Alternative history campaigns, battles and backgrounds have always held an interest for both war gamers and historians, it’s the question, What If? Such as what would have happened during World War 2 if Hitler had invaded Britain?
A campaign could be built around the that question, in which the first wave of German military are paratroopers, followed by beach landings. The possibilities are endless and the scenarios numerous, but an alternative campaign setting needn’t be restricted to the 2nd world war, any period can be used as a possible alternative setting. Such as the Imperial Roman military might marching to conquer ancient China, or just making the existence of magic real in the ancient world.
In the last couple of years alternative settings have become extremely popular, especially with campaign settings around the 2nd world war, both leading up to it and during. A very popular growing setting is A Very British Civil War, set in 1930’s Britain, surrounding the abdication of the King. In real life the king abdicated, in the setting he doesn’t and this leads to a civil war, with various factions all fighting for control of the country. Much more mainstream and popular settings are those set during the war, based on the Nazi’s obsession with the occult. In the setting they discover a way to harness the power of the occult. This sees the war take a different turn, with demons, vampires, zombies and advanced technology. Lets face it anything with zombies will be popular, and these are Nazi zombies.
Though you don’t have to purchase into a background, as there are plenty of good resources on the net and they’re not all set in and around the 2nd world war, which is quite popular at the moment. There are plenty out there for free, which is always a good thing, and these delve into other areas of history. Also you could always develop your own alternative background, which could be developed with the armies and periods you already own. A possible idea could be an invasion of England by France during the Napoleonic period. A good jump off point may be the invasion of Fishguard in Wales in 1797, though in reality this invasion was a dismal failure for the French, you could decide that they manage to get a foot hold, which leads to a massive invasion of French forces.
I’m going to look at some of the current alternative backgrounds available commercially and those which are free out on the internet.
A Very British Civil War
A very British civil war is an alternative history setting based around the abdication of King Edward VIII. In the setting it assumes that he didn’t abdicate, and this in turn sets in motion a civil war in Britain. The background is centred around the idea of wargames played with small companies of soldiers who represent factions and locals, who many assume if history had unfolded in this manner.
AVBCW doesn’t have a set of rules to play by, this is left to the players, allowing them to use a set they are already familiar with. Its become very popular over the last 12-18 months. The reason for this is the organic nature of the background, players have the ability to input their take ideas on how the background should develop. I myself shaped and developed the initial flavour of the conflict in Cornwall. This has now been developed and nurtured by other players on Gentlemen’s Wargame Parlour. Its also that element of being set in our own backyard and the ability to fight battles and skirmishes in our own towns, cities and villages which make this an interesting and fun game to play.
There’s the fun aspect of developing of new units, adding local flavour to them, being able to add fun local flavour to the background as well is a great aspect of this game. I decided to make druidry the main religion of the Cornish Nationalists, with druids joining units and factions within the nationalists. The reason being that a druid society was created during the 1930’s in Cornwall, plus I thought this would be a fun aspect to the Cornish. There is basically no restrictions to how you develop your game or factions.
More information can be found at the following websites;
1588 and All That (Spanish Invade England)
This is an alternative background developed by Tim Eagling over at the website http://www.spiritofthegame.org.uk. Set in Elizabethan England, during the period of the great Armada and the question. What would have happened if the Spanish had invaded England? it’s a period sandwiched between two hugely popular gaming periods, The War of The Roses and the English Civil War. The period of 1588, is a period of transition in war and weapons, it’s the switch from Medieval Europe through to the early modern period. It also comes after climatic change and in the wake of the black death.
Had the Spanish landed in England it would have been an interesting period in history. There was no trained standing army in England, the trained bands in the counties varied from each other. Though there would have been thousands of men, mainly peasants, equipped and ready to fight, though they would have varied in training and competency. The trained bands were provided by each of the counties, and this meant that a trained band could get held up if required at a national level.
It was during this period that saw the decline in the use of the longbow, is was slowly being replaced by the forerunner of the musket. This was a weapon that was easier to supply and train troops to use, where as the longbow required years of training to become competent in its use. The longbow would have still featured heavily on the battlefield still, it was also during this period that soldiers started to loose their armour, which made the use of the longbow more devastating.
So could the Spanish have conquered England if they had managed to invade? The Spanish would have faced problems with supply lines between mainland Spain and England. This could be a very interesting alternative history to explore. It allows the use of both longbow and early muskets/handgun’s. Though best of all its completely free..
More information can be found at;
Another alternative history idea would be one that looks at the recent riots, developing a storyline that sinks Britain into a modern civil war. The Falklands war has the potential to be used as a alternative backdrop. What would have happened if the war had escalated and Britain was forced to invade Argentina? What would have been the consequences and how would the rest of South America reacted?
The possibilities are endless which is why alternative history gaming can be an interesting and fun to play.