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Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)

"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!
Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by brnicholas   » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:13 am

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I wanted a more systematic description of the situation at the front at the end of the book so I decided to write one. Once I had that detailed speculation came naturally. This post starts by laying out what I understand the situation to be as of April 15th, the day when Harshu met with his commanders at the end of RTH. The last scene in the book set at the front. I will give Sharonan forces, then Arcanan forces and then I will speculate. Yes, it is a very long post but I couldn’t say everything I wanted to in a shorter post.

Sharonan Forces

Karys/Traisum Portal – This portal is contested, Sharonan forces are on the Traisum side. Harshu believes them to be substantial but we have no information regarding who is actually here. At various times much of the 3rd Corps has been here but they are now all elsewhere. I guess that there is something between a division and a corps here but we have no idea who or how many.

Failcham/Karys Portal – This portal is held by Sharona. It is guarded by 3 regiments from the 3rd Dragons (all of 1st Brigade and the 23rd regiment from 2nd Brigade) under Chan Geraith’s personal command. Having just made the run through Failcham they are probably out of fuel.

Failcham/Therym Portal – This portal is held by Sharona. The other regiment of the 3rd Dragoons 2nd Brigade (9th regiment) was assigned to guard it until they could be relieved at which point they were to proceed to the Failcham/Karys Portal. They have not been relieved yet so they are still guarding the portal.

Therym and Nairsom – Sharona has extensive forces in these two universes although there exact location is unknown. On April 6th, Chan Geraith briefed his officers and provided expected arrival times of additional forces. He said chan Bykahlar’s infantry brigade would arrive in Therym in a week and a half. So they should be arriving today (April 15th) or tomorrow at the Nairsom/Therym portal. The second brigade of that infantry division is five days behind them. I assume the last division of the Fifth Corps (the 9th Infantry Division) is following behind but am not aware of an ETA for them. Sharona also has a very large number (I estimate ten to twenty thousand total) of construction workers in Therym and Nairsom. They are working on the railroad.

The last hard position we have for the railhead is on February 15th when chan Geraith is standing at it and thinks it is 2000 miles from the Lashai/Resym portal and 700 miles from the Nairsom/Resym portal. There is obviously some rounding going on there (and there must be since I believe the railhead to be a two to four hundred mile long construction zone) but taking the 2000 miles as the solid number and assuming they are laying track at the 25 miles a day predicted in Chapter two that means it should reach the Nairsom/Resym portal in 30 days (or March 17th). It is only 590 miles across Nairsom but building track across Alaska in March/April may slow them down some I will assume that takes them another month. This means that the railhead arrives in Thermyn in mid April (so about now). There is one text that could be understood to contradict this, chan Bykahlar is shown leaving his train, presumably at the railhead, in Resym on March 26th. I choose to believe that his brigade is unloading over a fairly extended area and that he is close to the Resym/Nairsom portal and so this doesn’t contradict the above.

Regardless of precise position the railroad construction crews are doubtless into Therym and while they probably aren’t any good for, and can’t be spared from construction work for, offensive action. I expect they have been armed like light infantry and taught how to use the weapons to defend themselves. Since the wilderness gives them nowhere to run and they have doubtless heard rumors even worse than reality about how the Arcanans treat prisoners and they have a score to settle with Arcana, like all Sharonans, I expect them to fight like trapped rats, neither giving nor accepting quarter if attacked. That makes them militarily relevant.

Thermyn/New Uromath Portal – This portal is held by Sharona but there are no known Sharonan forces there. There is certainly a voice relay point and a picket to guard it but I don’t know of any significant force that could be here.

New Uromath/Hell’s Gate Portal – This portal is held by Sharona but we have no evidence of significant forces here and given its size and proximity to the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha Portal stationing significant forces here makes not sense.

Hell’s Gate/Mahritha Portal – This portal is held by Sharona and guarded by the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Dragoons.

Arcanan Forces

Karys/Traisum Portal – This portal is contested. The Arcanan forces are on the Karys side of the portal. The main body of the AEF is here with 2000 Harshu in command. Its precise strength is unknown but given the starting numbers we received in Hell’s Gate (more then 14,000) and the losses and diversions we saw I would guess he has seven or eight thousand here, mostly infantry, but that is a guess.

