The Capitoline Knights, newly under the command of Reinhard Muller (following his return from retirement at the time of the outbreak of war) were among the first Laufpanzer units to head to the frontier in 1927. Inclement weather, the remnants of a fierce sandstorm that had immobilised the Novis Eger Rifles (preventing their return from scheduled maneuvers at the time of the invasion), had delayed Muller’s advance and as he approached the supposedly friendly town of Hargas to resupply and rendezvous with the Imperial Academy Supply Unit he was surprised to see it had already fallen into Meravian hands.
Hargas had fallen, but at significant cost to the Meravians’ momentum. The XII Corps, dispatched to capture the surrounding area, had been commanded by the late Tuggeneral Eda bin-Ekber, an unpopular and ruthless officer whose death from a sickness that swept through the XII Corps’ infantry and devastated its command structure was hardly unwelcome. Her successor, Binbasi Kadir Kaan, however, proved no less competent or popular. Kaan demanded his tanks advance through the sandstorm to capture Hargas ahead of Muller’s arrival, and while they succeeded morale was low, many of the men were still recovering from sickness and supplies were hard to come by; the Prenzeran supply repository Kaan had captured had been sabotaged by the retreating Supply Unit.
Thus when Muller fell upon Hargas, Kaan’s forces were in no position to put up good resistance. The battle was fierce and short, resulting in almost total destruction of the XII Corps’ armoured fighting capacity (its infantry having fallen back to the second-line resupply and medical bases), but at the same time the damage sustained by Prenzeran forces and the loss of the vital fuel and ammunition supplies at Hargas slowed Muller’s advance significantly.
The Second Front At Kavakeyli
In the early months of 1928, the Oscanian City-States mobilised in support of their Prenzeran allies, opening a second front at the Eceabali Peninsula via numerous airborne landings and naval attacks. They were able to proceed with significant speed up the largely empty peninsula, sustaining a critical impetus and breaking through the ill-prepared Meravian defences. As the Meravians’ initial objective had been a push towards the Prenzeran capital, they had left Eceabali comparatively lightly defended; the Oscanian Navy was able to avoid the forts guarding the Marmuran Straits and attack the seaward-facing guns in force from inland.
Kavakeyli was the point where the Meravians committed their main force in the region, the under-equipped XXIV Army Corps under the transitional command of Yarbay Halide Handan. Handan was ordered to hold the Oscanian advance as long as possible and then begin an organised retreat towards the port of Sarlice when the situation became untenable. Equipped primarily with equipment from before the mass industrialisation, Handan’s army ended up out of position and at risk of an Oscanian encirclement; with morale poor, water supplies low and the enemy in hot pursuit, the retreat from Kavakeyli was the point where the Oscanians confirmed their control of the peninsula…
Episodes 16-17 of Macross Delta combine advancement of the romantic plot (something that is proceeding nicely and adorably) with some subtle – and then not at all subtle – bombshells regarding the main conflict. These articles have not really discussed the love-story aspect of Delta too much; it feels gauche to dissect the very cute relationship between Hayate and Freyja, and as soon as one begins factoring Mirage in as the other wing of a love triangle I feel a distinct ennui at how Mirage is being handled as a character.
As my wargaming club continues to embrace Horizon Wars fever, I have begun to properly make army lists; not simply basic documents to aid gameplay by reminding players of stats but proper orders of battle with some imagined flavour text and history for units. A narrative aspect is vital to me in wargaming; devise a reason for the armies to fight, come up with notable characters and make units feel like something more than simply game pieces to be moved about. And so my alternate-history setting continues to gain life.
After an episode of Macross Delta focused on developing the interactions between the main cast under pressure, and establishing exactly how much of a back foot Chaos has been put on, the viewer is given an episode showing the true effects of the battle for Ragna on Windermere. They may have “won” but it was a much harder victory than initially expected, and the next – and most interesting question – is what will they do now they have won?
