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Thread: Death will stand grieving in that field of war - A Red Drang Campaign PBEM

  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    hint to self: PBEM RoP drunk is not a good idea, even if the goal is role-playing
    In the interest of health and sanity, both of yours and the general populace's, please don't get any stupid ideas, okay?

    Back to the AAR at hand, I must say that is a lovely crafted opening picture (and another darkly fitting poem) and the general setup sounds very interesting. As far as mistakes go: they just A) make things even more interesting and B) make us mere mortals feel like we could actually have a chance at playing RUS and not making incredible fools of ourselves.
    Hollow Little Reign - A brief Crusader Kings tale about family ties in Byzantium.

  2. #82


    The Drang scenario starts with Germany demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Ukraine. Durk chose to give into the ultimatum (the same choice I made against Highlandcharge). We both thought it was the sensible thing to do for a Red player.
    While Germany is waiting for an answer, the Red player has one turn to do some mischief. Against Highlandcharge, I (ab)used it to take Kharkov which later enabled me to get troops into the Ukraine a lot faster. In this game I wanted to counter such a strategy from the very start. Unfortunately, the German player has only the small Ukrainian army and Mamontov's Don Cossacks to stop the full might of the Red Army in this first turn. All other troops are locked. I concentrated them in the two cities I couldn't afford to lose: Kharkov and Kiev. Durk seems to have expected this (he did the same in our first Drang match when he had the Germans). The attack I had feared thus never came. But at least the Ukrainian army was now nicely concentrated in key positions.



    With Russia bowing to the ultimatum, the further course of the game was now in Durk's hands. He would decide when war would start. In the meantime, he was at liberty to deal with his internal enemies. All I could do was prepare my army for war and draw up plans ...


    Warplans:

    Having played the Reds in two PBEMs, I had some ideas on how to play Germany. My warplan would rest on two basic principles:
    1. Make the front as long as possible.
    2. Attack everywhere but never frontally.

    The first principle is supposed to prevent the Soviets from ever establishing continuous frontlines. As long as Durk's stacks stay isolated from each other, they will be vulnerable.
    Just as importantly, pressure will constantly be applied along the whole front. Highlandcharge rarely presented me with more than one challenge at once. This allowed me to shift reinforcements around. But if the whole length of the front is on fire, Soviet reserves will be quickly exhausted. Moreover, Soviet railway capacities are very limited.* This limitation makes it very hard for the Soviet player to react to pressure on multiple fronts at once. The goal is to wage a war of movement. If pressure seizes in a sector, the Soviets gain time to solidify their front and will be more difficult to dislodge later on.

    Three methods will be key in achieving these goals:

    1. Opening new fronts: This will occur in four phases:
    As soon as the war starts, German troops will be rushed by railway into the Eastern Ukraine. This should prevent the Soviets from establishing a shorter line along the Dniepr. Secondly, a Soviet declaration of war against the Ukraine will be countered by the Baltic states entering the war the next turn.
    The second phase will follow within the first three turns of war. At Kiel the I. Armee under von Francois, consisting of 3 corps (in total: 3027 power), is ready to launch an amphibious assault on Soviet territory. Possible targets are hard to find, though. In the North, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk will most likely be fortified, the coast between Petorgrad and the Estonian border is a nightmare of minefields and coastal fortifications. This leaves the Black Sea.

    Map of the starting positions, January 1921:


    4-5 turns after the beginning of hostilities, Finland will join the war in phase three. The precise moment depends on available EP and the number of reserves the Soviets have left in the North.
    The fourth phase will see the Caucasian nations enter the war. This is optional. German spies (generals I don't need for active command) will have to determine whether the Soviet Union has any significant reserves in the South. If not, the tiny Caucasian armies should be able to create some havoc. One German corps (900 pw) will be held back to provide some punch to their effort.
    The goal will be to create a Soviet nightmare with rapdily expanding frontlines.

