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

  1. #41
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    I tried out the demo for Crusader Kings II yesterday. First Paradox game since HoI II and EU II that has instantly enthralled me. Now that I have bought the full version, it may slow down the rate of my posts a bit.
    It is awesome isn't it ... & utterly addictive as you struggle with your idiot family as much as anything external
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  2. #42
    Chapter 5 - The Price of Power: Moscow, 1918



    Steinberg*: "Then why do we bother with a Commissariat of Justice at all? Let's call it frankly the Commissariat for Social Extermination and be done with it!"

    Lenin: "Well put, that's exactly what it should be; but we can't say that."



    In June 1918, the Red Army was utterly inadequate. Garrison units, Red Guards and even the kitchen staff included, it still numbered less than 250.000 men. Sovnarkom decided upon a massive expansion of the Red Army. This would require a huge recruitment campaign. Therefore two crucial policy changes were implemented:
    1. The Red Army would no longer rely on volunteers. Instead mass conscription was introduced.
    2. In order to finance the war, the whole people - and especially the peasants - would have to contribute. Unfortunately kulak elements were still influential amongst the rural population and voluntary contributions remained insufficient. Therefore forced requisitions were instituted.



    However the whole program was put in jeopardy because desertion remained epidemic within the Red Army. It was estimated that the Red Army had lost almost 50.000 men to desertion in June and July alone.** Obviously this was untolerable. The party had to crack down on deserters, reliable party caders were promoted to political commissars and sent to the front en masse.*** The measure worked much faster than expected and the erosion of the Red Army ended almost immediately.



    Just as importantly, the composition of the Red Army changed: conscripts made up an ever increasing part of the Red Army while the importance of Red Guards decreased.

    On August 30th 1918, the socialist-revolutionary Fanny Kaplan fired at Comrade Lenin when he left a factory where he had held a speech. Hit by two bullets, the Bolshevik leader barely escaped death. The Bolsheviks were swift to react. The assassin was tortured than shot without a trial. But more importantly, the incident served as a justification for intensified oppression. Cheka combat units were raised in large numbers to assure the loyalty of the army.**** This measure would significantly increase the combat power of Red forces.



    However, the expansion of the Red Army took time. Accordingly, Red field commanders were ordered to stay on the defensive and avoid major casualties. For the most part this strategy succeeded. After the heavy initial losses in territory and manpower, all fronts had been stabilized by the end of the summer.
    In the meantime, three major recruitment waves increased Communist numbers. As a result, the Red Army had doubled its size by the end of 1918. Now 500.000 soldiers wore the Red star on their hats.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    * Left Socialist-Revolutionary Commissar for Justice
    ** Combat casualties after 4 turns were at 34.000; however the total lost hitpoints was worth more than 80.000 men . A small portion of this was due to movement attrition, but most was attributable to the desertion event that kept ravaging my units. The sad truth is that I lost more hits to desertion than to combat.
    *** I made a dumb mistake in turn 1. Not having played the Reds in a Grand Campaign game for a while, I forgot to invest in political commissars. As a result, my armies suffered repeatedly from the desertion event without me being able to do much against it until the first requisitions refilled my treasury.
    The Reds start with 80 money in turn 1. My advice is to use at least half of this to buy political commissars. It's an investment that will quickly pay off.
    **** In game terms this event has two important consequences: First, it adds cheka combat units to the Red recruitment pool. These units not only add boni to morale and discipline but also help prevent desertion. Secondly, a new special operation, cheka oppression (basically Red Terror) becomes available that allows to raise loyalties just as reforms do for the White factions.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Author's notes:


    1. The Special Operations race:

    Key to playing the Reds successfully is the recruitment game; the Red player must outrecruit his White opponents:
    • Income from cities is more or less evenly divided between the factions. The Whites have the advantage as far as money and war supplies are concerned (due to the income from the shipping boxes), whereas the Reds are ahead in conscripts.
    • Moreover all sides have access to the "print money" and "partial mobilization" options. Again the Whites hold an edge where money is concerned since each of them gets the option. In contrast, the opposing sides are on even footing as far as conscripts are concerned since the partial mobilization option yields a bigger return for the Red player than for the White ones (a more thourough analysis can be found in my AAR "Who put the stranded admiral in charge?").
    • If the Red player wants to get ahead he has to outdo his opponents in the use of special operations. Each faction can run a maximum of 6 conscriptions and 6 requisitions at any time. In theory the two White players can thus use 24 special operations against only 12 available to the Red player. However, the limited territorial base of the Southern Whites severly restricts them early in the game.



    Five turns into this game the Ian, Southern White player, controlled 6 provinces, but in none of these pro-White loyalties were high enough to run special operations. In contrast the Siberian player controlled 18 provinces, although he had only 8 with sufficient loyalties to gather ressources. At this point Soviet Russia was already smaller than the combined White territories: 21 provinces remained under Soviet rule, in 20 of which loyalties were high enough to allow requisition/conscription.
    Although the Red territory was smaller (21 provinces against 24), the potential for recruitment was bigger 20 provinces against 8. Of course I run the full dozen special operations constantly. I had some aborted, though, when I lost border territories early in the game. Nevertheless, this was worth the risk since every conscript you can get out of the undefendable boarder provinces preserves loyalties in Central Russia for later. In contrast, it took the Southern White player some time before he had increased loyalties to the point where he could start to recruit as well. But most importantly, Durk, the Siberian player, never used all 8 possible special operations but rather limited himself to 3-5 at a time - probably to prevent loyalties from dropping too quickly.
    This allowed me to increase my armies to the point where I outnumbered the Whites on most fronts by the end of 1918. Of course the Whites get a number of reinforcements via event (most importantly the powerful French and Greek Expeditionary forces in the Southern Ukraine and the North-Western White at Pskov. Moreover, the Red Army still remained vastly inferior in quality and leadership. Nevertheless, slowly but surely things turned in my favour.


    2. Playing the White factions:
    • Key to playing the Southern White well is to be aggressive, yet avoid major losses. One has to expand fast. The Red advantage in the recruitment game can't be allowed to last - it is thus key to reduce their territorial base as much as possible. In the meantime, the Southern Whites should use some of the huge NM gains they get from objective cities handed over by the Germans or conquered in the weakly defended Ukraine to run reforms. Once the White player is able to use special operations on a large scale, the Reds are almost certainly doomed.
    • The Siberians have the task of matching Red recruitment early on. Squeeze the country throroughly! But be careful to avoid Green loyalties above 40% (revolt risk). However, it can pay off to disregard this warning in the more remote provinces where potential Green uprisings don't interfere with the movement of reinforcements to the front. Like with the Southern White it is essential to reduce the number of provinces under Red control. If the Siberians are played well, they will quickly turn into an almost unstoppable juggernaut that can reach Moscow within the first 20 turns.
    • If the Whites fail on the field of battle as well as in the recruitment race, they still have two powerful trump cards: the "recognize independance" option and the Polish! The odds are thus heavily stacked against the Reds.

    3. Building units as Red player:
    • While I am a big fan of recruiting White Guards, I usually recruit very few Red Guards. The reason is simple: unlike the Whites the Reds are short on training officers (they start only with one; a second is available via the "Get a new Red general" option - but he is fairly low on the list).
    • The bulk of Red Army recuitment should thus consist of conscript infantry divisions. This has two additional advantages: First, these multi-element units will help greatly in creating big, resilient divisions. Secondly, such divisions already contain artillery but can nevertheless be recruited in any city not just those containing war supply factories (Moscow, Petrograd, Omsk, Kiev, Rostov and Sevastopol).
    • Garrison units can be a good addition. They are relatively cheap, contain 2-3 elements of infantry and cost 0 command points! A major advantage for a Red player perpetually struggling with the lack of officers.
    • Don't forget specialist units: political commissars (essential), engineers (useful), armoured cars (nice, but a luxery), tachankas (useful and cheap once they get available), sailors, cheka (strive for at least 1 regiment per stack).
    • Cavalry: early on the Red Army has a hard time matching the abundance of White cavalry scouts. The tiny pool of cavalry available to the Reds in 1918 should be quickly exhausted.

