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Europa Games and Military History

Tag: March to Victory (page 1 of 5)

June I 1917

When compared to recent carnage, the scale of replacement activities in early June 1917 demonstrated both the changing face of the Entente war effort and the failing strength of its Central Powers’ opponents. Saxon replacements, half of them from Prussia, rejuvenated a Saxon division’s rifle regiments. German policy from the very beginning of DJ05 continues to be spending half Prussian manpower for all Saxon, Bavarian, and Wurtemburger units so that the latter three armies remain in the field for as long as possible in the face of steep declines in their manpower production.

Entente replacements moved to a wider array of units. Italian pilots ferried planes forward to repair an air group while the mountain recruit training depot emptied for the month by filling a cadre back to division strength. Italian and French sapper trainees in equal numbers renewed a regiment each. French forces repaired three air groups, refilled a rifle division’s cadre with infantrymen, upgraded a flak battalion into a regiment, replaced a field artillery regiment, and “replaced” the final two regiments of heavy artillery placed directly into the pool more than two years earlier. The Royal Air Force repaired an air group while the Royal Tank Corps replaced an engineer tank regiment.

British forces in northwest of Lille assailed grid 0521, just inland from the North Sea coast, in early June. The Royal Air Force made a small effort, faced minimal opposition, and usefully observed the battlefield in its only roll after flak and fighters. British artillery pounded German positions with two 25-point, six 16-point, and one 12-point shots for eleven disruption hits and cut the defense from 72 to 33 points. Reserve commitment and defensive air support lifted the defense to 40 and the British salivated their way to incompetence. Odds of 4.3:1 rolled downward and the worst combat roll brought the usual Both Exchange result.

British losses: 2x RP, one air unit, and four field artillery brigades eliminated; rifle division to cadre; 4.16 morale points

German losses: RP eliminated; air unit aborted; machinegun brigade reduced to remnant; three divisions to cadre; 3.5 morale points

Petain’s French continued their intermittent battering of grid 1919 in early June. A huge air battle, including a British combat air patrol with terrible luck on all three sides allowed successful aerial observation. Two 25-point, 16 16-point, and one 3-point bombardment shots scored a depressing 20 hits and reduced the defense from 110 to 69.75 before defensive bombing bumped it to 73.75. Petain and the Hind/Lud team both failed to usefully govern events. French chemical weapons consumed valuable frontline trenches that could have been better used by almost any other unit type while German gas mortars suffered terrible disruption from the French bombardment and could not attempt their own craft. Entrenchments offset national will but two successful engineer escalades supercharged the assault. The French, with a 3.2:1 attack, rolled downward then squandered their +3 modifier into yet another BX result.

French losses: 3x RP and engineer regiment eliminated; one mountain and four field artillery divisions reduced to cadre; 5 morale points

German losses: RP and field artillery division eliminated; one Saxon rifle, one Prussian trench, and two Bavarian rifle divisions to cadre; 5 morale points

After a month of combat in May, with a whole summer to go, Italy’s General Cadorna already wailed his misfortune at the limits of his mountain recruit training depots. This fortnight emptied the depots without replenishing his elite formations and no more trained men would reach the front until July. By mid-July, Cadorna would be attacking without an elite bonus and probably entirely in mountains where his regulars would suffer an additional disadvantage.

Meanwhile, Cadorna would not pause the offensive while the Austro-Hungarian Army retreated eastward toward its next solid defense line. First on the menu, Italian forces chewed on grid 4606 in an attempt to break through and unhinge the Central Powers’ defensive plan for the Ljubljana Gap. A small air battle preceded successful aerial observation and a normal Italian bombardment (“normal” translates to “embarrassingly weak”) wherein two 16-point and one 12-point shots scored two hits. The subsequent vigorous attack proved the third opportunity missed after national will offset rough terrain, Eugene failed to intervene, Italian elites offset trenches, and a successful engineer assault improved prospects. Odds of 4.5:1 rolled upward and hearts raced at headquarters before the +2 modifier still achieved only a BX result.

Italian losses: RP, engineer and light regiments eliminated; cavalry and mountain divisions to cadre; 3 morale points

Austro-Hungarian losses: air unit aborted, RP eliminated, two rifle divisions to cadre

A pair of Austro-Hungarian units straggled in grid 4406, a salient jutting from the interim defense line and shielding it at great expense when the Italians made their next advance. Italian forces easily achieved the maximum 6:1 mobile combat chart but suffered from wooded rough terrain and amazing defending flak shooting that left national will as the only Italian advantage. The -1 modifier and then rule 9M transformed easy victory into first a Defender Retreat and then a Half Exchange result.

Italian losses: light brigade eliminated, .67 morale points

Austro-Hungarian losses: fortress brigade and heavy flak regiment eliminated, 1 morale point

At the conclusion of the combat phase, British engineers deemed the Trieste factory repairable. To Italian outrage, British managers would begin hiring Slovenes in July as building materials and the latest machine tools began to flow to refit the facilities. The Slovenians would deliver ammunition and guns to Entente armies in May 1918.

Italian and German strategic bombing operations continued in their usual pattern but with skewed luck. All nine zeppelin groups found their targets and dodged flak but all missed with their bombs. Two Italian fixed wing groups flew, one to its common disaster at the hands of Stuttgart’s expert flak defenders and the other to hit Vienna for the first time in DJ05.

Air corps generals responded to steadily increasing force levels and aircraft type variety by increasing their counter-air bombing missions during summer 1917. The British and German air arms each suffered a group damaged on the ground during the first week of June.

Many German generals expect, sometime during the summer or autumn of 1917, to evacuate or retreat from their empire’s positions facing Maubeuge and approaching Lille. In support of a shorter line across the base of the salient, Dutch engineers completed the first DJ05 hex devastation and moved to begin work in the next hex. As a longer-term prospect, German engineers began actual construction of the first four improved forts in DJ05, all on the north or east bank of the Rhine River in The Netherlands or Germany.

Replacements continued to trickle toward the front lines throughout the fortnight. French troops accepted new 75’s to rebuild a field artillery division from cadre and French NCOs accepted graduates to do the same for a mountain division. Austro-Hungarians from across the polyglot empire brought two rifle divisions and an air group upward from damaged states. Germany exerted itself to repair three and replace one air group, replace a field artillery division, and rebuild two Bavarian and one Saxon divisions from cadre.

Austro-Hungarian forces evacuated the battlefield of mid-month in favor of a straightened front. In the south, the defense now sits firm with mostly Germans in mountainous Fiume then bristles with German and Austro-Hungarian guns in rough terrain running northward to the wooded hills west of the Ljubljana Gap. The western approach to the Gap is the next obvious Italian target, a final place in which their rifle divisions can fight without much disadvantage. Mountain after mountain for hundreds of miles is a fine description of the front from the Gap to the Swiss border with only some impassable terrain and the fortress of Trient to break the beautiful monotony.

British forces reacted to this continued rearward deployment with surprising vigor to attack the Germans holding rough terrain between Fiume and Ljubljana. Aerial observation passed with bloodless interception and successful picture taking. That and elite status counterbalanced trenches in rough terrain. Exactly 4:1 odds with no modifier produced the almost inevitable BX result.

British losses: RP eliminated, Canadian and British divisions to cadre, 2 morale points

German losses: RP eliminated, two Prussian divisions to cadre, 2 morale points

Notably, the Prussian corps in Austria-Hungary retains too shallow a manpower pool at this instant to refill either of those two drained divisions. Whether or how this will influence the course of the campaign remains unknown.

Cadorna roused himself and his staff to work through a Saturday, normally reserved for staff day at the beach. The weakened Italian mountain corps marched northwestward into the mountains. From their central position they could either countermarch to attack to Ljubljana or press onward to try to burst through and force back the Austro-Hungarian position between the Isonzo and Innsbruck.

On the Western Front proper, German generals desperately shifted units to replenish the front and prepare the next wave of conversions and withdrawals. For the historical Germans, 1917 was a hard year in the West. DJ05’s Germans find the situation the same.

British forces tried to keep up the pressure and massed in reaction to attack Brugge, grid 0521. A meaningful German air patrol intercepted the British observation mission and the ensuing air combat proved bloody. On the ground, Haig declined to commit and air units suffered the only famous casualties from the non-event.

British losses: one air group destroyed, 0.5 morale points

German losses: two air groups destroyed, 1 morale point

Further air action claimed more casualties in several sectors. A zeppelin hit Nottingham for a morale point. A French Voi8 scored possibly the first night bombing hit by a fixed wing aircraft in DJ05, punishing Stuttgart for a morale point. Italian fliers suffered a group damaged by flak while burning half a group of Austro-Hungarian float planes in Fiume harbor. French Sopwiths torched half a group of German fighters on the ground in the Ardennes.

The most superficially interesting situation in DJ05 at the moment is Entente air superiority. The Italians have numbers and the British competitive quality in Istria. French units significantly outnumber and have rough qualitative parity against the Germans between Metz and Neu Breisach. British units slightly both outnumber and outgun the Germans and Dutch around Brugge. Of the Entente, only the French have a single air group in the eliminated pool after the initial phase of Entente II JUN; the Germans and Austro-Hungarians are both already oversubscribed to their ARP income for July. This is mostly tangential to the larger conduct of the war, a very occasional attack missing a +1 modifier and perhaps two decimal points per turn of ground support bombing being available or not, but details matter and player morale is a consideration.

May II 1917

Late May 1917 arrived with clear and calm weather across the broad Western Front and anything but calm in and above the trenches of the opposing armies.

The French conducted only replacement activity during the Entente initial phase by repairing an air group and rebuilding a field artillery division from its cadre.

British forces along the Scheldt River misfired in late May. The feint in this sector in early May protected the Royal Flying Corps’ effort now as only one interceptor rose to contest the observation missions. The ensuing bombardment scored only 12 hits in 10 16-point and one 12-point shots, too few to encourage an attack by a British army lacking most of its best divisions, engineers, and tanks. Odds of 2.3:1 left the British with a roughly 30-percent chance of an AX and Haig cancelled the attack.

British losses: 1x RP, 1x damaged air group

Petain drove lavish air, armor, artillery, and engineer support straight down the road of attrition in late May, again pounding the defenses of grid 1919. Nine escort groups protected eight observation or reconnaissance groups from 18 intercepting air groups and the interceptors came out on top both in losses and in preventing useful aerial spying. French artillery inflicted 17 hits in 16 16-point and four 25-point shots, slightly low even considering the lack of observation. Heavy ground support bombing found a decimal roll upward in compensation for significant losses to flak. Petain offset entrenchments and two river hexsides did little to hinder four brigades of engineers however much the riflemen hated the shelling at the crossing sites. After a national will fillip and Ludendorf’s inexplicable disinterest, the French managed an astounding 5:1 chart and, with a +3 DRM, disappointingly scored only a DX.

German losses: RP, air group, and 12-5 field artillery XX eliminated; three Prussian rifle XX to cadre; 4.84 morale points lost

French losses: 3x RP, 3x air groups, and engineer X eliminated; rifle and field artillery XX to cadre; 4.17 morale points lost

We now note that German field artillery divisions mostly lack cadres and that this is a stark contrast from the French, who plan to enjoy their cadres repeatedly both because field artillery units cost mostly equipment and because their strengths are much higher per regiment than that of rifle divisions so their loss conserves morale.