Thermyn – Harshu stationed a quarter of his dragons (at a time), all his surviving heavy horse and most of his light cavalry here so they could feed themselves by hunting and grazing. I would guess that this will amount to almost 2000 men and a large portion of the AEF’s firepower. It needs to be noted here that whoever it was on Harshu’s staff responsible for setting up backup Hummer relays, outside of the forts, actually did his job (unlike most Arcanans so he should probably get a medal for it) as a result Arcanan communications have not been cut and Harshu will be able to coordinate his forces.

Mahritha – There was apparently a significant force guarding the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal, possibly two thousand men since they say it was outnumbered three to one and are estimated the force that attacked it is as large or larger as chan Geraith’s force which they estimate at 5000. We don’t know how many managed to escape when they lost the portal but they have presumably gathered at Fort Rycharn.

Erthos – Mul Gurthik is here and may have other forces available to him, we really have no idea what he has or what he might make of the new situation.

Speculation about Sharonan actions

Sharona would appear to me to have three goals at this point with a clear order of priority. Most important is holding on to the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal. If they can keep that closed all Arcanan units on their side of it will eventually be forced to surrender by lack of supplies. Second is keeping Harshu out of Thermyn. He may have to surrender eventually but if he gets into Thermyn he will be a major threat to their supply lines until he does. Last, begin scouting Mahritha and advance into it if possible.

To achieve these goals I expect they will send the first infantry brigade into Thermyn to the Thermyn/Failcham portal. It will be tight for it to beat Harshu there if he tries to make a run for it and can get past chan Geraith so it needs to move now. The second brigade will head for the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal to reinforce the 3rd Dragoons 3rd Brigade there. The railroad will head for the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal. We know from Chapter 41 that it is about 800 miles from Thermyn/Nairsom to the Thermyn/New Uromath portal and only another 280 to the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal from there, through relatively easy terrain. If nothing interferes the railhead should arrive at the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal by late May or early June.

We know Fort Rycharn is at the same location as Belem, Brazil. Which is on one of the mouths of the Amazon River. My interpretation of the account of the flight from the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal in HG, which appeared to show 700 miles of inland swamp, is that the portal is along the same river. If so men in canoes should have no trouble getting to the coast and locating Fort Rycharn. And shallow draft steamboats ought to be able to make the same trip. Which means Sharona will be able to attack Fort Rycharn in division strength by mid-summer. They will do so and work on putting in a port and making the river navigable for larger boats.

Speculation about Arcanan actions

Mul Gurthik is a mystery to me. I have little idea what his plans are and no idea how he will adapt is plans to respond to this situation. I also have no idea regarding what forces he has available. I do not think that the fact that he has not been forwarding reinforcements to Harshu proves that he does not have any forces available. We don’t know what he was saying to neighboring commanders, they may have loaned him forces. We also don’t know what the High Commandery has sent forward, it wasn’t relevant to the stories being told in RTH so we didn’t hear about it, this doesn’t mean significant forces weren’t sent forward.

Harshu needs to run, given he doesn’t know what Mul Gurthik has or will do either, he has little option but to try and get his men out by himself. I expect he will be able to get a large portion of his force past chan Geraith. The Karys/Failcham Portal is probably too high and too wide for chan Geraith’s force to achieve sufficient defensive depth to prevent Harshu from breaking through. Coordinating with the forces in Thermyn should let him break into Thermyn. I suspect, however, that he will not be able to beat the infantry brigade heading for the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha Portal to that portal. My estimate is it can be there in 10 days if it moves fast (20 miles an hour, 15 hours a day (we are near summer solstice so long day), gives 300 miles a day, five days to the Thermyn/Nairsom portal and five more to the Hell’s Gate/Mahritha portal). If Harshu doesn’t beat them to that portal he is going to be stuck, because that portal is too narrow for him to force against nearly 10,000 men. If Mul Gurthik doesn’t show up to rescue him I expect he will get squashed between the Sharonan forces on the portal and Sharonan forces coming up behind him.

This is my read of the data. Have I missed anything? These are my guesses for the future. We weren’t right last time and I doubt we will be right this time but what do you all think?

