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Thread: Once Upon a Time ... the Revolution - A Red Grand Campaign PBEM

  1. #1

    Once Upon a Time ... the Revolution - A Red Grand Campaign PBEM







    Index:

    Chapter 1 - Run Man Run: Kuban, June - August 1918
    Chapter 2 - Requiescant: Siberian front, June - August 1918
    Chapter 3 - The Good Die First: Moscow, July - August 1918
    Chapter 4 - Savage Guns: Siberian front, September 1918
    Chapter 5 - The Price of Power: Moscow, 1918
    Chapter 6 - Blindman: Tambov, August - November 1918
    Chapter 7 - Find a Place to Die: Aralsk, November 1918 - March 1919
    Chapter 8 - The White, the Yellow, and the Black: Ukraine, December 1918 - April 1919
    Chapter 9 - Any Gun Can Play: Siberian front, November 1918 - March 1919
    Interlude: Morale, Casualties and Victory Points until early 1919
    Chapter 10 - The Hills Run Red: Siberian front, January - May 1919
    Chapter 11 - Taste for Killing: Southern front, April - May 1919
    Chapter 12 - A Bullet for the General: Southern front, June 1919
    Interlude II: Strategy for 1919
    Chapter 13 - Face to Face: Northern front, November 1918 - May 1919
    Chapter 14 - God Forgives ... I don't: Siberian front, May - June 1919
    Chapter 15 - A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die: Siberian front, July 1919
    Chapter 16 - Death Rides A Horse: Southern front, July - August 1919
    Chapter 17 - A Time for Killing: Northern front, June - August 1919
    Interlude III: Three Months that Changed the War
    Chapter 18 - Massacre Time: Siberian front, August – September 1919
    Chapter 19 - The Big Gundown: Southern front, September 1919
    Chapter 20 - The Great Silence: Northern front, September-December 1919
    Chapter 21 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: South and East, October - December 1919
    Chapter 22 - A fistful of Dynamite: Moscow, 30 December 1919 - 1st January 1920



    Introductory remarks:
    • The Russian Revolution is a story full of despicable men but it is also the tragic tale of many an idealist. Unfortunately, the idealists ended up dead while the most ruthles men killed their way to power. Rarely in history has a people's desire for a better world brought it so much suffering.
    • For a game RUS manages to depict a lot of that darkness. Some of the options this game grants the player (most importantly the option to use cheka opression, in other words Red terror) make one feel distinctively uncomfortable (and that's putting it very euphemistically). Hence this AAR won't glorify war, neither. But I will try to lighten the darkness with some cheap shots at the absurdities Soviet Russia provided so plentiful.
    • To this end, state controlled newspapers as well as Lenin will have a prominent place in this AAR. Of all the ruthless people that shaped the Russian Revolution Lenin is one of the most fascinating. Peter Kropotkin famously remarked: "Lenin is not comparable to any revolutionary figure in history. Revolutionaries have had ideals. Lenin has none. He is a madman, an immolator, wishful of burning, and slaughter, and sacrificing." I disagree with this characterization: Lenin's ideal and desire was power. He wasn't mad just utterly ruthless, cynic, distrustful and heartless.
    • As in my previous AAR, The swans head north, I will focus on the story rather than giving a turn by turn account. This has proven to be a handy tool allowing me to avoid repetition and present a more focussed tale.
    • My opponents are the same as in Who put the stranded admiral in charge? Ian is in control of the Southern White while Durk has taken command of the Siberians; once again Durk is graciously hosting.
    • Unlike my previous AARs, this is a Grand Campaign game. The earlier start also means a lot smaller armies and fewer fronts (at least initially). However new fronts will open up as the game progresses. Likewise, the amount of troops will increase significantly through recruitment and reinforcements arriving by event but it will most likely never reach the level available in a Short Campaign game.
    • Finally, I would ask you to kindly forgive the mistakes I am bound to make in a language that isn't my native one.


    Strategic situation:

    In June 1918, the Revolution was in a difficult position: surrounded by powerful internal and foreign enemies, it had to rely on a nascent Red Army to defend itself. Unfortunately, the Communist soldiers were ill-equipped and lack training. As a consequence, desertion was epidemic and the conscripts were more likely to run than fight. The Red generals were even worse than their men. Most of them were utterly incompetent,* nevertheless not a single one could be spared since the Red Army was desperately short of experienced commanders.
    This woefully inadequate army would have to fight on half a dozen fronts if the revolution was to be saved:



    In the Kuban the 55.000 soldiers of the Army of the North Caucasus under Sorokin were faced with an equal number of White foes: The Volunteer Army was a small but elite force with excellent equipment and officers. It was supported by a host of fierce Don Cossacks.

    The front against the Siberians lay wide open. Berzin's 3rd Red Army, 14.000 men strong, was still east of the Ural protecting the city of Ekaterinburg where the imperial family was imprisoned. The 10.000 men of the 1st Red Army were defending Simbirsk along the Volga and Makhnin's 2nd Red Army was guarding Tambov with 9.000 men. Somehow these small forces would have to fend of a flood of Siberians and Czechs. 35.500 of whom had already crossed the Ural, another 57.000 were positioned between Tomsk and Chelyabinsk and would strike within the next few weeks.

