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

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

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Index:





Introduction:

Don't worry, me starting a new AAR before I have finished my current one, doesn't mean that I will abandon Once Upon a Time ... The Revolution. However the players from that game are spread over three continents. Thus our progress is slow (one turn every two or three days).

The Drang scenario provides a fine contrast to a Grand Campaign game; armies are insanely big, battles are WW I style bloodbaths, and yet both scenarios also share a lot of similarities, most importantly that the Communists are under attack from multiple directions and will struggle to survive. Also I feel that this AAR should complement Axe27's fine work on a Drang AAR since it will provide a Communist as well as a multiplayer perspective.

Philippe Thibaut* recently wrote on the AGEOD forum that the AGE engine is unsuited for simulating WW I. This multiplayer match provides a good argument that he may be wrong. Highlandcharge (I have the pleasure of having him as my opponent once again) and myself soon were faced with the strategic dilemma of WW I - a conflict bogged down to trench warfare where every attack came at horrifying costs in human lifes. It was rather scary how quickly Highlandcharge resorted to the very same "solutions" as WW I generals did to overcame this stalemate ...


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Note on the title: "Death will stand grieving in that field of war" is a verse from Siegfried Sasson's poem, The Troops. Sasson was a British officer and war hero - famous for his suicidal courage - who turned vocal war critic towards the end of WW I.

* As far as I know it was actually him who designed this scenario. As a result, it uses some features originating from other AGE games (auto-garrisons like in some WiA scenarios, NM balancing events like RoP) that distinguish the Drang Campaign from all other RUS scenarios.
 
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The end of WW I:*

Victory in the East sealed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk enabled Germany to transfer 50 divisions to the Western front. Bolstered by these reserves Germany launched one last desperate offensive in March 1918; the Kaiserschlacht had begun. The cream of the German army had been assembled in stormtrooper units which employed infiltration tactics rather than the suicidal waves that had cost both sides so many lifes. These new infantry tactics supported by innovative artillery bombardment schemes helped achieve a breakthrough. German units captured Arras and Amiens. In this desperate situation the French and British started a series of counter-attacks that succeeded in stopping the German advance - but at a terrible cost in human lifes. Moreover it left other sectors of the front vulnerable: a second offensive further north managed to punch a gap into the British line through which German reserves streamed all the way to the channel port of Boulogne. Parts of the British Army as well as the Belgian Army were isolated and surrendered. Freshly arrived American divisions as well as most reserves the French Army could muster were thrown north; they successfully stabilized the front, yet this desperate effort left the Allied forces utterly exhausted. Even worse, morale had reached a dangerous low. In the French Army, that had suffered horribly during the counter-attacks, entire divisions mutineed. Philippe Petain famously wrote: "Dans toute l'armée française, il n'y a aucune division capable de prendre l'offensive."
It was the third German offensive that landed the decisive blow: The sector between Soissons and Reims was defended by the French 6th Army under Denis Auguste Duchêne. Rather than deploy his units in depth to shield them from enemy artillery, he had massed them in the front trenches. The initial bombardment thus took a horrfic toll. The French units were already battered when 17 German stormtrooper divisions attacked. Within three days, 8 Allied divisions collapsed and 50.000 prisoners were taken. The German High Command threw its last reserves into the gap and pressed the offensive towards Paris. Even a brave stand by American Marines couldn't stop the German advance. Lacking reserves, faced with a mutinous army and the Germans within 20 miles of Paris, the French government lost its nerves and entered ceasefire negotiations.** The French collapse came none too early since German manpower reserves were exhausted and many of its best soldiers had fallen during the Spring Offensive. On June 9th 1918, a ceasefire agreement was signed and over the next two years a peace treaty was negotiated at the Potsdam Conference. While borders in the West remained largely unchanged (Austria gained some territory from Italy, Germany some border towns from Belgium), the UK, US, France and Italy recognized German supremacy in Eastern Europe and acknowledged the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


Three years of turmoil, 1918-1921:

But the Central Powers were hardly able to enjoy their victory. Their economy had suffered gravely under the war effort. In Germany unruly times had broken out; food was scarce, inflation getting out of control and unemployment amongst the returning soldiers sky-high. While the German government managed to appease the moderates and social-democrats with concessions, this wasn't enough for the growing number of Communists. In January 1919, workers in Berlin occupied several public buildings and started to arm themselves. Regular army units were sent into the city to quell the Spartacist uprising. They were assisted by Freikorps, well-armed units of former soldiers, that executed brutal retribution.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was experiencing similar turmoils. But more importantly Karl I's multiethnic empire was on the verge of implosion; in particular Czechs and Slavs demanded independance or at least greater autonomy. Measures taken to institute a Triple Monarchy barely managed to keep the empire together. At least the Czechs were satisfied and their Legion returned from Russia but the Slavic minorities remained unruly.

