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

  1. #141
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Steadily losing NM seems to lock you into a downward spiral, making it harder to obtain either money or reinforcements, or to raise people's loyalty to your faction. Fortunately for the Whites, they can always bring in the Baltic states et al to bolster their troops, but I'd imagine that if the same thing happened to the Reds the game would pretty much be over.
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  2. #142
    New update tomorrow!


    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    I don't see the Whites winning. Even if you had the same level of NM as them, every turn that passes, the balance tips in favor of the Red. With your NM and killratio advantage, I don't see them having any revival. The Poles, maybe ?
    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    nice interlude, but it does really show up how successful you've been with your recent operations, esp 'Cauldron', & finally nailing down the north. Presume its in your interests to merely toy with the southern Whites till you are in a position to send the Red Army across the Vistula too?
    Invading Poland would certainly be interesting. We will see whether we get to this point in this game. For my part I will try to end the game as fast as possible. But I am not particularly good at endgames (whether in chess or AGE games ). Some of Durk's talent for aggressive bludgeoning would certainly help. I on the other hand will still think about defense first and then continue to stage overly complex operations.

    For my part, I love how there are a series of balancing mechanisms in place that can provide a second wind to the White war effort. In multiplayer games some restrictions by house-rules are needed though (many multiplayers completely ban Finnish, Baltic and Caucasian intervention, we used a more open approach, though). Otherwise these events run the risk of completely destroying the balance.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thandros View Post
    It's also looking like Evacuating Zinoviev will not be necessary as he'll be leading a new Offensive to drive the White's out of Central Asia once reinforcements arrive. You haven't evacuated him yet have you.
    Wow, I am surprised that you remembered about Zinoviev. He is still holding Aralsk. Somehow he has a small amount of supplies left. But it won't last much longer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    Steadily losing NM seems to lock you into a downward spiral, making it harder to obtain either money or reinforcements, or to raise people's loyalty to your faction. Fortunately for the Whites, they can always bring in the Baltic states et al to bolster their troops, but I'd imagine that if the same thing happened to the Reds the game would pretty much be over.
    Yes, recovering from low NM is very hard - if not impossible in RUS. I have never seen a comeback if a player had dropped to less than 50 points of NM. The reason is obvious: units will fight worse and the balance of power has already shifted heavily against you (you don't get such a low NM without losing a lot of units in battle).

  3. #143
    Ruler of Somewhere else Thandros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    Wow, I am surprised that you remembered about Zinoviev. He is still holding Aralsk. Somehow he has a small amount of supplies left. But it won't last much longer.
    How Could I forget about Zinoviev the Most Annoying Red Leader ever. He has such high seniority for a one Star Leader he's annoyed every time you promote anyone else.

  4. #144
    Chapter 18 - Massacre Time: Siberian front, August – September 1919




    To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament — this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism.
    -
    Lenin




    Recap: The summer has seen two major Red offensives on the Siberian front. Operation cauldron resulted in the encirclement of Grichin-Almazov's entire army. During Operation Red Flood several Red corps managed to find holes in the White river blockade of the Volga and conquered Uralsk and Samara.


    In August 1919, the situation on the Eastern front looked brighter than ever before. Trotzky, Kork and Gritties were keeping Grichin-Almazov trapped in a pocket west of Simbirsk. In the meantime, Chapaev, Parsky and Ghai-Khan had crossed the Volga and rapidly conquered White territory. To the South, Zinoviev was still holding in his isolated position at Aralsk.

    Now it was time to bring more troops across the Volga and exploit the progress made by the first wave of Operation Red Flood. In early August, two more corps under Frunze and Timoshenko made it successfully to the eastern bank. They had used little trodden paths and crossed the river in remote places the Siberians hadn't guarded.[1]



    Around Samara the Red forces were reorganized: Solodukhin's corps was utterly exhausted after the Battle of Buguruslan and retreated to Samara where it would join Ghai-Khan's army which was further reinforced with Timoshenko's corps.
    In the meantime Parsky and Chapaev struck north. Their target was Bugulma. It was the only stop along the railway from Samara to Ufa. More importantly, it was in the rear of Tseretely's corps which would then be threaten by encirclement.