The main British offensive of 1917 continued against Trieste with little urgency: the Italians being across the Isonzo would surely force the Austro-Hungarians to evacuate Trieste rather than face blows from two directions. Both Austro-Hungarian air groups intercepted the three local British reconnaissance groups and this time the former suffered for their impertinence even as their 10-points of flak friends and the army’s leader Eugene likewise failed miserably. After successful observation, British artillery finally registered on the fort, reducing it and scoring seven hits on units inside the perimeter. British armor barely contributed to this assault but national will, two successful engineer assaults, elite troops, and the first ever successful Entente gas attack boosted the British to a DL result on 3:1 odds with +5 DRM!

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP, air group, and coast artillery II eliminated; four rifle XX to cadre; 4.67 morale points lost

British losses: 2x RP and engineer III eliminated; Australian XX to cadre; 1.33 morale points lost

An elite corps began occupying the city and naval base but suffered bad disruption in the chaos.

Cadorna, still unhappy about the starring British role in his personal drama, pushed his troops hard in an attack across and northward along the east bank of the Isonzo. Italian forces already across the river suffered from their disorganization (being in a contested hex) but three halved hexes in open terrain is a great effort for the Italians. Four air groups dodged flak and successfully spotted for the slightly improving Italian artillery, which doled out four hits on three 16-point and one 12-point shots. Odds of 3.7:1 rolled upward but the Italian siege engineer made its 1-in-6 chance to self-eliminate. National will superiority nullified rough terrain while observation cancelled entrenchments. Elite attackers and two successful engineer assaults made the attack a likely solid victory but it nonetheless dissolved into an indecisive BX.

Austro-Hungarian losses: (no additional RP consumed); two rifle XX to cadre; 2 morale points lost

Italian losses: 3x RP, siege engineer X, and engineer III eliminated; two mountain and one rifle XX to cadre; 3.33 morale points lost

The Italian bridgehead over the lower Isonzo then became wholly Italian owned.

That the Central Powers part of the turn brought many replacement activities surprised nobody but French and Italian attacks in reaction phase proved the changing nature of the war in 1917.

Italy rebuilt one each rifle and mountain XX from cadre.

France rebuilt one each rifle and field artillery XX from cadre.

Prussia rebuilt four rifle and one mountain XX from cadre, repaired two air groups, and built six forts behind the Rhine River.

Austria-Hungary replaced an air group, rebuilt five rifle XX from cadre, and built 2x RE’s of rail capacity.

The Austro-Hungarian Army made substantial moves on what is no longer the “Isonzo-Trieste Front.” Along the middle Isonzo, the defenders retreated from a sector and gave the Italians a 35 mile wide bridgehead up that river from the Adriatic Sea. Further up the Isonzo, the reeling empire’s defenders pulled out of grid 4307, a waste of trackless mountains at the source of the Isonzo, to shorten the defensive position. Along the Croatian coast, various static and fortress units definitely left their beach resorts behind in favor of slow marches, using bullocks and men to pull guns and wagons northward.

On the main Western Front, the German armies scrambled both to keep up with unending redeployment and conversions and to patch holes poked by the Entente.

Two British armies near the English Channel reacted successfully, setting the stage for a potential shift in attack sectors in June.

Several French armies in the Metz region also activated, mostly to shift forces in preparation for the next assault but in one rare case to actually direct a reaction phase assault.

The French assault on grid 2018, from two hexsides with no relevant geographic protection, came as a surprise to both sides. Petain wrenched his army southward from near Metz and his men attacked without a barrage. Both sides of a large air battle, including two British groups, contributed to the carnage by dropping burning wreckage in quantity amidst the ground troops. National will, successful observation, and two successful engineer assaults more than offset woodlands and entrenchments. Ground support bombing raised moderate odds to 2.9:1, which rolled upward before an abysmal combat roll (1+2DRM) delivered yet another BX.

German losses: RP and two air groups eliminated; two air groups damaged; one each Prussian, Saxon, and Navy rifle XX to cadre; 4 morale points lost

French losses: RP, air group, engineer III, and field artillery II eliminated; one rifle and two field artillery XX to cadre; 4 morale points lost

Cadorna’s relentless pressure finally paid-off for the Entente in reaction of late May as he roused his staff to manage a mobile attack. Two heavy cavalry divisions led the attack but elite mountain troops provided the panache and field artillery much of the Italian firepower as they struck across one hexside into the foothills of the Alps Mountains east of the central Isonzo. Wooded rough terrain provided a lot of protection to the retreating Austro-Hungarians but elite troops, national will superiority, aerial observation, and adverse terrain expertise (a first for the war in Europe) advantaged the attackers far more. The Italians managed 4:1 odds, but another abysmal roll provided an HX result.

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP, engineer III, field artillery X, and rifle cadre eliminated; rifle XX to cadre; 2.33 morale points lost

Italian losses: RP and field artillery X eliminated; mountain XX to cadre; 1.33 morale points lost

A select Italian force advanced onto the battlefield, driving a salient between two forward-thrust Austro-Hungarian positions, the occupants of which will not all be able to escape into the Alps before the Italians and British can deliver some more hammer blows.

In the air, in late May, events proceeded in a broadly familiar fashion. Entente flak continued to deter maximum Zeppelin performance without bringing down any of the gas bags, one of which hit Milan. The Italian Ca-2 group renewed its defiance of the odds by again losing half its number to minimal flak over Stuttgart.

