Europa Games and Military History

Tag: OT (Page 2 of 5)

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.

Africa Theater, OCT15 – MAR16

Note: Due to a significant error in rule interpretation, the Africa part of the game was reset in December 2015 and completely replayed. this turn report it therefor obsolete.

After the Entente made substantial progress despite occasional reversals during the previous half year, a feeling of decisiveness pervaded events in Africa during the period October 1915 thru March 1916. The French had already reduced the Berber to offensive impotence. Franco-British troops seemed about to put the Germans in Cameroon to the knife before turning against the fast, fragile Sanussi. Slightly growing Italian forces even seemed likely to contribute offensively. Without a Cameroon to run to, the wandering German force from Namibia seemed likely to either turn east to feed the flies their horseflesh or push north to try to cooperate – inevitably badly – with the Sanussi in the high Sahara. The Germans in East Africa would surely continue to feel increasing pressure from massing British and Portuguese forces.

Both sides remained largely idle in Libya until throughout the period, at least until March 1916. Italian forces continued to hold Tripoli and Sirte in discontinuous coastal enclaves, tied-in with French forces thrust down out of Tunisia. In that month, however, the Italians became positively offensive, replacing a colonial light rifle regiment, strengthening it with light artillery, and using it to assist an attack. Five regiments of French light rifles landed through Tripoli in May and immediately struck inland against two brigades of Sanussi infantry. The Italians and more French units hemmed the Sanussi into with patrols so that they could not run and the Foreign Legion and Colonial Rifle force, possessed of superior morale and training, ground the defender nearly to dust. If the French commitment to the sideshow of Libya continues, mid- and late-1916 seems likely to be spent bloodily fighting set-piece battles for dominance of the Sanussi heartland rather than chasing wildly across thousands of miles of scattered oases.

Events in French Northwest Africa remained even more static than in Libya throughout the six months thru March 1916. The Berber, divided by the French into enclaves centered in Spanish Morocco and on the Atlantic coast in Southern Morocco, enjoy just enough ammunition production to keep pace with routine expenditures (they produce no supply points because the French cut them to only eight Berber recruitment hexes, whereas production of supply points requires ten) and are therefore offensively impotent. If the Berber once attack with supply, they will thereafter lack supply with which to defend themselves and will be doomed to be driven out of French Morocco by even such weak forces as the French currently deploy to hem the Berbers away from civilization. Meanwhile, one each Italian light rifle and mounted rifle units assist a few French units in actively patrolling the huge southern edge of the French colonies, trading control of various oases with the overstretched Sanussi and tying each other down in what could have been an important, even newsworthy, sector.

In far away West Africa, the contest between the Sanussi and their would-be overlords swung wildly back and forth as miniscule forces tried to maintain garrison requirements, survive, and expand friendly territory in a vast land of wild contrasts. The sentence remains as unchanged in the game report as events do on the ground. The vast majority of European forces continue to be tied to the littoral districts, often outside the area in which the desert-proficient Sanussi can wage effective war and from which the few Sanussi in the theater cannot eject them. For a while, a few British battalions assisted the French on the fringes of Dahomey, and a net of a few battalions of French moved into garrisons in the area, but the chief “excitement” came from the French managing to find an unoccupied light rifle regiment to put-down a small native revolt that had smoldered for months but never quite grown a flame. French hopes of a quick offensive, to push the Sanussi from west to east away from Rio de Oro, failed to materialize in the face of a slight Sanussi buildup in huge geography and the continuous ebb of French units from Senegal to Europe. Eventually, beginning in February, the French managed to advance into the desert in the face of weakening Sanussi resistance (see events elsewhere), even retaking Timbuktu, but there is almost no chance of combat – what maneuver cannot do, will not be done in this sector.

On the northern edge of Central Africa, in late 1915 and early 1916, the Entente seized the initiative as the Sanussi never quite recovered from their self-immolation in March 1915 and their series of whack-a-mole expeditions in pursuit of British and French irregular units later in the year. By October 1915, the French and British assembled enough force to picket the southern Sahara from Chad through Nigeria. By December, French forces were growing fast so that the Sanussi both drew in units from elsewhere in their drifting empire and issued artillery wholesale to unsupported units to better face the threat. The French advanced for months, oasis to oasis, struggling all the while to haul combat supplies to the front in the face of the distantly threatening and highly mobile Sanussi, before finally giving up the effort as insufferably risky. Five French light rifle regiments quickly withdrew along British railroads to ports while foaming further light regiments into first layer of oases north of the civilized road and town network. Neither side much cared that in Chad, one of two rebellions grew slightly.