    On 10 August 1919, Chapaev's men attacked the city. An armoured train as well as an armoured car detachment were destroyed, but Tseretely must have sensed the danger because he evacuated his troops back to Ufa by railway before the Reds could reach Bugulma.[2]

    However the Siberian retreat wouldn't continue. Admiral Kolchak, wasn't yet ready to accept the loss of the Volga line. He had already ordered the French general Janin to abandon his positions outside Kazan and transfer his troops to the sector between Ufa and Samara. But due to the lack of a north-south railway, Janin had had to take an extended journey through the Siberian hinterland.[3]
    Janin's army together with Tseretely's corps that was already at Ufa gave Kolchak more than 40.000 men for a counter-offensive. Kolchak's orders were to attack along the whole front. Tseretely was dispatched to retake Bugulma from Parsky's army while Janin received orders to recapture Buguruslan.[4]



    Tseretely reached his objective first, only to find it occupied by almost 50.000 Communist who had dug trenches behind a small river. Tseretely on the other hand had hardly 20.000 soldiers under his command. His only advantage was that Chapaev's 25th Fusilier Division was still fairly exhausted but this wasn't enough to prevent the disaster. What happened next was later referred to as the “Duck Shooting of Bugulma” in Soviet military history books. Tseretely's officers bravely led their men into the water in order to reach enemy lines. With their rifles over their heads the Siberians weren't able to shoot back as Parsky's men fired salvo after salvo at them. It was surprising that a few regiments actually made it across. A Cossack cavalry regiment was the first unit to reach the Red trenches but its charge ended abruptly in a wall of red bayonets.



    Soon the attack was called off and the lucky survivors stumbled back to the Siberian side of the river. Behind them, the river had turned Red with the blood of 12.500 of their comrades. Voitsekhovski's and Onchokov's divisions had been all but wiped out. Half of Tseretely's cannon had been destroyed. His tachankas had been lost and all of his elite regiments of mountain infantry had been annihilated.



    But the Red leadership hadn't been entirely passive either. Ghai-Khan was ready to move east again. He left Solodukhin at Samara in order to protect it from the Green pests (sorry, rebels) while he and Timoshenko left for Buguruslan by train. It proved to be a wise decision. For on 24 August, Janin's army arrived at the city after a long railway voyage from Kazan.[5] Now the French general found his objective occupied by 47.700 Bolsheviks who had even had the time to dig some light entrenchments. Janin's force on the other hand had half the number of men (22.400). But it held two important advantages: brand new British tanks and a small edge in artillery. It wasn't enough, though.



    The Reds waited calmly in their trenches for the Siberians to charge. Then they tore the wave of White soldiers to shreds with concentrated rifle and artillery fire. Diterikhs a highly talented Czech, who had chosen to stay behind in Russia and continue the fight against Communism, was appalled. He screamed for his signal officer to sound the retreat, but the man only shook his head and crumbled: “No need to bother, they are all dead.” And indeed Diterikhs' 3rd Czech Division – at this point Czech only by name – had ceased to exist as a combat formation. All that was left were a handful of staffers. Gaida's Division had suffered almost as badly. Only Zinevich's 1st Siberian Division had gotten off more lightly. In total, Janin's army had lost more than 50% of its soldiers during the Second Battle of Buguruslan. 13.100 Siberians had fallen and the treasured British tanks were nothing but scrap metal. The Soviets on the other hand had lost only 3.400 men.



    Kolchak's great counter-offensive had turned into an utter fiasco. Of the 42.000 Siberians who had participated only 25.000 were still alive. Turning the tide of the Red Flood would be even harder in the future.

    In the meantime, Frunze had begun operations against Orenburg. Rather than attack the city directly, he chose to conquer Ilestk first.[6] The plan worked nicely. On 30 August, Bolshevik forces marched into the city on the one end, while their Siberian foes struck a hasty retreat out the other end. But Frunze was too aggressive to let his enemy escape. The pursuers caught up with their prey a day later. 3 White regiments perished and a fully stocked supply train changed hands. Next Frunze marched to Orenburg and started a siege. However it took several more weeks before the city fell. Some say Frunze's chronic ulcer caused so much pain,[7] that Frunze was unable to control operations.[8]



    Further west, Operation Cauldron was still continuing. In August, the 1st Ural Corps – if a ragged column of starving men deserves such a grandiloquent name -[9] had managed to escape and reached Siberian lines east of Kazan.
    But Janin's transfer to the Ufa sector had left a weak spot east of Kazan. Molchanov had been left behind with some 10.000 men. Vatzetis promptly took advantage of the opportunity and attacked on 8 September. The Siberians hastily retreated but not before they had lost 2.400 men.



    Despite the escape of Khanzhin's former corps, the main Siberian army was still trapped. In August and early September, several new attempts of Grichin-Almazov to get his starving troops through Red lines to safety had failed. The Siberian field army was in a pitiful state. Its units had dissolved into a trek of exhausted men. The side of the road was littered with abandoned cannons, discarded rifles and soldiers too weak to walk.



    On 15 September, Trotzky ordered his subordinates, Kork and Grittis, to crush the pocket. Grittis' army arrived at Buinsk first. At this point Grichin-Almazov had still 23.400 men left. On paper, the Soviets were outnumbered, but it doesn't take many well fed soldiers to kill a starving mob.