    4. Red overall strategy in 1918:

    In this game, I chose to remain very passive throughout 1918. I contained the Whites by holding Tzaritsyn, Kazan and Simbirsk. As my army grew stronger, I increasingly staged small scale operations. Usually to remove threats against Tambov and to keep the railway to Tzaritsyn open. Only once the Ukraine opened up, did I start to mount large scale offensive actions.

  3. #43
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great update ... the background and context is really interesting and its good to see a clear discussion of strategy and options. I've found, even against the AI, that this scenario is a challenge in trying to work out what to do or to try.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #44
    Bornego,
    Are you finding your opponents a bit delayed in their Special Operations? You are very aggressive in raising troops, but not in attack.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    great update ... the background and context is really interesting and its good to see a clear discussion of strategy and options. I've found, even against the AI, that this scenario is a challenge in trying to work out what to do or to try.
    Playing the Reds can be tough against the AI if you are new to RUS. But after a few PBEMs, you quickly realize that the AI doesn't provide a real challenge anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Symple View Post
    Bornego,
    Are you finding your opponents a bit delayed in their Special Operations? You are very aggressive in raising troops, but not in attack.
    Welcome to the forum!
    Personally, I am a big proponent of aggressive recruitment (I do the same in ACW). In RUS however, it's a delicate dance. If one doesn't keep Green loyalties in check, they can overrun the country. I have seen a Siberian player completely lose control in another PBEM recently. He even lost his capital Omsk to the Greens.
    So yes, I probably would have recruited more aggressively than Durk, but I can't blame him for his caution.

    Also, I have to admit that I played this game very cautiously. Sometimes this was a matter of choice, at other times inactive generals made planned offensives impossible. But with the game proceeding that will change ...
    Interestingly, Ian and Durk played a lot more cautiously than I had expected as well. Especially Ian never made a real attempt on Tzaritsyn in 1918. Probably a smart idea since the Red garrison was very powerful.

  6. #46
    I have the privilege of being a White player in the game Bornego is sharing in this AAR. I am in awe of his command of RUS. I am more in awe of his ability to explain strategy, tactics and game options. He is the textbook. But most of all, he is eminently fair in representing his opponents. Bornego is a powerful player.

    A struggle the Siberian Whites have in the Grand Campaign is to consolidate the Trans-Siberian railway and to mount depots at a distance which allows for supply to come from Vladivostok to the active fronts beyond the Urals. This differs from the Short Campaign which begins with the Czechoslovakian troops already in possession of the railway. This task actually supports growth of Siberian NM. The Reds have little to resist the White capture of cities and rail line.
    Another difference is that the Czechs disappear very early in the game. I fumbled an early attack on the Reds because I did not use my Czechs to attack the major Red strongholds before they gave up the war and went home.

    My familiarity with RUS is primarily with the Short Campaign. The challenges of the Grand Campaign involves building the armies which are simply handed to you in the Short Campaign. On the other hand, in the Grand Campaign, it is much simpler to subdue the regions in the hinterland.

    The SR units which begin around Moscow are also not in the Short Campaign. These units allow the Siberian Whites an opportunity to control Nizhniy Novgorod and other Strategic Cities. I made the mistake of taking Konocha and Vologad to open the way for my Southern (read Northern) ally, little realizing once I had taken these towns he would not be able to use them. While doing so, I abandoned Nizhniv Novgorod and a Red militia unit spawned in the city. Serious mistake for the SRs

    One additional challenge focuses upon Aralsk. I am not certain if Bornego has shared his occupation of this bottleneck with depots and a strong force. Consolidating Central Asia; Syr-Darinsk, Samakand, and Caspian; is not to difficult. Yet reigning in the railroad and the Green rebellion takes some focus. The Siberian forces faced the challenge of strongly entrench Red forces at Aralsk. The last bastion behind a coherent front. This confrontation will be played out in this AAR.

