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

  1. #41
    Alien Space Bat PrawnStar's Avatar
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    And here I am now the other AAR has finished. Looks interesting and at least I now appreciate a bit more about the game mechanics behind things


    Apparently I need to buy some more gravel.


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  2. #42
    Chapter 7 - And quiet flows the Don: Tzaritsyn, October - December 1919


    Since Voroshilov's disastrous campaign in the Don Basin, the South had been peaceful. In particular, powerful Red forces under Tukhachevsky and Egorov had been sitting idly in their trenches at Tzaritsyn since the start of the war. Even when Voroshilov's men were struggling for their lifes, the forces at Tzaritsyn didn't attempt to relieve the pressure.
    This inactivity was all the more surprising since Southern White defenses in the South were weak. While Denikin protected the railway to Rostov, the way into the Kuban lay entirely open. Between Tzaritsyn and Ekaterinodar, the Southern White capital, there wasn't a single White unit. Only the city itself was defended by a small garrison manning its fortifications.



    This weakness was a result of Denikin's initial warplan. It had called for the transfer of all White troops from the Kuban and Caucasus to strengthen the offensive in the North. At October 1st 1919, less than 12.000 White soldiers remained south of the Don. More then 7.000 of them were stationed at Ekaterinodar.
    Denikin's forward defense against Tzaritsyn had worked beautifully this far. His 33.000 men were safely entrenched behind the Don but at the same time posed a constant threat against Tzaritsyn. Denikin lurking within striking distance of the city was the reason why Tukhachevsky hadn't dared to take advantage of the opening to the South-West. Now that situation was about to change ...



    In September 1919, the Red Army had pulled 10 infantry divisions, four armoured trains as well as half a dozen artillery regiments from the Siberian front. All these forces were now heading south to reinforce Tzaritsyn. The White leadership was alarmed and ordered increased partisan activity against the railroad between Tambov and Tzaritsyn to slow these reinforcements down. As a consequence, it took the Red Army until November 1919, before Tukhachevsky was able to launch his offensive. Voroshilov stayed behind with considerable forces while Tukhachevsky and Egorov advanced at a snail's pace towards the Kuban. Not that they had much choice: the roads were covered in mud and the railroad had long since been blown up by White cavalry.**



    By then the Volunteers had had ample time to react: unbeknown to Tukhachevsky, a new defensive line been established behind River Manych.* At November 15th, this new line was only manned by 14.000 cavalrymen under Erdeli's command but they would soon be reinforced by 9.000 newly raised infantrymen under Babiev and a second division under Cherepov dispatched from Denikin's force. Moreover Kutepov one of the most talented commanders amongst the Volunteeers was heading to Salsk to take over command.

    On December 1st, the first snow fell and Tukhchevsky's force had still only covered one third of the way to Salsk. Estimates were that it would take the Red Army at least another month to reach Kutepov's defensive positions behind the Manych. But then an unexpected order arrived in Kutepov's headquarters: he was to abandon the trenches at Salsk and head north by train. The Kuban would be left defenseless once again ...




    Next update: What had happened? Where was Kutepov needed so urgently that the White leadership was prepared to gamble with the safety of its capital?


    ---------------------------------------------------------
    * At least I think Highlandcharge wasn't aware of this defensive line. He didn't send scouts that far ahead and there aren't any pro-Red loyalties in the Kuban. It is thus covered under the FOW for the Reds. On the other hand, Highlandcharge probably noticed that some troops had been heading south.
    ** Personally, I would have send cavalry ahead to repair these damages and establish Communist control over the railway.

  3. #43
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    so, we now have a mystery ... great stuff and wonderful to see the plotting, scheming and trying to anticipate each other that is going on

  4. #44
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Cleburne View Post
    BTW, have you ever tried the Fatal Years mod? It's definitely a different take on the conflict. I've been playing it lately. I think I'm gonna burn through a vanilla short campaign though because it looks interesting.
    Sounds like an excellent idea for an AAR? <Nudge, nudge>

    EDIT: Somehow, missed the last update. So, what is causing the mysterious withdrawal? I suppose it has something to do with the possible White encirclement to the North Bornego hinted at in his earlier reply.
    Last edited by Stuyvesant; 20-01-2012 at 04:10.
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  5. #45
    loki100: This game started out with both players playing a careful tactical game. Highlandcharge usually preferred to threaten rather than actually follow through with attacks. But the longer this match progressed the bloodier it got. At some point the stakes got so high that both sides abandoned the tactical pretenses and slugged it out with huge stacks.