    2. Encirclements:
    Limited by insufficient railway capacities and a shortage of troops, the Soviets have no choice but to concentrate their armies in key positions during the first few turns of the war. In my game against Highlandcharge, I faced the same dilemma, I hadn't enough troops to build a line of mutually supporting corps along the entire front. Instead, I occupied key positions and rushed in reinforcements to the points where they were most needed. Out of these initial firefighting efforts, stable fronts developped and entire sectors of the front became locked in stalemate.
    To counter such a strategy, I intend to encircle the enemy forces closest to the German positions in the very first turn. If several of Durk's main armies can be taken out of the game. His remaining troops won't be able to achieve more than the defense of isolated positions which in turn can be outflanked or encircled again.

    3. Attacks deep into enemy hinterland:
    Again the goal will be to prevent the Soviets from occupying the ideal frontline which I strifed to defend in Act I (Narva-Pskov-Minsk-Prypiat Marshes-Dniepr-Black Sea). If the open territory east of this ideal line can be reached, the war is as good as won. In particular I don't want to lose half a dozen of regions of front length to the Prypiat Marshes.


    Troops:

    The entire warplan rests on mobility. Most importantly, it requires a strong force of fast-moving units that can spearhead flanking and encirclement operations. Germany has a decent amount of cavalry and motorized infantry - enough for two strong stacks. But the real treasure are its tank units. Say hello to my little friend ... the tank movement bug. In my initial planning for this game, I intended to exploit it shamelessly (after all both sides can profit from it and the Soviets start with an equal amount of tanks).**
    But most importantly, I will need as many boots on the ground as possible. The Germans have to win the peacetime recruitment race. With less than 100 recruits per turn***, this should be impossible. But if a mix of units suited to Germany's conscript shortage is built and EP are saved for the right options, the impossible becomes achievable.


    Recruitment priorities:****

    1. Artillery: Germany has excellent infantry, lots of tanks and armored cars and plenty of support units, ... But it is severly lacking in one field: artillery! Most German corps have a ratio of 1:10 between artillery and infantry. Luckily, this can be easily changed. Germany is short on conscripts but rich in money and war supplies. Artillery requires very few conscripts (1 per element) but huge amounts of the two other ressources. Highlandcharge waged most battles with insufficient artillery (I believe he focused his recruitment on fast-moving troops), this wouldn't happen to me. During the peacetime turns I build almost every artillery unit in the German unit pool: 8 armored trains, 22 artillery brigades (3 elements of artillery each), 10 motorized artillery brigades and more than 60 artillery regiments. Once the war had started I continued with Austrian artillery (they can't be built while the peace lasts) ...

    Typical order of new units in the early stages of this game -
    this is what I build in two turns:



    2. Military advisors: There is a little treasure hidden in the German unit pool: 4 military advisor units. Build them as fast as possible! These units have no combat value but they come with two invaluable special abilities: Training officer (upgrades two elements each turn into a superior version: militia - reserve, reserve - regular, regular -elite) and infantryman (adds 10% firepower to all infantry units in the same stack). Two more of these units can be found within military missions sent into the Ukraine and the Kuban. Move them back to Germany! Together with a handful of officers that have the training officer ability as well, these military advisors enable Germany to upgarde units at an astonishing rate. You may not be able to field a lot of new infantry but you can vastly improve the quality of what you already have. Red advances in quantity matter less if they fall behind even more in regard to quality.

    3. Tanks: There are two German heavy tanks left to build. If you want to exploit the tank bug, build them.

    Units under construction by turn 3 -
    the artillery units are brigades containing three elements each,
    the spiked helmet represent military advisors:



    4. Stormtroopers: A few German corps lack stormtroopers. At 16 conscripts for four elements of elite infantry, they are a pretty decent deal. But tanks fulfill the same purpose (disrupt enemy entrenchment). Still it is nice to have one stormtroops unit per corps (divisions are called corps in this scenario). More is a waste. In reality, the German Kaiserreich concentrated this elite infantry in separate divisions but this isn't advantagous in RUS.

    5. Regular infantry: Build as much as possible. I was usually able to build two new divisions each turn (about 15 new elements of infantry).

    6. Create a manpower reserve: once war breaks out Germany's mapower will be quickly drained even if casualties remain low. Saving a few conscripts is definitively a good idea. But make sure never to reach 400 conscripts. If that happens the game may convert some automatically into replacements. Usually each replacement costs 6 money and 6 conscripts. The event has a different exchange rate: 0 money but 10 conscripts. It's a great deal for the Soviets but lousy for the German player.


    Options:

    Even more important than building new units is the right choice of options. Options in Drang are not very well balanced. For 5 EP one can get a single element of armored cars or an entire German tank division with a first rate commander. I made some mistakes in this regard since I was unaware that much better options would become available later. Here are the options that are powerful and should be taken:

    German Corps in the Baltic: this spawns three small divisions of German volunteers in Lithuania. The Baltic armies are weak and will have trouble holding the Red Army back on their own. These new divisions will be extremely helpful.



    A new Finnish division: This spawns a Finnish infantry division at Helsinki. It contains seven elements of infantry and two artilleries. It's not a great option but if the Finnish are to have a chance at breaking Petrograd's defenses, this option will be helpful.



    Build the Mannerheim Line: It's pricey and the forts are useless to anybody intending to wage an offensive war but the garrisons unlock after a few turns and they make for a nice addition to the Finnish Army: 2 elite infantry brigades (two elements of infantry + 1 artillery each) and 5 additional artillery regiments as well as two engineer units.



    German Panzer divisions: After a few turns Germany gets the option to build its first armored division.



    It provides 4 tank batallions (3 elements each) + 1 armored car batallion and a motorized infantry brigade but the real treasure may be its commanding general: Heinz Guderian (he has 6-4-2 stats as well as the training officer ability and a 25% movement speed bonus). Moreover two of the tank units can be abused to speed infantry divisions up.



    I would recommend to split this division into its pieces and distribute the tanks amongst divisions lacking armored support. Pure tank divisions provide no advantage in RUS. The game reflects the tank doctrine of WW I: panzer serve as infantry support.
    After the first panzer division Germany can recruit two more (they will be commanded by Rommel and von Rundstedt). Incidentally, Germany deploying its first tank division unlocks a new option for the Soviet player which provides him with a tank division under Zhukov's command (a fix for this option can be found on the AGEOD forum).

    Recalling von Hindenburg is another good idea. With 5-3-3 stats and several abilities that increase cohesion as well as fatigue recovery he is probably the best army group commanders available to the German player.



    However, the really exiting options only become available after ten turns: Germany can get 4 German and two Austrian armies via options. In total these six armies contain more than 200.000 men. Obtaining these armies is key to keeping up with the Soviets in the recruitment race.***** They aren't cheap, though: each costs 10 EP and 5 NM. Absurdly, the smallest of the six, the Austrian Army Group Donau, costs most (30 EP).



    Prior to the war, I managed to get four of these six armies on the map: 4 German armies (II. Army, VI. Army, XIII. Army, XV. Army) were transferred from the Western boarder to participate in the war against Communist Russia.

    The II. Armee in detail:


    The Soviets get two similar options (allowing for the transfer of armies from Siberia and Central Asia) but have to make up the rest by bulding units from scratch.

    Moreover I needed to hold 10 EP back at all times in order to be able to get the Balts into war as soon as Durk chose to attack the Ukraine.

    AGEOD scenarios usually start when war has already been declared. Thus army reorganization has to happen on the fly. Building an army during peace was a luxery I was unaccustomed to. However, I never knew how much time I would have left before Durk declared war on the Ukraine ...


    Soviet "peace"time activities:

    While I was organizing and improving my army, Durk hadn't been idle, either. Not only was he recruiting at high speed but he was also fighting the remnants of the Southern White as well as a series of Green uprisings in his backyard.****** The Southern White held up pretty well, I think Durk underestimated their strength and suffered at least one defeat against them.
    Moreover Durk had quietly prepared a nasty surprise for me: he had continuosly taken a number of options (support communist party, provoke strikes) that lower the loyalty in the German and Austrian off-the-map boxes. In most places this hadn't been very effective (loyalties were still between 73% and 85%. But there were two exceptions: Slesia and Berlin pro-German loyalties had dropped to 48% and 55 % respectively. This has several consequences: production is lowered in these regions which in turn reduces Germany's ability to field new units. More importantly, the tooltip indicates that revolution may break out in Germany if loyalties sink too low.*******

    A screenshot using the loyalties filter:
    while Poland is still greyish-green (high pro German loyalty),
    Germany and Slesia have become dangerously red)



    For a long time I overlooked this danger. Moreover, I didn't want to spend EP on options that didn't expand my army (a bit short-sighted, I know). It was only during the last two turns of peace that I started propaganda campaigns of my own to raise loaylties in the affected areas. This cost me a lot of EPs but it also limited strikes and removed the danger of a revolution.


    War - at last:

    We didn't have a house-rule on how long the Soviet player was allowed to delay war. After playing many games with Durk, I know that he is a true sportsman and wouldn't abuse such a situation ... at least not too much.
    On October 15th 1921, the Soviets finally declared war on the Ukraine. The war would start in turn 19. Yes, Durk kept me waiting a long time. But he didn't gain much of an advantage: while he had gotten rid of the fronts against Green and Southern White and could thus focus his entire army against the Central Powers, the German Army had become an even more intimidating war machine. At the start of the game the power of the Red Army amounted to 52% of the fighting strength of the combined forces of the Central Powers.******** This percentage had fallen to 41% by turn 18. I had actually won the recruitment war! This success came at a price, though. Durk led by almost 700 victory points. Costly options had thrown me into negative numbers. German NM was under 100, a side-effect of the options that spawn new armies.



    But most importantly, the timing of Durk's declaration of war was quite cunning. He forced me to wage war with winter around the corner. First mud, then snow would slow down my armies. The war of movement, I had planned may prove to be impossible ...


    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    * Even if the Red player increases his rail capacity as much as possible, it won't exceed 600 points. On the other hand, German rail capacity can be increased to roughly 1300 points if war is delayed (it starts at less than half that number).
    ** This isn't exactly true. The bug is a lot more useful on offense than on defense. Most importantly, it's effects are so ludicrous that I quickly changed my mind. But more on that later.
    For those who don't know this bug: if a heavy tank unit (it doesn't work with the light tank model) is added to a division, the whole unit adopts the speed of the tanks. Historically, these tanks were awfully slow but in RUS they move with a speed that reminds of WW II.
    *** If one counts the mobilization options as well the average rises to roughly 150 conscripts per turn.
    **** Cavalry which would have been another recruitment option highly suitable to my strategic needs and compatible with Germany's ressource limitations wasn't a priority at all. At the time, I figured my advance would be spearheaded by infantry divisions profiting from the tank bug. When I decided not to exploit the bug, the recruitment was already done. I had to wage my war of movement with a slow infantry army.
    ***** I figured, these options wouldn't be available until war was declared. Otherwise I would have saved some EP which I spent on less profitable options during the first 10 turns.
    ****** These are rather nasty. For one the Soviets start with the entire South out of control. Several regions have very high Green loyalties. Sometimes as high as 70 %. This all but garantuees frequent Green uprisings. This situation is exacerbated by several scripted Green uprisings putting another 20.000 - 30.000 Greens on the map. Lacking generals and commanded by the AI, their effectiveness remains limited but they nevertheless managed to take Kazan for a short while. In my game against Highlandcharge, these uprisings happened right after I declared war. With little troops to spare, I lost Saratov for a few turns.
    ******* Revolution is the real danger here. I found a chain of events that deals with revolution in Hungary: The magic threshold is 50% Red loyalty. In that case the Red player gets a new option which allows him to trigger revolution in Hungary. As a result, Bela Kun and a small Red army spawns. This in itself wouldn't be so bad. The nasty part of the code applies to the German faction:
    AlterCuSubUnit = ApplyToList;probability 20;Kill
    This is followed by a list of regions: Boehmia, Austria, Hungary, Transylvania. The kill in this line of code definitively got my attention. If I read it correctly, there is a 20% chance for every element in these regions to be removed from the game. In other words, the Central Powers lose one fifth of their troops stationed in these off-map boxes.
    I am not sure if similar events exist for the Germany. It would seem logical.
    ******** This is slightly misleading since locked units are counted as well. Thus the armies of Germany's potential allies (even Turkey that doesn't get into the war unless the Cauucasus is conquered by the Reds) influence the percentage.