Romania.png

Romania had been brutally conquered by the Central powers in 1917. Now it was restored as a German satellite state. In the Treaty of Bucharest, Romania had to cede most of the Dobruja to Bulgaria. Austria-Hungary was given control over the Carpathian Passes and the Romania oil wells were "leased" to Germany for 90 years. In exchange, the Central Powers granted Romania Bessarabia.
To the South, the Ottoman Empire had barely survived the Great War. Now it was trapped in a period of internal struggles between reformers and the old sultanate.


The Russian Civil War:

With the Allies losing on the Western Front and the Central Powers utterly exhausted, the Russian Civil War remained an internal struggle. Only the Japanese interfered in the Far East and established a short-lived occupation. Without foreign assistence, Kolchak's and Denikin's armies were desperately short on war materials and supplies. Plans made by Miller and Yudenich to assemble armies in Northern Russia remained dreams. The White counter-revolution thus suffered a crushing defeat. Most of its leaders had fallen, fled or been executed. Only in the Kuban and the Don region, some remnants of the White armies under Wrangel and Mamontov were still struggling on. But by the end of 1920, the real danger to Bolshevik rule were massive peasant uprisings throughout Central Russia.

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* The Drang Campaign is a "what if scenario". Its alternative history starts in 1918.
** Granted, I doubt if history could have played out this way. The background of the Drang Campaign doesn't elaborate on this point other than that "Germany won the Great War in a last exhausting effort end of 1918". In my opinion, victory wasn't possible anymore once American reinforcements started to arrive at the front.
 

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In 1921, Soviet Russia was completely isolated. Germany had surrounded it with a system of allies and satellite states: from Finland and the Baltic nations via the Ukraine and Romania to Turkey and the Caucasian states. Nevertheless, the Communist leadership embarked on the dangerous road towards world revolution.
The first target was the Ukraine where Nationalists, Anarchists, Greens and Cossacks were locked in a bloody struggle. In the winter of 1920/1921 Communist agitation started in all major cities. It was believed that the Central Powers were too preoccupied with their internal problems to care if their instable puppet would fall. Exhausted by the Great War, they wouldn't risk another large scale conflict over the Ukraine, would they?
When the head of the Ukrainian puppet government, Hetman Skoropadsky begged his masters in Berlin and Wien* to intervene, the German response came as a shock to the Communist leaders: Germany wasn't prepared to abandon the Ukraine. On the contrary, it demanded the end of Communist subversion as well as the retreat of all Red units from Ukrainian soil until January 15th. Otherwise Communist Russia would face all-out war with Germany and its allies!

initial_map.png

With Lenin's health declining,** the struggle over his succession had already started: In particular Trotzky realized that the German ultimatum was an opportunity to regain ground on Stalin who had planted his cronies in key positions of the Soviet state. While Stalin believed that the European monarchies would soon be swept away by social unrest, Trotzky argued in favour of war.
Soon four opinions emerged: the hotheads demanded that the ultimatum be rejected. The Red Army would reach Berlin before summer! More cynical politicians proposed that Soviet Russia should pretend to accept the ultimatum but continue to send troops into the Ukraine. Thus a few vital days could be gained that would assure an initial advantage.
Stalin was willing to bow to the ultimatum: it wouldn't matter in the long term - so Stalin - since the world revolution would soon overthrow the imperialist regimes. Trotzky condemned this position as abandoning the world revolution and the socialist brothers in Central Europe. He argued that another Great War was needed to trigger revolutions in Germany and Austria-Hungary. However he also believed that the Red Army wasn't yet ready to face the combined power of Germany and her allies. Thus it was unavoidable that the Soviet Russian Republic give into Germany's ultimatum in order to gain time to prepare for war.***
Since none of the factions inside Sovnarkom was strong enough to sway the discussion in its favour, it was decided to resort to a sacred government tradition: a commission was hastily established that should present warplans as well as estimates on the Soviet armed forces. Trotzky managed to secure the chairman position for himself but had to accept two of Stalin's closest allies as his seconds: Semyon Budyenny and Kliment Voroshilov.

When the commission compiled the numbers for the opposing forces, the room soon fell silent. The Red Army had a strength of 621.000 men. This force was supplemented by approximately 50.000 men garrisoning the major cities and another 63.000 men that could be transferred from Siberia and Central Asia.