    The butchery started on 21 September 1919 and lasted for three days. On the second day Grittis was joined by Kork and the killing reached its climax. On the third day only a handful of Siberians were still fighting. But even those last survivors weren't spared. After three bloody days, Grichin-Almazov's army had perished to the last men.[10] The Soviets had captured some valuable war materials: two supply trains and two entire batteries of artillery were incorporated into the Red Army.[11]



    The Siberian front lay in shatters, but not all was lost. Freshly raised reinforcements were arriving from behind the Ural while White gunboats delayed Red reinforcements. Besides, the stranded admiral could always count on the incompetence of Red generals.[12]


    Next update: A Southern White offensive against Kharkov.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    [1] Durk had only four gunboats, this suffices to block most of the river. But one or two small holes remained.
    [2] I thought the attack north was a clever move, but Durk and I have played a lot of PBEMs, he must have smelled the trap and outwitted me. I am not sure why he didn't retreat the armoured car and train, though. These are expensive units. It is possible that the train was still under construction?
    [3] The railway lines in this area all lead east-west. Janin had to travel all the way back to Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk before he could head west again.
    [4] Attacking in two places was definitively a bad idea. But Durk wasn't able to unify both forces into one stack prior to the attack. Janin had not yet reached Ufa but was still in the Ural Mountains at the beginning of the turn. The smart thing would have been not to attack at all. But my friend Durk is an optimist and his aggression got the better of him.
    [5] This hadn't been intended as a trap but rather as a cautious advance. Durk however, saw the opening and probably presumed I would leave Ghai-Khan at Samara for another turn. This mistake backfired badly.
    [6] I chose this indirect approach for two reasons: Firstly, I had no scouts near Orenburg. And thus had no idea how strong its garrison was. Secondly, Frunze's stack wouldn't have made it all the way to Orenburg in a single turn anyway.
    [7] Frunze was inactive for two turns. But in the end, Orenburg fell.
    [8] Historically, Frunze suffered from a chronic ulcer. In fact, he was to die from it. In 1925, his doctors overdosed him with enough anaesthetics to kill an elephant during an operation supposed to cure him from his disease. Coincidentally, Stalin had pressed the hesitant Frunze hard to have the operation. Weirdly enough none of his four doctors lived a happy and fulfilled life, either. - They all died in 1934. It shouldn't surprise that a vicious rumour pins responsibility for Frunze's death – who had been a potential rival for Lenin's succession – on Stalin's spotless white vest.
    [9] This were the survivors of Khanzhin's corps that had been send on a flanking march against Nizhny Novgorod in the early spring of 1919. I have no idea how Durk managed to keep a few of them alive until September.
    [10] The Siberian army couldn't retreat any more since all surrounding regions were 100% under Red control.
    [11] Half of this units were captured on the last day when there was no more infantry left to defend them.
    [12] A really bad spell of inactive commanders lay in waiting for the Red Army.

  5. #145
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    A series of devastating blows. The Siberians appear to be bested - it's only a matter of time before they completely crumble. I can only see that not happening if the situation in the South (or in the West) turns critical and you have to withdraw massive forces from the Siberian front.

    That said, let's find out about the White offensive against Kharkov. Given your lack of senior commanders in that theatre, the dynamics should be a bit different from your Siberian Steamroller.
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  6. #146
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    seems you went over to the defense at a critical moment, absorbed the counteroffensive and can now clear the land up the Urals (if your generals can be bothered), but as with Stuyvesant, the mention of Kharkov sounds worrying given the state of the Red Army on that sector
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  7. #147
    About Grichin-Almazov, does the destruction of the army also means the death of the general ? He seems alive in the battle reports but I suppose that the general of a wiped out army desapears as well ? If so that's an important victory he looks like a pretty decent general from the stats of the reports.

  8. #148
    Ruler of Somewhere else Thandros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archam View Post
    About Grichin-Almazov, does the destruction of the army also means the death of the general ? He seems alive in the battle reports but I suppose that the general of a wiped out army desapears as well ? If so that's an important victory he looks like a pretty decent general from the stats of the reports.
    Not Necessarily Sometimes Generals of Completely Destroyed armies will simply be wounded and moved to a nearby town to recover. I have no Idea what determines what if they survive or not. But I know they can. Actually He's about average, most Siberian Generals are 4-1-1 so the Loss is not exceptional hard to replace. The Fact he's a 3-star Commander makes him much more valuable. The Siberians have much better Generals than Him but not a lot of them.

  9. #149
    New update tomorrow ... hopefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    That said, let's find out about the White offensive against Kharkov. Given your lack of senior commanders in that theatre, the dynamics should be a bit different from your Siberian Steamroller.
    The horrifically bad Red generals are mostly a liability on offense. If you don't have to march your troops, the low strategic rating matters less. The 35% combat penalty for an inactive commander is not a death sentence since I have enough men to make up for it.

    Nevertheless the dynamic on the Southern front is different. Ian is going to press hard ...