    Stuyvesant: Highlandcharge will try a very elegant pincer movement soon. Whether it succeeded? You will have to wait until I get to this point in my AAR.

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


    Chapter 8 - Through the Golden Gate: Kiev, December 1919 - January 1920


    The order for Kutepov to leave his defensive positions in the Kuban had originated from Wrangel's headquarters. It wasn't issued to counter a new Red threat but rather part of a major Southern White offensive.* After the conquest of Orel, the Red Army was expecting the Volunteers to continue their march north. However, the White leaders were worried about the growing length of their flanks. In the long run, shortening them would free additional troops for a new offensive effort against Moscow. To the East, Tukhachevsky's mighty army was still close to Tzaritsyn; therefore a counter-offensive in that direction seemed too risky. In the West however, the conquest of Kursk and Orel had left Antonov-Ovseenko's 1st Soviet Ukraine Army in an exposed position. Only Gekker's small cavalry corps secured its rear. Kiev was ripe for the taking.



    Wrangel's plan for the liberation of "Little Russia"** provided for a pincer movement. The main force would assemble under Wrangel's personal command at Bila Tsverka, a small city south of Kiev. Meanwhile a second corps under Yuzefovich would occupy Brovary on the northern bank of the Dnejper and cut off the railway line that led from Kiev towards Konotop and Gomel. Antonov-Ovseenko would thus be trapped in Kiev.***
    This plan required a seizeable amount of troops, the White leadership scraped together divisions from almost every front. 34.000 men under Pokrovsky and Berthelot were already stationed in the Ukraine. Kutepov reinforced them with 31.000 men from the Kuban. The southern wing was completed by Vitkovsky's elite division which was dispatched from Kursk. The northern wing consisted of 16.600 cavalrymen under Yuzefovich rushing south from Kursk and Patrikeev's 9.200 infantrymen dispatched from Orel.

    On December 11th, the encirclement of Kiev was completed. For months the situation at Kiev had been a stalemate. White and Red soldiers had stared at each other across the trenches worried about the quality of their rations rather than killing each other. When the White leadership tripled its troops around Kiev within days, Antonov-Ovseenko was completely surprised. Before he could react the railroad north had been occupied by White cavalrymen. His whole army was now in mortal peril.



    Antonov-Ovseenko could have attempted a desperate march towards Chernigov but he knew fully well that the Wrangel's men would be upon his 1st Soviet Ukraine Army before it could cross the Dnejper. Thus he had no choice but to make a stand.**** Wrangel's attack came on December 19th, his southern wing outnumbered Kiev's defenders 2:1. The mixed force of French, Greek and White soldiers dealt with their Communist adversaries swiftly. Within two hours the 2nd Soviet Ukraine Army was in full retreat. Its casualties were horrific: 17.000 Communists soldiers, more than 50% of its strength, had fallen. The Volunteers on the other hand had lost less than 5.000 men. While the battered survivors of Antonov-Ovseenko's Army retreated north across the Dnejper, the Russian flag was hoisted over Kiev.***** The next day, Wrangel watched his victorious men parade through the remnants of the medieval city gate, the Golden Gate.



    But the campaign wasn't over yet. There was still a chance to inflict further punishment on the remnants of the 1st Soviet Ukraine Army. It was obvious that the Red Army would try to evacuate these men towards the north. Possibly they would try to fall back on Gekker's cavalry corps.
    However Wrangel's victorious men couldn't interfere because Red naval units blocked the crossings over the Dnejper. This left Yuzefovich's corps to deal with Matsiletsky and Gekker. Fortunately Yuzefovich's men were well rested since they hadn't participated in the Battle of Kiev.****** Now they boarded trains north. On January 2nd 1920, they occupied Konotop. 8 days later Matsiletsky arrived with the exhausted survivors of the 1st Soviet Ukraine Army. The following battle was pure slaughter. Within an hour 7.000 Red soldiers died. White casualties were less than one-tenth of that number. A week later the last 3.000 survivors of the 1st Soviet Ukraine Army stumbled into Gomel. Over the course of two weeks, Antonov-Ovseenko had not only lost Kiev but also 90% of his men. It was to be his last important field command of the war.




    Aftermath of the Kiev campaign: Immediately after the conquest of the city Wrangel started to send troops back east and north. Babiev and Nerel headed to Kursk and Kharkov. Meanwhile Nither returned two divisions to Rostov where he arrived on the 11th of January 1920. It was expected that these men would have to face Tukhachevsky in the Kuban soon. But to everyones surprise the Red Army had already aborted the invasion of the Southern White heartland. Tukhachevsky and Egorov had returned to Tzaritsyn on January 9th. Most likely Wrangel's lightening operation against Kiev had made the Red leadership realize that it needed these troops further north.