  • Northern Front: 123.000
  • Western Front: 116.000
  • Northern Ukraine Front: 74.000
  • Ukraine Front: 184.000
  • Don Front: 76.000
  • Caucasus Front: 78.000
  • Reserves: 44.000
  • Possible reinforcements: 2 armies (61.000) + 1 tank division (2.000)
_______________________
Total: 621.000 + 63.000 reinforcements​


Facing these forces were 660.000 German troops, supplemented by another 667.000 men in the armies of its allies. Moreover Germany and Austria-Hungary would be able to shift several armies from their Western borders towards the East, increasing their total strength to over 1,5 million men.

  • Germany: 660.000
  • Possible German reinforcements: 4 armies (145.000) + 3 tank divisions (19.000)
  • Austria-Hungary: 294.000
  • Possible Austrian reinforcements: 2 armies (68.000)
  • Finland: 60.000
  • Baltic states: 73.000 + 35.000 German reinforcements
  • Caucasian states: 40.000
  • Turkey: 83.000
  • Romania: 42.000
  • Ukraine: 42.000
  • Don Cossacks: 33.000
_____________________________
Total: 1.327.000 + 267.000 reinforcements​


The Red Army was thus facing a foe that outnumbered it 2:1. Just as significantly, the Red generals were no match for their foes. Although some talented commanders had risen during the civil war, they were but a few in a sea of incompetent fools.**** It didn't help, either that the Red soldiers were inferior in training and equipment.***** Most importantly the Red Army had nothing that could compare to the German and Austrian Sturmtruppen, elite infantry trained in infiltration tactics that were able to overcome entrenchment. The Red army had a seizable number of tanks based on British and French models, though. But so did the Germans.
Nevertheless, not everything looked bleak: The bulk of the German and Austrian forces were far away from the boarders. Moreover these units weren't fully mobilized yet. It would thus take the Germans at least two weeks before they could start to move towards the front. The Austrian troops would probably drag their feet even longer.

initial_north.png

In the North, Nadiozhny was commanding 123.000 men that were facing 133.000 Finnish and Baltic soldiers. Budyenny was adamant that if Finland were to be ignored enough units could be spared to overrun Estonia and Latvia before German troops could intervene.

initial_west.png

But Trotzky was quick to point out that Nadiozhny would have to be weakened in order to reinforce Tukhachevsky's 116.000 men that defended the critical sector between Gomel, Minsk and Vitbesk. It was almost certain that the initial strike of the German Army would take place in this sector. Trotzky estimated that the German Heer could attack Minsk with more than 300.000 men within the first month of the war.

initial_ukraine-west.png

To the South of Tukhachevsky were the almost impassable Prypiat Marshes. South of them Antonov-Ovseenko's 74.000 soldiers were guarding the Eastern bank of the Dniepr. On the Western bank lay Kiev which was only defended by 22.000 Ukrainians. However a German observation corps was nearby. Antonov-Ovseenko' pleaded for the permission to attack the city in order to land a decisive blow before German or Austrian reinforcements could bolster the city's defenses. Unfortunately, the Red forces in the sector were spread out. Even the impetuous Budyenny admitted that the moment of surprise would be lost during the time it would take to concentrate Antonov-Ovseenko's three armies.

initial_ukraine.png

The strongest Soviet troop concentration was along the Ukrainian north-eastern border. Trotzky and Egorov had 184.000 soldiers deployed around Kursk and Voronezh. Facing them were a few thousand Ukrainians defending Kharkov and Mamontov's 33.000 Don Cossacks.

DonFront.png

Around Rostov, Voroshilov had another 76.000 men that could either pressure Mamontov from the South or descend upon Wrangel's White forces that were still defending the Kuban.

initial_caucasus.png

Finally Stalin's Georgian landsman Ordzhonikidze had 78.000 men tasked with guarding the Caucasus as well as containing the White forces in the Kuban.

While the situation on land was bad enough, it was even worse on the sea: The Kriegsmarine with its dreadnoughts could blow the destitute Soviet Navy out of the water without breaking a sweat. Apart from river fleets controlling Volga and Don, the Red Navy had only the Baltic fleet consisting of four battleships, six cruisers, eight destroyers and four torpedo boats and the Arctic fleet with one cruiser, four destroyers and four torpedo boats. In contrast, Germany had 2 aircraft carriers (with two more under construction), 20 dreadnoughts, 7 modern battlecruisers, 4 old battleships, 29 cruisers and 56 destroyers.