  3. #83
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    this is quite the masterclass on the options ... but nice that Durk has denied the mobility gain by his timing, and good that this is a political as well as military clash.

    when I was doing my research for the Great Patriotic War one thing I hadn't realised was how much effort the Soviets put into provoking partisan war in W Europe (mostly failed except to some extent in France) and how effectively the national Communist Parties became armed units under very direct Stavka instructions. In this case, with presumably a still strong Spartacist/KPD force in Germany it seems very right that the Soviets would regard them as yet another column of the Red Army.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #84
    That was a very interesting update! I just took a look at the scenario and it's massive. Finishing a turn must take hours without including the resolve phase.

  5. #85
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Very enlightening. Since you apparently decide not to use the tank bug (or at least not for the whole game), I look forward to finding out if your added artillery units will give you the oomph you need to defeat the Reds. Nice start to the war by Duuk, I must say: choosing Fall/Winter to deprive you of your superior mobility. Well played, that move.
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  6. #86
    I will do something shameless now and ask you to vote in the AARland Choice Awards. Mind you, I am not asking that you vote for me.

    In my opinion these awards are a good thing. They draw attention to some particularly deserving AARs and help motivate the writers. The weekly and quarterly awards have opened doors to the parts of AARland that I don't visit on a regular basis. In fact, I found a lot of great AARs which I would have never discovered if I hadn't looked at the votes other people have cast.


    Quote Originally Posted by Searry View Post
    That was a very interesting update! I just took a look at the scenario and it's massive. Finishing a turn must take hours without including the resolve phase.
    Yes, Drang is massive. The early turns (during peacetime) took between 10 and 15 minutes but once war had broken out, I sometimes needed as much as an hour for a single turn.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Very enlightening. Since you apparently decide not to use the tank bug (or at least not for the whole game), I look forward to finding out if your added artillery units will give you the oomph you need to defeat the Reds. Nice start to the war by Duuk, I must say: choosing Fall/Winter to deprive you of your superior mobility. Well played, that move.
    I got one single turn of good weather before the weather got awful. More on the tank bug in the next update (which will be up within an hour or two).

  7. #87


    It is hard to make long-term plans in a PBEM. More often than not they become obsolete because human players tend to come up with unpredictable moves. That doesn't mean that one shouldn't make plans that reach several turns ahead but a readiness to throw them over board the minute new dangers or opportunities present themselves is essential. In this game I had thought more about tactical principles (see chapter 1) than precise moves. In part this was owed to the special character of the Drang scenario: the warplan for a German player is probably always the same:
    1. Go East!
    2. Smash the Red Army on the way!



    When Durk declared war, I had had ample time to reorganize and improve the German Army. At that point it was organized in four army groups and two independant forces.

    Army Group North consisted of 5 infantry corps. During the first turn, it would remain inactive since the Baltic was still locked. One turn later, it would be transferred by rail into Estonia and Lithuania in order to reinforce the weak Baltic armies. Once the Baltic front is stabilized the Njemen Army should be able to attack into Belorussia. It will participate in the northern pincer of a huge encirclement operation designed to sack the entire Red forces in Belorussia.



    With 14 infantry corps, Army Group Center was considerably more powerful. In the first turn of war, it was ordered to hold the frontier between Poland and Belorussia. But one turn later, it would take the offense and send 3 of its 4 armies through Lithuanian territory in order to encircle the Red forces in Belorussia.



    There were two reasons for the seemingly timid actions in this first turn:
    1. As long as Lithuanian territory was inaccessible, the frontline with the Reds was only two regions wide. Attacking in such a narrow sector was too risky.
    2. But more importantly, I simply lacked the railway capacities to get these troops into favourbale striking positions fast enough since the entire German railway pool of ~1.200 points had been allocated to the Army Group Ukraine.
    Commanded by von Hindenburg himself, Army Group Ukraine encompassed almost half the German Heer: its 20 corps (16 of them infantry, 2 motorized infantry and two cavalry corps) were organized in five armies and a reserve of two corps remained under von Hindenburg. These were the men designated to land the first blow.