    Central Asia was most likely lost: the Emir of Bukhara and the Khan of Khiva had risen against Bolshevik rule. All that was opposing them were 3.000 Red Guards garrisoning Samarkand and Tashkent. Still there was a small hope; Zinoviev had been ordered to assemble a Red force at Aralsk but as of yet it only existed on paper.

    Other regions had already been written off:

    Red Guards still defended a number of cities in Central Siberia and the Far East, most importantly Irkutsk and Chita. But there was no hope that these small, untrained forces could fend of 24.000 Siberians and Czechs.

    In the North, Murmansk had been lost to an Anglo-French intervention force. Under its protection Miller's counter-revolutionaries were forming an army. Moreover there were rumours of a coup in Arkhangelsk. Soon White force would march south towards Petrograd and Vologda. With no Red field army in the North, they would likely meet little resistance.

    For the moment at least the West was peaceful. The humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the German imperialists had bought Communism precious relief - albeit at a high cost since the Ukraine, Belorussia and the Baltic lands had fallen under German rule. But Germany was crumbling itself. Its desperate spring offensive on the Western front had failed. Backed by American reinforcements, the allied powers were now pushing back. If Germany should fall, nationalist movements in Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltic states would rise to threaten the revolution from the West. Finland and the nations of the Caucasus had already established independance. It was feared that they might interfere in the civil war as well. The nefarious capitalist nations of the West would no doubt assist these bourgeois regimes. Even worse, the Western imperialists might decide to send major forces to secure spheres of interest in Russia.


    Warplans:

    The Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) was filled with professional revolutionaries,** yet these men utterly lacked military experience.*** Now they had to device a strategy to win the civil war. A number of crucial decisions were made - albeit against heavy internal opposition: the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic (RVSR) under Trotzky became the central command organ. The Soviet Republic was declared a "single military camp" and martial law was imposed throughout the country. Former tzarist officers were recruited en masse - one could always get rid of them later. Most importantly, mass conscription was instigated: The volunteers of the Red Guards had proven too few in numbers. But more importantly their lack of discipline, heavy drinking and lackluster conduct of operations had resulted in a series of defeats.

    Other decisions still had to be made:

    1. Should army recuitment focus on quality or rather quantity?
    2. Could the Red Army dare to go on the offensive or should it wage a defensive war?
    3. Should defense be flexible (trade space for time) or static (no retreats, each city would be defended to the last man)?


    -------------------------------------------------------
    * The standard Red general in RUS has the following stats: 2 strategic rating (which means they are inactive most of the time), 0 offensive and 0 defensive rating. Thus they won't increase the combat power of their troops like White generals do. But at least they help avoid command penalties.
    ** Sidenote: of the original 17 members only two lived past 1940: Alexandra Kollontai and Joseph Stalin. Four had died of natural causes in the 1920ies and early 1930ies - most importantly Lenin. Trotzky was assassinated in 1940. The rest succumbed to Stalin's purges between 1937 and 1939. The Russian revolution ate its children; and it was Stalin who cooked this horrific meal.
    *** Lenin's ignorance of military matters was thus typical for the Soviet leadership. He did know how to motivate, though: When Colonel Vatsetis retook Kazan in Spetember 1918 he was promoted to commander-in-chief of the Red Army. Had he failed, he would have been shot on Lenin's orders.

  2. #2
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    Ooooooh, another Bornego AAR.

    The Red generals mostly suck something fierce, but the few not terrible generals they have tend to be really good (Blucher, Trotsky, Frunze) Unfortunately, most of these good generals lie at the bottom of the command ladder early on.

    Playing the Reds is an interesting balancing act, managing priorities carefully, for example: Miller and friends may be coming south in a hurry, but Denikin has a larger army. Where do I put Trotsky n' Co?
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  3. #3
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    great to see this, and an insight into the earlier campaign start. Your discussion of unit strengths makes that difference clear. That opening map looks terrifying.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #4
    Chapter 1 - Run Man Run: Kuban, June - August 1918



    I don't care what becomes of Russia. To hell with it …
    All this is only the road to a World Revolution.
    -
    Lenin



    In the Kuban, Sorokin's Army of the North Caucasus was an even match for the White forces opposing it - at least as far as numbers were concenred. Unfortunately, its actually fighting power was far inferior. It didn't help either that Sorokin had spread his soldiers over the entire Kuban rather than concentrate them in one place. Moreover the Red Guards were very busy discussing procedural questions concerning the vote on whether to fight or not.*
    However the Red Army had one important advantage as well: Markin's Azov Flotilla containing 12 combat ships (4 of them fluvial destroyers) and 8 transports. The sailors of this fleet would soon become heros of the revolution.



    On June 3rd 1918, the Southern White struck: 20.000 Volunteers under Denikin's personal command attacked Sorokin's force at Zernograd. The disorganized Red Guards stood little chance against the White elite regiments. 5.100 Communists died, but at least they made Denikin's men pay as well: 1.800 White casualties were more than the Volunteers, who lacked a recruitment base, could afford.



