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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Sir Garnet

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I'll try to get back to this in the hoped-for quiet of the weekend. The Russians do make a peace offer of pocket change, but territory is the goal. Warscore costs of these regions are fairly low as they go, but still require more warscore. Recovering all of Amur wouild be good, other strategic gains along the border better - everything was at one time or another under Chinese hegemony.
 

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Attacks at Irkutsk – Cambodia Submits – Winter Difficulties - Omsk Besieged

October 1858 to December 1858

Guanwen assembled over 20,000 men, mostly good regular foot and horse, with 24 cannon and marched to Taibagti with Omsk the ultimate objective. Other troops would follow. Meanwhile a depot was set up at the northwest corner of the Qing Empire at Khangai to provide a second line of supply of the Omsk front that would later connect with Irkutsk and Ulan Bator. Guanwen secured control of Taibagti on the march and then continued across the Irtych River to assault the outpost at Semipalatinsk before deciding whether to move on to Omsk itself. Qing losses were low, but it took two assaults to force the 6000 garrison troops out of the Semipalatinsk outpost, which was as always destroyed, but the Russians were not forced out of the region.

Omsk was reported defended by garrison infantry and citadel artillery, as well as the Chinese Border Cossack Host encountered previously. Their estimated combat effectiveness exceeded that of Guanwen’s highly fatigued Regular Banner plus a Division each of Regular infantry and Cavalry plus supply wagons. Nonetheless, Guanwen decided to press on to Omsk and rely on following reinforcements to clear Semipalatinsk and join him at Omsk.

Jiang Ma Xinyi with 42,000 men and 96 cannon attacked and routed the Russians outside Irkutsk on October 15 and took the city along with its depot and Rinok. This was an exploitation center, brazenly named thus to rejoice in its ruthless exploitation of the native Siberians and those unfortunates of Russia’s many other nationalities sent to Siberia to die in the harsh conditions. These of course included members of tribes that in past centuries had sworn fealty to the Celestial Empire. Of 20,475 Russians and 30 cannon defending, 12 cannon and almost 13,000 men were captured or casualties, while Qing losses were only 2800.

The remaining Russians established an entrenched position within the region and while Ma remained inactive, much occupied with the administrative challenges of victory, much of his army was promptly regrouped as an independent force to assault these remnants on the 16th. They suffered 743 casualties in seizing 3200 prisoners and destroying the rest of the Russian force. Two regiments of supply wagons were captured from the Russians, and the Rinok was destroyed –the absence of Qing colonial penetration in the region precluded their continued existence.

Meanwhile a mixed brigade of Regulars was sent from Irkutsk to the next region northeast and a cavalry brigade was sent northwest on a raid all the way to Abakan, from which it could observe the next northern objectives of Krasnoiarsk and Tomsk. Another such brigade had gained control of Barnaoul and headed west to destroy the school at Rubtsovsk, from which it could observe Omsk.

In the Pacific areas, Her Chyun’s troops were gradually transported back, stopping at Sakhalin and along the Siberian coast on the way to secure those regions, including a landing and assault in Okhotsk against the rather squalid Governor’s Residence. Inland, the Army of Manchuria moved very slowly forward and detachments establishing Military Control struggled to secure supplies. Zeng Guofan’s march from Nerchinsk north to adjoining Iablonoby, the location of Amur Fort, became fixed in late October, further setting back plans for the subjection of the area.

At home, news came early in October that the Cambodians had submitted to peace terms requiring the maximal scheduled amount of tribute for 20 years. Although small compared with the wealth of China, it was substantial to the Cambodians and betokened their chastened confirmation of tributary status. Imperial troops in Cambodia were automatically (and conveniently) removed to the island of Hainan.

The pending Pacification in Hanoi was unfortunately unsuccessful, meaning the schedule was delayed another 6-month effort cycle. Goods were scarce due to the war effort against Russia, so while the Pacifications would continue in Hanoi they would not in Hue. First Tonkin, then the ever more surprisingly resistant Annam.

