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Thread: The swans head north - A Southern White Short Campaign PBEM

  1. #1

    The swans head north - A Southern White Short Campaign PBEM



    Now that my first AAR - Who put the stranded admiral in charge? - A Siberian White PBEM - is approaching its end, I have started writing my next one. This is another multiplayer match, it has been going on for two months now. This time I am in control of the Southern White. Probably the easiest faction to play. My Red opponent (Highlandcharge) is an experienced player and usually very defensive-minded. Finding openings in his defence won't be easy. Highlandcharge is also hosting this game. My Siberian ally (Ashtray) is rather new to PBEMs (I believe this is only his third) but he is learning fast.
    This AAR will be very different from my first one. I will focus less on the gameplay and instead concentrate on the story.
    Obviously my strategies won't match those the White movement historically developped. In many ways this will therefore be a "what if" AAR: What if the White leaders, all men of the tsarist past, had given into key popular demands, especially land-reform, rather than spread White Terror? What if the Southern White had developped an efficient administration and command rather than squabble over posts and influence? What if Makhno's Anarchists had fled from the Ukraine? ...
    The Short Campaign starts in May 1919 with the Southern White movement at the height of its power. Earlier in the year, the Red Army has invaded the Don area. Red mass terror against the local cossacks has led thousands of them to enlist in the Volunteer Army. Now Mai-Maeivski's Volunteer Army and Wrangel's Army of the Caucasus are ready to strike back. The swans are ready to head north.*


    Index:

    Chapter 1 - Denikin's gambit: Don front, May - June 1919
    Chapter 2 - Spades and a miracle: Pskov, May 1919 - February 1920
    Chapter 3 - To the gates of Kiev: Ukraine, May - July 1919
    Chapter 4 - The hares cook tortoise soup: Don Basin, June - September 1919
    Chapter 5 - Restore, ransack or reform? June - July 1919
    Chapter 6 - Makhno's lament: Orel, October - November 1919
    Chapter 7 - And quiet flows the Don: Tzaritsyn, October - December 1919
    Chapter 8 - Through the Golden Gate: Kiev, December 1919 - January 1920
    Chapter 9 - Much Ado about Nothing: Arkhangelsk, May - October 1919
    Chapter 10 - Shkuro's rampage: Central Russia, January - February 1920
    Chapter 11 - Budyenny's last charge: Kursk, March - May 1920
    Chapter 12 - The ace in the hole: Petrograd, February - June 1920
    Chapter 13 - Stalin's stand: Moscow, March - June 1920
    Chapter 14 - "Black nails in the ribs of the Antichrist": Russia, June - July 1920


    Words of caution:
    1. Since this story is told from a Southern White view, the White might appear in a very forgiving light. In my humble opinion, the Russian civil war was shaped by despicable men on all sides (obviously there may be some exceptions who they are depends on you own moral and political point of view). The Southern White leaders weren't exactly idealists fighting for a better future but rather men of the old order struggling to restore it. Red and White both terrorized Russia - some groups suffered especially from one side (Bolshevics, workers, Jews in the case of the White terror; aristocrats, bourgeois, cossacks in the case of Red terror) but to the average peasant both Red and White were equally a scourge.
    2. I am not a native speaker, please don't judge my mistakes too harshly.

    Strategic overview:



    Don front: The White heart beats at the Don. Thousands of Don Cossacks have swelled the ranks of the White armies. To the South the Kuban and the northern ranges of the Caucasus are firmly in White hands. Should this area ever be lost, it would doom the White cause. Unfortunately, the White heartland lies wide open and strong Red forces are already periliously close: to the West several Red corps have entered the Donbas. Grittis corps is already within striking distance of Rostov. The situation is aggravated by rumours of an alliance between the Reds and Makhno's Anarchists. To the East 50.000 Reds have assembled at Tzaritsyn. But there is also opportunity here: scouts report that the Red Army is weak to the North.



    Ukrainian front: Currently the Southern White have only two small bridgeheads in the Ukraine: Odessa is occupied by a strong Greco-French intervention army while Shillings small corps protects the Krim. The rest of the Ukraine is securely in Red hands. Half a year after the end of the Great War, the governments in Paris and Athens are already drawing up plans to bring their troops home. Once they abandon the White cause, the situation in the Ukraine is likely to become unsustainable.