    I am glad so many of you are enjoying this AAR.

  7. #47
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    Following.... Long Live the Revolution!!!
    I'm Here for the Intensity, oh, and the Interactive AARs. Also, one cant get enough of Kaisereich stuff. Oh! and i'm also here for the, you know what, nervermind, I think you get the point.
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  8. #48
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Very informative last update (and it's always nice to hear from the other players' perspective, so thanks Symple for dropping by). I'll have to keep the Political Commissar thing in mind for my (future - long off) attempt(s) at the Reds.

    That map is fascinating to see, as it shows so well just how hemmed in Soviet Russia is by hostile or potentially hostile powers.
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  9. #49
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    I absolutely love this AAR! I want to get this game now.....
    I'm Here for the Intensity, oh, and the Interactive AARs. Also, one cant get enough of Kaisereich stuff. Oh! and i'm also here for the, you know what, nervermind, I think you get the point.
    Senator Alexzander Victorious @ http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/...ga-Campaign%29

  10. #50
    Sorry for the long delay between updates. We had some trouble with corrupted game files and real life obligations kept interrupting the flow of this game. But at last, I can give you a new update today.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    That map is fascinating to see, as it shows so well just how hemmed in Soviet Russia is by hostile or potentially hostile powers.
    Yes, Soviet Russia gets pretty small very fast - the revolution is indeed under siege. But the Reds also have the advantage to start with high loyalties, enabling it to increase their army considerably - usually things tend to look up a bit at the end of 1918. But it rarely last as the French intervene, more Don Cossacks rise and the Siberians spew out a lot of new troops.


    Quote Originally Posted by KotoR45 View Post
    I absolutely love this AAR! I want to get this game now.....
    Thank you, if I managed to convey some of the joy this game has brought me than I must be doing something right.

  11. #51
    Chapter 6 - Blindman: Tambov, August - November 1918




    The last months of 1918 were almost peaceful. After the Battle of Simbirsk on September 19th, Siberian advances had virtually stopped. In the South, the Volunteers systematically conquered the Kuban and the Northern ranges of the Caucasus but met with little resistance since the Red forces had long since been evacuated. When Denikin finally approached Tzaritsyn, he obviously felt his forces were too weak to dare a frontal attack and kept a respectful distance from Stalin's army that was occupying positions outside the city.



    As a consequence, between September and November only small skirmishes occurred. Cavalry scouts or small infantry detachment would clash but none of these fights was of greater consequence.

    The biggest Red victory during those months was the result of a series of most embarrassing maneuvers. On August 1st, Savelev had left Saratov with a single division under Slatkov's command. This 5.500 men strong force consisted of 5 Cossack regiments, 2 artillery batteries and 2 supply trains.
    11 days later this small corps occupied Balashov, the only major stop along the railroad that linked Tzaritsyn with Tambov. Control of this railway was crucial to the Red Army since it was the only lifeline linking Tzaritsyn with the rest of their territory.*



    As soon as the news of Balashov's fall reached Tambov, Kamenev had his men board trains. Three Red corps** with a total of almost 35.000 men rushed south. When the Soviets finally had to abandon their trains and march the last miles of their journey, their scouting was so abmyssal that nobody noticed the Siberians headed in the opposite direction. Thus both forces passed each other peacefully within a few miles distance.***
    When Kamenev conquered an empty city on August 21st, he was furious. Immediately his men reentered trains and rushed back north to catch up with Savelev. Yet Savelev's men noticed Kamenev just in time to make a hasty retreat. At this point Savelev prooved that he was just as lousy a commander as Kamenev; rather than retreat eastward towards safety, he headed back south.