    Sorokin retreated east to Maloorlovskiy where he repulsed a small Cossack force under Krasnov's command. The fighting resulted in 400 Red as opposed to 1.100 White casualties. Had the White offensive ended at this point, Sorokin could have easily retreated by railway to Tzaritsyn. However, Mamontov's bigger Cossack force followed on Krasnov's heels. Sorokin managed to evade but unfortunately he held his map the wrong way when giving his orders: rather than retreat east towards the safety of Tzaritsyn, he ordered his men back to Zernograd.**



    Denikin was most willing to give Sorokin the beating he was so clearly begging for. This time, the casualty ratio got truely bad: 5.500 dead Red Guards against 700 White. Still incapable of reading a map, Sorokin retreated further west towards the swampland that was bordering the Sea of Azov.



    In the meantime, Sidorin had taken 10.600 men onwards to Tikhoretsk, a vital railway junction in the center of the Kuban. Kalnin's small force was taken by surprise and got badly mauled: 4.900 Red casualties opposed to 300 White ones. Since Communists are polite people, the survivors chose to join Sorokin; this way the Whites would find it easier to destroy the Red forces in the Kuban in one single swoop.



    Only the Red navy under Markin didn't disappoint. It dispatched some transports south while the main force headed north where it blew the tiny Don Cossack river flotilla out of the water. But most importantly, the Red sailors prevented Poliakov's force from crossing the Don. One fifth of the White army was thus trapped north of the Don unable to join the carnage.***



    Despite this small success, the situation on June 15th was desperate: the retreat route to Tzaritsyn was cut off. Sorokin and Yakir, who had rushed south to take command of a leaderless combat group that some moron had ordered to patrol the swamps, were surrounded by White forces. To make matter worse, Red soldiers were deserting in droves. As a result many regiments were mere shells of their former selves. There was no chance that this crumbling army could withstand the White onslaught.



    At this point Trotzky ordered Operation Pleasure Cruise: the entire Army of the North Caucasus would be amphibiously evacuated. The land forces would board river transports in the sea of Azov and then be shipped north via the Don to Voronezh.



    Thus a race to the coast began. To avoid capture, the Red forces divided into small groups. Sorokin later claimed this retreat was conducted in an organized manner but in truth it was every man for himself. Nevertheless, the operation started very promising: Sidroin tried to catch Sorokin's men but only managed to kill 61 Red soldiers in a rearguard skirmish. The entire remaining Red forces made it to the coast while the first men were already boarding the waiting transports.****
    In the meantime, Kutepov advanced on Ekaterinodar and killed 1.000 Red Guards guarding the outskirts of the city.*****



    In the following days almost the entire Army of the North Caucasus was successfully evacuated without any further losses (at least not to combat, desertion on the other hand continued to devastate the Red forces). As a result, only Yakir and the 4.600 men of the Taman front remained in the Kuban by August 1st,****** under Yakir's capable command they had managed to evade Sidorin and even beaten back two regiments of White elite cavalry, killing 650 White horsemen while losing only 100 Red conscripts. The last battle of the Kuban Campaign was thus a Red victory.



    20 days later, the last Red units had boarded ships. Operation Pleasure Cruise had turned into a stunning success: Except for 11 regiments annihilated in combat before the evacuation had even started, the entire Army of the North Caucasus was saved. Granted, it was in dire needed of reinforcements but it would fight another day. Only a handful of partisan units remained behind determined to blow up railways and wreck havoc.*******
    On the downside, the Kuban with the vital cities of Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk was now firmly in White hands. While the former city became the new capital of the Southern White, the latter would soon serve as gateway for supply delieveries sent by the Western imperialists.



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

    * The entire Red forces are locked in turn 1. They thus become a helpless punching bag for the White armies. All the Red player can do is give them orders to disengage quickly and hope the battles won't get too costly.
    ** Retreat rules in AGE game can screw you over royally. Usually a force is supposed to retreat into the neighbouring province where your side has the highest military control value. In this case Sorokin's retreat was initiated before MC for Zernograd had been adjusted which is why Sorokin ended back up there. It would be more sensible if retreat mechanics considered three factors: the next available supply depot owned by your faction, evasion of major enemy forces and the closest friendly forces.
    *** I upheld that river blockade with my fluvial destroyers until November 1918. I believe it was crucial in slowing the White armies down since it deprived them of Poliakov's Cossack division.
    **** Truth be told, I had planned for this eventuality from the very start of this game. Ian is a very capable opponent, I couldn't expect that he would be kind enough to let the Red Kuban forces retreat via railway to Tzaritsyn. Therefore I had already positionned some transports in the Sea of Azov.
    ***** I had divided the Ekaterinodar garrision. This way, at least part of it could be saved. Luckily for me, the Red Guards retreated without losing elements. The second militia unit held out inside the city for another turn.
    ****** At the start of the game this stack contained 9.300 men. But I had been rather unlucky with desertion events during the first turns.
    ******* Partisans are some of my favourite units in RUS: they don't need supplies, are impervious to harsh weather and extremely hard to detect or catch by enemy forces. Their only downside is their snail-paced movement.