    Pskov: Rodzianko's 20.000 men are in a dangerous position. With their back against the Estonian/Latvian border they have nowhere to retreat. Even worse, they are badly outnumbered: Kork's force alone counts more than 35.000 men, a couple of smaller Red corps raise the total numbers the Red Army can unleash upon this ill-fated expedition to 70.000.



    Murmansk: There is a small hope that Rodzianko could join forces with Miller, though. At Murmansk Miller has assembled a force pompously called "North Army". In reality it's little more than a single division. But they are supported by Ironside's British Expeditionary Force. In total 18.000 soldiers are stationed at Murmansk. The way to Petrograd will take them months. There are several river crossings where Red gunboats could stop the North Army alltogether. Most likely the British will have evacuated their forces before Miller can even get close to Petrograd.

    Arkhangelsk: Another isolated, disorganized patchwork "army". Stewart's 5.000 men strong American Polar Expedition is already busy loading its equipments on the ships that are supposed to bring them home. They refuse to participate in any operations outside Arkhangelsk. 1.500 British (mostly artillery) are more helpful but lack a capable leader. The main force consists of 9.000 White soldiers under Durov. Theoretically they could venture South to occupy Volgoda and even threaten Moscow but the weakness of these troops makes this distant dreams.

    Navy and river fleets: the Western allies have sent powerful naval task forces that control the Black Sea as well as the White Sea. Of the great rivers the Dnejper is firmly in Red hands while the Don is controlled by a few White gunboats. In the Caspian Sea a White fleet slightly outnumbers its Red counterpart. Unfortunately the most powerful ships of this force aren't capable of navigating the Volga which therefore will remain under Red control.


    Warplans:


    How to win the war? The White leadership is divided on this question. Denikin, Wrangel and Mai-Maeivskyi only agree on two points:
    1. The ultimate object will be Moscow.
    2. Only the forces assembled at the Don are strong enough to carry out an offensive against the Bolshevik heart.
    However there is complete disagreement on how to achieve this grand goal:
    Wrangel believes that Tzaritsyn has to be taken before the White forces can push north. Otherwise their base in the South will be perpetually endangered and their flank vulnerable. Moreover this would enable the Volunteers to link up with Kolchak's Siberians finally creating a unified front against the Bolsheviks. Naturally it would be his Army of the Caucasus - already facing Tzaritsyn - that would play the key part in such an operation.
    Mai-Maeivski - in command of the Volunteer Army guarding Rostov against Red forces approaching the Don from the West - advocates a complete conquest of the Ukraine before a march on Moscow is undertaken. According to Mai-Maeivski's warplan his Volunteer Army would lead an offensive westward taking Kharkov and finally linking up with the Greco-French intervention forces at Kiev.
    Denikin doesn't want to waste time. The Red forces to the North are weak. In the meantime the Siberian advance has already stopped, Samara has been lost. If this war is to be won, an immediate push to Moscow is necessary. His idea is to throw both, the Volunteer Army and the Army of the Caucasus, north and leave only the Don Cossack Army behind to guard Rostov. It would take positions behind the Don river close to Tzaritsyn - threatening the city without actually attacking thus pinning down superior Red forces.**

    Who will emerge victorious from this argument amongst White generals?


    ----------------------------------------------------
    * A reference to Marina Tsvetaeva's poem series "The Encampment of Swans". Swans are one of the metaphers Tsvetaeva uses to idealize the White Guards.

    ** To some extend this reflects the real controversies amongst the White leaders prior to Denikin's disastrous Moscow Directive. Wrangel always was a proponent of attacking Tzaritsyn and once this was achieved wanted to link up with the Siberians rather than march on Moscow. Denikin's Moscow Directive (3rd July 1919) had a much broader scope than the plan proposed here, though. He ordered an advance along three railway lines: Tzaritsyn-Saratov-Penza-Nizhnyi Novgorod-Moscow; Voronesh-Mosocow; Kharkov-Kursk-Orel-Tula-Moscow. Wrangel thought it to be the "death sentence" of the White Army.
    Last edited by Bornego; 30-01-2012 at 21:31.

  2. #2
    Lt. General Narwhal's Avatar
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    Oh boy ! Nice pictures, nice text !

    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    Ukrainian front: Currently the Southern White have only two small bridgeheads in the Ukraine: Odessa is occupied by a strong Greco-French intervention army while Shillings small corps protects the Krim. The rest of the Ukraine is securely in Red hands. Half a year after the end of the Great War, the governments in Paris and Athens are already drawing up plans to bring their troops home. Once they abandon the White cause, the situation in the Ukraine is likely to become unsustainable.
    Actually, the Greeks are more probably planning to send them to Smyrna, but more on this in the next AGEOD game : "Battle for the Gates of Europe".

