Europa Games and Military History

Tag: MtV (Page 2 of 10)

October I 1916

Entente Turn

With a weather roll of 6, mud arrived with October 1916 and the players duly committed to fast-forward through the entire month, with neither contemplating ground attacks.

The French high command scrapped one of its two Russian brigades, enabling replacement of the other, which in Spring 1917 will disarm into a coveted Foreign manpower point, more or less.

Prussian forces repaired their entire air force before forfeiting replacement points at the cycle. Prussian sergeants welcomed recruits to refill two rifle and one cavalry divisions, the latter destined for Rumania, from cadre. A snide Prussian personnel officer scrapped two static brigades from their long-time home in the replacement pool, this the surest sign yet that Germany is really feeling the pinch for manpower.

French forces replaced an 0-1-4 engineer [III] and 3-4-7 motorized field artillery [III] while rebuilding from cadre a chasseur division. With Swiss demobilization, the French also resurrected a chasseur division from the scrapped pool to protect that border (we’re playing with unit ID’s, so difficult is the OB to follow).

Italy and Britain each repaired an air unit with the last of their air replacements. Britain remains some distance “in the hole” in this regard, but the combat-avoiding Italians are caught up and have a full air force on map.

Britain, Italy, and France each replaced siege engineer regiments to consume their limit of engineer replacements for the month.

Central Powers Turn

Two more firsts showcased the Central Powers’ air offensive for the month, which otherwise flowed as normal. An Austro-Hungarian air group flew to Venice, damaged a group of Italian interceptors, dodged the fire of several such groups (to be fair, the Italian air force in 1916 is about as bad as it’s possible to rate aircraft), and plopped some bombs directly onto the British Royal Navy’s only seaplane carrier. Not coincidentally, the Italian effort to do the same in reverse suffered losses and scored no success over Trieste – the dice have been very unkind to Entente air rolls for the past few months. British Royal Navy torpedo bombers, free from threat of interception, then visited Trieste and managed to suffer damage from flak without even earning a bombing roll. With November not even begun, the Italians and Brits had both lost or had accumulated losses sufficient to cancel out that next cycle’s replacements.

Meanwhile, Zeppelins scored twice in Italy but utterly missed Britain. The AEG-G4 managed to miss Lille, flying at shorter range due to mud conditions, then to get damaged by flak (almost certainly irrelevant, given unit ratings and relatively massive German air replacement production), but also killed a group of British interceptors (and there went another half cycle of British air replacements). Between wildly skewed replacement rates, column shifts for incompetence, inferior unit ratings, and simply being outnumbered, it’s a wonder when the Entente manages anything useful with its air units. The lone Entente bomber worthy of the name has stopped flying strategic mission because it is more likely to be damaged by minimal flak than it is to score a terror bombing hit and the Italians are only barely keeping enough air force in play to support their very rare ground attacks.

September II 1916

Clarification: We will be using the Mexican-American situation in this game, but will wait to resolve it until the USA enters the wider war, then hopefully complete the event in one session.

Entente Turn

High Entente hopes and low Entente expectations continued to drive the war in late September, but as usual the results failed to live up to merely low expectations.

Italian and French conversions, long-prepared, culminated unremarkably.

A Canadian artillery unit at reduced effectiveness remained there.

French forces replaced a heavy artillery regiment, augmented a railroad artillery battalion into a regiment, and repaired and replaced one each air groups.

Indian depots coughed-up enough manpower to rebuild a cavalry cadre into a division.

ANZAC manpower fleshed-out a division from a cadre.

British Imperial equipment repaired an observation balloon group.

Italian troops expanded an engineer regiment into a brigade.

The Entente navies combined to start the fortnight aggressively and successfully. Weak units of Italian, French, and British ships left Venice and cautiously poked their way through Entente minefields, with some also using coastal waters, to encircle Pola in a tight blockade. The coastal waters and minefields shielded the ships from Germanic submarines, light craft, and coast defense artillery. A much more powerful combined battle fleet kept station well outside Trieste, shielding the blockading ships from Austro-Hungarian naval attack. Austro-Hungarian aircraft, anti-shipping specialists, found one bedraggled “squadron” of Italian armored cruisers and dodged their flak while missing too the bombing attacks.

Pola, blockaded and isolated, then fell to a combined Franco-Russian-Italian assault. The fortress artillery defending the fortress fought at minimal defense because it lacked riflemen to protect its positions from close assault. Overwhelming Russian and French riflemen duly under-ran the defending artillery at night under field artillery suppression then assaulted the defensive positions at daybreak. A lone regiment of Italian naval infantry, on-hand for the occasion, paraded through the captured fortress naval base for the newsreels.

Austro-Hungarian losses: 8-4-0 Coast artillery [X] (isolated for double morale points and no special replacements); 5 morale points for the fortress; the only source of A-H naval repair points

Russian losses: 2-3-7 light [X] (the only Russian unit on-map at the moment)

Italian gain: 2 morale points for the fortress

Entente gain: 1.75 equipment points

Italian forces again attempted to assault grid 4507 on the middle Isonzo River, and again Entente air forces suffered disappointment. An Italian escort group did not good, but Austro-Hungarian interceptors likewise missed their reconnaissance group target. Defending flak, however, sent two groups of aerial spies fleeing before two other groups missed their chances. The Italian bombardment, forecast to achieve 5/6 of a hit at that point (-1 rough, -1 entrenchment) naturally non-conducted immediately. The Italian attack, likely to be either AX or AL if it went forward, was then stillborn. And at that, it was luckier than the British.

Against Valenciennes, the British made another of their major efforts. An escort and six reconnaissance air groups started festivities, fighting seven interceptor groups for one British and two German groups damaged. Flak missed the spies and they spotted fall of shot successfully for a powerful British bombardment that scored ten hits, which was only slightly below average. German defense power fell 108 to 75 and the defenders did not call in reserves which would only have unbalanced prospective casualties. British gas engineers failed to matter in the battle and German gas engineers could not practice their craft after suffered disruption during bombardment. Reconnaissance offset entrenchment and both single-brigade engineering attempts were unsuccessful. Odds of 3.4:1 rolled downward and the occasional “1” arose to simulate the first day of the some wildly unsuccessful British offensive, except much worse.

British losses: 3x Canadian, 4x ANZAC, and 8x British divisions reduced to cadre; 2x RP and 3x British cadres eliminated

Prussian losses: RP, 2x full divisions, and 4x cadres eliminated; 2x divisions reduced to cadre

Neither side can afford losses like this, but the Germans are only hurt while the Commonwealth is devastated by them.

French forces could not be daunted by the fate of their British comrades, just as they have fought through their own calamities repeatedly; grid 1919 fell again under the French hammer. Three escort and nine reconnaissance groups rose to contest the air with thirteen interceptor groups. French forces suffered one group destroyed and two groups damaged but inflicted no losses on the Germans, who will have utter air supremacy before the end of the cycle. The remaining observers nonetheless succeeded in their mission and the French bombardment scored 21 hits, devastating the defense by 65-percent. German reserve commitment failed its first two attempts, a very rare sight, but three less-ideal units moved into the fight, reducing the odds from 6.5:1 to 5:1. Entrenchments offset national will; leaders offset each other. French gas engineers failed; the 95-percent failure rate of 16-percent chances gets old, albeit slowly. A two-brigade engineer assault failed
but another with flamethrower elements succeeded and reconnaissance did not stop contributing, so that a moderate roll of “3” nonetheless achieved an DX result.

French losses: 3x RP and 1-5 engineer III eliminated; 3x Metropolitan divisions reduced to cadre

German losses: 2x Prussian, 1 each Bavarian and Saxon divisions reduced to cadre

It was entirely expected that German reaction, whether after such devastation on the main front or in spite of its absence, would focus on aerial exploits. Zeppelins hit Firenze for the second time in the month, freeing them to hunt factories until October, which another group successfully did in Lyon. Zeppelins also hit Nottingham, as did the German AEG-G4 air group, the first German fixed-wing terror bombing hit of the war. A very few successful Germanic reaction rolls simply shifted units to prepare to continue the endless reorganization of the German armies.

Central Powers Turn

The Central Powers’ initial phase of II SEP passed with tremendous activity and even another “first.” One ANZAC, two Canadian, six British Imperial, four French, one Bavarian, and one Prussian divisions were rebuilt from cadres. Germany repaired two fixed-wing and one Zeppelin air groups, the latter a risky first-time endeavor as the 50/50 roll could send the group to the eliminated pool and cost half a morale point. One Italian and one German airship groups remain in their country’s damaged boxes, being almost worthless (the German) or abjectly irrelevant (the Italian), and will probably never be repaired for duty (ah, the Italian withdraws eventually, solving that problem). Austria-Hungary replaced an 0-1-4 static X for coast defense duty as the Central Powers’ siege train prepared to cover yet more of the Adriatic Sea coastline.

In the lead-up to bad weather, Central Powers’ armies expanded their reorganization efforts both structurally and in deployment zones. A vast German shuffling of forces for withdrawals and conversions did not mask a thinning of the front line defenses in sectors where favorable terrain and the absence of Entente artillery concentrations made such thinning less than reckless. A huge portion of the Dutch army continued marching up the Rhine valley, taking responsibility for defense of the thirty miles of that river nearest the Swiss border. Austro-Hungarian forces continued departing the Upper Rhine, mostly bound for the Trient Salient, which they are taking over from German forces, but also moving to the Adriatic coast.

Once again, the only combat during the Central Powers’ half of the fortnight came at Entente instigation when French forces again assaulted grid 1919. A huge air battle and flak went dramatically in German favor, as usual, effectively eliminating the already badly weakened French air force from the sky for the next couple of cycles of pilot training classes (so, about an hour total then?). Aerial reconnaissance nonetheless accurately plotted fall of shot to help the poilus, offsetting defending entrenchments. Hindenburg gave Ludendorff the day off but showed-up himself near the front to successfully rally the defenders, offsetting French national will superiority. The Entente 17% chance of success in a gas attack failed, as it does with stunning regularity, while Petain confined himself to exhorting those same gas troops with equally useless results. Two engineer escalades, one with flame support and both of multi-brigade size, at least made an AX
result unlikely with their successful tossing of satchel charges into bunkers. Odds of 2.3:1 rolled upward, as they considerately do often enough to seemingly offset the useless gas regiments. Overall, on a good 3:1 +2 assault, the French merely rolled a 4 and thus achieved the very frequent BX result.

French losses: RP, 1-5 engineer III, and two air units eliminated; four first line rifle Metropolitan divisions reduced to cadre

German losses: RP eliminated; one Bavarian and two Prussian divisions reduced to cadre; Prussian brigade reduced to remnant

All substantive and almost all sideshow headquarters, British, Belgian, Italian, and other French, failed their reaction rolls, though a few British units did shuffle off the line near Maubeuge.

