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

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose. If you feel it is necessary to make a new reply, you can still do so though.

Thandros

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He also has several good abilities which bolster his ability on the defence doesn't he. Anyway the average Red General is 2-0-0 which is a pile of rubbish so Stalin's current 3-3-4. by Comparison I think the German generals are on average something like 4-1-1.

Please Correct be if necessary I don't own this game yet.
 

loki100

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aye, in the AGEOD systems, some of the traits are so useful that relatively rubbish stats don't matter so much. Stalin has a couple that make him very useful on the defense.

In the smaller scenarios its feasible to put quite a bit of effort into shuffling your commanders to try and get the right ones in the right role but that would be a huge chore in RUS.
 

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So many fine questions and a great discussion. This feels like Christmas! :D


This scenario really is on a different scale. Going back to your earlier comments, I've seen bloody battles in RoP with losses up around 50.000+ and in playing around with the Civil War scenarios in RUS but this is just on a quite unique level. Wonder if you got a late war in PoN if something similar would result?

PON could indeed yield similar results. Yet I doubt it would be as much fun. The map is too small to grant much room for maneuver. Moreover PON lacks the division-corps-army structure and marching to the sound of guns. Building a continues frontline just doesn't work well under these circumstances. In this game however you will soon see a frontline of interlocking corps emerge that stretches over more than half a dozen regions.


And such crippling losses (without any attendant territorial gain) must really hurt the German war effort. In terms of conscripts, how many turns' worth of manpower did the Germans leave on the field of battle?

Good question! Part of my answer will have to be guesswork, though.

  • Germany's conscript production is roughly 90 per turn. Add to that the mobilization options which get them another 1.300 per year (or 55 per turn). This adds up to almost 150 conscripts per turn.
  • 1 infantry replacement costs 6 conscripts and restores 20 hits.
  • In the Battle of Baranavichy Germany lost 1.641 hits most of them infantry. But several units were wiped out completely (and thus won't require replacements anymore; moreover some losses were sustained by tanks, armoured cars and artillery that require fewer conscripts to replenish). Let's take a guess and say that 1.000 hits were suffered by infantry that wasn't destroyed. Then it would take Germany 50 infantry replacement chits or 300 conscript units to replace these losses. Germany's entire production for two turns.
  • That is bad but not yet fatal. Combined with losses on other fronts, I believe Germany was already having trouble keeping up with its replacement needs. Building new units must have stopped completely, whereas the Soviet Army kept expanding at full speed. And that is the important point: the balance of power started to shift in my favour.
  • However, the ground I gained was soon lost again when Highlandcharge started to use the reinforcement options that spawn entire new armies: Germany can spawn 4 armies, Austria-Hungary 2 more. In total these are more than 200.000 men that the German player gets without paying any conscripts!


Oh my god.... How long do battles last in-game because I have a book on Soviet Red-Army Casualties from the Civil War (terrible records though) all the way to Afghanistan. I honestly think that last battle was one of the bloodiest in Soviet history. Also was having Stalin commander intentional or an accidental quirk? I think you mentioned or someone else mentioned in a RUS AAR he was one of the Red's better generals? His stats though seem pretty lackluster even after the post battle boost or are Russian generals just that inept?

It certainly was the bloodiest battle, I have ever seen in any AGEOD game.


About Stalin: Very good answers Stuyvesant, Thandros and loki100. Thank you!

Here are my 5 cents:

  • Stalin is one of the top 10 Red generals in this scenario. There are only a few commanders who are considerably better than him (Frunze, Tukhachevsky, Blucher, Trotzky, Zhukov and Budyenny (lousy on defense but pretty good on offense)).
  • Stalin has two important abilities: First, he is a good army administrator: increasees fatigue recovery (the units will regain cohesion faster after a fight or march). Secondly, he has the school of defense ability: units are more effective when defending but are less effective when attacking.
  • The optimal use for Stalin is thus in a sector where you don't plan any offenive action (moreover he tends to be inactive due to his relatively low strategic rating). I was able to give Stalin a further boost in his stats by having Tukhachevsky as army commander nearby.
  • Reds are desperately short on generals in this sceanrio (at least once they expand the army), unlike in the GC there is no option to get additional generals. It forces the player to use every general, even the lousy ones. Shuffling generals into the optimal positions for their talents is a necessity (but I agree loki, it's also a lot of work).
  • My favourite Red general: Aaltonen (stats 1-0-0, topped off by the alcoholic special ability). Little Mac in ACW looks like a god of war compared to this. Nevertheless this marvelous two star commander received a division, once I was lucky enough to get him active for a turn. :)

A word on German generals:
  1. The average German general has 4-1-1 ratings (Red generals have 2-0-0).
  2. There are few German generals who stick out with better stats: Hindenburg, Rommel, Guderian, Leeb, Falkenhayn, Hutier and a few others.
  3. Stalin is thus superior to most German commanders in a defensive battle.
 

Searry

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The scale of this campaign is so different from the GC. In my campaign as the Siberians from the start to the finish (autumn of 1920) losses from battles were around 800k combined for every faction. This will be bloody!
 

Narwhal

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I may not comment regularly, but I follow with attention ;)

I especially liked the way you present what happens "front by front", instead of being 100% chronological like I am. I will use that in my next AAR. It allows to see with much more finesse what happens.

Also, while I have seen bloody battles in RoP, it is only the battle that last several "days". 80 000 dead in one "battle screen" is by far a record for me.
 

Pat Cleburne

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The NM swing from those battles is also a big boost for Bornego. The demoralized Germans are going to be much less likely to stand long enough to break other defensive lines. It's hard to sacrifice those kind of NM numbers.
 

JackTheRipper21

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Thanks for the replies about command ability that was a nice bit of clarification. The AGEOD games are on my list for future purchases especially now after losing the desire to purchase ME3 due to what I heard about the ending.
 
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NikkTheTrick

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What is current NM? Among those 3 battles, Reds got 38 NM, so Germans & Co. must have lost the same. 76 NM differential is huge and will have devastating effect on German cohesion. This is made worse for Germans since they are attacking and, therefore, must lose some of that already-low cohesion on march before battle takes place.
 

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New update tomorrow: Budyenny continues to disappoint and burning planes are raining from the sky


Pat Cleburne and NikkTheTrick: I am glad you brought up NM. I wanted to write a few lines about this anyway:

After the Battle of Baranavichy (July 1921) the score was this:

Germany:
122 NM
29 VP​

Soviets:
128 NM
797 VP​

Surprising? You have to understand that the Drang scenario has an entirely different NM system than the other RUS scenarios.

There are NM balance events: They fire if NM gets too high or too low (if necessary each turn):
1) if NM exceeds 125 points: - 5 NM, 10 VP, 2 EP
2) if NM falls below 75 points: +5 Nm, -10 VP. -1 EP

As long as one avoids constant huge losses, NM will thus stay relatively stable. Moreover it can be further increased by taking options (most importantly propaganda campaigns).

Sudden death is thus almost impossible: The defeat level is set at 0 NM, the win level at 300 NM. The latter is unachievable since NM can never exceed 199 points. Even worse if a player gets too close to the 199 points threshold his NM gains will be reduced so that the limit is never exceeded. As a consequence, so are his opponents NM losses (I have won battles by a 30.000 men margin in another campaign yet gained only 1 or 2 points of NM for it because I was already too close to the 199 points limit).

Therefore Drang Campaign games aren't won by reducing your opponent to 0 points of NM but rather by having more victory points (VP) at the end of the game. Still establishing a lead in NM remains important: low NM affects cohesion and thus combat power. Moreover, it increases/reduces ressource income. Obviously it's essential to sap Germany's small allowance of conscripts.


The scale of this campaign is so different from the GC. In my campaign as the Siberians from the start to the finish (autumn of 1920) losses from battles were around 800k combined for every faction. This will be bloody!

In another Drang Campaign PBEM, we were at double these losses within 6 months.


I especially liked the way you present what happens "front by front", instead of being 100% chronological like I am. I will use that in my next AAR. It allows to see with much more finesse what happens.

Also it helps avoid repetitions. But I wouldn't dismiss a turn by turn account. It has its own way of creating tension.
 

NikkTheTrick

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But how is German NM so high now? Shouldn't it have ended up closer to 75 rather than 125 after those defeats?
 

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Interlude: NM from June to September 1921


It seems there are still some questions about NM. So I went back into the turn files and tried to provide you with a more detailled picture:


interlude_NM.png

Red line: Soviet NM
Brown line: German NM
horizontal axis: turns
vertical axis: points of NM​



Turn by turn account:

turn 9: 138 German NM - 116 Red NM
declaration of war​


turn 10: 136 - 108
Germany: +3 Third Tank division option, -5 balance
Reds: -4 penalties for not being at war with minors, -4 Cheka purges​


turn 11: 138 - 103
Germany: -1 battles, +5 blockade Russia, +5 mine Gulf of Finnland, -5 balance
Reds: -5 blockade against Russia, +1 battles, -1 Cheka purges​


turn 12: 131 - 119
Germany: -2 surrendering garrisons, -1 battles, -5 balance
Reds: +3 surrendering garrison (1 Southern White gave up as well), +3 battles (2 against Southern White), +10 conquest of Kharkov(?)​


turn 13: 136 - 118
Germany: +10 recall Hindenburg, -1 partial mobilization, - 5 balance
Reds: +1 Soviet Republic of Ukraine, -2 raise money​


turn 14: 122 - 128
Germany: +1 surrender, -14 Battle of Baranavichy, -1 Communists provoke strikes
Reds: -1 surrender, +2 Southern White capital surrenders, +14 Battle of Baranavichy, -5 balance​


turn 15: 92 - 143
Germany: -1 surrender, -13 Battle of Brovary (Dniepr opposite Kiev, chapter 4), -11 Second Battle of Brovary, -5 new army transferred to the front
Reds: +1 surrender, -1 surrender to Greens, +24 battles, -5 balance​


turn 16: 94 - 136
Germany: +3 Balts enter war, -1 war exhaustion
Reds: -5 balance, -1 war exhaustion​



Sometimes I have missed a few points of NM, usually they can be attributed to special operations (reforms and cheka cost NM) or costly promotions.
 

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chapter6-title.png


Recap - The Battle for Kiev and the Dniepr crossing: Frunze had staged a diversionary attack against Kiev. The goal had been to keep the Germans too busy to send reinforcemnts into the Eastern Ukraine so that Trotzky and Sievers would be able to occupy it without encountering serious resistance. Their ultimate objective was to secure the Eastern bank of the Dniepr and then dig in. The diversion worked as planned: After pushing the Ukrainians back from Kiev, Soviet forces besieged the city until a massive German counteroffensive forced them to retreat to the Eastern bank of the Dniepr. The German pursued Frunze's army and managed to encircle it. In the meantime, two frontal attacks had been bloodily repulsed.


ukraine_map.png

In the Eastern Ukraine, Soviet forces had advanced at a steady pace. While Siveres army attacked Kharkov from the North, Trotzky pushed westward from his base at Donetsk. Enemy resistance was weak: the Ukrainian forces were scattered and few in numbers. Mamontov's Cossacks were trapped on the Eastern bank of the Don by Soviet river fleets that controlled the entire length of the river. With nowhere to go, the Cossacks would soon starve. In the South Makhno's Anarchists and a seizable number of Greens controlled the countryside.*

ukraine_east1.png

On June 16th, Sievers conquered Kharkov for the second time in the war (after Budyenny had taken the city in January, Ukrainian forces had reoccupied it when the Soviets were forced to retreat due to the ultimatum). The small disorganized garrison was swiftly dealt with. Ukrainian papers soon wrote horrid reports about war crimes committed by Soviet units. Obviously this was nothing but hearsay; as Sievers stated in an interview with Pravda: "How can they claim that? Have they any witnesses? - Exactly, they don't! And they can't have because we didn't leave any survivors!"

ukraine_east2.png

On the same day, Orzhonikidze crushed a small pocket of Cossacks and Ukrainians that had still held out at Lugansk. Again Soviet losses were minimal.

While Sievers and Trotzky now joined forces and marched towards the Dniepr, Zhloba's cavalry army was dispatched south. His mission: clear the Southern Ukraine of counter-revolutionaries (Ukrainians, Anarchists and Greens) and secure the major railway towards the Krim. On August 10th, he clashed with a minor force of Ukrainians at Melitopol. The Soviet horsemen butchered their opponents and then swung east into the Anarchist heartland.

ukraine_east3.png

On September 1st, they made contact with Makhno's Anarchists. 3.400 enemies were killed at the cost of 82 Red horsemen. Three days later both forces clashed again. It was to be the end of the Ukrainian Anarchist movement. Outnumbered 10:1, they stood no chance and were slaughtered. Amongst the dead were 4.500 Anarchists and 1.700 Soviets.

ukraine_east10.png

At the end of the month, Zhloba turned to face the last remaining enemies of the revolution in the Eastern Ukraine: The Green rebels occupying the coastal cities south of Huilaipole. On September 28th, battle ensued. The Red cavalrymen wiped out the small peasant army. 5.000 Greens and 1.400 Reds died that day.

In the meantime, Trotzky had not only reached the Dniepr but crossed it in force. On September 1st, his army took Ekaterinoslav that had been left with nothing but a weak garrison of Ukrainian troops. 6.800 were killed. Red losses remained at a tenth of this number. More painful was the loss of general Zhdanov who was cowardly murdered by an Ukrainian sniper.**

ukraine_east9.png

The Eastern Ukraine was now safely in Soviet hands. Without Frunze's diversion this painless campaign would almost certainly have been impossible. It stands to reason that the German High Command would have used its control of the Ukrainian railway network to rush reinforcements into the Eastern Ukraine if they hadn't been preoccupied with Kiev.


Further west, Frunze was - inspite of his recent victories***- in a very dangerous position. He was surrounded by Austrian forces and all his supply routes were cut-off. If a new supply route couldn't be established soon, his huge army would starve. The Soviet leadership decided to launch two attempts to break the pocket simultaniously:

ukraine_east4.png

The main attack would try to break through at the northern flank of the pocket. This sector was guarded by von Bojna's 40.000 Austrians but they were sure to get support from Brecht's Germans further south. The Soviet attack was to be led by Budyenny who had just arrived at Kharkov with almost 90.000 men that weren't needed any longer against the crumbling Southern White. Ordzhonikidze was ordered to throw his 66.000 men into the fight once the battle had started.****

ukraine_east6.png

Initially the plan worked very well: Budyenny's men, battle-hardened veterans of the civil war, attack ferociously. The Red Army managed to inflict higher casualties than it suffered. Especially, the I. Austrian Korps was badly mauled. But right when the Red Army was on the brink of achieving a breakthrough, Brecht's Germans arrived on the battlefield and launched a devastating counterattack. Slowly but surely the Soviet forces were pushed back. A furious Budyenny had to order a retreat. But the blame for this defeat rests with Ordzhonikidze. Had he managed to bring his 66.000 men onto the battlefield in time, the Soviets would most likely have won. His failure to do so, doomed Budyenny's attack.***** Thus the lifes of 26.000 Soviet soldiers were sacrificed in vain. 8 infantry regiments had been entirely wiped out. But Austrian casualties had been high as well: Almost 23.000 soldiers died. 3 armoured car regiments and 2 infantry units had been annihilated.