    --------------------------------------------------
    * The Red offensive against the Kuban (see chapter 7) had progressed so slowly that I figured, I could risk leaving the Kuban undefended for two or three turns. If this gamble had failed, it could have resulted in the loss of my capital, Ekaterinodar.
    ** The Volunteers never saw the Ukrainians as a people in their own right. The Ukraine was "Little Russia", an integral part of the Russian nation. I hope my Ukrainian readers (if I am lucky enough to have any ) will not take offense.
    *** There was a seizable Red fleet in Kiev which could have evacuated at least part of the Red forces from the city. But in mid winter chances were high that the Dnejper would freeze.
    **** I believe Highlandcharge gave orders to quickly disengage ("defend and retreat" or "retreat if engaged"). A smart choice. This way his men profited from their entrenchment while the battle would be short enough to avoid complete annihilation.
    ***** Anotonov-Ovseenko remained behind with five armoured trains. I have no idea where they went. In the replay they simply disappear on day 6 of the following turn. I know that they didn't board the Red fleet that had escaped from Kiev. The only explanation is that they took the railway west to Korosteni. However there are no depots along that railway line, it only leads to the Polnish boarder. Perhaps the trains hid there and waited for a chance to strike back? This game is currently at turn 28 (summer of 1920) and the trains have yet to reappear.
    ****** I had disabled corps command for Yuzefovich to prevent his units from being dragged into the battle of Kiev. Firstly, I wanted to make sure that the railway remained blocked. Secondly, Yuzevofich's men would have suffered from a river crossing penalty. And thirdly, I intended for Wrangel's big stack to bear the brunt of the fighting. However Wrangel is an army commander, if Yuzefovich had marched to the sound of guns, Wrangel's stack might have disengaged since army hq stack always defer to their corps in battles.

  6. #46
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    Another minor/major victory. In the face of Red manpower recruitment, it's a drop in the bucket (11 dead infantry units won't be hard to replace, and I imagine he's got plenty of chits lined up)but on the strategic front, the capture of Kiev both grants you a new region to extort for men and money, and imperils the Red capital.
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  7. #47
    Colonel General_Hoth's Avatar
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    I'm surprised that you still haven't lost a battle against the reds
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  8. #48
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Killing a bunch of Reds is nice, taking Kiev is mighty fine and the +5 NM is nothing to scoff at. Plus, the NM thing is a zero-sum game, isn't it? Since you gained 5 NM from that battle, the Communists lost 5 NM from it?

    I continue to be impressed with your aggressive moves and the speed with which you deploy and redeploy your troops.
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  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Axe27 View Post
    Another minor/major victory. In the face of Red manpower recruitment, it's a drop in the bucket (11 dead infantry units won't be hard to replace, and I imagine he's got plenty of chits lined up)but on the strategic front, the capture of Kiev both grants you a new region to extort for men and money, and imperils the Red capital.
    True 11 elements isn't that much but a total of 24.000 casualties means that Highlandcharge had to spend a lot of ressources on replacements rather than build new units.


    Quote Originally Posted by General_Hoth View Post
    I'm surprised that you still haven't lost a battle against the reds
    I had lost a few small cavalry skirmishes at this point in the campaign. Moreover I have omitted one medium battle that ended with a White defeat because I haven't covered that front, yet. Also the Red Army had won a few important victories on the Siberian front. The situation there only started to detiriorate once Highlandcharge retreated a massive amount of troops to fuel Tukhachevsky's offensive in the South (chapter 7).


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Killing a bunch of Reds is nice, taking Kiev is mighty fine and the +5 NM is nothing to scoff at. Plus, the NM thing is a zero-sum game, isn't it? Since you gained 5 NM from that battle, the Communists lost 5 NM from it?

    I continue to be impressed with your aggressive moves and the speed with which you deploy and redeploy your troops.
    Actually the total NM gain was 10 points (5 from each battle) and yes, that means the Communists lost the same amount.

    The possibility of redeploying troops quickly, is one of the things I love about RUS. It takes work though: I had a lot of cavalry scouts constantly working to secure strategic railroad lines. It also helps that the White have half a dozen partisan units (very slow moving but great at destroying enemy railroads). The battle for mobility doesn't gain you NM directly but only a fool underestimates its importance.
    Just as importantly the White factions have very mobile troops: a lot of cavalry divisions and the ability to create 4 infantry divisions sped up by the tank bug.

