Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Timeline

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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:32 am

Sorry for the delays, work and hobbies, work and hobbies. I have been updating the story and all that, I just neglect to post it. But here's another installment.

This is the part I'm least confident about, as I'm essentially proposing an alt Northern Campaign where the things that went wrong, due to more resources and butterflies, go right or at the very least, less wrong. So again, as usual, critique me!

The first Northern Campaign was designed as simply the first phase in a long drawn out plan to secure Shu’s supply lines, link up with the far west of China in Liangzhou, capture the key strategic point of Mount Qi, and then, in tandem with the forces in Jing, launch a final assault on Chang An and the Central Plains. The campaign started with a two pronged assault. Zhao Yun would lead an assault through Ji Gorge to threaten Meicheng, however this was a feint - Shu’s real objective was the Longyou area far west of Chang'an: the Tianshui, Anding, Nan'an commanderies and most of all of Mount Qi, the defensive bastion that screened the upper Wei valley. Zhuge Liang appointed Ma Su, a staff officer who served in the defense of Jing with his brother Ma Liang, and Wang Ping, a former Wei defector, as the leader of Zhuge Liang’s advance guard while Zhuge Liang would advance on Mount Qi. The campaign was aided early when the key commanderies quickly surrendered to Shu without much of a fight. The quick surrender of the 3 towns was helped by the defection of Jiang Wei, who was formerly a staff officer of Wei but was distrusted by his superiors, a distrust that eventually forced the young man to truly defect, as the paranoid leaders of Tian Shui like Ma Zun, for whatever reason, seemed to believe he was on the verge of turning traitor, leading to one of the great ironies of the period. These initial successes appeared to set the stage for a major strategic victory over Wei.

However, while Wang Ping was able to secure the key installation Jie Ting against Wei attacks, this was only after a heated argument with Ma Su, who inexplicably went against Zhuge Liang’s direct orders (blindly and inflexibly citing books of strategy that stated always go for the high ground) and attempted to camp on the nearby hills as opposed to flat ground, and Wang Ping compromising by allowing Ma Su to lead a detachment of troops to camp on high ground. While Wang Ping’s force proved too much for Zhang He, one of Wei’s most able Wei generals, to break through, the inexperienced and arrogant Ma Su was easy prey for Zhang He. Ma Su’s supplies were cut off in his vulnerable position, and he was surrounded and destroyed, and killed attempting to escape encirclement. With confused reports of the disaster rolling in, Zhuge Liang briefly contemplated a full retreat due to the danger that the position was in and the risk that even further losses could be incurred. However, it soon became apparent that Wang Ping, having maintained control of the bulk of the Shu army and camped in a secure position in a valley, would be able to hold his position. Zhuge Liang abandoned the siege of Mount Qi and reinforced Jie Ting, securing the area and Shu’s current gains, but at the cost of the loss of initative in the campaign. In the end, it was the able leadership of Wang Ping, both in keeping control over the majority of the army, and by beating back the Wei attacks despite the destruction of Ma Su, that managed to maintain Shu control over the critical supply route.The Jie Ting debacle, while ultimately not fatal to the First Northern Campaign, significantly weakened the scope of the initial success and quite possibly, given local Shu numerical advantages and a high level of strategic surprise (as the Wei court expected the main thrust of a Shu attack to come through Nanyang), prevented an early conquest of Longzhou.

While tradition has generally absolved Zhuge Liang for the near-disaster at Jie Ting, blaming it solely on Ma Su’s insubordination, modern scholarship has pointed out that Zhuge Liang had multiple skilled generals to choose from, such as Zhang Fei (still alive at this point, though aged), Zhang Yi, Huang Quan, Xiang Chong, and yet he chose Ma Su because of his patronage of the Ma family (Ma Su was intelligent but he had something of an arrogant streak and was distrusted by many officers, including, most tellingly, Liu Bei prior to his death). While Ma Su was competent in a technical sense, and while there may have been merit in attempting to promote the younger officers for the future, in this case it backfired on Shu and may well have doomed Shu to failure if not for Wang Ping’s able efforts. The campaign highlighted Zhuge Liang’s comparative lack of experience in military affairs compared to his comtemporaries – as skilled as he was as a civil officer, grand strategist and politician, he was underdeveloped as a commander and it showed. However, this lack of experience did not prove fatal, and as the subsequent campaigns would show, Liang was more than capable of learning from his mistakes.

