arrival, raised her voice to greet the spymaster.

"Ah, Baron ____, so good of you to take time from your busy schedule to not join us!" Bilbliotekhsky dropped his maps in consternation and immediately fell to his hands and knees to retrieve them.

Prince Dmitry  spun about to peer up at the stranger who had materialised behind him. "Who the Devil are you?"

The Baron nodded in token of a bow. "Your Majesty, I am pleased to act in the capacity of head of your intelligence apparatus," he said in even tones. "However, Sire, I must stipulate that any attempt to confirm my position or role within the organisation, or even my identity, will be met with the most stringent denials. To put it simply, I'm not here, I'm not speaking to you now, and I don't actually exist in any official sense."

Dmitry's brow furrowed as he tried to take this in. At least he's stopped gibbering like an idiot, thought the Princess. She stood and glided over to her husband, deftly navigating a path around the crawling Librarian.

"Husband, Baron ____ is here to clarify the current situation in Nizhny Bublik. He has access to sources of information which are completely trustworthy. He will be able to shed light on the somewhat... odd response to Your ultimatum."

____ smiled a barely perceptible smile, acknowledging the Princess' confidence in his organisation. "Your Majesty is most perceptive. Sire, this is what is known in intelligence circles as 'disinformation'. Falsehood promulgated as fact, to promote the interests of the perpetrator. A ruse de guerre, if you will. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Saxe-Coburnskis are telling whoppers to throw you off balance. Though I dare say that this is obvious to Your Majesty...?"

"So... the Saxe-Coburnskis have invaded Nizhny Bublik? I'm not imagining things?"

"Yes, Your Majesty, they have, and no, Your Majesty, you're not. Though it is said that their forces have been invited by their puppet Markgraf to 'protect Saxe-Coburn und Buchholz's commercial interests' quote unquote."

Dmitry's breathing had returned to something approaching normal. "That's more... disinformation?"

"Precisely, Your Majesty!"

"Oh. Good. Thank you for clearing that up."

"Then I shall return to the Bureau and prepare further initiatives to confound the evil machinations of the Saxe-Coburnskis. With your permission, Your Majesties...?" The Baron strode across the room to a bookcase, pushing it aside and vanishing into the corridor thus revealed. It swung shut behind him with a click.

"Thank God, Your Majesty!" quavered Bibliotekhsky from his position on the carpet. "It is most fortunate that we can rely on the talents of Baron ____!"

The Princess' face was a picture of bland innocence. "Baron who? I'm sure I don't know who you might mean,"she said, turning her gaze upon the Prince.

He looked back at her and the kopeck dropped. "Yes, Bibliotekhsky, who is this 'baron' person of whom you speak? There's nobody here save the three of us!"

Meanwhile, inside the war room...

"I told you it wouldn't work Hugo!" growls Herzog Mikhail, referring to the misinformation campaign regarding the presence of Saxe-Coburn und Bucholz troops in the disputed province of Oberer Süßen Bagel. "They might be cabbage-headed but they CAN use their eyes and ears sir."

"Yes sire, it appears you were correct after all." replied Generaloberst Hugo von Guus-Steppe. At the sight of a arched regal brow he quickly amends "I mean OF COURSE you were right sire, I simply meant it was worth a try..." [ahem!]

Both legible and accurate... Clearly not a Gruber original map!
"Hmmmm..." mutters Herzog Mikhail returning to the map table, apparently already distracted from what could have been an embarrassing contretemps, for Generaloberst Hugo at least. 'There's nothing for it then, we'll have to move in. Now where's the damned map?" he demands.

"This is it, the one with the beetroot for a compass rose and place names written upside down." answers the general.

"What? This thing? I thought it was a drop-sheet left behind by the painters! No wonder we're at war Hugo. Our disinformation plan is a shambles and our cartographer-in-chief draws with less skill than a... umm... no, wait, it will come to me... umm... Blast! You know what I mean. He CAN'T draw and he has no sense of direction for goodness sake!"

"We'll just have to make the best of it sire. After all, if we keep advancing North we'll eventually meet the enemy. Given the amount of vegetable matter they consume we'll have a good two or three days warning before contact. Our only problem will be the men keeping their own food down with the smell..."

"Very well then. Who have you put in charge by the way? Someone competent I hope!" says Herzog Mikhail in response.

"Absolutely sire. I've selected Generalleutnant Karl Vorwarts-mein-Kinder. Everyone else is on leave unfortunately." replies Generaloberst Hugo.

"But he's 102 years old and blind! He can't read anything at all, let alone a map!" cries the Herzog.

"Exactly my point sire..."