  10. #50
    Chapter 9 - Much Ado about Nothing: Arkhangelsk, May - October 1919


    In Northern Russia, where the Dvina flows into the White Sea, the harbour of Arkhangelsk provided easy access for the Western powers to intervene in the Russian Civil War. As a consequence, small British and American expeditionary forces had landed in order to support Durov's White soldiers that occupied the city. Unfortunatly this mixed force lacked a commander in chief as well as common goals. Stewart, the leader of the U.S. Polar Bear Expedition, was adamant that his mission was only to protect Arkhangelsk. He refused to participate in any operations further inland.* Confronted with this mess, Miller, the highest ranking White general in Northern Russia, left Murmansk and headed to Arkhangelk to take over command. But even he failed to change Stewart's mind.



    Nevertheless Miller gave orders for the White troops in the area to concentrate at Arkhangelsk. In the meantime, a few regiments were sent south to secure the railway connection to Konocha where Vatzetis' 6th Red Army had taken defensive positions. "Army" was a magniloquent word for a formation that merely consisted of two infantry divisions, an artillery regiment, an armoured train and an air squadron. But at least it had an excellent commander in Vatzetis.



    On May 6th 1919, the first clash between White and Red force took place on the Dvina. 8 British monitors intercepted an equal number of Red gunboats. However the Red flotilla was no match in quality. It took but a short - if furious - bombardment to destroy the entire Red fleet. The Dvina was now firmly in White hands.



    Miller took this as a good sign and started to plan an ambitious operation on land. His hopes grew further when Vatzetis was withdrawn from Konocha and the much less talented Samoylo was left in command.

    On June 15th, Miller's North Army was finally ready to leave Arkhangelsk. Against Samoylo's 12.000 men he could pit 17.000 White and British soldiers. 10 days later his men reached the outskirts of Konocha. But rather than attack Samoylo's well entrenched Red force head-on, Miller ordered a forced march that outflanked Samoylo to the South.



    On July 11th, the North Army reached Vologda and immediately stormed the city. Taken by surprise and badly outnumbered the defending Red Guards were never able to mount a defense. The White North Army now stood between the 6th Red Army and Moscow.



    Miller had expected that Samoylo would either counterattack or retreat south. But the Red commander did neither; he seemed determined to hold his position at Konocha. In the meantime, bad news reached Miller: on July 30th the Polar Bear Expedition had deserted Arkhangelsk and was now heading home across the Atlantic. Nevertheless Miller waited for more than a month. Every day he expected a Red offensive from the south. Surely the Red Army wouldn't tolerate his army this close to Moscow. Then he finally lost his nerves, if Samoylo would not come to him, he had to attack himself.**

    On August 24th, the 16.000 men of the North Army assaulted 11.000 Red soldiers in their elaborate trenches at Konocha. The White forces fought bravely. Maynard's British division*** even manged to breach the Red positions and destroy a Communist infantry regiment. But they were soon pushed back by a vicious Red counterattack. At the end of the day, Samoylo's men remained victorious. 3.700 White and 2.100 Communist soldiers had fallen before Miller ordered his battered troops to retreat to Vologda.



    During the first two weeks of September, he rested his men in the city still hoping that the Samoylo might be foolish enough to order an attack. But increasingly the British soldiers grew restless. Dispirited by the defeat at Konocha they longed for their homes more than ever. Even worse, it was rumoured that the British government was considering retreating its forces from Northern Russia altogether. With winter approaching quickly, Miller realized that he had to abandon Vologda if he didn't want to be cut off from Arkhangelsk.
    On September 15th orders were given to evacuate the city. Rawlinson who had taken command of a few freshly recruited White regiments headed south to secure Miller's retreat. The North Army marched through the wilderness for twenty days before it finally united with Rawlinson's men on October 5th. Two weeks later both were back at Arkhangelsk.



    Miller's campaign had achieved nothing of lasting value. On the contrary, the British government took it as proof of the weakness of the White forces in Northern Russia and ordered the complete evacuation of British troops from Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. By October 30th 1919, the last British soldier had left Northern Russia.
    Even worse, Miller's reputation lay in shatters, he was responsible for the only major defeat suffered in 1919. While Denikin and Wrangel, Mai-Maeivski and Shkuro established themselves as the future leaders of Russia, Miller's star was declining fast.****


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    * The Polar Bear Expedition is locked in this scenario.
    ** Most opponents I have faced in PBEMs, could be baited into attacking. But Highlandcharge has proven to be extremely patient. Whenever the two of us engaged in stand-offs where everything depended on who would attack first, he proved to have the stronger nerves. However this adversity to risk also proved to be his weakness. Many of my successes in the South resulted from me exploiting his hesitation to act.
    *** In the screenshots the British regiments appear as unorganized mass. But for the attack on Konocha they had been assembled into a division since I had transferred Maynard to Vologda by instant redeployment (the game was played with 1 per turn).
    **** While the White have a numerical advantage in this theater, it isn't big enough to attack the Red Army head-on. Unless one of the players makes a mistake, the situation is bound to end in a stalemate. Highlandcharge played a very coool-headed game here: he let me run around, even threaten his back but still kept his nerves. He probably realized that as long as he kept his force well entrenched, it was safe. In the end, his fine play gained him a point of NM.

