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Age of Taras Bulba: Battle for Zaporozhian Sich

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

Sunday 26 May 2019 saw five armies fight it out on the Ukrainian steppes at Rob's war room. The game simulated the strategic situation on the Polish-Lithuanian military frontier in the early 17th century, with different factions vying for power. We watched Taras Bulba and Ogniem i Mieczem on the war-room DVD, which proved quite atmospheric. Yours truly was umpiring, using my Sobieski! rules.

Two Cossack armies (led by Rob - Registered Cossacks, and Mark - Zaporozhian Cossacks) were allied to the Ottomans (led by Jonathan and Pat) in a bid to defend the Zaporozhian Cossacks' fortified town of Sich on the River Dnieper, which had five crossing points.

Facing them were the Poles (led by Doug and Noel) and the Muscovites (under Mal and Tim). The attacking Poles and Muscovites each had 30 units; the two Cossack forces had 10 each and the Turks had 20, their side being on the defensive. The aim for the attackers was to take Sich.

Rob's Cossacks managed to delay the Poles and Muscovites near Kiev and Czehryn for much of the game, but his command was ultimately wiped out. Mal's Muscovite artillery pounded Sich's artillery emplacements early on, but Rob managed to destroy the entire battery of 5 guns! Further east, Mal faced the bulk of the Ottoman horse and Mark's Cossack cavalry. This sector was hotly contested, with the Ottomans/Cossacks ultimately destroying 10 of Mal's 30 units, for the loss of 6.

Further west, Noel (with some lucky rolls) coordinated his diversionary force of Poles well, destroying 6 of Pat's Ottoman infantry/artillery units around Nova Sich village, and making inroads close to Sich from the southern bank with his winged hussars. North-west of Sich, Doug advanced from Kiev and accounted for several of Rob's units. Doug only lost 4 units during the entire game, and Noel lost none.

By the end of play, Doug had managed to destroy part of Sich's walls with artillery fire, his infantry were moving up to close assault, and one hussar unit had taken an earthwork near the breached wall section. Two Cossack batteries had been destroyed, and Cossack infantry inside the walls were taking casualties. Pat and Mark managed to reinforce Sich from the southern bank, however, but these were also taking casualties, and most of Pat's Ottomans had been routed. Jonathan's cavalry were too far off to assist Sich. Another 3-4 turns and the Poles would have stormed the town.

The game seemed to be enjoyed by all, with each player having a different mission to accomplish. Although Rob lost all 10 of his units, he did manage to prevent the Muscovites and Poles from coordinating their efforts. Mal was hard-pressed by Jonathan and Mark, and did not concentrate his infantry to assault Sich. Tim finally destroyed Rob's last cavalry unit, but not much remained in this sector for the Muscovites to exploit their success.

In the end, the Cossacks and Ottomans lost 26 units (65% casualties), and the Poles and Muscovites lost 19 units (31% casualties). Sich was not taken, but was now effectively in Ottoman hands. Thanks to all who played, to Phil for bringing down his figures and assistant-umpiring, and to Rob for setting up and hospitality.



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