May I 1917 and Commentary

Entente generals deployed to conduct two major and two supporting offensives in the West during Spring 1917. Regular British forces at Oostende anchored the north end of the Entente line, which in its British sector curved to defend Lille then face the ruined fortress of Maubeuge before entering the fringe of the Ardennes. Eight miles of Portuguese then twenty-five miles of Belgians, heavily fortified in woodlands and somewhat behind rivers, connected the British to the French. From there, French trench divisions held the line roughly along the prewar frontier past Metz, then through the Vosges Mountains, and finally along the Rhine. The bulk of French artillery and the empire’s first-rate divisions massed southwest of Metz to attack in clear country toward that fortress. Italians held a small sector from Switzerland toward Trient but third-rate French units in mountainous forts held the semi-circle confronting that fortress. Italian forces resumed the front on the east flank of the Trient salient and watched the central Alps from there to the Isonzo River. More serious Italian forces massed to attack across that river down its entire length to the Adriatic Sea. Canadian and ANZAC forces, with British supporting arms and reserves, occupied Istria, confronted Trieste and Fiume, and enjoyed a strong Italian corps anchoring their right flank. Entente naval forces stood ready with naval gunfire support on the north coasts of Belgium and Istria, hovered in the Gulf of Trieste, and continued the distant blockade of Germany around the North Sea.

Anxious politicians read reports of near disaster from the British in Istria first, as the grand offensive wound up. In late April, British artillery only annoyed Trieste’s forts. In May, British events took a brief favorable turn when three British reconnaissance groups dodged a group of interceptors and heavy flak to report successfully the fall of shot. The bombardment again failed to degrade the fort but scored average bombardment hits, seven, and disrupted some defenders. Aerial observation for elite attackers offset the fort, Eugene failed to intervene but so did British gas (May 1917 and the Entente has still never succeeded in a gas attack) and four brigades of combat engineers. One of two tank regiments suffered moderate breakdowns at the start line and the adjusted 2.2:1 odds shocked the British who rolled downward but managed a BX result after a moderate combat roll and national will superiority.

British losses: 2x RP, 4-6-7 CAN motor MG III, and 12-4-4 eng tank III eliminated; one each CAN and AUS XX to cadre; -2.67 morale

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP eliminated; 5x XX to cadre; -5 morale

The British clearly began their war of material with these casualties, deliberately suffering large equipment losses to spare their limited manpower. The Austro-Hungarians, relatively flush with manpower, continued along the manpower-intensive road travelled by all the major participants so far.

Cadorna, unhappy at his supporting country being given a supporting role in the Entente victory offensive of 1917, directed a maximum effort across the lower Isonzo, along the coast toward Trieste – and his troops responded enthusiastically. One Austrian interceptor bypassed Italian escorts and missed four observer groups, which dodged light flak in turn. The observed bombardment scored five hits in five 12-point shots. The aircraft also offset Austrian entrenchments while Eugene failed to offset elite attackers or two successful engineer assaults. Despite the river, Italian forces achieved 3.1:1 odds attack and achieved a DL result despite rolling odds downward.

Italian losses: 2x RP and engineer X eliminated; XX to cadre; -1.67 morale

Austro-Hungarian losses: 2x XX’s to cadre; railroad siege artillery III eliminated by ZOC during retreat; -2.33 morale

Prussian losses: railroad siege artillery X eliminated by ZOC during retreat; -0.67 morale

The rail line paralleled the front here and the unexpected retreat left the railroad siege artillery, on coast defense duty, high and dry as probably the first siege artillery eliminated in DJ05.

Italian mountain divisions and field artillery swarmed across the Isonzo to occupy the critical ground. The advancing artillery scattered badly due to the contested hex but the mountain units did better than expected in that regard. During exploitation, several fresh units rotated in and disrupted in turn.

British forces massed northeast of Lille for the second Entente supporting offensive, a feint. Distant German air units naturally flew combat air patrols intensively over the obvious site of the upcoming battle and British fighters intercepted the patrols.

British losses: none

German losses: two air groups eliminated, -1 morale

The French attacked the Germans immediately south of Metz as the main Entente offensive of the summer. French siege artillery faced the iron fields around Briey in a diversion so the Germans in grid 1919 enjoyed slightly less defense than in the telegraphed location, but the attack was not a surprise. In a complicated swirl of patrol, interception, escort, reconnaissance, and flak, the Germans suffered and the French succeeded in spotting. French bombardment, 14 shots at 16 points and 5 shots at 12 points, scored 19 hits, a touch below average, the first indication of disappointment. Petain and his gas engineers failed but Ludendorff showed to advantage in the battle and, with entrenchments, offset two engineer assaults. Aerial reconnaissance and national will helped the French, but neither tank regiment moved forward of the start line. Either an average bombardment or a tank regiment fighting would have lifted the odds, but 3.9:1 rolled downward and what would have been DX remained BX.

French losses: 3x RP and engineer X eliminated; air group damaged; 1x rifle and 3x field artillery XX’s to cadre; -4.33 morale; French National Will to Four

German losses: RP and air unit eliminated; 4x XX to cadre; 2 air units damaged; -4.5 morale

The French planned for the entire German air force to be committed elsewhere and pounced on the chance to concentrate an air-ground attack on the narrow front at grid 2118. Aerial reconnaissance dodged minimal flak and spotted successfully while national will offset entrenchments. The narrow front allowed only one engineer assault, successful, but Petain again did not help the effort. Seven air groups, mostly Sopwith wing-and-a half models, swarmed over the Germans, again dodging flak, and uselessly brought the odds up to 3.7:1, which rolled downward for the fourth time this turn. After that mixed result, however, the attack went stunningly well for another DL, though in this case the French did not advance.