    By now Kamenev was utterly disentchanted with hunting Savelev. It had been embarrassing enough to explain to Moscow how Savelev had escaped twice already. Instead he sent Blucher and a single corps to continue the operation. Blucher succeeded where his superior had failed: On September 17th, he finally cornered Savelev's Siberians. However the following battle was less glorious. Inspite of a 3:1 superiority, Blucher's men failed to crush their opponents. 1.500 Red soldiers died as opposed to only 1.200 Siberians. Nevertheless, Kamenev quickly reported to Moscow that the Savelev incursion had been dealt with.



    In order to make good on his embellished telegram, Kamenev sent Sorokin and Yakir east to cut off the most direct retreat route for the Siberians. And indeed Savelev tried to escape towards Penza.****



    On October 19th, Yakir managed to catch up with Savelev's men.***** This time, the Siberians were seriously hurt. 2 cavalry regiments as well as one infantry were annihilated. Savelev's small corps was now down to half its original strength. In his report to Moscow Kamenev praised Yakir for his glorious victory over fresh Siberian "reinforcements".



    Even better, the Siberians were forced to turn around and head back west. Now Kamenev unleashed all forced available to him. Blucher rushed north from Mikhailovka which he had conquered a week earlier from a small Cossack detachment, while Kamenev and Zhloba hurried east.



    On November 8th, Savelev's men made their last stand, Outnumbered 20:1, they never had a chance. Most didn't even survive the initial Soviet artillery bombardment. Amongst the dead was Savelev's second-in-command, general Sladkov. The Red victory was completed by the capture of two supply trains, much needed by the infant logistics department of the Red Army.



    Kamenev however was left with an awkward problem: After reporting the complete destruction of Savelev's corps twice already, he had serious trouble explaining whom his men had defeated ...


    Next update: The defense of Aralsk.


    ---------------------------------------------------
    * In theory this was a good move on Durk's part. The problem was that he didn't exert pressure against Penza and Tambov at the same time, this left Kamenev free to hunt Savelev down.
    ** As a reminder: the units named corps on the Red side are actually divisions. In this screenshot two of them are even labelled armies. It's not entirely unjustified, though, since in the early days of a RUS campaign, White divisions usually are no stronger than 150 pw whereas Red divisions soon grow to over 300 pw. Later in the campaign, Red divisions sometimes have as much as 700 pw.
    *** In assault or offensive posture one should usually be able to interrupt enemy movement (especially since it is highly likely that Savelev turned to offensive posture himself upon entering enemy territory). But Savelev's stack had a good evasion value and the commanders superior strategic rating probably helped as well.
    **** That was Durk's second mistake, he should have tried to get away from the railways and head over land towards Saratov. As long as he stayed on railways, Red troops were always able to catch up with Savelev. He may have counted on being able to blow them up, though.
    ***** I had frequent trouble with inactive generals and thus switched around a lot. Often only a single one of my divisions would be active. That is why Blucher attacked on his own in the first battle and Yakir had to do the fighting alone in the second one.

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

    Author's notes:

    I can't speak for Durk, but to me this whole charade felt more like an embarrassment than a victory. It took me 3 months to crush one badly outnumbered division. Unfortunately, this is not untypical when playing the Reds. The low strategic ratings of Red commanders seriously hamper their ability to force battle. Often the best one can do, is cut off likely escape routes and hope for another chance to defeat the enemy. To my great dismay, this was not to remain the only such episode during this game.

    In the greater picture, the hunt for Savelev shows how the balance of power had already shifted. Kamenev's troops constituted my (only) reserve. It wasn't big enough yet to start a serious attack (especially since I would need a large part of these troops in the Ukraine when it opened up in December 1918) but I wasn't in serious trouble any longer. Otherwise I couldn't have spared three (later even four) divisions to hunt down a comparatively small enemy force. Nevertheless, I probably could have used them in more profitable ways. Retaking Saratov would have been an option, but keeping the railroad to Tzaritsyn open was important at the time and I would never have imagined that it would take me three months to get rid of Savelev.