228-229 saw the deaths of more prominent Shu generals, such as Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, however, it was also the start of renewed hostilities between Shu and Wei. With Wei having suffered a devastating loss to Wu at the battle of Shi Ting, Wei planners feared a major Wu breakthrough in the east and rushed forces to the Hefei area. Having secured the far west of Guangzhou, and seeking to take advantage of the more favorable numerical situation, Zhuge Liang launched another campaign north. Zhuge Liang occupied Wu Du and Yingping to close off a potential sailent in the Shu-Han line. He then pushed north, taking the half-finished fortress of Chencang despite dogged resistance by Hao Zhao, a Wei general renowned for his skill in defensive battles and killed a minor leader named Wang Shuang who attempted to guard the Wei rearguard. However, the terrain and slow pace of transport created supply problems – problems that forced Zhuge Liang to retreat back to Han Zhong. While the campaign weakened Wei and took territory, the logistical issues common in the period prevented Zhuge Liang from fully following up on the victories.

This prompted Cao Zhen to shift from a defensive strategy to an offensive strategy, designed to push Zhuge Liang out of Han Zhong, the primary base for Shu invasions. Sima Yi and Cao Zhen attempted a two pronged approach, with Sima Yi advancing down the Han river and Cao Zhen advancing south of Ziwu Pass. However, heavy autumn rain rendered the paths impassable and slowed the advance, while Wei Yan caused major disruptions in the rear in conjunction with non-Han ethnic minorities, forcing Wei to retreat. While Wei Yan was cut off by Guo Huai in his return to Han Zhong, prompting Zhuge Liang to attempt a forced march northwest to save him, Wei Yan had already broken the siege before Zhuge Liang got there. Thus, Shu successfully defended Han Zhong, and had secured its hold on all Longyou territory west of Chen Cang. To make matters worse for Wei, Cao Zhen died that same year of illness.

With Zhuge Liang’s immediate operational goals satisfied, and Wei no longer in position to retake Shu gains, Shu would spend the next few years resting and restocking its supplies. He also began to liase with Pang Tong in Jing, directing the latter to begin preparing for a final confrontation with Cao Wei. Wu would also launch attacks from Ruxu at Hefei, which would further stretch Wei defenses. Shu would launch a two pronged attack – 350,000 led by Pang Tong in Jingzhou at Fancheng and Xiang Yang…however, this would be a feint to draw the bulk of the Wei army to the battle at Jing while Zhuge Liang would drive for Chang An.

Sima Yi, the new Grand Commadant of Wei, would be in charge of the defense of Chang An against the Shu incursion.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby jiang wan » Fri Dec 12, 2014 2:52 pm

To Establish Peace wrote:Mods: Please move this thread if it doesn't fit the forum.

Please let me know if I'm off historically, and definitely let me know if I'm WAY off historically. I'm just attempting to lay out a plausible scenario here (not necessarily likely, just plausible)


Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon - A Shu-Han Victory Timeline


Part I: The Conquest of Yizhou and the Partition of Jingzhou

The Shu-Han Dynasty (or Southern Han Dynasty, as the capital remained in Cheng Du even after the capture of the Central Plains ) was the third and longest lasting iteration of what is now called the Greater Han Dynasty, ruling from 223 to 704, The Shu-Han Dynasty emerged from the chaos of the Three Kingdoms period, in which Shu Han, along with two other rival States, Wei and Wu, vied for control of China. While Wei was initially the most militarily powerful of the states, having taken control of the core areas of China, inherited much of the bureaucratic apparatus of the former Han, and had the Emperor under its control until Cao Wei formally declared for the Imperial Throne, the Shu-Wu alliance created in the wake of the Battle of Red Cliffs, coupled with Wei mistakes and excellent leadership by both Shu and Wu, slowly chipped away at Wei's military advantage until Shu was able to win decisive victories over Wei, then proceeding to subjugate Wu, unifying the land in the year 280.

In the wake of the victory over Cao Cao at Red Cliffs, the Shu faction, led by Liu Bei, a somewhat distant relative of the ruling Liu Imperial Family (though anti-Shu revisionists have overstated this distance, anthropologists and historians generally agree that Liu Bei was not significantly more distant from the original ruling line than, say, Liu Xiu of Eastern Han), expanded its rule through Southern Jing, claiming the Gui Yang, Chang Sha, Ling Ling, and Wu Ling commanderies. However, Liu Bei found an opportunity for further expansion when he was invited by Liu Zhang to guard his territory in Yizhou from northern aggression, particuarly that of Zhang Lu of Han Zhong. However, some in Liu Zhang's court felt that Liu Bei would be a more competent ruler (which turned out to be true) and thus wished to push Liu Zhang aside for Liu Bei. Liu Bei, having already planned on taking Yi in accordance with the famous Longzhong Plan outlined by Zhuge Liang, accepted the invitation and consolidated a power base as Jiameng Pass. Outmanuvering Liu Zhang completely and inducing much of Liu Zhang's officer corps to defect, as well as inducing the famous Ma Chao to join his army, Liu Bei forced Liu Zhang to surrender Cheng Du, thus placing Yizhou in the possession of Liu Bei’s faction.

