Introducing "1919" - A New Alternative History Game

Wow it's been quite the year so far, with the whirlwind of Real Life (Patent applied for) I've missed blogging and keeping up with all of your superb blogs as much as I'd like to. After getting one year older yesterday, I decided not to waste any more time not enjoying blogging and get stuck in.

Hopefully, this shall be the first of more regular posts now. I certainly don't have a lack of projects lined up.... but more on those later.

A New Project

What I would like to introduce today is a new project. The way that it came about was in a confluence of several threads coming together at once. The first was looking at Ed's (Scipio) superb Trench Raider rules and thinking that they would be superb for some sort of street-fighting skirmish game. The second was a jolly good chat in the pub with the ol' Colonel considering the implications of a German victory in 1918. The third was seeing the trailer and reading about the new BBC series, "Peaky Blinders" about a Birmingham gang of returned soldiers.

And of course there a lots of other little things. I've always loved the idea of VBCW and how it has developed - and in all fairness this is not hugely dissimilar. I'm afraid I've run out of original ideas. But depsite the similarities, there's still something about this that makes me want to go forward with it and see where it goes.

As ever with any project, I have to get the graphics right first

1919 - What's it all about

'In these circumstances, if you carry out your threat and strike, then you will defeat us. But if you do so, have you weighed the consequences?... For, if a force arises in the state which is stronger than the state itself, then it must be ready to take on the functions of the state itself, or withdraw and accept the authority of the state. Gentlemen, have you considered, and if you have, are you ready?' 
- Prime Minister, David Lloyd George to strike leader Robert Smillie

In 1919, Britain was already close to revolution - and whilst this has been debated, it is clear that the Government of the day considered it a very real possibility. I won't waffle on about this history now, I'm saving that for a shiny document. But the quote from Lloyd George above sums it up nicely.

What if Smillie and the others had said that they were ready? 

What if the Bolshevik revolution had had a little more international success and what if ties with British socialists and communists had been stronger?

What if the strikers had had a stronger central leadership pushing for revolution now and not reform? 

And what if Germany had won the war, what if there had been a more successful U-boat war that left Britain close to starving? (more so than as was already the case in reality). 

So that is the setting for 1919, drawing on the reality of 1919 Britain, the Russian Revolution and Civil War, the German Revolution and the Irish War of Independence / Civil War I hope to be able to present a Britain on the brink of civil war with everything to play for. 

Battle of George Square, January 31st 1919

The Factions 

At the moment this is still very much work in progress, and I want to leave it a little open ended so that you can create your own faction.

The two key players are the Alliance of the Worker's Soviets (or name yet to be decided), based around the Triple Alliance of reality. The most predominant units are militias but a proper "Red Army" or Revolutionary Vanguard is being built up around the units of the armed forces that became "turncoats." 

Then there's the government forces, both Military and Police (although the Police have their own share of dissenters as in reality).

I'm also working on a Freikorps style Anti-Socialist Militia and perhaps some sort of Liberal Reformists / Constitutionalists that have lost faith in the government but don't quite want a revolution and at their most radical end are probably looking to install something like the Weimar Republic.

And of course there are plenty of opportunities for criminal gangs, vagabonds and brigands.

In terms of changes to the political map, at the moment the only firm change is the Autonomous Soviet Republic of the Clyde centred around Glasgow, a Paris Commune type situation. Everywhere else is alrgely up for grabs, so if you want to battle it out over your home town or city, let me know and I'll update the map and details of your faction. 

Community Project

This is very much a community project. Any suggestions are very much welcome, and I'd definitely like this to be something that evolves as games are played, very much like VBCW in that sense. All feedback welcome 


  1. Initial thoughts: Religion was a much stronger force in Britain then.

    Economics is an important factor, as is the emancipation of women and the newly widened opportunities for social mobility (if only due to the pupils of Eaton and Harrow being seriously depleted by the Great War).

    Another thing I would recommend is a look at contemporary writing from before and after the great war: In my limited experience there is a sense of joy, opportunity and contentment in pre war Britain (and therefore expats throughout the empire [?]). And similarly post war there is very real sense of war weariness and 'never again'.

    So you'd need to address these points somehow.


    1. Thanks very much sir, have had my head buried in letters, newspapers and Hansard so hopefully should have most of that covered. Already have plenty of stuff covering most of those factors but didn't want to waffle on too much here. Nice to know that I'm on the right track. I putting together a PDF with all of the history and rules and whatnot so if you want a copy just drop me a line.

  2. Tell you what mate, that sounds like a blinding idea for a game. Historical fantasy, brilliant. Good Luck. I will keep an eye on your progress!

  3. I'd definitely check out the VBCW (Very British Civil War) stuff both for ideas and in case you don't want to accidentally do exactly the same stuff.

    For the anti-socialist militia, perhaps the govt would institute the Black and Tans in the rest of Britain and not just in Ireland.

