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March to Victory at Europa Fest 1999

Entente: Carl Kleihege, Richard Banks, James Hapner
Central Powers: Courtenay Footman, Marc Elwinger, Jim Broshot
This game report was also published in TEM 71

We played the Feb I 15 start scenario with rolling for Italian entry in Mar 15 but definitely entering the war in May 15. We halved all resource point production after calculating the production with transfers and withdrawals and rounding .5 up.

Feb I 15 Turn

The starting turn was quiet with the Central Powers conducting some small unsupplied bombardments on the British forces without effect.

Feb II 15 Turn

German 1st Army react and attacks the French 3rd Corps but is stopped. The German bombardment cadres a British division and the French 3rd Corps is destroyed in an unsupplied attack. The Germans capture their first hex.

Mar I 15 Turn

The Germans continue to grind down the French without expending combat supply, capturing two more hexes from them.

Mar II 15 Turn

The French attempt to put a new line together. The Germans continue scattered attacks without using supply.

Apr I 15 Turn

The weather clears and the British counter attack the Germans at Lens. The attack destroys an artillery division and two cadres. The Germans react and capture Ypres. The Germans continue their attack in their turn and capture Dunkerque.

Apr II 15 Turn

The British recapture Dunkerque and the Germans try to recover it unsuccessfully.

May I 15 Turn

Italy joins the Entente. The British and French armies strengthen their front line defenses. The German bombardments eliminate a British Territorial Division.

May II 15 Turn

Italy attacks Austria and manages to cross the Isonzo River and cut the rail line into Trient. The Austrians counterattack and fail to reopen the supply line. The Italians react and assault Trient, capturing the city with an AX result.

Jun I 15 Turn

The French and British continue to strengthen their defenses while the Italians continue to stream into Austria. The Austrians fall back and build up defensive lines. The Germans attack the British and are stopped in a bloody exchange. The French react and attack the Germans near Arras, recapturing the hex.

Jun II 15 Turn

The French continue their army reorganization. Italy attacks towards Triest against the Austrians. The Germans continue to conduct unsupplied bombardments against the French and British.

Jul I 15 Turn

Italians are rebuffed while pressing towards Innsbruck but carry the entrenchments in front of Triest. The British and French continue their reorganizations. The Germans fall to a National Will level of 3 and the Austrians fall to a National Will level of 2.

Jul II 15 Turn

The Italians capture another hex near Trieste. The British recapture Ypres with the aid of armored cars. The French hit the Germans around Soissons in an attempt to cut off a German Corps. The Germans pull back to Soissons, giving up another captured hex.

At this point, we had to call the game. The Central Powers won a minor victory with 106 victory points to the Entente’s 90. We did continue with one more operation (to try out the naval rules) before we packed up as follows:

The Naval Battle

The Italian Navy sailed to perform Naval Ground Support at Trieste to aid the Italian assault. The Austrian Navy reacted and a naval battle occurred near Pola. Although the first round saw the Italians be slightly damaged without effect on the Austrian Navy (and Jim said that in a real game he would have tried to disengage at this point), the second round saw the Italians adjust tactics and pound the Austrians at long range with three hits and two extra damage. The Austrian Navy tried to flee, but the Italians kept up with them and hit them hard for another round before the Austrians finally managed to escape. This naval battle saw the Italians absorb two hits on a BB, one on a CA, and one on a CD (for a total of 10 morale points lost). The Austrians saw nine hits on their PDs, one on their BB, two on a CA, and one on a CD (for a total of 36 morale points lost). A resounding Italian victory! The Italian navy continued to Trieste and managed to deliver 11 Heavy Artillery and 40 Siege Artillery bombardment points (the equivalent of 13 REs of artillery) to the hex while losing another 8 morale points of small ships. If the Italians had been smart enough not to take their entire fleet and leave the DD and TB units behind, most of these losses would have been avoided.