    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    seems you went over to the defense at a critical moment, absorbed the counteroffensive and can now clear the land up the Urals (if your generals can be bothered), but as with Stuyvesant, the mention of Kharkov sounds worrying given the state of the Red Army on that sector
    Thanks for making it sound as if I planned this. But the truth is I didn't; Durk's counter-attack came as a surprise to me. Other factors forced me to stop the advance: cohesion was low and my corps commanders were inactive. You have to remember the two leading generals had strategic ratings of 2 (Parsky) and 3 (Ghai-Khan)! When the offense started they had been close to Trotzky who boosted these stats to an acceptable level; but now they were too far away from him and were back to their usual slothful selfs.


    Quote Originally Posted by Archam View Post
    About Grichin-Almazov, does the destruction of the army also means the death of the general ? He seems alive in the battle reports but I suppose that the general of a wiped out army desapears as well ? If so that's an important victory he looks like a pretty decent general from the stats of the reports.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thandros View Post
    Not Necessarily Sometimes Generals of Completely Destroyed armies will simply be wounded and moved to a nearby town to recover. I have no Idea what determines what if they survive or not. But I know they can. Actually He's about average, most Siberian Generals are 4-1-1 so the Loss is not exceptional hard to replace. The Fact he's a 3-star Commander makes him much more valuable. The Siberians have much better Generals than Him but not a lot of them.
    Thank you Thandros! I couldn't have answered this any better. Often you don't see if an enemy general has fallen. In Grichin-Almazov's case it is possible that he did since I haven't seen him at the front since his army was crushed. But with his training officer ability he is more useful behind the front anyway.

  10. #150
    Chapter 19 - The Big Gundown: Southern front, September 1919




    Long-lasting peace is unendurable to human beings.
    -
    Mao Tse-Tung




    Blucher's death and the defeat at Rostov had left the Bolsheviks reeling in the South. But the heroic sacrifice of the Anarchist cavalry had enabled the survivors of the unlucky expedition to escape back to the safety of Red lines. However Blucher's failed expedition had lost the Reds the initiative. Now they would have to withstand the combined onslaught of French, Greek and Southern White.

    The White forces had the choice between three possible targets: Tzaritsyn, Voronezh and Kharkov. However all three were defended by strong Red forces. Kharkov was most threatened since it alone lay within the area of operations of the French and Greek forces.[1] Therefore, the Soviets expected the next blow to land upon the Ukrainian city. For that reason its defence had been entrusted to Stalin who had proven his worth in the Battle of Tzaritsyn.[2]



    However the Soviet leadership not only guessed the sector correctly, it also set a trap for the advancing White forces. The Soviets wouldn't wait for the Whites to come to Kharkov, instead their main force would lay an ambush several miles south of the city. Berzin's entire army boarded trains and was rushed to Merefa.


    Coming from the north Skachko joined Berzin with an additional corps.[3]



    The White vanguard under Sidorin arrived at Merefa 5 days after Berzin. It stumbled into a battle their general had neither planned nor wanted. The Whites were outnumbered 2:1 but they did their best to resist the Reds. Superior in artillery, they dished out as good as they received. The Reds came dangerously close to losing the battle when a White division mounted a devastating charge. The Communist conscript were no match for the better trained Volunteers in close combat and only their superior numbers saved the day. When the dust settled, 3.000 Red and 3.700 White soldiers lay dead in the cornfields of Merefa. Sidorin's men retreated in good order, they would fight another day.



    Stalin proudly telegrammed the news of his latest triumph back to Moscow – he conveniently forgot to mention that he had arrived at Merefa only after the battle.[4] The true heros of the day were Berzin and his gifted lieutenant Skachko.

    But the counter-revolutionaries weren't discouraged. On the contrary, to them Merefa had proven that they could go toe to toe with the despised Bolsheviks even when badly outnumbered. Another attack was ordered but this time the White forces would be considerably stronger. The marching orders were so complex that Red intelligence wasn't able to provide a clear picture. It appears Nither and Berthelot switched their commands on 15 September, then Berthelot's former corps was joined by Sidorin's men just south of Merefa before the combined forces attacked northward on 26 September.



    The Greek general Nither assumed command over the 40.000 men of this ad hoc force. Under his command were the 30th and the 156th French Division as well as Wrangel's 1st White Division and Babiev's 14th Division.[5] The corps was supported by three tank battalions, it had modern field hospitals, engineers and fancy telecommunication equipment. Their foe was once again Berzin's army with its roughly 55.000 men. With the exception of Skachko, the Bolshevik commanders were embarrassingly incompetent. But at least they had the good sense to dig trenches and wait for the enemy to charge.