In exploitation, German air units again provided the dashing and morale effects that ceaseless battering along the front seems to lack so signally. All six Zeppelin groups found factories in Italy and France, none risked enough flak to justify a roll, and all missed their targets. The AEG-G4, however, visited Sheffield and hit its factory successfully.

It is worth noting here that playing OT with the North Sea maps gives the Central Powers a useful advantage. Whereas the rules and OB give the British a Southeast England Air Defense garrison and situation, with the map extended the Germans can simply fly to the Midlands, effectively the same distance, and hit cities and factories that the British cannot defend for lack of enough flak units and interceptor aircraft to cover all possible targets – leaving aside the need for those assets elsewhere.

September I 1916

Entente Turn

Factory production in September 1916 presented few surprises. All 18 Central Powers factories produced at their tremendous, full rate, as the Germans still have a surplus of energy and the Germans never put the two captured Belgian factories back into production. All 35 Entente factories also enjoyed ample iron and energy, but three of four factories that had suffered a single bombing hit each failed to produce their quotas, costing 1.2RP and 2.4 equipment points. Eventually, even if the front does not move eastward, the Germans will enjoy enough factory upgrades to deplete then overwhelm their energy surplus, while the Entente simply waits for the United States to contribute its tremendous weight to the struggle.

The Entente began the final fair weather production cycle of 1916 with high hopes, temporarily bristling depots of men and equipment, slim hopes of breaking through a front somewhere, and plausible hopes of seriously damaging the Germanic war machines. Events moved forward in passable fashion toward at least the final item on that list.

British forces repaired one air unit, upgraded one heavy flak II to III, rolled an ANZAC division from reduced to full effectiveness, and replaced an engineer regiment.

Italian forces repaired one air group, upgraded a flame engineer II to a truly formidable II, and upgraded an engineer III to X.

French forces repaired one air unit, upgraded one heavy flak II to III, replaced two engineer III’s, replaced five heavy artillery III’s, rebuilt four divisions from cadres, and disbanded and scrapped four of the new triangular divisions.

In the air, between them, the British and French still do not match the Germans in quality, quantity, or replacements. As always, however, mission of the air forces is primarily to provide or deny adequate aerial observation, not simply to battle enemy aircraft. Even in the face of lengthening odds, the Entente air forces are managing to accomplish the mission with increasing regularity.

A secondary mission of the air forces, exercised almost exclusively by the German zeppelin force, is strategic bombing, first of populations and secondarily of production centers. The influx of Entente flak units during September enabled a shuffling and reinforcement of strategic air defenses in Italy. All Italian major cities began to enjoy potentially effective defenses: at least the five points needed to potentially damage a zeppelin. A couple of cities relatively close to Germany gained even stronger defenses and the northernmost Italian factory town also enjoyed a five-point defense for the first time. British cities, also under attack, remained no more firmly guarded than before because while the cities nearest Germany all have either five-point flak and/or fighter defense, the Midlands region is awash in major cities that the zeppelins can reach (barring bad luck due to weather en route) and that existing assets could not possibly defend without leaving uncovered everything else. Ministry-level work to provide gunfire defenses to numerous cities, factories, naval bases, mines, and the like will significantly enhance the defensive effectiveness of both sides’ strategic targets in 1917, while autumn and winter weather will soon reduce the effect of the bombers seeking to avoid those defenses.

Entente land forces occupied themselves single-mindedly in preparing for one attack on each front. British forces massed against Valenciennes, the tip of the German thrust toward Paris from the long gone days of October 1914. French forces completed their shift away from Briey to the greener fields of grid 1919, just southwest of Metz. Italian forces likewise completed their gradual shift from the eastern Alps to the hills along the middle Isonzo River. On the Istria front, Franco-Russian forces completed their assembly on Cherso Island to attack across the narrow strait to Lisson Island.

The Entente fleets moved first, with their only notable action being to blockade Lisson from just offshore. Austro-Hungarian light forces from Pola missed their chance when the French moved in during the last hours of darkness prior to the ground assault, and later missed their chance when the French moved back out. Austro-Hungarian gunners on Lisson did better, missing one shot in the darkness but sinking DD Squadron -3 with their other opportunity.

French field artillery then roared as the ground assault began from Cherso. Russian and French troops swarmed across the strait in small craft while two regiments of field artillery suppressed the defending troops and coast gunners. The Austro-Hungarians lacked any large stocks of ammunition and the Entente general was so bizarrely confident that he failed to move much ammunition forward, so that quick barrages, brief bursts, and the bayonet decided the issue. The strait quartered the attacking infantry power, but a division and three brigades of them with relatively robust artillery proved too much for the defenders. National will superiority provided the only modifier to the roll and 3:1 on the mobile chart converted, as usual, to half exchange.

Russian losses: 2-3-7 light [X]

Austro-Hungarian losses: 3-2-0 coast artillery [III] and 1*-2-4 Austrian static [X], both isolated for no special replacements and double morale point losses

Entente gains: .875 equipment points captured from the defenders

The second brigade of Russians arrived in Venice in late August, ready to conquer Pola, and presumably to be destroyed in the (positional) attempt.

The Italian effort at grid 4207 re-opened “The Battle of the Isonzo” with new and greater Italian hopes set against Austro-Hungarian defenses roughly as strong as they had been in the year 1915. One escort and six groups of reconnaissance or observation aircraft or balloons swarmed across the battlefield, overwhelming the lone potential defender air group into providing defensive bombing rather than intercepting vastly superior numbers. No flak on either side contributed to the battle and two groups of Italian bombers eventually also contributed usefully to the fight.

Italian artillery, a bit from long range, a lot from overstack, and some from within the attacking corps began the battle with a bombardment, the first such Italian effort either ever or at least in a very long time. The effort underwhelmed, despite successful aerial spotting, with modified attack strengths of one (three units), 1.25 (one unit), 1.5 (four units), two (eight units), and 2.25 (one unit). It may have been a waste of ammunition, but the poor rolls did not help and in the end only one defending artillery regiment lay badly disrupted, though that result did significantly change the decimal die roll for odds.

The combat effects are usually the main modifiers to sheer chance in this war, it seems, and there were various in this battle. Rough terrain and entrenchments negated two multi-brigade engineering successes. An Italian siege engineer brigade spent explosives prodigiously, only to blow itself up with no damage to the defenders in the first Italian siege engineer effects attempt. Aerial reconnaissance and a majority of elite Italian troops then provided die roll bonuses that actually changed the outcome. The Isonzo itself naturally dominated the battle, halving non-artillery attackers and the odds then rolled downward from 2.4:1. What would have been a standard BX instead became a defender exchange, saving the Italians the reduction of a third division to cadre.

Italian losses: 3x RP, 1-4-5 siege engineer [X], and 1-5 engineer III eliminated; 6*-9-6 mountain and rifle divisions, both with elite brigades attached, to cadre.

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP eliminated; 8*-11-5 Austrian and 9-12-5 Hungarian divisions to cadre.

The British returned to their occasional efforts against the coal mining town of Valenciennes in early September. One escort and six groups of reconnaissance or observation aircraft swarmed over the battlefield to begin the effort, meeting six groups of interceptors, with the Germans losing half a group and the British losing nothing in air combat. Flak then damaged a lone British group before the remainder successfully spotted the defender positions throughout the battle.

British artillery, slightly strengthened from previous efforts, bombarded the Germans with best-ever British results, after the defenders failed to make great use of the resource center. One 25-point shot, one 12-point shot, and seven 16-point shots inflicted a very average 12 bombardment hits. The nearly full German stack suffered severely, with its defense strength reduced to only 60.5 points.

Combat effects mattered relatively little to this battle, but much more to the near future in the British sector. Entrenchments relatively negated aerial observation. One successful single brigade engineer assault added the only net modifier after equal national wills provided no modifier and the British gas engineers failed as dismally as usual. A one-brigade engineer assault also self-immolated, taking half the British combat engineers to the replacement pool even before required losses would take the third quarter of their assets to the pool in this one battle. These results also rendered less relevant the arrival of the first real Entente (British, engineer) tank unit in France, as it would have few engineer compatriots with which to combine until October.

Combat odds played the main role in determining the outcome of this battle of Valenciennes. The river, across which a third of British infantry labored, seriously hindered British efforts. German reserve commitment, with three slots open in the array, was perfect, adding all three possible units to the fight. Odds drooped from possibly 6:1 down to 3.4:1 but rolled upward, as the Entente has done somewhat more often than average. Odds of 4:1 in a big battle are a rarity for the Entente so far in this war and perhaps in shock they rolled a one, bungling the assault but at least scoring a full both exchange result rather than a disastrous attacker exchange as would normally follow such a bad combat roll.

British losses: 3-5-5 engineer [X], 1-5 engineer III, and 2x RP eliminated; 5x 10-13-5 and 1x 11-14-5 rifle divisions to cadre

German losses: RP and 6-8-5 MG [X] eliminated (even the remnant); 2x 13-15-5, 1x 9-12-5, and 1x 8-11-5 Prussian rifle divisions to cadre

In a change, the major French effort was not THE major Entente effort of the fortnight, as the Italians and British both committed nearly as much force to their efforts, though neither could come close to matching French artillery concentrations. The French assault against the entrenched open fields of grid 1919 showcased those concentrations, newly enhanced to include a third overstacked corps, albeit a third of which was merely field guns.

In support of that gun line, the French committed three escort and six reconnaissance or observation groups as against ten groups of intercepting German aircraft. This massive air battle too apparently happened amidst clouds and fog, as casualties amounted to only one destroyed group on each side and one German group damaged, besides which flak missed entirely.

The French bombardment, with aerial observation counterbalancing entrenchments, proved shocking. In fifteen 16-point shots and a 12-point shot, the French scored 19 bombardment hits, badly disrupting every non-divisional unit and disrupting every division in the defending force.

Combat odds appeared set to provide a dramatic aspect to this fight. The one river hexside significantly hindered the French attackers, but less than it might have because the engineers mostly worked there and the best divisions deliberately deployed on the other two sectors of the defending position. German reserve commitment was not perfect, in a rarity, but two divisions did slot themselves into two of three open positions, thereby increasing the defenders’ strength by more than a third. What could have been 5.5:1 odds fell to 4.1:1 and reasonably rolled downward to 4:1.

Again as usual, the French portion of the front hosted the main combat effects units from both sides’ armies. Hindenburg and Ludendorf inspired the defenders, offsetting French national will superiority and making a mockery of Petain’s apparent vacation to a chateau near Vichy. French aerial reconnaissance offset German entrenchments and Entente gas engineers naturally failed to influence the battle, as they have done far more than the average five-times-in-six. In the end, two multi-brigade engineer assaults made the difference, pushing the roll of 5, a very competent assault, upward to a defender exchange result.

