I think I would have been better in 1914 to bypass Lille and continue my offensive towards the coast with the thought to cut Lille off from the rest of France. It would have still captured Lille with a lot less casualties for me. Those divisions I lost in capturing Lille never did get replaced. The equipment points are just too dear for everything else to spend the large amounts needed to replace divisional cadres.
This does point out the fact that losing a cadre is close to losing the use of that division for the rest of the war. The Germans need all of the equipment points from CR #1 (mobilizing the 0 movement artillery) for their upgrades and the field artillery units that are just placed into the replacement pool. Although the field artillery units are not very useful with entrenchments, they do have to be sent to the East front so they have to be paid for sooner or later. In addition, almost all of the equipment points produced during production cycles in 1915 are used in reorganizing the German army. The reorganization is really very necessary since it increases the number of divisions available to the Central Powers by about 50%.
If I had been able to keep the divisions whose cadres were eliminated in 1914 and the Lille battles in 1915, I would have had a better reserve to have sent down to Italy or used in an offensive against the French during 1915. This was really impressed on me when I was trying to put something together during 1915. The 1916 offensive also pointed out that Germany could have good effect against the French in 1915. My next game will see me be very careful with cadres.
The key to the game was the opening of the war in 1914. The destruction of the French 5th Army was the destruction of French morale. None of those units were ever replaced and the losses of divisional cadres meant that the Entente used their equipment points from CR #1 went to replace the divisional cadres rather than building their artillery units. Without artillery units, an offensive against entrenchments is just not going to work well.
The key to attacking entrenchments is artillery. Use the artillery in massive amounts of small bombardments (preferably on the 9 column at least) and the defenders will lose enough defense strength to make it worthwhile. This means that you have to have decent weather as the bad weather modifiers make bombardments harder.
The key to defending entrenchments is to have some good reserves. Don’t place everyone in the front line. Keep a strong mobile reserve, complete with artillery. Artillery just does not last long in the defensive line. They do not cadre and are usually easily destroyed. The only time to place artillery in the front line is to use them offensively. Although they can be used in defensive bombardments, they are best for this purpose if they are in the flanking corps, not the target hex.
Air is very useful – particularly for the tactical recon missions. Use more than a single air unit for recon if at all possible. This game saw several cases where three air units on tactical recon in 1916 (success on a 4+) still did not give the DRM. You really get to depend on that +1 DRM.
Our next game (probably starting in September) will see us switch commands. I hope to be able to come up with a good Entente plan that will see the French survive 1914 with a good National Will.