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    Angel of Death germanpeon's Avatar
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    Another Bornego RUS AAR! This is good Russian news.
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    You're starting a new one before the old one is even done?!? Talk about feeding my addiction!

    Denikin's plan looks overly ambitious... Leaving too many flanks open. I like the idea of taking out Tzaritsyn and linking up with the Siberians (as I've mentioned in the other AAR), but you've already explained there's not in-game advantage for that - save eliminating a flank. Taking out the Ukraine first - I like that, too, but it leaves a Red mass near Tzaritsyn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are more defensible rivers you can hide behind in the Ukraine, if you choose to go on the defensive, than there are farther to the east, near Tzaritsyn.
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  5. #5
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    I hate the Anarchists with a burning passion. Even if you inflict a crushing defeat on them, Anarchist partisans pop up and make a general nuisance of themselves for the rest of the game. Speaking of which, in the short campaign, are the Anarchists already allied with the Reds?

    Edit: I am immensely satisfied. I am now the proud owner of both Anarchist heads, including this guy who got in the way of Volunteer Army + Mai-Mai.

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    Last edited by Axe27; 11-01-2012 at 08:49.
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  6. #6
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great to see you doing yet another AAR and with a focus on the Southern Whites too. And to echo Narwhal, the maps are wonderfully done.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    Oh boy ! Nice pictures, nice text !
    Thanks Narwhal, your advice on how to make an AAR more accessible has been invaluable. Please keep it coming!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    You're starting a new one before the old one is even done?!? Talk about feeding my addiction!

    Denikin's plan looks overly ambitious... Leaving too many flanks open. I like the idea of taking out Tzaritsyn and linking up with the Siberians (as I've mentioned in the other AAR), but you've already explained there's not in-game advantage for that - save eliminating a flank. Taking out the Ukraine first - I like that, too, but it leaves a Red mass near Tzaritsyn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are more defensible rivers you can hide behind in the Ukraine, if you choose to go on the defensive, than there are farther to the east, near Tzaritsyn.
    Addictions need to be fed. I had some free time around New Year while the Red player from my first PBEM was on his summer holdiday (he is living in Australia). So I started my follow-up AAR.

    Historically, your thoughts are spot on. Denikin's plan soon stretched Southern White forces too thin. But I believe on the smaller scale I am proposing here, it can be pulled off. Besides, one of its biggest benefits is that I will have interior lines while the Red Army will be stretched to cover a huge frontline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Axe27 View Post
    I hate the Anarchists with a burning passion. Even if you inflict a crushing defeat on them, Anarchist partisans pop up and make a general nuisance of themselves for the rest of the game. Speaking of which, in the short campaign, are the Anarchists already allied with the Reds?
    I can already promise you that the Anarchists will soon meet a grim fate in this AAR.

    From the point of view of game mechanics, the anarchists are a huge pain in the ... if you play the Southern White. 1.000 pw of marauding, fast-moving troops that can strike anywhere and don't really have to bother with supplies. In the hand of a human player, they are a deadly tool.

    In the Short Campaign an alliance between Bolsheviks and Anarchists is unavoidable. The scenario setup gives control of one anarchist region to the Southern White. This automatically triggers the alliance after turn 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    great to see you doing yet another AAR and with a focus on the Southern Whites too. And to echo Narwhal, the maps are wonderfully done.
    Thank you! It means a lot coming from you.

  8. #8
    Chapter 1 - Denikin's gambit: Don front, May - June 1919


    In the end, it was Denikin, the men that had held together the Volunteers during their glorious retreat across the Kuban, the hero of the Ice March, who pushed his plan through. After all, he was the autocratic leader of the Southern White forces. Mai-Maeivski had been suspiciously absent from this decisive meeting in the late days of April 1919. The fat general only resurfaced a day later emerging from a whorehouse in Donetsk.* Wrangel on the other hand was placated by Denikin backing some of his economic ideas.**

    The initial targets of Denikin's plan were Kharkov and Voronesh. He gambled that the Reds would remain passive rather than risk an attack on the strong White forces assembled around Rostov.



