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In one of those one random thought leading to another moments, I was thinking about the earthquake in Japan that caused all that massive damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant and that led me to thinking about natural disasters and wars.

I looked into natural disasters during WWII, and the only one that had any direct effect on fighting effectiveness was [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Cobra_(1944)]Typhoon Cobra[/url].

All of which gets me to the two questions I'm curious about.

First, anyone know of any natural disasters that have occurred during a conflict that has had some kind if significant impact?

Second, and probably a two part question - how would that be handled in a game?
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Michael Dorosh
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Vesuvius erupted in 1944 and damaged Allied aircraft:

Quote:
The volcano destroyed more of the 340th Bombardment Group's aircraft (estimates vary between 78 and 88) than the devastating German Luftwaffe air raid of the 340th base at Alesani, Corsica on May 13, 1944 (about 75 aircraft). At Pompeii Airfield on March 23, 1944 nearly all of the 340th's B-25 Mitchell medium bombers were covered with hot ash that burned the fabric control surfaces, glazed, melted, or cracked the Plexiglass, and even tipped some B-25s onto their tails from the weight of the ash and tephra.


http://www.warwingsart.com/12thAirForce/Vesuvius.html





As for the actual impact, hard to say. Obviously any scheduled raids by the groups affected would have been cancelled, and repairs to aircraft and facilities would have taken them out of service for a period. I expect the overall impact on the campaign was minimal.
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Ben Delp
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The original "Divine Wind(s)". Or would one say that they defused the conflict before they started in earnest?
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The storm that effectively finished off Philip II's Armada?

EDIT: Not sure that really qualifies as a natural disaster. Storms are relative things, I suppose.
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In my little COD WARS: Iceland vs. Great Britain in the 1970s game a volcanic eruption can influence the narrative if that random event card appears.

The volcano did blow, and this particular card is quite likely to surface during a session. devil
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milhouse x
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Not sure I would call it a natural "disaster", but how about the Russian winters? It affected Napoleon's retreat (and subsequent effectiveness of the Grande Armee as a fighting force) and Hitler's invasion.
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War of the Suns includes natural disasters as regularly scheduled events and/or random events - all ones that actually happened during the '37-'45 war. Their effects vary, but they include flooding, severe snow, drought/famine.
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Michael Dorosh
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Milhouse917 wrote:
Not sure I would call it a natural "disaster", but how about the Russian winters? It affected Napoleon's retreat (and subsequent effectiveness of the Grande Armee as a fighting force) and Hitler's invasion.


Most countries just call it winter. You put on a coat, and train to fight in it. If your leader is a delusional, reckless gambler hell-bent on world-domination, there may be a problem having you sent out to fight in it. But such discussions don't seem to have much to do with this thread. Disastrous generalship is, however, an interesting topic worthy of its own discussion.
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Do you consider plagues a natural disaster?

The Serbian Typhus outbreak certainly affected the behavior of armies in WWI; the whole country was quarantined I believe.
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It was the threat of the hurricane season which made de Grasse move his French fleet from the Caribbean to the secondary theater of the North American Eastern Seaboard, just in time for the battle of Chesapeake bay.

So in an indirect way the spectre of natural disaster had a pretty big influence on the American Revolution.
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Roger Hobden
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leroy43 wrote:

Second, and probably a two part question - how would that be handled in a game?


In a Market-Garden game, you roll percentile dice on the Weather Table.

If you roll "2" or less, it snows in September.
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milhouse x
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Milhouse917 wrote:
Not sure I would call it a natural "disaster", but how about the Russian winters? It affected Napoleon's retreat (and subsequent effectiveness of the Grande Armee as a fighting force) and Hitler's invasion.


Most countries just call it winter. You put on a coat, and train to fight in it. If your leader is a delusional, reckless gambler hell-bent on world-domination, there may be a problem having you sent out to fight in it. But such discussions don't seem to have much to do with this thread. Disastrous generalship is, however, an interesting topic worthy of its own discussion.


Agreed.

When I did a quick look-up I saw that much of the Russian winter during Napoleon's retreat was not even that severe. There were some days where the temperatures were quite low, but I saw it pointed out that the conditions depicted in many paintings regarding the retreat were not typical (more like artistic license).

The winter during Barbarossa was rather more severe, but not something that couldn't be overcome if you plan for it. We have all read about Germans wearing their summer uniforms, not having enough antifreeze, etc. Russians (and Norwegians, and Finns, and Swedes) deal with it every year.

I've seen some sources that state the first winter of Barbarossa was abnormally cold, but I have not done enough research to see if that was true or authors buying into the common wisdom of the time.

It had an effect, but not sure if that was what the OP would consider a natural disaster.
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chuft wrote:
Do you consider plagues a natural disaster?.


I'm sure they are - I dont mean to speak for the OP, but there's probably a whole other string that could be devoted just to the impacts of disease on war. Two examples that immediately come to mind are Cortez conquering the Aztecs in 1520 after a devastating plague, and the epidemic that decimated Athens early in the Pelopennesian War.