  5. #5
    First Lieutenant Fadi_Efendi's Avatar
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    It seems that nothing is stopping you in bringing it on! I am really looking forward to this AAR, especially since it's from the Bolshevik perspective this time. I am not sure how I feel about Red-bashing; people generally overlook the damning influence the civil war and the invasion of Russia by most countries on the planet had on the previously quite democratic Reds (their only difference with mainstream Social-democrats was their opposition to WWI). And I dare you to find one general executed by Lenin's orders because of failure
    You mentioned how the Long campaign is even more loaded against the Bolsheviks than the short one. Seeing how you emerged victorious in your last two AARs, I am really curious and eager to see how you perform here.

  6. #6
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    As an historian, I tend to agree with Fadi_Efendi. Lenin was surely a man of ambition and cunning, but denying him idealism and a desire of the greater good is a bad understanding of the character. In fact, crime done by well intentionned people for the "greater good" are more horrific and make better stories in my opinion

    And if it was a question:

    1. Should army recuitment focus on quality or rather quantity? (they won the war by making quantity their first priority while organising small elite forces capable of reinforcing their troops and go on the offensive.)
    2. Could the Red Army dare to go on the offensive or should it wage a defensive war? (Defensive, you need time to organise and you must shatter the white elite forces)
    3. Should defense be flexible (trade space for time) or static (no retreats, each city would be defended to the last man)? (No idea, your the general )
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  7. #7
    Thanks for following my newest AAR as well. We haven't finished the game yet. Thus I have no idea whether the Reds will survive. But for the moment I have at least managed to stabilize the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fadi_Efendi View Post
    I am not sure how I feel about Red-bashing; people generally overlook the damning influence the civil war and the invasion of Russia by most countries on the planet had on the previously quite democratic Reds (their only difference with mainstream Social-democrats was their opposition to WWI).
    I don't think I am guilty of bluntly bashing the Reds (well, the Pravda headlines may be a little blunt). As I made very clear in the introduction to The swans head north, I believe the Russian people were faced with two equally terrible choices in the civil war. The deeds of both sides make me shudder and I find it hard to find redeeming qualities in either. If trying not to glorify this war and its main personalities, is what you mean by bashing, though, then I intend to bash thoroughly.

    I have to object to your idea that the Bolsheviks can be compared to social-democrats prior to the civil war and Western intervention. Red Terror certainly reached its horrific climax due to the civil war but its roots reach further back: Cheka was etablished almost immediately after the Bolshevik coup. There is an interesting Lenin quote from the same time: Kamanev had proposed the abolition of death penalty in October 1917; Lenin's reaction: "Nonsense, how can you make a revolution without firing squads? [...] What other means of repression are there?"
    Lenin had created a short-cut in Marx' theoretical framework: rather than gather mass support and actually build democracy, he staged a coup d'état with a cadre party of professional revolutionaries. The result deserved neither the term social nor democratic (don't confuse the last remnants of democracy within the Bolshevik party with democracy for all the people), it was simply a dictatorship. The Bolsheviks had some popular items in their program (land reform, peace) but that doesn't mean they had a mass following; on the contrary, they still remained a small minority. Under such circumstances the only way to remain in power was violence. Red Terror was thus the (unavoidable?) result of the violent way in which the Bolshevik had seized power. In the end, they remained victorious because they were a lot more ruthless than their left competition (Social-revolutionaries, Mensheviks). Their White opponents shared that brutality but they were too blind to realize the need to make political concessions to the peasants and thus doomed themselves.
    Please don't expect me to write kindly about these men. One can respect the ruthless pragmatism with which Lenin kept his grip on power but I find it hard to admire a men who seems to have lacked compassion or mercy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fadi_Efendi View Post
    And I dare you to find one general executed by Lenin's orders because of failure
    Well, Lenin did sign orders to have Vatsetis executed should he fail to retake Kazan. The example is mentioned in Figes' A People's Tragedy. A commissar named Panteleev was actually executed after his troops had fled during battle (the order was given by Trotzky though). But I have to admit that this was probably an exception. However it was a common practice to use the families of Tzarist officers recruited into the Red Army as hostages to ensure their loyalty.

    Quote Originally Posted by General_Hoth View Post
    As an historian, I tend to agree with Fadi_Efendi. Lenin was surely a man of ambition and cunning, but denying him idealism and a desire of the greater good is a bad understanding of the character. In fact, crime done by well intentionned people for the "greater good" are more horrific and make better stories in my opinion
    I agree with the last part. Nothing is more scary than fanatical idealists. When I wrote Lenin had no ideals, I was quoting Kropotkin. My own judgement that his ideal was power may be harsh or even wrong. But whatever other ideals he might have had, they increasingly stood behind in his scrupulous struggle for power. He was certainly more concerned with "exterminating" (a word Lenin often used in this context) his enemies than with bettering the lifes of those under Soviet rule.

  8. #8
    Captain Axe27's Avatar
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    Still, for all of his ruthless pragmatism, and healthy usage of terror, You gotta respect Lenin for knowing his Clausewitz, unlike his successor. Instead of seizing control, he let his generals win the war for him, though, come to think of it, his generals weren't very good to begin with!
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  9. #9
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    The level of violence of the Russian Civil War was horrific, but not more so than the general slaughter of the First World War which just preceded it. The Russian civil war is maybe exceptional in its scope and on the strain it caused on the country's already dwindling resources. The intensity of Red and White terror can be debated, but this isn't the only civil war in post-1918 Europe; indeed most European countries were paralysed by civil strife and saw their political future determined by violence in these years. The Cheka in 1917 were schoolboys compared to the Freikorps militia operating in the newly proclaimed Weimar Republic about a year later.