In a secondary attack, Chervanin was ordered to try and slip out of the Dniepr pocket and open up a link to the depot in Chernigov. This wasn't a perfect solution since the lack of a railway line meant that supplies would have to be hauled in on dirt roads. Moreover, there was a chance that the Austrians would occupy Niyn again which they had left unguarded after Bojna had passed through. Fortunately, their main army was still at Kiev under the Archduke of Austria's personal command. On the other hand, the forces on the Eastern Dniepr bank would be fully occupied with keeping Frunze in the pocket and couldn't spare the troops to guard Niyn. The gamble paid off and Chervanin managed to establish a hole in the pocket through which a limited number of supplies could reach Frunze's army.
The moment of mortal peril for Frunze's army had thus passed. Nevertheless, the strategic situation was still unfavourable. Unless the railway line to Frunze could be reopened, his supply situation would remain critical and troop movement in reaction to further Austrian offensives would be slow.


In the meantime, harsh airbattles had been waged over the Ukrainian sky, the combat was especially vicious over Kiev and Brovary.

ukraine_east5.png

On August 17th, it seemed as if the Soviet airforce would gain control over the skies: 33 enemy airplanes were shot down as opposed to 16 Red planes lost. But a day later the tide turned. German squadrons intercepted a Russian bombing raid and slaughtered their enemies en masse. 34 airplanes with the Red star on their tail went down that day whereas the Central Powers lost only 6 planes. On August 25th, the Soviet pilots redeemed themselves by shooting down 12 enemy airplanes while losing 8 of their own. Nevertheless, Germany started to get ahead.

ukraine_east11.png

In the next months, the losses became more and more devastating: September 8th saw the most ferocious airbattle to date: 31 Soviet and 30 German planes went down. It was to be the last time that the Soviet airforce was able to hold its own. With its last reserves exhausted, it became an easy prey for their enemy. On September 29th and October 25th, 26 Soviet pilots were shot down by their German opponents. The only German plane to share that fate was later attributed to engine failure. At that point the Soviet leadership had already decided to abandon the fight for the sky over Kiev. The remaining Red squadrons were pulled out of the Ukraine.


On the ground, the Red Army was more successful: another attempt to regain control of the railway to the Dniepr was launched. This time Ordzhonikidze was to lead the attack with his fresh troops and Budyenny was ordered to provide support. Yet when the Soviets arrived at Nossivka, von Bojna had already abandonned the area. Both, he and Brecht, had retreated towards the Dniepr. Apparently, the bloody Soviet counter-offensive had scared the Austrian commanders enough to abandon their plan to sack Frunze's army. Besides, with Chervanin's unopposed breakthrough, the pocket had already been cracked. Thus there was little point to risk von Bojna's army being cut-off or even destroyed.

ukraine_east7.png

During the next weeks, the Austrians abandonned their remaining position on the Eastern Dniepr bank and occupied secure positions on the Western side of the river. Soviet forces, followed them in careful moves until they occupied the entire Eastern bank by November 1921.

ukraine_east8.png

1: Ordzhonikidze - 2201 pw
2: Budyenny - 2564 pw
3: Blucher - 695 pw
4: Mironov - 141 pw
5: von Burgneustetten - 1800 pw​


Now a continous frontline of mutually supporting corps had been established from the Prypiat Marshes all the way to Ekaterinoslav. The Dniepr Line that had been the objective of the Soviet warplan had finally become a reality. With both armies well entrenched on their side of the river, the Ukrainian front was locked in stalemate.******


However not every German was prepared to settle down. General von König was in charge of almost 9.000 cavalrymen. He proposed to break through the Soviet trenches in a glorious cavalry charge and "scatter those Russian peasants like rabbits". Von Hindenburg send furious orders prohibiting a frontal attack and demanded that von König outflank the Soviet position. But the cavalry commander chose to ignore such cowardly advice in his pursuit of glory. On October 19th, von König's cavalry division charged head-on towards the Russian trenches. Trotzky and Avtonomov couldn't believe their eyes when they saw such medieval tactics. Nevertheless, they quickly ordered their artillerists and machine-gunners to take care of these fools. No German horseman came even close to the Russian trenches; von Königs entire division was wiped out within minutes. Trotzky called the event "the charge of the dumb brigade". A term that became the headline of the Pravda article announcing this great victory to the Soviet public.******* Von König's folly robbed Germany of some of its most mobile units and was to be the last German attack in this sector.

ukraine_east12.png


But as the war died down in the Ukraine it heated up further north as a new front opened. On August 30th, 1921 the Baltic nations had entered the war ...


