marjaerwin: (Default)
In early August, the two Gothic armies converged from Cabyle [Yambol] and near Dibaltum [Debelt] towards Hadrianopolis [Edirne] and Ostodizum/Nice [Havsa]. [For simplicity, these will be described as the western and eastern armies, because I'm not convinced that the former was more 'Thervingian' or the latter was more 'Greuthungian.'] At the same time the Roman armies concentrated near Hadrianopolis and advanced against their Gothic opponents.

The Antonine Itinerary lists a road from Cabyle to Hadrianopolis, but archaeologists have not yet located it. If the road passed west of the Tonzus [Tundzha] River, it could have passed immediately west of the Tonzus Gorge. In this case, the Gothic army would need to cross to the east bank of the Tonzus River, preferably at a safe distance from the Roman Army, possibly north of the Tonzus Gorge. If the road passed east of the Tonzus [Tundha] River, it could have passed immediately east of the Tonzus Gorge, or through the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass. In this case, the Gothic army would avoid the need to cross the river.

The Antonine Itinerary lists a road from Anchialus and Dibaltum to Ostodizum/Nice, but archaeologists have only located parts of it. Konstantin Gospodinov argues that the road passed through the [Strandzha] Pass and then forked, with the main branch leading to Hadrianopolis and a secondary branch leading to Ostodizum/Nice.

Ammianus notes that Valens stationed light infantry and light cavalry to watch the passes through the Sakar and Strandzha mountains. The Roman outposts were unable to stop the Gothic armies from crossing the passes [on about August 5th]. The western Gothic army kept fifteen miles from Hadrianopolis while marching towards Nice. They had marched some three days from the pass when Fritigern sent a presbyter to Valens to negotiate [on August 8th]. The next day Valens and the Roman army marched out to attack the western Gothic camp [on August 9th].

Ammianus notes that the Roman army set out shortly after dawn. Ammianus' text is unclear whether the Roman army marched for eight miles or eight hours before reaching the Gothic camp. However, he states that the Romans marched through the middle of the day, apparently states that the armies fought through the afternoon, though his semi-astrological language is again unclear, and states that Valens fell after nightfall. I think this suggests a march of eight hours, and closer to fifteen miles than eight.

[Muratçali] and [Demirhanli] are the most widely-suggested battlefields. Simon MacDowall argues for [Muratçali], while Ferdinand Rünkel and Peter Donelly argue for [Demirhanli].

[Muratçali] is a defensible site, with reliable water supplies, and with woods and swamps impeding any approach from the south. But if the western Gothic army is marching towards Nice, and keeping its distance from the Roman army, [Muratçali] is in the wrong direction. [Muratçali] is about ten miles from [Edirne], ten miles from the Tonzus Gorge, and twelve miles from the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass.

[Demirhanli] is not as defensible, but it is in the right direction. [Demirhanli] is about ten miles from [Edirne], nineteen miles from the Tonzus Gorge, and seventeen miles from the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass.

Ammianus notes that the Gothic armies camped within a rampart of carts and wagons. Zosimus notes that the Gothic armies had many wagons, but does not note the rampart. Oxen were the most common draft animals in the Roman world. Oxen would limit the pace of any large Gothic army.

I suspect the western Gothic army arrived by the [Bujuk Dervent] Pass following the Cabyle-Hadrianopolis road. Once they were out of the mountains, they reached rolling hills cut by several northeast-southwest streams. A direct route towards Ostodizum/Nice would have required repeated zigs across the streams and zags along the ridges. An alternative route would take one long zig making for the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road below the mountains, perhaps somewhere around modern [Geçkinli], and then one long zag along the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road.

As noted above, Ammianus states that the western Gothic army kept fifteen miles from Hadrianopolis. Depending on the location of the Tarpudisum-Ostodizum road, this alternative route would bring them no closer than thirteen miles and no farther than seventeen miles from Hadrianopolis, while an approach through [Demirhanli] would put them only ten miles from Hadrianopolis. More importantly, this route would have kept the western Gothic army farther from the Roman armies and closer to the eastern Gothic army arriving by the [Strandzha] Pass.

On flat ground, oxen can move about twelve miles each day, usually at one-and-a-half to two miles an hour; allowing two miles of work to form the wagon rampart each day, the army can move about ten miles each day. Climbing [Golam Dervent] Pass would take several hours' work, and the oxen could only move about three miles per day. Once they had topped the pass, they could move faster and might camp one or two miles south of the pass. As they descend into the plain, they can approach ten miles per day. Crossing [Syrt Chiftlik], [Syrt Mach], and the other ridges would take an extra half-hour's work each.