In the immediate aftermath of the victory in Yizhou, Liu Bei found himself with a favorable position – a large chunk of territory stretching from Cheng Du in the West to Jiang Xia in the East, a large army, and a strong core of officers and administrators. However, he had to allocate those resources in a proper manner in order to achieve his goal of reunifying the Han and defeating Tsao Tsao. It was at this point that would set the tone for the struggles in the territory to come – he sent Pang Tong, who showed his services in the battles for Yizhou, back to Jing, and recalled Zhuge Liang to Cheng Du, while stationing Pang Tong at Jing along with Guan Yu and placing him as his adjutant commander. Liu Bei felt that Zhuge Liang was vital to securing the new territory and establishing a strong administrative regime (especially given that the Liu Zhang/Liu Yan regime was very lax administratively), while Jing was under immediate military threat from both Wei and Wu, and thus Pang Tong’s greater proficiency as a military strategist would be more helpful.

This arrangement would quickly be tested. Almost immediately upon the capture of Yizhou, Sun Quan demanded the “return” of parts of Jingzhou which he argued were lent to Liu Bei after the battle of Red Cliffs*. Liu Bei refused, prompting Sun Quan to send an invasion force to take the disputed commanderies. Lu Meng of Wu quickly took Ling Ling, Gui Yang and Chang Sha, sending letters to their administrators to induce them to surrender. However, Shu was poised to respond militarily. The powers seemed poised for war, however, Liu Bei’s hand was forced by the rapid invasion and defeat of Zhang Lu in the north of Yi by Cao Cao – he was forced to cut a hasty deal with Sun Quan, ceding Chang Sha and Gui Yang and recovering Ling Ling. The new Shu/Wu border would be the Xiang River as Jingzhou was split in two.



Overall, it seems interesting and well written, however, wasn't Pang Tong killed in the Yi province campaign, and wasn't it Guan Yu alone who defended Jing
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby DragonAtma » Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:51 pm

Historically, yes -- but remember, this is an alternate timeline story where Pang Tong did not die there (which is eminently reasonable, seeing as arrows don't discriminate).
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby FoxWithWings » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:04 pm

Xiang Chong? I do not recognize that name, and I thought Zhang Yi was a civil minister? (EDIT: Ignore this, I got mixed up.)

Slightly off topic, is it incredibly frustrating for anyone else when you do not recognize a name?

It looks all well and good in my eyes. Except for the Cao Zhen attacking Hanzhong angle. That area is very defensible, was Cao Zhen that desperate?
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:02 pm

Cao Zhen attacks at this stage because he sees the writing on the wall - he has to eliminate Zhuge Liang as a strategic threat or Wei will lose the north. At the very least, they can't sit back and let Shu nip away at the area until they have Chang An, even more so that they actually retained Western Longzhou (Tian Shui/Anding/Nan An) and are strongly contesting the Mount Qi area. unlike OTL.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby DragonAtma » Sat Dec 20, 2014 12:34 am

On a late note, remember, Shu had Zhang Yi (Junsi), Zhang Yi (Boqi), and Zhang Yi (Bogong), all of whom became prominent. No, you don't usually need to list style names, but you might want to make an exception for the Zhang Yis. XD
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:58 pm

I've not been following this for a bit, so I'm going to try to play catch-up before moving on to the most recent post.

To Establish Peace wrote:This disaster was only made worse when key administrators and prefects defected to Guan Yu.

Why?

To Establish Peace wrote:However, Sun Quan was reluctant, and actually sent overtures of peace to Guan Yu, offering a marriage alliance between his son and Guan Yu’s daughter.

This makes no sense in context. Jingzhou is something Sun Quan wants, all of his peaceful overtures have failed and Guan Yu is still treating him like crap. There is no reason for him to pursue a peaceful at this point and in history, he didn’t because he recognized it would be a waste of time.

To Establish Peace wrote:Lu Xun was relatively inexperienced,

Right, the person who had been excellently serving Sun Quan for fifteen years in various military and administrative roles was less experienced than the guy who had basically been babysitting Guan Yu for five years and doing pretty much nothing for most of the five years before that.

To Establish Peace wrote:Guan Yu was furious, and threatened to punish Pang Tong under military law for his direct insubordination.

