Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The First Blacklands War - The End


The Storm of Scutari

The besiegers have infiltrated the town,
aided by anti-Imperialist townsmen

General situation in the Blacklands
after five weeks of war.

Having apparently inserted themselves into besieged Scutari through obscure postern gates left open in the southwest quarter of the fortifications, the infiltrating Black Mountaineers thought to have effected a surprise as they advanced along the line of the west wall. In this I allowed the attackers a kind of 'free hit', attacking the defenders in flank, the close proximity of the south wall defenders to be ignored for one turn. All it required was for them to score a '4' upon a D6 to effect a hit, and possibly to eliminate the defender altogether.  
Attacks against the north face of the town

The signal to attack was given by a salvo from the Black Mountains' sole artillery - their mountain guns, proper siege weapons not to be had. It was owing to this lack that the siege, already of two weeks' duration, had been unlikely to end by breaching the walls. Upon the signal the infiltrators began their charge, whilst at the same time, the whole of the remainder of the army, concentrating in the north and east of the town began their storm.

Attacks against the east face.

The first, most easily reached, objectives were the demi-lunes before the walls. The east demi-lune threw back the first attack with loss, but were unable to sustain the second that quickly followed. The northern demilune, subjected to as much gunfire as the Mountaineers could fling at it, also succumbed early on.
Failing to achieve surprise, the infiltrators face a
counterattack by twice their numbers.

Had events within the town fallen out as favourably, no doubt the place would have been overrun and the garrison surrendered in due course. It appears that the hoped for surprise was incomplete - if the whole emprise had not been betrayed, withal - for the infiltrators were met by a surprisingly resolute resistance (they failed to roll the necessary '4'). Unable to push on, they were themselves assailed in flank, and pushed into the unoccupied southwest bastion. There they were to remain bottled up for the duration of the battle.
Infiltrators driven into an unoccupied bastion.

The capture of the demi-lunes had neither of them been achieved without heavy loss, but the attacks continued to be pressed with determination, against both northern bastions.

The East demi-lune is the first to fall, but not 
without cost to the Mountaineers.

..then falls the north demi-lune.

In the face of stiff resistance the Mountaineers pushed their way into the northeast bastion, the defending artillery out, and into the main town.  
The northeast bastion now falls...

Following up, they inflicted some loss upon the gunners and their guns, but were themselves driven in rout from the bastion (the attackers lost their second and remaining SP; the artillery, lacking a retreat, also lost one).
... but the attackers driven out.

The first wave having receded from the contested bastion, the second wave surged in before the guns could be brought in to reoccupy it.  Once again the fighting was fierce and bloody.  The combat dice were the duplicates of the previous (a 5 and a 6 rolled). Both side lost SPs, enough to eliminate the Garrison's artillery, and to halve the attackers' strength. 

The second wave of attackers overrun the bastion 
before the garrison can reoccupy.

As they overran the guns and surged into the town, prospects seemed to be looking bright for the besiegers. The northwest bastion had also fallen, albeit with heavy loss. But along the main north wall itself, the attackers remained held up in the ditch behind the demi-lune. General Bogotan was soon to insert himself into the action there, in the hope that his presence might tip the balance.

The battle for the Northeast sector of the town.  
Meanwhile the Northwest bastion has also fallen.

Nothing loth, the Garrison Commander also thought his august presence might be the thing to sustain a desperate defence. For the moment at least, the Mountaineers seemed on the brink of victory, if they could but press further into the town. The garrison's resistance seemed to be weakening. It had reached its exhaustion point - 6SP lost - but the attackers, with no great superiority in numbers to begin with, were themselves beginning to flag. They had also lost 6SP; just one more, and that would be the end of the attack, unless the garrison surrendered betimes. Three bastions and two demi-lunes having fallen, that seemed by no means improbable.

The commanders join the fight for the north wall.

There was to be no surrender. Exhausted though they were, the garrison brought the close quarter fighting at the southwest bastion to a successful conclusion...

... which is reoccupied by the garrison.

The infiltrators driven out from the southwest bastion...

... just as, aided by the protection of the walls, the on-going close combats to right and left drawing off threats to either flank, and encouraged by their commander, the defenders of the north face of the town threw off their assailants. Lucky to survive, General Bogotan was caught up and carried along in the rout, back to his own lines.  
The defeat of the north wall attack - the '4' is
enough at least to force back the attackers...

The storm has failed. Just barely, but the failure was as complete as it was dire. The Allied plenipotentiaries in Genevra were to be left with nothing more than a tenuous hold upon Vardar province to bring to the council.
... but the 'hit resolution' destroys the attacking unit.
General Bogotan is forced to flee.

The End of the War

In their capitals, Kings and Princes were aghast, the negotiators in Genevra left without any worthwhile leverage, the whole six-week war having achieved nothing towards the territorial aggrandisement of even one of the Allies.  In Ionople, of course, the Sultan would have been cock-a-hoop, had cock-a-hoop-ness been in the style of Sultanry, and the grins of his representatives in Genevra reduced their opposites to incoherent, spluttering rage.  

Much blame was to be heaped upon the General who failed at Scutari.  Despite the insistence of the other potentates, the Black Mountains Prince was rather disinclined even to admonish, let alone cashier or execute his army commander, who might be difficult to replace with one with equal ability.  He knew as none other, that his peremptory order handed his commander a near-impossible task.

Ship carrying Turcowaz plenipotentiaries up the 
Illyrian Sea on the way to Genevra 
(detail from old Diplomacy map)

For his part, the Sultan was inclined to forbearance in the peace negotiations that were to follow. Insisting upon the acceptance of the status quo ante bellum, he permitted himself to be overborne upon the subject of reparations, accepting the barest minimum that, in his view at least, accorded with his honour and dignity as ruler of the Settee Empire. The instructions he had relayed to his Genevra embassy were to demand treble that minimum, but to allow themselves, of course with 'extreme reluctance' to be beaten down to his 'line in the sand.' The World in general agreed that His Imperial Magnificence might justly have stood out for settling upon more than he did.

Even so leniently treated, in the following months the Allies rather chafed under their financial treaty obligations. Persuading themselves they had been harshly and unreasonably treated, they once more began to harbour against the Settee Empire resentments that seemed to justify their casting covetous eyes upon the Imperial provinces. The murmur towards a second attempt against the Settee Empire were not long in being heard once more in the Blacklands' capitals...

To be continued?  Maybe. 


  1. Magnificent! What a great campaign. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. Thanks, Martin. It was fun while it lasted, and the result overall was NOT why I expected at the outset!
      Archduke Piccolo

  2. Archduke Piccolo,

    What a magnificent conclusion to a wonderful campaign ... although it sounds as if a second war might not be out of the question.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -
      I always had it mind that there might be a Second Blacklands War, per your Was Games Illustrated articles. I have in fact been examining the belligerents' army lists for that war. On problem: it can't begin in the same place as the real 2nd Balkans War!

      I do have, however a narrative that might explain the reduction in Turcowaz forces available next time around. It has to do with previously chronicled operations at the other end of the Settee Empire, in Medifluvian and Hyperborean regions...
      Archduke Piccolo.

  3. A worthy campaign with a good ending, which is to say, one which facilitates another!

    1. Cheers, Ross -
      One likes to keep one's options open. There will, however be a pause for other things before the Second Blacklands War breaks out.
      All the Best,
      Archduke Piccolo

  4. Cracking campaign Ion, it all sounds so plausible that it reads like a very enjoyable history book.

    1. Hi Paul -
      I like to build a narrative around my war games battles and campaigns. Not only does it act as a kind of glue that hangs it all together, it makes the thing more interesting somehow.

      I must admit, though, to envying the literary skills of an H.G. Wells or a Robert Louis Stevenson (Lloyd Osborne's article in 'Scribner' Magazine, 1898) to bring these operations to life!
      Archduke Piccolo

  5. I'm sad it is over but look forward to your next campaign. I was rooting for the Allies in this war and surprised at how "easy" it was for the Turcowaz to win battle after battle despite mostly inferior generals. What do you feel was a contributing factor to this?

    1. Hi Patrick W -
      I am quite unable to account for the results of the battles - especially early on - despite the generals' 'ineptitude'. That was just the way the dice fell out. It may also have had to do with the Allied tendency to aggression more than the Turcowaz, who were, after all, on the defensive for the most part.
      Archduke Piccolo

  6. Incidentally, I would be very inclined to purchase a PDF compilation of The First Blacklands War, possibly even a POD version in the trade paperback size range. I would assume I am not the only one, either.

    1. Cheers -
      I'm still working on this off and on. I guess if there is enough interest I ought to get in amongst it more and see what I can come up with. At the moment I have created a WORD file and am about half way through editing, rearranging and cutting and pasting.

      Once I feel I have a proper draught I'll see what interest there is and find out what refinements need to be made. I'll let everyone know via this blog spot.

      All the best
      Archduke Piccolo