The German colony of Kameroon expired in November 1915 to broad Entente relief and a steady diet of German teeth gnashing and morale point loss. While the British and some French worked outward in October and on newly-dried roads in November, in November the core French force of Colonial light riflemen struck concentrically against the final force in the last German-held town in the colony. Terrain expertise countered rough ground and without weather impediments success was guaranteed; mercifully, for the first time in Africa in this war, Entente forces did not even get their noses bloodied by stubborn defenders. All that remained was to form the garrison, sucking in only two units, and to furlough three British Colonial light rifle regiments and a couple of divisions of local laborers. The remaining French forces flowed out northward to fight the Sanussi while the remaining British units flowed out westward to complete garrisons along the Atlantic coast, from which the West Indian construction regiment simultaneously withdrew for duty in Iraq.

In Belgian Congo, the column of German cavalry fleeing the loss of German Southwest Africa heard about the collapse in Cameroon but continued their move toward…anything at all. Offensively, the Germans hoped to use the number of their units to corner, isolate, and force the surrender of at least one Belgian garrison unit while en route to German East Africa by way of Uganda. In counterpoint, after the collapse in Cameroon, Entente forces quickly moved to isolate the Germans (isolated and U-2 units roll for surrender). In the event, both sides won and lost.

The German cavalry, but not their supplies, escaped into German East Africa. Suddenly isolated, the Germans converted their supply point for general use then used their faster movement to squirt free to the north shore of Lake Victoria. While the French, British, and Belgians massed to contain and exterminate them there, the Germans took a first advantage of their newly-won naval superiority on the Lake to haul two regiments into Tanzania. The third German regiment braved tsetse flies, survived its 50-50 roll to eliminate, and moved southeast along the shore to further temporary sanctuary before subsequently being boated across. British forces mopped-up Uganda and re-established naval dominance by retaking both northern ports on the Lake.

In Angola, the standoff between Portuguese rulers and African bandits continued unremarkably for most of the period October 1915 thru March 1916. Portuguese units in the colony only met the garrison requirement and could even move supply points forward for use in rebellion reduction by their solitary regiment in each district. The banditry likewise remained largely static, though one rebellion did increase by one level; no African units have taken the field and none are likely to do so because of the overwhelming South African presence (just across the southern border but close enough to several rebellions to inhibit their growth). Finally, in March, the South African government dispatched a mounted rifle brigade by road and rail across Namibia to help the Portuguese put down the revolts and pacify this particular little corner of the Dark Continent.

For all practical purposes, South Africa by October 1915 was simply the preeminent rear area of the African continent and its bulk overwhelmed administrative and logistical contributions made by other African colonies on the continent to the worldwide war effort. The Capetown factory provided most of the heavy weapons that allowed unit upgrades of Belgians in Rwanda, Indians and later more Indians in Kenya, British Colonials in Uganda, South African riflemen in Natal, and even Italian Colonials in Libya. South African manpower and horses replaced four more brigades of Boer mounted riflemen, which finally re-completed the garrisons of southern Africa, and enlarged a static regiment into a brigade on the coast of Tanzania. Fresh recruits, largely from West Africa, meanwhile replaced a British Colonial rifle regiment in Kenya, a French Colonial light rifle battalion in Senegal, and enlarged one each British and French Colonial static regiments into brigades in order to complete garrisons. French training bases in Madagascar and Senegal likewise continued their slow churning, sending a couple of regiments of colonials to more active sectors.

From a smoldering spark in mid-1915, by early 1916 events in German East Africa flickered to growing light and heat. In October, from Mombassa, a British irregular cavalry brigade seized Tanga before being eaten by flies; British ZOCs would keep the city in British hands unless the Germans chanced a regular unit against the voracious bugs. Meanwhile, further south along the coast the British amphibiously landed north of Kilwa and then expanded their beachhead to two brigades and a regiment with naval gunfire support. The Germans responded by issuing artillery, gradually built-up in the colony by blockade runners, merchant raiders, and the sunken light cruiser Konigsberg, to two light rifle battalions in October and a whole regiment in November. The British spent the next few months bringing units into Kenya by sea and Uganda by land, parrying German cavalry in the latter colony, strengthening their beachhead and following the Germans out of the only fly-free port on Tanzania’s coastline, and pushing two more units through Nyasaland into Tanzania from the south and west. The Portuguese also did their part, both by strengthening their hold on Mozambique as much as possible while avoiding the flies and by marching one colonial rifle regiment into southern Tanzania. By February 1916, the Entente and tsetse flies held in strength the entire circle around the German defenders of Tanzania; reinforced German forces could not move out in any direction except south and could not even reasonably go that way because of flies, Entente zones of control on roads, and Entente units occupying key terrain. In February, the Germans retook Tanga to receive a blockade runner in March. The newly arrived German artillery unit and newly formed construction regiment combined to carry the supplies from the ship away from Tanga, leaving the Entente the pleasure of its capture again when they eventually want to risk another unit against the bugs, which meanwhile ate the German light battalion that had lingered there. The British considered the offer and instead finally unveiled strength that had taken a year and a half to build: they attacked on a broad front across the border from Kenya, sending the defenders of Moeshi retreating (12:2, net -2 could have been an AQ or EX) and compressing the German defenders further. The Germans shifted in response, still enjoying the general supply provided by the core road and town network of their colony but, like the defenders of Cameroon before them, also waiting for the next hammer to fall.

Africa Theater, MAR15 – SEP15

Note: Due to a significant error in rule interpretation, the Africa part of the game was reset in December 2015 and completely replayed. this turn report it therefor obsolete.

Despite a feeling of decision early in the year, 1915 ground bumpily along in the various theaters of war in Africa, with plenty of reverses bedeviling both sides. East Africa again hosted the least eventful theater of actual war during March through September of 1915, though the Entente made intermittent progress. Immobility and incredible mobility both led to a lack of combat in Namibia, Angola, and Congo. Cameroon was the place where the Entente expected to make serious progress early in 1915 and where the Entente suffered its most serious reverse. Not unexpectedly, the match of the Sanussi versus the Italians, French, and British in and around the Sahara Desert proved to be the most mobile struggle despite rubbing against the relatively static contest between French and Berbers in Morocco.

The Italian military did not remain idle in mid-1915, but also failed to garner any headlines. During March and April, as a result of their ongoing neutrality in the larger European war, Italian forces in Tripolitania continued merely to cling to their coastal strongholds of Tripoli and Sirte. The Italians continued the pattern of behavior in May, encouraged by the transfer of the only engineers in the colony back to the mother country. In June, however, French vessels moved the Italian light rifle and heavy cavalry regiments to picket duty in Algeria while slower units continued to hold the Italian cities.

In Morocco, French commanders and units began 1915 focusing on the Berber war but gradually shifted much of their attention. In March, Foreign Legion, Colonial, and Army of Africa units overwhelmed the Berber holdfast at 0478. This action climaxed anti-Berber operations by strategically crippling them; the Berbers will not generate any more supply points without a tenth Berber homeland hex. Nonetheless, the French struck the Berbers again in May, at 0475. The Berbers now hold two regions: three homeland hexes near and mostly inside Spanish Morocco and the five homeland hexes nearest Rio de Oro. While the French then began solidifying their front lines and transferring units to other sectors and theaters, the Berbers spent most of 1915 gradually replacing their offensively almost impotent units and grimly clinging to their remaining territory.