In early November word arrived from the Russian Governor General in Okhotsk of a peace offer to pay f277 annually for 2 years. This insulting offer of reparations was dismissed as an obvious ruse to cause the Qing armies to abandon their tide of victory and become passive victims for a Russian counter-attack. The Mandate of Heaven was renewed by deeds, and this required the preservation of the Imperial dignity, territory and prestige. Events so far had taken a favorable course, and were expected to continue to do so into the winter. Eventually parts of the main Russian armies would appear.

There was consequently need for prudent haste. At Semipalatinsk Guanwen took or felled the remaining 3200 Russians on November 1 at a cost of but 358 men – he did, however, lose substantial cohesion, so advanced defensively into the Omsk region where the garrison there did not interfere with investment of the town. Omsk suffered a breach and some hits in November, but the Citadel had artillery so was not without means to respond at range to an assault.

Guanwen rebuilt cohesion, but his supplies were not fully renewed. Zuo Zongtang was approaching well to the east with two Banners plus other troops, but struggling with cohesion as well. For speed, he left the most exhausted troops and Supply Wagons behind in Taibagti and pressed on to Semipalatinsk. Resting at Ulungur there was also another column of 14,700 including a Regular Banner, artillery, and a division and brigade of Cavalry plus some artillery. Ulungur was short of supplies for all the troops in the vicinity, so the depot was being further expanded to generate and transport more supplies. The logistic strain was becoming acute, and another depot was established at Semipalatinsk in early December to try to help move supplies forward.

In Central Asia, the traditional Brigade and bandits that advanced into Alataou spotted the Russian Tomsk Cossack Regiment and a Reserve Brigade plus Supply Wagons under Konstantin Semyakin (4-2-0) approaching in neighboring Yasi. The stealthy bandits changed their direction to advance into Karaganda, north of Yasi, while the regulars held back. Behind the lines farther north, Russian schools were abandoned and destroyed in Rubtsovsk and Katun as Imperial Cavalry moved to secure those regions. Unfortunately, Ma Xinyi, commanding the main northern force and apparently out of his depth, seemed permanently fixed in place at Irkutsk with the town and his army, “as if a child who has discovered new toys.” This all reflected poorly on Ma’s commander Zeng Guofan, who was to the east moving slowly himself due to lack of supplies from depots 3 regions away. He paused to construct a depot at Nerchinsk and recover cohesion for an attack on Amur Fort.

In the Pacific theaters of war, winter was settling in and Haishenwai and part of the Sea of Japan were frozen in, with likelihood of sudden freezes throughout the Sea of Okhotsk and adjoining waters. The Qing fleets in the north made haste to set course past Japan to reach the Chinese coast, while the Army of Manchuria, having at last recovered cohesion from its draining march toward Okhotsk, turned back to Nenjiang as its further contribution was unnecessary. Detachments would suffice to carry on the conquest of Siberia and the Far East – a traditional brigade breached and destroyed Okhotsk with little loss, and Russia’s Aian garrison suffered the same fate.

In Kamchatka change of control was slow, and the Levy division in the northern peninsula and the mixed brigade in the south would need to remain there and fall back into the depot once in full control – evacuation would probably need to wait for Spring. The Yellow Sea Squadron, almost out of cohesion, was caught in ice off Kamchatka for a time as it attempted to leave the sea zone, losing ships before escaping late in the month.

Early December saw no substantial combat, just a Mixed Brigade taking Urga Fort west of Irkutsk. Guanwen breached and inflicted hits on Omsk but was running low on supplies so faced the issue of whether to assault quickly at low cohesion before year-end or wait for January to replenish cohesion with the risk of running out of supplies. Reinforcements that were a thousand li away nonetheless placed a strain on the few depots in the areas of war. Orders were given for fatigued troops to remain back rather than pressing forward to exhaustion. A chain of supply had been allowed for, but the plans were colored by past experience in territories with better communications and shorter distances for supplies to travel.