  11. #51
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    As long as the Northern White forces remain separated, none are strong enough to capture Moscow or Petrograd, and even together, it's still rather unlikely. The reasons:
    A. Not enough generals, so if one general dies, divisions fall apart, and most generals are rather subpar.
    B. Most of the forces of the Northern Whites are Triple Entente units, of which some are locked in place.
    C. Weather is a pain in the frozen North.
    D. Can't build multi-unit brigades for Northern/Northwestern Whites
    E. Poor positioning. Arkhangelsk is miles away from anywhere, Pskov lies in the middle of a swamp, and the units at Murmansk need to advance down the length of Karelia to threaten Petrograd.
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  12. #52
    Chapter 10 - Shkuro's rampage: Central Russia, January - February 1920


    After the conquest of Kiev, the Volunteers didn't rest on their freshly won laurels. On the contrary, a new offensive was immediately launched further north. Wrangel and Denikin agreed that it was time to start the advance towards Moscow.



    Unfortunately powerful Red formations under Liubimov and Zinoviev had been assembled at Tula. The direct route to Moscow was thus barred to the Volunteer Army. Aware that a frontal attack on Tula was likely to fail, Wrangel proposed a more indirect approach: a fast-moving army would conquer the smaller cities to the West and North of Tula. In the process an alternate railway to Moscow would be secured and the Red forces at Tula would end up outflanked. This mission called for a fast moving expert in pillage. Luckily, there was such a man amongst the White generals: Andrei Shkuro. It was time to let loose the dogs of war!



    Shkuro started his offensive with an attack on Bryansk on January 19th, 1920.* The Red garrison proved no match for Shkuro's two elite divisions and was quickly slaughtered.



    With Orel secured against an attack from the west, Shkuro could now turn north. The next target was Serpukhov, a small city to the North-West of Tula. It had been reported that a number of freshly recruited Red units were currently assembling in the city. Kutepov and Shkuro moved on the city in a coordinated attack. Between the two of them they had 4 powerful divisions. Baggage and supply trains were left behind to ensure the utmost speed.



    On February 7th, 51.000 White soldiers flooded into the city of Serpukhov. The raw Red recruits panicked. Their units were shattered without any resistance. Valuable war equipment was captured.



    But Shkuro was not done yet, only 9 days later he struck again. This time Kaluga was the target. The city was defended by a garrision brigade, a fresh cavalry division and a few machine guns mounted on carriages. In command was the unlucky Anarchist Nestor Makhno. Shkuro was overjoyed to meet his old foe again. The Battle of Kaluga was another swift affair. The Red defenders were annihilated within the hour. Shkuro's only regret was that Makhno had escaped yet again.



    Shkuro's rampage proved to be a major White success. Within a month a number of Red units had been destroyed, a railway north was secured (Orel-Bryansk-Kaluga) but most importantly terror spread in Moscow. Every day Shkuro's seemingly unstoppable horde could set out for Moscow now. In a state of panic, Sovnarkom made a number of drastic decisions:

    1. Zinoviev and Liubimov were ordered to evacuate Tula immediately. They left the city on February 15th and arrived at Moscow four days later.
    2. Sovnarkom itself relocated to Petrograd which became the Soviet capital once again.**
    3. Stalin was to return north. The defense of Moscow would be entrusted to this ruthless commissar.

    But as the Red Army made its final retreat, the White leaders realized that the war was about to change. There was no more room for maneuver or retreats. The time for tactical finesse was over, now a stomach for butchery would be required.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    * Shkuro described his fast-moving, hard-hitting tactics as "shock and awe". Much later this doctrine should be copied by the U.S. military.
    ** Perhaps a bit of an over-reaction. But Highlandcharge is a careful player. However, I was very pleased with the decision since I had already put in motion a plan to capture Petrograd.

  13. #53
    Lt. General Narwhal's Avatar
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    Net moves ! Winning a victory against a larger force without actually ever fighting that force is a real pleasure in this game.