    This simplistic strategy worked surprisingly well. Nither trusted in the superior quality of his men and had them charge head on. But even a raw conscript can best a seasoned veteran if he is hidden in a trench while his enemy is charging across an open field. French and Volunteers alike were mowed down by concentrated Communist fire. Nerel and Babiev pressed their men hard, yet the attack crumbled before it even reached the Red trenches. Nither had no choice but to abort the operation. He had lost 12.751 men while only inflicting 4.171 casualties upon the Red Army.[6] Nerel's 30th French Division had suffered particularly hard and had lost almost 80% of its men. Many of them had survived 5 years of trench warfare on the Western front only to die charging more trenches in a land they didn't care about and for a cause that wasn't their own.



    Stalin cared little about the harsh ironies of fate, he was very busy establishing his claim upon this latest victory. The task required all the narrative skill he could muster; but the result was an impressive opus full of the heroics and bravery of one Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. Unfortunately it belonged in the fiction section. The truth was rather embarrassing: when Berzin had sent an urgent message begging for help, Stalin had taken his sweet time and slowly marched his men towards the battlefield. When he finally arrived, the battle had already died down and the Whites were in full retreat.

    "Stalin's glorious victories" had bought the Reds some breathing space. But nothing more, Nither's corps would quickly recover from its losses and in the meantime more White troops converged upon Kharkov. The noose around the city became tighter and tighter. It only seemed a matter of time until Whites and Reds would clash again ...


    -----------------------------------------------------------
    [1] The French and Greek forces suffer from a nasty cohesion penalty if they leave the Ukraine.
    [2] A major issue was my lack of two star generals on this front. I had only two left: Berzin (2-0-0) and Ordzhonikidze (3-0-0) who was still at Orel in September 1919 but would venture south the next turn. As a result, some of my major stacks had to operate with command penalties: Kirov at Voronezh and Avksentevski at Tzaritsyn.
    [3] These were survivors of Blucher's ill-fated campaign, I had retreated them behind the main lines so that they could recover the losses they had suffered during the long way back from Rostov. The other two corps would reenter the Ukraine a turn later since they were in worse shape.
    [4] The battle report shows Stalin in command of this battle but that isn't exactly true, he marched to the sound of guns but arrived too late to interfere.
    [5] While the French commanders aren't much better than Red ones (3-1-1 stats) Babiev and especially Wrangel play in a different league.
    [6] The battle report is quite misleading: Again Stalin wasn't present until after the battle had ended. Thus only 55.000 Reds actually fought. Moreover the units displayed in green are actually Southern White not Greek as the colour suggests.

  11. #151
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    good defence at Kharkov, impressed at you grabbing the initiative rather than just waiting in the city. And, with Comrade Stalin, who needs accuracy when you can later deal with anyone who may have inconvenient memories of a different turn of events
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  12. #152

    To Charge or not to charge, to focus or not to focus

    Durk and Ian demonstrate an excellent fighting spirit, but they are real-life hotheads
    Two points.

    1. They charge attacks on superior and well entranched forces. Obvious mistake. In real life instructions to officers said that in order to successfully wage an attack there are should be AT LEAST 3:1 numerical superiority. In the game this is approximately same, I would say 2-2.5 times POWER superiority required for sure success (with lots nice minor additions like terrain, high starting cohession, no river crossing, enemy not fortified etc). With less forces brought into the fight the defeat and high casualties became more likely.

    2. Lack of concentration. There is little focus in White actions. It is true for both Whites, especially for Siberians. A lot of smaller formations try to accomplish a lot of tasks at once and as a result fail most of them.

    Bornego does a great flexible defensive maneuvres and gracefully allows opponent to smash their heads(he taught few lessons on smart defence to me beating me very nicely in PBEM few months back).

  13. #153
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    After Stuyvesant's observation about the dynamics of the fight against the Southern Whites the last thing I expected you to do was take the (strategic) offensive, but I suppose that's why it worked out so well. That said, there are still a lot of White forces drifting around, and while Kharkov will be hard to take, it looks pretty vulnerable to being cut off. On the other hand, with the way you play this game I'd be disappointed if you weren't at the gates of Kiev in a couple of turns.
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  14. #154
    Well written and impressively detailed - a good narrative beats a turn by turn report and is much easier to follow. The enhanced screenshots are great - I had trouble with them in my AAR. May I ask what you are using for screen capture and image markups and how you like it/ease of use?

  15. #155
    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    good defence at Kharkov, impressed at you grabbing the initiative rather than just waiting in the city.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    After Stuyvesant's observation about the dynamics of the fight against the Southern Whites the last thing I expected you to do was take the (strategic) offensive, but I suppose that's why it worked out so well.
    I didn't really take the offensive. This was rather an act of forward defense. Berzin was moved by railway into a region fully controlled by the Reds. The stack remained on defensive posture. The result was a battle that Ian hadn't intended to wage (otherwise he would have brought more troops). He was forced into attacking while, I could safely defend.
    Such passive-aggressive tactics work extremely well in RUS. The reason is that defense is vastly superior in this game. If forces are balanced (which they were in the South), the easiest way to win battles is to make sure you are the defender. That is what I did: I used the railway to get my stack into a position where Ian didn't expect it and thus tricked him into an engagement under unfavourable terms for him.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    That said, there are still a lot of White forces drifting around, and while Kharkov will be hard to take, it looks pretty vulnerable to being cut off. On the other hand, with the way you play this game I'd be disappointed if you weren't at the gates of Kiev in a couple of turns.
    Encirclement was indeed my big fear in the South, but you will see in the coming updates that I will heavily guard the railway between Kharkov and Kursk. If this vital lifeline were to be lost, I would be in serious trouble. Luckily autumn rain and winter snow are around the corner which will make it more difficult for Ian to strike deep behind my lines.

