Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Supercampaign V - Battle of the Shu-Shihung Gap

Appropriately dressed for any occasion!
Very exciting news as I can today report our first game in Supercampaign V: Doomed but Defiant.  This is a participation Supercampaign following the Siege of Port Arthur in 1904, in what is now China.  We're all very honoured to have Paul of The Man Cave fame joining in as the Japanese commander, giving orders by email.

We're fighting this campaign out in near real time over a number of months.  Expect further updates as the siege progresses!  The story so far - the Japanese have surrounded the town and are pounding it with artillery fire.  The Russians are taking unsustainable losses, and so decide to exploit a small gap in the Japanese circumvellations to launch a raid.

On a technical note, this is the first 'distance wargame' I've played.  It's essentially a solo NPC game, I just stay in regular turn-by-turn contact with the players, who give me broad orders via Whatsapp.  I'd love to hear if anyone has ever tried anything like this before.


Russians marked in green, Japanese are red.

The Russians try to break through to the Japanese rear - skirting round the fortified town of Shi-Shihung.  They are stopped by timely Japanese reenforcements pouring in from the surrounding areas, but manage to inflict heavy casualties.  Of note was the courage of Colonel von Hartmann, who personally led the assault on a machine-gun bunker!

Artillery and machine gun fire was actually not very effective.  The battle took place at night, and so most of the casualties came from close combat.  The Russians were very good at assaulting defended positions, helped by the dispersed Japanese defenders.  The Japanese struggled to bring their strength to bear at first but within five turns had enough men on the field to force a hasty retreat.


Above - an overview of the battlefield.  Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn't have my terrain with me, so you can see I managed to improvise hills and a battlefield!


And with the troops set out.  Each marker refers to one battalion of the respective brigade.  The one marked 'infantry' is just a generic Russian unit.


Initial moves.  Voronov sweeps his Guards in to lay down a covering fire while von Hartmann moves up to assault the gap.


From the Japanese perspective as the Guards' assault smashes home.  The Japanese are spread along the trenches, making them easy prey - but a surprise machine gun takes out 60-70 Russians before it can be silenced.  Fresh troops pour on from the bottom of the picture...


As the combat continues, General Oshima detaches troops from 18 Brigade to attack the Russians in their exposed flank.


The regular Russian infantry, seeing troops stripped from the town, try their luck at assaulting Shi-Shihung but are beaten back with horrific losses.


Meanwhile, back in the trenches the Russians form up to receive the attacks!  Two successive battalion assaults are launched but both are beaten back - thanks largely to the 'spur' in the trench which allows some of the Russians to dig in.


However, just as things look dire for the Japanese, a fresh battalion from 1st Brigade further to the west arrives in their rear.  The Russians withdraw back up the hill - quickly and cleanly, but perhaps a touch ignominiously.

17 comments:

  1. Awesome write up. I really enjoy these.
    How the heck do you manage so many costumes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! This is certainly the way forward, picture overviews are so much better for busy bloggers and it's also a great reminder for years down the line.

      I have a cupboard of them! Organised by century...

      Delete
    2. "Organised by century..."
      I love this man.

      Delete
  2. Oh I did a Napoleonic PBM a year ago, I'll draft something up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent, looking forward to that.

      Delete
  3. Unusual and very nice report!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil, glad you enjoyed it, it was certainly a fun game to play. In what way unusual, would you say? The solo play aspect?

      Delete
  4. A superb write up sir. It was a fantastic game to play, slightly different from the usual PBM in the battles are played live over Whatsapp, slightly reminiscent of Time Commanders but over distance. I am, &c, Col K. R. Voronov

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly was a novel experiment, but anything that increases the mumber of games we can play gets my vote!

      Delete
  5. Ackland already got in my question on the uniforms. Am rather envious - I do love a day of costuming and parade.

    Lovely write up mate. I think the makeshift hills are rather splendid! Sounds like a rough slog for those poor Soviets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have to do a post on the War Drobe soon! It certainly was a slog for the PBI. More to follow!

      Delete
    2. Soviets? Pah! Those are the lackeys of the degenerate and greedy Tsar!

      Delete
    3. Oof! I need to read up my histories before i post!

      Delete
  6. I'm really enjoying it and the weekly turns dont take nearly as long as I thought they might.
    At my end, I receive the end of week repot and write a campaign diary (usually a page long) of what I thought of the week's events, how it fits in or changes my strategy and what I hope to accomplish in the coming week. I keep that to myself in a folder, email Ed my orders for the week, and then cross my fingers.

    Where necessary, Ed emails me with a 'dispatch from the front' where a specific event might need additional clarification or redirection of forces in response to an enemy action.

    Overall I think it works very well. I FEEL like I am controlling an Army level formation. I consider the plans and give direction but have little control over the outcomes, only the 'what next'. I think this is far more realistic from a theme perspective. No doubt exactly how Lord Raglan felt when the Light Brigade charged off in a manner which was not quite what he had in mind...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS I'm the Japanese Commander, playing from Australia :-)

      Delete
    2. I guessed as much. :)

      Certainly sounds fun and engaging. Thanks for detailing how it all worked!

      Delete
  7. It's interesting how it's developing. All our previous Supercampaigns have been run at a lower level of command, and when we're all closer together - at least in the same town. Now I've moved away, and Paul's out of the area as well, it's led to a much more sedate pace. That detachment is actually working well, as Paul pointed out - it gives you a real sense of 'army command', as opposed to wargaming where you control everything right down to platoon level, like a sort of hive mind.

    ReplyDelete