Sunday, April 23, 2017

Last Century of the Ottoman Domokos 1897

Yesterday, me and Onur, joined by Emir later on, played the last scenario in our Last Century of the Ottomans Bloody Big Battles Campaign. This was the battle of Domokos during the Greek-Ottoman War of 1897 (also called the "Unlucky" war by Greeks). We played the game at the Karargah Club grounds at Atashehir in Istanbul.

Prince Constantine ,CnC of the Greeks forces riding towards the front line at Domokos.

Onur took command of the defending Greeks (and was joined by Emir later on), while I commanded the soldiers of the Padishah. My plan called for half my forces (1st and 2nd Division) to pin the main Greek line, while the 3rd and 6th Division would strike at the Greek flank following the Seterli (we combined the villages of Ano and Kato Seterli)-Karatsali-Gerakli-Domokos line.

Onur made a decisive decision early on to give up the objective at Karatsali.He thus formed the bulk of his line on the Tsamasi-Domokos like of heights. The refusal to defend Karatsali permitted him to economize on force and gave him a mobile reserve. This would play a major role in how the battle turned out.

We also tried a new terrain system. It is like Chris's felt jigsaw but instead of few large layers I cut the felt into small, almost hexon style, shapes. These are then piled to create the various gradients of terrain. I must confess it worked great. More importantly for the first time a lot of the other people in the club looked at our table and took photos. A good, really cheap, and versatile system.

All photo credits go to Onur.

Pre-Depolyment. Looking east to west.

Pre-Deployment. Looking south to north.

The Greeks have deployed

Turn 1.The Ottomans arrive

The battle went as follows. I decided not to try any quick attacks but wait for my forces to get into position in both flanks. This cautious approach had the consequence of giving Onur time to create a defensive line around Geralki and the gentle hills behind it. My passive commanders failed to execute my plans with alacrity. This meant that the 3-4 first turns mostly saw maneuvering and long range artillery fire. The key point though was that a) Onur had created a defense line against my flank, and b) my forces on his front were not concentrated enough in his front.

Turn 4-5 saw my attempt at victory. My forces went into the attack but were beaten back by heavy rifle and artillery fire. Despite my concentrated batteries I was not able to silence the greek fire, primarily due the decision to deploy my guns at maximum range. As a result my force failed to make contact for close combat. Indeed, in this battle not a single close combat took place in 7 turns. I did occupy the empty objective of Karatsali, but that was little consolation. In just 2-4 hours fighting about 23000 Ottoman troops became casualties.  Only 3000 Greek troops suffered the same fate.

Turns 6 and 7 saw the Greeks reclaim Karatsali.

Here is the video ARR

This was massive defeat for the Ottomans who held no objectives at the end of the game, and who lost most of their army as casualties. I do not think my plan in general was wrong, but some key decisions in addition to existing conditions explain the defeat

1) Onur was smart in giving up Karatsali. This permitted him to defend a shorter perimeter and create a mobile reserve. This permitted him to have enough troops everywhere and did not need to weaken any of his fronts.

2) Onur used his cavalry as you should use late 19th century cavalry. The unit threatened Karatsali and thus the lines of communication of the flanking Ottoman force. As a result I had to sacrifice one unit for trying to hold it off.

3) I mis-used my 2 base Albanian units. On retrospect they would had been perfect for guarding Karatsali from the Greek cavalry. That would free one more 4 base unit to join the assault. Instead I used them for wide flanking maneuvers. One of them did help a unit kill off a two base Evzone unit, but that was small consolation. I had a 4 base unit for 3 turns guard agaisnt a two base cavalry unit, when I could had a 2 base infantry unit do that.A massive waste of resources. 

4) The Greeks did have very good firing dice.

5) The unavoidable passive character of the Ottoman army did take its toll from the plan. Despite my cautiousness twice key units fell back due to low command roles.

6) I should had pushed my artillery closer to the Greek lines. A grand battery is little use it all you get is 1 firepower point per gun.

Thus a good game by Onur and decivice Ottoman defeat in the last battle of the Last Century of the Ottomans. In 1908 a diverse coalition of political forces, ranging from Muslim nationalists to Armenian nationalist-socialists, to Greek national-liberals. would lunch the Young Turk Revolt. Sultan Abdulhamid II would be forced to accept constitutional rule. In 1909 an attempt at a counter-revolution, which the Sultan's support, would fail. Abdulhamid II would be forced to resign. He would be the last member of the Ottoman Dynasty to truly rule the Ottoman Empire. The next two Sultans, Mehmed V and Mehmed VI, would be figureheads at the mercy of the Committee of Union and Progress, and later the Liberal Entente. The 19th century, ending in 1899 was truly The Last Century of the Ottomans!
More pictures from Onur.

Turn 1.B

Turn 1,C

Turn 2.A

Turn 2.B

Turn 2.C Action at the Flank

Turn 2.D Action at the center.

Turn 3.A

Turn 3.B

Turn 4.A

Turn 4.B

Turn 5.A

Turn 5.B

Turn 6.A

Turn 6.B

Turn 7.A

Turn 7.B

The final 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)

9. Velestino 1897, Greeks(Me) vs. Ottomans (Emir and Doruk)-> Greek Victory (Historical)

10. Domokos 1897, Greek (Onur and Emir) vs. Ottomans (Me)-> Greek Victory (Ahistorical)

Thus the Ottoman forces won 3 battles, 2 were draws, and 5 battles were Ottoman defeats. Seven games ended in the historical result, 3 ended in an historical result. I commanded the winners in 4 battles, and the defeated party in another 4. Thus a 50% win-loss ration that is much above my usual average. I will write a dedicated campaign retrospect some time next week hopefully. For the time being I can say this was a great war-gaming experience. Thank you Chris! 


Joseph.Cade said...

I replied to Onur in the yahoogroup but also want to post here to thank
you for all your work on the AARs, I never missed one. Very enjoyable.
Good job!

Would love to see some Balkan War games sometime in the future. :)

Chris BBB said...

Super report. That terrain set-up is looking really good now!


Bloody Big BATTLES!

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Thank you all!

Sashina said...

What a sensational approach to the subject, great!