Russo-Japanese War Supercampaign

Time for another of our Supercampaigns!  These are our in-depth, alternate history campaigns where members of our gaming group take the part of historical figures and refight old battles.  We've already done this for the British Civil Wars, American Civil War (twice), the Franco-Prussian War.  Most of this campaign took place last year, but I've only just got round to finishing the write-up.

Jane Dunn painted another beautiful picture, depicting a conference between the two Russian commanders and the umpire.

The Scenario

It featured Ollie and Kieran as Russian players, and Paul from the excellent Man Cave Blog playing the Japanese.  The scenario was another siege, this time the siege of Port Arthur, in 1904.  Players had to marshal their resources and choose where and when to launch attacks across the three-mile front, battling poor supplies, weather, and even political interference from home!

As always, we used Irregular Miniatures' fine 2mm range.  This made the campaign easy, cheap and quick to set up, and looked great for the large-scale battles we were planning.

 Campaigning With Players All Over The World

It was an unusual campaign in that it was often fought with only a few players present.  It included 'solo games', where I wargamed the scenario in my home in North Yorkshire, with Ollie and Kieran sending in orders from Nottinghamshire via Whatsapp.  Paul, located on the upside-down part of the world, sent in regular strategic orders by email, and after discussing his moves with him, I acted them out on his behalf.

We agreed that this approach, which was born out of necessity, actually worked rather well.  Rather than having the 'God's Eye View' available to most wargamers, Paul had to give overall direction then trust his subordinates to get the job done (or not).  While this separation might not be ideal for all wargamers, particularly those who can regularly game together, it made an interesting change and is certainly worth a try.

The Battles

Shu-Shihung Gap - Russian Tactical Victory.  At the beginning of the campaign, the Russians were extremely agressive and launched a very succcesful local attack, but one which could not be capitalised on.  After breaking through the besiegers' lines, the Russians were forced into a hasty retreat.

Tiger Peninsular - Stalemate.  This naval battle saw the Japanese try to launch a blockship to seal the Russian fleet in the harbour.  Although the attack was stopped, the Russians lost their biggest battleship, the Retvizan - an enormous blow for the defenders!

Torpedo Attack on Port Arthur - Stalemate.  Another naval game - this one saw the Japanese try to sink the Russian ships in the harbour.  They managed to break through, but failed to do much damage as the Russians had laid anti-torpedo netting.

Attack on Chu Kuan Fort - Japanese Tactical Victory.  Back on land, the Japanese then detonated a huge mine underneath a key Russian position, obliterating it completely.  A follow up attack managed to sieze some ground, but the attack couldn't be continued.

Attack on 203-Metre Hill - Japanese Victory.  The key battle of the campaign, as the Japanese launch a full divisional attack on the lynchpin of the Russian defences.  Despite using mines which destroy the main fort, Russian machine guns beat back two attacks.  However, the Russians are soon driven back by a lack of ammunition and a whirlwind of Japanese artillery fire.

Final Result

After this, the Russian position soon collapsed and they were forced to seek a surrender, which was very graciously accepted.  The campaign was a success, with all the players thoroughly enjoying themselves (I think).  The Japanese were patient and professional, I think the Russians won't mind me saying they were very headstrong, particularly in the early phases of the campaign!

It's definitely something we'll look at doing again, but it's an incredibly labour-intensive process to set up and run, so there'll probably be a break before we're ready for another one!

Everyone has of course been thanked for their time, but I'll add it again here.  Everyone put a huge amount of effort and investment to keep this one going - with the players spread all over the world, it could have quite easily petered out, but we kept it going and had enormous fun.  To see more of Paul's fantastic painting and gaming exploits, do be sure to check out his fantastic blog as well.

There is a book being written about this campaign - stand by for details on that!  Thank you for reading.



  1. I must say that participating in this was a highlight of my gaming year. I thoroughly enjoyed the background, thematic reporting, and the hour or so that I would spend every Monday pouring over reports, maps and crafting the next week's orders. And then the agonising wait for updates...

    Thanks again for the opportunity to participate and I'd love the chance to be part of a future endeavour too!

    1. Paul, it's been an absolute pleasure. And yes, there are plans for another Supercampaign in the works, so we'll be sure to get you on board for that!

  2. Superb- I really must run more campaigns myself.

    I have to admire your dedication extending to gaming extending to getting dressed in full uniform.



    1. Thanks mate! Yes, campaigns are a big investment in time which can seem quite daunting at the time, but it's well worth it in the end. Same goes for the full uniform, really!

  3. Fascinating. I written recap of the campaign will be interesting read.

    1. Thank you Jonathan, I'll make sure there's more stuff up on the other blog (see battle links) for more info.

  4. Up to your usual standard of engrossing detail and fun Ed. Looking forward to reading the individual writeups you've linked to!

    1. Why thank you Mr. D! Glad you identified 'fun' there; despite all the research, we try to keep that at the forefront!

  5. It was a thoroughly enjoyable campaign to play, thanks for all of your impressive administrative efforts as always. This also included the first game I'm aware of played simulataneously on 3 continents

    1. An exciting precedent for the future! Thanks very much, your participation was very much appreciated!

  6. A very cool look at a fascinating campaign. If you have a minor role in a future supercampaign, I would love to be a part of it.

    1. Absolutely Michael, I will make sure to advertise the next one on the blog so we can whip up a group of participants.


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