  12. #52
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    I have to admit, the image in my head was from one of those cartoon scenes where the characters chase each other through a hallway with many doors (you know, Scooby Doo or something like it): the protagonist runs through one door, comes out another one, then another, then another... etc. etc.

    Not exactly a great showing for the Red Army - then again, considering that this was the biggest action going on in this period of times suggests a certain stabilization of the frontlines, and breathing space for you. And you clearly have more to gain from this breathing space than anybody else. So while the episode itself is rather embarrasing, it's indicative of things going your way (at least for now).

    Loved the Pravda captions, especially the last one ('Page 5: the impossibility of resurrection in a Marxist society').
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  13. #53
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    superb update, I had in mind what used to be called a 'whitehall farce' (no not the latest incompetence from our beloved govt), where the characters enter and leave a room through a variety of doors and keep on overhearing enough of a conversation to completely misunderstand it.

    Clearly Stalin is doing his proper role of anchoring the line at Tsaritsyn, so that overall the front now seems a bit more secure (as long as you have 2 months to hunt down any white incursions that is)
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  14. #54
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    I really like your aar and the little press report. May I suggest that a little less exagerated reports of the pravda would be even better?
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  15. #55
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    No Pravda must Exaggerate more to make the final communist Victory seem even better.

  16. #56
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    You might want to add historical pictures to that Pravda :






    Courtesy of http://che-ratnik.livejournal.com/412689.html
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  17. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    I have to admit, the image in my head was from one of those cartoon scenes where the characters chase each other through a hallway with many doors (you know, Scooby Doo or something like it): the protagonist runs through one door, comes out another one, then another, then another... etc. etc.

    Not exactly a great showing for the Red Army - then again, considering that this was the biggest action going on in this period of times suggests a certain stabilization of the frontlines, and breathing space for you. And you clearly have more to gain from this breathing space than anybody else. So while the episode itself is rather embarrasing, it's indicative of things going your way (at least for now).
    While playing these turns, I was a bit frustrated but the full ridiculousness of this "campaign" only became clear once I condensed the events of 8 turns into this update. The worst thing is that I didn't make any major mistakes - or at least, I have no idea how I could have forced a different outcome. There is little one can do when your general's stats suck.

    Very good analysis! I agree, the Reds were no longer in the ropes waiting helplessly for the next punch. The match had become an even fight. Time is never working for the Reds, though. Between late 1918 and early 1919, the Whites get substantial reinforcements via event:
    1) French and Greek in the Ukraine
    2) North-Western-White at Pskov
    3) Don Cossacks in the South
    Add to that the troops the White can recruit, then every Red player will struggle to raise enough new units.

    It won't get any better, either: in spring 1919, the recognize independance option looms. We have restricted it via a house rule, though: It can only be taken if Southern White NM is lower than 90 points. Moreover the Finnish can never be brought into the war. In exchange I modded the option so that it only costs 10 points of NM instead of 40.

    For the moment Southern White NM is still too high. But should it fall, I will have two powerful new enemies to deal with. And if I make it to 1920, the Poles will be waiting ...


    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    Clearly Stalin is doing his proper role of anchoring the line at Tsaritsyn, so that overall the front now seems a bit more secure (as long as you have 2 months to hunt down any white incursions that is)
    Stalin and Denikin had a private competition during those months who could sit around idlier. The South had become rather boring (that is why it hasn't been part of my updates lately). It got interesting again once the Ukraine opened up.