Nicholas
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by n7axw   » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:18 pm

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Given his motitivation for manipulating Harshu into attacking to start with, I strongly doubt that mul Gurthak has any intention of sending reinforcements forward even if he has any available. He was setting Harshu up to fail so he could point to Andaran incompetence.

Don

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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:59 pm

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n7axw wrote:Given his motitivation for manipulating Harshu into attacking to start with, I strongly doubt that mul Gurthak has any intention of sending reinforcements forward even if he has any available. He was setting Harshu up to fail so he could point to Andaran incompetence.

Don

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Harshu knows that he has been set up. So the question is, will he try to extricate his army, which will suffer very heavy casualties, even if he succeeds (which is quite unlikely) but will inflict some damage at the minimum, or will he surrender his entire army?
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by brnicholas   » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:26 pm

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:
n7axw wrote:Given his motitivation for manipulating Harshu into attacking to start with, I strongly doubt that mul Gurthak has any intention of sending reinforcements forward even if he has any available. He was setting Harshu up to fail so he could point to Andaran incompetence.

Don

-


Harshu knows that he has been set up. So the question is, will he try to extricate his army, which will suffer very heavy casualties, even if he succeeds (which is quite unlikely) but will inflict some damage at the minimum, or will he surrender his entire army?


I think it extremely unlikely that Harshu will surrender at this time. There are three reasons for this belief.

1) Harshu is not the type to give up easily, the situation is not hopeless yet so he will keep fighting.

2) Harshu has an obligation to protect Arcanan civilians. If he surrenders Sharona will be free to focus on advancing into Arcanan territory. He has a duty to prevent that.

3) Harshu has no guarantee that surrendering would protect his troops. He may be inclined assume civilized and honorable behavior from Sharonans but Neshok and Carthos will be quick to point out, correctly, that given what his troops did as they advanced, and afterwards (Thalymar) there is no reason to assume that the Sharonans won't kill surrendered soldiers. So surrendering doesn't necessarily protect his soldiers.

Nicholas
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by Jonathan_S   » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:06 pm

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brnicholas wrote:
Robert_A_Woodward wrote:Harshu knows that he has been set up. So the question is, will he try to extricate his army, which will suffer very heavy casualties, even if he succeeds (which is quite unlikely) but will inflict some damage at the minimum, or will he surrender his entire army?


I think it extremely unlikely that Harshu will surrender at this time. There are three reasons for this belief.

1) Harshu is not the type to give up easily, the situation is not hopeless yet so he will keep fighting.

2) Harshu has an obligation to protect Arcanan civilians. If he surrenders Sharona will be free to focus on advancing into Arcanan territory. He has a duty to prevent that.

3) Harshu has no guarantee that surrendering would protect his troops. He may be inclined assume civilized and honorable behavior from Sharonans but Neshok and Carthos will be quick to point out, correctly, that given what his troops did as they advanced, and afterwards (Thalymar) there is no reason to assume that the Sharonans won't kill surrendered soldiers. So surrendering doesn't necessarily protect his soldiers.

Nicholas
He could potentially, at least for a while, try a 3rd option. If he can't break through to link back up with his logistical support from up chain towards Arcana, and isn't willing to surrender, he could try fading into the brush and surviving by forgaging.

That would keep his dragons and unicorns as an "army in being" that Sharona would either have to chase down and eliminate or else constantly guard against it consolidating to strike at their rear or logistical links.


Now I don't remember what geographic areas Harshu has access to in the various worlds he still controls; and I don't know the size of his army or how well it can disperse and forage.
The unicorns and dragons could presumably survive quite nicely with access to the North American buffalo herds; but far less well if stuck in heavy forest full of small burrowers. And without agriculture to concentrate food where it can be seized by an army the infantry and horses are likely to be in a bad way pretty quickly unless they can devote 100% of their time to hunting and gathering.

It's obviously less ideal that breaking through and having a secure rear again, but the need to deal with (or at least mitigate against) cut off forces would be an indirect way to slowing down a Sharonan advance.
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:59 pm

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I agree.

Harshu would do better to set up in Karys,
than to try to get into Traisum,
because his magic is weaker in Traisum.

In Karys, Harshu is in the Queriz Depression,
on the Southwest (Turkish) side of the Siberian Steppes.
There is some good hunting there, though not as good as
in Thermyn, on the American Great Plains.