    For those familiar with the Grand Campaign or AGEOD's ACW, 1.200 railway points will sound like a lot. But in Drang it really isn't. In fact, Army Group Ukraine had to travel lightly: all supply units were left behind, they would have to catch up in the followoing turns after a long march over Ukrainian roads. Unnecessary units had been removed from the stacks (in particular I had gotten rid of all transmission and signal units)*.
    This initial priority in favour of the Ukraine is pretty self-evident: The Belorussian front is narrow and thus a risky terrain for attacks. All other possible fronts (Finnland, Baltic, Caucasus) are still inaccessible. But in the meantime the Ukraine lies wide open and unless the weak Ukrainian and Cossack forces there get reinforced quickly, the Reds stand to make easy gains.

    Unlike the three other German army groups, Army Group South was ill-prepared for the war. Stationed in the Balkan, it hadn't received any reinforcements since locked Austrian territory had isolated it from Germany. But that would be remedied soon. At Munich, 23 artillery regiments, two artillery brigades as well as two stormtroop brigades and one mountain infantry division were waiting to reinforce von Mackensen's men. In the near future, the 9 corps of Army Group South would attack in the Southern Ukraine.



    At Kiel the I. Army consisting of three corps was waiting to land somewhere along the coast of the Black Sea and at Ankara the German Asia Corps was ready to reinforce the Caucasian nations.



    The armies of Austria-Hungary on the other hand had been stationed in locked territory. Therefore I hadn't been able to change their setup and recruiting new units had been impossible as well. But for the moment I lacked the necessary trains to get them into combat anyway. Small cavalry contingents rushed ahead to secure the essential railway lines into the Ukraine against Red partisans while the rest of the Austrian forces slowly marched towards the Ukrainian border.

    In the Ukraine, two cities were of the utmost importance: Kiev and Kharkov. If either city should fall, the Eastern Ukraine was as good as lost which would enable the Soviets to greatly shorten their frontline. To counter this danger, the men of von Gronau's XVI. Army boarded trains headed for Kharkov where theywould reinforce the mixed force of Ukrainians and Cossacks that had been ordered to defend the city to the last drop of blood. And indeed the Red army advanced against Kharkov from two sides. Budyenny and Egorov took Belograd without a fight. The few Ukranian militiamen managed to retreat before the Red onslaught just in time. Meanwhile, Snesarev marched towards Kharkov from the East. Surprisingly neither army attacked the city.**



    However the main Red offensive was launched from the Donbas. Antonov-Ovseenko had assembled a huge army at Donetsk. It was now rushing west towards the Dniepr. On October 14th the Red Army reached its goal and the Red vanguard under Zhdanov celebrated the occasion by slaughtering the 2.500 Ukrainians defending the Dniepr harbour of Alexandrovsk.***
    But the biggest Red success in this first turn occured further east. At Lugansk 11.000 Ukrainians and Cossacks had been left behind. It really was a shame, these units could have been handy, but since they were all locked, it was impossible to evacuate them. Kojnilov's men made short process of this leaderless, incoherent force.



    By mid October, Kharkov had thus been heavily reinforced but the city was also threatened by encirclement. Only one railway out of the city was still in German hands. Luckily for me, Durk had allocated his armies in a way that would make it hard for him to close the pocket: His main force was in the South but he lacked troops in the North-West.
    The only army in that sector was Trotzky's force but it was about to get forced into a deadly dance with five German armies ...

    The Northern Ukraine was my main target during this first turn. My goal: extend the front beyond the Prypiat Marshes and lay the groundwork for Trotzky's encirclement. Surprisingly, the weather was still good and the ground dry this late in the year.**** Thus some fast marches would be possible.



    Trotzky's army protected the crucial railway crossing over the Dniepr. But Durk had forgotten to protect his rear. Even better, it would be hard for him to rectify this mistake since the railway tracks north had been destroyed in several places prior to the outbreak of war.*****
    The opportunity was too good to ignore. While von Hindenburg and von Gallwitz reinforced the Ukrainian army at Kiev, von Hutier and von Beseler pushed their units on as soon as they left the trains. They crossed the Dniepr just north of Kiev and outflanked Trotzky. On October 14th von Hutier's men took Chernigov. The 2.000 Reds garrisoning the city were annihilated. Suddenly two powerful German armies threatened Trotzky's flank and rear.