    In the early days of May 1919, Southern White forces struck with lightning speed. Supplies and heavy equipment was left behind while cavalry dashed across the steppe and infantry boarded trains. It was said that every single train available to the Southern White steamed north that day.
    Mai-Maievski, well fueled on booze, outflanked Grittis and advanced until a few miles of Kharkov. An assault was postponed in order to give him time to link up with Promtov's corps. Besides it was feared that Grittis or Gekker - rumoured to be a few miles further west - would reinforce Kharkov by train before the Volunteers could assault the city. In the meantime Shkuro's cavalrymen struck even further north. Belogard was taken, thus isolating Kharkov from any reinforcements from the North.



    Wrangel and Mamontov were in charge of taking Voronesh. Their cossacks advanced upon the city in four seperate columns. Speed was of the essence, a unified force could be established once Voronosh was under siege. Mamontov and Ivanov arrived at the city first, while Wrangel and Gulyga brought up the rear.

    To the East, Sekretev and Ulagai advanced to Surivikino, a small town on the western bank of the Don opposite of Kalach. Protected behind the river, they immediately started digging trenches. This was probably the most important part of Denikin's plan; with a powerful Don Cossack Army within striking distance of Tzaritsyn, the Red Army had to commit strong forces to the defence of the city rather than advance into the Kuban which was left almost unprotected. Rostov and Novocherkassk also remained only weakly guarded. Soon reinforcements from Caucasus would strengthen the White heart but for the moment it was left vulnerable to a Red counter-attack.



    Denikin's gamble turned out to be a stunning success. The Red Army was taken completely by surprise. Kharkov fell on the 19th of May without a fight. Then the Volunteers took yet another gamble: Rather than turn against Grittis and Makhno who had joined forces south of Kharkov, Mai-Maeivski divided his army: Shkuro, a fast-moving Cossack commander with extensive experience as a partisan commander behind Austrian lines in WW I and an unfortunate weakness for plunder, rushed his troops north to the city of Kursk. Without giving them any rest he had them assault the city in the first light of dawn. The Red defenders were surprised in their quarters by heavy artillery fire, followed by waves of White soldiers flooding into the city. The Bolshevik forces were slaughtered mercilessly before they could mount any resistance. At June 10th the city was in White hands.



    Kutepov stayed behind at Kharkov his force too weak to withstand Grittis on his own. But the Red window of opportunity closed fast. Only a few days later, Wrangel who had changed direction, arrived in the city with two fresh divisions.

    At the end of May, Voronesh still held out against Mamontov's siege force. Even worse Liubimov had assembled a relief force just north of the city. If the prize wasn't to slip through Mamontov's fingers, he had to assault the city. Red resistance was broken within the hour. White casualties were marginal. Sadly, Mamontov himself was amongst the few White soldiers unfortunate enough to lose their lifes that day. Wrangel would soon head north from Kharkov to replace him.



    By mid June, the Red Army was hurrying troops north from Tzaritsyn and the Southern Ukraine to close the gap in the North. But for the moment the road to Moscow lay wide open. Only Khudiakov's small force at Orel protected the railway from Kursk to the Red capital.



    Within less than two months the White Army had covered half the way to Moscow. It had taken three major cities and doubled its territory in the South. During the whole campaign only 160 White soldiers had lost their lifes.



    Rostov and Novocherkassk were safer than before as well: Grittis and Makhno had hurried north-west desperatly trying to keep up with Mai-Maeivski and Shkuro. The force at Tzaritsyn had been weakened in order to contain Mamontov and his successor Alekseev at Voronesh.




    Now the White leadership was again faced with a decision: could it risk to continue the lightning charge towards Moscow or should it rather consolidate its gains?


    ----------------------------------------
    * Mai-Maievski was an excellent general. His stats in RUS may not do his talent entirely justice. Yet he also had a reputation for his drunken orgies and whoring.
    ** These policies will be the subject of another chapter.

  9. #9
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    whow ... that has effectlvely splintered the entire Red front in the south, at the very least this promises to be a war of manouvre rather than the brutal attrition of the other AAR?

  10. #10
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    In AGEOD, the player(s) have a choice: Armies or cities. Whilst the destruction of armies aids in the war effort, the capture of cities is what wins the game. AGEOD is more about maneuver than it is about the actual fighting, and an excellent demonstration your last turn has been of this principle.