French losses: RP, engineer III, and field artillery III eliminated; -.67 morale

German losses: one each Wurtemburg and Bavarian trench XX’s to cadre; -1.33 morale

Italian bombers and German zeppelins performed miserably during early May. The Italians fled flak and missed city-sized targets. Zeppelins over Italy entirely failed to hit because of bad aiming at night rather than weather problems or flak. Weather over the North Sea turned-back numerous Zeppelins from England, but one group successfully bombed Kingston, which the British mysteriously (stupidly) left bereft of flak for the first time since 1914.

In ground reaction, Eugene ordered a few cadres off the line for imminent rebuild behind Trieste. Italian forces on the east bank of the Isonzo stood too strong for local German and Austro-Hungarian forces to counterattack.

Naval reaction proved to be the most exciting reaction of the game to date. Before the Entente blockade could transform to meet the new land situation, the Austro-Hungarian Navy ran the gauntlet from Trieste to Cattaro Bay. The fleet put to sea at night and sailed northwest along the coast toward the Isonzo, near which Italian artillery units hit five ships but not the crucial minesweepers. As the fleet passed the Isonzo, three units hit mines before Italian siege and coast artillery sank the minesweepers and hit other units. Beyond the Isonzo, the fleet dodged submarines and steered around the Entente fleet to open water. One minefield remained and heavy ships nobly sacrificed themselves to preserve smaller vessels in their wakes. Finally, as light dawned, two British air groups found the fleet and torpedoed a battleship. A ravaged fleet arrived at Cattaro Bay without six NT, one MW, four TB, two DD, one CD, four PD, and five BB hits, for a total of -21.5 morale points. Austria-Hungary’s naval power is permanently wrecked but Entente naval units moving into and out of the Adriatic Sea will forever require heavy units as escort.

Mine damage to ships, damage to transport ships, and aerial torpedoing were all DJ05 “firsts” in this adventure.

Austria-Hungary in mid-May 1917 is approximately 175, 200, or 225 morale points from surrender and is thus a permanent problem for the Entente. Influenza will probably destroy 25 morale points and Germany becoming shaken and collapsing another 75. If the Entente captures all of on-map Austria-Hungary, the tottering Empire will lose 11 morale points for economic assets. The Empire will suffer 21 morale points of losses out of theater before the end of 1918.

For a few days after the Austro-Hungarian fleet fled Trieste, British landing craft poked around east of Lussin Island while French legionnaires seized the island off Fiume. A scary Austrian air attack did not save the island but drove the ships away before they could work their way further down the coast.

On land in exploitation, British and French siege engineers re-entered the line, as did French trench divisions, while most offensive units pulled off the line to regain flexibility for the future.

The Central Powers half of I MAY brought immediate and prospective changes to the front line trace. German construction engineers built nine exposed sites behind the Rhine River into entrenchments, proving the few over-winter forts to be no anomaly. Austria-Hungary evacuated the Alpine salient west and northwest of Villach above the Isonzo. A corps of Germans moved through Austria to backstop the position at Trieste. Several mobility-impaired units moved away from coastal duty in Croatia as if to begin conceding Dalmatia to an active Entente.

Replacement activities indicated strong reasons for Germanic caution in ground operations. While Austria-Hungary rebuilt seven divisions, Prussia four, and Wurttemberg and Bavaria each one from cadre, the Italians, Canadians, and Australians each rebuilt only one rifle, plus two French field artillery divisions. Thirteen to five is not a sustainable casualty rate for either side to be on the losing end of. Prussia also replaced two and repaired one air groups.

In Italy, in reaction, Cadorna’s headquarters adroitly pulled numerous divisional, engineer, and artillery units off the line to ensure flexibility for the continued offensive.

Commentary on the Game so far

This game is my first time through the grand campaign and I should more thoroughly caveat my pronouncements with the acknowledgement both that I can be wrong about my predictions and that I have been proven wrong about some of them already. As an example, I did not foresee intensive flak accumulating at every Italian major city on-map (Naples and northward) so that the Zeppelins would fly at night and score many fewer terror hits that what the rules allow in theory.

The game  developed at odds from history for three dramatic and one boring reasons. One dramatic reason is the broken rules that allow invading friendly-controlled neutrals, which in this game the Germans can use to bend The Netherlands situation to such significant advantage that the Entente thought it wise to declare war and give that country’s military to the Central Powers rather than let the Germans conquer the country. The game may be developing such that doing it was a less good decision, but the Germans would still have been stupid not to conquer the place. A second dramatic reason the game is developing oddly was the Entente decision to invade Istria and the success found therein. That decision enabled everything that is coming in 1917 by smashing and stretching the Austro-Hungarians much more than historical. The final dramatic reason is that after early 1915 the Central Powers decided to eschew further attempts to move the front line forward – and very rarely tried even spoiling or counterattacks. This quiet was reasonable because of the offense-defense strength disparity in most units and the understanding that the only way the Entente can win the war is by breaking Germany completely, whereas Central Powers’ victory is guaranteed if they simply don’t utterly lose before the end of the campaign.

Not as dramatic but probably as important to the course of the game has been Entente reluctance to roll combat dice from which the result might reasonably be awful. The Italians are strong now because they refused to seriously risk AX and AL results dozens of times. Ditto the French and British. The Central Powers are doubtless stronger because of this too, but their relative losses from awful Entente battles would have been less so their benefit is correspondingly slight.

The synergy between Entente and Central Powers reticence leaves both sides in strong morale positions, with caveats. I think all major powers except Italy received some annual morale check benefits due to having suffered less than historical losses, but this applied particularly strongly to the French because of their massive relative historical weight in Entente offensives and defensives in 1915 and 1916. The French have been as low as National Will 3 but have thrice bounced upward. The Austro-Hungarians, however, seem to have an a-historically large quantity of morale points available to spend in the West – they have many more than their Italian opponents while the historical Italians apparently sought their own annihilation in battles that must have had widely greater Italian than Austro-Hungarian morale point costs. Conversely, the Italians appear to have an incorrectly small number of morale points in the game, given that their “historical” morale point levels seem to allow for very few Italian battles at all.

