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What is next at the Front

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: What is next at the Front
Post by brnicholas   » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:28 am

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I agree words are very big places, but as others have said all that really matters in these unsettled ones is control of the portals and supply lines between them. If you have that the rest will fall into your lap.

I disagree about the Sharonan ability to defend a 1000 mile supply line between portals (and they are very lucky that the longest gap between portals on the direct route is the 1430 miles in Failcham, 3 or 4 thousand miles would probably be beyond them). To see why Sharona can do this we first need to recall Arcana's limitations.

Arcana has no long range spells that can do serious damage to fortifications nor do they have bombs. This may change in the future and it isn't absolutely certain but given the following facts I think we can count on it for now.
1) The Andaran Scouts did not have grenades at Fallen Timbers. They would have been really useful so if they had them we would have seen them. That we didn't see them shows they didn't have them. That they didn't have grenades makes it just about certain Arcana doesn't possess them, why wouldn't an elite light infantry unit have grenades with them?
2) Despite the fact that we Arcanans routinely carry Sarkolis through portals, everyone from the most junior officer to one of their best researchers was dumbfounded and shocked by the idea of using a physical projectile to carry a weapon through a portal. That despite two centuries of thinking about how to attack a portal it hadn't occurred to anyone to shoot Sarkolis through the portal and have spells activate on the other side shows that launching Sarkolis through the air and having spells activate after you release it very very difficult.
3) The spell engineer who set the demo spell in the assault on Fort Salby was killed by falling debris. Surely if the Arcanans could set it off from a greater distance they would have developed a way to do so by now.
4) The dragon that attacked the bunker at the swamp portal did no damage with its fireball. I don’t expect it a battle dragon’s fireball or lightning bolt to do more than cosmetic damage to a railroad line either.

What the above means is that the only way for Arcana’s troops to damage a railroad track is to stand on it and use a crowbar or stand on it to cast a spell. That takes time and leaves them exposed to Sharonan attack. So in order to protect a 1000 mile rail line what Sharona has to do is dominate the entire rail line by fire. Shrapnel shells will kill anyone trying to damage track without damaging the track themselves. Here is what I believe Sharona needs to dominate a 1000 mile rail line by fire.

Small artillery forts, with maybe 10-15 guns and 200 men every five miles along the track. That distance is based on ranges for World War I artillery. Its general range seems to have been 10,000 yards or 5.5 miles. If Weber wants to make it easier for Sharona he can say that the existence of distance viewers led to an arms race regarding artillery range, which is what I would expect would happen, and as a result Sharonan guns are significantly longer ranged then comparative Earth weapons. But I will use five miles because we can be certain of that range. So to cover 1000 miles they need 200 forts or 40,000 men. In addition I would expect them to need another 2,500 men every 500 miles to serve as reaction forces to drive the Arcanan’s off the track if they decide to seize a long section of it. So 10,000 more. Total force 50,000. That equals about 5 divisions. My original post said Sharona might be able to support as many as 9 divisions at the front by the time they are ready to attack in the spring. If that isn’t wildly optimistic they can provide this defense.

Could Arcana use its mobility advantage to concentrate forces, punch out one of these forts and tear up some track? Yes, but they would launch the entire attack and tear up the track while under fire from the neighboring forts and within several hours the reaction forces would come up and drive them off and I expect the track to be repaired within 24 hours. That brief of a delay won’t interfere with the Sharonan advance (they certainly won’t be using just in time delivery!) and I would expect Arcanan losses to be heavy, which they can’t afford.


tonyz wrote:One thing to keep in mind here: worlds are very big places. The Sharonians have the advantage in portal combat (artillery can go through portals, spells cannot) and at other chokepoints due to their superior firepower.

Arcanans have the advantage of mobility and airpower, which is HUGE. Ironically, they'd be better off picking one world to fight in and just raiding Sharonian supply lines throughout it. Sharona can't begin to support enough troops to completely hold a supply line against Arcanan raiders (it'd be like Sherman against Nathan Forrest, only with Sherman having a lot fewer troops and Forrest being able to fly, and not much in the way of handy-dandy local plantations to seize supplies from.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by brnicholas   » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:54 am

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Yes, a snippet would be very very nice.