    I don't intend to take the discussion too far. I made my point and respect your (or anybody's) different opinion. Bashing the Reds verbally and the Whites on the virtual battlefield is balanced enough of a narrative for me

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Axe27 View Post
    Still, for all of his ruthless pragmatism, and healthy usage of terror,
    Healthy use of terror? Healthy and terror just don't fit together in my opinion. But that's just me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fadi_Efendi View Post
    Bashing the Reds verbally and the Whites on the virtual battlefield is balanced enough of a narrative for me
    That's the nice thing about this war between Red and White: if I get defeated, an unjust regime is no more. If I win, an unjust regime has been averted from taking over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fadi_Efendi View Post
    The level of violence of the Russian Civil War was horrific, but not more so than the general slaughter of the First World War which just preceded it. The Russian civil war is maybe exceptional in its scope and on the strain it caused on the country's already dwindling resources. The intensity of Red and White terror can be debated, but this isn't the only civil war in post-1918 Europe; indeed most European countries were paralysed by civil strife and saw their political future determined by violence in these years. The Cheka in 1917 were schoolboys compared to the Freikorps militia operating in the newly proclaimed Weimar Republic about a year later.
    True there were other civil wars in Europe in the aftermath of WW I but none as bloody as the Russian civil war. For many of these conflicts the term civil strife (which you use) seems more fitting than "war" (e.g. the failed Kapp coup in Germany).

    Comparisons who was more horrific are a matter of each person's subjective point of view: cruelty is hard to quantify or qualify.
    Personally, I disagree with you, though. The Freikorps had a well deserved reputation for brutality - or at least many of them. One shouldn't forget that there was a wide spectrum of Freikorps: from the Technische Nothilfe (I believe it translates to technical emergency service) that was used to replace workers who had entered illegal strikes to formations like the Marine-Brigade Ehrhardt that violently surpressed leftist uprisings and later was key in the Kapp coup. Freikorps committed murders, plundered, mistreated their enemies, ... But this never became the form of state-organized terror the Russian people had to endure. It might have though if Luettwitz and Kapp hadn't failed just as miserably as Kornilov in Russia. In consequence, the cruelties Freikorps committed remained random and unorganized, whereas within Cheka prisons torture became systematic and methods were employed that would make a Spanish inquisitor blush.
    I for one wouldn't use Cheka and schoolboys in the same sentence. The amount of horror Reds and Whites brought upon the Russian people and its neighbours is one of the great tragedies in human history.

    Last from me on this subject. I thoroughly enjoy a good discussion and thus thank you for your criticism and your opinions. Nevertheless my next post here will be an update to my AAR.

  11. #11
    Chapter 2 - Requiescant*: Siberian front, June - August 1918


    The bourgeois court claimed to maintain order,
    but, as a matter of fact, was a blind, subtle instrument for the ruthless suppression of the exploited,
    and an instrument for protecting the interests of the moneybags.
    -
    Lenin






    In the summer of 1918, the Red forces assembled to stop the quickly advancing Czechs and Siberian White were completely insufficient. On paper the Bolsheviks had three armies in the East. But this was little more than wishful thinking: The 1st Red Army at Simbirsk consisted only of two infantry divisions with a total of 10.000 men. The 2nd Red Army at Tambov was even weaker. The strongest of the three was the 3rd Red Army at Eketrinburg with 14.000 men. Unfortunately it was also suffering from internal disorder and its artillery was understrength. Behind the White lines, Blucher's partisan army still held out in Orsk with another 9.600 men.
    These 43.000 men would have to defend a front of several hundred miles length. Even the most optimistic amongst the Red generals realized that this was an impossible task. The only hope was to concentrate the troops in a limited number of key positions and try to stop the White advance there. Thus it was decided to give up Ekaterinburg, Perm, Ufa and Orsk. Two defensive positions were designated: the Trotzky Line in the North stretching from Kazan to Simbirsk - inspite of the grandiloquent name, it was nothing but a line on a map - and the city of Tambov that protected the railway connection between Tzaritsyn and Moscow.



    Unfortunately Berzin didn't receive the orders to retreat for two weeks because White partisans had cut the telegraph wires.** But at least the Red general realized that he was heavily outnumbered and thus gave orders to entrench inside the city.*** Therefore Voitsekhovski and Syrovy didn't encounter any resistance when they marched on the city. At this point the two generals committed a crucial error: they failed to surround Ekatrinburg completely. Even worse, they left the railroad tracks open that left the city in westward direction. On June 15th, Berzin was thus able to evacuate his entire force by train. It steamed all the way to Kazan, only pausing shortly two defeat a few White guards ineptly trying to blow up the railroad. The 3rd Red Army had been saved.



    Inside Ekaterinburg 1.400 Red Guards remained behind guarding the former Tzar and his family. When Syrovy's men stormed the city on June 16th, the Bolsheviks hastily executed the imperial family. In retribution the Red Guards were massacred to the last man.