That said, the Entente morale advantage is a fleeting thing. The French will again shoot themselves down to National Will 3 before the Germans, who have been at 3 for over a year, finally fall to 2. The British haven’t bounced much and will certainly fall to 2, perhaps go shaken, or even collapse before the Germans reach National Will 2. The Italians look impressive next to the Austro-Hungarians, but the latter could only actually surrender if they actively tried to send out lone units to get surrounded and killed for double morale cost. It is a truly exceptional Entente attack that scores more morale points of Central Powers’ losses more than the Entente suffers and probably a hundred attacks have cost the Entente twice or more in morale points than the Central Powers suffered in repulsing them.

All this being said, and all this being useful reasoning behind how the game evolved over the years, there is another way a game might go if played after reading these reports. I propose that a valid German strategy might be repeatedly, selectively, and at high odds, in 1915 thru mid-1917, attacking the French Army with the aim of beating it in the field through attrition before weathering the final Entente offensive wave to a Germanic victory. French replacements dry up badly after 1915 and Entente equipment does not flow strongly until mid-1917, so the French could be progressively reduced to ever smaller sectors. So many French units are such total trash that German attacks in a sustained offensive could chew into them with wildly disparate morale effects and so cripple French morale that even with tanks and masses of artillery from mid-1917 they would be unable to conduct sustained combat. From late-1917, a Caporetto Offensive, using all the historical advantages of the moment provided by the rules and OB, could clobber the Italians and remove them as much of a threat, as historical. The British and later the Americans would then have to hold wider sectors than historical and be less able to push a real war-winning offensive even while the good German units went back to chewing on the French to magnify the effect and perhaps even get a French surrender. The Germans’ problem in DJ05, if it is real, is that the French aren’t going to stop attacking ever again now that they have a full-strength army and piles of tanks and artillery on which to suffer losses.

The other long-term discrepancy between the game and history is in food. In the game, despite not gaining territory in northern France, the Central Powers will not suffer hunger before very late 1918 and possibly not ever. Food importation rules and conquering friendly neutrals drove the nails into that coffin.

Ludendorff gets his will

We are grateful to announce that Eric Pierce has graciously given permission for his MTV Battle Scenario “Battle of Liege” to be published on these pages. The less-than historical achievements of the German side in the initial moves of several “March to Victory“-playtests have been discussed for years on- and offline. As usual, several fixes has been advanced and rejected.

Today Eric, one of the designers originally involved in the great War Series, shares his take on a more balanced (if the term is approriate for a steamroller stomping a small neutral neighbour into submission within a couple of weeks) approach to the first moves of any “Great War” game. Wether it manages to resolve the issues plaguing the German Juggernout – find out for yourself!

March to Victory at Europafest 1998

Entente: Jim Broshot, Patrick Haugh (Carl Tuisku as occasional guest commander)
Central Powers: Carl Kleihege, D. T. Moon
This game report was also published in TEM 71

Special Invasion Turn:

CP takes the Ardennes, attacks Liege and Bruxelles. Bruxelles falls to attack by two CP Cavalry divisions and a Jager III – the cavalry has 7 fatigue hits, the Jager three. The Jager III is lost in an exchange. The factory is destroyed and the Belgium government is captured. Liege is attacked and captured, but the CP losses three Eng IIIs trying to use the EEC.

Entente Aug II 14

Unsuccessful attempts to retake Bruxelles and advanced after retreating CP cavalry into the Ardennes. French advance to the Rhine in the south, an AP result was followed up by a two CP division advance which is cut off just south of Nancy.

Central Powers Aug II 14

Attack and captured Namur after the newly rebuilt Eng IIIs once again suicide trying to use EEC. Forced back French army in Belgium. CP attack in the south re-established contact with the forward 2 Prussian rifle divisions and continues to expand the hole in the French line down the Moselle toward Nancy with 2 heavy cavalry corps. Forward of Metz, the French 4th Rifle Corps is retreated back across the Franco-German border. Reaction phases: the French 3rd army counter-attack in the south traps and destroys the 2 lead CP divisions. French Plan 17 finally dissolves with a suicide attack from Ligny at 1:4 on the Mobile Ground Combat table, resulting in the loss of that ore field.

Entente Sep I 14

Reorganization of the French army to reflect reality. Prompt change to defensive along the line. Attempted attacks on the BEF and in the Ardennes during Reaction Phase result (with two bad die rolls) in large CP losses.

Central Powers Sep I 14

Northern flank reorganizes from previous losses. Line is stalled along Namur-Bruxelles-Antwerp line (with first two in CP hands). Bombardment of BEF does not yield sufficient results to raise CP morale to attack them. Southern flank attacks French at Luneville forcing the French corps back with heavy losses.

Entente Sep II 14

Reallocated their British assets and moving forces north.

Central Powers Sep II 14

The CP players rolled badly on 5 attacks and gave up Bruxelles on an AR, and failed miserably versus 2 of the 3 hexes of the French salient sitting in front of Nancy. A battered 1st Bavarian Rifle Corps achieved contact with the Nancy sector at a high cost (7 front line divisions were cadred in the south.)

Entente Oct I 14

Reorganize to hold Bruxelles and position better defense around Nancy. CP Reaction Combat advances north of Ligny.