-----------------------------------------------------------------------
* In this scenario the Anarchists are at war with the Soviets. Luckily, the AI isn't able to conduct effective guerilla operations; otherwise these highly mobile troops could become a real nuisance.
** There is no option to get additional generals in this scenario and I was already desperately short because of the massive expansion the army had undergone during the peacetime months.
*** See chapter 4.
**** I put him on offensive posture so that he would attack as soon as he had marched to the sound of guns. Frunze was inactive and thus wouldn't assist. I wanted Budyenny to land the first punch with his stronger force. Since he was in command of an army hq, his troops might disengage once Ordzhonikidze's corps reached the battlefield. This was fine by me since it would have meant that fresh troops would have taken over the fighting.
***** This is a result of the low strategic values Soviet generals tend to have. With his 3 point rating Ordzhonikidze's chances to join the battle during its 2nd round were considerably lower than that of the German general Brecht who has a strategic value of 6.
****** The biggest battle of this campaign may have been a defeat (although not a bad one), but on a strategic level it was a major win. The Red Army had secured an excellent defensive position.
Heavily behind in VP (at this point the Germans had over a 1.000 points less than the Reds and their VP income per turn was lower as well), Highlandcharge needed to attack in order to win. The focus of the Red player must thus be to lock entire fronts in stalemate. I had achieved this in the Minsk sector earlier and now the Ukraine (ideal for German attacks due to its wide and open territory) was out of the game as well.
The southern most part of the Ukraine remained unguarded but strangely Highlandcharge didn't tried to launch another attack there (it would have been reminiscent of the race to the Channel in WW I). I believe he didn't because he lacked a direct railway connection to that area. Moreover, I had already secured most of it with Zhloba's cavalry army.
******* Obviously this wasn't something Highlandcharge had planned. I think he changed to rail movement after he had mapped out his intended flanking move which screwed up the movement path of this division. rather than flanking my troops it tried to go through them. In a scenario as big as the Drang scenario, it is very hard to avoid mistakes. Unfortunately for Highlandcharge this was a costly one.
 

loki100

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utterly awesome update ... this AAR just gets better.

the opening was nice and quiet , almost relaxed, few easy victories, Soviet cavalry clearing the Dombas et al

then the epic attempts to either rescue Frunze or at least open supply.

good to see the VVS doing one on the German airforce

and then Von Konig's suicide dash, suprised that Trotsky didn't describe it like 'shooting snipe'

and your entire NE front has just exploded.

One thing I like about AGEOD based AArs is that even experienced players make mistakes, either by forgetting to correct orders or if the situation changes so dramatically. Its something missing from the Paradox model where you can intervene much more to manage such errors.
 

Thandros

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Their's A river you can defend Behind in the Baltic States and they don't start with many troops so if your quick you may be able to get there and hold double quick. The Germans May just decide to land troops behind you though. Come on Reds smash the Germans. Does the German Player have the Ability to use the Turkish Forces in the Caucasus?
 

Stuyvesant

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So, a stalemate favors you. Are you content to just wait out the scenario (after taking care of the more peripheral threats, like the Baltic states), or are you planning something a little more active? Say, bringing the Revolution to Berlin at the sharp end of proletarian bayonets? :)
 

unmerged(305389)

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good to see the VVS doing one on the German airforce

and then Von Konig's suicide dash, suprised that Trotsky didn't describe it like 'shooting snipe'

and your entire NE front has just exploded.

One thing I like about AGEOD based AArs is that even experienced players make mistakes, either by forgetting to correct orders or if the situation changes so dramatically. Its something missing from the Paradox model where you can intervene much more to manage such errors.

