Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last Century of the Ottomans:Battle of Metcka/Tristenik 1877

On Sunday the 19th I met with Onur at the new Kararagh Club grounds in Atashehir. Emir was also supposed to come, but alas the exigencies of the PhD took precedence. Bekir, one of the members of the club wanted to also play BBB so he was quickly conscripted! We decided to continue our Last Century of the Ottomans Campaign. The next scenario up was the Battle of Metcka/Tristenik in the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877. This is the last BBB scenario on the 1877-1878 Russo-Ottoman War. It sees the armies under the control of Suleiman Pasha (of Shipka infamy) attempt to break through the defensive perimeter created by the Russian forces under Tsarevich Alexis (Alexander III). This Russian force protected the flank of the main Russian adavance. This flank rested on the Black Lom River.

A useful Bulgarian map of the operations.
Bekir and Onur had the honor of commanding the Ottoman forces on attack, while I took command of the bayonets of mother Russia. Both of us used our 10mm Pendraken Collections.
The BBB Scenario map

Various views of the build I attempted.
In general the game was a blast. Lady Luck moved her favors many times creating a tense, if long, game, that ended in condition that can either be interpreted as a Ottoman Victory or Draw (my inclination is towards Ottoman Victory but Onur says a Draw, and a Draw it is then). We of course did a Video AAR.

The AAR Video

Onur was kind enough to compile a narrative AAR.

"19 March 2017 Sunday
Battle of Metchka / Tristenik BBB (LCOTO Campaign)
On a nice Sunday noon, we met with Konstantinos at our new club location
to play and teach Bekir another BBB game.
Terrain was laid by Konstantinos by using his terrains.
Armies were our 10mm Pendraken RTW Russians and Ottomans as usual.

Russian Deployment:
Konstantinos deployed his armies almost similar to historically.
Only that he put 2 cavalry units around Gol-Tchesme (a Turkish name=Fountain Lake)
and no cavalry at Eastern side.

Ottoman Deployment:
Bekir and I deployed as my usual sytle, amassing at one place (ie North of Gol-Tchesme)
and put a minor force to deny relocation of units elsewhere namely against town Pirgos.

Game started nicely for Turks by killing of one cavalry unit around Gol-Tchesme but 
also we failed stop remaining Russian cavalry unit turning into our back lines.
That created many headaches in later turns, denying our mass artillery (2 unit but mass anyways).

Turn 2 saw Eastern Russian infanty going to Kochava village to capture it and Turkish units pushing on

Turn 3: Gol-Tchesme quickly taken, Ottomans moved forward to fortification before Tristenik.
2 weak militia units of Turks also tried to attack Pirgos.
Russian cavalry toying Turkish artillery behind the lines in the meantime.

Turn 4:
Russian Infantry in Pirgos succesfully defeated and eliminated 2 Turkish militias and was safe.
The amassing before Tristenik heights gathers but failed to materialise due to low rolls.
Russian cavalry is still behind the lines. Disrupted but delaying artillery.

Turn 5:
Turkish cavalry rushes for Kochava. Other than that situation is same as Turn 4.
Heights of Trestenik are bleeding. A remark: One Turkish infantry assault dislodged 2 Russian artillery that helped
Turks in later turns very much, thinning the Russian line there.

Turn 6:
During Night-Interval both sides recovered some bases (2 Russians 3 Ottoman bases were recovered).
And reinforcements have arrived. Russian beefed up the line between Metchka and Trestenik.
Ottomans bolstered their forces everywhere. Especially at Eastern of the map.
Now there are 2 cavalry and 1 infantry (militia, ie Basibozuks) to confront 2 Russian infantry units
competing for 3 objectives. Also close proximity of Turks pushed Russian artillery back.
Star of the show was a Veteran Turkish infantry unit that passed L2 hill East of Pirhos and continue to attack.
It destroyed an artillery position but destroyed in turn by being sandwiched between many Russians!

Turn 7:
Slowly Pirgos taken from that stubborn Russian unit. It was the single most effective unit of the game.
Delayed Ottomans in every single turn and denied Metchka in last turn to grab draw for Russians.
Monitor Nikopol is broadsided Turkish units near to Danube. For a moment I fancied the idea of turning my artillery to her to sink it!
The bloody NE of Tristenik continued, now Bekir is commanding major part of the army since he grabbed the rules.

Turn 8:
A small diversion at East. Turkish Basibozuks circled to back of Kochava.
2 cavalry units rushed to now unoccupied Damoguila but one momentarily stopped by distant Russian artillery.
At West, bigger force before Tristenik heights made a small diversion, found a gap between line and run along the stream.
Big force finally got on top of heights contesting the objective there. But almost every unit is depleted of ammo, disrupted, lost bases and some even spent!
A big bloody battle indeed.

