PDA

View Full Version : How to win a war? (not DnD)



Ulrichomega
2008-05-31, 11:25 PM
Greetings and salutations! I have need of your aid brave and noble helpers of the helpless.

The world this takes place in is not our own. Magic and dwarves are common sights in this strange and amazinÖ

Screw it. Hereís how it is, I need help. The current game is driving towards a point where I see no options for us other than flight. The game is loosely based on the Victoriana game (age of imperialism with magic). The map is almost a reversed Earth (land based instead of water based), with most of the same countries. A giant desert lies to the south of a giant mountain range that separates Europe from the pirate bands of the Desert. The mountain range is inhabited by Dwarves, who control all trade over the mountains from the southern empires. Two oceans are north of the mountains, but to either side. In the western ocean, lies the island of Victoriana, the home of the Victorian Empire. In order from, west to east are: France, Italy (slightly to the south), the German Confederation, Russia, the Sino-Balkan region (a region of many different ethnic groups with absolutely no natural borders, massive warfare), China, Japan. The Dwarves indirectly control all of the German city-states, and have influence radiating out from them. South of the Western Ocean is a vast Jungle, with many kingdoms of the Jungle People (Tigers people). A narrow strip of land known as the verge lies in between the Jungle and the Desert. Further to the south the GM got lazy and the only thing we know is that there are empires down there that are in possession of a spice that grants extended life if infused into a tea. The tea is currently the object of the Dwarves affection, and is what has made them so rich (transporting it over the mountains, which are the only way to Europe from the south).

Currently we are building a railroad for the Victorian throne that will vastly drop the price of the spice, and drive the Dwarves into oblivion. They objected.

One thing I forgot to mention, the desert possesses an ability that allows wood coated with a specific agent to float. The more weight that is placed on the wood, the more it pushes back. This allows the previously mentioned pirate bands to raid the spice trade and cause general havoc. The ships used are basically regular ships that could effectively function as ships if placed in water. The sand, however, has strong necromantic energies and causes illness over prolonged periods of time. The spice has strong life qualities and neutralizes it.

The dwarves have put together a large mercenary army from the veterans of the latest Sino-Balkan war, the Napoleonic War (which just ended), and the German Confederation (the best soldiers in the world). It is about 4,000 strong, and has just departed their base south of the mountains. They are boarding large numbers of transports and will arrive in 4-6 days. We have only a small detachment of British soldiers (about 1,000) along with a few bands of pirates, some privateer vessels, and the HMSV (Her Majestyís Sand Vessel) Endeavour, the lead ship of the Endeavour class. A little off-topic, it can transport 40 soldiers large amounts of cargo, and is armed with 8 cannons on swivel mounts (see Monitor). Planned upgrades include sails for secondary propulsion (primary is a steam engine), and heavier armor. It has engaged quite a few enemy vessels and has performed very well. My invention (itís amazing what Sketch-Up can do).

Anyway, we also have a few other resources. A few jungle kingdoms to the West have allied themselves with us, and could supply us with 1,500 riflemen, and 500 raptor riders (yes, raptor riders). Other than that, we have a wizard with a spell that can neutralize the sands power temporarily. He also has a couple other overpowered spells that I wonít go into.

We have to defend the entire railroad (150 miles worth), and protect the city of Haven (smallish port town that is indeed a direct rip-off of Serenity). It has defensive walls, and has proven to be more than capable of withstanding attack (we had to take it ourselves from a troublesome Jungle King who got uppity).

We figured out that our only options are to A) pull all troops back to Porto Del Flores (the local port city that we started from) and wait out the attack, figuring that rebuilding the railroad is easier than dying. B) Pull back to Haven, where we will consolidate our forces and wait out the Mercenaries. C) Engage them in a decisive battle that destroys them early and eliminates the threat.

A) Will not work because we recently quashed the slave trade down in the Jungle Kingdoms, and it would eliminate all support we could hope for down there, leading to many troubles down the line. Also, we all have stock in the rail company, and donít want our profits hurt (shut up).

B) Will not work because defending has never in the history of mankind won a war (well, maybe not never). However, we could poison their water supplies and hope they leave. This is what we currently plan to do, with a twist.

C) Nope. They out-power us in all ways shapes and forms. However, it might allow us to win the war early without damage.

What we are doing right now is defending Haven by using derelict ships booby-trapped with explosives to siphon them into a narrow field of fire to even the odds. Once we get them in house-to-house fighting, the Jungle People will have all of the advantages. However, the politicians among us donít want the town damages.

Thoughts? Ideas?

I will gladly give any information needed.

Cuddly
2008-05-31, 11:26 PM
Kill everyone. Or just destroy all their stuff.

Ulrichomega
2008-05-31, 11:28 PM
Kill everyone. Or just destroy all their stuff.

2 things.

1. Did you actually read it that fast, or did you just read the title?

2. No, just no...


EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention, we have captured the enemy general and their battle plans. However, I might need to off him because he knows about my characters mercenary past that is currently hidden from the army.

Screw priorities, I want secrecy.

We also took his wine collection, priorities once again.

Lycan 01
2008-05-31, 11:59 PM
Will not work because defending has never in the history of mankind won a war

One word: Stalingrad.


I'd go with option B. Wait, where's Haven? Because defending one city for a prolonged amount of time might be a good option. Urban warfare is killer. Literally.

Okay, have your guys learn the lay of the land. They need to know every street and corner in that city. Once the enemy invades, they can quickly out-manuever them and destroy them in street-to-street combat. You'll know all the places to hide, all the shortcuts, all the choke-points...

Another idea? Ambush.

Find some way to lure the enemy fleet into an open area of sand. Perhaps use your main ship as bait. Find out what their cannon range is... Lets say... 300 feet. So, have your ship out in the desert. Have your wizard hide in the sand somewhere, under a spell or in a cave or something. He'll need to be about 350-400 feet away from the ship, towards the enemy.

Well, once the enemy ships go sailing by to attack your ship, your wizard pops out and does the spell to cancel their ship's float-on-sand abilties. They'll get stuck, and maybe even sink. Now your ship dumps out all the soldiers inside of it, they rush across the desert, and slaughter the enemy! :smallbiggrin:



And if all else fails, parley?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:11 AM
One word: Stalingrad.

Kinda my point.

I'd go with option B. Wait, where's Haven? Because defending one city for a prolonged amount of time might be a good option. Urban warfare is killer. Literally.

Haven is about a mile from the jungle, on the verge. However, a siege would be a very easy thing to engineer due to the fact that whatsisname (jungle king we took it from) is out there and could rally much popular support in our rear and cut off our supplies from that direction.

Okay, have your guys learn the lay of the land. They need to know every street and corner in that city. Once the enemy invades, they can quickly out-manuever them and destroy them in street-to-street combat. You'll know all the places to hide, all the shortcuts, all the choke-points...

Not really a city, more of an area with a high density of buildings/huts with a palisade.

Another idea? Ambush.

I also suggested this.

Find some way to lure the enemy fleet into an open area of sand. Perhaps use your main ship as bait. Find out what their cannon range is... Lets say... 300 feet. So, have your ship out in the desert. Have your wizard hide in the sand somewhere, under a spell or in a cave or something. He'll need to be about 350-400 feet away from the ship, towards the enemy.

Me = Hate wizard (character, not player). Since I'm in charge, wizard won't be used. However, we have been planning to ambush them (we found out earlier that a flare aimed into the powder magazine works wonders).

Well, once the enemy ships go sailing by to attack your ship, your wizard pops out and does the spell to cancel their ship's float-on-sand abilties. They'll get stuck, and maybe even sink. Now your ship dumps out all the soldiers inside of it, they rush across the desert, and slaughter the enemy! :smallbiggrin:

Not sink, it's sand. The going to slaughter idea works too.



And if all else fails, parley?

I also suggested this back at their primary base, but got shot down.

Answers inside quote.

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:14 AM
Parley with the jungle king? Perhaps you should bite your tongue and give him this offer:

If he helps you, and ya'll win, ya'll will restore the slave trade in his kingdom, which you previously destroyed.

At least, I think I read all that right...

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:17 AM
Parley with the jungle king? Perhaps you should bite your tongue and give him this offer:

If he helps you, and ya'll win, ya'll will restore the slave trade in his kingdom, which you previously destroyed.

At least, I think I read all that right...

We divided his kingdom up between some of the local kingdoms and took Haven as a protectorate of the Queen.

But he really is a non-power at this point, but the mercenaries aren't stupid and will contact him. I suppose we could just kill him and be done.

Meh...

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:24 AM
Kill the King, the King is dead, long live the King... *starts humming Megadeth*


Ahem, right... Perhaps if you kill the King, the mercs will scatter? I mean, why fight if nobody's payin' ya?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:26 AM
Kill the King, the King is dead, long live the King... *starts humming Megadeth*


Ahem, right... Perhaps if you kill the King, the mercs will scatter? I mean, why fight if nobody's payin' ya?

King doesn't control the mercenaries, he could just be a tool they use.

Currently, I think we're going to scatter their fleet, and then ambush the transports, which would even the playing field considerably.

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:27 AM
How you gonna pull that off?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:29 AM
How you gonna pull that off?

I thought I mentioned it, but apparently I didn't, we recently leveled the playing field from 5 to 1 to only 2 to 1 in a massive naval battle where we managed to capture many of their vessels.

Cuddly
2008-06-01, 12:30 AM
I'm serious. If you want to win the war, remove their will to fight.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:32 AM
I'm serious. If you want to win the war, remove their will to fight.

How? I guess a single crushing victory would do it, but then what's the point in the rest of the war if their army is no longer existant?

llamamushroom
2008-06-01, 12:32 AM
So, you have 4-6 days?

I would suggest using teleport (surely you don't hate him too much for that?) to contact one of the largely neutral powers (China or Japan, I'd suggest) and ask them for as many high-level spellcasters as they are willing to give you, with the promise of some of that super-cool spice at discount prices if they do.

I'd also suggest finding their planned route and littering it with traps - perhaps even just putting in large lumps of iron to screw with their compasses - and let the desert have them. If they're using Detect North, I'm sure you'd be able to find some way of countering it without any obvious change - isn't there some way you can make it point in a different direction?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:36 AM
So, you have 4-6 days?

I would suggest using teleport (surely you don't hate him too much for that?) to contact one of the largely neutral powers (China or Japan, I'd suggest) and ask them for as many high-level spellcasters as they are willing to give you, with the promise of some of that super-cool spice at discount prices if they do.

I'd also suggest finding their planned route and littering it with traps - perhaps even just putting in large lumps of iron to screw with their compasses, and let the desert have them. If they're using Detect North, I'm sure you'd be able to find some way of countering it without any obvious change - isn't there some way you can make it point in a different direction?

Not DnD. We do have their planned route, but they also might know that we know it, and it could be subject to change. No such thing as long-range transport spell. When we had a problem with a lich-like person a while back that was animating massive amounts of dead, we had to wait for support from the Wizard's Guild, which has nothing more than a token amount of pencil pushers in the local town.

Note, I might upload images of the map just for kicks. I also think my ship looks cool too. So expect it too.


EDIT: The vessel: http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/1695/overallkw6.jpg

It's armed with gatling guns in that image, but we replaced them with cannons that had armor around them Monitor Style. Also, the place on top would be used to transport goods, not the odd things that I forget putting there.

llamamushroom
2008-06-01, 12:45 AM
Right. Sorry, didn't really notice that...

Anyway, I still stand by the iron in the desert thing, or perhaps sending a small force out to harry their supply lines/carts?

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:45 AM
Yeah, I'd go with the naval battle. Seems to be your best bet.


And how do you destroy their will to fight?

Public executions.
Mass rape.
Burn crops.
Destroy homes.
Slaughter cattle.
No mercy...

A Tajikistani Civil War vet gave me extremely detail instructions on how to carry all of that out, if you want 'em... :smalleek:

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:47 AM
Yeah, I'd go with the naval battle. Seems to be your best bet.


And how do you destroy their will to fight?

Public executions.
Mass rape.
Burn crops.
Destroy homes.
Slaughter cattle.
No mercy...

A Tajikistani Civil War vet gave me extremely detail instructions on how to carry all of that out, if you want 'em... :smalleek:

Um... No thank you? And we're supposed to be destroying their will, not our own.


EDIT: http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/904/campaignmapcy5.jpg

THe map of our little world.

Hawriel
2008-06-01, 12:50 AM
2 things.


EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention, we have captured the enemy general and their battle plans. However, I might need to off him because he knows about my characters mercenary past that is currently hidden from the army.

Screw priorities, I want secrecy.

.

Ok unless you have the sence of General George McClellan. You act on this plan ASAP. You can destroy the enemy army by giving the plans to the proper military leaders. They can then creat a plan to destroy the enemy army.

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:51 AM
Exactly. I was suggesting for you to destroy their will, not yours... Once you win the naval battle, publicly execute all of your prisoners, and send their severed head and/or appendages back to their homes.

But then you lose any chance of getting your guys back if they ever get captured...

But who's to say they'd be spared anyway?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:51 AM
Ok unless you have the sence of General George McClellan. You act on this plan ASAP. You can destroy the enemy army by giving the plans to the proper military leaders. They can then creat a plan to destroy the enemy army.

We are the proper military leaders.

Cuddly
2008-06-01, 12:53 AM
We need a little more info- what spells do you have access to? Do they have access to? How tough is their standard soldier? Will divination spells help you? Are the party fighters (melee types) a level higher than their soldiers? 10 levels higher?

Do you have access to flying, teleport, battlfield control spells? Bards? Etc etc etc.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:56 AM
We need a little more info- what spells do you have access to? Do they have access to? How tough is their standard soldier? Will divination spells help you? Are the party fighters (melee types) a level higher than their soldiers? 10 levels higher?

Do you have access to flying, teleport, battlfield control spells? Bards? Etc etc etc.

This is not DnD or any level based system, so comparisons are much harder to make.

The system does not map out how combat works very well, so take all of this with a grain of salt:

I am playing a warrior/military leader with excellent combat skills. I could probably take on many enemy soldiers by myself.

My subordinate (we all have one) is the lawyer of the group and has absolutely no combat skills whatsover. One hit could kill him.

The wizard, well I have no idea how good he is. The GM tends to not keep track of how many spells he can cast a day (or whatever system is in use here).

No idea about his subordinate.

The company mad scientist also has no combat skills.

His subordinate is a Jungle Person who has moderate-good combat skills.

EDIT: My personal favorite part of the ship: http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/7141/captainsquartersandoffigf6.jpg

The captain's quarters!

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 12:57 AM
But like he said, the enemy probably knows that their plans are out in the open, so they'll probably make new ones...

Yeah, I'd go "everything or nothing" with a naval battle, keep the prisoners as a bargaining chip, refit the captured ships as your own, try to make agreements with some other countries, and pray to whatever diety you believe in for victory.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 01:00 AM
But like he said, the enemy probably knows that their plans are out in the open, so they'll probably make new ones...

Yeah, I'd go "everything or nothing" with a naval battle, keep the prisoners as a bargaining chip, refit the captured ships as your own, try to make agreements with some other countries, and pray to whatever diety you believe in for victory.

Huzzah! Onwards! Victory to the best! (or us, you know, whichever).

_Zoot_
2008-06-01, 01:05 AM
And how do you destroy their will to fight?

Public executions.
Mass rape.
Burn crops.
Destroy homes.
Slaughter cattle.
No mercy...

A Tajikistani Civil War vet gave me extremely detail instructions on how to carry all of that out, if you want 'em... :smalleek:

Can You tell me?

Info like that would be of much use to me:smallamused:

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 01:06 AM
Can You tell me?

Info like that would be of much use to me:smallamused:

*backs away slowly*

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 01:07 AM
Wait, what? You're actually considering my advice? Wow, no one ever listens to me... You sure you want to do that? :smalltongue:


Oh, and that wizard will come in handy in the battle. If he can do the "no-sail-in-sand" thing on the ships as they're turning in particular angles, they'll be stuck in a position where they can't fire, and you can then proceed to gang up and destroy each ship one at a time.

To explain slightly better...

A ship fires a broadside. It takes a hard turn to turn 180 degrees around so it can bring its other side to bear. A sharp turn like that destroys its line of fire. The guns on the side outside of the turn are pointed at the ground, and the guns on the inside of the turn are pointed at the sky. If you can stop the ship right at that moment...

Victory shall be yours, my friend. In due time, victory shall be yours...

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 01:09 AM
Wait, what? You're actually considering my advice? Wow, no one ever listens to me... You sure you want to do that? :smalltongue:


Oh, and that wizard will come in handy in the battle. If he can do the "no-sail-in-sand" thing on the ships as they're turning in particular angles, they'll be stuck in a position where they can't fire, and you can then proceed to gang up and destroy each ship one at a time.

To explain slightly better...

A ship fires a broadside. It takes a hard turn to turn 180 degrees around so it can bring its other side to bear. A sharp turn like that destroys its line of fire. The guns on the side outside of the turn are pointed at the ground, and the guns on the inside of the turn are pointed at the sky. If you can stop the ship right at that moment...

Victory shall be yours, my friend. In due time, victory shall be yours...

Maybe. The GM would allow it, but I wouldn't like it. Recently, the GM allowed him to burn his entire alotment of spells to destroy an entire swarm of zombies with a variation of the same spell.

Cuddly
2008-06-01, 01:13 AM
Is there any way to hit and run? Ruin some transports so they arrive staggered (not all at once)?

Do you know what their force of 4,000 is composed of?
With raptor riders, it may be wise to hit them on a wide open plain. Maybe hide the raptors somewhere (make sure to get rid of the signs of their poop and stuff!), then have the riflemen start shooting. When they move into engage, flank/hit&run with cavalry. Maybe pick off their artillery.

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 01:14 AM
Do you think Sherman enjoyed marching to the sea? (IIRC, he didn't. He only did that to destroy the South's will to fight so they'd give up sooner. Although he took his time in South Carolina, since they started the seccessions...) Sometimes in war, you have to do things you don't want to do. But think about what you'll be doing in the long run. Even though you'll be using the wizard in a way you might find unfair or cheap, you'll be doing it for the greater good, and perhaps even claiming victory through it.

Look at it this way.

You can do what you think is right, and lose.

Or you can do what you think is wrong, and win.

I'm refering to the wizard's spells, not your entire battle plan, of course...

imperialspectre
2008-06-01, 01:16 AM
Off the top, how long can your wizard neutralize the sand's flotation power? If it's measured in hours, things get ridiculously easy. Otherwise, we have to work harder at this.

In the first option, take advantage of the sand's necromantic tendencies. Drop the ships in the middle of the desert, then disable the ships in some way. Raptor riders using incendiary ammunition will play hell with the rigging of the enemy ships, for example. Once the ships are stuck, the elite enemy force will face the prospect of running out of tea and having their lives slowly drained away. Not good for morale. This option may even work if the wizard only has minutes-duration magic, but your timing will have to be pretty accurate, and timing is NEVER very accurate. Remember, no plan survives initial contact with the enemy, so you want to build as many tolerances into the "ambush" as possible.

If you can't do this, whether it's an issue of ego and politics (shame! :smallwink:) or resources, you're probably best off defending Haven in the finest traditions of the Red Army at Stalingrad, but preferably with at least a 1:1 rifle:soldier ratio. A couple tips, though. First, don't use the derelict ships to funnel the enemy forces into a kill zone. The first time you blow a ship up, the enemy (assuming they're smart) will just hang back and try to blow the ships up one at a time (I'm assuming the ships will be fairly easy to pick out of the landscape, as ships generally are at close range). Instead, consider using the ships as fire ships.

Second, there are no odds to even, if you're defending Haven against this force. Counting your jungle allies, you're outnumbered 4:3. That's not adequate, especially considering the high mobility from those 500 raptor riders. Traditionally, a 3:1 advantage is the absolute minimum needed to invade a city; they don't have anything close to that. Your problem is more an issue of drawing the enemy into making the mistake of a siege; if they do that, they're finished.

The best way to draw the enemy into attacking Haven, however briefly, is to make life hell for them on the road. Use the raptors to harass them while moving and keep the sand a very unpleasant place (consider finding some way of putting your wizard on a raptor; this will allow you to drop the enemy ships in a less predictable fashion).

Finally, if the dwarves are typical dwarves, consider their basic psychological flaws. Dwarves tend to be a very organized, disciplined force, well-suited for en masse engagements typical of the Napoleonic War you just finished. This is further reinforced by the fact that they're being tied to the German Confederation of your world. Sucks to be them. Keep things asymmetrical and oblique, and neither the dwarves nor the (like-minded, I assume?) mercs they're employing will be properly equipped to counter an essentially formless enemy. Fight a 21st-century war against a 19th-century opponent.

Oh, and you mentioned gatling guns in the picture of your flagship. Do you have gatling guns? If so, find places in your town to set those up, or even push the limits of what your birds can carry and machine-gun the dwarves on your air raids. It will work wonders for you.

Any specific questions?

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 01:17 AM
Is there any way to hit and run? Ruin some transports so they arrive staggered (not all at once)?

Do you know what their force of 4,000 is composed of?
With raptor riders, it may be wise to hit them on a wide open plain. Maybe hide the raptors somewhere (make sure to get rid of the signs of their poop and stuff!), then have the riflemen start shooting. When they move into engage, flank/hit&run with cavalry. Maybe pick off their artillery.

I suggested massive amounts of lighter fluid and a match back at their base, but escaping was the goal at that point.

As for the force, it is simply infantry. Their artillery is purely in the mobile form (boats). We found out that raptors chargin infantry doesn't work too well (also from the battle where we took Haven, however we were on the other side of the battle then). We once pulled off an ambush with 5 riflemen and destroyed 4 whole ships (the aforementioned flare incident).

It's late, so I'm going to call it a night, but I'll check tommorrow morning.

EDIT: Lycan, there is nothing to destroy. It's a mercenary army moving through a desert to destroy the civilization that we have defended to this point.

imperialspectre
2008-06-01, 01:21 AM
You're serious? All they have is infantry? Yeah, you absolutely have to go mobile. Hit, run, and slow down or stop the ships whenever possible. Because slowly draining the life of your enemies might be Evil, but it's also pretty effective.

Also, nothing but infantry? Yeah, they're dwarves all right.

llamamushroom
2008-06-01, 01:29 AM
So there are roads? I would suggest blocking them (walking around a roadblock with a large force is never pretty) or obscuring them (neither is walking through trackless desert). Most of all, I would just slow them rightdown while taking care of their supplies. That'll mean it won't be you against an army, it'll be you and a life-draining desert against an army. I like those odds.

Lycan 01
2008-06-01, 01:33 AM
Destroy? Oh no, the Sherman thing was an example of doing stuff you don't want to do. I'm just saying, even though you don't want to use the wizard, he's one of your best bets for victory... and survival.

Cuddly
2008-06-01, 01:45 AM
It may be hard to close their infantry if they have boats backing them up. I'm also assuming these infantry have rifles and bayonets. Right?

Dervag
2008-06-01, 02:56 AM
Greetings and salutations! I have need of your aid brave and noble helpers of the helpless...OK, my impression here is that a lot of people are giving you generic advice on how they think you win wars that isn't tailored or applicable to your situation- proposing you fight like Stalingrad when you don't have a huge city and a conscript army handy, or proposing you put up roadblocks against an enemy that sails the desert in giant ships.

I'm going to try to tailor my advice to your situation. I respond to a few specific points at the bottom...

If I understand, let me summarize your situation in a somewhat more compact form. Please correct me on any mistaken details:

-You're fighting in a world where the average tech level is roughly Victorian circa 1880-1895 (no smokeless powder, but Gatling guns and possibly full-on Maxim guns exist). Magic is available, potentially very powerful, capable of stopping a whole army under the right condition.

-Your theater of operations (I don't need to know what 'Europe' looks like, but I do need to know what the area you're fighting over looks like) is a big desert region lying between the enemy's mountain stronghold and your home port. To reach you and do you any harm they have to cross the entire desert. Does the railroad lie along the enemy's line of advance, or perpendicular to it?

-The enemy's overall objective is to put a stop to this railroad business once and for all, which will require them to wreck the tracks and rolling stock and destroy the railroad company as a functioning power in the region.

-Your overall objective is not to get wrecked. If you can hang on to your power in the region, you can rebuild the tracks.

-The enemy has roughly 4000 rifles loaded into landships of unknown (to me) fighting power. You described them as "transports," which suggests that they are lightly armed for their tonnage. If they're armed like transports they probably will have more heavily armed escorts. It is very important to know what armed escorts they have, by the by. They will reach your territory in less than a week.

-You have roughly 1000 rifles, a few hundred irregulars, one 'gunboat' (the Endeavour is armed much like a Victorian Royal Navy gunboat, as far as I can tell), and an unknown (to me) but small number of privateer vessels that are presumably weaker than your gunboat. I assume your regiment of British infantry are of roughly equal quality to the mercenary force opposing you.

-On call but not already present you have 1500 rifles and 500 sabres, probably of a lower quality than the average quality of the enemy, but your cavalry are velociraptor-mounted and therefore very badass individually.:smallbiggrin:

You have not specified how long it would take your allies to reach you.

-Negotiations have broken down; if you just went on a commando raid, kidnapped, possibly tortured, and certainly killed their general there's no way they'll accept your surrender without giving you a sound thrashing.

____________________________

Thoughts:

-You cannot defend the railroad directly if the enemy decides to destroy it first. They can spread out and strike at any point along its length. You do not have nearly enough men or ships to defend it all along its length; you'd have to disperse platoons or companies of men all along the line and they'd be slaughtered if the enemy saw fit to dedicate even a fraction of their total force to the task.

-Therefore, you should probably call it a win if you can come up with a way to hang on in the region without losing the ability to rebuild the railroad. This railroad is so obviously profitable that you should have plenty of investors funding reconstruction, as long as you demonstrate that you can defend their investment.

Beating the enemy without losing a substantial fraction of your tracks would be an awesome victory. Winning without losing your valuable rolling stock would be pretty darn impressive.
____________________________________

-As others have noted, your best bet is to disable their boats. If they lose the boats in mid-desert, they'll all die unless they surrender to you and let you carry them to someplace with food and water. However, disabling their boats won't have the desired effect if you do it when they're already close to your home base. Remember that Cortez guaranteed that his troops would do whatever it took to conquer the Aztec empire by burning his ships! If the enemy gets close enough to your home base, it will be smarter for him to seize your base by force than to surrender in hopes that you will shuttle him to it.

-Your summary of what happened at your own council of war suggests that the enemy transport column is too powerful to attack in mid-desert, or impossible to find in mid-desert. However, try to remember that even a moderately effective attack against their transports could threaten them if you manage to disable their ships' mobility. Without the mobility of the ships, that army won't be able to survive in the desert.
_____________________________

-Are the enemy landships steamers or wind-powered? If you have a steamer and they do not, you have an automatic advantage in a naval battle; likewise if you have an ironclad landship and they do not possess guns capable of easily breaching your armor. Victorian artillery was dominated by the development of ever-better exploding shells; exploding shells make very short work of wooden ships, you know.

However, you probably only have ONE landship capable of exploiting this advantage, and one ship against a flotilla is dangerous odds no matter how much more mobile your ship is.

-If your wizard can only immobilize the landships temporarily, can he do so for long enough to give you a tactical opening? Do you have any hope of disabling those landships on the open desert, in other words? That's your best tactic, and the only one that allows you to preserve your railroad line intact.
_____________________________

-Let's assume you can't disable those landships on the open desert. If so, you can write off that railroad; the enemy will be able to destroy as much of it as they please given the limits of the available manpower and tools.

-The fortifications of Haven might hold off the attack, but this is a well organized expedition with plenty of infantry and artillery. They are presumably quite familiar with siege warfare. It's not that you can't win in theory by defending, the problem is how to win when the enemy probably knows more about attacking forts than you do about defending them.

I note a specific flaw in your defense plan. As others have pointed out, the exploding derelict landships will only work once. The enemy will soon either blow up the derelicts with artillery or send in teams of engineers to blow them in place. Also, if the enemy outpowers you in artillery they can shell you heavily. What can the civilian leaders do if they decide to surrender whether your troops are willing to or not?

If it is not in their power to make your life difficult directly (as in, you have enough men with guns in the town to declare martial law and make it stick), then the fact that they don't want their town damaged is moot. They should have thought of that before they threw their lot in with a bunch of foreign adventurers who were busy ticking off a wealthy and powerful nation.

-With the addition of the jungle troops, you actually stand a chance on the defensive in an open field battle, especially if you have a mobility advantage with your ships and cavalry. Can they get there in time to do you any good?
_______________________________________


EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention, we have captured the enemy general and their battle plans. However, I might need to off him because he knows about my characters mercenary past that is currently hidden from the army. Can you exploit the confusion created by the sudden disappearance of the general? Can you use whatever method you employed to capture the general as a way to raid the enemy's logistics or disrupt their headquarters operations?


We are the proper military leaders.If you're the proper military leaders, what the heck are you doing running around staging commando raids instead of organizing your own forces?

Never mind. Grumblegrumblegrumble bloody adventurers... jumped up amateurs... grumblegrumble...


A ship fires a broadside. It takes a hard turn to turn 180 degrees around so it can bring its other side to bear. A sharp turn like that destroys its line of fire. The guns on the side outside of the turn are pointed at the ground, and the guns on the inside of the turn are pointed at the sky. If you can stop the ship right at that moment...

Victory shall be yours, my friend. In due time, victory shall be yours...What if they're not foolish enough to turn their ship around for each broadside? That's not a standard tactic in Age of Sail or Age of Steam naval warfare, you know; it takes longer to turn the ship around than it does to reload the guns on the broadside you just shot off. Since this is fought in the Victorian era, that goes double- the Dwarven guns are most likely breechloaders, which fire quickly. Possibly even something like this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QF_1_pounder_pom-pom), depending on how advanced the Victorian technology involved is.

(For reference, "this" is the first autocannon firing exploding shells).


So there are roads? I would suggest blocking them (walking around a roadblock with a large force is never pretty) or obscuring them (neither is walking through trackless desert). Most of all, I would just slow them rightdown while taking care of their supplies. That'll mean it won't be you against an army, it'll be you and a life-draining desert against an army. I like those odds.As far as I can tell, the enemy army isn't walking at all- they're "sailing" across the desert in giant sand-ships. The sand-ships grant them much more mobility than a normal infantry force could rely on, and also act as mobile fortresses armed with cannon and automatic weapons. They can sail around a static obstacle easily enough.

bosssmiley
2008-06-01, 07:57 AM
Simple solution: you're fighting for the Victorian Empire right? Simply manipulate the tactical situation so that the Victorian forces are

1) hopelessly outnumbered
and
2) far more elegantly dressed than their opponents

Everything else (and I mean everything: competent generals, adequate supplies or medical care, reinforcements, armaments, tactical manoeuvre, etc.) is just window-dressing.

Victorian armies cannot possibly lose if both the necessary pre-conditions for victory (numerical inferiority and sartorial superiority) are achieved. All the available historical evidence supports this position. :smallwink:

Dervag
2008-06-01, 10:55 AM
You're serious? All they have is infantry? Yeah, you absolutely have to go mobile. Hit, run, and slow down or stop the ships whenever possible. Because slowly draining the life of your enemies might be Evil, but it's also pretty effective.

Also, nothing but infantry? Yeah, they're dwarves all right.Dude, this is Victorian era technology. Infantry and artillery are the dominant arm. Mounted cavalry are too vulnerable to breech-loading rifles and exploding shells to be effective, and armored fighting vehicles haven't been invented yet.

Since their artillery is already mounted on their landships, they don't need anything but infantry and dismounted landship guns to fight this war. I wouldn't try to take cavalry across a desert in landship transports either.
________________________________


Simple solution: you're fighting for the Victorian Empire right? Simply manipulate the tactical situation so that the Victorian forces are

1) hopelessly outnumbered
and
2) far more elegantly dressed than their opponents

Everything else (and I mean everything: competent generals, adequate supplies or medical care, reinforcements, armaments, tactical manoeuvre, etc.) is just window-dressing.

Victorian armies cannot possibly lose if both the necessary pre-conditions for victory (numerical inferiority and sartorial superiority) are achieved. All the available historical evidence supports this position. :smallwink:I love your answer, but... Isandlwana?

Plus, the Boers had no fashion sense at all, and they were beating the British Army like a drum for quite some time. The British had them outnumbered, but they were dressed a lot better.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 11:26 AM
I'll respond to the other posts here, but this one is one I really love. Answers in bold.


OK, my impression here is that a lot of people are giving you generic advice on how they think you win wars that isn't tailored or applicable to your situation- proposing you fight like Stalingrad when you don't have a huge city and a conscript army handy, or proposing you put up roadblocks against an enemy that sails the desert in giant ships.

Correct. The city is really nothing more than walled in trading post. However, the ships aren't that giant (think the Interceptor in Pirates of the Carribean (first one), maybe smaller).

I'm going to try to tailor my advice to your situation. I respond to a few specific points at the bottom...

Merci.

If I understand, let me summarize your situation in a somewhat more compact form. Please correct me on any mistaken details:

-You're fighting in a world where the average tech level is roughly Victorian circa 1880-1895 (no smokeless powder, but Gatling guns and possibly full-on Maxim guns exist). Magic is available, potentially very powerful, capable of stopping a whole army under the right condition.

Yes, the GM has altered things so that certain events have already taken place, but nothing that would effect us. Magic is available, and possibly very powerful, but its limits are unknown, and therefore of little us until I can email the GM who apparently abandons his computer at random moments...

-Your theater of operations (I don't need to know what 'Europe' looks like, but I do need to know what the area you're fighting over looks like) is a big desert region lying between the enemy's mountain stronghold and your home port. To reach you and do you any harm they have to cross the entire desert. Does the railroad lie along the enemy's line of advance, or perpendicular to it?

The theater of operations is a large desert with spotted oasis and a rogue zombie army that is attacking them randomly (don't ask). The Verge is a thin strip of land roughly 10-20 miles wide that seperates the jungle with the desert, and is most like the Great Plains in effect. No real mountain stronghold, because dwarves don't fight, they hire others to fight for them. The railroad lies along the verge, which would be perpendicular to their route.


-The enemy's overall objective is to put a stop to this railroad business once and for all, which will require them to wreck the tracks and rolling stock and destroy the railroad company as a functioning power in the region.

Absolutely.

-Your overall objective is not to get wrecked. If you can hang on to your power in the region, you can rebuild the tracks.

Yes.

-The enemy has roughly 4000 rifles loaded into landships of unknown (to me) fighting power. You described them as "transports," which suggests that they are lightly armed for their tonnage. If they're armed like transports they probably will have more heavily armed escorts. It is very important to know what armed escorts they have, by the by. They will reach your territory in less than a week.

Their transports are, as far as I know, simply barges with at most light armament. They are being escorted by about 20-40 pirate vessels, which (once again) imagine the Interceptor. Yes, we have a little less than a week.

-You have roughly 1000 rifles, a few hundred irregulars, one 'gunboat' (the Endeavour is armed much like a Victorian Royal Navy gunboat, as far as I can tell), and an unknown (to me) but small number of privateer vessels that are presumably weaker than your gunboat. I assume your regiment of British infantry are of roughly equal quality to the mercenary force opposing you.

Yes, we have 1000 rifles, some irregulars, the Endeavour, and 17 pirate vessels/ privateers of our own. Our regiment is indeed roughly equal to theirs (the GM simply doesn't want to calculate for two different strengths I'm betting). As for the privateer/pirate vessels (it really is simply a difference of them being our allies, and them being our employees, but that's just semantics), they are of equal quality to the enemy's for the same reason as the infantry.

-On call but not already present you have 1500 rifles and 500 sabres, probably of a lower quality than the average quality of the enemy, but your cavalry are velociraptor-mounted and therefore very badass individually.:smallbiggrin:

Yup. The 500 could be armed with rifles in a pinch, but they would probably have to dismount to use them due to lack of training in raptor-riding-shooting.

You have not specified how long it would take your allies to reach you.

There're about 3 hours away.

-Negotiations have broken down; if you just went on a commando raid, kidnapped, possibly tortured, and certainly killed their general there's no way they'll accept your surrender without giving you a sound thrashing.

There have been no negotiations. There has been no torture (yet), and he hasn't died (yet).

____________________________

Thoughts:

-You cannot defend the railroad directly if the enemy decides to destroy it first. They can spread out and strike at any point along its length. You do not have nearly enough men or ships to defend it all along its length; you'd have to disperse platoons or companies of men all along the line and they'd be slaughtered if the enemy saw fit to dedicate even a fraction of their total force to the task.

Precisely.

-Therefore, you should probably call it a win if you can come up with a way to hang on in the region without losing the ability to rebuild the railroad. This railroad is so obviously profitable that you should have plenty of investors funding reconstruction, as long as you demonstrate that you can defend their investment.

Yes, however the one person that outranks us in the area is considering falling back to the city up north, so our credentials could take a hit.

Beating the enemy without losing a substantial fraction of your tracks would be an awesome victory. Winning without losing your valuable rolling stock would be pretty darn impressive.

Effectively.
____________________________________

-As others have noted, your best bet is to disable their boats. If they lose the boats in mid-desert, they'll all die unless they surrender to you and let you carry them to someplace with food and water. However, disabling their boats won't have the desired effect if you do it when they're already close to your home base. Remember that Cortez guaranteed that his troops would do whatever it took to conquer the Aztec empire by burning his ships! If the enemy gets close enough to your home base, it will be smarter for him to seize your base by force than to surrender in hopes that you will shuttle him to it.

They wouldn't lose them permanently, more like for about half-an-hour.

-Your summary of what happened at your own council of war suggests that the enemy transport column is too powerful to attack in mid-desert, or impossible to find in mid-desert. However, try to remember that even a moderately effective attack against their transports could threaten them if you manage to disable their ships' mobility. Without the mobility of the ships, that army won't be able to survive in the desert.

We have a rough idea of where they are, but attacking them would be suicide. It would do some damage, but not nearly enough in our opinions. This desert apparently has quite a few oasises (oasii?), so finding water shouldn't be that much of a problem.
_____________________________

-Are the enemy landships steamers or wind-powered? If you have a steamer and they do not, you have an automatic advantage in a naval battle; likewise if you have an ironclad landship and they do not possess guns capable of easily breaching your armor. Victorian artillery was dominated by the development of ever-better exploding shells; exploding shells make very short work of wooden ships, you know.

Everything but the Endeavour is wind-powered. We have both of those advantages, but the steam-powered-ness of it is (at this point) a weakness, as the appropriate technology for increasing its speed hasn't been developed by the resident mad scientist yet. The guns are more of the Civil War era guns that one would find aboard Civil War era ships. We have no exploding shells as of now.

However, you probably only have ONE landship capable of exploiting this advantage, and one ship against a flotilla is dangerous odds no matter how much more mobile your ship is.

Our ship is actually less mobile, and in effect is probably nothing more than a glorified transport that can kick ass when it needs to.

-If your wizard can only immobilize the landships temporarily, can he do so for long enough to give you a tactical opening? Do you have any hope of disabling those landships on the open desert, in other words? That's your best tactic, and the only one that allows you to preserve your railroad line intact.

Disabling them in the open desert would require totally destroying them, so nothing short of running out there would take them out of the war.
_____________________________

-Let's assume you can't disable those landships on the open desert. If so, you can write off that railroad; the enemy will be able to destroy as much of it as they please given the limits of the available manpower and tools.

Yes. I came to that conclusion, but skirted away from it... We could disable them by the old method of lead, but short of that, it's only temporary.

-The fortifications of Haven might hold off the attack, but this is a well organized expedition with plenty of infantry and artillery. They are presumably quite familiar with siege warfare. It's not that you can't win in theory by defending, the problem is how to win when the enemy probably knows more about attacking forts than you do about defending them.

Yeah, we might have the advantage in hand-to-hand, but they have all of the knowledge.

I note a specific flaw in your defense plan. As others have pointed out, the exploding derelict landships will only work once. The enemy will soon either blow up the derelicts with artillery or send in teams of engineers to blow them in place. Also, if the enemy outpowers you in artillery they can shell you heavily. What can the civilian leaders do if they decide to surrender whether your troops are willing to or not?

Yes, however the person who suggested it first suggested keeping their artillery on them and using them as pill boxes, so this is step up in terms of efficiency. Artillery is an unknown quantity here. We have about 15 guns with us, with 7 mobile gatling guns. The 17 ships have about 8 guns per side.

If it is not in their power to make your life difficult directly (as in, you have enough men with guns in the town to declare martial law and make it stick), then the fact that they don't want their town damaged is moot. They should have thought of that before they threw their lot in with a bunch of foreign adventurers who were busy ticking off a wealthy and powerful nation.

The people who don't want the town damaged are actually politicians that are our superiors back in the port to the north. In a pinch, we could fight in the town, but they wouldn't like it. My thoughts exactly where they should have thrown in on.

-With the addition of the jungle troops, you actually stand a chance on the defensive in an open field battle, especially if you have a mobility advantage with your ships and cavalry. Can they get there in time to do you any good?

They can arrive in time, but we learned that cavalry charges don't work at all when we took Haven the first time.
_______________________________________

Can you exploit the confusion created by the sudden disappearance of the general? Can you use whatever method you employed to capture the general as a way to raid the enemy's logistics or disrupt their headquarters operations?

No. We already stole their battle plans, but they might or might not realize it.

If you're the proper military leaders, what the heck are you doing running around staging commando raids instead of organizing your own forces?

It's like Star Trek, only a hundred years ago.

Never mind. Grumblegrumblegrumble bloody adventurers... jumped up amateurs... grumblegrumble...

What if they're not foolish enough to turn their ship around for each broadside? That's not a standard tactic in Age of Sail or Age of Steam naval warfare, you know; it takes longer to turn the ship around than it does to reload the guns on the broadside you just shot off. Since this is fought in the Victorian era, that goes double- the Dwarven guns are most likely breechloaders, which fire quickly. Possibly even something like this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QF_1_pounder_pom-pom), depending on how advanced the Victorian technology involved is.

Sure, why not.

(For reference, "this" is the first autocannon firing exploding shells).

As far as I can tell, the enemy army isn't walking at all- they're "sailing" across the desert in giant sand-ships. The sand-ships grant them much more mobility than a normal infantry force could rely on, and also act as mobile fortresses armed with cannon and automatic weapons. They can sail around a static obstacle easily enough.

They aren't walking, their sailing.

The first person to understand what I wrote! (well, who understood the most).

EDIT:

It may be hard to close their infantry if they have boats backing them up. I'm also assuming these infantry have rifles and bayonets. Right?

Correct


So there are roads? I would suggest blocking them (walking around a roadblock with a large force is never pretty) or obscuring them (neither is walking through trackless desert). Most of all, I would just slow them rightdown while taking care of their supplies. That'll mean it won't be you against an army, it'll be you and a life-draining desert against an army. I like those odds.

There are no defined roads, no. If they are close to the town, they are far from the desert, so no life draining for us. Also, the life draining takes months or years to kill, and if we're fighting for that long, we're already in trouble.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 11:37 AM
So there are roads? I would suggest blocking them (walking around a roadblock with a large force is never pretty) or obscuring them (neither is walking through trackless desert). Most of all, I would just slow them rightdown while taking care of their supplies. That'll mean it won't be you against an army, it'll be you and a life-draining desert against an army. I like those odds.

There are no defined roads, no. If they are close to the town, they are far from the desert, so no life draining for us. Also, the life draining takes months or years to kill, and if we're fighting for that long, we're already in trouble.

Flickerdart
2008-06-01, 12:18 PM
I would like to point out the last Stratagem from this list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems).


If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup. When your side is losing, there are only three choices remaining: surrender, compromise, or escape. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance.


The other ones are also worth mentioning, namely the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 34st...hell, most of them will apply to your situation.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 12:20 PM
I would like to point out the last Stratagem from this list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems).



The other ones are also worth mentioning, namely the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 34st...hell, most of them will apply to your situation.

Thanks for the list, I'll forward it to my group.

Also, I had responses to the other posts, by the Forums ate them and yelled at me. If I get the chance, I'll put them up again.

Jorkens
2008-06-01, 01:39 PM
They wouldn't lose them permanently, more like for about half-an-hour.

Being able to pin down an enemy vessel temporarily could still be a very handy trick. The obvious application is pinning down their vessels and then battering them from an angle at which they can't shoot back (assuming that these ships are based around broadsides rather than gun turrets.) Another approach might be immobilizing them before boarding and capturing them - ideally I guess you could tempt some of the escorts into chasing a raiding party away from the main fleet before immobilizing them and boarding one or more of them with an overwhelming force or something.

Nohwl
2008-06-01, 03:05 PM
get them to follow you to a grassy area. that verge or the jungle place sounds good. retreat to there if you have to. have an ambush waiting. use your foot soldiers to to lure them there. the cavalry picks off the people giving chase, just often enough to be annoying, but not often enough to look like a big threat(you want to make it look like the cavalry isnt doing anything, but by the time they get to the ambush site, 20-30% of their troops are gone.the site should be 6-8 hour march away giving plenty of time to kill off people with your cavalry[it should take more like 12-16 hours because you have to make sure they keep chasing you]) encircle them in a ring of fire, and get your troops outside of it. everyone who you got to chase you just died.

if all of their army doesnt follow you,(i would expect a good portion of it would follow you, you would be using most of your army to lure them there) and enough of their army died you could finish off the rest with a direct confrontation.

if most of them dont follow you, (i dont think this would happen) set up something different. this time, wait for them to make camp for the night and use your cavalry to draw them into another ambush. this time, the people with guns shoot everyone chasing your cavalry, and hide in the grass and darkness while they do it. run away and keep luring them out if they start to get close.(if they dont follow, move in and start picking them off until they do.) at dawn, you would want to run away.

now, they probably wont fall for a third ambush. split up your cavalry, engage them directly, and send the cavalry around their troops to the back where they can cause chaos. the cavalrys goal is to kill as many of their generals as possible. at this point, you shouldnt have much of a problem winning.

Cuddly
2008-06-01, 05:24 PM
get them to follow you to a grassy area. that verge or the jungle place sounds good. retreat to there if you have to. have an ambush waiting. use your foot soldiers to to lure them there. the cavalry picks off the people giving chase, just often enough to be annoying, but not often enough to look like a big threat(you want to make it look like the cavalry isnt doing anything, but by the time they get to the ambush site, 20-30% of their troops are gone.the site should be 6-8 hour march away giving plenty of time to kill off people with your cavalry[it should take more like 12-16 hours because you have to make sure they keep chasing you]) encircle them in a ring of fire, and get your troops outside of it. everyone who you got to chase you just died.

if all of their army doesnt follow you,(i would expect a good portion of it would follow you, you would be using most of your army to lure them there) and enough of their army died you could finish off the rest with a direct confrontation.

if most of them dont follow you, (i dont think this would happen) set up something different. this time, wait for them to make camp for the night and use your cavalry to draw them into another ambush. this time, the people with guns shoot everyone chasing your cavalry, and hide in the grass and darkness while they do it. run away and keep luring them out if they start to get close.(if they dont follow, move in and start picking them off until they do.) at dawn, you would want to run away.

now, they probably wont fall for a third ambush. split up your cavalry, engage them directly, and send the cavalry around their troops to the back where they can cause chaos. the cavalrys goal is to kill as many of their generals as possible. at this point, you shouldnt have much of a problem winning.

Why would they follow their army into an obvious trap? They'd probably retreat, burn the town, and tear up the railroad, and sail away.

A better move would be a feint. Draw them out to a supposed ambush, but move most of your troops to move around and capture their ships- which have artillery.

Emperor Tippy
2008-06-01, 05:45 PM
Wait.

The enemy forces are mercenaries, correct? And the dwarves have no army of their own, correct?

Assuming that the mercenaries have no personal reason to dislike you, why not just go and pay them to turn around and take out the dwarves?

Yes, they outnumber you 4 to 1, but even if the kill rate is only 1 to 1 that is 25% casualties for them. And every transport your gunboat takes out is a significant number of enemy troops dead for no real cost (how many transports are there?). So the merc's can attack an enemy who will fight them and will likely cause them significant casualties, or they can take the pay you are offering and turn around and take out the group with no force to oppose them.

There is a reason Machiavelli was opposed to mercenaries, use it.

Nohwl
2008-06-01, 07:04 PM
Why would they follow their army into an obvious trap? They'd probably retreat, burn the town, and tear up the railroad, and sail away.

A better move would be a feint. Draw them out to a supposed ambush, but move most of your troops to move around and capture their ships- which have artillery.


you would be retreating to the town. they would have a hard time going around your army without you knowing. the railroad being destroyed doesnt matter much. it can be rebuilt.

if the distance to the trap is a problem, move it closer and move back slower. after a while, you let your line collapse, so you back up a little to regroup. you repeat this until you get them to where you want them. youre using only your army(except for the cavalry) (not your allies armies) for luring them.

or you let your line collapse your line and make it look like you ordered a full retreat. either one would work. they are trying to kill you to get to the town. they would follow you and kill off as many as possible. your cavalry is used to harass them as they try to kill people. after you get to a certain distance, a fire is started behind you, and they start to get trapped inside, your soldiers keep running and then the enemy is trapped inside. the only groups that would suffer losses are your 1000 soldiers, and the cavalry. everyone else is just waiting around to spring the trap. they dont know how many reinforcements you get from, so it wont look suspicious.

the ships sail on sand. you would be fighting in grasslands (no sand). taking the ships wouldnt help at all. they would kill whatever is standing in their way to the town and then burn it.

Emperor Tippy
2008-06-01, 07:32 PM
Seeing as the whole point is to stop the dwarves from destroying the rail road, it does matter.

OP: Please add where the rail line is going to go to the map, your current location, Haven, and the enemies projected path. Based on your map I'm guessing that it goes from the British Colonies to Spain, across the desert, correct?

Your real problem is that you throughly messed up already. You should have had intelligence sources to inform you that the dwarves planned on hiring mercenaries. You should have planned the rail line's security before you ever started building it. You should have played politics to get other nations on your side earlier. And you should have fortified Haven to the point where it could withstand a real attack (multiple wooden walls, tamped earth walls, cleared firing zones, etc. With proper walls you should be able to take an equally skilled force at anything under 10 to 1 odds).

Assuming the enemy forces stay concentrated they only outnumber you (when you include your allies without the raptor riders) 1.6 to 1. Those aren't overwhelming numbers.

This is not a war, its a battle. And seeing as the mercenaries don't even have to offer battle to accomplish their goals, it really shouldn't be much of a battle. The merc's have 150 miles worth of potential targets (the rail line), you don't have the forces to defend said rail line. So you either have to entice and/or force the enemy to engage you in a decisive fight. If you fort up in Haven then they will just leave 3,000 guys to lay a siege on you and take the other 1,000 out to remove the rail line. If you don't defend Haven then they will just torch it and then go on taking out the rail line.

So you could:
1) Cut their supply lines.
2) Fight a gurellia war.
3) Forget about defending the rail line and right it off as a loss, and implement some better security when you rebuild it.

Flickerdart
2008-06-01, 07:34 PM
Wait.

The enemy forces are mercenaries, correct? And the dwarves have no army of their own, correct?

Assuming that the mercenaries have no personal reason to dislike you, why not just go and pay them to turn around and take out the dwarves?

Yes, they outnumber you 4 to 1, but even if the kill rate is only 1 to 1 that is 25% casualties for them. And every transport your gunboat takes out is a significant number of enemy troops dead for no real cost (how many transports are there?). So the merc's can attack an enemy who will fight them and will likely cause them significant casualties, or they can take the pay you are offering and turn around and take out the group with no force to oppose them.

There is a reason Machiavelli was opposed to mercenaries, use it.
Ah, good idea. Use your wealthy position as a bargaining lever ("We can pay you a boatload of money that we can earn from the railroad you're now not destroying") and wreak havoc.

PlasticSoldier
2008-06-01, 07:43 PM
Here's what I'd do.

Get some snipers , put them on velociraptors, and send them out to a few minutes ahead of the vanguard. Then have the snipers shoot the highest ranking officers they see, & then have them retreat.


Edit: Also I agree with the 'bribe mercs plan'.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-01, 08:12 PM
The usual:


Seeing as the whole point is to stop the dwarves from destroying the rail road, it does matter.

The whole point is to stop the mercenaries from destroying the railroad. There are no dwarves nearby.

OP: Please add where the rail line is going to go to the map, your current location, Haven, and the enemies projected path. Based on your map I'm guessing that it goes from the British Colonies to Spain, across the desert, correct?

No, give me a minute to upload it.

Your real problem is that you throughly messed up already. You should have had intelligence sources to inform you that the dwarves planned on hiring mercenaries. You should have planned the rail line's security before you ever started building it. You should have played politics to get other nations on your side earlier. And you should have fortified Haven to the point where it could withstand a real attack (multiple wooden walls, tamped earth walls, cleared firing zones, etc. With proper walls you should be able to take an equally skilled force at anything under 10 to 1 odds).

What the hell? Since when did we not have proper intelligence? We found out about it less than a day before we set out to get more information (all we knew was that mercenaries were being hired). From there, we raided their HQ, stole the general and their battle plans. And we did plan the security of the rail line. We had pirates and the Endeavour on our side patrolling the line, 1000 troops and almost 2000 auxilliaries to back us up. Don't assume dude, don't assume. And as for politics, there was no way to do that, as every nation in the area pretty much hates us. Haven up until we chose to retreat there has been nothing but a trading post that we established as a free city after taking it, and that was a couple of sessions ago. We only went there because we needed a base of operations from which we could have a safe supply route. Our base that we were using up until then was a temporary fort around the rail-head, which had absolutetely no supply ability. Haven is already defended, but as we only had 10 days of warning before we knew there were mercenaries being hired, and only 7 since we knew they were coming for us, we never had a chance to build up the defense. We could do it know, and that's why I posted this thread.

I'm going to say this once, WE HAD NO WARNING WITH WHICH TO BUILD UP OUR DEFENSES. We had just arrived back at base when I posted this.

Assuming the enemy forces stay concentrated they only outnumber you (when you include your allies without the raptor riders) 1.6 to 1. Those aren't overwhelming numbers.

Meh.

This is not a war, its a battle. And seeing as the mercenaries don't even have to offer battle to accomplish their goals, it really shouldn't be much of a battle. The merc's have 150 miles worth of potential targets (the rail line), you don't have the forces to defend said rail line. So you either have to entice and/or force the enemy to engage you in a decisive fight. If you fort up in Haven then they will just leave 3,000 guys to lay a siege on you and take the other 1,000 out to remove the rail line. If you don't defend Haven then they will just torch it and then go on taking out the rail line.

War sounds cooler. But in order to defeat them, we must offer battle. The 150 miles of target has been stated already. If we don't defend Haven, it will be ignored since it is simply the location in which we chose to make our stand.

So you could:
1) Cut their supply lines.
2) Fight a gurellia war.
3) Forget about defending the rail line and right it off as a loss, and implement some better security when you rebuild it.

1. No way to do that without superior ship numbers.
2. No way to do that with our present limitation on forces (the auxilliaries are nothing more than that, and can't be relied upon in battle).
3. Probably our best choice.

EDIT:

http://img125.imageshack.us/img125/8813/campaignmapzd9.jpg

The map showing our interests as of now.

Triaxx
2008-06-01, 08:33 PM
Have you got convienient access to a water source? If so, dig a moat. Nothing stops ground forces like a moat. Spread your thousand soldiers along the wall, and kill anything that tries to swim across.

Those allies that are three hours away? You want them watching for a signal. Preferably something perfectly visible at night. Once the siege begins, the sole job of the wizard is to become a giant signal tower. No matter what kind of power required to be expended, he has to start those allies moving in behind the entrenched enemy. Fighting a siege against a city is a war of attrition. Having someone on the outside tearing the hell out of their supplies, and killing them as they sleep. They'll have to start sending out patrols. Either in sand ships, or ground troops. Now they are splitting their forces. Or if they start lighting fires around the outside to illuminate the desert, they're wasting resources.

Send a message to the Jungle king and inform him that you've suddenly had a change of heart. Tell him you had the dwarves send a gift of slaves, all he has to do is come to the city and claim them. Set this up so he arrives just as the siege begins. He'll walk away with the opposing army.

Seffbasilisk
2008-06-01, 09:09 PM
For starters, the Zombie Army gives you another possibly, albiet unconventional ally. You have their general right? Familiarize yourself with the local terrain, and stage a number of hit and run attacks. Groups that follow should be ambushed and slaughtered. If the entire army diverts (or too large a group to ambush with a great likelyhood of totally wiping them out) retreat, you've successfully delayed them slightly. If it's possible to get a faster vehicle then thier ships, and a heavy weapon aboard it, crippling thier ships in similar tactics would also be wise. Shots eliminating the rudder, sails, helmsmen, and navigators are all massive delays/cripplers to ships. Try to find out how they communicate, and distrupt is post-haste.

Once you've slowed them, and have a few small ambushes under your belt, gear and clothe yourself (or a small elite unit) like your opponents, and attack the zombies, draw them into a pursuit, then lead it to hit your opponents.

Now they have a new enemy to deal with, and you have one less possible complication.

I'm assuming your wizard is not to be counted on, so try to keep him doing minutae, like strengthing the defenses of the city and helping provide food and suchlike on the off-chance of a seige. Not only is this demeaning to a 'Great and Powerful wizard!' as most are, but it also means that the unpredictability of his magic is not an issue to deal with.

Take the best shots, and announce a bonus for troopers (or units) that take out an officer of the enemy army above Rank X. This will encourage troopers to shoot for officers instead of grunts.

With officers gone/scarce, communications in dissaray, thier mode of transportation/mobile pillboxes taken out/massivly slowed, and a random army of zombies attacking them? You've already gained a massive advantage.


I DO recommend that when you set ambushes, to be SURE you have enough force to pull it off, with a 100% fatality rate for the targets. If word gets back that you're ambushing? Thier command will have tactics to deal with it. If the units never return? And no sign is found of them? Morale will plummet.

Aquillion
2008-06-01, 09:26 PM
So... wait. The dwarves have sent an army that will besiege you in the city.

This army is transported by flying ships that use the evil, necromatic desert to fly.

In order to not be killed by the sands of the desert, they need spice.

This seems easy. Retreat into your city and defend until they run out of spice. If you can, use your fast-moving raptor troops to attack their supply lines in hit-and-run strikes to ensure that they don't get more, or at least to make it hard for them to get more. He who controls the spice, controls the galaxy tiny railroad you're fighting over.

But this is only temporary; no matter how well you do in this particular fight, the dwarves are going to be able to launch constant hit-and-run strikes at your railroad in turn to keep it from operating. You need something that will shut the dwarves down completely.

It isn't enough for you just to establish your own spice route; you need to be able to find a way to shut down the dwarve's spice route. See if you can contact the kingdom that produces the spice to offer them a better deal directly over your rails in exchange for them cutting off supplies to the dwarves (it shouldn't be hard -- the dwarves have had a monopoly for ages, haven't they?)

Even better see if you can figure out a way to destroy all the spice at its source. He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing, dontchaknow.

Nohwl
2008-06-01, 11:41 PM
it takes too long for people to die because of the sand.

how big is the army of the dwarves? i know the size of the mercenary army is 4,000 but what about the dwarven one? (i know its not there.) i wonder if it would be easier to invade their homeland...if youre fast enough, it would probably get the orders changed from destroy the railroad to help protect the kingdom.

are there any other nations that hate the dwarves that would be willing to lend you troops? you could promise slaves to that jungle king guy. is there anyone else you could get to help you?

Emperor Tippy
2008-06-02, 12:06 AM
The whole point is to stop the mercenaries from destroying the railroad. There are no dwarves nearby.
The mercenaries are the dwarven forces (the forces highed by and taking orders from the dwarves).


No, give me a minute to upload it.
Thanks.


What the hell? Since when did we not have proper intelligence? We found out about it less than a day before we set out to get more information (all we knew was that mercenaries were being hired). From there, we raided their HQ, stole the general and their battle plans.
Then your GM is a ****. You said the attack was happening in 7 days. So I'm guessing that you had at most 2 weeks notice, correct?

Travel time for the mercenaries from the dwarven lands to you is what, 2 days? That means that the dwarves contacted, completed negotiations with, and got the mercenaries moved from wherever their home base is to the dwarven land in under a week. From you post it appears that the attackers are made up of multiple mercenary forces who are going to be working together, not 1 unified mercenary force. Frankly, 2 weeks is moving incredibly fast to assembly and supply a 4,000 man force, much less planning the attack and the integration of the chain of command.

So assuming the GM wasn't being a **** then your intelligence services should have given you more notice.


And we did plan the security of the rail line. We had pirates and the Endeavour on our side patrolling the line, 1000 troops and almost 2000 auxilliaries to back us up. Don't assume dude, don't assume.
Seeing as the dwarves went out and hired 4,000 mercenaries it apparently wasn't enough security.


And as for politics, there was no way to do that, as every nation in the area pretty much hates us.
...what did you do?

I'm sure that the American Colonies, Scandinavian, and France don't like the dwarves monopoly on the trade routes. Why don't you have their support? All you have to do is agree to move the spice for them at, say, 60% of the dwarves rate. And if you had done that then you would either have far more troops or the dwarve's attacking the line would be an act of war against 4 separate countries.


Haven up until we chose to retreat there has been nothing but a trading post that we established as a free city after taking it, and that was a couple of sessions ago. We only went there because we needed a base of operations from which we could have a safe supply route. Our base that we were using up until then was a temporary fort around the rail-head, which had absolutetely no supply ability. Haven is already defended, but as we only had 10 days of warning before we knew there were mercenaries being hired, and only 7 since we knew they were coming for us, we never had a chance to build up the defense. We could do it know, and that's why I posted this thread.
You won't create suitable defenses in 7 days. Oh, you could build defenses that would keep Haven safe but not ones that would force an engagement and the merc's would just go wreck the lines.


I'm going to say this once, WE HAD NO WARNING WITH WHICH TO BUILD UP OUR DEFENSES. We had just arrived back at base when I posted this.
You should have had them built in tandem with the line or before building the line. You should have expected a dwarven attack, that they would attack was a given.


Meh.
They aren't.


War sounds cooler. But in order to defeat them, we must offer battle. The 150 miles of target has been stated already. If we don't defend Haven, it will be ignored since it is simply the location in which we chose to make our stand.
You can offer battle but the merc's would be fools to grant it. You do not have the forces to defend the whole line in strength. You do not know where the merc's plan on attacking the line. The merc's do not want to fight you, they are being paid to take out the line NOT to die killing your soldiers, so they won't unless they have to. You have no way of forcing them to fight you.


1. No way to do that without superior ship numbers.
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on far to many specifics.

2. No way to do that with our present limitation on forces (the auxilliaries are nothing more than that, and can't be relied upon in battle).
Gurellia war does not involve battle. It involves killing unsuspecting people in their sleep, ambush, etc.

But it won't work anyway, as the merc's won't be around long enough for it to matter.


3. Probably our best choice.
No it's not.

Your best choice is the one that I offered and you ignored. Buy them off.

They are mercenaries, they have no loyalty to the dwarves. So offer to pay whatever the dwarves were paying them if they turn around and attack the dwarves. And they get to keep any loot they take.

-----
Outbidding the dwarves is really your only option. You have captured a merc general, give him the terms of the agreement and send him back to the merc's. Depending on the specific force mix of the merc's (different merc companies for example) you can do other things.

But let's get a few things clear:
1) You have no way to force an engagement.
2) Your enemy has no reason to engage you.
3) You do not have sufficient forces to encourage the merc's to leave you alone.
4) You do not have any way to alter the above 3 facts before the merc's attack.

Aquillion
2008-06-02, 12:43 AM
Outbidding the dwarves is really your only option. You have captured a merc general, give him the terms of the agreement and send him back to the merc's. Depending on the specific force mix of the merc's (different merc companies for example) you can do other things.They're trying to run a business here, though. Do they really want to get engaged in a bidding war with the entire dwarven kingdom?

Nohwl
2008-06-02, 12:43 AM
the only problem i see with you outbidding the dwarves is that might send the dwarven army to deal with you. it would give you more prep time, but you still might have an army to deal with.

Cuddly
2008-06-02, 12:57 AM
They're trying to run a business here, though. Do they really want to get engaged in a bidding war with the entire dwarven kingdom?

It, at the very least, buys them more time to reinforce defenses and get some more forces.

Dervag
2008-06-02, 12:57 AM
Note: The best stuff is in the "Thoughts" at the bottom.

Note: Please don't respond to this inside a quote. That means that when I hit "quote," your response is automatically disappeared along with my original statements- the system doesn't "quote" the stuff that's already inside a quote automatically.

Note: You don't need to respond to every single thing I say.


Their transports are, as far as I know, simply barges with at most light armament. They are being escorted by about 20-40 pirate vessels, which (once again) imagine the Interceptor. Yes, we have a little less than a week.OK. Is your gunboat significantly more powerful than the dwarves' privateer ships individually? Will the enemy try to form line of battle in the event of a naval attack?

Frankly, if you have 17 ships on your side, and if your 'allies' are willing to risk it, your best strategy may well be a landship battle. If landships normally stop for the night, a night attack could be devastating. Go for the transports, try to damage them badly enough to functionally disable them, then get the hell out. As we've all established, if the army loses their landships in the desert they are in BIG trouble.

Unless, of course, the enemy's armed landship strength is more like '40' than '20', or their landships are bigger.


Yes, we have 1000 rifles, some irregulars, the Endeavour, and 17 pirate vessels/ privateers of our own. Our regiment is indeed roughly equal to theirs (the GM simply doesn't want to calculate for two different strengths I'm betting). As for the privateer/pirate vessels (it really is simply a difference of them being our allies, and them being our employees, but that's just semantics), they are of equal quality to the enemy's for the same reason as the infantry.Actually, the enemy guys are privateers because they're being paid by a nation-state. Unless they're auxiliaries of an established landship 'navy', of course. Your guys are pirates becuase they're independent contractors not affiliated with a nation-state. I suggest the name "corsairs" myself.


Yup. The 500 could be armed with rifles in a pinch, but they would probably have to dismount to use them due to lack of training in raptor-riding-shooting.They would anyway. OK. 500 mounted riflemen is good.

With all your troops called in you have roughly 3 to 4 odds numerically. That is almost good enough to make a field battle plausible, especially if you have advantages in artillery or landship support. Which, come to think of it, you don't. At least, not now.


There're about 3 hours away.Call the allies NOW. How long will they be staying? I mean, the jungle kinglets aren't going to want to give you the bulk of their army for several months; they'll get overrun by rival kinglets.


There have been no negotiations. There has been no torture (yet), and he hasn't died (yet).Could have sworn you said you killed him.



Yes, however the one person that outranks us in the area is considering falling back to the city up north, so our credentials could take a hit.Huh?

Explain how that works in detail, please.


They wouldn't lose them permanently, more like for about half-an-hour.Which is long enough for you to swoop in and hammer them with artillery, no?


We have a rough idea of where they are, but attacking them would be suicide. It would do some damage, but not nearly enough in our opinions. This desert apparently has quite a few oasises (oasii?), so finding water shouldn't be that much of a problem.OK. In that case, the "they will all be killed if their landships are disabled" strategy fails, assuming they can find oases before their troops start dropping dead of thirst. That said, without the ships they're very vulnerable to your remaining landships


Everything but the Endeavour is wind-powered. We have both of those advantages, but the steam-powered-ness of it is (at this point) a weakness, as the appropriate technology for increasing its speed hasn't been developed by the resident mad scientist yet. The guns are more of the Civil War era guns that one would find aboard Civil War era ships. We have no exploding shells as of now.

However, you probably only have ONE landship capable of exploiting this advantage, and one ship against a flotilla is dangerous odds no matter how much more mobile your ship is.

Our ship is actually less mobile, and in effect is probably nothing more than a glorified transport that can kick ass when it needs to.Wait, so your steam gunboat is less mobile than a sailing ship? How does that work again? I can't argue with it, though.

If your resident engineer can't soup up the steam engine and you can't find anyone to install a sailing rig on your ship over the weekend, that's effectively a permanent condition, and a really bad one, tactically speaking.


Disabling them in the open desert would require totally destroying them, so nothing short of running out there would take them out of the war.If they're sail-powered, destroying their sailing rigs would neutralize them from a military standpoint; dismasting a sailing landship is almost as good as blowing it to bits. Of course, it's not much easier to achieve.


I note a specific flaw in your defense plan. As others have pointed out, the exploding derelict landships will only work once. The enemy will soon either blow up the derelicts with artillery or send in teams of engineers to blow them in place. Also, if the enemy outpowers you in artillery they can shell you heavily. What can the civilian leaders do if they decide to surrender whether your troops are willing to or not?

Yes, however the person who suggested it first suggested keeping their artillery on them and using them as pill boxes, so this is step up in terms of efficiency. Artillery is an unknown quantity here. We have about 15 guns with us, with 7 mobile gatling guns. The 17 ships have about 8 guns per side.Using the landships as (mobile) pillboxes is considerably smarter than using them as giant land mines. However, the enemy will be doing the same thing.

Think of them as very large tanks. Sort of like World War One tanks, of the big travelling fort type. Which, amusingly enough, were occasionally called landships back in the day.


The people who don't want the town damaged are actually politicians that are our superiors back in the port to the north. In a pinch, we could fight in the town, but they wouldn't like it. My thoughts exactly where they should have thrown in on.Can they stop you? What happens if you say "our defense plan is blah blah blah, and if you don't like it and tell us to stop, well, you and what army?"


They can arrive in time, but we learned that cavalry charges don't work at all when we took Haven the first time.If raptor cavalry are faster than landships, you don't want or need a sabre charge to use your raptor riders.

If they're faster over long distances than the ships, strike out into the desert with the raptor riders, timed to hit the enemy column at night, and do as much as possible to set those landships on fire. Follow up with a landship assault for the win (tank-cavalry cooperation in true Soviet Cossack fashion). At night, the raptor cavalry won't be targets for artillery at long range; the burning landships will illuminate the landscape enough to give your gunners considerably better targets.

If the raptor cavalry are NOT faster than landships over long distances, then have the cavalry scattered. As long as you have a landship force they need to keep their armed ships concentrated around the troop convoy, and cannot waste the landships chasing penny packets of cavalry all over the landscape.
______________________________

Thoughts:

-Your best military plan is the one I just outlined, in my opinion. In a defensive battle you're probably screwed because the enemy has roughly the same weight of guns as you do, more and better soldiers, and because they can tear up your railway at will. Worse yet, the dwarves can always hire more men to do it again- if they're smart they'll just hire a bunch of pirate landships to harass your rail line. You can't defend the rail line with the kind of force you have on hand, and if your investors realize it they will pull out.

-Your smartest possible plan is to offer the dwarves a cut of the proceeds from the railroad. A big cut, if need be. The dwarves will almost certainly send one or more envoys with plenipotentiary power along with this force. If this is the Victorian era, then while the mercenaries are down here the dwarves are probably planning on making part of the region a protectorate if they can possibly get away with it.

Find someone authorized to negotiate with you and cut a deal, because if the enemy fights smart you'll probably lose this war and it's better to surrender part of your profit margin than watch the dwarves destroy your railroad entirely.

Of course, if most of the stock in your railroad company is owned by British investors, that may not be possible.
_________________________________

-If you do NOT defeat the enemy in a landship battle before they can reach you: Do the dwarves know roughly how many men you have? If think you have only 1000 when you in fact have 3000, the following suggests itself:

As Tippy points out, the enemy has enough troops to besiege Haven and tear up the railroad line at once. If you can conceal the presence of your allies from the enemy, then you may be able to defeat the besieging force if they send out, say, half their men on the rail-wrecking crews.

Alternatively, you can send your allies' landships out, pick up the jungle allies, and have them swoop in in a prearranged "Riders of Rohan" tactic, say, a week from now. If the besieging mercenaries get hit from the rear it will hurt them, especially if they have to deal with a sally by the defenders supported by remaining landships from inside the town.

This tactic is dangerous unless you have a way to communicate with your landship force- can the wizard help with that? Remember that if the enemy does NOT dispatch raiding parties to tear up the rail line then you're dividing your forces in the face of a larger opponent. At that point you may want to call the commander of your 'Riders of Rohan' and rethink your plans.

Basically, I'm proposing a variant of Triaxx's plan. The problem from the mercenaries point of view is like this:

Tearing up railroad tracks is hard work. In this case, there won't be a lot of viaducts or bridges to destroy, so the only way to ruin the track is to physically remove and destroy the rails. That involves things like having gangs of men pry up the spikes holding the rails down, build bonfires, heat the rails in the bonfires, and then bend the rails into corkscrews. It's fairly labor-intensive. And since their enemy is a railroad company that probably has the resources to lay thousands of yards of track a day anyway... they have to destroy a lot of your tracks in order to pose a serious setback to your operations.

If they want to stop your operations, they must at LEAST destroy the existing railroad or storm Haven. Storming Haven costs casualties and mercenaries get paid by the hour, not by the gallon of blood shed. So they'll probably opt for besieging Haven with sufficient force to trap you, your railroad workers, and your landships in the town while sending out large parties with tools to tear up the tracks.

In which case they are vulnerable to defeat in detail. If you can break the (large) force they leave to besiege Haven, they lose because you can roll up their raiding parties in detail and rebuild tracks as fast as they can tear them apart.

However, if the enemy knows you have 3000 men, they'll be very suspicious if those men are not present in Haven, and will set enough guards and pickets that using the jungle troops to hit the back of the siege line is a dangerous proposition.

Note: Those 500 cavalry are the ideal force for patrolling the rail line. The enemy's work parties will spread out up and down the line in small numbers, and they can't go far from the line if they plan to tear it up. Victorian cavalry may not be able to charge large formations of prepared infantry, but they can sure charge a bunch of guys who are busy prying up railroad tracks with crowbars.
_____________________________

-Tippy has a point about intelligence. Yes, you found out about the enemy attack as soon as you set out to do so. But you didn't find out soon enough to take really effective actions (like calling Britain for reinforcements, or hiring mercenaries of your own). The dwarves must have been planning this for weeks or months. If you'd been keeping an eye on them, and you probably should have, you'd have enough warning to bring in enough force that they wouldn't be able to overwhelm you.
_____________________________


Wait.

The enemy forces are mercenaries, correct? And the dwarves have no army of their own, correct?

Assuming that the mercenaries have no personal reason to dislike you, why not just go and pay them to turn around and take out the dwarves?Because the dwarves have more money than they do.

Yes, they outnumber you 4 to 1, but even if the kill rate is only 1 to 1 that is 25% casualties for them. And every transport your gunboat takes out is a significant number of enemy troops dead for no real cost (how many transports are there?). So the merc's can attack an enemy who will fight them and will likely cause them significant casualties, or they can take the pay you are offering and turn around and take out the group with no force to oppose them.The mercenaries actually have a pretty good chance of winning this with minimal casualties unless the PCs attack them in a landship battle on the open desert or plain. They besiege Haven and dispatch parties to tear up the railroad tracks. They're probably getting paid by the hour, so it's not like they're in a hurry.

Plus, when a large force fights a small force, and the small force doesn't have some BIG force multipliers (which these guys don't), the small force almost NEVER manages to inflict 1 to 1 casualties. The smaller army nearly always surrenders, and even if they don't, the Lanchester Square Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester's_laws) works in the larger army's favor.
___________________________


Seeing as the whole point is to stop the dwarves from destroying the rail road, it does matter.It matters, but if they lose the rail line without losing their ability to rebuild it then that counts as a strategic tie. Of course, the dwarves can do the same thing over and over unless they wire home for reinforcements...


Your real problem is that you throughly messed up already. You should have had intelligence sources to inform you that the dwarves planned on hiring mercenaries. You should have planned the rail line's security before you ever started building it. You should have played politics to get other nations on your side earlier. And you should have fortified Haven to the point where it could withstand a real attack (multiple wooden walls, tamped earth walls, cleared firing zones, etc. With proper walls you should be able to take an equally skilled force at anything under 10 to 1 odds).Much of this is true. However, I don't think they could fortify Haven strongly enough to withstand a siege by an army of this size without considerably more troops. The town doesn't have a good position, and since landships are functional naval vessels the mercenaries can probably blockade the town, cutting of resupply by sea.


Assuming the enemy forces stay concentrated they only outnumber you (when you include your allies without the raptor riders) 1.6 to 1. Those aren't overwhelming numbers.Pretty close, actually. At that point, the enemy will probably win an open field battle unless you're a lot cleverer than your enemy or a LOT better man for man.
____________________________


Those allies that are three hours away? You want them watching for a signal. Preferably something perfectly visible at night. Once the siege begins, the sole job of the wizard is to become a giant signal tower. No matter what kind of power required to be expended, he has to start those allies moving in behind the entrenched enemy. Fighting a siege against a city is a war of attrition. Having someone on the outside tearing the hell out of their supplies, and killing them as they sleep. They'll have to start sending out patrols. Either in sand ships, or ground troops. Now they are splitting their forces. Or if they start lighting fires around the outside to illuminate the desert, they're wasting resources.

Send a message to the Jungle king and inform him that you've suddenly had a change of heart. Tell him you had the dwarves send a gift of slaves, all he has to do is come to the city and claim them. Set this up so he arrives just as the siege begins. He'll walk away with the opposing army.This is probably a good plan, as I say above.

Emperor Tippy
2008-06-02, 01:30 AM
Because the dwarves have more money than they do.
That depends on how much their national backers are willing to put up, and apparently the dwarves don't have any military forces of their own (just merc's) which would make an attack on them less risky.


The mercenaries actually have a pretty good chance of winning this with minimal casualties unless the PCs attack them in a landship battle on the open desert or plain. They besiege Haven and dispatch parties to tear up the railroad tracks. They're probably getting paid by the hour, so it's not like they're in a hurry.
Yeah, barring numerous unknown factors the merc's have every advantage. As I believe I said, this is a tactical problem, not a strategic problem.

The dwarves thought strategically and have forced you into a piss poor tactical situation.


Plus, when a large force fights a small force, and the small force doesn't have some BIG force multipliers (which these guys don't), the small force almost NEVER manages to inflict 1 to 1 casualties. The smaller army nearly always surrenders, and even if they don't, the Lanchester Square Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester's_laws) works in the larger army's favor.
True, and as I have said. You have no way to force an engagement in the first place.


It matters, but if they lose the rail line without losing their ability to rebuild it then that counts as a strategic tie. Of course, the dwarves can do the same thing over and over unless they wire home for reinforcements...
Then move everything necessary to rebuild the line back to the port and just forget about defending the line. Then do everything over, this time with proper strategic planning.


Much of this is true. However, I don't think they could fortify Haven strongly enough to withstand a siege by an army of this size without considerably more troops. The town doesn't have a good position, and since landships are functional naval vessels the mercenaries can probably blockade the town, cutting of resupply by sea.
I don't believe that the ships work on the lighter color on the map but I'm not sure of that. And you are correct. But yes, Haven is in a bad spot.


Pretty close, actually. At that point, the enemy will probably win an open field battle unless you're a lot cleverer than your enemy or a LOT better man for man.
Yes, but those odds change drastically if you manage a surprise attack or the like.

----------
If it was me I would change the rail lines route as shown on the following map (http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/8045/railmapmh5.jpg).

The yellow dots are potential ports, preferably one of the two off the rivers but that depends on the rivers. The green lines are the potential rail lines. All of the alternate routes are less than 25% longer and they are all far safer from the dwarves.

Talic
2008-06-02, 02:01 AM
B) Pull back to Haven, where we will consolidate our forces and wait out the Mercenaries.

B) Will not work because defending has never in the history of mankind won a war (well, maybe not never). However, we could poison their water supplies and hope they leave. This is what we currently plan to do, with a twist.


Actually, this is precisely the tactic that the russians used in WW2 to drive back the axis invasion. You have an effect similar to their harsh winter (the desert). A minor variation, and you've got it down.

Other options include destroying their supply lines. Armies don't march on an empty stomach. Destroy their means of transporting food, and a single guerilla raid on food supplies will severely cripple their army. Even with magical means of creating food, you will either starve their army, or force them to divert every ounce of magical power they have to feeding it.

This even works against economically superior foes, as it takes time to rebuild supply lines, even if the capital to do so is readily available. It works better against larger armies, as well, and food supplies are rarely incredibly heavily guarded. There may be increased guard if the supply line is cut, but good timing will obviate that.

llamamushroom
2008-06-02, 05:23 AM
I know it was said you can't really get close to them in ehnough force to take out the ships, but could you perhaps get a smaller vessel in close (perhaps a captured one?) and use grappling hooks to destroy mainsails? This will slow them down considerably, and odds are they wouldn't have more than one or two spares (probably not even that).

Also, what kind of desert are we talking here? Are we talking one with massive, shifting dunes? A barren wasteland Mongolian-type? A pretty much flat far-as-the-eye-can-see Australian-type?

Hopefully it's the former, as that would allow you to sneak in a vessel more easily.

Finally, what's the weather like? A half-decent sandstorm would be enough to cripple their ships, so if you have a way of, say, magically causing one, that would be great.

Talic
2008-06-02, 05:44 AM
Bear in mind, some of the best tactics of warfare involve attacking where the enemy isn't, and capturing the greatest return with the least risk.

The enemy will likely do this by attacking undefended stretches of railway.

The party can do this by destroying supply lines and vessels. This accomplishes several things.

1) It forces an army to stop for a time, or slow down to harvest from the land. As option 2 will likely be unavailable in the desert, military advance will likely be halted. This is because:

2) The army will redeploy and reorganize to defend their supply line. This takes time, which is why you have #1. This also has the benefit of:

3) The army's offensive and defensive capability will be reduced. The enemy will have to divert troops to protect their supply line, which can remove as much as 75-80% of the attack power of the army, depending on the length of the supply line. If the supply line is any longer, the army will likely fall back until it gains enough reinforcements to re-engage while protecting supply lines.

This accomplishes several major objectives for you.

1) Morale. You get several quick initial victories, and your troops will have positive morale, which positively affects future engagements. Enemy troops will likely be hungry, shocked as the easy win predicted turns out to be harder than they thought, creating forces that are more hesitant to engage, and more likely to break in battle. This is doubly true for conscripted forces (mercenaries).

2) Time. This is a battle where time works for you. The enemy has a greater immediate ability to bring troops to bear. You have difficulty bringing in all your allies due to time constraints. The addition of more time won't significantly increase your enemy's ability to field an army, though it will greatly increase yours. Those reinforcements will provide a definate morale boost, as well.

3) Force conservation. By attacking weak targets, and dispersing enemy forces, you reduce the threat to any engagement you field. This aids your plans, in making it easier to attain decisive, quick victories.

4) PC involvement. Anytime the fights are smaller, the PC can influence them more. While this is an OOC observation, it's nonetheless true. The type of missions entailed in supply line raids are best suited to smaller guerilla forces, such as a PC adventuring party. While it may slow down the war, it picks up the pace of the game for players, in giving them a more active role in the war effort.

Remember, the key to winning wars isn't to destroy the enemy army. It's to destroy the enemy army's will to fight. Once you do that, the victory will come quickly.

Further, limited use of funds to convince specific units to betray their cause (as most mercenary forces are smaller units) in key locations will accomplish several objectives.

1) If opponent doesn't catch it, it will sow much confusion in ranks, and possibly open up the ability to gain easy access to destroying supplies for the army.

2) If opponent does, they either destroy/disband the enemy unit (removing some troops) or spend more money on the unit to secure its loyalty. This could engender loss of morale in the enemy army, as now one unit is getting paid much more than the others, and the others may feel like their employer is showing favoritism, when in actuality, it was you who limited your bribe to one or two units.

Atanuero
2008-06-02, 09:15 AM
You said that the more of this special substance you apply, the more antigravity you get over the desert, right? So why not equip 2-3 of your ships with another layer of special substance, put ramps under your cannons so they face down, fly over the transports and unleash full salvo? Of course you couldn't really change your height other than to take apart the ship while still in midair gradually, but maybe you can equip all your sailors with ropes so they can shimmy down and climb back up if needed, or command huge ladders to be built. And remember that you can't be sunk even if your hull is pierced, because as long as you still have enough antigravity substance to stay off the ground, you can 'take on air' as much as you want! Plus, they're transports, which means that not only will they be travelling in some sort of convoy, but they're probably low on weapons or at least on weapons that can shoot up.

If that somehow doesn't work, why don't you screw with their pathfinding by sending 'helpful' locals to misdirect them from the railroad, get them stuck/lost in the middle of the desert (or even better, the jungle, sicne you have jungle fighters) and wait till they're low on supplies to strike? They'll be low on morale and possibly some of them will die of dehydration.

Also, it may be possible to skirmish them into oblivion just because the fighting takes place in the desert. A desert ahs lots of dust floating around, so you can use the tactics that the Muslims used during the Crusades, a.k.a come at them in small groups from each side, taking some shots and then fleeing back into the hazy dust. Just make sure to time it properly and that your army doesn't get lost and separated in the middle of the desert. This will slow them down considerably, because they'll probably have to stop the transports to fight your soldiers off. Meanwhile, you can take the ships you used to beat them in that naval battle, pillage them of cannons and fortify your defensive town thing.

If you decide not to make your navy practically useless until the battle is over, you can send it to bombard the Dwarven ports in order to prevent them from being able to A, naval trade, B, naval combat, C, defend as effectively against future amphibious invasions.

Another thought about the bombing idea, if there's something preventing you from making huge flying ships, try and invent the 'flying snowboard' and put 1-2 soldiers on each, then have them fly circles around the transports and shoot regular rifles/throw explosives at the enemy. THis makes your army more difficult to hit, and may neutralize their numerical advantage a bit.

Dervag
2008-06-02, 11:04 AM
That depends on how much their national backers are willing to put up, and apparently the dwarves don't have any military forces of their own (just merc's) which would make an attack on them less risky.Well, the dwarves have quite a lot of money and would be willing to spend a lot on this operation. Their economic future depends on this railroad NOT going through, because their prosperity depends on their control over caravan routes that the railroad bypasses.


The dwarves thought strategically and have forced you into a piss poor tactical situation.I'm not sure I'd put it that way. I mean, the dwarves' strategic sophistication, as far as we can tell, is "assemble a large army and destroy the railroad." The fact that they have enough money to hire a force large enough to reliably overcome the railroad's defenses isn't strategic thinking as such.

What do you mean, specifically, when you say that the dwarves are "thinking strategically?"


True, and as I have said. You have no way to force an engagement in the first place.He does if the enemy actually wants to go to work prying up the railroad tracks, or if they want to invest or assault Haven. And they pretty much have to do one or the other in order to win the war.


Then move everything necessary to rebuild the line back to the port and just forget about defending the line. Then do everything over, this time with proper strategic planning.More or less what I had in mind, except that I think they can take advantage of the line's presence tactically. The enemy has to destroy the line, which means scattering work crews along the line, which means that a good cavalry commander will be able to roll up a lot of their forces. Especially if he's escorted by railroad operators who know the terrain the line is built along like the backs of their hands.

If nothing else, he should be able to disarm them, capturing their rifles, even if killing them or taking them prisoner is impractical. Which it might very well be. Killing them will get the PCs a bad reputation, the local slave trade is dead, and nobody's going to be in a good position to feed and guard several hundred POWs.


I don't believe that the ships work on the lighter color on the map but I'm not sure of that. And you are correct. But yes, Haven is in a bad spot.I'd like a copy of that map too; Ulrich, could you send me one?

Emperor Tippy
2008-06-02, 11:30 AM
Well, the dwarves have quite a lot of money and would be willing to spend a lot on this operation. Their economic future depends on this railroad NOT going through, because their prosperity depends on their control over caravan routes that the railroad bypasses.
Yes, and a good war is in the merc's interest. Face it, the dwarves actions (unless they are deniable) will result in a war with Victoriana, and potentially several other countries depending on how alliances and mutual interest work out.

the optimal solution would be for you to buy away about half the merc force and let them fight it out, then go in and wipe out the survivors. You recover your bribes and give a pointed warning to all other merc forces, all they will know is that 4,000 skilled merc's went in and none came out while your forces took minimal losses.


I'm not sure I'd put it that way. I mean, the dwarves' strategic sophistication, as far as we can tell, is "assemble a large army and destroy the railroad." The fact that they have enough money to hire a force large enough to reliably overcome the railroad's defenses isn't strategic thinking as such.

What do you mean, specifically, when you say that the dwarves are "thinking strategically?"
They were apparently good enough that the other side only got 17 days notice, that is damn near total strategic surprise. And they were smart enough to let 150 miles of rail to be emplaced before taking it out. They have also managed to ensure that no other nation is willing to come to the railroads aid.


He does if the enemy actually wants to go to work prying up the railroad tracks, or if they want to invest or assault Haven. And they pretty much have to do one or the other in order to win the war.
Haven is worthless, it has no tactical or strategic important. Porte Del, where the rail line starts, is the important location. The players have to defend it and that will require almost all of their force. So the Merc's lay in a good siege using 3500 or so troops and use the other 500 to deal with the rail line.

They don't have to pry up the rail tracks, they just need to have brought along a good bit of oil and some gun powder (or other explosives, preferably nitro). If the rail tracks are made out of iron (likely) then the heat will warp them. And if you have thermite it gets real easy if was invented towards the end of the Victorian era).

Or take a nice little pipe bomb, heavy steel pipe packed with the best explosives you have, that is slightly narrower than the gauge on the track. You wedge the pipe bomb inbetween the two rails and detonate it. Almost guarenteed to warp the rails.

And the benefit of doing these things is that the railroad has to remove all of the now worthless lines before they can relay them.


More or less what I had in mind, except that I think they can take advantage of the line's presence tactically. The enemy has to destroy the line, which means scattering work crews along the line, which means that a good cavalry commander will be able to roll up a lot of their forces. Especially if he's escorted by railroad operators who know the terrain the line is built along like the backs of their hands.
They the 3,500 guys take Port De and torch it. Same effect.


If nothing else, he should be able to disarm them, capturing their rifles, even if killing them or taking them prisoner is impractical. Which it might very well be. Killing them will get the PCs a bad reputation, the local slave trade is dead, and nobody's going to be in a good position to feed and guard several hundred POWs.
So what if the slave trade is dead, doesn't mean you can't use them as forced labor.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-02, 03:40 PM
Wow, I think it's time that I stop responding to individual posts simply because there are way too many big ones.

Thanks for the advice guys.

As for the map, it's in one of my recent posts, my last one I think.

A side note, there are absolutely no dwarves within a thousand mile area.

Also, as for intelligence/lack thereof: The dwarves were hiring large numbers of mercenaries before we heard of it. However, we had no spies in the area, as they were a non-entity before this happened (I was the only one to think of them as a threat, but was ignored by all but the GM apparently). The only way we heard of it is from an old friend in the area.

Another thing, we have not killed the general, all I said is that my character really wants to.

Talic
2008-06-02, 04:33 PM
Also note, merc forces are probably comprised of large numbers of small units. These units likely have little reason for loyalty to one another. Play on that. Planting evidence of betrayal between mercenary units will likely cause much confusion, and is as simple as killing advance scouts, and firing arrows owned by one merc company into another, under cover of night. Bodies are found with arrows from merc outfit A, and merc outfit B is likely to get pissed.

Other advantages of disparate forces brought together quickly is typically poor communications skills, and lack of interforce training. Both work to your advantage in the above scenario.

Flickerdart
2008-06-02, 06:05 PM
Oh, and if you have some means to force a battle in an area, set it up to your advantage. Perhaps buried explosives right underneath where they will be.

Dervag
2008-06-02, 08:20 PM
Yes, and a good war is in the merc's interest. Face it, the dwarves actions (unless they are deniable) will result in a war with Victoriana, and potentially several other countries depending on how alliances and mutual interest work out.Hard to say. Depends on details of the political situation that we don't have. Plausible, but not certain.


the optimal solution would be for you to buy away about half the merc force and let them fight it out, then go in and wipe out the survivors. You recover your bribes and give a pointed warning to all other merc forces, all they will know is that 4,000 skilled merc's went in and none came out while your forces took minimal losses.Why would 2000 mercenaries agree to fight it out with 2000 other mercenaries? That's a recipe for heavy casualties. And, as you observed, Machiavelli has a lot to say about mercenaries' willingness to take risks and casualties.


They were apparently good enough that the other side only got 17 days notice, that is damn near total strategic surprise. And they were smart enough to let 150 miles of rail to be emplaced before taking it out. They have also managed to ensure that no other nation is willing to come to the railroads aid.Which could be explained by:
-the PCs not bothering to keep an eye on the dwarves 9which is what happened),
-the dwarves needing three to six months to get their act together (plenty of time to lay 150 miles of track if you have enough laborers)
-and distance. This is happening in the back of beyond, remember?


Haven is worthless, it has no tactical or strategic important. Porte Del, where the rail line starts, is the important location. The players have to defend it and that will require almost all of their force. So the Merc's lay in a good siege using 3500 or so troops and use the other 500 to deal with the rail line.Porte del Flores is close to 'Spain', and may be a Spanish protectorate. I think the reason they're striking towards Haven is that there are no political powers in the region capable of immediate interference with overwhelming force.

Ulrichomega's posts suggest that Porte del Flores is considered a secure location by the people involved in this setup, which probably includes the dwarves.


They don't have to pry up the rail tracks, they just need to have brought along a good bit of oil and some gun powder (or other explosives, preferably nitro). If the rail tracks are made out of iron (likely) then the heat will warp them. And if you have thermite it gets real easy if was invented towards the end of the Victorian era).But they have many leagues of track to wreck. They still won't be able to do it fast unless they split up into lots of little work crews.

It's not enough for them to make holes in a few spots- they have to effectively erase miles of track. Otherwise, some other company is just going to try to start the railroad up again using the same right of way and a better guard force.


So what if the slave trade is dead, doesn't mean you can't use them as forced labor.So if the slave trade is dead you don't have convenient slavers who just HAPPEN to have experience and equipment with keeping large numbers of captives. Nor do you have any obvious place to send those captives. So you have to put your POW camps (forced labor or otherwise) somewhere under guard, and it's not clear that they can spare a guard force. Certainly they aren't going to be able to take large numbers of prisoners on a cavalry raid such as the ones I was talking about.

Thus, they would be well advised during the raids to settle for destroying or confiscating the mercenaries' weapons and demo. Once that is done, the mercs become a liability to the enemy rather than an asset.


Another thing, we have not killed the general, all I said is that my character really wants to.I don't think that's wise of your character. He's likely to be more valuable as a messenger than dangerous as a prisoner, and if anyone finds out you've killed him you're less likely to get favorable treatment if you lose. Which you very well might.

Do you know what the effect of losing their general has been on the mercenaries' cohesion? As others pointed out, this mercenary army isn't unified very well, so losing the guy who keeps it all running (probably by having a good military reputation) could greatly weaken their ability to work together.


Oh, and if you have some means to force a battle in an area, set it up to your advantage. Perhaps buried explosives right underneath where they will be.Good idea in general, not so good here in particular. The terrain is almost entirely flat as far as I can tell; I'm not at all confident that there is any way to force the mercenaries to fight on a specific patch of land. The only point they're almost certain to leave troops on is the land around Haven, and even there they won't have all that many soldiers. Therefore they have enough room to maneuver that preparing the battlefield in advance won't be possible, except for any fortifications the heroes can put up immediately around the town.

The ratio of force to space here is very low- there are only about five to seven thousand troops fighting over an area of several hundred square miles. Maneuver will dominate over static slugging tactics.

Ulrichomega
2008-06-03, 09:49 AM
Once again, thanks guys.

Just a little update on how I think the battle's going to go:

The GM sent out a copy of the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" today.

*cue dramatic music*

Dervag
2008-06-03, 12:32 PM
Why would he think that you're all going to be killed because of a mixed up order?

Are you the only one who's thinking about how to win this?

Triaxx
2008-06-03, 06:43 PM
2000 to 2000? Sounds like good odds for a surprise attack. Land, distribute forces, and everyone suddenly kills the guy next to him?

Dervag
2008-06-03, 10:13 PM
2000 to 2000? Sounds like good odds for a surprise attack. Land, distribute forces, and everyone suddenly kills the guy next to him?OK. In a surprise attack it could work. On the other hand... why? And remember that you'll have to negotiate with several mercenary leaders to make this work. And if one of them refuses, he can blow the secret attack plan to all the others. And all the mercenary leaders know this.

If I were in these mercenaries' position I wouldn't agree to any such plan. It's much better to take a near-certainty of making a lot of money from the dwarves than to take a chance of pulling off a surprise attack against my own comrades who (from my perspective) almost certainly know I'm gunning for them.

Triaxx
2008-06-04, 09:08 AM
Ah, but the advantage comes from the captured general. He's more than likely to know which Mercenaries are vulnerable to being paid to jump ship without spilling the beans.

Dervag
2008-06-04, 09:46 AM
Ah, but the captured general has at least some incentive to lie. Also, there's no guarantee that the enemy army contains 2000 mercenaries with commanders that are:

-disloyal enough to betray their current employer and
-loyal enough NOT to betray the fact that someone tried to hire them to betray the army.

Put simply, the mercenaries fall into two categories;

-honorable enough to stay bribed
-dishonorable enough that they always seek the maximum advantage, no matter who they have to betray. If you're willing to betray your employer you have to be this ruthless and cunning, because you'll be dealing with employers and coworkers who won't have any reason to trust you.

The honorable mercenaries will inform HQ of the plot, because their loyalty to their employer is part of their stock in trade. One of the reasons you hire these guys is that you can be reasonably confident they won't abandon or betray you once they've taken your money.

The dishonorable mercenaries have to make a calculation. Someone has just offered them a large sum of money to participate in a plot to destroy the army with a surprise attack. They have three options:

-Refuse
-Agree
-Inform HQ of the sneak attack.
________________________________________

If they were the only commander you were approaching in this way, then there's a decent chance they'd choose "Agree." If, that is, you have enough money to outbid the dwarves. But they're not, and they know it, because this plan cannot work without the participation of multiple mercenary units.

Which means that they know that the ten or twenty most treacherous, disreputable commanders in the army all know this sneak attack is coming.

What are the odds that all those men can be trusted to keep the secret? If they cannot be trusted to keep the secret, then the surprise attack is utterly doomed, because the loyal troops will jump on the disloyal troops. They'll be prepared for the 'ambush.'

In that case, the disloyal mercenary commander reasons, the only thing to do is to side actively with the loyalists, by reporting the plot to HQ.
______________________________

To make your plan work, you need mercenaries who are willing to betray their current paymaster, but who will NOT make the above calculation. Those aren't going to be very thick on the ground.

Triaxx
2008-06-06, 05:36 AM
You're thinking about it wrong. The General has reason to lie. All I need is to get the names. Half the bands are offered the opportunity to defect. The other half are informed that the first half have defected and are offered a chance to break away before the others kill them.

I expect half the mercenaries to go to the HQ to report the betrayal offer. The other half shows to report that the other half accepted the offer. Unless the commanders are very good at fast talking, it's going to turn into a blood bath.

Dervag
2008-06-06, 09:30 AM
Ah.

I misunderstood the method by which you expected your plan to succeed. The objective (get the mercenaries fighting among themselves) was clear. The action you proposed to achieve this objective was clear. But the method, I did not quite see.

I thought you seriously intended to get half the mercenaries to attack the other half by paying them to do so.

Instead, you plan to get half the mercenaries to attack the other half by tricking them into thinking the other half have been paid to attack them.

I can imagine that working. However, it has risks. For example, if the dwarves have an insane amount of money, they may well be prepared to outbid any sum the PCs can assemble on such short notice. Or rather, their representative with the army will.

Or if the mercenaries value their reputation as loyal to their employer, the odds that the resulting infighting will swell to incapacitate the whole army are slim.

It's a cunning plan that has a small chance of succeeding very well, a decent chance of succeeding slightly (but not enough to win the war), and a substantial chance of failing entirely. As such, it is a good suggestion, but probably not a good plan all by itself.

Triaxx
2008-06-07, 06:18 AM
That's why I'm telling the second half that the first half has been bought off. What I want is for the second half to be so busy denouncing the first half, that the representative doesn't have a chance to stop the proceedings before weapons are drawn.

The money the Dwarves can offer won't matter. The ones that are too loyal to be bought off are going to do my dirty work for me. If I need to offer more money, I can use shares of the rail road as bargaining chips. They already have pirates in their employ, so hiring mercenaries isn't considered an unusual step.

And the emissary who delivers the message? One of the party who's posing as a member of the betraying companies who is more loyal than his commanders. Even in an army of 4000 men, no one commander is going to know every face.

Dervag
2008-06-07, 09:56 AM
All right, I understand the plan. I still think it's fundamentally shaky because it relies entirely on the enemy's reactions to your action, rather than your action itself. But it has a decent chance of succeeding very well.

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-06-07, 07:46 PM
Okay, having briefly read over, may I make some tactical suggestions?

1) Wage a War of Weakness, A.K.A. Gurrella Warfare. Lead 'em into the Jungle. If I'm reading this right, the Dwarves are pretty much your world's Fremen (at least, the reference to Spice is a rather blatant Dune dig). So they're wonderful in their terrain, nasty kinds of guys. Fine, lead them into unfamiliar terrain, then start sniping at them, taking out three or four, dropping dead bodies into their supplies to foul them.

2) An army marches on it's stomach. Hit their supply lines. As long as you are on the end of your railroad, in tact, you've got a much better supply line than they do. Have the party (that would be the biggest, nastiest, most powerful group, right?) do an end-run, in stealth and secrecy, to pillage their supply train. All those mercenaries need to eat a LOT. Figure about five pounds of food per soldier per day, for your average human. So you're looking at a couple tons of food they need to move. You've got a captured general, right? Find out where their supply trains run and disrupt them. Soldiers can go about a week without food before seriously being incapacitated, but it takes less than three days to have them start keeling over from dehydration. Disrupt their supply trains long enough, and the whole army will simply starve

3) Do you have any casters able to manipulate terrain? This is a good way to completely negate the power of any sort of calvary unit, be it horseback or other-back. Seed the battlefield with craptons of gopher holes. Every time a cav unit steps in one, it just broke it's leg, and disrupted the calvary charge all behind it. Really good for tearing up a calvary charge before it can get to you. Also, if you have access to large amounts of wood, try this: A large pointy stick about fifteen feet long. It's called a Pike, and it also will seriously take the starch out of any calvary charge.

4) Confusion to the enemy! You've got an enemy commander, right? Get all their signal codes down, then start giving them screwed up commands. Nothing like 'disband and go home', that's too obvious. Try 'move to support unit x to your left flank', which sounds perfectly reasonable, until they realize they've gone and left holes in their lines big enough for things to go through. Also made nice juicy targets for anything you've got that does an area effect.

5) Trying to protect that many lines of rail from an opponent is an act of sheer stupidity. With that much track, they are GOING to get sapper groups through to tear it up, and it only needs one break to stop the thing entirely. Assume from the onset that once their troops are close enough, they're going to take out your rails. That means you back it up and leapfrog retreat as they advance. Stay stuck out there, and you'll get the plank you're standing on sawed off behind you.

I hope this has helped.

Dervag
2008-06-08, 12:23 AM
1) Wage a War of Weakness, A.K.A. Gurrella Warfare. Lead 'em into the Jungle. If I'm reading this right, the Dwarves are pretty much your world's Fremen (at least, the reference to Spice is a rather blatant Dune dig). So they're wonderful in their terrain, nasty kinds of guys. Fine, lead them into unfamiliar terrain, then start sniping at them, taking out three or four, dropping dead bodies into their supplies to foul them.The dwarves themselves aren't here; the mercenaries are human troops from north of the mountains. There's no chance of luring them into the jungle because the railroad is on the strip of plains between the desert and the jungle. As is the town of Haven. All their strategic objectives are on the nice level ground north of the jungle, so luring them into the jungle isn't likely to work.

See the map Tippy linked to for reference.


2) An army marches on it's stomach. Hit their supply lines. As long as you are on the end of your railroad, in tact, you've got a much better supply line than they do. Have the party (that would be the biggest, nastiest, most powerful group, right?) do an end-run, in stealth and secrecy, to pillage their supply train.Good suggestion, but it's quite possible that this army can 'forage' (read: steal the food of the local population) long enough to sack Haven, tear up large portions of the railroad line, and go home. At which point the PCs lose. So while supply interdiction will help, it won't win the war by itself.

Also, and this is another thing you can't know without looking at the map (which Ulrich hasn't been kind enough to give us), the railroad is perpendicular to the enemy army's line of advance. The railroad isn't very useful as a line of supply for the PCs' forces because of this.


3) Do you have any casters able to manipulate terrain? This is a good way to completely negate the power of any sort of calvary unit, be it horseback or other-back. Seed the battlefield with craptons of gopher holes. Every time a cav unit steps in one, it just broke it's leg, and disrupted the calvary charge all behind it. Really good for tearing up a calvary charge before it can get to you. Also, if you have access to large amounts of wood, try this: A large pointy stick about fifteen feet long. It's called a Pike, and it also will seriously take the starch out of any calvary charge.The enemy has no cavalry; they have infantry and levitating landships armed with cannon. Also, the technology is Victorian; troops with breech-loading rifles will butcher any troops armed with pikes. Happily, the PCs' army has rifles of their own, which also makes the pikes considerably less useful.


4) Confusion to the enemy! You've got an enemy commander, right? Get all their signal codes down, then start giving them screwed up commands. Nothing like 'disband and go home', that's too obvious. Try 'move to support unit x to your left flank', which sounds perfectly reasonable, until they realize they've gone and left holes in their lines big enough for things to go through. Also made nice juicy targets for anything you've got that does an area effect.Good thinking.


5) Trying to protect that many lines of rail from an opponent is an act of sheer stupidity. With that much track, they are GOING to get sapper groups through to tear it up, and it only needs one break to stop the thing entirely. Assume from the onset that once their troops are close enough, they're going to take out your rails.Yes...


That means you back it up and leapfrog retreat as they advance. Stay stuck out there, and you'll get the plank you're standing on sawed off behind you.Won't work. They aren't going to be able to start defending the railhead and then retreat along the railroad itself, because the enemy's line of march is perpendicular to the railroad. Taking a stand at any point on the railroad itself almost guarantees that they'll be cut off and surrounded unless they can greatly reduce the strength of the enemy army with a landship battle or by dividing the enemy and defeating part of their forces in detail.


I hope this has helped.Ditto.

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-06-09, 07:19 PM
Okay, here's another topic of interest:

Hit them where they hurt: their pocketbooks.

Seriously, Mercenaries fight for... money. So, start disrupting their payments. You've got one of their commanders, he should know the usual and typical means the mercenaries get paid with and by. There should be some exploitable method of disrupting this. And no mercenary will ever work for someone without getting paid. Take that to the bank. If you can take the money and use it yourself, great. If not, at least destroy it so the merc's get pissed off. Even better, you can go to the disgruntled mercs and offer them a valid contract once they sever their current one for failure to pay.

EDIT: one thing I just thought of that is simply... devious. Transmute their silver/gold they are paying these mercenaries into silver/gold washed bronze/brass. Make the Mercenaries think they're being paid in bogus cash. That'll get 'em REALLY pissed off at the Dwarves.

Okay, with the force appreciation you have described (my computer is making funny faces at me every time I try to follow the link), give up on the railroad, but destroy it as you get ready, so they can't use it against you once they've amobea'd over it, or at least forces them to repair it before they can use it.

Supply line disruption is still viable, although it'll hurt worse and take longer to become crippling to the enemy. In brief, you have to weigh the long-term damage on the territory vs the short-term benefit of defeating your opponent. Best bet is to evacuate the civilians, taking all their valuables and belongings (including food), and bringing them into Haven. Then initiate scorched-earth policy combined with supply line disruption to achieve net victory, although at a significant 'rebuild' cost. The downside to this tactic is that the Dwarves are likely to be able to hire even more Mercenaries (shouldn't, after you do something like that, other mercenaries are reluctant to fight you, case in point, the Swiss, but it may be a GM Fiat), so then you have to defend against another large force with even fewer resources.

With the era of technology you describe, the opposite tactic may come in handy than the one I originally described. Do you have a druid or something able to start making large amounts of trees or other cover? Firing from cover at a Napoleonic-era formation is... fun. You'll have to figure out a way to get rid of their cannon, though, if he's going to be using them like civil war era artillary support. That'll take down just about any fortification you're going to be able to erect on the fly. So, first, focus on eliminating their support fire, then worry about getting rid of them.

Capt'n Ironbrow
2008-07-09, 09:27 AM
As for the defences of Haven, I read it's pallisaded. Pallisades are useless and even dangerous against cannon (imagine the damage flying fragments of wood will do to the men who man the walls). If possible, you should set people to work on these defences, piling up earth on the outside of the pallisade will both create a moat (barrier) and protect your pallisade from shot. Roundshot will get stuck in, grenades do superficial damage. Wedged roundshot could be dug from the earth wall to add to your own munition (under cover of night). Even if you can't reinforce the entire pallisade, you could use the unprotected spans of pallisades as traps as the enemy will focus (fire)power on these easily breached spots. Booby trap these entrance points and you'll beat off at least one attack. furthermore, even if besieged, you could continue reinforcing the pallisade on the inside (buffing the timbers with earth) or throw up walls were pallisades have been breached.

I recommend using any unarmed voulunteers and conscripts for this. Offer rewards for civilians who want to dig and pile-up. depending on the size of Haven, you could finish the wall in-time, especially if your armed men manage to delay the enemy with tactics offered by others here.

hamishspence
2008-07-09, 09:41 AM
While its preferable not to get to the satge where you are "The Resistance" and your country is occupied, it may be easier than keeping the enemy from taking your country in the first place.

Given the "put down the slavers" and the fact that you are being waged war on because you are making business decisions that do not benfit the dwarves, I'm assuming that you see yourselves as the good guys.

If so, sending sabotage/assassination teams to bring the war to the dwarves might be a bit unpalatable: still, if they are using merceneries, the war is only costing them money, not lives. Maybe they need to learn that if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

there is a lot of info on asymmetric warfare out there, could get ideas from that. Logistics: do not attack the enemy: attack their ability to fight. Supplies, night raids, terrain use, etc.

Knaight
2008-08-06, 06:07 PM
What do you think about the possibility of attaching wooden mines full of explosives to heavy rocks on the ground, and giving them to raptor riders, sort of like a balloon. They run up under flying ships, and let go. Mines go up, hit ship, explode.

Leliel
2008-08-06, 07:05 PM
Kill everyone. Or just destroy all their stuff.

What he said.