As regards regaining Hell's Gate that will depend on how each side performs. If the Arcanan's weren't a problem I am confident Sharona could build a 4000 mile rail line in a year but the Arcanans are a problem so the question is how much will the Arcanans slow them down?

How hard the Sharonan's push will also be a factor but I'm not prepared to speculate on their leadership.

I suspect Harshu would slow them down enough to keep them out of Hell's Gate. He seems to have sufficient intelligence and imagination to be creative and he has probably learned to appreciate the power of Sharona's weapons. But I would give 5 to 1 odds that he will not be in command come spring. If word of the battle of Fort Salby and the rumors of prisoner abuse that mul Gurthik will probably make sure arrive at the same time don't get him and mul Gurthik recalled I will be very surprised. So how well the Arcanans fight will depend on who the High Commandary sends up to command their forces (a high ranking officer and his staff, unlike an army, can get to the front from Arcana before spring).

They may send an intelligent, imaginative and experienced combat commander. But given what we have seen of Arcana so far I think it more likely that they will decide the primary problem here is not the Sharonans but the ill discipline and disobedience of the Arcanan forces. In that case they will probably send a stubborn, unimaginative, very honorable, by the book type who is highly effective at figuring out which part of the book applies in this situation and making sure everyone follows it. That will have worked for him in the past because after two centuries of refinement it is a good book. But the book's authors never imagined Sharonan artillery and following its procedures for blocking an enemy force and withdrawing if blocking doesn't work is liable to produce a disaster big enough that Arcana won't be able to do anything more until a lot more troops come up. Which is far enough in the future I think Sharona will get to Hell’s Gate first.

It is of course up to the authors but story wise, if they don’t plan a multi decade war, getting Skirvon to Sharona seems to be the only way they have set up so far to change Sharonan perceptions of Arcana enough to make peace possible. Skirvon knows exactly what lies he told and is probably smart enough to figure out what his life expectancy is if the Mythalans he was working for feel the war is going so badly they need to be sure no one tells the Union government how it started. His only way to avoid that fate would be tell the Sharonans everything they want to know. I am quite confident he would.

Nicholas




Frankjg wrote:Arcana's sucked all available troops they had into the surprise offensive. Given they are at the end of a very long chain, that still does not have all the transportation goodies of other chains. This will make it harder to resupply them. While the Sharona's chain is shorter but has a good supply route that was aready being improved on when they discovered new chain that lead them to the Arcana's. Once the shooting started even more resources have been poored into improveing the supply route.

I suspect the Sharona's will be able to launch a counter-attack of some sort and regain some territory. Regaining Hell's Gate will be another story.

It will be interesting to see what our authors have come up with. Would be nice to see a snippett to wet our appetites.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by Astelon   » Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:54 pm

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At the end of Hell Hath No Fury Sharonan reinforcements are rapidly moving up, while most of the available Arcanan forces are already at the front. Sharonan forces will outnumber their enemies, and will have superior ground forces with their mechanized infantry.

Harshu, who seems smart and imaginative, will probably slow the Sharonans down, but be unable to stop them. If he gets replaced by an "stubborn, unimaginative, very honorable, by the book type" it will be a disaster for Arcana. By the time they can move enough forces forward to face the Sharonans, Hell's Gate will be in their hands.

In all I think Harshu will be left in charge (mul Gurthik wants him to die, dead men tell no tales). Where the Arcanan reinforcements find the Shoranan offensive at that point is any one's guess.

At some point the front will stabilize somewhere (one of the smaller gates most likely) while both sides try to build the forces to punch out the other. I suspsect that the longer it goes the more the balance tips in the favor of Sharonan Machinery, until the Arcanans get desperate enough to use WMD spells.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by Castenea   » Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:47 pm

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Astelon wrote:At some point the front will stabilize somewhere (one of the smaller gates most likely) while both sides try to build the forces to punch out the other. I suspsect that the longer it goes the more the balance tips in the favor of Sharonan Machinery, until the Arcanans get desperate enough to use WMD spells.
Two major issues to under stand if this drags on, is how large of a force can each side sustain at the front. This will be a factor of both supply line capacity and how far back on the supply lines the supplies come. A help for both sides on supplies is that the maintenance of the supply lines will have brought forward some of the food production toward the front, the downside is that those support nodes are unlikely to produce or store significant surpluses, and require goods from farther back on the supply lines.