Soviet Russia had one important advantage, though: Germany and the Habsburg Empire were bled out. In order to win the Great War, they had sacrificed an entire generation of young men. After three years of peace their manpower reserves had only just begun to recover. The Central Powers wouldn't be able to sustain slaughter on such a scale again.****** Soviet Russia on the other hand could draw on almost inexhaustible reserves of men.
However, the Soviet economy was still in shambles. The Great War, had been followed by a Civil War that was still raging on in the South and Communist economic policies hadn't helped, either. While the Central Powers would be handicapped by lack of men, the Soviets would be limited by a shortage of funds which would only be worsened once the German Navy started to blockade Russia's harbours.*******

Inspite of this devastating analysis the commission believed that a war could be won. Two warplans were proposed: Budyenny drew up a daring offensive plan. Not only should the German ultimatum be rejected but it should be answered by declarations of war against the Baltic states. Budyenny proposed a pincer movement of gigantic measures: While Tukhachevsky and Antonov-Ovseenko should hold the center, Nadiozhny was to conquer Talinn and Riga before Germany could react [1]. In the meatime Egorov should overrun Kharkov [2] and then join Voroshilov in a thrust westward towards Kiev [4]. Once this was accomplished both wings would push towards Warsaw [5], hopefully encircling large portions of the German army in the process.

warplans.png

Trotzky denounced Budyenny's plan as utter foolishness. Instead he demanded that Soviet Russia should give into the German ultimatum ... for a time. An aggressive recruitment effort should double the strength of the Red Army until the summer of 1921. At which point war was to be declared on the imperialists. Moreover this would gain Soviet Russia the time to deal with Wrangel's Whites in the Kuban [1]. Additionally, the Red Army would be able to prepare defensive positions. In the North, Red units would defend a line stretching from Lake Ladoga, via Petrograd to Lake Peipus. From there the front would continue to Polotsk, Minsk and the Prypiat Marhses [3]. In the South the Dniepr formed a formidable defensive line. Unfortunately, the Red units would have to race hard to reach it before German reinforcements pourred into the Ukraine. Thus an immediate offensive would be necessary once war was declared [2]. Its primary goal would be Kharkov; a careful push towards the Dniepr would have to follow if possible.


Next update: A lesson in treachery: Budyenny establishes a fait accompli before the Soviet response to the ultimatum reaches the Kaiser.


-------------------------------------------------------------------
* Note on names: I am using the names cities and persons have in the game even though they are a mess; thus Vienna will become Wien (German version), while Munich keeps its English spelling.
** According to the background of the Drang scenario, Lenin is already sick and dying by January 1921. This is insofar true as Lenin never fully recoverd from the wounds Kaplan had inflicted in 1918. Yet in 1921 Lenin was still in full control of affairs (this was the year where he pushed through the NEP and crushed the great peasant uprisings as well as the Kronstadt sailor rebellion). Lenin's iron grip on power only ceased after a series of strokes in 1922.
*** The AI is programmed to either reject the ultimatum (85% chance) or only pretend to accept it. It won't choose the third option. However in a multiplayer game, it is the only sane option. The Red Army, as big as it is at the start of this scenario, is no match for the Central Powers. I would advice on a house rule forcing the Reds to declare war on the Ukraine at some point in order to avoid an endless waiting game (10-15 turns as a limit would seem fair to me).
**** The average Red general has 2-0-0 stats, while the average enemy commander has 4-1-1 stats. Hence they will usually be active while Red army commanders tend to be inactive. German commanders will slightly improve the combat values of their units, whereas most Red generals won't affect them.
***** Infantry combat values:
  • Red elite infantry: 12/13 offensive fire - 18/21 defensive fire
  • Red regular infantry: 10/11 - 16/18
  • Cheka combat units: 9 - 16
  • Red conscripts: 8/9 - 13/15
  • Red Guards: 6 - 11

  • German Sturmtruppen and elite infantry: 15 - 22
  • German regular infantry: 13/14 - 21/22
  • German reserve infantry: 11 - 18
  • German Landwehr (militia): 10 - 17
  • Austrians have the same stats as Germans. Ukrainians and Baltic units tend to be on the same level as Soviet units.
****** Germany can't use the conscription special operation, just requisition. Its conscript income is thus limited to ~80 conscripts per turn form its cities which can be increased by getting more allies into the war. Moreover Germany has a few mobilization options that bring in roughly 400 conscripts +20 replacements each.
******* Germany has an option to cut off Soviet maritime trade thus reducing money and war supply income in all major Communist harbours.
 

loki100

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squeeks with joy ... two AARs from you at the same time, and both wonderfully written and illustrated. And good to see Budenny being realistically utterly stupid.

When I was researching for my HOI3 Soviet AAR, I found a quote about him and Kulik demanding (in 1940!) that the Red Army disband its mechanized/tank forces and raise 18,000 man cavalry divisions instead. They also had an objection to equipping Soviet troops with semi-automatic weapons on the grounds they were only suitable for traffic police (which in a different light may indicate something about the real nature of Stalin's Russia as well)
 
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Oh boy ! I was waiting just for this !

