Heirs of the Golden Horde: The Russo-Austro-Turkish War, Ukraine Theatre 1735-39

Volume VI in the Lace Wars series

Heirs of the Golden Horde Second Edition (HGH) is the sixth volume of Red Sash Games Lace Wars series. The game is companion to Volume V, Türkenkrieg. The subject of both games is the little known Russo-Austro-Turkish War of 1735-39. Türkenkrieg dealt with the war between the Imperials (the Habsburg Austrian Empire) and the Ottoman Empire along the Danube. HGH investigates the theatre of the Ukraine, where the Russians attempted to destroy the power of the Crimean Tatars as a first step toward Peter the Great's dream of a warm water port.

On the Danube, the Ottoman Turks dealt a critical blow to Charles VI and the House of Habsburg, leading almost immediately to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). In the Ukraine, things were different. Forgotten or dismissed as "futile" by historians, the campaigns of the Muscovites against the remnants of the Mongols' Golden Horde were in fact brutally effective.

Year after year, expeditions were sent into the Crimea to lay the Tatar Khan's homeland to waste - expeditions from which the once fertile peninsula never fully recovered. In the Kuban, the Russians unleashed their allies, the Turcoman Kalmyks and the Kabardians of the Caucasus, in a genocidal campaign against the khan's subjects in that Eden-esque region.

The Ottomans held many forts around the rim of the Black Sea, mainly controlling the river mouths and all the trade that passed down them; these were besieged and taken by the Russians, partly as bargaining chips, partly as potential naval bases, and always to show the Tatars that their ally was powerless to help them..

In the last year of the war, Moldavia, a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire and the breadbasket of Istanbul, was overrun by the Muscovite juggernaut. Only the Austrians' "abject" surrender to the Turk in 1739 halted the steamroller.

It is because the Russians were forced to hand everything back that the war is generally deemed "useless". Nevertheless the balance of power had forever tilted in their favour. The Russian Army had learned that it could beat the Turks with consistency. An attempt by Sweden to profit from Russian "exhaustion", mirroring Frederick the Great's war against the Habsburgs, only resulted in the loss of Finland to the Bear.

The Ottomans went on to suffer a major internal revolt, further weakening them against any future encounters. The Tatars, who for centuries had levied tribute from their Russian "clients" and harvested millions of Slavs to sell in the Black Sea slave marts, were now in many places under the yoke themselves. In the next war, their khan would be forced to switch allegiance from Istanbul to St. Petersburg as a prelude to his people's political extinction.

The Game

IMPORTANT. HGH is not a complete game. Although it is possible to play a few of the scenarios with the counter mix provided, HGH is intended to be an expansion module for Türkenkrieg.

The Muscovites are a wargamer's fantasy come true: Russian soldiers commanded by German officers. Though their prime strength lies in their stoical peasant infantry, they have large numbers of Cossack irregulars, Kalmyk tribesmen, and badly mounted dragoons to help them, and their home base is protected by a Garrison Army larger than their mobile army, not to mention a huge fortification project stretching between the Dniepr and Donets Rivers. Slow and clumsy, the Bear will crush anyone his paws can embrace. Expect high casualties from attrition, but do not worry, there are still plenty of serfs.

Although the whole map is very large (covering all of the southern Ukraine), many of the scenarios only require manageable portions of it. With few roads and habitations, rivers become critical for supply, and both sides have a substantial naval presence. Historically, the Russians packed in everything they needed, moving across the Steppe like a floating city. The Tatars have the advantage of not needing a base, though the Crimea is their "yurt" or settlement. HGH features some new terrain: Steppe, Rapids, Seasonal Rivers and Lakes, and Salt Pans. It also (of course), features the Russian Winter.

HGH contains no Campaign Scenario of its own, but does include rules for a Grand Campaign linking it and Türkenkrieg in a huge 4-player game; a true "monster". HGH also updates the Türkenkrieg rules and charts to the 3.5 version and includes counter errata for the latter.

Map scale is 8.5 miles per hex. Unit scale is battalion/regimental. Units are rated for Effectiveness and Movement; raw strength is factored into Effectiveness.

Turns are equivalent to three weeks - 16 turns per year. Each turn is broken down into several phases - supply, operations, admin, etc. There are scenarios for each year of active operations - three in all - and a Campaign Game.

Like the other games in the series, HGH is Operational in scale, emphasizing maneuver and logistics. Individual units are assigned to headquarters that represent the primary combat formations. These move about the map in an attempt to fulfill Campaign Plans that will bring their owner Prestige. Fortifications and their garrisons are critical, and the game includes a comprehensive siege mechanic in addition to the regular "field battle" combat system. The latter focuses on grand tactical issues such as training and morale, frontage, reserves, artillery and cavalry superiority.

The Lace Wars system also involves the use of Auxiliary counters. These represent support troops and irregulars who had a major impact on operations, but cannot be adequately represented as traditional game units. Instead, a player might have a pontooneer auxiliary that he can play onto a stack to help it cross a major river, or a converged grenadier auxiliary that provides a morale bonus in combat. Because of the scale of Türkenkrieg and HGH, many combat elements can be used either as units or as auxiliaries. [Playing cards could have been used instead of counters, but there are production issues involved, and besides, some of the auxiliaries' functions are hard to indicate with cards. In essence, however, auxiliaries are that kind of game asset, not "pawns" like the combat units.]

Politics are not neglected, either. Since the circumstances are always different, these rules vary with the game; in HGH the armies suffer from factional intrigue, and there are a number of external threats that must be considered - Persia for the Ottomans, Sweden for the Russians. The peace process (all wars in the Age of Reason very sensibly involved a concurrent peace process) acts as an impartial timer, possibly ending the game before the players desire it.

Leaders have an important role to play, as befitting an era where personal command was critical. They are rated for skill or effectiveness, personality, and influence (i.e. the chance they have of retaining command despite their incompetence).

The supply system incorporates lines of communication, the strategic placement of depots, foraging, and attrition. River and canal movement has been taken into account and will prove as critical to success as the use of rail lines in games that cover more modern periods.


1) Three full colour maps representing the theatre of the Ukraine, from Transylvania to the Kuban, and from the Black Sea coast to Kiev and Kharkov.
[NB sample map image is low-res].

1) Two full colour maps representing the Danube Basin and the surrounding lands, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, and from central Hungary to Bulgaria.
Here is a sample of the 1st Edition map; and here is a sample of the new 2nd Edition map.
[NB sample map image is low-res].

2) 1320 counters representing the forces of Muscovy (Russia), allied Cossack Hosts, the Calmucks, the Kabardians, various Tatar Hordes under the authority of the Khan of the Crimean Tatars, Ottoman Janissaries and Sipahis, elements of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Moldavians, Kurds, Mamelukes, and Poles.
[NB sample counter images are low-res].

3) A set of charts and tables, plus several display cards.

4) A series rulebook - 3rd Edition (3.75) - called the King's Regulations and Orders (KR&Os), a game-exclusive rulebook, scenario & OOB information, and an historical commentary.