Turn 9:
Turks are sacrifing everything to grab objectives.
In the East Turkish cavarly finally occupied the Damoguila. Basibozuks are in position to attack Kochava.
Artillery by Danuve sacrifies itself to save infantry.
2 Infantry units before Trestenik anchoring themselves to deny objectives to Russians. Too many bloods spilled to deny only one
objective. Turkish Pirgos group finally continues to advance towards South to two objectives. But that Russian unit in whites still
holding them and refusing giving up Metchka.

Turn 10:
Final turn. A mad dash made against Kochava by Basibozuks and it was succesful. Russian were repulsed and objective secured!
In Russian turn they failed to take it back.
Turks have 2 objectives at East now.
In the West Turks failed to get any more objectives. Only denied one before Trestenik.
Russians had only 5 objectives in the end that meant a draw!

Konstantinos had unusually good (lets say average in the end) dice rolls but in close combat Bekir's rolls were also good.
Many assaults didnot materialed or backed off due to firepower of Russians.
Defending ahead was a good strategy for Russians.
Having Nikopol added a good taste to our game.
Turks should divert more (maybe only one) force to elsewhere to thin Russian defence line. Amassing troops has merits up to a point.
Konstantinos didnt make any mistake during the game. I should listen Bekir more since he is a better tactian than me but in the end 
I gave up my CiC seat to him.
I liked the scenario very much! It was fun balanced and thing were swinging from phase to phase to we were all in high pitch at all times.

We learned the best use of cavalry. And also learned that blunt frontal assaults did only result in many casualties and lost of many turns.

Thanks all for all participants and who bears our Hurrahs :)

Onur also took care of the photo coverage of the game. I am afraid they are not in order.

Onur also scratch built us a nice little model of the ex-Ottoman, Russian river monitor Nikopol.

The current Loss-Victory tally for the campaign is 

1.Kurudere 1854, Russians (Onur and Emir) vs. Ottomans (me)-> Russian Victory (Historical)

2.Alexinac 1875, Serbians (me) vs. Ottomans (Onur and Emir)->Ottoman Victory (Historical)

3.Nikopolis 1877, Russians (Onur and Emir) vs. Ottomans (me)-> Russian Victory (Historical)

4.2nd Pleven 1877, Russians (Onur) vs. Ottomans (me) -> Ottoman Victory (Historical)

5.3rd Pleven 1877, Allies (Mortens and Me) vs. Ottomans (Onur and Emir)-> Allied Victory (Ahistorical)

6.Katseljevo-Ablva 1877, Russians (Onur) vs. Ottomans (me and Doruk)-> Draw (Historical)

7. Aladja Dagn 1877, Russians (Onur and Murat) vs. Ottomans (Me)-> Ottoman Victory (Ahistorical).

8.Metcka/Tristenik 1877, Russians (Me) vs. Ottomans (Onur and Bekir)-> Draw (Historical)

Next up was Velestino from the Greek-Ottoman War of 1897 (the so-called "Unlucky War" for the Greeks). We played that with Emir and Doruk on the Monday after this scenario (AAR will be posted within the week). Final is the Battle of Domokos of the 1897 war. We should play this in March or in April.


Joseph.Cade said...

That is a big battlefield and a lot of terrain. No flat pool table battlefields in the Ottoman wars obviously. I always enjoy your battle reports, gentlemen. Keep up the good work!

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Thank you! Yes indeed. I think Yiannitsa and Kirkilise were the flattest by nature, and we siplified Lule-Burgas so that it looks flat. Otherwise the other 12 are quite rough. Generally speaking if you are looking for flat terrain in the south Balkans there are 5 major areas: 1) Eastern Thrace. 2) The Thessalian Plain 3) The valley of the Vardar/Axios river 4) Eastern Rumelia 5) Northern Bulgaria between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains. The thing is , that it does not make sense to fight in the low-lands but rather to defend the mountain passes that connect them. So most of the battles in the Balkans take place either on the entry to those passes, or along the passes themselves.

Joseph.Cade said...

Well, what was wrong with those generals back then? Did they not consider us poor wargamers of the future who much prefer to play the nice flat terrain battles as they are easier to set up!

I still want to do a few of the Balkan Wars scenarios in the BBB files but those battlefields are daunting for setup. I do have WW1 10mm figs that would work as Bulgarians ( 1914Russians) but then my other 10mm armies are WW1 1914 Germans and Austrians, and combined they aren't as big as my Russian collection.

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Well remember that 1) you can simplify terrain. The philosophy is to make the terrain as loyal to reality as possible, but do so in a way that permits people to simplify. Think it as a range of options.

2) A couple of the battles should be easier to do. Might make sense to start with them. Both the 1st Balkan War and 2nd Balkan War include short battles (Prilep and Dioran).

3) I have come up with systems that help me represent most of the difficult maps.