Guanwen felt a sense of urgency if Omsk was to fall, yet his cohesion was low and Omsk was desirable but not essential, so he stayed his hand in mid-December. Elsewhere, however, securing control of more Siberian regions continued with only a few incidents of combat. In late December the small garrison at Yaksa in the Yakutsk Area fell to a mixed force. Despite a descending Deep Cold, 500 Imperial cavalry were took the governor’s residence at the far northern strategic objective of Tomsk, killing or captivating all the 800 garrison troops available. Taking Tomsk cut off the garrison at Krasnoiarsk, which would soon be approached by cavalry and then the Kansu Banner detached from Irkutsk to invest it.

Despite the victories, regrettable casualties were suffered across Siberia due to lack of supplies. This constraint placed difficult advances in a poor light. Zeng Guofan advanced at a glacial pace on Amur Fort, a fact which was readily contrasted with the seemingly sweeping advances elsewhere.

Guanwen was able to recover some strength resting around Omsk, and Zuo Zongtang attached himself to the freshest Regular banner available at Semipalatinsk, secured full supplies, and prepared to set off to Omsk in early January to lend his weight to Guanwen’s assault (or defense, should masses of Russians appear from the west). This reliable support was enough for Guanwen to justify an order to storm the breach in Omsk at the break of the new year in the hope that the Russians might still be sleeping away the effects of their vodka ration. His officers honed the aggressive spirits of the Imperial troops with the prospect of securing warm billets and vast stores of supplies in the town for winter quarters.
 

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War Clouds in Europe – Omsk and Krasnoiarsk Stormed - Pavlodar Relieved

January 1859

News from Europe reported that Cavour had incited rebellion in Austria’s Italian provinces and provoked Austria to make demands to cease subversion. He then ignored this note, raising a casus belli and Piedmont went on a war footing. At the same time, Wallachia and Moldavia united as the United Principalities. Could this raise war clouds for Russia in the Balkans? The Russians repeated their offer of reparations, but that of course was a clever ploy. There was continuing risk of rebel activity in south China and Indochina, but there had been no outbreaks for months. It was hoped that the years of insurrection were coming to a quiet end, but the armed forces in these areas remained watchful.

Guanwen’s assault on Omsk on January 1 went well, his 20,437 men and 24 cannon prevailing in both the artillery exchange and the assault. Guanwen lost 1845 men in the 3 hour battle in deep cold while the 11,150 Russians with 12 cannon (comprising the weakened 2nd Corps Cavalry Division, some fortress guns, and 4 garrison units) were swept away, 3400 being taken as prisoners. The Russian school was destroyed, but the Level 2 Depot taken with over 800 crates of General Supplies and a great deal of ammunition. Zuo Zongtang had been more than 10 days away so unable to march to the guns, and his troops rejoiced on arrival in a conquered town rather than to renew a feared failed assault. The fall of Omsk filled the Central Asian Army Group with great confidence, but most of the troops and many officers lacked a proper perspective of the strategic depth and strength of Russia and failed to recognize that Omsk had been defended by garrison troops and a damaged Cavalry division previously defeated by the Qing.

Three regions west of Omsk, Qing bandit raiders moving north arrived at the trade post of Troitsk, having seen no sign that Russian troops had ventured east of Ekaterinburg (other than the stationary outpost garrisons). Messengers informing him of these circumstances, Guanwen considered a further quick offensive move northwest along the Irtych through the forests of Kercy to the school town of Tobolsk, which also featured an outpost and large depot and was behind the line of the Irtych. For the remainder of January, however, his forces and those of Zuo would recover cohesion.

January 26 and 28 saw 14,000 Qing with 36 cannon besieging Krasnoiarsk assault the 6800 garrison troops defending it. The cannon were effective, the defenders losing both battles with light loss to the Qing attackers. The town and depot fell, providing the Empire with defensive positions along the Ienissei River that could threaten the flank of any Russian advance on Irkutsk should the Central Asian Army Group be driven back or aside. Fort Amur remained defiant, Zeng Guofan’s various columns experiencing grave delays in the cold. In the Okhotsk regions, there were serious casualties due to the cold and restricted supplies – the frozen sea preventing naval evacuations.

The first Russian offensive move occurred 2 regions south of Omsk at besieged Pavlodar, where the Mixed Brigade outside the town lost 768 of its 120 men when confronted in a snowbound battle by the 6600 Russians and 12 guns of the Ukraine Brigade, Chinese Border Cossack Host, and a plucky Exploration Party that proved fatally impatient in its eagerness to discover the meaning of combat. In consolation, Russian losses were substantially greater than those of the Qing raiding brigade.
 

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You have made impressive gains (I think - my Siberian geography isn't that strong, but I recognize a variety of river and city names). As loki says, supply and the vast distances appear to be your main problems so far. Of course, the Russians did just show up in the last update. Surely more will follow, but 6600 troops isn't too bad. I imagine you could handle that force, were it to make its way to the main front.
 

Sir Garnet

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Raids to the West – Zeng Guofan’s Shame – To the Urals? – Supply Crisis

February 1859 to March 1859

The Imperial forces continued their plans in February. Guanwen headed northwest along the Irtych River towards Tobolsk to seize its depot, and on February 25 a combination of bombardment and assault quickly overwhelmed the 6950 defenders and their 12 cannon. Guanwen’s 15,000 men and 22 cannon lost 1383. As was becoming usual, many prisoners were taken, and vast quantities of supplies in its level 3 depot. Tobolsk was three regions east of the Ural Mountain city of Ekaterinburg; it would be important to destroy the intervening outposts and pillage the areas to make them inhospitable for the Russians.

At Amur Fort, the Fanatics arrived but were essentially combat-ineffective. They were unable to stand and took significant loss. The Russian Transbaikal Cossack Regiment rode down against Nerchinsk and surprised Zeng Guofan’s advancing column of troops, completely fatigued by the rigors of a winter march cross-country. The Qing army was tumbled back in disorder and the Cossacks seized the Qing-built Nerchinsk depot. Zeng Guofan, humiliated, retired west so he could be supplied by wagons from Irkutsk while still menacing Amur Fort. To the east of Nerchinsk, the Qing detachments consolidated for defense.

A break in the weather in the Sea of Okhotsk allowed the division in the far north at Magadan to sail down to Haishenwai rather than moving to secure the last region to the east before the sea blocked movement to Kamchatka – ice caused serious losses before they arrived at their destination. The depot in Kamchatka proved adequate to sustain the small forces there, and across the rest of Siberia behind the western front Qing forces were seeking supplies first, and concerning themselves last with destroying the northern outposts and adding to Qing control. To find quartering locations in February was the priority - there would be time in better weather to complete that task.

To address supply issues, the Secretariat of War successfully obtained approval for construction of a supply road to connect the northwest of China with the Altai on the far side of Sinkiang, whereat a greater depot was under construction. In international affairs, Austria was promised local support by Prussia in early February.

In early March a bandit battalion stole into Ekaterinburg and seized this strategic town. From there they revealed the startling fact that Ufa lacked a garrison and there was only an internal police unit in adjoining Perm, by far the largest city (level 6) in the Urals. Upon word of this arriving at Omsk, Guanwen ordered the division of Qing cavalry patrolling west of Omsk to ride to reinforce the small bandit detachment and engage in such depredations as they could in the Urals.

This news would certainly cause the reverse at Nerchinsk to be overlooked. To those in China and elsewhere only looking at a map, news of Imperial forces in the Urals would appear as though a victorious Qing tide had washed across Asia up to the Urals at the fringe of Europe. Guanwen knew that the Manchu onslaught would raise memories of the Mongol floods of past centuries to stir fear and discontent in European Russia – that this success was not more than a bandit band on a lucky raid need not be mentioned.

To be sure, the Urals appeared to be lightly defended at the moment and to seize them would be a powerful stroke against the Russians. However, although the towns of the Urals could provide enough supplies to sustain an army of reasonable size, the flow of supplies from China for a larger force was so long and slender and the ability of the Russians to sustain a large armies attacking into the Urals so solid that a further advance risked stepping from victorious confidence into vainglorious rashness. Raid and skirmish, yes, but Guanwen would not be the one to initiate a general advance – though be it ordered from above he would comply.

The Cossacks at Nerchinsk were watched by their resting opponents, so there were no notable battles or skirmishes in early March, but the flow of attrition from the harsh climate as well as losses at sea from ice bound units continued through the north as detachments struggled to pacify obscure regions and the slowing flow of troops moving west to the front left their tribute of blood to Winter.

In late March, the roving Qing bandits were as expected driven out of Ekaterinburg by troops from Perm and local irredentist Russian rebels – they retired to the northeast. An attempted raid farther south bogged down in the weather, and on the western front troops mostly shifted only to seek better supply conditions. The flow of reinforcements from the Chinese heartland to the theaters of war was ordered to halt and some of these forces relocated away from the supply chain of depots to avoid draining the flow of supplies intended for the forward troops. Bad weather seemed to further impair the transit of supplies between depots unless they were adjacent, and the Secretariat of War initiated another depot to act as a bridge across the mountains to Altai. The Secretariat of War took advantage of the recent impressive gains by the Imperial armies to disclose its budget for yet further investment in the Altai supply route, presented as a necessity not only to sustain the forward troops during the war but maintain a strong border force in peacetime.

The memorials also emphasized the strategic importance of Irkutsk and the need to secure it or push the border north enough to isolate it in order to limit Russian offensive capabilities in Siberia in a second war in the future. The current war might well encourage the Russians to build a railroad to Irkutsk, or beyond, which would allow the rapid transportation of troops as well as large quantities of supplies directly to the Mongolian and Manchurian frontiers. Eastern Siberia, now a ravaged wilderness isolated from the Russian homeland by distance, could possibly become a dangerous enemy base of operations.
 
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You've made stunning advances across the tractless Siberian wastes. Ironically, it's threatening you with the very problem you were hoping to impose on the Russians: an overstretched supply network leading to faltering forces. Still, it's mostly a luxury problem, as you can decide to retreat to more defensible positions at will. Oh, and the fact that you've come to threaten Ufa and Perm: impressive. :)
 

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The Russians repeatedly offer reparations. While most of the territory is near worthless in warscore, there is not enough warscore to achieve meaningful territorial objectives yet. The hope is that occupation plus some defensive victories in the spring will provide the basis for a "glorious victory" settlement of some sort. If things go badly, there are fallback positions. China could really benefit from a European war that drags in Russia!

Supply is an issue - the high days-to-enter against Amur Fort is a real impediment (much like colonial campaigning in Africa). It is, however, nice to see that the Russians left around there have some supply issues as well.
 

PrawnStar

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Just checking through my subscriptions and realised this hasn't seen any life for a while - any chance of an update?

I was very much enjoying it even if some of the game mechanics are a mystery at times.
 

Sir Garnet

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Thank you for your support. I was hoping to carry it at least through to a peace in the hope of accumulating enough warscore, but that requires victories and the Russian response has seemed sluggish. Maybe they are unable to support the cost of the war effort so it is just waiting through a lot of turns for score to slowly accrue? That would be too bad, since the military side of the game is great fun - for China the non-military side in the then-current version manageable but not with a wide range of options.

I was also looking for another free or cheap screen capture and markup utility that is not hard to use but provides good symbol and label options since those make make all the difference to images.

Family and workload intervened. I was thinking of updating and continuing with time available this summer, but the dilemma remains whether to patch or not. I understand the "d" update has some issues, that another incremental patch is in process, and that patching may cause glitches.
 

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Dang! I saw you had posted and was hoping for an update! :) Oh well, I can certainly understand the dilemma of to patch or not to patch, as well as the annoying tendency of Real Life to demand priority over game-playing. ;) Let me just say that, if you do decide to continue, I'll be happy to follow along, and if you decide not to continue, then I'll be happy for the entertainment you've already offered. So thanks, either way. :)
 

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I have found the 1.02 patch very stable, the 1.02b and 1.02d both have the loyalty bug in them which annoys me and I can't be doing with. The only difference between 1.02 and the latest patches are that they have fixed the layout of the diplomacy screen, go ahead with just 1.02 my friend :p
 

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Small War, Quiet Spring – Taiping Trouble – The Ufa Raid – The Public Story

April 1859 to May 1859

April began well for China, with as substantial victory for the recovering Chinese in Nerchinsk in eastern Siberia where the depot had been seized by the Cossack raiders from Amur Fort, who were now exhausted and exposed behind enemy lines. On April 16 the Cossacks retreated before battle but the Russian depot garrison that had just been established was cut in half by over 3000 well-supplied Chinese regulars and native horse, and there were only a few remnants after being engaged again on May 2. Zeng Guofan, meanwhile, ordered another concerted advance against Fort Amur.

On the western front on April 8 the 575 remaining men the 183rd Mixed Brigade eliminated the 400-man Governor’s garrison at St. Paul’s Mission in Pavlodar, south of Omsk. The Russians burned the adjoining school as they fled. The 164th Regular Banner arrived on the scene as well with supply train, but its cohesion was exhausted. There being no direct crossings back over the Irtych south of Omsk or much north of Semipalatinsk, this column fell back to the southeast to draw nearer to the Altai supply chain while the 183 Mixed battalion roving to the west began south toward the fort, trading post and school at Karaganda – the Russian Prospecting force there was unable to retreat but then won a lucky engagement on May 5. The Imperial detachment fell back, but late in May some cavalry drawing on a supply unit that moved up to Tarbagtai (next to two depots of the Irtych line) advanced along the Kokand-Russian border through Alataou to establish order there and push control towards the Aral Sea on a route south of the Russian outpost at Karaganda. Scouts, however, reported that the 6th Cossack Host (Div) previously seen north along the Irtych had moved south in to the steppes to the school in Tenghiz, west of Karaganda, from which it could block any small probes.

With warmer weather, in the area between Tomsk and Omsk and all along the northern fringe of the advance, small detachments set out to secure the northern wastes and few outposts flying the Russian flag. Even in better weather, wear and tear on the forces in the wilds beyond civilized China continued. Fortunately, replacements could be raised – however, supply was not an easy issue on the front line.

May 2 saw a glorious victory in Nerchinsk, crushing the garrison. In the Far East, a small force was embarked on the Sea of Okhotsk to travel by coastal transport to secure Kolyma north of Kamchatka, the last Russian-controlled province in the east.

The Russians were found in unexpected strength at Bratsk Fort north of Irkutsk. The Banner sent up was exhausted, so was followed by Shuan Ma Xinyi’s Shensi Banner from Irkutsk and the Russian garrison, outnumbered more than 10:1, was defeated without Imperial loss and Ma Xinyi was commended.

In the Urals, the probing cavalry division lost cohesion and evaded south from Ekaterinburg toward Ufa, which was undefended but the cavalry, lacking all cohesion, could not take control until early May, when hundreds of supplies and ammunition wagons fell into their hands. This was well west of the most advanced Russian force, the 6th Cossack Host probing the Irtych river line between Omsk and Tobolsk. While the strong forces on the Irtych line considered a strike against this force, the news from Ufa had not yet reached them so there was no cause to think of changing Guanwen’s defensive strategy. Russian troops arrived at Ufa from the west late in May but lacked the strength to make an assault.

The bandits driven northeast from Ekaterinburg pillaged the far northern Irbit region which lay between the Ural towns and the Russian outposts of Tyumen and Kurgan along the upper Irtych, facing Guanwen’s own 15,000 men and 48 guns across the river at the stronghold of Tobolsk. This size 1 city and size 3 depot was the most westward Imperial base, the northern end of the Irtych defensive line, which followed the river southeast past the central bastion of Omsk, Semipalatinsk farther southeast, and lastly the depot of Ulungur in the Altai, just inside de jure China. Tobolsk may be visualized on the globe as being well due north of Afghanistan, or as somewhat north of halfway between St. Petersburg and Lake Baikal – in other words, quite a long way through trying terrain.

Thinking to take advantage of the distraction of the Siberian War, in April Taiping rebels reappeared in widespread locations – suffering defeats in Changde, Nanning, Zhanjiang and Anshun, but a strong force seized control of Beihai on the southern coast and fortified themseves. Fortunately, the response was rapid and well-practiced, with mobile forces quickly converging to deal with the Taiping. At Guiyang in West Hunan Sengge Rinchen’s largely cavalry force of nearly 6000 men easily demolished the opposing Taiping regulars and levies, taking 2000 prisoners while the rest fled north to Chungking, where they were brought to bay and defeated on May 16, but broke off west to Luzhou. Near the Yangtze farther east, the 1100 Taiping besieging Changsha were outnumbered and also reduced to a remnant which was driven east into neighboring Dijan and overrun by pursuers on May 7. At Nanning in the south, however, 2000 Imperial levies were defeated by a similar number of Taiping, who seized the strategic province when other Imperial troops failed to arrive in time. Reinforcements in early May dislodged the Taiping from the city, but the strong (51 power) brigade remained in the field, so reinforcements were sent in from Mengzi. The 5250 Taiping were caught by the 13,050 men and 48 cannon of Kweichow Banner on May 16 and evaporated after a relatively light defeat.

Just north in Luzhou, the Taiping besiegers were scattered to the winds, but in coastal Beihai the Taiping Fortress artillery battalion was well-entrenched to stand siege and remained unbreached despite the efforts of the 96 cannon of the besiegers.

At home, Governors’ consulates were completed in Seoul, Korea, in Ulaan Bator, Mongolia, and in Tarim (for Xizang in far west China). Technology advanced, with Early Railroad being first understood – and its enormous material costs realized. Tobacco field development commenced in Annam because China was unable to purchase what it desired on the market.

National morale drifted up from 72 to 73 during these two months. A Russian peace offer was made including 269 cash and the regions of Ulan Ude and Chita south of Baikal, and a further offer of 269 cash for three years. The provinces were strategically significant, since the route south of Lake Baikal ran through them, but this was considered quite insufficient for a secure and beneficial peace. Evidence of dissent in eastern Russia became known when it was announced that rebels in two provinces were given amnesty.

Elsewhere in the world, Spain declared war on Morocco in early April, the USA remained at war with holdout fragments of the CSA, and Persia continued its war on the rump of northern Afghanistan not already acquired by the British. On the more peaceful side, Prussia courted Baden with a state visit, and Belgium repeatedly rejected curbs on Noble privilege and authorized a new roads program in April, then banned child labor in May. How strange and cruel are the Belgians! Legislators approve a beneficial project of building roads for the people and then starve the weakest of the people by denying them employment in the construction.

The lack of heavy fighting for months meant there was little news coming out of Russia for the European and American newspapers, which grudgingly only admitted there had been a repulsed raid on Ekaterinburg and skirmishes east of the Urals. With much heavier fighting being expected, Russian reticence was interpreted as masking more dire developments and therefore creative accounts of ambushes, raids, and desperate struggles against Chinese hordes in the woods and snow began to color the pages of European tabloids hungry for news copy. These fictitious engagements started to shift the initial public sympathies for the Chinese to the suffering Russian bear, praised by some as the gallant shield of Europe against the new hordes from the east. Both the ambitious and the curious speculated as to whether the events revealed that China was impossibly strong, or that Russia was unexpectedly weak.

What effect could such reports have upon the Chinese population when the news reached them? The Imperial government issued sparing bulletins downplaying the difficulties and immense distances surmounted and emphasizing that the main forces of the fierce and tricksome Russians had not yet been engaged. This was a prudent precaution against any unfortunate reverse. In the Forbidden City, however, not only in the circles concerned with military affairs, there was increasing sentiment that the advance was over-cautious. The Russians had offered no forceful opposition to the advance to the Urals, and the strength and importance of the Urals made it obvious on the map that advantages must be taken to conclude the war favorably. In the event of a reverse, the Irtych line would remain as a bulwark of defense.
 