    Quote Originally Posted by General_Hoth View Post
    I really like your aar and the little press report. May I suggest that a little less exagerated reports of the pravda would be even better?
    Quote Originally Posted by Thandros View Post
    No Pravda must Exaggerate more to make the final communist Victory seem even better.
    What to do when your readers voice different opinions/wishes? General_Hoth, I agree that the humour in this update was rather blunt. My intention with the Pravda headlines was to provide some comic relief while highlighting the chasm between reality and propaganda in Soviet Russia in a completely absurd and unrealistic way. When I started I had a lot of ideas how to explain losses away in ridiculous ways. I didn't think what to do about victories much, though. Frankly, I didn't expect many (I am a pessimist until I see the victory screen ). That said, I will side with Thandros and won't abandon the concept. But I will definitively try hard to come up with ideas that make as many of my readers grin as possible.


    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post

    You might want to add historical pictures to that Pravda :



    Speaking of grinning. Thank you, Narwhal.

  18. #58
    Chapter 7 - Find a Place to Die: Aralsk, November 1918 - March 1919




    No revolution is worth anything unless it can defend itself.
    -
    Lenin




    During the summer of 1918, the Red Army had lost all of Central Asia. From the Caspian Sea to Tashkent and Samarkand, the land was now firmly in White hands.* By mid-summer, all that was left was the small city of Aralsk on the shores of the Aral Sea where Zinoviev's Turkestan Army and a handful of units that had escaped from Orsk had dug in.



    These men had little combat value, experienced officers were sadly lacking and their commander, Comrade Zinoviev, wasn't exactly talented, either.** But at least the rampant desertions had been stopped when a political commissar had been dispatched to restore order.



    The Red soldiers had passed a peaceful summer, but in October a strong Siberian force was assembling north of the city. The counter-revolutionaries set up a depot along the railway line towards Orenburg. It seemed they were determined to stay.



    On October 19th, Martynov ordered his men to attack. To Zinoviev's great surprise it turned out that his army was actually more numerous than the enemy. Unfortunately, the higher quality of the Siberian troops more than made up for their numerical disadvantage. The fight was long and dirty. The Siberians suffered gravely while they rushed towards the Soviet trenches but exacted bloody revenge once the fight turned into hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. Many a Communist died in desperate counterattacks trying to stabalize the crumbling line. Casualties skyrocketed on both sides. But at the end of the day, the Turkestan Army managed to hold onto its position. Almost 3.600 Siberians as well as 3.100 Soviets remained on the field of battle. Two Cossack regiments had been completely annihilated.



    For the next month both sides, glared at each other across the trenches. It wasn't before December 4th that Martynov ordered another attack. This time his force was completely insufficient to the task. The Siberians wasted another 2.700 men without achieving anything.***



    By January 1919, the situation at Aralsk deteriorated gravely: powerful reinforcements had arrived south of the city. Krutin's mixed force of Russian and Central Asian troops had joined a small but powerful British expedition under Malleson that had arrived from Persia. Supported by several armoured trains, this army had more than double the strength of Martynov's force in the north. Luckily, the Syr Daria offered an excellent defensive position to Zinoviev's men.



    In the last week of January, the Siberian armies attacked in a vicious pincer movement designed to crush the Turkestan Army. Luckily, the attack wasn't well coordinated.**** Thus Martynov was already repulsed when Malleson finally attacked.



    The losses started to pile up: Martynov left 1.600 dead behind (as opposed to 1.300 Red casualties). Two days later, casualties were even more horrific: 4.300 Siberians and 3.500 Soviets bloodied the desert around Aralsk. Even worse, Malleson didn't retreat back across the river but occupied a bridgehead on the northern bank.*****



    At this point, Zinoviev was starting to panic. His men were utterly exhausted. Several regiments had suffered horrible losses and would be useless in another fight. The Red Commissar was planning his escape and had women's cloths requisitioned for himself and his staff. The Red soldiers knew that they couldn't expect mercy if Aralsk fell.