    At Orsk, Blucher was in an even more dangerous situation. His force was a mixture of Cossack cavalry, partisan units and a few Red Guards. Convinced that his army was too weak to withstand a serious attack by the Siberians, Blucher was happy to follow the retreat orders that had arrived from Moscow. He divided his force into several small groups. The partisans were send north and west to destroy enemy railways. In the meantime the infantry and supply units started a slow march south that would eventually lead them to Aralsk. Blucher himself went on a mad dash all the way to the Volga. Avoiding White forces at Orenburg and Uralsk, he arrived outside Saratov two weeks later. This daring retreat across 500 miles of steppe would soon become part of Communist legends.



    Now Blucher decided to take another risk: Saratov was garrisoned by 3.000 Communist infantrymen. Blucher turned his 1.700 cavalrymen south and reinforced the city. Savalev's Siberian force on the other bank of the Volga outnumbered the Reds by 2:1, but Blucher figured that the good defensive position behind the Volga would make up for his numerical disadvantage.



    Unfortunately this proved to be a miscalculation. Blucher's men fought bravely but in the end they were forced to retreat. It had been a costly affair for the Siberian Whites, though: 1.400 Cossacks died as opposed to 800 Red casualties. Blucher's men retreated in good order to fight another day.



    Nevertheless Saratov became yet another city that was lost to the Siberian Whites during the first weeks of the war. The Bolsheviks had traded vast stretches of territory for a few percious weeks allowing them to dig in and strengthen their forces.

    Cities lost on the Siberian front June - August 1918:
    • June 2nd: Irkutsk
    • June 16th: Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk
    • June 20th: Viatka
    • June 21st: Saratov
    • June 28th: Verkhneudinsk
    • July 16th: Perm and Chita (it had taken the Siberians three attempts to wipe out the 1.400 Red Guards defending the city).
    • August 1st: Ufa (as in Chita, a few hundred Red Guards had fought off a series White assaults before they finally succumbed to overwhemling enemy forces).


    Inspite of these losses the front had been succcessfully stabilized during the summer of 1918. Trotzky had personally taken over the defense of Kazan. Muraviev's 1st Red Army had been reinforced to almost 17.000 men when Ghai Khan arrived with his Iron Division.**** On July 15th, Trotzky dispatched Berzin to Simbirsk as well since Kazan was not yet under direct threat. Moreover Vatzetis was ordered to bring the elite force of the revolution east: the 9.000 men of the firmly Bloshevik Latvian Rifles.

    Further south, Kamenev had assembled another 17.000 men at Tambov. Opposing him was only a small Komuch division. It was thus decided that it was time to strike back.



    Despite Makhin's attempts to evade, the Bolsheviks caught up with their foes. The battle was rather short, nevertheless 1.700 Komuch soldiers were killed before Makhin managed to extract his troops from combat. Communist casualties were considerable, though: 950 men had fallen; amongst them Comrade Mironov.*****



    While the Red Army was rather content with the state of affairs, the Red Navy suffered a shameful defeat: On August 12th 1918, Raskolnikov's fleet met its White foes at the confluent of Volga and Kama; the second naval battle of the war ensued. When it ended, 4 Red gunboats had been sunk.****** Comrade Raskolnikov was demoted on the spot; he would have to reacquaint himself with proletarian virtues before he would be allowed to command a single river transport again.



    By the end of August 1918, both sides were settling into the positions they would hold for the coming months. Now the question was: who would strike first?


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    * Latin: May they rest (usually in pace (in peace) is added).
    ** Like the units in the Kuban, Berzin's force is locked in turn 1. In fact all Red forces with the exception of Blucher's army can't move during the first two weeks of the campaign.
    *** A gamble on my part: units usually fare better under the protection of a city structure. My hope was that Durk either wouldn't assault or Berzin would at least survive the initial fight. Secondly, I figured that given the small size of forces in the area, Durk might not be able to gain complete military control in the Ekaterinburg region. This would allow Berzin and his surviving units to sneak out of the city the next turn.
    **** The Iron Division arrives via event at Simbirsk (50% chance each turn, starting in June 1918).
    ***** Mironov was lousy (2-0-0), but I was already desperately short on generals.
    ****** There is a reason for this defeat and I have to thank loki100 and Narwhal whose latest AAR gave me the idea that will hopefully help me avoid a repitition. But more on that later.

  12. #12
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great pair of updates, it seems you are slowly scrambling to get some control over the front in the South in particular (though that opening turn was pretty grim reading). And well done on managing the political debate.

    I do agree, the retreat mechanic in AGEOD can sometimes be utterly frustrating, I had that in my RoP game when a force had a choice - (a): fall back towards Prag and behind a river or (b) retreat up a trackless mountain in Bohemia ... so off they went.

