In that game I had played the Serbs and had been soundly trounced by Onur and Emir. This time Onur and Morten took the role of the Serbian commanders, while I took the role of Abdul Kerim Pasha, Ottoman commander, with Emir taking the role of the subordinate commander Ali Saib Pasha.
My war plan was simple. rather than attacking headlong the strong defensive positions of the Serbs on Golgovicha and Sumatovach, I would demonstrate against them, and sent part of the forces to cross the difficult terrain from the north-east, and sent a strong augmented force under Emir west of the Morava to strike at Trnjani. Once these objectives were taken we could focus if needed on Aleksinac itself. The plan was completely my responsibility, with Emir having the task of executing part of it. I was taking a major calculated risk with the decision to try and outflank the Serbs from the East, as the ground was very broken. But I believed it was a rational gamble.
My plan, Serbian dispositions, and how the battle went (click for bigger picture)
Onur and Morten decided to a forward defense. In general we were able to implement my plan, with Emir doing and especially good job in the west. However, my rational gamble did not pay off. First the difficult terrain, passive Ottoman command, and steep slopes did their worse in making our advance, especially east of the Morava very slow. Thus the two flanking maneuvers did not advance in pace. Furthermore, the forces that were supposed to demonstrate against the Serbian center completely failed to arrive at their position and task. As a result Morten and Onur were able to slowly withdraw their forward positions, sacrificing space for time, and gaining a smaller front that permitted them to compile a mobile reserve.
The result was the 1st) While we were able at various points of the game to take Alexinac and Sumatovac, and to threaten Trnjani, we were never able to do so in the same moment and thus break the Serbian resistance. Onur and Morten's were always able to counterattack and plug holes. 2nd) The arrival of the Serbian flanking force from the east forced me to scramble forces to protect my lines of communication.Forces that could not help consolidate gains.
You can see Video AAR here
The end of the battle saw the Serbs hold 3 objectives to the Ottoman 1. Thus a Serbian victory. In general both sides had bad to average dice in shooting and command roles. The Ottomans did have better dice in Assault. But the Passive trait in conjunction with the difficult terrain made the bad command dice of the Ottomans have more of a consequence than the bad dice of the Serbs. Friction took its toll for both armies, but much for the Ottomans.
And let us be frank, the fault is totally mine. While I do believe the plan I came up with was legitimate, it was a plan that did increases the risk of operational friction and perhaps too ambitious in the face of Passive, Steep Hills, Difficult Terrain conditions. I chose a gamble that did not work
The game did led to some thoughts on scenario design. While I think the scenario is very balanced, it got me thinking that some combinations of scenario rules might be overtly punishing and make for a game that can be frustrating a times. It did feel that making the Ottomans Passive, Slopes Steep, and all hills difficult terrain was too much. Perhaps only 2 of 3 should had been present. Finally, unquestionably I can find 12 turn games taxing, especially when combined with tons difficult ground. What this means down the way for my scenario design is an open question. But I am beginning to think that a side should not have more than 2-3 disadvantages if the opposition does not also have at least 1 or more.
Looking North to South
Looking North to South
Looking West to East
Looking East to West
More photos (courtesy of Onur)
The Ottoman Army
The Serb Army
The initial commanders.
End of Turn 1
Objectives before the last turn.