A rail road will require periodic water and sanding stations, those tasked with maintaining this will likely have brought their family to live with them, and produce at a min. surplus vegetables in season. I would believe that sliders would require something similar. Food produced near the front requires much less transport than food produced all the way back at the homeworld.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by Astelon   » Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:35 pm

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The Arcana sliders would require regular recharging by a magister. It appears all Arcanan equipment needs some form of recharging, which is likely to be a major bottleneck on their force projection. The other bottleneck is going to be how long it takes to grow and train dragons and heavy horse (unicorns are probably similar to regular horses). I believe a time of twenty years was mentioned for dragons.

The relative combat power of the forces each side can sustain at the front is why the front is likely to stabilize somewhere. Since attacking through a small portal will restrict how many forces can be used, and the defender won't have similar restrictions on their forces, that means a small portal is most likely to stall attacks.

After the offensive stops then both sides will need to look for another way to attack (new portals) or develop the means to punch through the opposing defenses with limited strength. Sharona seems to have an edge, with armored vehicles, and eventually aircraft and maybe airships.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by tonyz   » Fri Dec 26, 2014 6:52 pm

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Small portals actually aren't much better as a chokepoint than large ones, against Sharonan firepower. Unless the Arcanans have spells that give them much better firepower density than anyhing we've yet seen -- I admit this is possible -- they won't be able to hold a portsl against artillery barrages. I admit Sharonans may have trouble accumulating the necessary artillery supplies.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:54 pm

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More then water and sanding stations building a railroad will require huge quantities of coal and steel. And it will continue to consume the coal after it is built. I can't imagine why Sharona would want to haul that any further then necessary. I therefore expect that in every universe through which Sharona has built or will build a railroad there is or will be at least one large coal mine, a small iron mine and a steel mill. The population to work those at Sharonan tech levels means a small city and presumably the farms to sustain that population. The only thing about that dynamic I expect the war to change is that I expect those cities to be fortified in the future.

Nicholas

Castenea wrote:Two major issues to under stand if this drags on, is how large of a force can each side sustain at the front. This will be a factor of both supply line capacity and how far back on the supply lines the supplies come. A help for both sides on supplies is that the maintenance of the supply lines will have brought forward some of the food production toward the front, the downside is that those support nodes are unlikely to produce or store significant surpluses, and require goods from farther back on the supply lines.

A rail road will require periodic water and sanding stations, those tasked with maintaining this will likely have brought their family to live with them, and produce at a min. surplus vegetables in season. I would believe that sliders would require something similar. Food produced near the front requires much less transport than food produced all the way back at the homeworld.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by tonyz   » Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:04 pm

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Another factor: the Sharonans will only be able to close very small portals completely, because Arcanan dragons can fly through them above the range of most Sharonan artillery. And even if AA is in place on the smaller portals, Arcanan navigation spellware will further allow them to cross at night or in bad weather when AA can't be targeted (barring some psionic Talent, like the very rare predictive Distance Viewers).

Supporting airborne operations in distant universes will, of course, be very difficult logistically, but even the threat of Arcanan raids in back universes will greatly complicate Sharonan logistics and deployment. Unlike locomotives, dragons can forage for game in relatively empty universes.

Bottom line: neither side has yet realized that portals are not the be-all and end-all of choke points that their strategy is based upon. Arcana can't prevent Sharona from punching through them; Sharona can't seal them totally against raids and infiltration.
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by Jonathan_S   » Tue Dec 30, 2014 4:51 pm

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tonyz wrote:One thing to keep in mind here: worlds are very big places. The Sharonians have the advantage in portal combat (artillery can go through portals, spells cannot) and at other chokepoints due to their superior firepower.