    Re: Lenin. Difficult, not least he was both a pragmatic politician and a theorist. What is worth noting is some recent scholarship on 'What is to be Done?'. The orthodox post-Lenin interpretation is its a clear break with the organisational and political norms of the 2nd International. The problem is the 1930s Comintern text (In Russian never mind translated), ain't the same as the originals. In that Lenin, argues for the Russian social democrats to organise as did the German SPD (some illegality, mostly open, a cultural as well as a political movement, and as broad based as possible), in other words he wasn't aiming at the classic post-1917 Communist Party (the only reason for illegality and bank robberies was practical, they had no other choice). Not of immediate relevance to the Civil War where both sides realised it was win or die and the Russian people paid a horrendous cost (& all these dllemnas are well represented in the game), but I'd argue strongly that Lenin didn't aim for terror (not least they wouldn't have freed Denikin et al on parole in the days after the October revolution) but was clearly prepared to do almost anything in order to avoid defeat once the Civil War began.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  13. #13
    @ loki: It may sound strange but I felt very happy after the initial turns. Getting a bad beating by the Southern White in turn 1 is unavoidable. Locked Red units are a punching bag for the Whites. The important thing is to avoid further beatings in the next few turns and get as many units as possible out of the Kuban alive. In this regard I was as successful as possible: I didn't lose any more units after turn 1 and got every last one of them back to Voronezh.
    Even better I avoided a similar beating in the East. If Berzin gets attacked outside Ekaterinburg in turn 1, chances are high that he retreats north into the Ural. If that happens his entire stack is as good as lost.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------


    Chapter 3 - The Good Die First*: Moscow, July - August 1918



    How can you make a revolution without firing squads?
    -
    Lenin




    After seizing power in October 1917, the Bolsheviks had immediately put pressure on opposing parties: their newspapers were banned and party members arrested. Yet one hope remained: the Constituent Assembly. Even the Bolsheviks themselves had justified their coup with the need to ensure its convocation against Kerensky's stalling tactics. However as far as Lenin and the more radical Bolsheviks were concerned this had been false pretenses. They argued, that Soviet power was a purer form of democracy, whereas the Constituent Assembly would almost certainly be subverted by bourgeois counter-revolutionaries.
    Nevertheless, Lenin didn't dare to renege on the Bolsheviks' promise ... at least not yet. On November 16th 1917, the voting began. It was a severe disappointment for the Bolsheviks who received only 24% of the votes. The clear winner were the Socialist-Revolutionaries (SR) who gained 38%. However the ballots didn't yet reflect that the Bolshevik seizure of power had irreversibly divided the right and left wing of the SR. The Right SR had left the Soviet in protest against the attack on the Winter Palace.** In reaction they had been condemned as traitors to the revolution by the remaining Soviet delegates - even the Left SR went along still hoping to be able to tame the Bolsheviks.

    In the meantime, the Bolsheviks had strengthened their grip on power. Amongst the most important steps were the creation of the Cheka and the transfer of power from the Soviet Executive to Sovnarkom.*** The former was rendered ineffective by trippling the number of its members. At the same time Sovnarkom bestowed upon itself the power to pass legislation without prior Soviet approval. By December 1917 the Soviets had thus been reduced to a fig leaf for the Bolshevik dictatorship.



    How far the Bolsheviks were prepared to go became evident on January 5th, 1918. Several thousand people dared to protest in support of the Constituent Assembly that was finally to convene on that day. But on the roof tops Kronstadt sailors, Latvian Rifles and Red Guards were already waiting for them. Now they opened fire with their machine guns. Gorky compared the massacre to that of 1905: "For almost a hundred years the finest Russians have lived by the idea of a Constituent Assembly ... Rivers of blood have been spilled on the sacrificial altar of this idea, and now the 'People's Commissars' have given the orders to shoot the democracy ..." A day later the Bolsheviks had the Constituent Assembly dissolved.

    By March 1919, even the Left SR wasn't willing to follow the Bolsheviks any longer. Its members resigned from Sovnarkom.**** They had endured much: Soviet power had yielded to party dictatorship, their peasant clientele suffered under conscription and the grain monopoly, civil liberties were long gone and Brest-Litovsk had betrayed their hope of spreading the socialist revolution to the West. Two months later SR disilliusionment had reached the point were they became desperate enough to stage an uprising.

    On July 6th, a Left SR Chekist and one accomplice murdered Count Mirbach, the German ambassador. When Dzerzhinsky tried to arrest the culprits, Left SR Chekists not only refused him access but imprisoned the Bolshevik instead.***** An assassination had turned into an uprising. It was echoed by SR rebellions in several other cities.



    But rather than press their initial advantage the SR now waited for the masses to rise and sweep the Bolsheviks away. They were to be disappointed. Instead the Bolsheviks would teach them one last lesson in determination and ruthlessness.

    The uprising in Moscow itself was swiftly dealt with by 13.000 Bolsheviks under Bonch-Bruevich. It was pure slaughter, the ill-prepared SR didn't even return fire.



    In the meantime, the elite Latvian Rifles were sent to Yaroslavl to take care of Savinkov's force. Unfortunately the counter-revolutionaries managed to evade Vatzetis' men.****** Rather than pursue Savinkov, the Latvians were ordered to turn east where they would reinforce the Siberian front.

    The counter-revolutionaries were thus granted two weeks of respite. But on August 4th, Frunze's division of Red Guards, Moscow garrison units and a handful of Hungarian Volunteers caught up with them.



    Heavily outnumbered Savinkov didn't stand a chance. Less than 200 of his men escaped alive. 7 days later, a second column arrived that had apparently hoped to join forces with Savinkov. Frunze's men made sure they shared their comrades fate before they went on to pursue Savinkov and his handful of survivors. On August 16th, Savinkov's rebellion was over, every last of his men was killed. The inept SR uprising had been crushed and Frunze gained a promotion.



    Now that there was no one left to dispute Bolshevik power from inside the Soviet system, they could turn their full attention towards their reactionary White enemies.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    * A cynic might say: "The Naive Die First". More importantly, I am not sure whether the Left SR deserve the term "good". Good and evil are too absolute categories to fit in revolutions, they are more suitable in novels, poetry ... and movies.
    ** They would go on to be the driving force behind the formation of the Komuch in 1918.
    *** Sovnarkom = Council of People's Commissars.
    **** Ironically, Left SR remained in the Cheka until July. The Red Terror only reached its height once this last restraining influence was gone.
    ***** The Bolsheviks had been foolish enough to allow a Cheka Combat Detachment composed of 2.000 Left SR. In the game the true strength of this force is underrepresented. This is however justified by the complete lack of initiative their leaders exhibited during those crucial days. It's really a bad joke that Popov has pretty decent stats in RUS (4-1-1).
    ****** This was my fault: I set only Bonch-Bruevich on offensive posture because I wanted to make sure it was his stack that engaged Popov so that the Moscow garrison would unlock. With the Latvians on defensive orders Savinko managed to slip to Sergiev Posad. I had hoped he would either stay at Yaroslavl or switch himself to offensive posture while marching through hostile territory.

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

    Some thoughts on this uprising in RUS:
    • Obviously the OOB isn't exact, neither are the leader stats. The troops are too bad, the leaders too good.
    • In reality the uprising had a real chance. With the Cheka Combat Detachment the Left SR had the most powerful military unit in the city on their side. In the meantime the Latvian Rifles were outside the city on maneuver. Had the Left SR acted swiftly they could have dealt a fatal blow to the Bolsheviks whose leaders were virtually unprotected. If they had been captured and executed, Bolshevik rule might have crumbled. Instead it was the Left SR that died first.
    • In RUS however, the Left SR have no chance of taking Moscow or establishing a secure base in the area. Thus there are four viable options left:
    1. Retreat north and join the units at Arkhangelsk.
    2. Retreat north-west and join Miller's Army advancing from Murmansk.
    3. Retreat east and join the main Siberian forces.
    4. Try hit and run tactics to keep as many Red units busy as possible.
    Option 4 is extremely difficult to pull off in RUS. My favourite is option 3: in RUS the Left SR units are represented as part of the Komuch faction. In the Siberian Army Popov and Savinkov can thus be of use and their units can be merged with Komuch divisions whereas these troops remain foreign elements in the Northern White armies.
    In this match, option 3 would have been very risky, though, since the Siberian armies hadn't advanced far enough west.
    • Coincidentally, with the end of the Left-SR, the Reds also stand to lose two high-ranking commanders: Muraviev and Sorokin. They are removed via event during 1918 (random trigger). Especially Muraviev is a bitter loss since he is one of the better Red generals.

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

    Next update: Frunze will be once more in the center of events. - The time for foreplay is over!

  14. #14
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    this is much more chaotic and political than the short campaign, it seems a superb rendition of the chaos and horror of revolution ... good you have the Moscow force unlocked that must be useful once a degree of order is restored
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  15. #15
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    Excellent to see another AAR from you

    *Subscribes*


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  16. #16
    First Lieutenant Fadi_Efendi's Avatar
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    Great updates and I am glad you are keeping your usual pace. Nice to see you escaping largely intact. I guess that men are more important than territory right now, and will help you stabilise your front(s) and expand into the Ukraine once it opens up for grabs.

    Raskolnikov shouldn't be allowed in a ship until he's learned to sing the Boatmen of Volga backwards.

  17. #17
    Ruler of Somewhere else Thandros's Avatar
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    Long Live the Revolution. Just make sure you prevent Stalin from being in Control of the USSR by some means.

  18. #18
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    Ah, another reminder why I love these forums: even when a topic as fraught with opinion an emotion as Lenin is brought up, people stay civilized and can agree to disagree. Thank you to everyone involved, and I mean that sincerely: it shows me again that this is a mature forum with an awful lot of sensible people on it.

    Anyway, on to the game itself. The Reds sure look like they are in a dire situation, but if anyone can pull them out of it, it must be you. Either way, as you yourself state, an awful regime will fall.

    Now that I'm caught up, I should be able to comment more substantively on future updates. In the meantime, let me add that I'm enjoying your Pravda headlines. I foresee many more school-building and wood-cutting expeditions by the eager revolutionaries. And many attempts to convince their enemies of the futility of their struggle by means of fraternization amongst the soldiers.
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  19. #19
    Just a quick question. Have only played a few games of RUS myself: Is there any way to the Tsar to survive? In all my games, the Whites never make it to Ekaterinburg in time, but it seems from this that he dies even if they do?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fadi_Efendi View Post
    Raskolnikov shouldn't be allowed in a ship until he's learned to sing the Boatmen of Volga backwards.
    BEST IDEA EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can I offer a house rule? I think the majority will agree: you must have Stalin KILLED!
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