But, with all of those dragons, augmented horses,
and unicorns (and their riders) hunting in Thermyn,
why did not some of those hunters see Sharonans
approaching Fort Ghartoum?

In Failcham Harshu's forces would be in south Tunisia,
needing to cross the Sahara to get to Thermyn.
Not nearly so good.

HTM

Jonathan_S wrote:
He could potentially, at least for a while, try a 3rd option. If he can't break through to link back up with his logistical support from up chain towards Arcana, and isn't willing to surrender, he could try fading into the brush and surviving by forgaging.

That would keep his dragons and unicorns as an "army in being" that Sharona would either have to chase down and eliminate or else constantly guard against it consolidating to strike at their rear or logistical links.


Now I don't remember what geographic areas Harshu has access to in the various worlds he still controls; and I don't know the size of his army or how well it can disperse and forage.
The unicorns and dragons could presumably survive quite nicely with access to the North American buffalo herds; but far less well if stuck in heavy forest full of small burrowers. And without agriculture to concentrate food where it can be seized by an army the infantry and horses are likely to be in a bad way pretty quickly unless they can devote 100% of their time to hunting and gathering.

It's obviously less ideal that breaking through and having a secure rear again, but the need to deal with (or at least mitigate against) cut off forces would be an indirect way to slowing down a Sharonan advance.
Last edited by Howard T. Map-addict on Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:39 pm

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Two Fifth Corps divisions (3DD & 21ID) are making the Flank
Movement through Kelsar. The 9th Infantry Division ends up
holding Salby Portal. Also known to be there are the Salby
Garrison, the four Uromathan battalions from Markan's Brigade,
and attached units such as the pedestal guns. Also, units
from other Sharonan countries, sent to the Front, go to Salby.
Some units from these other countries might stay to join
the Fort Tharkoma garrison, to be sure of holding Salym,
or might watch the railroad between Tharkoma and Salby.

ISTR the Ternath Plan is for 9ID to attack into Karys from
Salby, at the same time as the attack from Mosanik into Karys.
Thus Harshu will be hit from both directions at the same time.
If he retreats into Karys, two division-equivalents can follow.

HTM

brnicholas wrote:I wanted a more systematic description of the situation at the front at the end of the book so I decided to write one. Once I had that detailed speculation came naturally. This post starts by laying out what I understand the situation to be as of April 15th, the day when Harshu met with his commanders at the end of RTH. The last scene in the book set at the front. I will give Sharonan forces, then Arcanan forces and then I will speculate. Yes, it is a very long post but I couldn’t say everything I wanted to in a shorter post.

Sharonan Forces

Karys/Traisum Portal – This portal is contested, Sharonan forces are on the Traisum side. Harshu believes them to be substantial but we have no information regarding who is actually here. At various times much of the 3rd Corps has been here but they are now all elsewhere. I guess that there is something between a division and a corps here but we have no idea who or how many.

{snip - htm}

Nicholas
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:29 am

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I agree about everything you list at Salby except the 9th Infantry Division. The only reason I can see it being at Salby is if the Sharonans have been unable to bring up anything else of sufficient size to hold Salby. That is possible but unlikely.

There is little text evidence either way, however. When I went looking the best I could find was in Chapter 33 where chan Ersam, chan Bykahlar's staff quartermaster, says "When I first heard about this brainstorm of the division-captian's, I thought he was crazy. I was much to respectful to say so, of course, but any experienced quartermaster could've told him the whole idea was insane. Push an entire corps down a seventeen-thousand mile corridor though six different universes in only four months?" It isn't definitive, he might be exaggerating but if only the 3rd and 21st divisions were following the Kelsayr chain I would have expected him to say "two divisions."

Nicholas

Howard T. Map-addict wrote:Two Fifth Corps divisions (3DD & 21ID) are making the Flank
Movement through Kelsar. The 9th Infantry Division ends up
holding Salby Portal. Also known to be there are the Salby
Garrison, the four Uromathan battalions from Markan's Brigade,
and attached units such as the pedestal guns. Also, units
from other Sharonan countries, sent to the Front, go to Salby.
Some units from these other countries might stay to join
the Fort Tharkoma garrison, to be sure of holding Salym,
or might watch the railroad between Tharkoma and Salby.