    When Malleson attacked again on February 1st, Knolly's British division formed the spearhead. These elite soldiers inflicted horrible casualties amongst the tired Communists. Almost one third of the Turkestan Army succumbed to the carnage. But the British paid a hefty price as well. Most of the 1.800 casualties the counter-revolutionaries suffered that day were British. Amongst them was Malleson's second-in-command, general Knollys. Even worse, three British regiments were entirely wiped out. Malleson had little choice but to cease the fight. But at least he managed to retreat north rather than back south and was thus able to join Martynov's Siberians.



    In the meantime, the restless Martynov was throwing his men into battle, again. By now the Reds were so tired that many fell asleep while firing their rifles. Nevertheless, they somehow managed to hold the line. Casualties were almost equal: approximately 1.500 men on each side.



    Although it was a huge success that Zinoviev had hold onto Aralsk, the future looked grim. Martynov and Malleson's forces were now united north of Aralsk. It seemed doubtful whether the exhausted Turkestan Army could pull off another miraculous victory. The bloodthirsty Martynov didn't wait until his opponent could recover.****** On February 24th, he threw another two divisions into the meatgrinder that was known as Aralsk. Again the Red Army paid a terrible price: 2.800 dead as opposed to 1.700 Siberian casualties. But Zinoviev's men were too stubborn to give up their bloody trenches.



    After the 7th Battle of Aralsk Zinoviev's men finally got some much needed rest. When Martynov attacked again 11 days later, he found a recovered opponent. An overzealous commander ordered a cavalry charge against the Red trenches. The result was a disaster: 3 Cossack regiments were wiped out. But the outgunned Reds left a lot of blood on the field as well.



    After five months of uninterrupted combat, the Turkestan Army still held Aralsk. But 8 battles had scarred the city and thousands of dying men had reddened the barren land.


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

    * At the start of the game the Red cities in Central Asia have either no garrison at all or a single unit of locked Red guards. Moreover the Reds don't have an army to fight back until Zinoviev arrives by event in turn 3. Basically Central Asia is a lost cause. If a Red player gets lucky, Zinoviev's Turkestan Army can win a few defensive battles before it gets crushed - evacuating these troops towards the North or the Volga is almost impossible since it would mean passing through more than a dozen regions (all of them rough terrain: desert and steppe). A long march that would most likely end in starvation.
    ** Zinoviev's force had an ungodly command penalty of 30%; instead of having over 250 pw, it was thus only worth 186 pw. Unfortunately, I couldn't really spare more generals to reduce the penalty.
    *** This attack seemed senseless. Martynov didn't even attack with his entire force. It may have been a probing attack or an attempt at lowering Zinoviev's cohesion for a future attack?
    **** Durk forgot to enable corps command for Malleson. He thus deprived himself of the possibility of marching to the sound of guns. I believe, this may have gotten the stack a command penalty as well (at least the strength rating in the battle report was a lot lower than what I had seen prior to the butchery.
    ***** This meant that Malleson's stack wouldn't have a river crossing penalty in the next battle.
    ****** Durk is one of the most aggressive players I know. In this game he played a lot more defensive-minded than usual. However he developped almost an obsession with Aralsk. And I can't really blame him. His early attacks may have been executed with insufficient forces. But once Malleson's stack joined the fight, it made sense to press the attack. Durk could afford to switch battered units out and let them recover. My units on the other hand had lost most of their cohesion. I was very surprised that they managed to hold the position. Even with all-out defense, there comes a point when an army collapses. In my opinion, Zinoviev's army was well beyond that point. In the crucial battle his entire stack had only 52 pw (and it continued to sink until a low of 25 pw). With so little cohesion units are bound to flee the battlefield very quickly. Why Zinoviev's stack didn't is beyond me.

  19. #59
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    nice focus on a side theatre, and well done Zinoviev. He may have been more a political theorist (& letter writer to the Daily Mail), but he proved himself an adept commander (at least when left with no choice in the matter)
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  20. #60
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Zinoviev's managed to tie down some 800 pw of Whites for half a year. Not bad considering you've written him off from getting back to friendly lines.

    Very much enjoying yet another top notch AAR.
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