If they cross [Golem Dervent] Pass on [August 5th], they can move about twenty-five miles, crossing five ridges, in the next three days [August 6th through 8th]. A direct route, if it were practical, would leave them only about five miles from Nice [Havsa]. An alternative route, cutting towards the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road, could at best reach modern [Haskoy] or at worst approach modern [Musuldzha].

I suspect the most likely battlefield is north of modern [Haskoy] and on the ridge west of the [Suloglu] River, especially if the Tarpudisum-Ostudizum road ran west of the river. No one spot stands out as more defensible than the rest of the ridge, although the area south and east of [Gechkinli] looks moderately defensible.

The largest uncertainty concerns Ammianus' meaning as he refers to 'the next three days,' probably from August 6th through August 8th. I assume he is referring to the next three days after the Goths cross the [Golem Dervent] Pass but I cannot be certain of this.
marjaerwin: (Default)

Well, it's not always the same. I'd geek out because I wanted to set things right, I'd geek out partly because I wanted to know what was wrong and how and what could be right and how, but also, because I wanted to know for its own sake. I delight in stories. I delight in exploration. I tend to back away from judgement.

I designed a game of protest tactics in the Battle of Seattle, but the situation has changed, and the lessons seem out-of-date. And I never figured out how to cover practical day-to-day activism, pre-protest organizing, street theater, except abstractly, getting food and shelter and enough bike locks, street medicine, or coping with police harassment and/or post-traumatic stress, each of which is just as important.

I want to design a roleplaying game, tentatively titled 'Every Empire Creates its own Resistance,' on trying to make do as people find themselves on the edges of a steadily-narrowing society in a self-destructive Empire.

But it's pretty dark, and I'm coping with other stuff.

Once my hands heal I'll finish some of my historical games.

I doubt I'll design a hard-core activist roleplaying game in the next few years. I am more likely to try to create an escapist fantasy where, for example, certain parties have slipped lesbian concentrate into the water supply, with more dramatic effects than they had dared to expect. It wouldn't be about our-world activism, it would be about escape, but in such an escape, I hope to create a healing space, and heal, and regain the strength to help heal the world.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Snce it's hard to attach files to Livejournal, I'll link to the posts on Consimworld, with photos:

*Makhno's Return* playtest, August 30th, 2010.

M. Erwin, solitaire. Updated version, using the minimum at-start Makhnovist forces and the maximum retreating Volunteer forces.

September IV 1919

Makhnovists defeat the Simferopol Officers' regiment and march east. Directory sends three regiment-sized divisions around the White flank toward Tiraspol.

October I 1919

Makhnovists and Directory move first. Directory takes Odesa on a 1:2 attack. Makhnovist infantry takes Lisavethrad. Makhnovist cavalry reaches Hulyai Pole.

Whites scramble to hold their bases around Mariupol and get back into supply near Ochakiv.

October II 1919

Whites move first. They naval-move one brigade from near Odesa to Berdiansk via Kerch. They cut off Odesa and retake the city.

Makhnovists take Katerynoslav and Volnovakha. Their cavalry threatens Taganrog.

October III 1919

Whites move first. They surround and destroy the Makhnovist cavalry, three units, near Taganrog.

November I-II 1919

Only 4 White units desert. 3 are replaced in the same phase. The Whites retake Lozova and Orekhiv.

Directory forces repulsed at Odesa, but the White concentration against Makhno is looking quite risky. Makhnovists defeat the Chechen Horse Division. (Without their own cavalry, they are hard-pressed to threaten White bases.)

November III-IV 1919

Whites take Oleksandrivsk and Hulyai Pole. They fall back to more defensible positions in the Odesa sector.

Makhnovists send two infantry regiments and the remaining tatchankas into the White rear to try to disrupt the White offensive. Directory moves its forces toward Kherson.

December I-II 1919

Makhnovist forces forced-march to try to take Mariupol. They lose one regimet in the forced march, bringing the attack to 1:2. They are repulsed. Directory forces take Kherson.

Whites take Katerynoslav and reinforce Taganrog.

December III-IV 1919

Whites attempt forward defense from Poltava, to just south of Kharkiv, to Luhanske, with reserves at Lozova. They retake Kherson.

Bolshevik attacks cut through White positions. Bolshevik forces rail-move through the breakthrough and occupy the Donets basin. (That may seem strange, but similar rail-mounted offensives were common in 1918 and weren't unknown even in late 1919.) Retreating Whites cut those Bolsheviks' supply lines in the 2nd combat phase, but the Reds continue to advance aggressively.

January I-II 1920

Makhnovists are unable to retake Oleksandrivsk.

Horse Army takes Rostov. Latvian Riflemen take Mariupol.

The Whites still control enough cities, particularly including Katerynoslav, Kamianske and Oleksandrivsk, to win without playing through their turn. Given their losses, their position is no better than it historically was, but they *do* hold some cities they had historically lost.

Overall Result

The updates seem to work fairly well. The mobilization system and supply system have seen the biggest changes, and both worked surprisingly well. The new supply system might work better if the Whites are x3 when in supply instead of x4. The Bolsheviks and Directory are x2. The combat system should be bloodier. The Whites suffered few losses but they were able to rebuild their losses at the rear-area bases the Makhnovists were trying to take. All, or at least most, of their units should have to remobilize at their parent armies' forward bases.

The victory conditions should penalize the Whites for excessive losses – counting logistical bases if not other units. The Whites effectively won the game by destroying the Makhnovist cavalry and nearly, but not quite, lost that by defending too far forward.

It's going to take more experimentation to see how well the initial Makhnovist raid, and various White responses, work. It looks like the maximum estimate for the retreating Whites is too strong; not strong enough to stop the Red Army, but strong enough to delay them in ways that seem historically doubtful.

P.S. In the December and January photos, units are rotated if out-of-supply in the last friendly supply phase. The final game should include out-of-supply markers for ambiguous cases.

*Fall of the Directory* playtest, November 26th, 2010.

Marja Erwin, solitaire. Updated version. The current combat results table is bloodier than the previous one; the current forced march table is more generous. The game now uses one-week turns throughout the year, and reduces movement rates in frozen weather. The game will use a two-step mobilization system, with forming units. I have yet to write up the rules for the two-step mobilization system, and am playing it by ear. *Fall of the Directory* also includes political rules. These could later be adapted to a chit-draw system, like Joseph Miranda's *Ancient World* series.

December IV 1918

Although, when they organized into regiments, the Makhnovists would form 5 weak regiments, it better reflects their strength and capabilities to give them two regiment-sized units and one local/militia unit. The striking group takes Katerynoslav, which the Whites have abandoned and the Directory has not occupied in any strength. The Bolsheviks can place an urban uprising unit adjacent to the city, and they get one for each major city, but they keep it in reserve for better opportunities.

At the start of the game, the Bolsheviks have 8 rifle regiments and 2 more forming. They advance all along the front. Right now, the supply multiples are harsh, perhaps too harsh, for the Volunteers and the Directory; the Bolsheviks actually had a logistical advantage at this point, although the Volunteers would have the advantage once Entente supplies reached them. Their supply advantage allows 2 Bolshevik regiments to get a 3:2 attack on 2 Directory regiments at Kharkiv. They capture the city, and mobilize 3 forming units using the captured equipment.

January I 1919

Bolsheviks move first. Directory forces drive off the first Bolshevik attack on Chernihiv. Bolshevik forces surround the 2 Directory units which had retreated from Kharkiv the previous turn, and eliminate them, including one of their irreplaceable elite units. Directory forces drive off another Bolshevik attack on Chernihiv, inflicting heavy losses. Bolshevik forces cut the Poltava-Lozova railroad.

Directory moves second. They declare war, which removes certain movement restrictions and allows them to remove bases and mobilize, starting next turn. It has political costs, and allows the Russian Bolsheviks to intervene to support their Ukrainian allies They retake Katerynoslav. They have 1 unit stranded in the Donbas, where it can't defeat the Volunteers or the Bolsheviks, and would be lost. The Bolshevik advance has cut the rail line back to Poltava, so they will need to march as fast as possible. They forced march. They fall back from Poltava – the Bolsheviks will probably capture the base next turn, but the Directory can't do anything about that but hope for lucky die rolls.

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move last. They convert one of the forming units to a new cavalry brigade. They remove the base – the Hetmanate's arms stores – in Odesa, and place 2 forming units. The Directory beats off a Polish attack on Rozdilna, inflicting heavy losses. The French take Berezivka.

January II 1919

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move first. They shift their forces toward Kherson.

Directory moves second. Since they move before the Bolsheviks, they can convert the base at Poltava before the Bolsheviks capture it. They reinforce Chernihiv. With only one political effort remaining, they keep it for emergencies.

Bolsheviks move last. They receive several Russian units because the Directory has declared war. They persuade Zeleny to switch sides. Most of these enter the Donets basin, avoiding the need for the Ukrainians to divert units to the area. The Bolsheviks stake Chernihiv with a 1:1 attack – they need to take Directory bases to mobilize their own units, so luck in these battles can really tip the balance.

January III 1919

Volunteers and Intervention Forces move first. The 1st Division lands at Mariupol. The 156th French Division takes Kherson.

Directory persuades Zeleny to return to their side. They trade their base at Kyiv for 3 more forming units. They surround and eliminate Bolshevik rebels near the city. Their forces, defeated at Chernihiv the previous turn, return to Kyiv. They concentrate their southern and eastern units toward Piatakhatki and give up Kamianske and Katerynoslav, hoping that other requirements will draw Bolshevik forces away from Poltava and the above cities.

Bolsheviks again persuade Zeleny to switch sides. The Directory used their last political effort on him, and the Bolsheviks have 2 left over. The Bolsheviks take Horlivka. They pursue the Directory to Kremenchuk, giving the Directory no time to reorganize.

January IV 1919

Bolsheviks move first. The fail to persuade Grigoriev to switch sides. Directory forces drive back their first attack on Kyiv. Zeleny moves to cut off any possible retreat. Directory forces hold off the second attack.

Directory forces retake Kremenchuk and destroy one Bolshevik regiment. Their largest force holes up in Kyiv, while bypassed units try to cut the Bolshevik supply lines toward Kyiv. Rhey destroy another Bolshevik regiment and retake Kamianske.

The Simferopol Regiment takes Oleksandrivsk.

February I 1919

Bolsheviks move first. Again, they fail to persuade Grigoriev. They make another 1:1 (actually 28:27, including supply multipliers) attack on Kyiv, before supply determination, but fail. Using rail-mounted reserves, the Bolsheviks manage to surround most of the units blocking their supply lines and destroy them. They make a 1:2 attack on Kyiv in the 2nd combat phase, but it fails.

Volunteer forces take Hulyai Pole.

Directory forces make low-odds attacks which drive Bolshevik forces away from Kyiv, and an attack on Katerynoslav which fails with heavy losses. At this point, the Directory has 4 pts; they need 5 to win a marginal victory. The Bolsheviks have 7 pts; they need 9. The Volunteers have 6 pts, just enough.

February II 1919

Directory moves first. They take Poltava.

Volunteers mobilize and move a few units, but decline to attack.

Bolsheviks concentrate forces against Oleksandrivsk and Kyiv. They fail to take either city on 3:2 attacks. The Directory and the Volunteers each scrape through with a marginal victory, and the Bolsheviks are defeated.

Overall Result

The system worked smoothly, although the supply multipliers may need tweaking and the rules for removing one's own bases may be too generous. The game came down to the last 2 die rolls – that's probably not typical, but the role of luck in the battle for Kyiv seems too much. Historically, the Directory abandoned the city after defeats east of it, but events outside Kyiv never seemed as important as the attacks on the city.

I think the Bolsheviks also mismanaged their reserves. They ended up with not-quite-enough in three different directions, and more use of rail movement might have changed things.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I am a pacifist, but I rarely play pacifists. It's complicated. I feel like I'd be spoiling the game and passing burdens onto the gamemaster and the other players. But I want to visualize nonviolence.

Honestly, I don't think games necessarily put too much time/effort into combat rules. I think sometimes they put too little time/effort into helping resolve negotiation, matters of trust, ambition, and so on. *Call of Cthulhu* has rules for combat, rules for studying the Cthulhu Mythos, and so on, but these things are liable to kill characters, or leave them insane. I think most players avoid these things.

I'm a bit iffy about whether we should use game mechanics to discourage violence, such as [even temporarily] reducing presence/charisma/empathy scores if someone dies due to the characters' actions. But it may help.
marjaerwin: (Default)
It has been a busy week, between working on *Tatchanka* and preparing for the trip. But *Tatchanka* is coming along nicely, and I've updated the maps and counters.

Hmmm... internal server error... I don't think I'll be able to show you. Sorry.

If you are interested, I'd suggest looking at the thread on Consimworld. *Tatchanka* attempts to model some of the military campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921.


marjaerwin: (Default)

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