Actually, I lost the fight in the air ... badly. When it was over several of my squadrons had no planes left, just the ground personnel.

The NE front didn't explode exactly. I had kept enough reserves there and used the time to build up entrenchment.

Yes, mistakes are definitively part of what makes multiplayer games special. The Drang scenario is particularly hard to master due to its sheer size. If you have collected some experience in other RUS scenarios it is definitively a good challenge. Those of you wondering about bugs. I believe it's mostly working now. In order to help a little, I posted fixes for two bugged options on the AGEOD forum a week ago. (Loki1000 was kind enough to grant permission for this link to the old AGEOD forum).


Does the German Player have the Ability to use the Turkish Forces in the Caucasus?

It can happen. The Caucasian states are by far Germany's weakest allies. I was severely tempted to invade them myself. The problem is that a Soviet DOW can get Turkey into the war. It is thus a fairly big gamble.

Are you going on the offensive after you finish the Baltians?

You are about to see in my next update.

So, a stalemate favors you. Are you content to just wait out the scenario (after taking care of the more peripheral threats, like the Baltic states), or are you planning something a little more active? Say, bringing the Revolution to Berlin at the sharp end of proletarian bayonets? :)

For the moment it is too early to take the offensive. Even at the end of 1921, the Soviet army was still smaller than its German counterpart (overall German combat power in Late December 1921 was at 130% of mine; at the start of this scenario (Late January 1921) this ratio had been 160%). It would be quite suicidal to attack with an inferior force that also happened to be led by lousy generals (2-0-0 generals usually are inactive which makes attacking very difficult). Soviet offensives will thus remain local and limited in scope. If one concentrates the top-notch Red generals in one sector a decent offensive is possible. However, shifting your generals in that manner also gives away your intentions. :(

I played two Red Drang PBEMs almost simultaniously. The second one had me facing a more aggressive player than Highlandcharge. As a result, the Germans lost a lot more battles and were severly worn out by early 1922. In that game I started to attack on several fronts during the last few turns (finally German NM was at 1 point and we stopped the game). If I remember correctly, I took Baku and some territory in the Baltic.
 
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Narwhal

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I am an horrible player at RUS, and reading your 4 AAR I understand why : I play it like ROP or WIA, and try to manoeuver a lot when I should try to build a consistent frontline.

What is your assessment of the usefulness of the air force in RUS, and in DNO in particular ? I could lose all my air force and not give a d...
 

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chapter7-title.png



Stirred up by their German masters, the Baltic nations declared war on Soviet Russia on August 30th, 1921. The Baltic treachery didn't come as a surprise, though. Strong Soviet forces had been assembled along the borders. Some hotheads within the Soviet military argued for immediate offensive actions. But the calmer minds prevailed: with the entire Baltic railway network in enemy hands, German reinforcements would be quick to move north. In hostile territory, Soviet forces would thus risk to get ambushed. Instead it was decided to wait for the enemy to attack.*

baltic_map.png

In most sectors Soviet positions were extremely advantagous. In the North, Shorin was well entrenched behind the Narva. South of Lake Peipus, Rahja and Slaven occupied forward positions but could always retreat behind River Velikaya if the pressure got too much. At Polotsk, Kork protected the vital railway line to Vitbesk. But south of his position a major gap was left between his army and Tukhachevsky's front that defended Minsk. It was this hole in the frontline that had the Soviets worried most. Unlike the gap between Kork and Slaven where thick woods and swamps hindered movement, the gap in the south was wide open territory. If the Germans chose to attack here, it would be hard to stop them. For that reason the Soviet defenses were designed with depth in mind. In particular, Egorov's small army stayed at Vitbesk to protect the vital railway hub.