How strong are the White Forces in Azov actually ? Can it play any role, or are they like the Ukrainians in the RCW ?
 

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I will SO follow this!
 

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Thandros, General_Hoth: Thank you for the vote of confidence. I will do my best to give you a bloody exciting campaign. :)

squeeks with joy ... two AARs from you at the same time, and both wonderfully written and illustrated. And good to see Budenny being realistically utterly stupid.

When I was researching for my HOI3 Soviet AAR, I found a quote about him and Kulik demanding (in 1940!) that the Red Army disband its mechanized/tank forces and raise 18,000 man cavalry divisions instead. They also had an objection to equipping Soviet troops with semi-automatic weapons on the grounds they were only suitable for traffic police (which in a different light may indicate something about the real nature of Stalin's Russia as well)

Thanks for the compliment. :) I love your little tale about Budyenny. The RUS developpers seem to have a rather high opinion of him, though. With ratings of 5-2-1 he is one of the better Red generals.

Oh boy ! I was waiting just for this !

How strong are the White Forces in Azov actually ? Can it play any role, or are they like the Ukrainians in the RCW ?

It's hard to tell exactly what the Southern Whites have in this scenario since neither side has them under their control. As far as I can tell from my dealings with them they start with two major stacks: total pw about 1.700 which will increase to over 2.000 pw if the AI unifies them under Wrangel's command. In the Grand campaign this would be a lot but in the Drang Scenario it's nothing but a medium sized stack. Still if war eruptes immediately, the Reds will be hard-pressed to find the troops to deal with them. If they back down in front of Germany's ultimatum the Whites are doomed.

The Germans get an option to forge an alliance with the Southern Whites (which would enable the German player to take direct command of their forces) but it costs 1 point of NM per turn which makes it a bad choice under most circumstances.

There will be blood. Subscribed!
Yes, that is guaranteed.
 

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chapter2-title.png


The struggle over warplans was decided by the Red Tzar himself. Comrade Lenin wasn't willing to go along with Budyenny's foolishness but rather chose to trust the man that had engineered victory in the civil war: Trotzky's plan was adopted and the Russian "Little Napoleon" put in charge of preparing the Red Army for a war later that year.
In the meantime, Soviet Russia would bow to the German ultimatum and retreat from the Ukraine. A diplomatic envoy was sent en route to Berlin with an official note from Sovnarkom affirming Soviet Russia's peaceful intentions and giving assurances that the Ukrainian sovereignty would be respected.

ultimatum.png

What happened next is still a mystery to anybody but the actual participants. Perhaps one day, the truth will be discoverd in some Russian archive but to this day the crucial documents remain classified.


Kharkovturn1.png

Certainty exists only insofar as on January 25th 1921 (before Sovnarkom's response to the German ultimatum had reached Berlin), the 18.500 cavalrymen of Budyenny's 1st Cavalry Army attacked Kharkov. Grekov's Ukrainian force was caught by surprise and completely annihilated before they could mount much resistance. The battle soon turned into slaughter as Communists hunted Ukrainian nationalists through the streets.

Kharkovturn2.png

Several different versions circulate as to why Budyenny dared to attack in disregard of the official Soviet policy. Trotzky stated that the cavalry commander acted on his own accord. He even claimed to have followed Budyenny in person in a desperate attempt to stop the attack. Unfortunately he arrived at Kharkov only two days after the city had been taken. Chapaev claimed similar intentions. But to his great dismay his force was fired upon by the garrison of Belograd and he couldn't prevent his soldiers from responding. The city fell shortly after Kharkov, the garrison was "unfortunately" slaughtered as well. His men were "spirited fighters" after all.
Ukrainian historians view the whole tale as a Communist conspiracy. Why, so they ask, did Trotzky have to bring along 17.800 Communist soldiers and 120 cannons if he was in a rush to stop the attack. They claim Budyenny acted on official orders. The offensive was but a treacherous attempt to establish a fait accompli before the German-Soviet agreement on the Ukraine entered into force.

Whatever the truth, Communist officials were quick to smooth over this "unfortunate accident". Comrade Lenin personnally wrote a letter to the German Emperor, apologizing for Budyenny's "unauthorized, overzealous actions". Since no German troops had been involved in this border incident, Germany grudgingly chose to overlook the affair.*
Budyenny was harshly censored in the state press, but oddly enough kept his rank and command. A few months later, he was seen with some shiny new orders decorating his chest and put in command of an entire front.