    But there was even worse news waiting for the Soviet War Commissar: On October 13th, Friedrich von Preussen had emerged out of the Prypiat Marshes with 60.000 men and immediately taken Gomel. The XV. Army had left all its heavy equipment behind at Kowel (the last city on Polish territory on the south-western end of the Prypiat Marshes). Then the entire army had crossed six regions of forest and swamps within 13 days.

    This shouldn't be possible you wonder?

    I agree! This attack was the one move in this turn where I exploited the tank bug. It highlights how absurd this bug is. I had created an army that was designed for maximum speed. Pontoneer units helped with the river crossings and the tank batallion in each division gave them a speed that would have made WW II tank division envious. When I discovered to my surprise that this move was even possible, I was wavering between laughter and disbelief.******

    A picture of one of these wonders of German engineering in its hour of glory:


    In reality, range and speed of the German WW I tank model (A7V) were fairly limited (as were those of allied models). Off roads its speed was 8 km/h at best with a range of roughly 35 km. The notion that such an armored snail could have crossed the Prypiat Marshes in less than a fortnight is utterly ridiculous.
    But if players don't use a house-rule, it is possible to play the Drang scenario as if it was 1939 not 1921. If every tank in the unit pool is build and all tank division options are used, Germany can field 10 divisions profiting from the tank bug, Austria-Hungary 3 more. Fill each division up with as many elements as possible and each of these divisions will come close to 1000 pw. Leave supply trains, field hosipitals and any other baggage behind and you have created the equivalent of WW II tank armies. I would recommend to form 3 or 4 armies out of these 13 "tank divisions". Each will muster between 3000 and 4000 pw. Use them to outflank the Soviet positions and strike deep behind enemy lines. Ideally take out Red depots and cut off/encircle the Red frontline armies. Send in regular infantry to widen the breach/finish off isolated enemy forces ...
    The tank bug transforms a WW I situation that favours the defender into a WW II like blitzkrieg. But obviously that would completely break the game. I stopped exploiting the bug thereafter and proposed a house-rule against its use.

    In this game, the tank bug gained von Preussen's stack one turn. With normal speed it could have reached Chernigov. Durk didn't have the reserves to protect Gomel and it probably wouldn't have been a priority either since several regions with railway lines in Trotzky's rear were threatened as well. The city would have fallen to me - just one turn later.

    However the most decisive action in those first two weeks of October was fought on the sea. The German fleets had steamed out of the harbour of Kiel as soon as the war began. The two main battlefleets had been dispatched north in the faint hope that the Soviet fleet might sail out of Kronstadt.******* Of course Durk didn't commit such an epic blunder. But my second naval attack caught him with his pants down.
    I had dispatched a cruiser fleet into the Black Sea: 8 German cruisers accompanied by 8 destroyers. When Souchon's task force approached the Strait of Kerch it encountered a dozen Soviet fluvial destroyers. The Soviet ships may have been top of the food chain amongst fresh-water ships but now they encountered another type of beast. The entire fleet was sunk before its sailors had even loaded the guns. 4 transports surrendered to the Germans. 4 days later Souchon entered the Strait of Kerch where he was pleasantly surprised to make the acquaintance of a second Red river fleet. Sixteen gunboats were send to the bottom of the sea. In the Sea of Azov the German cruisers continued to spread mayhem. A third Red fleet was cornered and lost its entire combat contingent of 12 gunboats. Within 6 days, Souchon had sunk almost the entire Red river fleet in the South.********



    Durk's decision to move his fleets out of the safe harbour of Rostov may seem curious, but I think he had a good reason. If I am not mistaken, he intended to send these fleets into the Dniepr where they could have blocked any German crossing attempts. If Souchon hadn't intercepted them on their way, Durk could have locked the entire length of the Dniepr (at least until the river would eventually freeze). The few Ukrainian and German gunboats would have been no match for the mass of Red river ships.