baltic_1.png

As expected, the German High Command immediately sent strong forces into Lithuania. Von Bothmer's army passed through Vilnius and only stopped once it had reached the outskirts of Minsk. However Grittis' men were well entrenched behind the Neris and further reinforcements from the North were already on the way. Thus the Germans never dared to attack. The Stalin Line stretching from Minsk to the Prypiat Marshes proved to be impregnable.**

baltic_2.png

For the next month, Germany remained oddly passive. In late October, it started to shift troops from Lithuania into Latvia. In reaction Parsky was dispatched north - he butchered a German cavalry brigade that had strolled too far into Soviet territory en passant.

baltic_3.png

The crucial event occurred during the first days of November; several German and Baltic armies converged at Daugavpils. The Soviet leadership was lucky enough to get a glimpse at what was brewing thanks to some brave cavalry scouts that had ventured deep into Latvia.*** Although precise estimates were lacking, it was clear that the German High Command was planning a major attack: 4 major armies had been concentrated: Zukauskas' army, Balodis' III. Baltic Corps, von Staabs' and von Plettenberg's armies. Now the question was where would they strike? On trains, Germany could transfer these units as far north as Narva within a matter of days. However, the two most likely targets were Polotsk and the Ostrov Line. These two positions were thus reinforced as quickly as possible.****

baltic_4.png

On November 25th, the German army struck. Their target was Polotsk. 179.000 men stormed towards the Russian positions. But instead of a mere 36.000, now 116.000 Soviet soldiers waited for them. Red artillery fire once again proved brutal. German casualties were high and for a few minutes it seemed as if Stalin's victory at Baranavichy could be repeated. But Egorov lacked Stalin's nerves. Clearly rattled by the amount of soldiers the German High Command had committed to the attack, he ordered a retreat. The Soviet soldiers left Polotsk in good order but morale had suffered a severe blow. Few understood why they had to abandon the city.*****

baltic_6-1.png

Egorov's mistake had gifted Germany an important victory. Polotsk was the first city on Soviet soil it had captured during the war. It had thus taken the Kaiser's armies 5 months before they could claim their first major success. But the price had been considerable: 5.900 Germans as opposed to 1.700 Russians had fallen at Polotsk. Nevertheless, it seemed as if Germany had finally found a strategy that allowed them to break the Russian lines.******

baltic_5.png


Next update: Can the German juggernaut continue its push east?


---------------------------------------------------------
* In retrospective, I should have tried an offensive into Estonia. Highlandcharge was extremely slow to shift his troops into Latvia and Estonia. I should have exploited this. However, I hesitated since I expected a Finnish declaration of war as soon as I would weaken Kirov's army at Petrograd.
** I was really surprised that Highlandcharge didn't try to flank my position north of Minsk. If he had cut the two railways leaving the city in eastward direction, I would have been in serious trouble. Bad weather, autumn rain had started, was limiting his movement speed, though.
*** This screenshot is from the replay. It appears as if the cavalry is already one region too far away to get a look at Daugavpils but this is misleading. It was on the move east but hadn't yet reached the next province.
Without this cavalry scout I would have been taken comnpletely by surprise. Highlandcharge staged this offensive most elegantly. He assembled his units under the cover of FOW (at least he suspected that Daugavpils was out of my sight) and than struck with overwhelming force. I got lucky, if not for that lonely cavalry regiment, I would have suffered a bad defeat.
****I send considerably more troops to Polotsk, though. There were several reasons for this:
  1. While Slaven could rely on Rahja and Nadiozhny supporting him if he was attacked, Kork couldn't expect any help.
  2. The Ostrov Line was expandable because there was an even better position just behind the river.
  3. As I have written earlier, the sector around Polotsk (or more precisely the open gap south of the city) was were I would have attacked in Highlandcharge's place.
***** Egorov had been set to standard defensive posture, I should have used all-out defense. The problem was that I didn't know exactly how strong the Germans were and I didn't want my troops to fight to the last men if they were badly outnumbered.
****** Highlandcharge's strategy was smart: assemble a huge force without the enemy realizing, then strike quickly and with overwhelming power. I was reminded of the strategies employed by Brussilov during WW I.