Threaten nothing, the historical Guan Yu would have outright had Pang Tong executed and been perfectly justified in doing so. Heck, Zhuge or Liu Bei would have had Pang Tong executed or at the very least demoted him.

To Establish Peace wrote:Spreading rumors of a plague in camp, and sending for physicians from Yi, and mentioning it offhandedly in diplomatic communications with Wu, Pang Tong attempted to actively goad Wu into attacking Jiang Ling.

And if the above hadn’t gotten him executed, this certainly would have.

To Establish Peace wrote:This was met with a sword through the gut from Mi Fang, who while not particularly brave (some historians speculate that Mi Fang would have gone over had Pang Tong not been there to keep the troops near Jiang Ling), was fundamentally loyal and refused to surrender a winnable fight.

There is no reason for 90% of this sentence to be written if this narrative is being written by someone who is supposedly unaware of our timeline’s version of events. There is no reason for historians to be doubting Mi Fang’s loyalty if he did this. Not to mention that Fu Shiren had no reason to urge Mi Fang to murder Pang Tong at that point, as Shu’s situation was nowhere near as dire as in history.

To Establish Peace wrote:Pang Tong’s timely and adaptable counter-strategies.

I’m going to again point out that there is no indication in history that Pang Tong was a particularly skilled strategist and there’s especially no indication that he was anywhere near Lu Xun’s skill level. From a narrative perspective, you are using previously established characters and giving them new abilities out of nowhere without explaining where they came from as a blatant deus ex machina.

To Establish Peace wrote:showed the sheer difficulty of offensive siege warfare in 3rd century China

This is way too meta, not to mention completely incorrect. Chinese siege weaponry was pretty advanced and included such weapons as trebuchets, catapults and siege crossbows, all of which had been in use since the 4th century BCE.

To Establish Peace wrote:Guan Yu’s force was exhausted and weakened, they held the morale advantage

Completely contradictory, not to mention that such a damaged force would have been wiped out due to the numerical advantage Lu Xun had.

To Establish Peace wrote:there were rebellions aimed at restoring Emperor Xian’s power with Wei’s power seemingly at an ebb

There’s no reason for these rebellions to happen, regardless of Shu’s status. You overestimate how much the people of China cared about the Han at the point when Cao Pi took the throne.

To Establish Peace wrote:(historians have debated the extent to which Liu Bei was a heartfelt Han loyalist but the consensus is that he genuinely believed in the Han Dynasty, though he also certainly wanted power within the framework of the Han)

These asides are completely out of place and generally make no sense if the narrator is supposed to be someone from the narrative’s timeline.

To Establish Peace wrote:In early 222,

You still haven’t explained why this all is taking place a year later than in history.

To Establish Peace wrote:Meanwhile, Sun Quan grew restive. Sun Quan was “merely” a king while the two other powers made plays for empire.

And why would Sun Quan, who had the good sense to wait until his power had been consolidated a full eight years after Yiling, suddenly want to become Emperor that badly? You could argue that becoming Emperor was always his endgame, but he knew to wait.

To Establish Peace wrote:Lu Xun was being unfavorably compared to the more aggressive Lu Meng.

Lu Meng wasn’t that militarily aggressive, actually.

Sorry if these have been addressed already, most of these comments are pretty old. More to come soon.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby FoxWithWings » Sun Dec 21, 2014 2:54 am

Qu Hui, I'm curious. How would Shu hold Jing then? If they had no one to match Lu Xun.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:30 am

FoxWithWings wrote:Qu Hui, I'm curious. How would Shu hold Jing then? If they had no one to match Lu Xun.

It's not that they didn't have anyone to match Lu Xun, it's just that, in both history and this alternate timeline, Pang Tong is nowhere near Lu Xun's level. Fa Zheng, Zhuge Liang and Zhang Fei probably could have given Lu Xun a run for his money, but then again all three of them are missing the one big weakness Guan Yu had that Lu Xun exploited - egotism.

If Shu's going to keep in control of Jingzhou, first and foremost they have to try their hardest to keep good relations with Wu and actually respect the alliance. This includes, but is not limited to, ceding Nanjun back to them when that's all they wanted (since Nanjun was legitimately Wu's territory that they lent to Shu) and having someone other than Guan Yu handle negotiations with Wu. You could argue that a Wu-Shu conflict was inevitable, but the way things played out in history, a lot of the trouble Shu had could have been avoided if Guan Yu hadn't instigated hostilities with Wu or played into Lu Xun and Lu Meng's hands so well.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Sun Dec 21, 2014 5:01 am

Qu Hui wrote:I've not been following this for a bit, so I'm going to try to play catch-up before moving on to the most recent post.