    Attacking Kiev would be unwise: I have to expect a Polish entry into the war early in 1920. If Kiev gets into Polish hands I will lose 1 point of NM each turn (the same applies for Minsk by the way - these obscure events are nowhere mentioned). If it remains under Southern White control no such NM penalty applies. Therefore I won't attack the city (also if Kiev gets conquered by the Polish they get some free Ukrainian reinforcements - one more thing I really don't want).


    Quote Originally Posted by DarkGarry View Post
    Durk and Ian demonstrate an excellent fighting spirit, but they are real-life hotheads
    Two points.

    1. They charge attacks on superior and well entranched forces. Obvious mistake. In real life instructions to officers said that in order to successfully wage an attack there are should be AT LEAST 3:1 numerical superiority. In the game this is approximately same, I would say 2-2.5 times POWER superiority required for sure success (with lots nice minor additions like terrain, high starting cohession, no river crossing, enemy not fortified etc). With less forces brought into the fight the defeat and high casualties became more likely.

    2. Lack of concentration. There is little focus in White actions. It is true for both Whites, especially for Siberians. A lot of smaller formations try to accomplish a lot of tasks at once and as a result fail most of them.

    Bornego does a great flexible defensive maneuvres and gracefully allows opponent to smash their heads(he taught few lessons on smart defence to me beating me very nicely in PBEM few months back).
    Nice to hear from you DarkGarry! I fully agree with your observations about the superiority of defense.

    And yes, if Ian has one weakness it's that he doesn't concentrate his troops as much as other players would. But I believe this is a conscious choice on his part. He likes to play petit guerre (small war). I copied a lot of tricks about raiding from him. Of course at times this will backfire when the big armies clash.

    But Ian most definitively isn't a hothead. He is actually a very cautious player. Back in the game you and I played together, one may have thought you hyper-aggressive as well - although you actually thought it through very well where to attack and where not. The mobile defensive style I used in this match as well as in our game has a tendency of making opponents look like reckless hotheads. If it succeeds the opponent will wage battles as an attacker he had never planned - often with disastrous results. This happened to Ian and Durk on more than a few occasions.
    What this AAR reflects badly however, is how many traps I set in vain because Ian evaded them smartly. The campaign in the North early in 1919 was his masterpiece: he manged to gain ground with inferior forces while constantly evading the defense positions I had set up and blocking my attempts at striking back.
    Believe me, Ian knows what he is doing. He is a very fine player.

    My friend Durk may indeed be a bit of a hothead - and he is the first to admit it. But in this game, he actually played cautious as well (except for a few occasions where his penchant for attacking got the better of him - cough Aralsk cough). On the other hand, I have seen few players who are as good as him at recovering from a bad situation. You will soon see that he managed to stabalize the Siberian front late in 1919 although his NM was in the toilet and he had suffered horrible casualties. Quite the feat!

    In the end, every player has his weaknesses. The trick is to read them and then adapt your own playing style as to exploit that weakness best.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Garnet View Post
    Well written and impressively detailed - a good narrative beats a turn by turn report and is much easier to follow. The enhanced screenshots are great - I had trouble with them in my AAR. May I ask what you are using for screen capture and image markups and how you like it/ease of use?
    Thank you! I enhance screenshots with a standard graphics program (if you want to spend money photoshop is really great - but gimp (freeware) fully suffices). In the end, all I do is overlay the screenshots with some text, sometimes add a shadow or a frame and add arrows to represent movement orders (not exactly a new idea). Most of this could probably be done in paint as well.

  16. #156
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    First off, great defense. A couple of bloody defeats for the Southern Whites - although they seem to have enough forces in the area to soak it up and move on, unlike in the Siberian Theatre.

    Just out of curiousity, what would be lost to you if Kharkov fell (which, with the surrounding countryside swarming with the various hordes of counter-revolutionaries, seems entirely possible)? I understand you need to hold the railroad line between Kharkov and Kursk as long as you hold Kharkov, but if the latter were to fall, then what would the damage to you be?
    Hollow Little Reign - A brief Crusader Kings tale about family ties in Byzantium.