Ukraineturn2.png

In the following days, Red forces dutifully evacuated the Ukraine. Most of them assembled at Rostov before they were transferred by rail to other parts of the country.**At Kharkov some Ukrainians freshly converted to Communism stayed behind and established Soviet rule while digging trenches for the war to come.***

During the spring of 1921, Soviet Russia made a point of appeasing the German government while it was secretly preparing for war. The two countries even concluded a bilateral treaty on trade, tariffs and border restrictions. It allowed private citizens to enter the other country after a simple visa procedure. Needless to say, private Soviet citizens hoping to escape their country were never granted passports; nevertheless several thousand Russians - all male and former members of the Soviet military - applied for visas within the next few weeks. Oddly most of them disappeared into the countryside shortly after their arrival in German controlled Poland. In the coming weeks railway sabotage reached unprecedented highs.****
In exchange roughly 140.000 German tourists came to visit the bordertown of Baranavichy in Belorussia. Strangely they came organized in huge travel groups (the Germans called them "VIII. Armee", "Armeekorps von Gallwitz" and "Armeekorps von Armin") and brought tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment with them. They stayed for a while but once they realized that Soviet hospitality was rather icy (they couldn't even convince the peasants to sell them some potatos) they left again.*****

Polandspring.png

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* In game terms, there is nothing a German player can do if the Reds decide to back down in front of the ultimatum but nevertheless use turn 1 for some "border corrections".
** The game "teleports" all Soviet units still in the Ukraine to Rostov if the Red player choses to bow to the German ultimatum. The Ukrainian territory than becomes locked. This is quite advantageous since neither the Soviets nor the Germans can enter this area anymore. The Ukrainian and German troops already in the Ukraine can't move either.
*** The artillery unit and supply train Budyenny had captured.
**** If the Reds accept the ultimatum, relations between Reds and Germans are changed to from "at war" to "cordial". This allows the sides to freely enter each others territory, use the railways and even inspect the other side's troops. I was pretty surprised when I realized these things.
What is impossible, though, is to to conquer cities or get supplies. It is thus impossible to remain on the other foreign territory for an extended time ... at least not with regular troops. However, the Soviets are uniquely positioned to exploit these circumstances since they have more than a dozen partisan units at their command (that feed of the land). I sent about half of them into Poland using German owned railways and started to spread havoc on the Kaiser's infrastructure.
Gamey? Most definitively, but also a nice way to mimic Communist subversion. ;)
There is only a small corridor open between locked Ukraine and the locked Baltic states. Personnally, I think it should be locked as well in order to avoid this kind of exploits.
***** This was Highlandcharge's response to my gamey tactics. Without supply source he eventually chose to retreat.

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

Author's Note: If the Reds back down, does that mean war won't happen?

  • No, war still can happen, but its start will be of the Red player's choosing. After accepting the ultimatum, the Reds get a new option allowing them to declare war on the Ukraine. If this option is taken, war erupts the next turn. Germany on the other hand, has no such option and is forced to wait.
  • There are other options that allow for DOWs against Finland, the Baltic states, Romania and the Caucasus. Yet these options won't end the uneasy peace, they will only unlock these areas and the pro-German troops within them. The peace is simply extended to them, allowing for free movement but not for combat or conquest (if both sides are on the other hand already at war, these options make Germany's allies join the fight immediately).
  • The tooltip for the ultimatum multiple choice option seems to suggest that even if Soviet Russia backs down, war can still erupt automatically after some time. I have skimmed through the file assorted with this option in search of such a trigger but couldn't find one. Since this file has over 4.000 lines of code, I may have very well overlooked it, though.
  • Anyways, I would suggest a house rule for multiplayer games that forces the Red player to use his DOW on the Ukraine within a certain amount of turns (10-15 would seem fair to me). In this game I took the option in turn 8.
 
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loki100

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certainly a complex set of opening options to play with, including a 'quick war before peace' gambit.

Guess its right the Soviets have better intelligence. Combination of the infrastructure of the 3rd International plus loyalities of the KPD should outweigh any more conventional German spying efforts?

So we have a short period of peace before the main course ...
 

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As the German Allied force, not in this game but in general, there is a helplessness which derives from the Red options, especially if the Reds select peace to begin. At peace, the Reds and the Germans can freely wander the hinterlands of their opponents territory. Part of the challenge of this game as the German's is to build your forces, encourage your potential allies and prepare to tackle a strong, entrenched Soviet state.
There is an imperative for the Germans to take control of the Whites and the other potential allies, Baltic, Finnish and Transcaucasian. Yet to do so is fraught with penalties.
This is a tremendously interesting and challenging game.
 