Not really natural disasters, but natural phenomena have often changed the outcome of a battle and, some would argue, a war. Two quick examples from the American Revolution: In August 1776 at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, the Continental Army was trapped in a hilltop fortification with the British Army at their front, and the Royal Navy to their rear. Their distruction was assured but for a freak pea-soup fog that rolled in one night, covering Washington's skillful withdrawal across the East River to Manhattan and Jersey beyond. Five years later, in October 1781 at Yorktown, the British found themselves in nearly the same predicament. Having undergone a punishing seige, relentlessly pounded by the Colonial and French guns for almost a month, and cut off from relief by the French fleet, Cornwalis planned a desperate breakout to the north. On the night of the 16th, he attempted to ferry the remnant of his army across the York river to Gloucester Point, thought to be more lightly defended by the rebels. A terrific storm came up that night, spoiling his getaway and breaking his will. The next day he decided to surrender.
On a tactical scale, it's hard to see how you'd model this in a game without completely altering the outcome; on a strategic scale I could see such natural occurrences adding interest and a sense of the random.
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http://mentalfloss.com/article/29231/11-natural-disasters-le...

One thing not on the linked list is the plague that hit Athens during the Peloponesian War.
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Milhouse917 wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Milhouse917 wrote:
Not sure I would call it a natural "disaster", but how about the Russian winters? It affected Napoleon's retreat (and subsequent effectiveness of the Grande Armee as a fighting force) and Hitler's invasion.


Most countries just call it winter. You put on a coat, and train to fight in it. If your leader is a delusional, reckless gambler hell-bent on world-domination, there may be a problem having you sent out to fight in it. But such discussions don't seem to have much to do with this thread. Disastrous generalship is, however, an interesting topic worthy of its own discussion.


Agreed.

When I did a quick look-up I saw that much of the Russian winter during Napoleon's retreat was not even that severe. There were some days where the temperatures were quite low, but I saw it pointed out that the conditions depicted in many paintings regarding the retreat were not typical (more like artistic license).

The winter during Barbarossa was rather more severe, but not something that couldn't be overcome if you plan for it. We have all read about Germans wearing their summer uniforms, not having enough antifreeze, etc. Russians (and Norwegians, and Finns, and Swedes) deal with it every year.

I've seen some sources that state the first winter of Barbarossa was abnormally cold, but I have not done enough research to see if that was true or authors buying into the common wisdom of the time.

It had an effect, but not sure if that was what the OP would consider a natural disaster.


The issue from a game perspective on a operational/strategic level, is that the Napoleon/Hitler player would probably look at the weather chart and say... "nah, I'll never make it to Moscow before winter hits and I have to roll for frostbite losses". I'll just go beat up on England instead. There does need to be an element of "Yes I can do it at a risk but I'm cocky enough to pull it off".

For natural disasters with impact... how about the big storm that knocked out the Mulburries in Normandy? I didn't affect combat units but did affect Allied supply enough for the Generals to rethink their plans.

The big sandstorms during Iraqi Freedom delayed the timetable enough for the media to second guess the Generals about making it to Baghdad in time.
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Depending upon whether you take the Biblical account literal or not and definition of "disaster", the sun "stood still" ("no day like that before it, or after it") until Joshua and the Israelites could defeat the Amorites.
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War of 1812. August 25th 1814. After burning the White House in Washington DC a severe storm which included a tornado hits the British troops. They suffer more casualties due to the storm than they do to US troops and are forced to retreat.
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On Mar. 5th, 1776, a severe storm delayed a planned British attack on Dorchester Heights against a newly erected Patriot fort that many British soldiers slated for the assault gloomily expected to be "another Bunkers Hill affair or worse."

Given a little more time to reflect on the wisdom of the attack, Howe called it off and instead agreed to evacuate Boston.

Later in the American Revolution a major naval battle between the French and British fleets off Newport, R.I., on Aug. 11, 1778 was aborted by another storm.
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Bad Weather Delays Attack
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Not completely on topic (but not too far off either), war can certainly contribute to natural disasters. When wars ravage the land, crops don't get harvested, dikes and dams get destroyed or don't get maintained, soil erosion prevention efforts stop.
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Roger Hobden
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leroy43 wrote:

Second, and probably a two part question - how would that be handled in a game?


In version 4.0, OCS has this :

21.10a Godzilla. Deep in the enemy rear areas lurks a giant, hungry lizard. Units fear monsters, so they prefer not to go too far out on a limb, for fear of becoming lizard food. Defining what a “raider” is for this is difficult, so players will need to use common sense. Qualifying units tend to be small, out of trace supply, out of range of an HQ, and positioned so that they block enemy supply trace (and that is their primary purpose). If you find a unit or stack that seems to qualify, Godzilla eats them and they reappear in the dead pile.


I suppose this should be filed in the "war and supernatural disasters" category.
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A Persian army of 50,000 men was buried in a sandstorm in 525 BC. Remains still exist to this day!

http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/cambyses-army-...

And there are numerous accounts of entire ancient fleets sinking due to severe storms in the Mediterranean. I believe one Roman fleet sent by Justinian of around 100k troops sank on it's was to attack the Vandals in North Africa.
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Twice, Kublai Khan's Mongol fleets were destroyed by typhoons while attempting invasions against Japan. They didn't try a third time.
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xmfcnrx wrote:
A Persian army of 50,000 men was buried in a sandstorm in 525 BC. Remains still exist to this day!

http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/cambyses-army-...

And there are numerous accounts of entire ancient fleets sinking due to severe storms in the Mediterranean. I believe one Roman fleet sent by Justinian of around 100k troops sank on it's was to attack the Vandals in North Africa.


Anytime Cambyses is mentioned, I have to link this picture:



Cambyses Hurling Cats at the Egyptians
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Cambyses Hurling Cats at the Egyptians

Was he a Purrrrrsian?
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