To Establish Peace wrote:This disaster was only made worse when key administrators and prefects defected to Guan Yu.


Why?


Wei's Inspector of Jing and one of the governors defected in OTL. I kinda assumed you'd see more local defections in this case.

This makes no sense in context. Jingzhou is something Sun Quan wants, all of his peaceful overtures have failed and Guan Yu is still treating him like crap. There is no reason for him to pursue a peaceful at this point and in history, he didn’t because he recognized it would be a waste of time.


Didn't Sun Quan make the marriage proposal AFTER Sima Yi proposed came as envoy? I'm prett

To Establish Peace wrote:Lu Xun was relatively inexperienced,


Right, the person who had been excellently serving Sun Quan for fifteen years in various military and administrative roles was less experienced than the guy who had basically been babysitting Guan Yu for five years and doing pretty much nothing for most of the five years before that.


That's actually a good point. We assume that Pang Tong is this great strategist who happened to die young. That assumption is the basis for the entire story.

Threaten nothing, the historical Guan Yu would have outright had Pang Tong executed and been perfectly justified in doing so. Heck, Zhuge or Liu Bei would have had Pang Tong executed or at the very least demoted him.


Other s

To Establish Peace wrote:Spreading rumors of a plague in camp, and sending for physicians from Yi, and mentioning it offhandedly in diplomatic communications with Wu, Pang Tong attempted to actively goad Wu into attacking Jiang Ling.

And if the above hadn’t gotten him executed, this certainly would have.

To Establish Peace wrote:This was met with a sword through the gut from Mi Fang, who while not particularly brave (some historians speculate that Mi Fang would have gone over had Pang Tong not been there to keep the troops near Jiang Ling), was fundamentally loyal and refused to surrender a winnable fight.

There is no reason for 90% of this sentence to be written if this narrative is being written by someone who is supposedly unaware of our timeline’s version of events. There is no reason for historians to be doubting Mi Fang’s loyalty if he did this. Not to mention that Fu Shiren had no reason to urge Mi Fang to murder Pang Tong at that point, as Shu’s situation was nowhere near as dire as in history.

To Establish Peace wrote:Pang Tong’s timely and adaptable counter-strategies.

I’m going to again point out that there is no indication in history that Pang Tong was a particularly skilled strategist and there’s especially no indication that he was anywhere near Lu Xun’s skill level. From a narrative perspective, you are using previously established characters and giving them new abilities out of nowhere without explaining where they came from as a blatant deus ex machina.

To Establish Peace wrote:showed the sheer difficulty of offensive siege warfare in 3rd century China

This is way too meta, not to mention completely incorrect. Chinese siege weaponry was pretty advanced and included such weapons as trebuchets, catapults and siege crossbows, all of which had been in use since the 4th century BCE.

To Establish Peace wrote:Guan Yu’s force was exhausted and weakened, they held the morale advantage

Completely contradictory, not to mention that such a damaged force would have been wiped out due to the numerical advantage Lu Xun had.

To Establish Peace wrote:there were rebellions aimed at restoring Emperor Xian’s power with Wei’s power seemingly at an ebb

There’s no reason for these rebellions to happen, regardless of Shu’s status. You overestimate how much the people of China cared about the Han at the point when Cao Pi took the throne.

These asides are completely out of place and generally make no sense if the narrator is supposed to be someone from the narrative’s timeline.


I think those are something I'll have to go back and look at.

You still haven’t explained why this all is taking place a year later than in history.


I'm pretty sure that the different events caused timelines to change slightly, events take longer than they should, etc.

To Establish Peace wrote:Meanwhile, Sun Quan grew restive. Sun Quan was “merely” a king while the two other powers made plays for empire.

And why would Sun Quan, who had the good sense to wait until his power had been consolidated a full eight years after Yiling, suddenly want to become Emperor that badly? You could argue that becoming Emperor was always his endgame, but he knew to wait.

To Establish Peace wrote:Lu Xun was being unfavorably compared to the more aggressive Lu Meng.

Lu Meng wasn’t that militarily aggressive, actually.

If Shu's going to keep in control of Jingzhou, first and foremost they have to try their hardest to keep good relations with Wu and actually respect the alliance. This includes, but is not limited to, ceding Nanjun back to them when that's all they wanted


Nanjun has as many households as the rest of the province combined and encompasses the regional capital and primary port, as well as being Liu Bei's primary source of talent he didn't inherit from Liu Zhang. Unless Shu is willing to undertake the kind of expansion and colonization program Wu did, and that wouldn't happen until AT LEAST after taking Longzhou, it's pretty dead weight. You might as well just cede the whole thing if you're gonna cede Nanjun.
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