    Next update: the gloves come off and the real bloodshed begins.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    * Signal units provide additional command points. That can be very useful for an army short on leaders. But the Germans have an abundance of high-ranking generals. Signal units are thus utterly useless to them. I had stashed them in fortified cities in the Polish hinterland.
    ** Durk tends to be more aggressive. But I believe it was the right decision on his part not to attack. Wolf would have had a fair chance to stand his ground. But even if he had been defeated, von Gronau's 80.000 men would have enacted bloody revenge upon tired Red attackers.
    *** These city garrisons are locked which makes them human sacrifices. Doomed from the start, all they can accomplish is to slow down the enemy.
    **** It was to be the last turn with clear weather before the winter.
    ***** Just as in my game against Highlandcharge, I had abused the uneasy peace and sent almost a dozen cavalry regiments into Red territory to wreak havoc upon the Soviet railway network. Several crucial lines were thus out of commission when the the war started.
    ****** My apologies to Durk, I should have stopped right there and aborted the attack. But I wanted to see if this really worked. In fact, I could have staged more attacks of this sort (I had two more tank-bugged armies, but slowed them down artificially by adding other units.
    My advice: Until this bug gets fixed, anyone playing a RUS PBEM should insist on a house rule against this bug. It can be neutralized rather easily: add any unit that has the normal movement speed of infantry to the stack containing a tank-bugged division and the movement speed of the entire stack will revert to normal.
    ******* This would have been utter stupidity. The Red fleet while not unimpressive is but a fly compared to the German assortment of dreadnaughts. The AI makes mistakes like this (see Axe27's Drang AAR), a human player doesn't.
    ******** The combat stats of German cruisers aren't that much better than the ones of Red river ships (my cruisers had 11/11, Durk's fulvial destroyers had 8/5, his the gunboats 6/4). The decisive factor here was range (the German fleet opened fire at range 7, the destroyers fired back at range 5, the gunboats at range 3). All these battles were basically over before the Soviets could do any damage.

  8. #88
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    yet another epic update, your attention to detail and mastery of this really comes through in how well you explain things. Interesting to see how you took care to optimise your forces in the N Ukraine to take account of your rail pool
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  9. #89
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    You certainly know how to set up a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see what happens once the real fighting begins.

    How crucial will the loss of the Soviet river fleets prove? It seems obvious in hindsight that you'd send some of your naval forces into the Black Sea, given your unquestioned supremacy in the Baltic. Durk must have know this and thought it worth the risk that you wouldn't or couldn't intercept.
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  10. #90
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    I've seen in earlier Bornego AARs that a few river flotillas can easily halt a juggernaut offensive for weeks or even months, simply by making it impossible to cross the river. So I'd say sinking all those Red ships takes away a major threat to the Germans, since they are racing against the clock (or the steady loss of NM, to be precise). It 'unlocks' the rivers which otherwise might have been unpassable for ages (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that a blue water navy cannot enter the rivers - so if the gunboats had made their way up the Dniepr, there would've been no way for the Germans to corner them).

    Great update. I'm no fan of German Imperialism, but I always feel the urge to cheer when Trotsky is in trouble, which seems to be the case here.
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  11. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    I've seen in earlier Bornego AARs that a few river flotillas can easily halt a juggernaut offensive for weeks or even months, simply by making it impossible to cross the river. So I'd say sinking all those Red ships takes away a major threat to the Germans, since they are racing against the clock (or the steady loss of NM, to be precise). It 'unlocks' the rivers which otherwise might have been unpassable for ages (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that a blue water navy cannot enter the rivers - so if the gunboats had made their way up the Dniepr, there would've been no way for the Germans to corner them).
    I couldn't have answered Dewirix' question any better. Thanks Stuyvesant!
    Even a few turns with the Dniepr blocked would have doomed my efforts to keep the Eastern Ukraine. It would have left Gronau and Wolf isolated from any reinforcements at Kharkov. Obviously a very dangerous position. And yes, while my blue water navy was virtually undefeatable, the German/Ukrainian brown water fleet in the Dniepr is pretty pathetic.
    What Durk did was a gamble. If his fleets had slipped pass Souchon, the gain would have been immense. If I managed to intercept all three of them, he might later miss them when it comes to blocking the Don and Donets.

  12. #92
    First Lieutenant Matnjord's Avatar
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    Fascinating AAR Bornego, I hope we will see the end of it. After the trouncing you gave to the germans in the first part I am certainly eager to see the other side of the scenario.
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