What follows is the GM’s overview of the Summer Campaign.
It takes the better part of three weeks for everyone to get to the forward deployment area. The area is broken up into areas where each country stages their troops and equipment. These areas all sort of radiate out in wedges from a central command post at it’s root.
From left to right they are Russian, Prussian, Polish, Austrian, Romanian, Montenegran.
Field supply and hospitals are at the narrow end of the wedge along with each nations command post. Then at the narrow end of all the wedges is a combined command center.
Supply wagon trains and troops come in (from the West), pass through the rear guard picket (which has been duty that the Austrians have taken since they are currently the least ‘able’ of the fighting forces on the field) and then move to their national staging area.
The Prussian Warjacks are nowhere to be seen, but it’s made clear that they will be dropped onto the field when the initial push happens.
The Romanian and Polish Cavalry stage close to the narrow end of their wedges, and rumor is that they intend to ride out as a combined force when they are deployed.
After the units are in the staging area and the senior officers get involved in the planning you witness a number of very heated arguments between the Russian and Prussian generals about who should be the tip of the spear. The Prussians insist that their Warjacks and Needle Rifleman will make the best thrust, allowing the allies to break the line and push deep into Goblin territory. The Russians insist that the magical power their War Wizards can bring the field, and their magical staff weapons would strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. The Prussians insist the Warjacks and the roar of the Needle Rifles would be more terrifying, this sort of back and forth continues for a while. It looks like it might come to blows when one of the Austrian Generals suggests that both cases are strong, so perhaps a coin toss can settle the matter? Prussian and Russia agree, and they ask the Austrian General to do the honors. He does, choosing crown (heads) for the Prussians. The coin comes up crown, and the Russian General congratulates the Prussian General, shaking hands in a show of good sportsmanship. Tarbin later learns that the Austrian General used his lucky Corona. It’s a two-headed misstamp of the standard Austrian Silver coin, and that he’s good friends with Alexsy.
It becomes fairly clear fairly early that most of the field troops are creeped out by the Warforged. They don’t want to be around them, and most of them don’t want to fight along side them. There are some weak arguments made by the Generals, but it’s easy to see that they’re not trusted. And there is a subtle undercurrent that it’s not because they’re constructs, but because they’re from Spain. At one point the Romanian General (not Strahd, who is not on the field) breaks the debate by saying that if Montenegro trusts the Warforged then so will Romania, and they would be honored to fight along side them. Plans begin to include the Warforged in Romanian operations, which are numerous since the Romanians are some of the most battle hardened troops on the field, and they’re anxious to deliver payback for what the Goblin Army did to their homeland.
Initial Push – First Month
When the day comes, the Prussians make good on their promise and 30 Warjacks are dropped from their flying ships onto the battlefield. The advanced force is accompanied by some form of Spellcaster, they seem to be able to guide and command the Jacks in the field. Following the Warjack advance is the rifleman. There is no doubt that the Goblins weren’t ready for this, and the Jacks and rifles do indeed strike terror into the hearts of the enemy.
The Russian War Wizards and their ground troops, armed with their Rune Staves, are an eerie counter to the bang and smoke of the Prussian advance. Flashes of brilliant light illuminate the smoke as the Russians move in, flanking off to the left of the advance. Romania, with the Montenegran Warforged, sweep off to the right. The two flanking forces are to drive deep into the Goblin lines, then swing back toward the tip. The idea is to take a large bit out of the Goblin line, reinforce, resupply, repeat. Polish and Romanian cavalry are in reserve to provide lightning support to units that get into trouble or face unexpected resistance.
Prussian flying ships make nightly bombing runs over the Goblin encampments, using the light of the Goblin fires to drop barrel bombs of their deadly Black and Red blasting powder onto the enemy.
All of the artillery on the field falls under the command of the Austrians, who prove to be good at directing fire, but the various artillery units vary wildly in terms of their ability to hit targets or maintain rates of fire. Before long the artillery is held back, forming a barrage line in the event Goblin forces break through the lines, which shift rapidly.
The Thick Of Things – Second Month
The attack, reinforce, resupply, repeat cycle tends to take about ten days in the beginning. Two or three days of fighting advance and five to eight days to get ready to do it again. As chunks are taken out of the army, and a wedge/picket is formed, smaller units are sent out to mop up the stragglers or bust enemy hard points. The Goblins have taken over castles, and fortresses, sometimes artillery or Warjacks are brought up to overcome these defensive locations so that ground troops can finish off the enemy.
It’s several weeks before the Goblins manage to take down one of the Warjacks, which is a sting to the Prussian pride and causes them to change their tactics some, becoming a bit more cautious and no longer sending single Warjacks into battle.
Prussian ammunition begins to run short late in the second month of the campaign. France is manufacturing it, as is Prussia, but it’s a labor intensive process and supplies begin to run low. Prussian night bombing ends entirely at this point. Romania discontinues use of the Needle rifle and goes back to sword and spear fighting. They pass their allocated ammunition supplies to the Warforged who have by this time distinguished themselves as good marksman (they can stand very still) and fierce combatants. The Horse Cavalry (the combined Romanian Light Rosiori and Polish Heavy Eagles) begin to spend most of their time fighting delaying actions to give Prussian Rifle and Warjack units time to fall back from heavy resistance when ammunition becomes critical.