  17. #157
    Ruler of Somewhere else Thandros's Avatar
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    If I remember Correctly Kharkov is an Objective point City for both the Southern White and the Reds. Losing it will also lose him Victory Points (Not an exceptionally bad thing the Reds will almost always have more victory points) and NM ( Worse As It will also give the Southern White NM as well strengthening there Position) It would Also lose the Reds EP (Minor he probably has more than he needs anyway).

  18. #158
    Sidenote: It appears RUS is currently on sale! AGEOD has a new homepage and is using a RUS sale as a promotion.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Just out of curiousity, what would be lost to you if Kharkov fell (which, with the surrounding countryside swarming with the various hordes of counter-revolutionaries, seems entirely possible)? I understand you need to hold the railroad line between Kharkov and Kursk as long as you hold Kharkov, but if the latter were to fall, then what would the damage to you be?
    It wouldn't be the end. But then you would ask what would be lost if Kursk fell? And what if Orel fell? And what if Tula fell? ... And then I would have White troops right outside Moscow and Lenin would have to slip into women's clothes and run to Finland!

    Another aspect is supply: there is a critical threshold where the amount of troops can overload the supply system (at least there is for Reds and Siberians - the Southern White supply system seems virtually unbreakable). How many troops you can field before you trigger a global supply crisis (if you remember my first RUS AAR Who put the stranded admiral in charge? - it's really not fun!), depends foremost on the size of your territorial base.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thandros View Post
    It would Also lose the Reds EP (Minor he probably has more than he needs anyway).
    Not so minor, under patch 1.04, EP are a scarce ressource. In particular, I am constantly short of generals - every EP I can spare goes into the "get a general option".

  19. #159
    Chapter 20 - The Great Silence: Northern front, September-December 1919




    When we look at history, we adore the times of war when dramas happened one after another.
    -
    Mao




    Recap: The summer of 1919, had been one of Red successes in the North: a series of White defeats had culminated in two major Soviet victories at Tosno and Pskov. In August, Makhin had chased Miller's battered survivors north while Budyenny had left Pskov and headed south. But Red supremacy shouldn't last: on 30 August, the three Baltic nations declared war on fledgling Soviet Russia.


    Of the three Baltic states Estonia had the strongest military. Latvia fielded only two weak divisions, Lithuania three. In the South, they were supported by three divisions of German Freikorps units which had assembled along the border to Eastern Prussia.[1] In September 1919, little happened - Baltic troops were concentrating around Pskov where they unified with the remnants of the Northern White army under Rodzianko. Budyenny had headed south and was now facing off with a Lithuanian-German corps under Zukauskas.[2]



    After a month-long spell of slobbery, “General Slack”, a.k.a. Makhin, finally deigned to involve himself in military affairs again. Unfortunately, an attack against Pskov was no longer feasible. The joined Baltic-White army was almost as strong as the Reds. Instead Makhin tried to wipe out the remnants of the Northern White army that were now under von Neff's command.



    Makhin struck swiftly. On 3 October, he crushed von der Pfahlen's cavalry regiment at Tsarskoye Selo and 9 days later he fell upon von Neff's small corps at Syas. But unlike von der Pfahlen, Neff managed to disengage quickly. A single regiment fought a desperate rearguard action in order to buy time for the rest of the corps to escape.



    However Makin wasn't ready to give up: stubbornly he pursued von Neff to Tikhvin where the Whites barely escaped on 22 October. Next they fled to Syas but again the Reds stayed close on their heels. The hunt continued north until the Whites reached River Svir. Here von der Neff pulled another houdinesque escape and slipped across the stream before the Reds could force a battle. On 8 November the chase was over and all that Makhin had to show for his five week long campaign were two destroyed White regiments. Deeply frustrated the Red general fell into his usual slack and didn't mount another offensive operation for the rest of the year.[3]



    Further south, Budyenny had initially intended to strike at Riga but had found his way blocked by Zukauskas and later Balodis. Rather then attack head on,[4] he used one of the oldest tricks in military history: he faked a retreat and moved his entire force back to Smolensk in late October. But in November he turned around and used the railway to rush his troops back to the Latvian border.



    The Soviets won the race to Polotsk by a day. On 8 November, 15.000 counter-revolutionaries, most of them members of German Freikorps, reached the outskirts of Polotsk. They were facing almost 63.000 Reds waiting for them to charge.



    But Balodis wasn't foolish enough to give that order. Instead a prolonged artillery duel decided the Battle of Polotsk. Although they were out-gunned 2:1, the Germans prevailed. Most of them had served through five gruesome years of trench warfare – these veteran artillerymen gave the fresh Red conscripts a harsh lesson: With half the amount of cannons they inflicted 30% more casualties then their Red opponents – and that although the Red infantry was sheltered in rudimentary trenches while the Germans were in the open.
    After embarrassing their Soviet counterparts thoroughly, Balodis gave the order to retreat. His men crossed back into Latvia in good order. They had lost 1.800 of their own – but inflicted 2.600 casualties upon Budyenny's army. Amongst the Communist dead was Smirnov, one of Budyenny's corps commanders, who had been killed together with most of his staff when his headquarters suffered a direct hit.[5]



    Three days earlier, the Reds had suffered another humiliation: a small White force under Vetrenko had conquered the city of Velikiye Luki which gave them control over the railway line linking Budyenny with Antonov-Ovseenko's forces around Novgorod.



    Budyenny was not amused. Technically he was justified to report a victory to his superiors in Moscow - after all his men had held the battlefield. But this couldn't relieve him of the embarrassment he felt! It was time to get even! His orders were very brief: “Flank those Germans! Then on to Riga!”



    Budyenny didn't care that it had started to snow. In fact, the frozen ground was easier to cross then the mud a month earlier. On 6 December, the Red vanguard reached the Latvian town of Rezekne, quickly dealt with the regiment guarding the city and then marched on to Daugavpils which was conquered on 14 December after the German defenders had hastily retreated.



    Budyenny decided to give his men an early Christmas present and let them sack the city. The drunken Communists were soon completely out of control. Some moronic artillerymen - eager to prove that they knew how to handle their guns – blasted the small White river fleet to pieces that the ice had trapped in the harbour. They wasted a good amount of vodka and amunition upon this pointless exercise. But their tremendous stupidity was topped by a group of Red soldiers who decided to combat the cold by making a fire in the middle of the ammunition depot ... At least Budyenny's men got an early New Year's fireworks to go along with their wild Christmas celebration. The Red Army on the other hand lost a captured river fleet as well as the only depot on the way to Riga.[6]
    Nevertheless, Budyenny's flanking march was a success: Balodis was cut off from his supply source and the way to Riga lay completely open. The question was only whether it was worth risking a march deep into Latvian territory?



    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    [1] Historically, these Freikorps fought against Baltic forces as well as against the Reds. They probably should be a separate faction like Anarchists and Ukrainians. But then again, it's almost impossible to represent all the complexities of the Russian Civil War in a game.
    [2] My hope had been that Ian would neglect his flank and Budyenny might be able to make a push against Riga. But this plan wasn't particularly well thought through: Ian had seen this force head south and was thus warned. What he didn't know until October was that Budyenny had been joined by two freshly raised corps making his force the most powerful formation on the Northern front.
    Of course, I knew that my plan to attack Riga depended on Ian making a mistake and therefore wasn't too optimistic. Moreover, it wasn't a complete waste - I needed an army protecting Smolensk anyway.
    [3] Makhin has a strategic rating of 2 – it was some rare luck to have him active three turns in a row. I pressed as hard as I could but Ian skillfully evaded. He had a small stack (=high evasion value) and must have given orders to disengage. Of course, when it comes to avoiding battles, there is always some luck involved as well.
    [4] There was a chance that a frontal attack could have worked given Budyenny's numerical superiority. But I was pessimistic because terrain and weather (autumn rains had already started) were severely reducing frontage. Numbers wouldn't have counted for much while the superior quality of the Baltic forces could have carried the day.
    [5] The explanation for this rather embarrassing battle is one little symbol in the battle report: the Whites were fighting this battle in passive posture (if they had been the attacker, the arrow symbol would be orange). In fact, neither side attacked which is a bit weird since under those circumstances no battle should have taken place. I am not quite sure why this happened. Balodis had entered a region 100% under Red military control. Normally, he should have switched to offensive posture. If he had, his casualties would have been much higher. One possible explanation why he didn't could be that Balodis was inactive that turn???
    [6] With the river frozen that fleet had nowhere to retreat – if that happens combat ships are blown up. The depot was razed upon conquest. It wasn't a conscious choice by Ian or me – rather there is a small chance that depots get destroyed when cities changed hands.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    With the arrival of Baltic reinforcements, the Northern front fell back into the inactivity that had characterized the period from November 1918 to May 1919. The Whites were no longer badly outnumbered: especially in the sector between Pskov and Novgorod numbers were almost even. Only at the Latvian border did the Reds still hold a significant edge. But unfortunately, the terrain made an offensive very difficult there. The flanking move I made in December had been my plan since October but the rain made it impossible to get Budyenny to Daugavpils in a single turn. Therefore, I tried my good old fake retreat trap. It worked and should have given me a decisive victory if not for Balodis' stack mysteriously staying in defensive posture.
    Ian didn't have a winning plan, either. He made some careful advances. But the defeats of the summer had made him cautious not to over-extend his troops. Thus the last four months of 1919, were a lot of pointless maneuvering. Budyenny's flanking march shook things up again. It gave both of us some interesting opportunities as well as inherent dangers to consider ...

  20. #160
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    strange events, didn't really ever expect to read:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    Makhin struck swiftly.
    followed by:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    However Makin wasn't ready to give up
    good to see the natural order of things was restored in the end
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

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