PrawnStar

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I'll be reading this one as well :)

I like how you explain things so well I can follow what's going on without ever playing any AGEOD game. Then again I have spent far too much time reading AARs over the last five years, maybe if I got off the internet I could be dating a supermodel LOL
 

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So we have a short period of peace before the main course ...

Not really, The Soviet war machine won't rest. So many counter-revolutionaries to crush, so many peasants to kill ...

As the German Allied force, not in this game but in general, there is a helplessness which derives from the Red options, especially if the Reds select peace to begin. At peace, the Reds and the Germans can freely wander the hinterlands of their opponents territory. Part of the challenge of this game as the German's is to build your forces, encourage your potential allies and prepare to tackle a strong, entrenched Soviet state.
This is a tremendously interesting and challenging game.

Helplessness? True, Germany is left with little control over the further course of events if the Soviets back down to its ultimatum. But the German army is anything but helpless. Even if the Soviets postpone war a bit, they will still be heavily outnumbered.

I agree that this scenario is a huge challenge. One of the old AGEOD hands recenetly called RUS "ACW on crack". Which is fitting since RUS is very similar to AGEOD's American Civil War game just bigger and meaner. The Drang Scenario is the biggest campaign you will find in any of AGEOD's games. The sheer number of troops and fronts is overwhelming. The Drang Scenario is where the crack addicts go in search of the trip of a lifetime. ;)

Wow. I have to try this campaign myself at some point.

It's a lot of fun. Especially if you are an experienced player searching a new challenge. For my taste it's almost too big, though. Also there are still some bugs to be fixed.

I'll be reading this one as well :)

I like how you explain things so well I can follow what's going on without ever playing any AGEOD game. Then again I have spent far too much time reading AARs over the last five years, maybe if I got off the internet I could be dating a supermodel LOL

Thank you for the compliment. Glad to have you on board on this new voyage. :)

Date supermodel or read AAR for wargame geeks? Such a tough choice ... :unsure:


How did Highland charge get around the reinforcement issue that's currently killed my own AAR? That's my question.

Just like you, we struggled with this option. Luckily it is not that big of a game changer (150 conscripts every 6 turns).
Neither PhilThib (too busy with Napoleon II) nor Seb (not familiar with the scenario and too busy improving the GC) will properly improve the Drang scenario any time soon. In this situation all one can do is dig into the files and fix the issue yourself. That is what I did and I think I succeeded (will run some more tests and then post the fix on the AGEOD forum).
 
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chapter3-title.png


The Soviets wouldn't let the breathing room they had gained from bowing to Germany's outrageous demands go to waste. Not with so many counter-revolutionaries left to crush. Wrangel's Volunteers still held wide parts of the Kuban, in particular the cities of Ekaterinodar, Novorossiysk and Armavir.

kuban1-1.png

The Red offensive started before Sovnarkom's answer to the ultimatum had even reached the Kaiser. Blucher, Smirnov and Kojnilov pushed into the Kuban with 53.000 men. Blucher's 3rd Cavalry Army took the lead and arrived at Ekaterinodar on January 27th. To their great surprise the city's garrison was a lot stronger than expected. Wrangel himself had taken command; estimates were that he had approximately 35.000 men under his command. Blucher's vanguard was outnumbered 2:1. Luckily, the Red general hadn't ordered an immediate assault.*

kuban2-1.png

In a parallel operation, Ordzhonikidze and Zhdanov marched within miles of Armavir that was defended by roughly 15.000 men under Slashev. The next week something unexpected happened. Slashev left Armavir - perhaps in an attempt to unify with Wrangel's army?** In any case, this mistake allowed Ordzhonikizde to reach Armavir first and occupy the city after smashing the small garrison.

kuban3-1.png

When Slashev turned around he was greeted by the fierce assault of 25.000 Red soldiers. 3.800 Whites were killed before the rest managed to retreat.

kuban4-1.png

In the meantime, Voroshilov had loaded his men on trains and rushed them to reinforce Blucher at Ekaterinodar. Strangely enough Wrangel didn't even attempt to break the siege. Two weeks later Kojnilov and Smirnov would move further south and lay siege to the harbour of Novorossiysk. The last escape route open to the White forces was now cut off. The siege forces mercilessly bombarded Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk for weeks. By May both cities were nothing but an assortment of ruins. But the White soldiers stubbornly held on.