Comments

We played this scenario for various reasons. One, it avoided all of the Plan 17/Schlieffen Plan rule controversies. Second, it would allow us to see if the French could hold its own if the Entente were able to perform as well as history. And third, with the halving of resource point production to see if the game was more realistic in the 1915 period (which historically saw both sides short on combat supply). We all agreed that the Entente (who had over 110 equipment points in their replacement pool and no destroyed divisional cadres) where definitely in better shape than any report I have seen of the Entente in 1915. The limited resource points saw the Central Powers performing both bombardments and attacks without using combat supply while forcing the Entente to do so. The Entente never did totally run out of combat supply, but they were down to only two resource points in Apr II 15.

March to Victory at Europafest 2000

Central Powers:  James Hapner (1st & 2nd Armies), Marc Elwinger (3 & 4th Armies), Brian Putman (5th, 6th, & 7th Armies)

Entente:  Dave Stokes (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, & 7th Armies), Carl Kleihege (4th, 5th, British, & Belgian Armies)

Surprise Turn:

The German 1st and 2nd Armies take Liege.

Aug II 14 Turn:

The Entente counterattack against Liege and in the Ardennes without too much success. The French 1st Army is able to destroy the Bavarian 1st Reserve Corps south of Metz. This attack finished the Plan 17 requirements.

Central Powers reaction decimated the French 5th Army in the Ardennes and moved forward.

Central Powers force their way through Belgium to Namur causing casualties to the BEF and 5th Army units in the Ardennes. A counter attack south of Metz partially closes the hole caused by the loss of the Bavarian 1st Reserve Corps. An attack on the French 7th Army results in disaster as two Corps from the German 7th Army are forced to retreat.

Entente reaction fails in their attempts to cut off the leading German spearhead in the Ardennes.

Sep I 14 Turn:

The Entente forces reorganize into defensive positions. The French 4th Army starts to pull back from the Ardennes. The French 5th Army HQ runs away to Mons and accumulates a large amount of fatigue hits. The BEF pulls behind the Scheldte River in Belgium while the Belgian light division defends Bruxelles. The French 7th Army attacks next to the Rhine River and destroys a Wurttemburg mountain brigade.

The Central Powers react and take Namur, Bruxelles, and advance out of the Ardennes forest taking out the French cavalry screen.

The German cavalry blow through the hole where the French cavalry died, taking the San Quentin factory. Additional forces move up and continue to pressure the French and British in Belgium.

Reactions by the Entente have French units isolating the German cavalry units.

Sep II 14 Turn:

The Belgian light infantry division runs down the Belgian – Netherlands border and destroys two German supply depots and the 2nd Army HQ. The British retreat behind the Scheldte River. The French destroy the three isolated German cavalry divisions. The French 1st Army, continuing Plan 17 voluntarily, captures another hex in Alsace – Lorraine in the Vosges Mountains.

The Central Powers fails to react to the Entente movements.

During the exploitation phase the Belgian light infantry division prepares to invade Germany! (Unfortunately the rules prohibit this until Oct I 14.)

The Central Powers clear the damaged rails in Belgium preparing to relieve their newfound supply problems. French cavalry are overrun near Maubeuge area while the Belgian light infantry division is surrounded. An isolated French corps is destroyed in the Belgian forest near Namur. Maubeuge is surrounded and assaulted but the brave French defenders hold on. The Germans attack across the Scheldte River against the British cavalry. The French have fallen to a NW of 4.

Only the French 1st Army is able to react with just small shifting of its units.

Oct I 14 Turn:

The clear weather holds. The Entente prepares to entrench their units next turn and reorganize for a stronger defensive line. The Belgians and British start to pull back from the Antwerpen area but are complicated by the German bridgehead north of the Scheldte River.

The German 4th and 1st Armies react. The 4th Army captures a hex near Longwy while the 1st attacks Maubeuge, which holds its ground. The 1st Army also attacks the BEF with success almost cutting off the British and Belgian Armies but fails attacking the French near Lille.

Central Powers force their way towards Verdun from the north. 1st Army is repulsed near Lille again but force back the Belgian and British Armies. Maubeuge finally falls.

Entente reactions allow them to close the holes formed by the German attacks.

Oct II 14 Turn:

The weather stays clear. The British and Belgian Armies reach the coast. The British counter attack against the leading German divisions and force them back with some losses to the Germans. The French reorganize their defenses while beginning to entrench.