    Still, with your massive armies in good position, I think we'll see some big battles in the turns to come, especially versus Makhno/Grittis doomstack in the south.
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  11. #11
    loki100: The Short Campaign in RUS almost inevtiably leads to a brutal war of attrition with sky-high casualty rates. The reason is simply that armies are so huge to begin with. Usually it ends with one faction's NM crashing (0 NM means immediate defeat in RUS) rather than the capture of a capital (Grand Campaign games tend to end with the capture of Moscow). This Short Campaign game will be something of an exception: Southern White casualties will remain very low in spite of some highly aggressive moves.
    However the game will take a very different course on the Siberian front where Highlandcharge and Ashtray waged a trench warfare with considerably higher casualty rates. Still this game was a lot less bloody than "Who put the stranded admiral in charge?" with Ian and Durk (I have played a lot of PBEMs against Durk, they are always bloodbaths).
    This has to do with the territory as well: in the South it is a lot easier to wage a war of maneuver than on the Siberian front where movement is channelled through certain corridors and keyholes by mountains and rivers.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 2 - Spades and a miracle: Pskov, May 1919 - February 1920


    Rodzianko's situation at Pskov was desperate. His force consisted only of two small infantry divisions with two armoured trains as support. His regiments were understrength - while the infantry had about 75% of its nominal strength, the artillery was lacking more than two-thirds of theirs. Batteries supposed to consist of eight guns usually had two or three. The only thing this army had in abundance was generals: von Neff, Vetrenko, von der Pfahlen, Gueorg, Bulak-Balakovich, ... Most of these men jealously insisted on the ranks they had once held in the imperial army - even if they had nobody to command.
    The North West Army at Pskov was hundreds of miles away from the next White allies. Red forces however were plentiful in the area. The Red field troops in the region outnumbered Rodzianko by 5:1. Garrisons forces at Petrograd, Kronstadt and Krasnaya Gorka increased the Red superiority to more than 7:1. If the Reds hadn't been lacking porper command - gravely impairing their effectivness on the battlefield - the outlook would have been even worse.



    Rodzianko sent out desperate pleas for help to Southern White and Western allies alike, but the Southern White forces - on the eve of Denikin's offensive - had nothing to spare and the English and French told him off as well. After all, they had already equipped the army with rifles and artillery, supplies and uniforms. If Rodzianko couldn't find Russian volunteers to fight with this equipment how could he expect them to waste even more ressource on his expedition?

    Faced with a hopeless situation, Rodzianko had two courses of action open to him:
    1. He could attack the relatively weak Red Pskov Group before the Red Army was able to concentrate its forces. If he managed to score a decisive victory he might at least go down in history as a valiant man before the Red Army would overwhelm his forces.
    2. Order his men to dig for their lifes. The surroundings of Pskov were swamp land. With a solid network of trenches, this could become an almost impenetrable position.*
    The decision was easy, few of the generals in the North West Army felt like dying in a glorious charge. The soldiers started digging trenches and even the generals took up spades. In the meantime 1.000 partisans and a regiment of cavalry were dispatched to destroy the railway lines in the Red hinterland. If Red reinforcements could be slowed down, Rodzianko's men might have a chance.**

    Every second, Rodzianko's men expected the Red artillery to open fire. Every minute, they expected waves of Red conscripts to storm across the swamps. Every hour, they expected news of Red reinforcements arriving outside the city ...

    But the Red Army never came. It kept enough forces outside Pskov to contain Rodzianko but didn't attack. Instead of a desperate struggle, a "sitzkrieg" developped. Occasionally a gun was fired across the trenches but usually the fighting remained limited to the shouting of insults across the no man's land.



    Rodzianko's men called it a miracle but their commanding general while relieved also felt insulted. Apparently the Bolsheviks thought so little of his army that they didn't even bother to send the men necessary to crush it. And that although he was literally sitting on Petrograd's doorstep.***

    Rodzianko used the time to consolidate and train his force. His hour would come ...

    ---------------------------------------
    * In my only Short Campaign game with the Reds, I tried multiple times to crush Rodzianko's troops with superior forces. I lost 4 generals in these swamp battles. If I remember correctly, it was only my fourth attempt that finally succeeded.
    ** Truth be told, I had written Rodzianko's army off from the very start of this campaign. My hope was that a lot of Reds would die during the inevitable destruction of the North West Army. It is possible to save this army, though. In another Southern White PBEM, I managed to save the survivors of the Red onslaught by splitting them up and marching them south piecemail. In the end these troops crossed the Prypiat Marshes and joined my southern forces at Kiev. However this was only possible since the Red player was in trouble elsewhere.
    *** Highlandcharge obviously had other priorities early in this game. The Siberian front was off to a furious start with heavy fighting and Mai-Maeivski, Wrangel and Shkuro breaking out from the Donbas probably stretched Red reserves too thin to spare troops for an attack on Pskov. Instead he steadily weakened this force in the area. It's a dangerous gambit ...