Sir Garnet

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So far the Russian forces of up to divisional size have only dribbled into the theatres of war (the scope of the battle fronts actually includes quite a number of theatres). The anticipated major Russian counteroffensive has not materialized although spring has been passing and it is almost summer. Maybe the Russians won't release that many troops from their more important western frontiers? Maybe the threat won't seem severe to them unless it penetrates the Urals? With warscore only in the 30s after a year of conquest, it could be a long time until the Russians make or accept a desirable offer.

The question then is whether to wait, just clearing the outposts in the east and encroachng further, or make a serious probing attack on the unfortified cities of the Urals north of Orsk and east of Kazan with the 2 regular and 1 traditional banners in the cities along the Irtych line, bringing up some supports to garrison those towns. Opportunity and danger are as two sides of a coin.
 

PrawnStar

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Good to see you updating :)

I'd suggest you definitely want to clear out as much Russian stuff from the East as you can - seems to me they'll always be a source of danger so force them to have to take time and use resource to build towards you again.

Whether or not that will allow you to push towards the Urals as a second effort I don't know - but it's tempting!
 

Sir Garnet

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Loki, it is I think the natural course of events in such an alternate history if China showed such strength that it would cause concern among European powers interested in the Far East, and considering the somewhat shocked reaction to the Russo-Japanese War historically. In game, Britain and France have acquired colonial CBs against China, liable to lead to confrontation. However, China's military power stat may give some more reason to consider before taking action. Also, I assume the AI takes relative strengths and intentions into consideration in some way, and the Siberian War means fear of Russian efforts at Eastern European hegemony will be diminished and replaced with speculative concerns regarding Romanov weakness.

Prawn, I shall do a probabilistic decision tree for the Imperial Government, military command at home, and the commanders in the field and work through that. All to be described. Appropriate suggestions are welcome.

I need to find time to learn GIMP in order to produce useful screenshots. In between images, a narrative description of relative geography should give an impression of the action and strategy without a handy map.
 

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Loki, it is I think the natural course of events in such an alternate history if China showed such strength that it would cause concern among European powers interested in the Far East, and considering the somewhat shocked reaction to the Russo-Japanese War historically. In game, Britain and France have acquired colonial CBs against China, liable to lead to confrontation. However, China's military power stat may give some more reason to consider before taking action. Also, I assume the AI takes relative strengths and intentions into consideration in some way, and the Siberian War means fear of Russian efforts at Eastern European hegemony will be diminished and replaced with speculative concerns regarding Romanov weakness.

this answer almost convinces me to dive back into PoN in an attempt to work out how to play it - its just for the stage when you are trying out options and know you'll have to go back, or you're interested in testing interaction, the turn ending is such a barrier.

I need to find time to learn GIMP in order to produce useful screenshots. In between images, a narrative description of relative geography should give an impression of the action and strategy without a handy map.

I use faststone capture. There is a freeware version that just takes full screen images (that you can then edit in any editor you wish) or a cheapish paid version. The advantage of the latter is you can take an image of just a portion of a screen or annotate it as you take the image (this is handy for an AAR as it reminds you later what you wanted to show, since I usually write well behind my game play this is particularly useful)
 

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Hey! Update! Excellent news! And the war against Russia continues to fare well, which is also very good (as is your commentary on the 'strange and cruel Belgians' - a phrase one doesn't see very often these days :)).

As far as your options against Russia are concerned, I would suggest that you consider whether you can live with the loss of those forces you tentatively earmarked for some Ural city sightseeing - if you can afford to lose them and can still mount a decent defence somewhere deeper in Siberia, then there isn't much risk and a large potential gain. If those troops are critical, on the other hand, I wouldn't do it - I don't pretend to know the game to any degree, but I worry that you might trigger a much stronger Russian response, which could easily overpower your Urals Expeditionary Force. Not to mention the fact that, if you need to retreat from the Urals (because, say, the Russian hordes finally show up and beat your banners silly), it's a very long way back to safety.

My two cents, take 'em for what they're worth (which might not be much, given my general understanding of the game). :)