    1. I love VBCW and there are going to be some similarities, and whilst I don't want it to be too similar I want to avoid making things different for the sake of it if that makes sense. The plan is to look at what was likely within the timeline. Really like the idea of a similar organisation of the Black and Tans being setup within the British Police

  4. And Downton Abbey, that's a must.... nevermind.

    My own knowledge of this period isn't so hot. I know a little of the Troubles in Ireland from Secondary school, but that was 20 years ago and some marbles ago. I'll see if I can think of anything pertinent though.

    Very excited to follow this mate. :)

    1. Nope, Downton Abbey is definitely going in there somewhere now....

      And thanks very much sir, hopefully it will turn out alright

  5. Looking forward to getting started on this - as I was saying the other week I think I'm going to do some of the mutinous ANZAC regiments. Might be nice to have some totally apolitical units just trying to get home in the midst of a civil war. Rather than the Czech Legion maybe we have the New Zealand Legion... also, just for modelling purposes I want to do a Bolshevised British Army Unit of ex-Coldstreamers or something like that. Model some 'People's Commissars', with a few looted bottles of scotch or something...

    1. Excellent stuff sir, well in this timeline they could be co-opted into the burgeoning Red Army, or just remain as trouble makers :p
      Was thinking of having something similar to the Czech Legion, that sounds spot on... As do the People's Commissars - spiffing stuff

  6. A few years too early for my tastes, but I'm all for alternate histories and I'll be watching this grow with interest.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks very much Jim, really appreciate that

  7. As a VBCW buff I love Alt History projects and the 1919 timeline is great and rich is sources. There is a little interesting part that happened in the 1920s dubbed the Tithe Wars were the Anglican Church tried to force parishes to pay the Tithe

    1. I always love reading your blog for that very reason sir. Ah I rather like that idea, much like the Church of Ireland in the nineteenth century

    2. Indeed. Have you watched Peaky Blinders as I think there is some good material there for you

    3. I have indeed, the build up to that was one of the prompts that got me to start this

  8. Keiran

    I think that’s a real outstanding idea for a campaign. Please count me in!! I’d really like to contribute through my blog as well. Please can I pinch your "1919" graphic of the British flag?

    I love the idea of the alternative history aspect, with the end of the Great War having been changed. I think there’s a lot of great background you can develop here. Looking online today, there’s a lot of great images, literature and posters for the George Square riot.
    Turning to a campaign context, it’d be fascinating to see what happens with the Government as it confronts Autonomous Soviet Republic of the Clyde. Do they try and negotiate, or are battalions of troops already being entrained up to Glasgow? And if so, what troops? Should Scottish troops be deployed? They would know their own city as well as anyone, but should the Highlanders be used? Or Lowland regiments? Are they reliable and can they be trusted?

    And what of the Bolsheviks? Not just the Clyde Soviets, but the Bolsheviks in Petrograd. Perhaps, in a remarkable reversal of actual history, there is no British naval expedition to the Baltic in 1919. Instead, the Bolshevik Baltic fleet steals out of Murmansk and through the Skagerrak and sails for the Clyde. With the British Grand Fleet scuttled in Kiel harbour, there is nothing much to stop the Bolshevik navy from infiltrating through the channels of the Western Isles by night and in bad weather and sailing for Glasgow. Nothing, perhaps, except the remnants of the British Home Fleet blockading the west coast of Scotland. Destroyer actions around the Hebrides, Bolshevik troops and weapons landing on British soil, The Black Watch being rushed north of the border by train..., the heavy weapons to follow when they can.

    That all sounds like the kind of campaign I’d love!

    1. Sir, you have it in one! Please feel free to take it, I have some higher res ones should they bee needed. Would absolutely love to have you on board with this. You're absolutley right, I've been working on this for a few weeks - although the scant details I shared probably don't show that - but there is so much already from 1919 to make use of.

      And the question of using Scottish troops was one really faced, with the fear of course being that they would be sympathetic to the cause etc. Would be interesting to see if any units change sides during the conflict. I'm sure a few will join the nascent People's Revolutionary Vanguard... I'm still working out the details but I imagine the troops are already pootling up to Glasgow...

      Absolutely love that idea, there was already a vague plan to have some greater Bolshevik support, whether advisors or arms and I supsected that there would have been no British expedition either. Bloody love it sir, if you don't mind that's going straight in!

    2. Absolutely, Sir. The more I think about it, the more fun this will be.

      By the way, have you seen the National Library of Scotland index of maps from the early 20th Century - they looks very evocative, are wonderfully detailed and they're free. Here's the link to the 1 inch to the mile map for Glasgow and the Clyde from 1900:

      There's absolutely every map you could want, including street maps, on the site.

  9. Excellent, many thanks.

    Ahh I was looking up maps the other day and managed to miss those, that's fantastic. Thank you very much, very helpful indeed.

    As I say it's all still work in progress but if you wanted to look at the notes I have so far, any suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

    1. Kieran, yes, of course, I'd be really happy to look at any notes. There's a link to my email on my Blogger Profile page:

    2. Disaster has struck and my PC is currently out of action, however I can put together a half-decent overview until I can get to the pretty maps again

  10. Hello , just reading through this part of the blog and came across this . How did the project progress ?
    What rules if any were developed?

    I look forward to your reply

    Many Thanks


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