The Central Powers attacks an entrenched French corps near St Quentin and suffers an exchange.

The Central Powers advance and press the British and Belgian armies against the coast. Their attacks send the remnants of the British and Belgians running into Dunkerque. Attacks near Lille and Verdun continue to gain some ground.

The Entente uses their reactions to strengthen the weaker parts of their line and prepare to entrench more of their line.

Nov I 14 Turn:

The weather continues to obey the German wishes and remains clear. The Belgian Army pulls behind the line to rebuild the army from the replacement pool. The British form a line from Lille to Dunkerque (all of two hexes long) in order to do the same. The French abandoned Longwy to consolidate their defensive lines. The French reorganize, rebuild, and dig more entrenchments.

The Central Powers attack Lille and are stopped.

The Central Powers continue to maneuver to attack the French. An attack at Lille is stopped again. Antwerp and Dunkerque are captured as the defenders are forced back. The British fall to a NW of 4.  The German 4th Army at the cost of great casualties eliminates a French corps near Reims. Germany is now at NW of 4.

Entente reaction does not happen.

Nov II 14 Turn:

The weather finally turns to mud. The Entente works hard at building up their front line units, but a manpower shortage makes that very difficult.

The Central Powers use their reaction to reorganize their forces.

The Central Powers capture a hex near Lille forcing back a French corps. Another attack hit the BEF and caused heavy British casualties.

The Entente was not able to react.

Dec I 14 Turn:

The weather is now snow. The Entente tries to build up their front lines. The reconstituted Belgian Army defends a hex near Lille. The British manage to continue to defend from Lille to the English Channel. The French send several divisions from the south to help in the defense in the Lille and Reims areas.

The Central Powers fail to react.

The German 1st Army pushes back the new Belgian army and nearly surrounds Lille. Another attack at St. Quentin fails for the Germans as they suffer huge casualties to destroy a French division and the French hold the hex.

The Entente center reacts and starts to send more troops north.

Dec II 14 Turn:

The weather is now snow. The British scramble to hold their line. The French withdraw from Lille leaving only a token garrison. More troops move to the northern flank to help the defense there.

The Central Powers are not able to react well.

The Central Powers attack  the British link into Lille and are held. The attack on the reduced Lille defense fails to carry the hex as the Germans put TOO much strength into the attack and fail to take it. (DX result on a 9:1 versus a BX guarantee on a 6:1.)

The Entente react and send some more units further north.

Jan I 14 Turn:

A winter thaw occurs and the weather turns to mud. The Entente reorganizes and strengthens their front line defense.

A Central Powers attack near Reims has little effect other than to lower the French NW to 3. Lille falls to a determined assault by the German 1st Army. A further attack destroys a British corps to the north of Lille.

The German 1st Army crashes into the British army and decimates them.

The Entente is able to react to disengage portions of the British army and start to pull them back.

Jan II 14 Turn:

The Entente builds entrenchments behind the Somme River and the British Army begins to retreat to it.

The Central Powers are not able to react.

The Central Powers hit the Belgian and British armies as they withdraw, destroying the Indian cavalry corps and pushing back the Belgian corps from their trenches.

At Game´s End:

The final moral ratings:

Britain:                   237 (NW = 4)

France:                   271 (NW = 3)

Belgium: 22 (NW = 1)

Germany:                764.5 (NW = 4)

Victory Points:

Germany = 345

Entente = 108.5

According to Feb I 15 OB (Historical Result):

Britain:                   292 (NW = 4)

France:                   295 (NW = 3)

Belgium: 50 (NW = 1, down to 0 once)

Germany:                670 (NW = 4)

Historical Victory Points:

Germany = 296

Entente = 230

Final Thoughts

James Hapner (German Right Flank Commander):

Our strategy was simply to load up the right side and keep plugging away. I didn’t push as aggressively toward Brussels as I probably should have on the surprise turn.  When the British came forward as far as they did, I made it a priority to attack their units,  knowing they were only gradually replaceable. I was happy to see the Entente entrench since it made it possible to make more attacks per turn. This is because a 2 or 3 to 1 attack is acceptable on the attrition table since you will almost always kill at least some Entente units. When attacking on the mobile table, we aimed for 6-1 odds as much as possible. I doubt we ever attacked at less than 4-1 add one to the roll.