  12. #12
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Mai-Maievski sounds like a colorful character.

    Bold opening moves that seem to pay off. Now to see if you can keep that momentum going. I have to believe that the Red player is going to throw a lot at you - either directly, to block your road to Moscow, or indirectly, by attacking your flanks.

    Interesting situation with Rodzianko's little army, but given your comments about your own success (or lack thereof) defeating him in another game, Red inactivity might be the best strategy.
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  13. #13
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    nice overview of the position and options in the North. Does sound like leaving a large army to screen Pskov is a good option? But then I guess driving the reactionaries into the sea frees up the Red forces in that region for other duties ... so a nice balance of problems?

  14. #14
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    In a similar vein to your last AAR, the Red player seems to be content to concentrate on your allies rather than you. Seeing the havoc you wrought as the Siberian Whites, and the extremely successful offensive you've managed to pull off in the first turn, I can't help feeling they'll come to see that as a mistake.

    I'd like to add that your AAR has inspired me to give Pride of Nations a proper try-out. So far all I have to show for it is completing the military tutorial (take that, rebellious wurzels) and struggling to understand what I should do as Japan on the first turn of the Russo-Japanese war scenario.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Interesting situation with Rodzianko's little army, but given your comments about your own success (or lack thereof) defeating him in another game, Red inactivity might be the best strategy.
    If the Red player bothers to attack Rodzianko, his army is doomed. In my Short campaign game with the Reds, I underestimated the effects of entrenchment and territory and attacked prematurly. If I had waited until my forces were properly concentrated, I would have crushed this army on the first try.

    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    nice overview of the position and options in the North. Does sound like leaving a large army to screen Pskov is a good option? But then I guess driving the reactionaries into the sea frees up the Red forces in that region for other duties ... so a nice balance of problems?
    Good summary of the situation. I always thought the same: Crush Rodzianko's army early on and then use the troops elsewhere. Especially since the Whites have one ace up their sleeve. There is an option to get Yudenich's Army into the game in this area. It numbers only about 20.000 men but is well equipped with tanks and armoured cars. If they can join forces with Rodzianko the balance of power in the North can shift decisivly. This option has a nasty downside, though. If Yudenich fails to conquer Petrograd within 12 turns the Southern White lose 1 NM per turn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    In a similar vein to your last AAR, the Red player seems to be content to concentrate on your allies rather than you. Seeing the havoc you wrought as the Siberian Whites, and the extremely successful offensive you've managed to pull off in the first turn, I can't help feeling they'll come to see that as a mistake.

    I'd like to add that your AAR has inspired me to give Pride of Nations a proper try-out. So far all I have to show for it is completing the military tutorial (take that, rebellious wurzels) and struggling to understand what I should do as Japan on the first turn of the Russo-Japanese war scenario.
    Highlandcharge always put big forces up against me. Increasingly he stripped other fronts to contain the White offensive north. On the Siberian front, it was Ashtray who attacked first. After a few defensive victories, the Bolsheviks seemed to gain the upper hand until they retreated troops to deal with my Southern White.

    PoN is a very different game from RUS. The military side is less complex but economy, diplomacy and colonialism add entirely new facettes. Personally, it's my least favourite game from AGEOD but it is hard to find a more comprehensive simulation of the world in the 19th century.

  16. #16
    Chapter 3 - To the gates of Kiev: Ukraine, May - July 1919


    In December 1918, a month after the end of WW I, the French and Greek governments had landed an expeditionary force of 40.000 French and Greek soldiers in Odessa, a port in South-Western Ukraine. The mission of this Armée d'Orient was to assist the anti-communist forces against the Bolsheviks and establish a zone of French influence in Southern Russia. In order to achieve these goals, the Armée d'Orient would have to occupy vast stretches of territory in the Ukraine. Unfortunately only 3 divisions were available for this huge task. To make matters worse these men were tired of war and thus in a mutinous mood. It didn't help either that the local population wasn't exactly welcoming. Pushing these war-weary men to make yet another effort would require a charismatic commander. Unfortunately the available generals were rather bleak characters.*

    Recently the situation had started to deteriorate. Grigoriev had beaten the Greek forces at Kherson in early March. In the following days the entire Black Sea Coast between the Krim and Odessa was lost to the Bolsheviks. Now the intervention forces were isolated in the city with their backs to the sea. But the French command wasn't prepared to evacuate Odessa,** the situation could still be turned around. Orders were given to march inland while Odessa was left with nothing but a token force. Perhaps this decision was inpired by other invaders throughout history who had burned their fleet to make their men fight with the power of desperation?