Central Powers Oct I 14

In a dedicated effort to turn the tide before the autumn rains, Falkenhayn himself appears at 6th Bavarian Army HQ, looking to lift spirits in the general vicinity. Just before the planned attacks, the Field Marshal calls for a zeppelin raid on Nancy, which was unfortunately ineffectual, but energized for the German forces nonetheless. In the north, the attack on Antwerp resulted in a mutual bloodbath between attacking CP forces and the Belgians. A further attack between Namur and Bruxelles is bloodily repulsed and the CP forces are routed from the front with heavy casualties. German victory northeast of Nancy took the form of the decimation of the French 20th Rifle Corps and the Germans gaining 3 hexes adjacent to Nancy. Just west of Luxembourg, the French city of Longwy changed hands for the 3rd time as the German 5th Reserve Rifle Corps occupied the area.

Entente Oct II 14

The weather is still clear. General Nivelle, Commander of the Southern Group of French Armies (Broshot) is detached for liaison duty with the Grand Fleet, and is replaced by General Petain (Tuisku). The Entente begins to dig entrenchments.

Central Powers Oct II 14

The CP digs entrenchments in the North. Major reorganizations start to take place to reflect the lessons learned so far in the war.

Strategic attention is briefly directed to the South as Falkenhayn seems to have made some progress there earlier in the month. However, crack Prussian intelligence has determined that new french fortifications (coordinated trenches laced with barbed wire) must be tested before launching a major offensive. This decision coincides nicely with the likely onset of worsening weather across the continent.

Entente Nov I 14

Mud has arrived. All is quiet except for the sounds of digging.

Central Powers Nov I 14

Everyone digs in and recovers. Maneuvering of forces to be in position for possible future attacks.

Major reorganizations of Saxon and Wurtemburger divisions. Prussian and Bavarian replacements arrive in the fortress of Strassburg, reconstituting all divisions in the failed late September offensive save three Bavarian.

Entente Nov II 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers.

Central Powers Nov II 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers.

Entente Dec I 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers.

Central Powers Dec I 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers.

Entente Dec II 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers.

Central Powers Dec II 14

Play goes quickly as everyone sits and recovers. Glad Christmas tidings come as the CP Zepplins score their first hit on the French factory at Saint Quentin.

Entente Jan I 15

Successful CP reaction in the middle of the line. General Nivelle returns to command, having narrowly escaped death at the hands of SMS Goeben.

Central Powers Jan I 15

Units shift, reorganizing and planning for the future.

Entente Jan II 15

Units shift, reorganizing and planning for the future.

Central Powers Jan II 15

The first attack in a long time occurs as the CP attack the Antwerp fortress defended by the BEF. The battle was fought to a bloody draw.

Entente Feb I 15

The BEF reorganizes around Antwerp to continue its protection.

Central Powers Feb I 15

The CP build up around Antwerp for future operations against the city.

Entente Feb II 15

Reorganize and collect units for the future.

Central Powers Feb II 15

Reorganize and collect units for the future. Only a few divisions conduct active maneuvers along the Franco-German border, and, suspiciously, the Germans units east of Nancy are busy being particularly quiet.

Entente Mar I 15

Strange odors have been noticed drifting over from the German entrenchments. Realizing that the winter “armistice” might soon come to an end, last minute preparations are conducted.

Central Powers Mar I 15

After nearly six months of inactivity along the Franco-German border, Falkenhayn once again arrives at 6th Army HQ, directing a massive, concentrated effort versus Nancy. Eighteen first-line divisions of the Prussian, Bavarian and Wurtemburger contingencies are unleashed on the well-entrenched French positions just east of the target city. The preliminary bombardment proved to be symbolic as CP forces were repulsed in the full assault. Although several combat and siege engineering units managed to influence the battle significantly, the newly formed 36th Pioneer Gas Engineers wrote off the 1st Battle of Nancy as a training evolution. Losses on both sides were astronomical: over 100 strength pts for the French and well over 200 pts for the Germans for one attack.

Entente Mar II 15

The Entente is able to reconstitute almost to their full strength prior to the Central Powers assault at Nancy. A desperate CP attempt to force the issue results in even more confusion at 6th and Gaede Army HQs. The rain-soaked soldiers on both sides of the line are silently thankful for the chance to recover in these last weeks of a grim winter.

Analysis

8 March 1915

Without a German breakout into and through Belgium, the French defenses along the German border benefitted immensely from not having to siphon off troops to patch up the north. Even prior to the onset of positional warfare sometime in October ’14, my recommendation to future Central Powers High Commands: if the 1st-3rd German Armies do not reach Mons and environs by September ’14, resist the temptation to go on the offensive along the Franco-German border. Instead: save the combat supply, save the troops and (replacements!), save the German national morale, build a double line of forts starting in February ’15, and maintain the morale advantage given you by French losses in Plan 17. Reassess the odds after the spring ’15 rains.
Feldmarshal Kronprinz Mond (D. T. Moon)

The French Armies were blessed with a suicidal offensive plan, a glitch in the scenario rules, and abysmally bad dice rolling….by their opponents. Plan XVII forced Third Army’s VI Corps to suicide on the Boche breastworks, while the Fifth Army set up and moved farther north than General Staff had ordered. Despite this, combats before the rains came and the leaves fell resulted in many German casualties and the retention of two of three border hexes that contain the resources vital to the French war economy. However the return of good weather in the Spring will probably lead to the fall of Nancy. Siege warfare, WWI style, is elegant and bloody to both attacker and defender.
General d’Armee Nivelle (Jim Broshot)

The strong left flank of Fifth Army was critical to the early stabilization of the Entente line far forward in Belgium. Rash utilization of scarce resources in the opening phase of the campaign by Fifth Army was offset by two catastrophic German assaults south of Brussels. The BEF was able to relieve Belgian forces in Antwerp. The resulting line, running from Antwerp-Brussels, with adequate manpower reserves, proved adequate throughout the winter. Attritional winter warfare at Antwerp drained the manpower reserves of the BEF. It is unlikely that future Entente players will be able to duplicate this forward defense without incurring unacceptable fatigue in Aug II.. The artillery support available to the BEF is inadequate throughout 1914 and early 1915, limiting their offensive ability.
Sir John French (Patrick Haugh)

The stalling of the CP right flank just past Bruxelles was the key to the game. Errata will fix this, and it will be interesting to see just how far the CP flank can advance. There was enough taste of trench warfare to indicate that a large amount of planning and preparation must be made to start a successful battle, let alone shift your emphasis from one portion of the front to another.
Feldmarshal Carl von Kleihege (Carl Kleihege)

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!