French losses: 3x RP (2 for bombardment) and 1-5 engineer III eliminated; 2x 10*-13-5 and 1x 9*-12-5 rifle divisions to cadre

German losses: RP and 3-5-5 engineer X eliminated; 1x 16-18-5 and 2x 9-12-5 Prussian, and 1x 11-13-5 Wurtemburger rifle divisions to cadre

In reaction, while their armies scrambled to repair weaknesses in the line and assemble imminent conversions behind them, zeppelins failed to find Nottingham but did hit Firenze.

In exploitation, while the two Italian cadres fell off the line for rebuilding, Franco-British destroyers and mine warfare ships completed the mine barrage around and adjacent to the Austrian naval fortress of Pola.

Central Powers Turn

During the Central Powers initial phase of I September 1916, both sides continued to repair and upgrade their forces.

Austria-Hungary upgraded a flak II into III while rebuilding both cadres back into divisions.

Britain rebuilt six divisions from cadre.

France rebuilt three divisions from cadre.

Wurtemburg rebuilt one division from cadre.

Prussia rebuilt four divisions from cadre, replaced a rifle brigade for an upcoming conversion, replaced an air group, and repaired an air group. the aforementioned  brigade probably entered the replacement pool in very early 1915 and its residual manpower must certainly be disheartened to have been rooted out of their comfortable existence to re-enter the hell of the trenches.

The Kriegsmarine rebuilt a naval rifle division from cadre.

The Netherlands repaired an air group.

On the main front, German forces contented themselves with the usual preparations for their endless conversions while also ceaselessly rebuilding their defensive positions.

Austro-Hungarian forces likewise rebuilt their line, but also continued to extend the scope and strength of their hold on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, their replacement of the Germans in the Trient salient, and their removal of the Austro-Hungarian army from the upper Rhine River.

Units from The Netherlands continued marching southward to form a Dutch army on the upper Rhine.

French forces reacted appropriately to complete the shift of their heavy and long-range artillery from positions facing Briey to facing grid 1919, where later in the month the French will be able to launch yet another most powerful artillery barrage of the war.

The air proved the most exciting arena of events during the Central Powers’ I SEP 1916 turn. The first German fixed-wing bomber group flew a mission and missed Nottingham, doing no better than three zeppelin groups that found the city but failed to hit the houses of any campaign contributor of the local member of parliament. Over Firenze, however, another “first” for the war made headlines: flak defenses missed one group, returned one group, and damaged one group of airships – the first such damaging of airships in a strategic bombing mission! This event is potentially quite important not because air replacement point costs are doubled for airships but because after spending the points there is a 50/50 chance that the airship group will be eliminated (for morale point cost!) rather than put back into service. Given the paucity of airship group reinforcements, over the course of a war losing an airship could significantly change a target country’s morale points and somewhat impact its factory production.

August II 1916

Entente Turn

The Entente half of late August continued usual trends of heavy losses without decision.

Britain repaired an air group, rebuilt an Australian division from cadre, and replaced a siege engineer regimental group.

Italy rebuilt a brigade from remnant and a division from cadre, plus repairing an air group.

France replaced two engineer and one heavy artillery regiments, rebuilt one metropolitan and one colonial division from cadre, and repaired two air groups. To feed the effort, the French also disbanded and scrapped three light rifle cadres and three full-strength rifle divisions.

Prussia rebuilt two divisions from cadre.

At sea, Austro-Hungarian aircraft found the Entente fleet off Istria, dodged its flak, and missed its ships with bombs, while the Entente trickled forces into Istria through a minor port and over a busy beach. Then, Franco-Italian light forces completed a mine field all the way from the Venice – Istria safe zone to within a few miles of the Austrian port at Lussin Island, to enable safe naval support for a developing cross-strait attack on that position.

On the Italian Front, the Italians attempted to attack grid 4207, a “key railroad.” Interceptors, escorts, and flak all missed, but the recon aircraft nonetheless failed to usefully contribute to the outcome. National will and a majority elite force mostly counteracted the protective mountainous terrain, but without recon the fieldworks of the position left the attack with a possible Attacker Loss result and the Italians non-conducted that class in how to lose a war.

In the air, the remaining Italian aircraft attacked the Austro-Hungarian railroad system, cutting a junction in the Alps with the small, useful effect of later causing rail capacity use in moving engineers to the rear rather than anything more valuable.

On the main front, because French and British movements proclaimed ambiguity, the Germans split their combat air patrols over grid 1919, the iron field at Briey, and the coal mines at Valenciennes. French ambiguity in particular was significant because a lot of their heavy artillery slid southward along the line, still a threat to Briey but also closer to grid 1919.

The French elected to push at grid 1919. Three escorts damaged a group of interceptors, which damaged and sent fleeing one each groups of recon aircraft before the remaining two groups dodged flak and found targets. The reconnaissance effort counteracted German entrenchments, while national will, two multi-brigade engineer assaults, and siege engineers bestowed upon the attack a tremendous +4 bonus. After perfect reserve commitment rolls, the Germans brought the odds down to 199:100 and achieved another both exchange result.

German losses:  RP, 3-4-7 light III, and 3-5-5 engineer X eliminated; 16-18-5, 13-15-5, and 11-13-5 Bavarian divisions to cadre,

French losses:  2x RP, 0-2-5 siege engineer [X], and 0-1-4 engineer [III] eliminated; 3x 8*-11-5 and 3x 10*-13-5 divisions to cadre.

In the north, the British attacked Maubeuge and accepted a smaller battle with much weaker forces in exchange for an absence of aerial opposition. Reconnaissance helped the British, but the strength of the unimproved fortress proved greater and Entente gas engineers failed as usual, so that when 2.8:1 odds rolled upward a both exchange resulted as usual.

British losses:  RP eliminated; 4x 9-12-5 and 1x 8-11-5 division to cadre

German losses:  RP eliminated; 2x 13-15-5 and 1x 12-14-5 Prussian divisions to cadre

The British considered three other battles along the Belgian-French border and decided against all of them as being more likely to result in severe attacker losses than merely equal losses.

While Germanic forces reacted to patch their lines and prepare yet another round of withdrawals to Rumania, all the Zeppelin groups either failed to reach or failed to hit their British city and French factory targets.

Central Powers Turn

In the Central Powers’ half of the end of August, events continued along well established trend lines.

Austria-Hungary replaced 1*-4 static III and 2-1-0 coast artillery II, and upgraded a railroad engineer III to X.

Prussia disbanded and scrapped the 8-11-5 4er division because it could not be found anyway, upgraded heavy flak II to III, replaced 1-3-5 gas engineer III, and repaired an air unit.

Bavaria rebuilt three divisions from cadre.

The Netherlands rebuilt a division from cadre.

The Central Powers continued to solidify positions in the Alps, along the Isonzo, and in Istria.

On the main front, while several German cadres moved to rest positions on the Dutch coast, one corps of Dutch marched south and another railed all the way to the upper Rhine valley, while Austro-Hungarian forces there continued to trickle away toward the Alps.

In reaction, the Italians began to shift their offensive forces out of the Alps, with potential destinations of the Isonzo, the Trient salient, and/or Istria, all of which might be more fruitful fields of adventure.

In reaction on the main front, one British army pulled various units off or along the line to re-mass against the tip of the German salient near Lille. The French, meanwhile, pulled many offensive units off the line to maximize their possibilities in September. More than two corps of heavy artillery slid southward along the line, some still threatening to Briey but others facing only grid 1919.

An Entente ground assault was only a dream in the reaction phase, due to a combination of relative weakness, lack of allowance to bombard, and for the French a dismal aerial situation.

August I 1916

Entente Turn

Entente forces attacked in numerous sectors in early August, attempting to stretch the Central Powers to the breaking point somewhere. And breakage there was.

A Canadian rifle division remained at reduced effectiveness, so no Commonwealth units acted in the initial phase.

British forces rebuilt one each rifle and light rifle cadres to full strength, replaced an engineer regiment, and repaired a reconnaissance air group.

French forces rebuilt two rifle cadres to full strength, repaired an observation balloon group, and scrapped an already eliminated naval rifle brigade.

Italian forces replaced a light mountain brigade, repaired a reconnaissance air group, and put Battleship Squadron Two into the Venice shipyard to repair three hits at the cost of six-sevenths of Italian accumulated naval repair points.

German forces rebuild five rifle cadres into full divisions, nearly zeroing-out the pool of Prussian manpower.

With heavy artillery finally fully arrayed around the salient at grid 0822/Valenciennes, including a partial corps of overstacked units, the British Empire finally swung its bulk into action in a large battle there. A significant air battle resulted in a solitary German interceptor group suffering 50-percent losses and flak missed all three recon or observation groups, which then contributed positively. The resource center proved unhelpful to the Germans, as did equal national will to either side, leaving the entrenchment to be negated by a two-brigade engineer attack and an overall slight advantage for the Entente. The first British ground bombardment of the war scored ten hits, reducing the defense strength by enough to increase the fractional odds chance by 0.5, which mattered greatly as the British only found enough strength for 2.6:1 odds even after the artillery. Those odds rolled upward, to great Entente relief, but the almost inevitable BX nonetheless resulted in the end.

British Losses:  2x RP and 1-5 eng III eliminated; 6x 10-13-5 divisions to cadre

German Losses:  RP eliminated; 4x 13-15-5 divisions to cadre

Calamity, so often averted, reared its ugly head in the usual French attack against the iron fields at Briey/grid 1719. Events began badly for the French as they suffered three points of air losses against one German loss. The resulting reconnaissance mission nonetheless went well and the French bombardment performed well enough, scoring eighteen hits and reducing the defense strength by about 40-percent. French national will offset effective use of the resource center; leaders on both sides failed to influence the fight. French gas engineers failed (5/6 chance to fail for the good Entente gas units…) and the German gas engineers suffered bad disruption in the bombardment and could not attempt their evil labor. German entrenchments thus exactly cancelled the reconnaissance and left the roll at 2.6:1 even. The odds rolled downward and the rare but inevitable AX result yelled for a halt to French attacks until Spring.

French Losses:  2x RP, 6-8-4 field artillery division, and 3-4-4 field artillery [III] eliminated; one African, two Colonial, and FOURTEEN Metropolitan 8-11-5, 8-11-6, or 9-12-5 rifle or light rifle divisions reduced to cadre.