The Russian Rune Staff proves to be a better weapon when supply lines are stretched, as they almost always are for Russia. Their War Wizards have a spell that allows them to charge the staves of anyone within a 30 foot radius, which tends to give the Russian foot soldiers a nearly endless supply of ammunition.
Polish Bear Cavalry and Austrian Infantry begin to patrol the ‘rear’ between the front line and command. Goblin forces begin to operate in smaller units, penetrating the lines and engaging in hit and run attacks. More along the lines of what is usually expected of the various Goblinoid races. The Generals take this to mean that the command structure of the army is falling apart and the units are falling back to their normal disorganized behaviors.
Sporadic reports from the Northern portion of the front begin to suggest that they are encountering undead, and not all Goblin. Romanian troops are shifted to this area once reports are confirmed, Montenegro dispatches it’s Warforged to support the Romanians. Clerics, who had largely been away from the front lines begin to get deployed to units on the Northern front to help battle the undead, which becomes known as the Dead Front. The Goblins are digging up the dead and jamming lumps of a black ore into the corpses, which reanimate them. These troops are under the command of Ogre Magi Necromancers.
Dark Times – Third Month
The Dead Front becomes an almost endless cycle of fighting. Allied troops take to burning the dead to prevent them from being dragged away and used by the Goblins later. Romanian and Montrenegran troops distinguish themselves here and hold the line against what at times becomes an avalanche of the undead. Fighting shifts predominately to night skirmishes, since the undead have an advantage here in that they can sense the living and do not need light.
Prussian Ammunition shortages continue and Rifles are only used by ‘Sharp Shooter’ units that have demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness with the weapon. Prussian effectiveness drops as their infantry troops have to reconfigure to continue to operate effectively. Warjacks are now being supported by Russian Infantry and War Wizards. Prussia is able to keep the army supply lines running through the use of their flying ships. There are no shortages of food or other goods.
Artillery begins to take on more of a role, since there are large stockpiles of black powder. Austria has, by now, managed to regiment the training and drills of the various artillery units from the other nations and artillery gains a very positive reputation among the general ground troops.
The Goblin Army continues it’s guerrilla warfare tactics. It becomes clear that this is not a sign of command breakdown, but rather a shift to take advantage of the Goblinoid races advantages.
During the middle portion of the third month reports begin coming in from the Eastern edge of the front that the Goblins have begun to field their own giant war machines. These reports are confirmed, but they aren’t machines. Monstrosities is the name they are given, and it’s determined that they are constructs as well, but made from flesh. The size of Warjacks and with giant edged weapons grafted to their flesh these monsters do tremendous damage on the Eastern edge of the front. Prussian Warjacks are shifted to try and stem the tide of the Monstrosities. Many battles of epic scale take place between the giant Monstrosities and their magical machine counterparts the Warjacks. The Eastern edge of the front begins to stall and a massive ‘no man’s land’ opens up between the Goblin and Human troops. This area sees the clashes of Warjack and Monstrosity. Victories are measured in feet or yards instead of miles. The Eastern edge of the front becomes known as the Titan Front.
Hammer & Anvil – Fourth Month
The powers that be feel that if they can crush one front swiftly the other will fold in the chaos. Because they have determined that it’s easier for the Goblins to make undead than Monstrosities, they will focus on the Dead Front. Tarbin, coordinating with the Overlord, is able to influence the plan of battle through both his contacts, and his reputation.
Prussian Warjacks and Infantry, with all the available Needle Rifle ammo, and Russian War Wizard support will hold on the Titan Front. Romanian and Montenegran Infantry will be pulled back to rear positions where they will board Prussian Air Ships. Artillery, the Horse Cavalry and Russian Infantry and War Wizards will move up to the Dead Front.
The artillery will begin a daylight bombardment of Goblin positions followed by a direct assault by Russian Infantry and War Wizards. Once the two forces are engaged, the Romanian and Montenegran Infantry, who have been flying through the night to behind the Goblin lines, will be dropped off and begin a push from the rear. Meanwhile, a strike force from the Romanian/Montenegran rear assault will search out the location of the Goblin ‘black ore’ depot and hopefully destroy it with a Russian Arcane Apparatus (given them by the overlord and vetted by Russian War Wizards). At the signal from the strike force the Horse Cavalry will pierce the line, driving hard to the strike force location to scatter the Goblin and Undead forces. The remaining Montenegran/Romanian troops will swing in that direction as well. Once all three units link up they will signal the secondary assault. Reserve Warjacks, aloft on Prussian Air Ships, will be dropped into the ‘Hollow Heart’ to bolster the ground forces. Prussian Air Ships will begin bringing in additional reserve troops, artillery, and supplies. During the last week of the fourth month, Austrian Infantry and Polish Bear Cavalry, augmented with late arriving but fresh British troops, clear a path between what had been the old Dead Front and the new ‘Hollow Heart’.
As the fourth month comes to a close, the Dead Front is smashed, with most of the Globlinoids scattering into the wilderness. The Titan Front has gone quiet, with no new Monstrosities seen in over a week. Scouts report that Goblin supply lines have broken and many troops sent out on raids are never returning to the lines. Some infighting is reported in the ranks and division along racial lines is beginning to become common.