Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Over stretch

72AGs overarching plan was based on continued resistance by the PLA (the PDF and all other separatist forces) as a homogenous unit.  This is what 4* General Zukhov would have done[1] and despite the best efforts of his staff, is therefore what 72AG’s plan was designed for.

In the event, the sly and despicable Danny Bloodcoat did not do what 4*General Zukhov expected; he detached fully one third of his fighting power to menace the Imperial southern flank, necessitating the splitting of forces and a vastly increased theatre of operations. 

3* General Mantoufel (72AGs Chief of Staff) believes that `XVII Korps got lucky when they breached the Cudlip Line defences;  The spare time caused by facing the PDF Division to the south[2] had allowed to the PLA to prepare a defence in depth.  Of course both sides were painfully aware that anything that the PLA does can only be a delaying action.  However, each successful delaying action gave the PLA’s masters, the separatist government, more time to further their own machinations, be they securing off world reinforcements or a negotiated settlement.

1* General Pallumgovski made his name committing 904 Div (the valuable Corbanian 1st Regt[3]) to the schwerpunkt that had been identified at the extreme edge of his TAOR.  A cynic might offer that it was only the timely intervention by the Legio Atorium’s warhounds that prevented a disaster, arriving as they did at the very tipping point of the engagement.  However, it is possibly fair to say that Pallumgovski’s unauthorised assault would have succeeded regardless, as the adjoining 902Div would have taken up the gauntlet and pressed home the scant advantage[4].

What came next was a steady advance eastwards across plains more used to Grox herders than tank battles.  Actually tank battles were few and far between; here the PLA’s tactic was to fight from a strong point in strength sufficient to blunt the local advance.  And then to disperse, leave the area and re-group for more of the same at a later date.  If the advancing elements of 72AG wanted to catch the separatists, they had to be fast.

Separatist strongholds were almost always near an underground bunker, positioned decades or possibly even a century or more ago.   The contained welfare facilities for the defenders, self-heating rations, fuel and ammunition as well as limited medical supplies and a connection to a well buried hard wired vox network.   Occasionally, some of these bunkers would actually include replacement heavy weapons, vehicles and artillery.  It was known before any part of 72AG even stepped foot on the planet that the PDF had another 100% quota of main battle tanks in hidden underground storage – their most valued resource was the trained crew, rather than the tank itself.

As they advanced, XVII Korps and XVIII Corps would alternate being the lead element, within each Corps, Divisions were rotated according to suitability and disposition; remaining fighting strength and whether or not they had seen ‘hard going’ or not.  Time was spent resting and retraining[5] during the advance.

On occasion, the PLA might leave units of up to company strength in ‘stay behind’ positions – some of these underground establishments.  The Imperial invaders would be allowed to pass overhead and at some pre-determined point the separatists would emerge.  Sometimes this would be as an ambush; bursting out of cover in the Imperial rear echelons and causing quite a bit of local consternation before being (eventually) gunned down in a blaze of glory. 

At other times the separatists would steal out of hiding and disperse, to poison water sources, burn supplies, steal munitions to make more booby traps with, even just removing or mis-directing markers positioned by the departmento following the advance to ensure that supplies and reinforcements got to the right place at the right time.   Increasingly, formations were having to dedicate a portion of their own strength to watch over their own supply chain.

The biggest problem with supplying the forward elements of the army was that the supply chain plan had been drawn up at the same time as 4* General Zukhov’s campaign plan; as this was based on the notion that the PLA would stand and fight until neutralised, it did not allow for the rapid advance and exploitation that 72AG was suddenly (and unexpectedly) able to achieve.   According to the initial plan, by the time of the Gionvuar massacre, in terms of domination of the ground, the advance was 147 days ahead of schedule. 

Of course 4* General Zukhov’s plan assumed that the PLA would have ceased to be a fighting force by this time, having stood its ground and been pummelled by 72AG.  Of course it had done nothing of the sort and left Imperial forces slapping bitter stings and punching at shadows.  Coupled with the monotony of the Acre landscape and absence of apparent civilisation[6], the morale of 72AG was slowly being leached away into the grey-brown prairie.

What was needed was time to regroup and allow the supply chain to catch up.  Railways carrying the army’s requirements were being laid across the continent, a testimony to the DM Engineering Corps ability to re-prioritise and renew efforts to cope with the changing requirements.  It was of course, appreciated that the PLA would use this time to improve their own positions, however, it was also acknowledged that this might give the army something to attack; to shrug off the apathy and banish the ennui of the prairie.

The planned hiatus, Operation RESTORE would allow the formations to re-brigade, the supply line to catch up, possibly for XXXVIII Corps to become ready for front line deployment.  Morale would be restored and the campaign for Western Benq would be renewed with vigour. 

[1] Vostroyan dogma dictates amassing fighting power into concentrations to effectively win battles through attrition. Whilst sufficient for some situations, this did not offer the best solution for either the defending separatists or the invading Imperial forces.
[2] The PDF’s 2nd “Hunter” Division – 4 BCTs, an Aviation Bde and Support Bde.
[3] The Corbanian 1st were a specialised Urban Assault regt, supported by many and varied equally well equipped and well drilled attachments.  These were to be XVII Korps spearhead into Xyphonica.  However, the frontal assault over open ground against well prepared defences was not something that their aptitude, equipment or training could help them with.  XVII Korps would need another plan for Xyphonica.
[4] Pallumgovski was immediately decorated for commanding so clear and decisive a victory.  He was promoted and on his way to Cadia within a week.
[5] The retraining by now is getting units used to working in new formations, alongside others they have not operated alongside before, rather than combat training, although major attacks are still rehearsed in detail where circumstances permit.
[6] Advancing from one pitiful hamlet to another, with names like ‘Urineton’ ‘Tannery’ and ‘Slaughter’ did little to inspire soldiers.  Difficulties with supply, sabotage and occasional frustratingly brief contact with the enemy were found to be very wearing. 


  1. Great Post! Love all the background you've got here for your army. Do you maps or battle plans as well? It's something I've been considering myself but haven't really seen anyone do this.

    Lokking forward to the next installment.

    1. Ha ha ! Just in case you thought I was ignoring your apposite queries: Yes there is a complete ORBAT for both 72AG and the PLA. Yes there is a map but it's a Mercator projection of the world and contains no detail.

      I do plan on addressing both of these issues. One needs Col Scipio's able talents and the other involves me actually finding my copy of campaign cartographer.

      So I'm not promising 'soon', but it is in the kitchen, even if it hasn't made it to the back boiler. Look for a post mid-feb, which will contain none of the things you ask about, but will talk about them. And other peoples IPR and so on.

  2. I'm fairly sure there's a 'Urineton' near here. Probably a suburb of Plymouth.

    Lovely stuff, as aye.

    And talking of nice stuff, have you seen this: