This is why playing a human is so much more fun than playing the AI. I've been so focused on the south that I've been rather careless in the north - I advanced to hastily on that front, and I failed to garrison or even secure total military control in Archangelsk. Pat's no fool - he can read a map and assess intelligence - so now he's making me pay for my mistakes, and in one fell swoop up that railway, he's totally disrupted all my plans in the region without even a fight. I am sorely lacking any intelligence on his force composition, so for now, Shaplin will attempt to contain them, and Poole and his staff will be extracted by sea along with a detachment of US Marines, leaving most of the British expeditionary forces and their supplies in the care of Shaplin. Understandably, my western allies are unimpressed and demoralized - the planned US "Polar Bear" expedition into the region is likely to be cancelled
The Strategic Situation in Early August, 1918: I am considering leap-frogging Trotsky's relief column at Balashov in a feint encirclement; if Stalin tries to cut and run, I'll nab Tzaritsyn. But I'm not sure yet - destroying 10th Army is a tempting proposition, too, but so far I've focused on armies at the expense of cities, and it hasn't panned out as well as I'd hoped.
Orders for Early August, 1918: Lukomsky will move south and prepare to assault Ekaterinodar with his recently mustered conscripts. Sidorin and Fitskhelaurov move up the railway to Kotovo. Volunteer Army and Denisov's Corps are to reinforce Mamontov's position in Ilovlya, while Don Cossack Army and Drozdovsky will take Denisov's place south of Tzaritsyn.
Drozdovsky's Corps is a dream come true for manoeuvre warfare enthusiasts such as myself. Shkuro's division gives you an idea of its force composition: elite and light infantry; elite cavalry and cav-arty supported by armored cars; other than supplies and eventually a transmission company, all units' speed coefficients are 110 or above. Prokovsky's division is similar, but is composed mostly of Cossacks and the bulk of our elite infantry. Shkuro may be detached as necessary for an additional fast-moving force during operational manoeuvres. I hope to use them for strategic offensives (encirclement/manoeuvre de derriere) and have them fight on the tactical defensive.