After Thoughts – Central Powers

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.

Final War Status

Just shy of two years of war in Western Europe before the French surrender. The following are the end totals:

Entente Status

Belgium has 17.5 Morale Points for a National Will of 1. They have lost a total of 103 Manpower points.
Britain has 156 Morale Points for a National Will of 3. They have lost a total of 410 British, 15 Indian, and 83 Canadian Manpower points. This is a grand total of 508 Manpower points.
France has 0 Morale Points for a National Will of 0. They have lost a total of 107 African, 143 Colonial, 13 Foreign, and 1190 Metropolitan Manpower points. This is a grand total of 1453 Manpower points.
Italy has 63 Morale Points for a National Will of 2. They have lost a total of 320 Manpower points.
Entente Equipment points lost are 1305.
Total Manpower points lost are 2384.

Central Powers Status

Germany has 484.5 Morale Points for a National Will of 3. They have lost a total of 190 Bavarian, 1070 German, 114 Saxon, and 73 Wurttemburg Manpower points. This is a grand total of 1333 Manpower points.
Austria/Hungary has 163.5 Morale Points for a National Will of 2. They have lost a total of 78 Manpower points.
Central Powers Equipment points lost are 850.
Total Manpower points lost are 1411.

It is obvious from the numbers above that the Central Powers won the war mostly through attrition. The drastic changes from February, 1916 to the end of July, 1916 show the effects of the prolonged German offensive which started in January, 1916 and kept up until the French surrendered. The final counts show that the Central Powers had a 50% edge in casualties over the Entente.

Jul I 16

One of the French factory at Lyons is damaged and cannot produce this cycle. The Entente do manage to produce 18 resource and 12 equipment points, one more each than the historical production. The French call up their Training & Replacement Garrison. They will not be in the game long enough for the loss of replacement points to matter.

The French deploy forward, maxing out as many of their corps as possible, using the Training & Replacement Garrison units. The British put together another group of units capable of offensive actions in the Soissons area and rebuild their Lens offensive units for continued action. The Italians begin to strengthen their defenses of both Verona and Milano.

The bombardment on Lens completely misses – six rolls of 1s and 2s! The attack goes on anyway and a bloody exchange results. The attack towards Soissons is on the Mobile CRT as the Germans have not bothered improving the captured fieldworks. This rare occurrence (the first in at least 18 months) on this front sees the British hit with a Cavalry charge! The charge actually succeeds for a final of 4.8:1 with a DRM of -1. Unfortunately, Tom then rolls a 1(0) for a modified 0 on the 4:1 column – and the British retreat! The German defenders jump forward and capture Compiegne and only one hex separates the German front line from Paris.

The Zeppelins mass over Lyons and get a terror bombardment hit on the city. The German 3rd Army reacts and presses the advantage given to it by the British. The German 5th Army reacts and does a fast build up against the French 12th Corps. The German 5th Army attacks the British 8th Corps across the Marne and gets a DL result. The German GR Corps advances over the Marne River.

The Entente lost 36 British, 14 Canadian Manpower, and 16 Equipment points. The Central Powers lost 16 German, 2 Wurttemburg Manpower, and 52 Equipment points.

Tom: As you can tell, the French cause is hopeless. Since it is, things are really breaking out all over. A successful cavalry charge in 1916! Of course, I would have preferred to have the ‘6’ I rolled for its success switched for the ‘1’ I rolled for the combat. I would have had to cadre a cavalry division, but the combat result would have been a DR instead of the AR. To add insult to the injury, the German 5th Army reacts with the German’s area reserve corps just sitting there waiting for something and able to help push back the British 8th Corps to cross the Marne River. It almost seems like 1918, only the game date is only 1916. I do not expect the French to last the turn. They will most likely surrender during my next initial phase. The only thing now is to cause those pesky Germans some casualties and morale point losses for the final tally.

The Central Powers produce 22 Resource and 20 Equipment points, one more of each than was historical. The Zeppelins do their job raiding Lyons and score another terror bombardment hit. The Germans mass for another set of attacks against the French. The Austrians mass for another crack at Verona, hoping to capture the city before the French surrender and end the war.

The Austrians attack across the Adda River near Lake Como and capture the mountain hex from the Italians. The joint Austrian-German attack on Verona starts with a bombardment. The attack ends in a BX result. The Germans now attack the French 15th Corps just south of Epernay. The bombardment is partially successful and the French retreat from a DL result. The next attack is against the French 16th Corps on the other side of Epernay. The actual bombardment and attack are called off as the air battle is resolved with the French losing a fighter unit and their morale hits zero.

The British fail to react and the turn now ends.

The Central Powers lost 12 Austrian, 10 German, 8 Bavarian Manpower, and 17 Equipment points. The Entente lost 20 Italian, 16 French African, 10 French Colonial, 4 French Metropolitan, and 26 Equipment points. The French will surrender in the next Initial Phase as their morale has hit zero for the second time.

Carl: In a little short of two years of combat and the great European War is over with the Central Powers victorious. There are not too many things I can say here that I will not cover in my final notes, so see those for further details. In the meantime – – – – I WON !!!!!

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