    Also, I like the little **** addendums. Continnue with this !
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  14. #54
    On Probation Straigthtsilver's Avatar
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    Great strategy and fantastic AAR! I'm eagerly anticipating the next chapter.

  15. #55
    You're on the rampage again I see.

    I was wondering if you discussed the tank bug any? It would probably be something I would want dealt with by house rules.

  16. #56
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great set of updates ... and really impressive graphics - they are so clear. Going back a few posts, that was an impressive win at Kiev, not just the original victory but also setting up the follow ups to really finish off the Soviets.

    Nice update on the situation in the Arctic too.

  17. #57
    Narwhal, Straigthtsilver and loki100: Thank you for the kind praise!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Cleburne View Post
    I was wondering if you discussed the tank bug any? It would probably be something I would want dealt with by house rules.
    No we haven't. Besides all sides can profit from this bug. Well, the White factions do more because each of them gets 4 tanks for free over the course of the campaign. It doesn't affect for all tanks, either. Ironically only the tanks that look like the British WW I model speed up their divisions. The French looking tanks - in reality much faster - don't.

    What would be an appropriate house rule in your opinion? You can hardly forbid the players to put tanks into a division. You could demand that such a division never be moved without another units slowing it down to a normal pace but that wouldn't be entirely fair, either (possibly higher command penalties, you don't always have multiple units available).

    I have reported the bug and hopefully, it will be fixed in the next version. Granted though. I have been exploiting this bug as much as possible. This is a multiplayer game after all.

  18. #58
    Chapter 11 - Budyenny's last charge: Kursk, March - May 1920


    The spring of 1920 was a rainy one. Until May 1920, Russia was covered in mud.1 Consequently operations proceeded slowly. Even cavalry got stuck on the muddy roads. More than ever all sides had to rely on railway lines.



    The strategic situation for the Southern White was highly promising: the road to Moscow lay wide open. But the Red Army was far from beaten. It had regrouped into three powerful armies: Stalin's Moscow Defense Army was a match for Shkuro's corps. Without reinforcements a direct attack was out of the question. In the Northern Ukraine, Trotzky had assembled a huge army that was threatening Konotop and Kursk. Finally, there was Tukhachevsky's army at Tzaritsyn.

    On March 1st, 1920, it had suddenly left Tzaritsyn and was heading north. Denikin argued that this was an obvious trap designed to trick the Don Army into attacking. Tukhachevsky would turn around and then beat the Southern White in a defensive battle. Wrangel and Pokrovsky disagreed, though. They believed that Tukhachevsky would soon continue his march north and eventually attack Voronezh or Kursk. The White leaders decided to prepare for both eventualities: Denikin would postpone an attack on Tzaritsyn until Tukhachevsky had advanced further north; in the meantime, Pokrovsky would start an offensive east designed to deprive the Red Army of jumping boards towards either Kursk or Voronesh. Moreover this would also prevent Tukhachevsky from reinforceing Moscow.



    The target was the small city of Lipetsk. Not only did it offer an excellent defensive position protected by the river Voroneszh but it was also an important railway hub connecting lines to Moscow, Tambov, Voronezh and Kursk. Currently the city was only defended by four Red infantry divisions under Voroshilov. Pokrovsky on the other hand had 57.000 men under his command at Kursk. On May 15th, his entire force boarded trains and steamed east. However, the last leg of the way had to be covered on foot. Thus it took Pokrovsky's men until May 27th before they reached Lipetsk. Although this gave Voroshilov ample warning, he barely manged to retreat in time.



    In the meantime, the danger from the West had increased dramatically. A number of Red reinforcements had arrived at Gomel. The first scouting reports were met with utter disbelief. Over 100.000 Red soldiers commanded by Trotzky and Frunze, two of the best Communist commanders, this couldn't possibly be true.
    Yet the reports were soon confirmed: Frunze's 2nd Shock Army alone far outnumbered any formation the White forces could muster in the area. It was supported by Gekker's cavalry corps as well as Remezov's infantry corps. A Red flood was about to spill into White territory.
    However it was not yet clear where the Red Army would strike: Konotop and Kursk were both tempting targets: taking Konotop would open the way deeper into the Ukraine; Kiev would be within striking distance of the Red Army again. Kursk, on the other hand, was an even more tempting target. Through this city ran the only railway line connecting the White forces in the North with the bases and supply stocks in Southern Russia. Should Kursk fall, Wrangel and Shkuro would be isolated and threatened by starvation.



