Red Dawn: A Russian Civil War Megagame AAR [Part 2]25 Oct 2017 1
Welcome back to the after action report of my time at Red Dawn – the Russian Civil War Megagame. If you need a re-cap as to who I was and what I was doing, please read the beginning of Part One.
As an Operations Player, my job was relatively simple - fight the war. There was a political layer above me, of course, which I was encouraged to feed into wherever possible. The whole SovNaKom – the Soviet High Council of sorts – was played, from Stalin and Lenin, to Trotsky and even the leader of Education & Propaganda, Lunarcharsky. I had a close working relationship with Trotsky and his deputy, as being the War Ministry they were very interested in how I was getting along. There were even three ladies representing the Cheka – the Bolshevik secret police, and I did end up getting interrogated by them once.
Us operations players weren’t given names or historical figures, but I came up with a loose persona for myself based off the real-life figure of Mikhail Frunze, one of the leading Bolshekvik generals during the Russian Civil War. Given the level the game was played at, we weren’t playing specific generals since the game was more strategic than operational, but we were nevertheless the 'military' guys. Every team had Ops people across the different maps, although the smaller teams would often have to dual-role between handling military matters and dealing with the higher political sphere.
At this point in time, Stalin was in charge of the minority populations that existed within the former Russian empire, and formulated the Bolshevik’s stance towards them. Before the start of Turn 3 he’d informed everyone that we were generally going to leave the Cossacks alone, so we could focus on the Whites. In turn, the Cossacks would leave us alone, maybe even attack the Whites if it was in their interest. Now, even though that sounds relatively simple, it’s anything but – “the Cossacks” were actually several different tribes, all being played by one or several players. On the Ukrainian map alone, we had three different Cossack groups that all had to be dealt with individually.
There were many different ‘Green’ factions – the Cossacks were all in one, as were the minor nations seeking independence. The Anarchists and various ‘democratic opposition’ factions formed the final Green sub-faction. Given the complicated nature of the various entities we were trying to co-exist with, it can be understandable that a deal made with one group, even within the same sub-faction, might not be adhered to by others. In hindsight “The Cossacks”, at best, meant the Siberian Cossacks who I think actually held to their bargain with Stalin.
I didn’t know that at the time though, all I knew was that I could probably resume my offensive against he Whites without worrying about too much interference from anyone else. Returning to the Ukraine map at the Start of Turn 3 I was getting ready to push back when three things happened:
- The Kuban Cossacks attacked the trapped 11th Army at Novorossisk and wiped them off the map, ending our presence in the south.
- The Terek Cossacks marched up the Caspian and took the recently vacated Astrakhan, cutting off our access to the Caspian Sea.
- The Don Cossacks, who were closest to Tsaritsyn and our northern territories, attacked the Red Ukrainian Army and lifted the encirclement of the city.
The only positive thing to come out of the whole affair was that the Whites abandoned Tsaritsyn, opting to fall back and re-group with their Cossack allies. This wide-scale betrayal by people who, admittedly, I hadn’t really spoken to directly, kind of set the tone for me for the rest of the game: The only good Cossack was a dead Cossack.
The next couple of turns are a bit of a jumble, but in terms of broad strokes here are the salient points:
The Red Ukrainians (most useless army ever) fell back and were routed east to re-take Tsaritsyn and hold the line there. Meanwhile, the 13th still pressed North to reinforce them. We decided to abandon Astrakhan for the moment because access to the Caspian wasn’t considered important, and protecting the road north to Moscow was paramount. Giving the trouble I'd had in one on one engagements so dar, I felt doubling up my armies was the most prudent course of action. I had four left, so two groups of two became doctrine.
The 9th & 10th Armies, who would go on to become the elite core of the Bolshevik military strength on this map, were sent west where they dealt the Don Cossacks a crushing defeat. The Don’s army was almost, almost, wiped off the map, but unfortunately I couldn’t catch up to them to deal the finishing blow. Meanwhile, Stalin had made a deal with the Caucasian Republics where their independence would be recognised so long as they attacked the Cossacks, which they did. Despite hoarding all of the ammo which made the shortage worse and worse (which I also didn’t find out till later), they never actually betrayed me, so that's something I guess.
Surging up from the south, they kept the Terek & Kuban Cossacks busy for much of this period, allowing me to rally against my enemies in the north.
The Red Terror
As well as fighting on what felt like all fronts at all times, I was also having to deal with a constant and on-going crises of command. Originally, I was only meant to be part of the Ukrainian & Caucuses Red team. We were expecting to have a ‘team leader’, someone who was playing the role of real-life leading Bolshevik Antonov-Ovseyenko. Sadly, the player never actually turned up so one of the other team members was promoted to be in charge, leaving myself and the other Ops player to handle the military operations.
I’m not sure when, but sometime during the morning the new team leader had to leave due to a family emergency. We quickly asked SovNarKom for a replacement but since we were at a critical junction I wasn’t about to just hand over control to this new person because I was up to my eyeballs in Cossacks. To sum up our working relationship, this was our first and only* exchange:
- New Guy: “So what are we doing? Why are you moving those armies there?”
- Me: “Look, I’m trying to fight a war here, let me just deal with this and I’ll brief you afterwards.”
He then wondered off and defected to Whites.
On top of that, the other operations player who was assisting me got implicated by the Cheka for… I’m not actually sure. Having a sense of humour, I think? It was funny and ridiculous, whatever happened, but the end-result was that I was left on my own running military operations for a whole map. On some of these turns I had to fight multiple battles involving several army groups and I had to do it all myself within the time-limits. There was a lot of maths, let me tell you.
Eventually, high command would send me more helpers; one who was in disgrace that I had to keep an eye on, and gentleman called Ross who helped me with the administrative parts of the game. We made a good team in the end, I think, but it got to the point where I wasn’t letting anyone else be in charge or get too involved because everyone at this point seemed to be corrupt and/or incompetent. I had Cossacks (and Whites) to kill, I didn’t have time for politics!
Still, despite all these external and internal setbacks we did manage to rally a bit. The Whites were being held at bay and the Dons were running with their horse-tails between their legs. The Terek & Kuban Cossacks were having to deal with a united Caucasian alliance in the south… I actually felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. We even took back Tsaritsyn!
I’d still lost Astrakhan, but it was only a matter of time before either myself or the Caucasian’s took it back, especially since I'd just received a replacement army for its re-capture. Even the Germans were pulling out, because by this point they’d lost World War 1 and all of their military operations in Eastern Europe ceased, leaving a huge power vacuum in the western areas of the map. All in all, things were looking better. Going back to the Team room, I felt quietly optimistic…
Then everything got a little FUBAR, again…