marjaerwin: (Default)
Between struggling with my illness, and with the beatings and strobings, I've been working on a board-and-counters wargame of parts of the Ukrainian Civil Wars of 1917-1921.

The first set of scenarios focus on the conflict between the Directory, the Bolsheviks, and the Whites, after the fall of the Hetmanate. These take place between December 1918 and February 1919. The second set of scenarios focus on the conflict between the Makhnovists and Whites, with the Bolsheviks returning to southern Ukraine at the end. These take place between September 1919 and January 1920. There are 2-player and 3-player scenarios.

I could use more playtesters. With the playtest version, you would need to print out the maps and double-sided counters, and mount the double-sided counters on cardboard. With the final version, that won't be an issue. If you are interested in playtesting, please contact me.

176 Playing Pieces

P.S. From my last playtest of "Fall of the Directory:"

This time, the Directory held on in the Kyiv-Chernihiv area, after defeating Zelenyist forces there.


Apr. 18th, 2014 10:40 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)

I think I've already mentioned that I'm working on Tatchanka!, a game of two campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution and Civil War, in 1917 to 1921. I just wanted to give you a heads-up. A pre-order would help me, of course, and if you have any playtesting experience, that could help the game and the other players.

It's on the publisher's website here:

I should add that Tatchanka! is only a game of part of the military revolution, capturing weapons, forming armies, fighting opposing armies, and seizing or liberating territory; it is not a game of the social revolution, and players will not be redistributing land, rebuilding society amid the war.

Legion Wargames is a small mainstream publisher.

Tatchanka includes four scenarios depicting two key military campaigns of the Ukrainian Revolution, when independence forces, first the nationalist-led Directory, and second the anarchist-led Makhnovists, had their best chance to hold off both the Red Army and the Armed Forces of South Russia, to win either independence or autonomy and the continuation of the Ukrainian revolution.

Fall of the Directory depicts the crisis between December 1918 and March 1919, as the Directory tried to consolidate their position, while the Bolsheviks and the Volunteers invaded Ukraine. Three players control the opposing armies.

The Road to Freedom? depicts the period between September 1919 and November 1919, as the Makhnovist forces broke through the Volunteer positions, returned to their home ground near Katerynoslav, Oleksandrisk and Hulyai Pole, and raided Volunteer supply bases and headquarters. Two players control the opposing armies.

The Bolshevik Advance depicts the period between December 1919 and January 1920, as the Bolsheviks pursued the Volunteer Army after taking Orel, Kyiv and Kharkiv, and the Bolsheviks tried to regain control of Ukraine. At the same time the Volunteers tried to crush the Makhnovists and to stop the Bolsheviks. Three players control the opposing armies.

Rising Against the Volunteer Army depicts the entire period from September 1919 through January 1920, combining The Road to Freedom? and The Bolshevik Advance. Two or three players may control the opposing armies.

Tatchanka! provides each side with troop units, mostly infantry and cavalry, as well as some tatchanka or cart-mounted machine gun units, in proportion to the numbers they were able to recruit, train, and, this was the decisive problem, equip. Each troop unit represents about two thousand combatants; given that regimental strengths varied wildly, that would be one of the stronger infantry regiments, two or more of the weaker infantry regiments, one of the stronger cavalry brigades, or two or more of the weaker cavalry brigades. Tatchanka! also provides each side with limited numbers of gunboat units, train units, and in some cases tank units, army headquarters, and arms stockpiles. Tatchanka! does not include supply units, apart from the arms stockpiles, but gives the better-supplied forces, especially the Entente-supported Volunteers and the rest of the Armed Forces of South Russia with combat bonuses.

Tatchanka! does not include the tactical-operational problems of the period, although it tries to cover the strategic problems facing each side. The combat system should still yield historical advance rates, breakthroughs, and losses, with average luck and historical strategies. The movement system does allow historical advance rates, the ability to slip through thinly-screened sectors of the enemy line, and the ability to use rail, river, and sea movement.

Tatchanka! includes two maps, covering the areas of each campaign. Tatchanka! allows about seven to eight days per turn and twenty miles/thirty-two kilometers per hex.

Tatchanka! is fairly simple by wargame standards, but it could still be hard to learn the game without wargaming experience. I don't know.

Tatchanka! also includes some red counters for the Bolsheviks and green counters for the Zelenyists. I have asked and been assured that the shades are distinct enough for colorblind players, but even so, I think I need to be up front in case it is an issue for some players.
marjaerwin: (Default)
This is my current game project. It's already in playable condition. The website doesn't yet include my revised maps and historical notes.
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.


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