German Losses:  RP and 1-3-5 gas engineer III eliminated; one Naval, one Bavarian, one Saxon, and four Prussian rifle divisions reduced to cadre

Terribly daunted, but resigned to necessity, the French continued the effort with an attack against grid 2018, important only because of its German military residents. Flak damaged an air group, but the other successfully spied out the German positions, negating the effect of the entrenchment. French national will balanced the wooded terrain, but siege engineers failed to influence the battle. Two massive engineer escalades both positively pushed the battle’s results, giving the Entente great hope, but the exactly 2:1 odds wound up in the usual BX result nonetheless.

French Losses:  2x RP and 1-5 eng III eliminated; one Colonial, one African, and two Metropolitan divisions reduced to cadre

German Losses:  RP eliminated; one each Saxon, Prussian, and Wurtemburger divisions reduced to cadre

In the Alps, the Italians shifted their offensive to strike along the railroad at grid 4207, because it is important to have different scenery in which to achieve identical results. After flak missed three times, reconnaissance and national will offset the Austro-Hungarian’s mountains, while an Italian elite bonus offset fieldworks. Odds of 4.3:1 rolled upward and again Entente hopes soared before the usual BX resulted regardless.

Italian Losses:  RP eliminated; one each mountain division and brigade reduced to cadre and remnant.

Austro-Hungarian Losses: RP eliminated; one mountain division reduced to cadre.

As the Franco-Italian-British fleet dribbled reinforcements into Istria, Austro-Hungarian anti-shipping aircraft found them off the beach, dodged flak, and killed some fish as three divisions and two RP went ashore during the initial and movement phases.

French forces then pushed forward into contact with the retreating Austro-Hungarians and put a powerful attack in against a lone static regiment in rough terrain adjacent to Fiume. The French brought enough power that spending prodigious ammunition would be redundant, given that the enemy had none accessible to spend anyway. French national will offset the rough terrain and a rare good combat roll resulted in DE, which also weirdly stayed an DE despite the mobile combat in the west rule.

Austrian Losses: 1*-4 static [III]

French forces then advanced to try to balance their vulnerabilities near the southern coast of the peninsula while isolated Pola by land.

Germanic reaction rolls were a mass of “3” results, with only three armies activating, though all in ideal sectors. Given the battered state of both Germanic armies, they limited themselves to shifting forces for the upcoming initial phase withdrawals and conversions and to begin juggling to rebalance weaker defenses all along the fronts.

In the air, Zeppelins found mixed success. All three groups passed the Alps without trouble, reaching Naples, dodging flak, and scoring a hit against Italian morale. The best of three Zeppelin groups bombing England failed to breast the winds over Nottingham and the two, obsolete groups that reached the city did no significant damage. British defenses have stiffened forward so that Nottingham is the nearest safe target, but it is inconveniently far from northern Germany. Over Italy, Naples is the nearest city without flak dangerous to Zeppelins, but it is very far indeed from Bavaria.

Truly, early August 1916 was calamitous for the Entente, both in events and in more complete understandings. Twenty-one divisions of French falling to cadre, plus some equipment losses, made this a calamitous turn for the Entente even disregarding other events. Entente losses in the air continue to outstrip repair point accrual and aggravate the imbalance aloft. Neither the British nor the French can come close to maintaining their engineer power; the British cannot conduct a single large attempt and the French will be only barely able to maximize engineers in one battle for the next couple of turns – before they cannot do even that. Italian engineers would be an even worse problem if they ever attacked entrenchments, and upcoming conversions to make Italian engineers more expensive to rebuild without improving their offensive value in any way will only make things worse. The pool of Entente units awaiting equipment in order to enter the war stands far over one hundred points, though Italian artillery is so useless (four regiments contributed 0.625 total attack strength to the battle in the Alps) that a third of those units may never be built from the replacement pool where they were placed to enter the war.

On the other hand, the German line is actually about to start weakening as they no longer enjoy enough divisions to keep particularly vulnerable positions fully garrisoned. The Prussian manpower situation is grown truly desperate, with many cadres occupying non-divisional positions and no prospect of ever rebuilding most of them to full strength. The Austro-Hungarians, who have an army on the upper Rhine River (whereas the Germans hold the Trient salient), are not bereft of replacement riflemen, but this summer their manpower expenses in the West have exceeded their income and now that the Italians have enough mountain units to conduct multi-corps attacks in the Alps the Austro-Hungarian position will continue to suffer blows. Meanwhile, thirty miles of new front in Istria is stretching the army thinner, as has the beginning of necessary efforts to garrison key points on the Dalmatian coastline.

To take advantage of Central Powers weakness, the French are resolved to begin wholesale disbanding of their second line rifle divisions. Equipment from the second line divisions can pay for withdrawals to other theaters, to rebuild siege engineers and machinegun units, and especially to field nearly twenty regiments of French artillery still in the replacement pool. Manpower from the second line will be essential in endlessly rebuilding the cadres of the best French divisions as they batter themselves against superior German units. Unfortunately, most of the French third line cannot be disbanded, but those terribly weak formations can creditably defend many positions in severe terrain.

The Austro-Hungarians and Germans cannot respond in the same way, for different reasons. The Austro-Hungarian army in the West is simply too small to disband units, even when and if their need for manpower becomes overwhelming, because it already is only about equal to its frontage. The Germans, by contrast, could happily disband numerous divisions and still maintain their front, because their army in the West fields so many divisions, but far too many of those divisions are already at cadre strength so that disbanding them would not provide significant riflemen. As a poor and partial fallback position, it seems likely that German machinegun and artillery units, and cadres, will soon become a significant part of the mix of losses suffered in each battle, because while they lack riflemen the Central Powers at least have a small surplus of equipment.

If this sounds dire for the Central Powers, it is nonetheless still true that the Entente struggles to find a couple of combats per turn with only a small chance of an AX and sometimes a very small chance of an DX. The Entente therefore cannot put rapid and overwhelming pressure on and cripple the Germanic armies before the onset of mud in a few fortnights.

Central Powers Turn

During the initial phase of the second half of the I AUG turn, numerous replacement activities consumed accumulated resources on both sides.

Austria-Hungary rebuilt a division from cadre and replaced a fortress brigade-group.

Prussia repaired three air groups, upgraded a siege artillery regiment into a brigade, and rebuilt three divisions from cadres.

Saxony rebuilt a division from cadre.

Bavaria rebuilt two divisions from cadres.

The Netherlands replaced a cadre.

Britain rebuilt six divisions from cadres.

France rebuilt six metropolitan, two Army of Africa, and two Colonial divisions from cadre.

All twenty Prussian manpower points in Austria-Hungary transferred back to Germany, together with both Prussian units from the southwest Europe replacement pool.

On the main front, German forces continued to reorganize their battered line and withdraw forces for the new Rumanian front while a few Austro-Hungarian units departed the upper Rhine valley, en route back to their homeland.

While the front in the Alps and on the Isonzo remained static, Germanic forces retreated completely out of Istria, to the Fiume – karst – karst – Trieste line. The Austrian fortress of Pola, with its resident coast defense system, remained an exception, and the shipyard continued work on naval equipment imported and exported by ship. The Austro-Hungarians garrison on Lussin Island, connected to Istria by two narrow straits and another island, held open the sea route to Pola.

On the Italian Front, the Entente failed entirely to react, while on the main front reaction simply hastened some future moves. In their one attempted attack, three French escort fighters missed entirely, two German fighters damaged one recon air group sent another scurrying, and flak dismissed the third recon group. The French looked at probable 3:2 +1 and decided not to pursue the matter. The British also aborted battle after suffering two groups of recon aircraft damaged in exchange for damaging a Dutch air group, and having the remaining recon aircraft fail to find the battlefield: 3:2 -1 or -2 is disastrously unwise.

The Zeppelin arm continued to carry Germany’s offensive burden in early August. Two groups found Naples and hit its citizens for the final terror bombing hit of August. Two groups failed to find French factories and a third found but missed Nottingham.


July II 1916

Entente Turn

Initial phase activities in late July 1916 comprised the usual recovery from the ravages of combat.

Prussian recruits refilled two 13-15-5 rfl XX’s from cadre

Bavarian recruits did likewise with an 11-13-5 rfl XX

British pilots ferried two half-groups of aircraft across the Channel to repair losses while Italian pilots brought half a group to Venice for the same reason.

French forces rebuilt a damaged air group and brought cadres of 7-10-5*, 9*-12-7, and 2x 8*-11-5 divisions back to full strength

British forces massed again against the salient, grid 0822, full of Germans lusting to get to Lille. British escorts killed an intercepting group of FF33h’s but the ground troops remained in their trenches after aerial reconnaissance failed yet again to find Belgium.

French forces planned to move against Briey, grid 1720, yet again. French escorts shot down half a group of interceptors that engaged the screen but three other interceptor groups blasted three half groups of reconnaissance aircraft out of the sky in exchange for half a group of losses to the Germans. Of the remaining two groups of aerial spies, flak destroyed half a group and the other justifiably failed its attempt to spot the fall of shot. The ground troops, sniffing a failed bombardment and the likelihood of an AX rising fast, refused to leave their trenches. The French do not have enough infantry replacements to justify making attacks over which reconnaissance failed to provide support. The French air force longs for winter and a reprieve in which it might get back to strength after only a few cycles of suffering no losses at all.

At grid 2218, the French also refused to leave their trenches. Interceptors sent a group of aerial spies fleeing while flak splattered another half group across the landscape. With a half chance of scoring an AX result, the French could not pull the trigger on this combat either.

It was in the Adriatic Sea that events of late July proved most interesting when the Entente attempted its second, and almost certainly final, amphibious invasion of the war in the West. The coast of The Netherlands is now garrisoned and fortified adequately to repel with certainty the minimal Entente amphibious capability. There are no amphibious targets within reach elsewhere, given that Germany’s High Seas Fleet and its extensive danger zones and coast defense guns could surely devastate any invasion flotilla bound for that country’s North Sea coast. Therefore, the current attempt at Istria is the final naval thrust of the war in the West, barring unforeseen circumstances.

The move began with British minelayers and Franco-Italian escorts completing a mine barrier to the west of Venice all the way between the two coastlines. The Austro-Hungarian fleet did not react to this provocation.

Two French battleship squadrons then engaged the Rovigno coast defense battery, silencing it after suffering one hit and one bonus magazine explosion.

The remainder of the at-sea fleet then moved to lay mines south of Venice between the more widely separated coastlines. At this point, the Austro-Hungarian navy formed a light task group and attempted to react, with a plan to use coastal waters to bypass heavy Entente units and get into a knife fight with the BB-free Entente force. The attempt failed and the Entente continued its careful push.

Some Entente ships at sea, with time remaining in naval step one, then moved to meet the transport force putting to sea from Venice and the fleet moved to land adjacent to Rovigno. The Austro-Hungarian Navy’s heavy units then successfully reacted and moved to attempt to get in among the transports. The Entente mine belt missed all six of its one-in-six chances to damage the enemy. The Austro-Hungarians would need to fight the coast defenses anchoring the seaward end of the Italian line, but not until after naval combat.

The naval battle provided fairly even honors, but from very uneven teams. The Austro-Hungarians began the battle outgunned by almost triple and the results pointed toward the disparity. Franco-Italian ships scored three hits plus two bonus magazine explosions in six shots at the opening medium range volley. Austro-Hungarian ships scored two hits plus two bonus explosions in exchange. The Entente then tried and failed to disengage but did open the range, despite being laden with transports. The second combat round, at long range with about half of ships not firing at all, left one more hit on an Italian and three more hits on the Austro-Hungarian fleet. Being at long range and having suffered considerable damage, the Austro-Hungarians then successfully disengaged, suffering two more hits from coast defense guns in the process. A pair of British torpedo bomber groups from Venice found the Austro-Hungarians in naval patrol and expert flak sent both groups running for home.

The Entente fleet then hurled 12 regiments of French units and one Italian marine regiment ashore while standing by for naval gunfire, both support and bombardment.

In an effort to help the new Istrian Front, General Luigi Cadorna ordered his army to attack in the Alps to pressure and distract the Austro-Hungarians while hopefully moving the line into a better configuration. Cadorna had been moving elite units into the area of grid 4107 for some weeks and they sprang forward into a rare attack in the horrible terrain. The enemy elected to keep the attack on the static combat table, preventing any geographic change. From three hexes, the Italians struck at the enemy salient with a modified 74.5 attack strength, yielding a 3.3:1 attack that rolled downward. Reconnaissance balloons, elite troops, and superior national will exactly offset mountainous fieldworks and the almost guaranteed BX came to pass.

Italian losses: RP expended; 4*-5-7 mtn X to 1-7* remnant; 6-9-6* mtn XX to 2-4-6* cadre

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP expended; 8*-11-7 mountain XX to 3-5-8* cadre

In Istria, the feeble French invasion force struck against the feebler Austro-Hungarian defenders of the peninsula’s only minor port. Both aerial reconnaissance groups outmaneuvered the lone Austro-Hungarian interceptor group, there was no flak, and the spies sent back good reports, so that naval bombardment by French heavy ships badly disrupted both defending units. The defenders lacked stockpiles of ammunition and the French did not need to spend much to maximize the mobile combat table even without using aerial bombing or naval gunfire support. With an additional bonus for national will, the attack naturally rolled a “1” which went up to a DR and then converted to the usual (in 1914 it was nearly every time) HX.

French losses: 3-4-5 nvl rifle X (while isolated)

Austro-Hungarian losses: 2-1-0 coast art II and 0-2-2* fort III

Given that this is World War One, it was inevitable that all three Austro-Hungarian armies successfully reacted on this turn of all turns. The Austro-Hungarians could send only the weakest of units into Istria, nothing like enough to attack the beachhead, but just enough to put a unit with defense strength on every rail hex in the peninsula. If the Entente is lucky, Istria will be another Gallipoli, but things could go much worse.

In the air, the German zeppelin fleet hit a second French factory for the cycle and visited Birmingham, taking only photographs preparatory to dropping bombs in later trips.

At sea, Austro-Hungarian minesweepers used coastal waters to sweep an Entente mine without risk to themselves but causing some risk to the Entente later.

In exploitation, Franco-British ships rejuvenated their missing minefield after dodging light forces and while using darkness to remain out of contact with nearby coast defense guns. The Austro-Hungarians elected not to react, as the transports were mostly empty and remained escorted despite the French also being superior and in effective blockade position off Trieste. The Entente also swept enemy and laid friendly mines in the vicinity of Rovigno before taking up stations for naval gunfire support.

Twelve more regiments of French troops landed in Istria, as the only land action worth mentioning at all in exploitation. The garrison of Rovigno was left weak, with Entente generals momentarily oblivious to the possibility that the Central Powers would simply rail down the length of the peninsula through several zones of control from the two stronger beachhead hexes lying toward Trieste. The French had hoped to exploit move into the center of the peninsula, to seal off Pola and protect Rovigno with assurance, but the lucky Austro-Hungarian reaction shattered that hope. It is possible that the survival of the Istrian Front lies with the possibility that the Austro-Hungarians and Germans either decide not to try to push it back into the sea, or roll badly in a couple of combats to score AQ results and allow the French to somehow cling tightly and just possibly expand their hold.

Central Powers Turn

Ignorance can be bliss. The Entente invasion of Istria immediately preceded a Central Powers initial phase awash in withdrawals and reorganizations that consumed most units not on the front line and copious rail capacity. The German reprisal would be much weaker and slower than the Entente feared during the previous session.

Italian forces rebuilt 4*-5-7 mountain brigade from remnant and 6*-9-6 mountain division from cadre.

French forces rejuvenated two 8*-11-5 divisions from cadre.

German forces repaired two and replaced one air group.

Austro-Hungarian forces rebuilt 8*-11-7 mountain division from cadre.

In Istria, the Germanic response to invasion ended up being immediately underwhelming. After much discussion and exploration of alternatives, another “first” for the war took the form of four Entente air groups flying harassment along a rail line in the Alps. This action left the Central Powers unable to usefully counterattack and the Austro-Hungarians instead fled eastward toward stronger positions, leaving only a stray regiment alone on the southeast coast unable to quite join its comrades in safety.

Meanwhile, the main Austro-Hungarian position from Trieste northward reorganized itself into a leaner configuration and its excess flowed south to begin forming new defenses. The last of the German siege train, the parts not anchoring along the North Sea or Adriatic Sea coasts, moved by rail to begin defending the coastal flanks of the peninsula. Pola, the Austro-Hungarian shipyard, naval base, coast artillery, and unimproved fortress remained behind, exposed, and bereft as its mobile garrison marched for the mountains; this is the first strategic objective to be seriously endangered since 1914 (to the extent that the Austro-Hungarian Navy is a strategic force).

In the north, the only noteworthy Germanic action was a few Austro-Hungarian units pulling out of their country’s defense of the upper Rhine River, replaced by Germans for duty back in their own country on its newly expanded front there.

The primary Italian reaction in the Alps succeeded, with plans to continue their assault deep in the mountains, but after failed aerial reconnaissance that assault suffered cancellation rather than knowingly take a one-third chance of suffering an AX result. Four other Entente reactions in the Alps failed.

In the far north, multiple British armies activated, gradually preparing their sector for future action while also launching a bold attack on the tip of the German salient at Valenciennes/0822. After a three versus four battle cost each side half a group, aerial reconnaissance negated entrenchments and a two-brigade engineer assault provided a thin die roll bonus, but gas engineering and the resource center failed to influence the battle. Odds of

2.1:1 rolled downward and the British barely escaped an AX result. The BX was expensive for both sides:

British: RP and 1-2-5 engineer regiment eliminated; 6x 10-13-5 divisions to cadre

German: RP eliminated; 4x 13-15-15 divisions to cadre

Several French armies reacted successfully, also preparing for future attacks but immediately launching a one-hex frontage surprise against grid 2118. National will offset entrenchments while uncontested air action netted the French a die roll bonus and a pip of incremental odds that nonetheless rolled downward from 3.1:1 . With a 3:1 +1, the French could have scored a DX and naturally did not; the BX cost both sides lightly:

French: RP eliminated; 9*-12-5 and 8*-11-5 divisions to cadre

German: RP eliminated; 13-15-5 division to cadre

In the air, German strategic hopes were mostly thwarted by nature. High winds in the Alps prevented two zeppelin groups from crossing into Italy while a third group missed an Italian factory. Patchy clouds caused three zeppelin groups find and miss Kingston. Five air groups struck at a French ammunition depot, suffering only a single return by flak and hitting the dump hard, though there was no cascade explosion.

After the severe British reaction combat and an inspection of manpower stockpiles, German forces in exploitation shifted units to mix contingents within hexes as much as possible. Prussian manpower is almost gone and the Bavarian, Saxon, and Wurtemburg contingents can no longer be shielded from the ravages of combat.

July I 1916

Entente Turn

July 1916 brought the game a couple more “first” events during what has become an unexceptional string of economic and initial phases. During the previous two months, zeppelins hit several Entente factories and the Entente calculated that purchasing extra iron from Chile, simply to place into production factories that would probably not fully produce their hoped-for product, would be unwise. Chilean trade went forward at only a minimal rate for the bi-monthly period. Subsequently, one factory did fail to produce, justifying Entente fears at fortunately small cost. In the end, the Entente produced 25.5, and the Central Powers 25.0, equipment points, in addition to what will surely prove to be plentiful ammunition. For Austria-Hungary, France, and Germany, a downward spiral of infantry income continued in July, with the French by far the worst afflicted. Germanic air replacements continued to be relatively overwhelming, but really only adequate, but French and Italian air units increasingly litter the pools; about their only British losses are self-aborting fighters in patrol attacks over London. The first Russian unit in France also became combat-ready in early July.

Entente Initial Phase Replacement Activities:

Prussia: 2x 9-12-5 rifle XX’s from cadre

Wurtemburg: 16-18-5 rifle XX from cadre

France, Army of Africa:  10-13-6* light XX from cadre

France, Colonial: disband and scrap 2-3-5 rifle [X]

France, Metropolitan: 10-13-7* light and 8-12-7 light XX’s from cadre; replace 0-2-5 siege eng [X] and 3x

7-5-4 hvy art III; repair two and replace one air units

Britain: 2x 10-13-5 rifle XX from cadre; repair SEEngland Air Defense Garrison fighter; disband and scrap 2-1-7 hvy cav X

In the air, the normal, superb Germanic flak continued to reign. Four Italian and French groups tried to visit Koln for some recreational terror bombing, but half a group fell, two groups fled, and the remaining group lacked the strength to roll alone. The lone Ca-2 group, however, went around interceptors at nearer cities to visit Nurnburg and scored a rare hit after dodging light, local flak.

British artillery units continued to mass against the German salient toward Lille while the French army spent some weeks preparing for several reorganization and reinforcement activities, therefore massing forces only against a mixed Germanic force in grid 2419. A French attack went in there without an air battle and French aerial reconnaissance succeeded, though half a group of attack bombers fell to flak. National will, reconnaissance, and a pair of successful assaults by two brigades each of engineers more than offset entrenchments in wooded rough terrain, but General Eugene provided inspirational defensive leadership to keep the die roll modifier even. Odds of 3.7:1 rolled upward and hope was high in Entente ranks that a very rare DX might result, but Eugene had saved the situation and the roll of “5” provided the usual BX.

French losses: RP and 0-1-4 eng III eliminated; 3x 8*-11-5 rfl XX to 3*-5-5 cadre

Austro-Hungarian losses: RP eliminated; 10-13-5 rfl XX to 4-6-5 cadre

Prussian losses: 9-12-5 rfl XX to 4-5-5 cadre

No German reaction rolls succeeded on the main or Italian fronts in early July 1916.

In the air, Germany’s Zeppelin fleet found mixed receptions. Over Naples, three airship groups found good weather and scored the monthly maximum of two terror hits against Italy – French factories will presumably feel their wrath next. The first British fighter capable of hurting a Zeppelin took up duties in London, so the northern attacks went instead to Nottingham, finding the city but not terrorizing the subjects therein.

At sea, the bulk of the Entente transport and landing fleet arrived again in Venice with a large Franco-Italian escort.

Central Powers Turn

During the Central Powers half of early July 1916, events continued apace.

German: replace one air group and repair two air groups; rebuild 5-6-5* and 4-5-5* Prussian cadres to full rifle XX’s; replace 3*-4-4 rfl X

French: rebuild 3x 3-5-5* cadres to full rifle XX’s

Austro-Hungarian: rebuild 4-6-5 cadre to full rfl XX and replace 2-7 high mtn III

In the first Central Powers anti-shipping strike of the war, the Austro-Hungarian LohH air group took only a quick look at the Entente fleet in Venice before fleeing its flak.

On the ground, Central Powers forces again contented themselves with preparing for the continuing steady stream of reorganizations and reinforcement activities while ensuring frontline security against Entente threats.

In reaction, in Italy all Entente armies failed to activate, but on the main front some armies did bestir themselves to wage war. French forces massed against grid 1719, as usual, but in this case the long delay in the gaming sessions served the Entente wrong: the French can only attack that location after a bombardment, as the odds in reaction combat phase are less than 2:1 with a probable even or negative roll modifier. British forces likewise massed against grid 0621 and likewise pulled the plug on their prospective attack, though in their case only after the usual failure of their aerial reconnaissance effort.

At grid 2118, the French did manage an attack that met their (low) standard for being “good.” The French massed elite troops, superior morale, and aerial reconnaissance against defending entrenchments for a die roll modifier of “+2.” A brigade of engineer committed suicide attempting to improve that modifier: another month of engineer replacements and almost the end of the French ability to use them against more than one hex in a turn. Odds of 2.6:1 rolled upward, but with a +2 modifier the roll was an inevitable “1” for the usual BX result that is gradually losing the Entente this war.

German losses: RP consumed; 13-15-5 rfl XX to 6-7-5 cadre

French losses: 9-12-7 and 8-11-5 XX’s to 4-5-7 and 3-5-5 cadres; RP consumed

It is at this moment observed that the Germans must lose 103 morale points before the end of January 1917 in order to not gain any morale point bonus at the annual national morale check. Such a loss is beyond imagination.

In the air, Zeppelins hit one French factory while various Entente efforts against Germans cities suffered flak-fright or simply missed their targets.


June II 1916

Entente Turn

A scattering of “firsts” might almost have led future historians to find the second half of June 1916 to be a period worth recording in the history of the First World War.

Replacements and Reinforcements:

The Portuguese expeditionary force arrived in France at full strength and assembled at Lens because the Entente committed to their strength and arrival being as early as possible long ago through conditional reinforcements and recently through emptying and sending transport ships ahead of time.

The French Air Force regrouped two each groups of observation balloons and bombers, heedless of the morale cost in their heightened state and desperate for “free ARPs.” This was another “first.” The French Army replaced an engineer regimental group and the French Navy replaced their lost destroyer flotilla.

The final brigade of Irish rebels surrendered due to being out of supply and isolated, so that the British immediately intensified their effort at reorganizing the garrison of Ireland and moving troops to France as they could be spared in the country.

The first move of the continuing, grand Entente slump eastward came near the coast. British forces massed to attack 0521. The Dutch Air Force managed to abort the British observation balloon unit and German flak sent the fixed-wing spies scurrying, so that in this case the air battle really did determine the outcome of a ground battle: the British attack did not go forward.

In the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, French forces sought to nibble their Austro-Hungarian opponents at grid 2419, in hopes of hitting the expeditionary force hard enough to force it to shorten or weaken its position and thus discomfort the Germans who would have to cover the weakness. Aerial reconnaissance, national will, and a single engineer attempt with two brigades exactly counterbalanced wooded rough terrain and entrenchments. The attack might have been good, therefore 3.4:1 odds rolled downward, irrelevantly however as a combat roll of 2 indicated Entente bungling and a usual BX result.

French: RP and 0-1-4 eng [III] eliminated; 3x 8*-11-5 rifle XX to cadre

Prussian: 9-12-5 rifle XX to cadre

Austro-Hungarian: RP eliminated, 10-13-5 rifle XX to cadre

The semi-usual, much more intensive, French effort against the iron mining complex of grid 1719 continued in late June, as a sort-of reverse, less successful version of the historical Battle of Verdun. One French reconnaissance group lost half its strength to German fighters, but other spies did their jobs and the bombardment went forward. Increasing French artillery fired 14 shots of 16 points each, achieving a quite good 17 bombardment hits, reducing the defense strength of the hex from 151 to 89.75. Two maximized engineer attempts scored one success, national will offset entrenchments, Petain negated the influence of Falkenhayn, and an unbelievable (1-in-6, but much less often in practice) French gas engineer success offset the formidable resource center defense bonus. Odds of 2.8:1 rolled upward and the result was practically foregone: a BX.

French: 0-1-4 eng [III] and 3x RP eliminated; 10*-13-7 light, 2x 10-13-5* rifle, 13-13-6* African light, 8-11-5* rifle, and 3x 9-12-5* rifle XX’s to cadre

German: 6-9-4* naval rifle, 7-10-4* Bavarian rifle, 12-14-5 Saxon rifle, 9-12-4 rifle, and 2x 13-15-5 rifle XX’s to cadre; RP and 1*-2-2 fort X eliminated

German flak aborted an Italian air group over Koln; the other Italians missed with their bombs.

South of the Alps, Italian forces continued to flounder about in the mountains north of the Isonzo River, unable to attack with any prospect of success, unable to draw supply to their spearheads, and unwilling to retreat from what should somehow be a worthwhile position.

Central Powers Turn

During the Germanic half of the second half of June 1916, repair of units provided exceptional activity.

France: 4x 8-11-5* rifle, 3x 9-12-5* rifle, and 2x 10-13-5* rifle XX’s from cadre

Austro-Hungarian: 10-13-5 rifle XX from cadre

Bavarian: 7-10-4* rifle XX from cadre

Saxon: 12-14-5 rifle XX from cadre

Prussian: 9-12-5 rifle, 2x 13-15-5 rifle, 9-12-4 rifle, and 6-9-4* naval rifle XX’s from cadre; air unit repaired

As is common, the only Central Powers offensive action came from zeppelins in late July. In the air over London, the Southeast England Air Defense Garrison self-aborted, another 1-in-6 event that happens 1-in-3 times. The Entente flak arm is busy protecting Italian cities and an Italian airbase in France, where the only realistic Entente bomber hangs-out before and after, and usually during, its missions.

In reaction of the Central Powers half of the turn, that Italian Ca-2 group provided a very rare bit of bright news for the Entente by actually braving German flak and actually hitting Stuttgart in a terror bombing raid. The beast’s statistical outlook says that flak should drive it away approximately 25% of the time and it should miss its target 50% of the time; it has achieved half that much.

A few French armies reacted, but even in the one attack where they massed for combat, a subsequent count revealed 3:2 odds, a good chance of getting a pyrrhic AX result, and no real chance of achieving a DX result. In so massing, however, the French provoked a serious air battle in which they managed to lose four air replacements of units as against two points of German losses.

While the French attack aborted entirely, the British finally got lucky nearer the North Sea. British forces massed against grid 0521 and things went well for a change. The British escort fighter killed an intercepting group of German F33h’s and the escort’s charges did their job very well, so that the battle went forward. Siege engineers cancelled entrenchments, in a nice change of pace, while two single brigades of combat engineers made their risky attempts to uniform success. Only in gas engineering were the British unsuccessful, so that while odds of 2.2:1 rolled downward it seemed certain that another BX was on offer. The result was a DX and one of the very rare Entente battlefield successes made big headlines in the Western world.

German: RP eliminated; 16-18-5 Wurtemburg rifle and 2x 9-12-5 Prussian rifle XX’s to cadre

French: 2x RP, 1-5 eng [III], and 1-4-5 siege eng [X] eliminated; 2x 10-13-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

June I 1916

Entente Turn

After the bloodletting of May, June 1916 should have been a period of quiet recovery. The month began instead with both rivers of conventional blood and with an Entente amphibious attempt to break the stalemate.

In the first days of June, replacements flowed to numerous formations

Britain: 9-12-5, 8-11-5, and 4-7-4 RN rifle XX’s from cadre; 8-6-4 LRSiege Arty III from II; and air group replaced

French: 2x 10*-13-5 rifle XX from cadre; three air groups repaired; 12-4-R LR Hvy Siege III from II; 0-1-4 eng [III] replaced

Prussian: 2x 16-18-5 and 18-20-5 rifle XX from cadre; and 7*-9-5 [XX] from cadre

Bavarian: 13-15-5 rifle XX from cadre

Italian: CauG3 bomber repaired

A combined Entente naval and French ground force invaded s’Gravenhage as June 1916 opened with calm seas and dry ground. Dutch coast defense cruisers and the far away High Seas Fleet refused to intervene, so the invasion came against no naval opposition. Dutch coast defense guns in the target city sank a flotilla of French destroyers, the sum of Entente naval losses due to the invasion. The Central Powers exerted danger zone failed to cause a loss before an Entente minefield rendered the sector safe from that threat. Finally, a Dutch machinegun regiment reacted into the threatened city from the northeast, to bolster the division and coastal battery already defending the place.

In the air over the target city, French and British reconnaissance aircraft with French escorts battled successfully through German interception and flak, at the cost of half a group each of French and Germans. To the southwest, Italian reconnaissance succeeded at the cost of half a group to flak.

The ships began the ground battle with bombardments. Italian ships performed remarkably, bombarding the three Dutch divisions on the coast southwest of the city with six hits. At the target, British and French vessels bombarded all three defending units into badly disrupted status, also leaving the machinegun regiment unsupported.

The Dutch then attempted reaction with the only units capable of getting to the target hex: the three divisions along the coast southwest of the city. One of two disrupted divisions successfully reacted, becoming badly disrupted but dramatically bolstering the defense. The undisrupted division failed its reaction roll too, so the Entente gamble had certainly not failed yet, though when flak missed the lone Dutch air group on defensive air support the odds worsened a bit.

In combat, the Entente enjoyed certain advantages and a respectable result that equaled failure. National will, reconnaissance, and an elite force brought substantial net modifiers when balanced only against entrenchments. Odds of 3.7:1 rolled downward, they obviously had to do so after the combat roll of 6 would have yielded a DL result had the odds NOT rolled downward, and a DX result ruled the day.

French losses: 2x RP and DD flotilla eliminated; air group aborted; 8*-12-7 alpine rifle XX to cadre (isolated)

Italian losses: air group aborted

German losses: air group aborted

Netherlands losses: RP and 5*-8-5 rifle XX eliminated (wholly, to satisfy 11 losses)

The invasion of s’Gravehage thus resulted in a French force of two divisions, a brigade, a cadre, and a regiment besieged by a badly disrupted division and battery of coast defense guns. The standard result of all World War One actions on the Western Front happened again; that is why it was a standard.

Westward along the coast, the British massed for an attack out of Oostende against the Dutch anchored on the coast by the German short-range siege train. The British, with only two reconnaissance air groups in the Western Front war in June 1916, and with one of those groups over s’Gravenhage, unsurprisingly managed to fail their aerial spying attempt. Given a 1-hex to 1-hex attack against canal intensive entrenchments, the British would have attempted the assault had their balloon found targets – to pressure the Dutch simultaneous with the invasion seemed worthwhile – but without spotting it seemed less like pressure and more like suicide.

The French move against Briey continued in early June. After interceptors aborted a balloon group (another “first”), the French managed to fail to achieve aerial reconnaissance and thus definitely did not bombard the defenders. The assault went forward nonetheless, with national will and one of two multi-brigade engineer assaults mostly cancelling an active and adept Falkenhayn, the entrenchments, and the resource center. The French did not bother to waste a slot on their 1-in-6 gas chance and Petain was as useless in 1916 as he would go on to be in 1940. Bloodletting like this is rapidly drying up replacement pools on both sides. Odds of 2.2:1 naturally rolled upward but the negative net DRM left BX the virtually inevitable result.

French losses: RP and 0-1-4 eng [III] eliminated; 10-13-7 COL, 10-13-5 COL, 2x 8*-11-5, and 3x 9*-12-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

German losses: RP eliminated; 2x 7*-9-5, 9*-12-4, 6*-9-4 Nvl, 7*-10-4 BAV, and 13-15-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

Not far away, the French also struck against grid 2018 in another attempt to deepen the salient containing Briey and Metz. Sparse French reconnaissance met no aerial opposition, the Germans being somewhat fooled and mostly committed elsewhere. National will, aerial spies, and two successful multi-brigade engineer assaults twice cancelled the effects of woods and entrenchments, so that the Entente briefly hoped to hold the field. When such seems possible, the obvious result is what happened: odds of 2.9:1 rolled downward and a BX naturally resulted.

French losses: RP and 1-5 eng III eliminated; 10-13-5, 9-12-7 alpine, and 8*-11-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

German losses: (no RP consumed as the Briey battle supplied both hexes) 13-15-5 BAV and 11-13-5 SAX XX’s to cadre

In reaction, events went well for the Central Powers. Zeppelins hit Naples, dragging the Italians to less than two morale points from national will two. Several German armies reacted, shifting units off the line so that they could easily rail to and crush the Entente “beachhead.” Most importantly, the lone Dutch army made its reaction roll and dispatched a disrupted division into the besieging force – and rendering that force non-overrunnable even if the French landed their entire accessible force.

In exploitation, British landing craft pulled the entire French force off the beach. German artillery could have joined the besieging force and made the beachhead utterly unsustainable during the ensuing Central Powers movement phase, so waiting to flee would have equaled vastly higher losses for probably no gain at all.

Central Powers Turn

The Central Powers’ half of the first half of June 1916 encompassed a bit of excitement laid over more of the usual pointless attrition.

First, fresh meat had to go into the grinder to sustain the war. French forces rebuilt nine divisions from cadre, including their whole quota of mountain and elite units and a pair of colonial divisions. German forces rebuilt two Bavarian, one Saxon, one naval, and six Prussian divisions from cadre, but also completely replaced four divisional cadres, one each combat engineer and field artillery regiments, and two Wurtembourg rifle brigades. Much of the German activity stemmed from the imminence of yet another vast wave of reorganizations and conversions.

At sea, the German Navy converted another stack of munitions into mines and continued to lay fields along the Dutch coast. In the air, the first ever naval patrol air mission failed to find the minelayers.

After the Germanic powers stood firm, the Entente tried to strike some blows.

In a rare opportunity spawned by the German reorganization, Italian troops surged forward into the high Alps to strike a lonely Austro-Hungarian regiment. After neither side could spend much ammunition and Italian national will came nowhere near matching the power of the mountains and Austro-Hungarian elite troops, the 6:1 attack resulted in a BX that cost the Italians 3-4-7 lt mtn [X] as against 2-6 high mtn III.

In frustration, British forces again attempted to strike the Dutch along the North Sea coast. An Italian attempt to destroy the Dutch ammunition stockpile missed, as has been the case in well over 90% of attempts, and at the cost of an aborted bomber group. The British suffered one each abort and returned results against their two air groups and without any advantages the British cancelled their attack.

The French reacted to mass against sector 1919, but in the face of a partial defending stack that totaled 101 defense, the French decided against attempting suicide. Next time, the French will count even half stacks of Germans, despite knowing in advance that without a massive bombardment there is no chance of making any successful attack on the main front.

The Entente conclusion, reinforced again, is that they must spend 1916 and 1917 making only the most carefully prepared of massive assaults with the benefit of maximum air support, full overstacks of artillery bombarding, eight regiments of combat engineers, and all the best rifle divisions. Doing this, the Entente can have a realistic chance of achieving better than 2:1 odds, therefore potentially rolling the odds column upward, and therefore plausibly scoring a DX result one time in ten. This will not win the war, but it might possibly leave the Entente strong enough to survive until tactical skill and American forces start to change the face of the war and make victory possible in 1918.

All of November and December 1915; plus all of January, February, March, and April 1916; plus I MAY 1916

The poor weather of autumn 1915 and winter and spring of 1916 passed by with plentiful misery but minimal losses as the players agreed to “fast forward” the turns of poor weather in the interests of sanity and efficiency. October 1915 having ended with a British BX and French BX and two AX results, the Entente had little choice but to take a breather. The Germans, facing a morale penalty against the French and a weather penalty against everyone, besides having a serious accumulation of losses from a summer of Entente attacks, were equally willing to set aside offensive actions. Neither side expects to have enough force to attack continuously throughout summer 1916, so there was no reason to spend those resources less effectively even sooner. After mud came late and then frost failed to materialize in December, the period of combat-impeding weather was uninterrupted through six months.

One exceptionally interesting thing did happen at the very beginning of the season, however: the Entente declared war against The Netherlands. The logic is straightforward: the Germans will run out of food sooner and thus suffer more morale point losses earlier in the war if the Entente is at war against food-selling Dutch than if they are merely collaterally blockaded as was historical. The Entente in this game is confident that a historically-timed German surrender will be impractical to achieve and any advantage in this regard is wholly welcome. Two downsides, various Entente ships and units going to Indonesia for some time, are truly minor. The downside of facing the army of The Netherlands on the battlefield in Europe appears minor, as they are roughly as strong in their individual units as is Italy’s army and if given a sector might actually make an Entente breakthrough more likely than would the same area under the German thumb. Finally, the enlarged Central Powers coastline will be more vulnerable to amphibious assault, which is largely to say that the Germans will probably commit a few units to help the Dutch wholly prevent the English ever trying anything in that regard. Unlike this same potential decision in 1914, the players do not regard this as historically illegitimate because at the end of 1915, unlike a year earlier, the Entente has the battlefield experience to validate the player belief that any alternative must be more likely to succeed than the plan of beating the Germans on the battlefield.

Both sides, accumulating replacements and reinforcements through four production cycles without much loss, grew relatively flush with spare men and equipment. Both sides’ armies therefore enjoyed considerable enhancement. The following were rebuilt from cadre or enlarged from smaller incarnations:
British: 3x 1-2-4 flak III, 5x 10-13-5 rifle XX, 2x 6-5 field artillery X, 6x heavy or siege artillery units, 3-5-5 engineer X, 1-2-4 siege engineer X
French: 13*-16-7 mtn lt XX, 10*-13-5 rifle XX, 17x 8*-11-5 rifle XX, 2x 1-2-4 flak III, 1-2-4 siege engineer X, 13 assorted heavy, mortar, and/or siege artillery units, 4-5-5 field artillery III, 3x 9*-12-5 rifle XX
French Colonial: 10*-13-5 rifle XX
French Army of Africa: 12*-15-6 lt XX, 10*-13-6 lt XX
Prussian: 2x 18-20-5 rifle XX, 2x 1-2-4 flak III, 2x 3-5-5 engineer X’s, 2x 9-12-5 rifle XX, 12-14-5 rifle XX, 3x 13-15-5 rifle XX, 10-13-5 rifle XX, 5 assorted heavy or siege artillery units
German Navy: 8*-11-4 rifle XX
Bavarian: 7*-10-4 rifle XX
Italian: 2x 4*-5-7 mtn X, 7*-10-7 lt XX, 2 long range siege artillery units, 5x 7-10-5 field artillery XX, 9x 6*-9-5 rifle XX
Austria-Hungary: 0-5 RR eng X, 1-2-4 flak III

The following were replaced:
British: 1-5 engineer III, 4*-6-5 rifle cadre
French: 3x 7-5-4 heavy artillery III (another dozen or more still languish in the replacement pool, where they were placed by OB), 2x 4-5 field artillery III, 3-4-4 field artillery III, 7x assorted engineer III,
0-1-4 siege engineer III
French Colonial: 2-5 field artillery II
French Foreign: 3-2-7 lt III, 2-7 lt III
Prussian: 2-3-7 lt III, 16-18-5 rifle XX, 3-5-5 engineer X, 2x 4-8-5 mg X, 3-6-5 mg III, 2*-5-2 fortress X, 4*-5-4 rifle cadre, 1-2-5 engineer III
Bavarian: 4-8-5 mg X
Italian: 2x 5-7-5 field artillery X’s
Austria-Hungary: 2x 2*-5-2 fortress X, 2x 1*-4-2 fortress X

Several events and trends of interest reared their heads in the French Army over winter. The French finally disbanded the last of their zero-movement fortress artillery (one unit from each Toul, Epinal, Lille, Belfort, and Verdun) after onset of bad weather made German air attack against resource points implausible and the 1916 intrinsic flak table became more generous. Five Noir brigades went into winter quarters then returned to the battlefield at about the same time as active operations began again, but the formations were of such quality that they are unlikely to see combat anyway (they will mostly be in conversions later). The French received a flood of 3-regiment divisions, which will save them considerable morale points as the war drags along, but traded away all of their best attack divisions in a series of consolidations, so that the (fewer) best French divisions now offer a 10-attack strength whereas previously there were a couple of corps of 12- and 13-attack strength divisions in the order of battle. Being secure in their morale situation but being desperate for infantry replacements, the French now stack many of their frontline hexes with a mixture of units that include trash-grade metropolitan units for the Germans to (hopefully) attack and destroy, so that the French can first garner their special replacements and then scrap the units for further manpower (as they are not allowed to disband units with lower than 5-movement rates).

While the French waned, the British waxed over winter. The exceptions to the wax were two Indian rifle divisions departing the Western Front, leaving behind two cavalry cadres and a small host of replacement points which may be handy in the future but will not be soon. A light shine came in the form of the first two South African units arriving for service in France. Canada continued to enlarge and deepen its contingent of elite units in France, such that the British can now plan to make one attack with the elite bonus early in the summer of 1916 and probably another later, after accruing and spending special and regular replacements. The Australia and New Zealand contingents also began to arrive in France over the winter, providing further elite units. Between the ANZACs, Canadians, and better British units, the British can now attack with by far the strongest contingent of Entente rifle divisions to go along with a set of supporting arms still weaker than that of the Italians.

An inter-Entente effort to support French offensives comes in the form of long-range artillery. The French deploy the vast bulk of Entente assets of this type, but even the limited cooperation that the Entente is allowed makes useful small Italian assets of this type. In theory, even a brigade of British could assist the French without consuming an extra resource point, but the British cannot benefit from French aerial reconnaissance. Such cooperation is only useful in bombardment because of the morale bonus that applies in combat.

The Netherlands Army disbanded a quartet of immobile artillery units in favor of the Germans.

Probably most usefully of all the force structure changes, the first trickle of Central Powers 3-regiment divisions and “infantry” units began to arrive on the scene. The compact divisions will reduce Germanic morale loss per strength point while the tactically advanced units will eventually place the few German attacks on the mobile chart and make decisive action possible.

The indecisiveness of trench warfare meanwhile took a further turn for the worse as the Entente created many, and the Germans some, forts in place of entrenchments along the front line. The change is an additional penalty to the attacker in combat, but not bombardment.

In the air, the season began with a series of relevant bangs. French aircraft visited Koln and left a half group of low-quality airships burning, to which the Germans responded by disassembling and moving further away that airfield. French aircraft then managed to destroy a German resource point, which certainly matters but certainly matters very little. Zeppelins did less well in November, but did manage to hit London late in the month. British and Italian aircraft moved north, self-aborting due to transferring long distances but, at least in the Italian case, becoming so much more useful that the Entente player feels like a complete idiot for not having seen the possibility sooner (the Ca-2 is the only fixed-wing aircraft in the game capable of hitting with a bomb anything other than an aircraft on the ground by itself, and it can even do this strategically in poor weather!).

Air activity in December proved equally interesting. The Italian zeppelin force, two groups, actually flew point bombing missions for the first time in December, as the combination of calm seas and cold weather provided the combined force with the minimum 2-points required to get a roll. Naturally, their first attempt missed and the first flak abort of a zeppelin in this war happened on their second try, so that the Italian zeppelin force is once again functionally valueless. Meanwhile, useful air units went about their business: another German zeppelin burned on the ground, but the Germans tried and succeeded in repairing this one and also moved its base further toward the rear; a Fokker E1 was killed by a Voi4, costing Germany half a morale point; an MS3 was killed by a Fokker E3, costing France half a morale point; the first of a string of Entente self-aborts happened during patrol attacks (the only aerial defense against zeppelins, given the range-zero intercept limitation); the Ca-2 terror bombed Koln successfully; and the Italians and Germans both ended the air cycle on the replacement point ropes.

At sea, the British completed first the English Channel mine barrage and then a dramatically larger barrage extending from Oostende almost to s-Gravenhage and then back to the English coast at Lowestoft. This mine barrage is useful chiefly in blocking the danger zone that would otherwise make unhealthy naval activity in the Channel. The barrage potentially allows less-inhibited access to the coastline for Entente amphibious and bombardment activities.

Headlines, during the New Year, came from aerial activity. The first successful patrol attack against a zeppelin, over London, encouraged the Entente. The largest air battles of the war happened, and then grew in frequency and intensity, as did the drove of aircraft burning in front of fighters and flak guns and beneath bombs and bullets on the ground. By the end of the cycle, the Germans, Italians, and French all wished for more air replacement points and the Italians wished they had back their two morale points, lost to German zeppelins. In February, zeppelins hit Italian morale twice and hit but only ineffectually damaged a factory.

The February morale check proved interesting. The Austro-Hungarian Empire scored a bonus of 5/6 point, because the Italians have not had a plausible chance to attack them since May 1915. The French Empire reeled-in 81 29/36 morale points, placing them solidly in national will category five and making a German military victory imperative as a French morale collapse is probably impossible now. The unintended consequences of success include both the cancelling of any future French Mutiny, which will save the French 68 infantry points and plenty of heartache, and also the end of any chance of an Entente Unified Command, which alone could put French technical assets to work alongside the much higher rifle-power of British and eventually American armies.

In March 1916, in the air, events continued apace. The French air arm got slaughtered on the ground while the Germans got slaughtered in the air, again, by French flak. The Italian Ca-2, the only “real” fixed-wing bomber of the war (still!), scored a terror hit on Stuttgart but spent most of the cycle in the aborted pool through bizarrely lucky German anti-aircraft rolls that continue against only that one air unit and a likewise continuing counter-air bombing effort that focuses on it. Zeppelins went hunting all the way down to Naples to avoid growing Entente flak in Italian cities and came up dry repeatedly.

April 1916 witnessed yet more aerial carnage. The Zeppelins found and pounded Naples twice plus a couple of Italian and French factories. The Ca-2 hit Stuttgart again but the Italians ended the cycle at net negative-two air replacements, so popular was the Ca-2 with German flak and aerial gunners. French flak pounded the Germans down to net zero air replacements and the French joined them there as the host of useless French night bombers and observation balloons clutters the aborted aircraft pool.

On the ground, in preparation for the summer 1916 campaign season, various armies shifted their ground. The Italians entirely reorganized, with two armies on the Isonzo River, one army in the high Alps Mountains between the Isonzo and the Germanic fortress Trient, and one army between Switzerland and Trient. A French army moved into position adjacent to Trient around almost a circular perimeter, to prevent the German units there from breaking through the fragile Italians and out onto the fertile plains of northern Italy. Elsewhere, the French and Germans both reorganized their armies so that their most offensive units lay on rail lines and behind the front, while lesser formations held the front. The French heavy artillery train concentrated west of Metz in two full overstacks and as a large portion of three regular corps stacks. The German siege train lay along the coast near Oostende, ostensibly to make any Entente naval bombardment prohibitively costly but in reality with a more offensive purpose in mind. The British, being eyed-up by the Germans and evacuating Italy except for a few flak units, held the line from Oostende for 125 miles inland to southwest of Charleroi. The Belgians took the next thirty miles of front, in the Ardennes Forest, while the French held the remainder of the Western Front for the Entente. The Austro-Hungarian High Command, flush with assets after a season of facing no attacks at all, dispatched an army to hold the fifty miles of the Western Front nearest Switzerland, while continuing to hold the Isonzo Front inviolable and cherishing plans to turn the Italian inland flank there.

The ground war reopened in May with a bang and a whimper. Franco-Italian aircraft started by setting a German ammunition dump alight successfully, but a second resource point did not chain-react with the first and follow-on French missions missed their targets. The British then scored the bi-weekly whimper by failing their pair of reconnaissance rolls and non-conducting their hoped-for attack. In the air at the front, two German and one French air groups became aborted, potentially stretching the new cycle’s air replacement point supply but not inhibiting ground activity, which began with a massive French assault on the huge iron mine complex around Briey.

The French assault on Briey was for the history books in every way except the completely normal final outcome. Successful reconnaissance enabled the most successful bombardment of the war to date, with the French spending two resource points for well over 200 regimental equivalents of artillery ammunition (artillery consume double their size, overstacked units also consume double their size) and scoring 17 bombardment hits despite the fort and resource center in the hex. Combat effects included the French national will bonus and one of two engineering attempts, unbalanced against the resource center, the fort, and defending gas engineers who reacted into the hex. Another engineer attempt failed, as did leaders from both sides and the French gas engineers. German siege engineers reacted into the hex and French siege engineers did not attempt a sap as the 1-in-3 chance to self-eliminate two months of engineer replacements while expending a resource point seemed horribly unwise. Defensive air support slightly bolstered the defenders, but the attack went in at 3.1:1 regardless, due to the massive bombardment. The French naturally continued to bungle what was certainly among their best attacks of the war to date, rolling downward and then rolling just barely well enough to avoid an AX.

French losses: 3x RP, 2-5 field artillery II (COL), and 0-1-4 eng III eliminated; 2x 10*-13-5, 3x 8*-11-5, 10*-13-5 rifle (COL), and 9*-12-5 rifle XX’s all reduced to cadre

German losses: RP and 2-3-5 field artillery III eliminated; 2x 9-12-5 rifle, 7-10-4 rifle (BAV), 12-14-5 rifle, and 13-15-5 rifle XX’s reduced to cadre

The French are happy enough to have escaped an AX, but this is the best the Entente can do and it is not close to being good enough to defeat the German armies before the Entente runs out of men.

In reaction, zeppelins hit Roma, which they hit again during the Central Powers’ half of the turn besides also hitting an Italian factory and London once each. The Italians teeter a fraction of a morale point from dropping their national will to two, which will be the cue of German ground forces to begin to grind them to dust.

During the Germanic half of the turn, the Germans replaced the Dutch along the coastal front line and threw everything they had at the British in Oostende. The first German bombardment of the war became the first bombardment of the war not to “waste” the last hit, all nine of which did effective damage and cut the British defense by almost half its strength. British reserves failed to commit, as one expects of Entente forces. The first German gas use bonus gained the Germans a bonus for gas effects, but their two engineering attempts both failed, so that canals and entrenchments cancelled gas and reconnaissance. The odds, a 5.4:1 that the Entente cannot imagine achieving, rolled upward and the Germans were set for a major victory only to manage a BX.

German losses: 2x RP eliminated; 18-20-5 rifle and 15-17-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

British losses: RP eliminated; 3x 9-12-5 rifle XX’s to cadre

In repost, Entente disappointments continued as German flak aborted two more French aircraft and all the remaining Entente air assets missed or were returned. The Entente ground forces might have attacked, but every single army headquarters where an attack was plausible failed to react.

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