One of the defining features of SDF Macross was not just that humanity was on the back foot militarily, but that it was playing with technology it did not understand and was as a result barely able to survive in space, let alone with constant enemy pursuit. This has been a theme that has received steadily less focus as the franchise progresses, and with good narrative reason; Macross as a long-form entity has been about humanity’s evolution from dabbler in space to colonising power, and about how lessons learned in one adventure are rarely applicable to subsequent encounters. It would not make sense, as human technology has gone from a retrofitted alien artefact to a slickly-manufactured fleet of super-technology ships, for there to be the same lack of understanding of how a Macross ship functions.
The Ambush At Celakli
One of the earliest battles of the Third Meravian War was fought over the remote town of Celakli; Albay Bourak bin-Asard had been sent to occupy the town until the remainder of the invasion force caught up with the rapidly-moving front, and ended up fighting a fierce defence against an impetuous counterattack from an armoured force led by Oberst Hugo Albarea. Albarea had been en route to rendezvous with Isla Clausell’s Novis Eger Rifles, freshly returned from a period of rest and resupply at the fortress Novis Racik, when he had received news of the fall of Celakli. Presuming this would present an opportunity to cut off the Meravian advance, Albarea brought his tanks around to attack the town.
Military historians describe Celakli, with the benefit of hindsight, as a double trap. Asard was able to effectively draw in enemy vehicles into a battle on his terms, with the estates outside Celakli providing an effective firebase for his artillery – but it is widely believed that his entire presence there was part of a wider trap to draw out Prenzeran forces and set up Asard’s actions, against his knowledge, as a casus belli between the two nations.
The battle itself was inconclusive, despite heavy Prenzeran losses of materiel. Asard returned home at its conclusion with almost a full complement of vehicles, but almost all were heavily damaged and it is believed the logistical disruption the return of a vast number of wounded men and damaged vehicles caused on Meravian supply lines disrupted their advance far more than had Albarea wiped the enemy out. This was, however, small comfort for Albarea himself, who saw the heavy losses sustained in Asard’s trap as a personal failing.
I have recently got very into playing Horizon Wars, not only enjoying the rules but enjoying the freedom a highly customisable wargame gives to create interesting an unusual armies. When the Biowar expansion came out I felt there was only one thing to do – combine my love of super robots with my love of wargaming and make stats for a whole army of deadly monsters-of-the-week…
There was little to say about episode 12 of Macross Delta that had not already been said about previous episodes; it simply reinforced the ideas of Windermere’s perverse ideology and Hayate’s development as a pilot in the wake of Messer’s death. It was ultimately a preparation episode for episode 13, the series’ midway climax – yet unlike the previous such example, the two-parter on Voldor which went some distance to explaining at least part of Windermere’s plan, it offered little to progress the plot. Indeed, even after episode 13’s closure of the mini-arcs created in 12, there are still mostly the same mysteries remaining; Mikumo’s role in the plot (and her apparent centrality to Walkure’s Var-curing power), Windermere’s endgame beyond apparently being able to control the minds of everyone in a space sector (which is a fairly strong position to be in) and the nature of the Sigur Valens and the Protoculture ruins all remain questions to be answered in the series’ upcoming episodes.
Recently I have got very into the wargame Horizon Wars, and as part of this focused on devising background for my army. I tied it into my recent Trails of Cold Steel inspired fiction, about the science-fiction / fantasy Habsburg Empire analogue, the Double Nations of Prenzer.
Now I am beginning to populate Prenzer with named characters, who will take roles in wargames played in the setting – first was Andrew Jackson, the Lawrence of Arabia-esque tanker who featured in a few of my short stories, and now there is Prince Matthias Valon – a fighter-ace, the son of the Archduke of Prenzer and an all-around rogue and playboy.
This story owes much to the excellent novel Winged Victory for giving me a tone to aspire to in writing about the pioneers of air combat, but equally much to the Trails games for their character Olivert…