Arcanans have the advantage of mobility and airpower, which is HUGE. Ironically, they'd be better off picking one world to fight in and just raiding Sharonian supply lines throughout it. Sharona can't begin to support enough troops to completely hold a supply line against Arcanan raiders (it'd be like Sherman against Nathan Forrest, only with Sherman having a lot fewer troops and Forrest being able to fly, and not much in the way of handy-dandy local plantations to seize supplies from.
Yep. And as your later post said most portals are big enough that even after you've seized one and put in major forts, you probably can't put enough AA guns in to discourage dragons from running the portal to raid (or drop infantry or cavalry raiders) in your rear. (The Fort Salby portal seems like a special case where the mountains limit it's usability and probably do let you drop enough AA guns in to keep dragons from pushing past that to raid even further into your rear.

But once you move forward you've got the AA guns and defenses guarding the railhead construction zone - and you can probably leave some defenses covering any major bridges or tunnels (since those are the biggest delay if they get blown). Finally the individual trains can mount some defenses. But there's thousands of other miles of rail vulnerable to cavalry or air mobile raids - doing anything from tearing up the track, to laying explosives, to setting up ambushes for the next train.
Countering that is going to significantly reduce the rate logistics can flow once you're past Salby.


Ok, with enough of the right kinds of (relatively rare) Talents to spot raiders and direct artillery fire you could set a chain of firebases (like brnicholas was advocating) to try discourage raids on the rails - but I don't think Sharona has that many people with those Talents to cover all the miles of rail through all those universes. Then, if you want them to be able to quickly call for help, you need a lot of Flitters or Voices (depending on range) to provide quick communication between forts. And you're trying to do this against people who have pretty effective stealth / invisibility spells; not perfect, but they'll make it even harder to detect raiders in the first place.



And of course we'll have to wait and see what Arcana comes up with to redress their now demonstrated combat deficiencies. Maybe projecting (or at least dropping) Sarkolis crystal won't be as hard as we might think. After all even Arcana hasn't fought a real multi-worlds war so it's not like they've previously had the setbacks that really make you think about alternate approaches to fighting through portals. Even being able to drop Sarkolis spellware might turn dragons into some pretty effective bombers. (With the right spellware) And if the explosives in spellware may not be up with Sharonan high explosive shells, the logic and sensors you can put behind them should be easily up with mid-'90s smart weapons. Makes for some potentially nasty scatterable mines, or maybe even fairly smart bombs. We'll just have to see how inventive they are (and what the real limits of it are - rather than the limited imposed by lack of imagination)
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Re: What is next at the Front
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Fri May 29, 2015 2:24 pm

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A great many of the questions posed in this Thread,
have been answered in Snippet #3.

For example, the Kelsayr Railroad goes through Lashai
and a little bit into Resyn, where the TTE crews are
working on it at Wartime Speed.

HTM

Howard T. Map-addict wrote:Please don't forget: there are two (known) Fronts.
The Traisum-Karys Portal is actually the Second Exit
that the Sharonans found from Traisum.

This means that the First Exit Portal, to Kelsayr,

(I find my Lists so useful! Won't you use them too?)
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1673

is easier to find & to get to, got the first railroad,
which was extended into Kelsayr before the Traisum Cut
had even been begun, and so might be very long indeed!
Sharona might be able to support a division moving
through Lashai, Resyn, and Nairsom into Thermyn,
and might trap the Arcanans between the two forces.
Depending, of course, on how far that RR has been made.

Ternath's Fifth Corps has only the one Mechanized
(Dragoon) division, plus two Infantry divisions. Plans
are to mechanize those two as they are sent out, to
the extent possible. (Weber & Presby will adjust this
to the needs of their plotline.)

HTM

brnicholas wrote:
[snip - htm]
Sharona has a rail line to the front and has been expanding that on a war footing for about two months and is now starting to expand it on a total war footing. By the time spring comes I think their supply line will be wide enough to support major offensive operations. I expect they will have the full Terenthian mechanized corps that we saw starting to move in the books
[snip - htm]
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