    The plan was to avoid Khudiakov who had joined forces with Grigoriev and advance towards Kiev via Vinnytsia. A threat to Kiev surely would prompt the Bolsheviks to order a tactical retreat. On May 15th Vinnitsia was taken without a fight. At that point however the troops refused to march on.*** This forced Berthelot and Nither to turn their force around. The entire army retreated by train to Tiraspol just north of Odessa.
    In the meantime the Southern White had increasingly become disappointed with the lack of progress in the Ukraine. General Pokrovsky was send west to assist with operations. His local knowledge soon would prove invaluable.**** Under Pokrovsky's leadership the Armée d'Orient made a dashing advance towards Cherkassy which was conquered on June 14th. Now both railway lines to Odessa were securely under White control and general d'Anselme who had stayed behind with 2.000 French at Odessa could finally sip his coffee in peace again.



    However Pokrovsky didn't rest; he pushed his troops onward to Bila Tsverka which was occupied on the 23rd of June. The Armée d'Orient had made it to the gates of Kiev in spite of superior Red forces guarding the Ukraine. Admittedly, it had helped that many Bolshevik units had been recently withdrawn north in reaction to the Volunteers taking Kharkov, Kursk and Voronesh.

    On paper the territorial gains were quite impressive, but the real prize, Kiev, was still beyond Pokrovsky's reach. Antonov-Ovseenko occupied the city with a Red army that was easily a match for the Armée d'Orient. Grudgingly his men settled into a stalemate at the gates of Kiev.


    -----------------------------------------------------------
    * The weak game stats in RUS probably reflect the failure of this intervention rather than the personal military skill these man displayed. On their part they certainly weren't impressed with the Volunteers: According to general Berthelot the Volunteers hadn't learnt anything from the failures of the old elite during the Great War and the Revolution. Instead they spend their days gambling and drinking, yet they didn't think about the negative effect this behaviour would have on public opinion.
    ** In reality, that is exactly what happened. The bleak military outlook, lack of supplies and low morale prompted the intervention forces to abandon Odessa in early April 1919. The Armée d'Orient therefore shouldn't be available to the Southern White in this scenario.
    *** Berthelot and Nither were both inactive that turn and I hoped Highlandcharge couldn't resist taking Odessa and thus cutting the Greco-French force off. If he had tried, he would have run into a superior French force at Tiraspol that occupied an excellent defensive position behind a river.
    However there is a mutiny event in RUS: it can fire multiple times and locks part of the Greco-French forces for one turn.
    **** 4-2-2 and the strong moral special ability simply beats the standard 3-1-1 the French and Greek commanders have to offer.

  17. #17
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    interesting to see you create another pressure point with the Greeks & French, ok its a stalemate, but presume its hard for the Reds to risk weakening the Kiev defences too much just in case?

  18. #18
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    Impressive opening moves, with you cutting the Reds in two effectively. From my experience with the long campaign, the supply situation in Ukraine can quickly deteriorate : few depots, and the railroads tend to be cut often due to the massive number of "Yellows" and Greens in the area.

    Similarly, you may not have to "attack" Antonov - Ovseenko, as he gets less surprise then he needs from what I can judge.
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  19. #19
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Considering the fact that the Greco-French intervention force wasn't looking so hot to begin with, you sure pulled off a dashing raid across the Ukraine. Couple of big cities captured, Kiev threatened (at least somewhat - the Reds can't ignore you, much like that force in the swamps in the Baltic). Even if these are not the forces that will win the war for you, at the very least they tie down substantial number of Red units.
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  20. #20
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    That's the problem the Whites face in the short scenario- Too many big Red armies. How has your recruiting been going? You're probably not at the doomstack level of the Siberian AAR due to less regions to control, but I image you've been aggressively conscripting amongst both the populace and the prisoners.
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