    The White leadership reacted swiftly: several divisions were dispatched to Konotop and Kursk. But even more importantly, two of the most talented White generals were put in charge: Kutepov took over at Konotop while Mai-Maeivski left Orel to take command at Kursk.2 In the meantime, White cavalry continued to provide a screen against the Red forces and tore up the railway line leaving Gomel towards the South-East.



    Luckily, the feared attack didn't come in April. The mud forced the Red Army to postpone its offensive several times.3 Consequently, both sides spent the month strengthening their forces. Slowly the situation, improved for the White armies. The total strength of both sides in the area was now balanced but the Red Army still had the advantage that its forces were concentrated. On their own, either Mai-Maeivski and Kutepov were outnumbered by 2:1.

    When the rain finally stopped, the long expected showdown started with a clash further east: Since his March offensive against Lipetsk, Pokrovsky had intended to push Voroshilov further back. The plan was to destroy this small Red corps before it could be reinforced by Tukhachevsky and Egorov's 2nd Shock Army.4 However just like the Red offensive, the White attack had been delayed by the rain.5



    On May 1st, Pokrovsky finally started his flanking march, his veterans crossed the river towards the south, then headed back north to attack Kozlov on May 8th. This time the Red Army stood and fought. The battle was brutal and casualties piled up on both sides. But at last the outnumbered Communists were chased from their trenches. 7.500 Red soldiers were left behind dead when Voroshilov finally retreated. Yet the White army had paid a steep price for this victory: 4.400 White soldiers remained on the battlefield as well.



    The White soldiers should have little time to rest; only five days later a ferocious artillery bombardment hit them. Minutes later, the men of the 2nd Shock Army fell upon them. Pokrovsky hadn't bothered to dig trenches yet, his men were unorganized and badly outgunned - the 2nd Shoch Army had more than twice the amount of artillery. Still the Volunteers fought back stubbornly. Within the next hours 11.700 White and 8.600 Red soldiers died at Kozlov. Then Pokrovsky finally managed to disengage and retreat his battered troops south.6



    Once the slaughter at Kozlov had ended, Pokrovsky's corps was a shell of its former self. One third of its soldiers had died, the rest was utterly exhausted and in no shape to repulse another Red attack. Porkrovsky knew that his only chance was a hasty retreat to Voronezh. Hopefully his force would arrive there before Egorov could attack Shilling's small corps that had been left behind to guard the city. In order to get at least part of his troops to Voronezh in time, Pokrovsky dispatched his two cavalry divisions while he followed with the slower marching infantry.7



    Luckily the Red Army didn't pursue Pokrovsky. On May 30th, his entire force was back to the safety of Voronezh. Nevertheless Pokrovsky's campaign was a failure. Not only had he amassed an appalling amount of casualties but he had also forfeited control of the railways to Moscow and Kursk to the Red Army.

    At this point a highly worrying scenario circulated amongst the White leaders: what if the two Red Shock Armies were on their way to rendez-vous at Kursk. It was already doubtful whether Mai-Maievski's army could withstand an attack by the 2nd Shock Army; if it could manage to coordinate its attack with the 3rd Shock Army, the defenders of Kursk were almost certainly doomed. Even worse, if Kursk were to fall, over 100.000 White soldiers operating to the north would be completely cut-off from reinforcements and supplies. Kursk had to be defended at all cost.



    Fears further increased when news arrived that the 2nd Shock Army had left Gomel and was now moving east. White cavalry scouts were easily brushed aside by this monstrous force. With Porkrovsky's men exhausted, there were few reinforcements close enough to bolster Kursk's defense. A few armoured trains were dispatched from Voronezh, though. Moreover Fostikov brought a Cossack division north from the Don; however it had no chance of arriving at Kursk before the Reds. It would be invaluable in case a second attack occured, though.
    Likewise, Kutepov's corps - the only other major force in the area - had no chance to beat Frunze on a march to Kursk. Besides, Kutepov couldn't be entirely sure that Frunze wouldn't turn around and attack Konotp rather than Kursk.