ISTR the Ternath Plan is for 9ID to attack into Karys from
Salby, at the same time as the attack from Mosanik into Karys.
Thus Harshu will be hit from both directions at the same time.
If he retreats into Karys, two division-equivalents can follow.

HTM

brnicholas wrote:I wanted a more systematic description of the situation at the front at the end of the book so I decided to write one. Once I had that detailed speculation came naturally. This post starts by laying out what I understand the situation to be as of April 15th, the day when Harshu met with his commanders at the end of RTH. The last scene in the book set at the front. I will give Sharonan forces, then Arcanan forces and then I will speculate. Yes, it is a very long post but I couldn’t say everything I wanted to in a shorter post.

Sharonan Forces

Karys/Traisum Portal – This portal is contested, Sharonan forces are on the Traisum side. Harshu believes them to be substantial but we have no information regarding who is actually here. At various times much of the 3rd Corps has been here but they are now all elsewhere. I guess that there is something between a division and a corps here but we have no idea who or how many.

{snip - htm}

Nicholas
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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:36 am

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I agree completely Harshu does not want to get into Traisum at this time. He would be better off pursuing an army in being strategy in Thermyn (if he can get there in one piece), though then in Karys. Because the Sharonans can use the Kelysar chain to bypass Karys.

As for why the Arcanan hunters didn't see the Sharonans approaching Fort Ghartoun. I would guess because they are hunting in the Great Plains while Fort Ghartoun is in the Southwestern Desert (near Carson City Nevada). The portal to New Uromath is near Lincoln Nebraska. The portal to Nairsom appears to be near Comstock,Texas.

With them hunting the Great Plains the only force they might have spotted is the 3rd Brigade as it approached the New Uromath portal.

Nicholas

Howard T. Map-addict wrote:I agree.

Harshu would do better to set up in Karys,
than to try to get into Traisum,
because his magic is weaker in Traisum.

In Karys, Harshu is in the Queriz Depression,
on the Southwest (Turkish) side of the Siberian Steppes.
There is some good hunting there, though not as good as
in Thermyn, on the American Great Plains.

But, with all of those dragons, augmented horses,
and unicorns(and their riders) hunting in Thermyn,
why did not some of those hunters see Sharonans
approaching Fort Ghartoum?

In Failcham Harshu's forces would be in south Tunisia,
needing to cross the Sahara to get to Thermyn.
Not nearly so good.

HTM

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Re: Situation at the Front (SPOILERS FOR RTH)
Post by n7axw   » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:46 pm

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brnicholas wrote:I agree completely Harshu does not want to get into Traisum at this time. He would be better off pursuing an army in being strategy in Thermyn (if he can get there in one piece), though then in Karys. Because the Sharonans can use the Kelysar chain to bypass Karys.

As for why the Arcanan hunters didn't see the Sharonans approaching Fort Ghartoun. I would guess because they are hunting in the Great Plains while Fort Ghartoun is in the Southwestern Desert (near Carson City Nevada). The portal to New Uromath is near Lincoln Nebraska. The portal to Nairsom appears to be near Comstock,Texas.

With them hunting the Great Plains the only force they might have spotted is the 3rd Brigade as it approached the New Uromath portal.

Nicholas

Howard T. Map-addict wrote:I agree.

Harshu would do better to set up in Karys,
than to try to get into Traisum,
because his magic is weaker in Traisum.

In Karys, Harshu is in the Queriz Depression,
on the Southwest (Turkish) side of the Siberian Steppes.
There is some good hunting there, though not as good as
in Thermyn, on the American Great Plains.

But, with all of those dragons, augmented horses,
and unicorns(and their riders) hunting in Thermyn,
why did not some of those hunters see Sharonans
approaching Fort Ghartoum?

In Failcham Harshu's forces would be in south Tunisia,
needing to cross the Sahara to get to Thermyn.
Not nearly so good.

HTM



My impression is that Thermyn would be less than ideal. It would be the hub for large concentrations if Sharonians of troops pouring in along the rails from the other chain, which would mean you'd be putting yourself right where your opponents would have their best shot at getting at you.

Don

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