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Red Retreat: The Battle of Nalchik Oil Wells (BoB Campaign, turn 5)



A combined Polish-Czech force led by me (8 brigades) and Alex (7 brigades - of which 3 were deployed) repulsed Philip and Brian's Bolshevik attack (8 brigades) on the strategically important Nalchik Oil Wells earlier today at the War Room.



Campaign Context


The battle followed on from the Poles taking control of Nalchik the previous turn, and the retreat of Philip's army northwards from Tiflis in Georgia. Alex and I agreed to collaborate along the Rostov-Grozny railway, expecting Philip to retire to Grozny. However, Philip decided to strike at Nalchik (westwards) instead. The Polish advance from Nalchik eastwards was thus countered by Philip's move on the town from the south, meanwhile the Czechs were further west and had to dice for when they would appear. on the tabletop.



Deployment



In this game, the Poles had no staff officer, only one light gun to Philip's three guns (one being heavy and off table), and Philip had one Red armoured car. We also had far fewer machine guns. I decided to deploy on the side with more cover (woods) and better flank defences (the oil wells on the left and the farm on the right), and keep my best units in the centre to act against an expected Bolshevik assault on one flank or the other. Most of Philip's army deployed on his left wing.



The Battle



The battle lasted six turns. It was initially cagey as I held back my troops, but closely fought, with Philip launching a flank attack with four brigades on the Polish right. Unknown to him I had kept this relatively weak - with Alex's Czech Legion expected to arrive here. Doug took charge of the Polish right, defending doggedly with a Ukrainian brigade, a Cossack brigade, and a brigade of Polish infantry.



While Brian controlled two brigades on the Bolshevik right, the Red centre was relatively weakly held by an infantry brigade. I initially held my centre with the best Polish infantry brigade, and two large mercenary cavalry brigades (Mongols, and elite Austro-Hungarian WWI lancers).



My army's sole light gun, attached to a Ukrainian infantry brigade on the left - was supported by a Polish cavalry brigade (both under Alex).



Philip advanced on his left and began to move on Doug's Ukrainians. By the end of the game this brigade had been wiped out, but the Bolshevik attack did not make great headway before the Czechs attacked on turn four.



On turn four, in the Polish centre, Pete attacked the Bolshevik infantry with the Mongols, Austro-Hungarians, and the Polish infantry. At one point there was a heated disagreement about how Pete's attack on Philip's infantry should be resolved!



As more Bolsheviks attacked on their left, the Red centre became frayed by cavalry attacks and infantry fire.



Brian's position on the Red right, bristling with two machine guns and two artillery pieces in a farm, was screened by the Polish cavalry and the Ukrainians in the town led by Alex (later by me), which kept a watch at a distance.



Brian did launch a Red plane, which only did minor damage before being shot down by Pete in the centre, taking the life of one heroic Polish legionary. And a Bolshevik pilot...



Philip ramped up his attack and took the farm on the Polish right. But Alex's Czechs arrived and took up position on the Polish flank. Unfortunately the Czech plane was forced off the table soon after it had arrived.



In the end, though, Philip decided to withdraw rather than face very strong Czech Legion reinforcements. I had in any case ordered a general advance against the Bolshevik left and centre for the following turn.



The Poles had lost one unit of Austro-Hungarian lancers, one brigade of Ukrainian infantry, and some Polish infantry on the right wing. The Bolsheviks took fewer casualties in the centre and on their left. My boys died gloriously, and all for black gold!



Conclusion



Facing Philip can be a daunting prospect. I decided to approach this battle by focusing on my strengths: thinking of a plan while not poring over the rules in too much detail (in contrast to the Battle of Samtredia against Mark). My co-commanders Doug, Pete, and Alex, knew the plan (holding the right, while finally counter-attacking in the centre) and did really well to implement it. I believe that if the game had continued, we would have broken the Bolshevik centre and left, given our concentration of forces, superiority in numbers and quality.


My thanks to Philip for being a good sport, to Rob and Phil for umpiring, and to all the players involved. I have now gained some positive battle experience, and can see the advantages of working with allies, battlefield co-commanders, scrutinizing terrain beforehand, while devising a suitable overall tactical plan, in navigating the campaign moving forwards. More importantly, I really enjoyed the game!



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