    However Trotzky and Frunze didn't deviate from their plan. On May 24th, 107.500 Red soldiers arrived outside Kursk. Facing them were 75.500 Volunteers manning well prepared trenches. The two Communist commanders started to realize that the rain had delayed them for too long. Still they ordered their artillery to bombard the White positions. Perhaps once these had been softened up an attack could succeed. But not all Red commanders were this patient. Gekker and Budyenny were in command of the 1st Red Cavalry Army, a formation of almost 20.000 proud cavalrymen. Budyenny wasn't prepared to leave the glory to the infantry. His Konarmiya would prevail. Just as the Red artillery opened fire, Budyenny's cavalrymen charged the trenches of Kursk in full gallop. Agincourt or Balaklava were dwarfed by this suicidal cavalry attack. The concentrated fire of artillery, machineguns and rifles tore the Red cavalry to pieces before it could even get close to the White trenches. The few cavalrymen who miraculously managed to reach White positions were swiftly dealt with by bullets and bayonettes. When the butchery was finally over Budyenny's Konarmiya didn't exist anymore. Budyenny himself was but one amongst 20.600 fallen Red cavalrymen.8 But White casualties were high as well. While they had fought off the Red cavalry the White soldiers had been under constant shelling by Red artillery. In the end, the defense of Kursk cost 9.900 White lifes.



    Dishearted by the loss of their cavalry, Trotzky and Frunze abandonned the attack on Kursk. Budyenny's rash charge had made it clear that the 2nd Shock Army wasn't strong enough to take the city.
    Although costly, the Battle of Kursk was a major triumph for Mai-Maeivski and the Southern White. The link north was secured. The threat of the two Red Shock Armies uniting at Kursk was averted.


    Next chapter: Yet another nasty surprise; an army appears out of nowhere.


    --------------------------------------------------
    1 From the early March turn until the early May turn the whether stayed rainy. Highlandcharge and I got both pretty annoyed by it. In retrospective, this probably favoured me since Highlandcharge's biggest counter-offensive of the war had to be post-poned several times which gave me time to bolster my defenses.
    2 The increase in White combat power at Kursk and Konotop is just as much due to their better stats as it is to reinforcements. It makes a huge difference in combat power whether a leader of a stack has a defensive value of 1 or 4 (like Kutepov). Moreover these leader further improved their units with good special abilities.
    3 The following is just speculation on my part: Highlandcharge planned to strike in April but he didn't want to lose too much cohesion in a protracted march through the muddy land and thus waited.
    4 I think Highlandcharge named his armies this way. While it added a lot of flavour, I also took it as a hint as to his plans for these massive forces. I believe the 1st Shock Army must have been fighting on the Siberian front.
    5 I didn't want to attack across the river, yet a flanking move wasn't possible within a single turn while it was raining.
    6 A bad mistake on my part: with two railway connections blown up between Kozlov and Tukhachevsky's position, I was sure he couldn't get north within a single turn. But Highlandcharge left all armoured trains behind and somehow managed to rush his men north in time (forced march?). Even worse Pokrovsky's corps was still in offensive posture, as a consequence, it didn't profit from entrenchment and acted as attacker. A very fine move on Highlandcharge's part.
    Alekseev appears in command during the second battle. This is not exactly true. He was present but he didn't have any troops under his command. If possible I try to have 2 two-star generals per corps. Here Alekssev was my backup, he has worse stats but more seniority than Pokrovsky therefore I had him move outside the corps to keep Pokrovsky in command. I timed it so that he would arrive at Kozlov only after the battle against Voroshilov since it is never a good idea to send a general into a battle on his own (high risk of him getting wounded). But I never expected a second battle to occur. Of course Alekseev promptly got injured.
    7 I was pretty confident the cavalry would reach Voronezh before Egorov could. Besides with Pokrovsky's corps split into its pieces evasion values significantly increased. I really didn't want to wage another battle with these battered troops.
    8 In part Highlandcharge's defeat at Kursk was bad luck: He had attacked with multiple corps (one was purely cavalry, the others infantry). It appears the engine actually simulated a cavalry charge during battle resolution: While all Red divisions dished out damage, the fire of the White forces was concentrated on Budyenny's cavalry. The Red Army suffered a total of 558 hits during this battle, 501 of these were sustained by Budyenny's Konarmiya. I think the reason for this is that only Budyenny engaged at close range while the rest of the Red forces remained at long distance. Highlandcharge probably could have averted this if he had concentrated all his divisions under Frunze rather than having multiple corps.

  19. #59
    First Lieutenant Fadi_Efendi's Avatar
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    Bornego your AARs grow better and bloodier by each post. Thanks to you (and Narwhal and Loki100) I check the AGEOD AAR forum every morning and evening for updates

  20. #60
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    Ouch. AGE Engine battle resolution strikes with a lucky fury for the Southern Whites.

    I hate that though. My army stacks will go through the entire battle avoiding hits, and then on the last round of the battle only one of my corps will eat all the hits, so you end up with one undamaged army stack, another slightly damaged corp stack, and another corp stack with almost dead units and no commanders.
    Good thing I'm not Napoleon - a DNO RUS AAR - Back up and Running Last update: 12/9/2012

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