The navies stayed in port with the British patrol force taking a few pot shot hits from CP light forces. In 1914 the air forces don’t play much of a role. I tried to play as if the war would continue rather than ending after Jan 1915. It would be interesting to see how things would go if we had continued. The British were rebuilding and wouldn’t be much of a factor. I suspect the French were in better than usual shape. They would have to cover more front than usual so I think things were promising for the German Spring offensive.

Marc Elwinger (German Left Flank Commander):

The Entente rushed into Belgium on their first turn. They set up in good terrain except they failed to dislodge on a jager regiment and kept the French from straightening their line. This let the Germans get three hex sides on several hexes and the French defensive line never got established, spending several turns recoiling back. The successful (but expensive) British defense in Belgium prevented us from establishing supply lines beyond the Ardennes Forest stopping the most successful breakthrough. Trying to maintain the initiative, the German cavalry made a deep raid into northern France disrupting the French logistics just as the French line stiffened. The cavalry got cut off and destroyed.

In the south, the French made some initial advances under Plan 17 and the Germans failed to recover that terrain. German attacks all failed to retake the ground with losses that let the French counter attack and gain two more hexes. The Germans spent the last half of the game just making attrition attacks.

By the end of the game, about 30% of the German army was cadred.

Dave Stokes (Entente Southern French Flank):

Even though the CP won a substantial victory in the game (a decisive victory downgraded due to not knocking the France or GB out of  the war), I feel that our performance as the Entente was not too bad.  We were in better shape as far as front line strength than the French usually are in games I have seen in the past.  Of  course the British were pretty well mauled, but the Germans often seem to prefer to go after the BEF instead of  moving swiftly toward Paris.  In this game, we sort of forced them to do so by being aggressive with the British on Turn One.  At any rate, I find it hard to consider it a substantial CP victory in this scenario if they never really come near Paris.

Also, I think that the Germans left way too much force in the south, especially as unwilling they seemed to be to attack in the area.  If you are going to commit a lot of force in the south as the Germans, I figure that you should be willing to use it.  Given the way they were playing, I may have been too quick to withdraw  voluntarily from exposed hexes like 1919 or 2018.  If  I had not withdrawn form these hexes to shorten my lines so I could send units north, I might have provoked them into committing even more heavily in the area, drawing even more strength from their right flank .  Anyway, I felt pretty good about still holding 4 hexes of Alsace-Lorraine at the end of the game.

Overall, I thought it was a fun, interesting, if atypical game.  Both sides made some unusual but defensible strategic choices while avoiding any major tactical  blunders.  That generally makes for an entertaining game.

Carl Kleihege (Entente Northern French Flank, Belgians, and British):

Before the game, Dave and I reached a good plan – do a strong and well thought out Plan 17 while having my commands retreat as fast as possible towards Paris and let the Germans stretch themselves out following. It was a good plan – too bad we ignored it! The sight of the German Army barely across the Meuse River after the Special Invasion Turn was too tempting. As it was, the Germans only held a single hex over the Meuse after the Entente Aug II 14 turn. But my inability to roll a combat roll above a 1 costs me dear in the Ardennes as a single jager regiment holds out and leaves a hole in my line.

After that the game went straight ahead. I plotted the wrong amount of German movement points several times and had my cavalry screen too close and it was overrun. Part of the problem came from the Germans forgetting to set up their ten cavalry divisions in their initial setup and using them as Aug II 14 reinforcements that got me good. The British paid for their presumptive forward deployment.

One thing I did do wrong was I dug in anticipating bad weather that never came. I should have continued to retreat until the weather turned – there were no morale point losing cities in the area and I had plenty of room before I was close to defending the outskirts of Paris.  Another case of live and learn I guess.

Overall, it was a good game. Dave and I managed to keep the Entente in the war, something that is very hard to do when you start in August, 1914. The retreat of the left flank is necessary to avoid the Germans chewing up the French without the French being able to do anything in return. I will definitely have to play the game again as the French and actually stick to the plan this time!