Further west, Budyenny had tried to engage and destroy the survivors of Slashev's 2nd Corps for some time. Unfortunately, his attempts had been rather inept, if not to say incompetent. How 12.200 White infantrymen managed to outmaneuver 45.000 Red cavalrymen (not to speak of the 65.000 Soviet infantrymen also engaged in the hunt) for an extended period of time remains a mystery.***

kuban5-1.png

By May, the Soviet leadership had lost its patience - more importantly war with Germany had broken out - and Budyenny was ordered to dispatch the 40.000 men of Makhin's Cavalry Army to bolster the war effort in the Ukraine. Freed from Budyenny's supervision Makhin managed to pin the elusive Slashev down. He cabled Budyenny for reinforcements and ordered an attack. Unfortunately Slashev's men had found the time to dig trenches. When Dybenko's cavalry corps charged, it was stopped by a wall of fire. Casualties were severe amongst the Red horsemen. Luckily, at least Makhin and Avksentevski were able to stop their corps before they suffered the same fate. They retaliated with concentrated artillery fire that inflicted some casualties amongst the Whites but didn't attack again.

kuban6-1.png

All the while, Makhin had bombarded Budyenny with urgent messages to join the battle. But the Red cavalry general came up with one excuse after another. Rumor has it, Budyenny wasn't prepared to share the glory with a man that had a mustache half the size of his own magnificient specimen. Thus 72.000 Red soldiers present in the area never joined the battle. Eventually Makhin gave up and boarded trains towards the Ukraine.****

In June, Budyenny finally kicked into gear - Trotzky threatening a court martial may have helped. Even after Makhin's departure, Budyenny had 69.800 men against Slashev's 10.200 and 246 pieces of artillery as opposed to 69 guarding the White trenches. Inspite of this huge disadvantage the White soldiers fought valiantly. They didn't shake under the heavy Red artillery bombardment but rather exercised bloody revenge upon the wave of Red soldiers charging towards their lines. When his men failed to break through, Budyenny abandonned the attack. Nevertheless he immediately sent a telegram to Moscow reporting a heroic victory.*****

kuban7-1.png

On June 19th, Budyenny attacked again. By now Slashev's force was down to 7.300 men. Odds of 10:1 finally proved enough for Budyenny to gain a decisive victory. Almost half of the remaining Volunteers remained dead on the field of battle.

kuban8-1.png

Next Budyenny headed south and assaulted the city of Maikop. The 4.300 White defenders were butchered to the last man. On July 25th, Slashev tried to retake Armavir but was bloodily repulsed. Two infantry regiment and the last remaining cavalry were annihilated in this desperate attack. It was rumoured that Slashev himself was wounded during the fight. In any case, he was replaced by Vinogradov who managed to evade the huge Red forces in the area until he was finally cornered by Sablin on September 17th, 1921.

By this time all other White forces in the Kuban had long since surrendered. The pile of rubble that had once been Novorossiysk gave up on June 16th. A month later Wrangel capitulated at Ekaterinodar. Suffice to say, that most of his men ended up north of the Arctic Cirlce.

The Russian Civil War was all but over. Only the city of Sevastopol on the Krim remained as a last White stronghold. But Soviet Russia was already locked in a much bigger struggle ...


-------------------------------------------------------
* To be honest, I am not sure whether I gravely misjudged the strength of of the Ekaterinodar garrison (it showed as a single dot on the map which indicates a weak force) or whether Wrangel moved forces from Novorossiysk to reinforce the city. Anyways, I got extremely lucky that the AI was dumb enough to put its troops inside the city. Blucher was thus spared what almost certainly would have been a humiliating defeat.
** Who knows what the AI was thinking? It left Armavir and its supplies undefended but didn't march all the way to Ekaterinodar. The war in the Kuban was a series of dumb mistakes on the part of the AI. But I can't complain, many of my moves during this operation were less than inspired, some even complete fumbles. A human opponent would have made me pay for these mistakes.
*** Inactive Red commanders certainly help.
**** One of my blunders. Budyenny was in command of a HQ stack. If another stack is present in the same area, HQ stacks engage last. Still I would have figured Makhin's units alone should be able to deal with Slashev. After all they had 1457 pw against the 484 pw of Slashev's force. Usually that should be sufficient but a pure cavalry force charging trenches is another matter.
***** This battle is kind of a mystery to me. Usually such odds end in the annihilation of the opposing force. This whole campaign was kind of embarrassing. It should have been over in a month but instead dragged on for four. The Whites kept getting lucky with evasion rolls and when battle ensued Red units performed most embarrassingly.
 

loki100

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a frustrating interlude in the Caucasus, like your rationalisations for the events.

still the gained NM must be nice, its a flank that is more secure and off to the main course ....
 

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Now thats what I call a grinder.


You guys seem pretty good at this game, and RUS might be the thing to hook me to AEGOD after the PON disaster. Any chance of a "tutorial" AAR?

Keep up the carnage!

(Can you afford to take such losses if you are outnumbered 2 to 1?)