The inland flank of France’s empire in Northwest Africa hosted constant raids for much of mid-1915. In Morocco, an early Sanussi raid netted them a clutch of oases that the Berbers then carefully avoided. The French occasionally retook the watering holes, but the Sanussi sporadically drew a few recruits from them amidst a continuing back and forth that also strayed south into the high Sahara. The bloody moment of the conflict in this sector followed a French foray in June to surround a Sanussi force too near a French rail line; the Sanussi could not relieve the encircled force and it was not in an oasis, so the French easily liquidated the pocket in July. In August, the French swept through the oases west of northern Tripolitania and invaded that Italian province overland from Tunisia to pin the Sanussi in place and attract their forces from around the Sahara. The Sanussi strategic center of gravity is their collection of oases in Tripolitania and Fezzan; to lose them is to go extinct and the French and Italians combined have enough force and units to begin an oozing onslaught that the Sanussi must stop early or may not be able to stop at all. In response to the defeat in South Algeria and the threat in Tripolitania, Sanussi units began to flow away from Nigeria and Senegal toward Fezzan in August and September.

In West Africa, the contest between the Sanussi and their would-be overlords swung wildly back and forth as miniscule forces tried to maintain garrison requirements, survive, and expand friendly territory in a vast land of wild contrasts. The vast majority of European forces are tied to the littoral districts, often outside the area in which the desert-proficient Sanussi can wage effective war and from which the few Sanussi in the theater probably cannot eject them, though the liberation of several key oases did generate some units of camel cavalry to add mass to the thin Sanussi waves lapping this shore. In March, Spanish troops from Morocco moved by sea to Rio de Oro, pushing the Sanussi out of that colony for lack of anything able to stand against a lordly 4*-5-7 light brigade in defense of a couple of oases. The ongoing French cycle of forming and withdrawing units in Senegal allowed a brief offensive into the Sahara in May, destroying a Sanussi regiment, but the attempt cost the French a vastly more valuable colonial light rifle battalion when the Sanussi received a German blockade runner loaded with six equipment points in April then replaced and equipped several camel units to unexpectedly surrounded and destroy the suddenly isolated imperialists. French colonial replacements for all of 1915 will suffice to replace this loss, but Sanussi equipment production is just above zero and a series of meager losses, such as in this exchange, will wear down their supported combat units.In July, French irregulars stood the Sanussi off from Timbuktu and then, in August, evacuated the city by river from under their noses while the high command yanked a couple of battalions of over-extended regulars out of the Sahara from east of Rio de Oro. In September, some Sanussi departed the theater for more important activities to the east while the French began to mass enough forces to conduct an offensive operation in October.

On the northern edge of the Central Africa Theater, the Sanussi began 1915 with the operational initiative and tried to exploit it to worldwide effect. There, as nowhere else, the actions of irregular troops could help prevent Central Powers’ defeat by delaying the Entente conquest of Cameroon and thus minimizing the loss of German morale points resulting from it. After reaching North Nigeria in February, the Sanussi attacked south in March, hoping to distract the Entente into defending South Nigeria, where the presence of Sanussi would cost Britain morale points, or to stop supply flowing to Entente forces in Cameroon. The Sanussi lost the battle by declining to spend their only local supply point, after which the Entente fired prolifically, so that at 4:1 the Sanussi force quartered itself against a British irregular brigade and French light battalion. In April, the Entente did shuffle northward, allowing the victorious British irregulars to march into the Sahara wide around the Sanussi flank. The Sanussi invasion force, far too large to supply from just one or two oases, had no choice but to chase the imperial irregulars. While the Sanussi played whack-a-mole the French and British spent supply points to activate irregulars who distracted the Sanussi for a month or two during each repetition all summer. By October, at heavy cost in supply points, the Entente had amassed units in Chad and North Nigeria to begin offensive operations against the Sanussi garrison between Nigeria and Fezzan.

Against Entente expectation, the Germans continued to hold Cameroon throughout mid-1915. In March, the British copied history, amphibiously invading Cameroon to unhinge the defenders by seizing Kribi on the border of Spanish Guinea. The Entente player miscounted, Kribi was not the critical fifth connected town in German hands, and when a light rifle regiment came out of the forming box during March it held open the briefly vulnerable German road network. Hindered somewhat by the Sanussi, British forces gradually assumed control over the siege lines atop the northern half of the Cameroon town network while French forces massed on the coast and poked north from Gabon and west from Chad, just in time to be thwarted again in breaking the German road network by a newly formed construction regiment. In June, two regiments of Foreign Legionnaires disembarked in Kribi and in July the Entente finally made the decisive move, overrunning German forces between Oyem and Jaunde in the south center of Cameroon. German forces reacted by converting their supply points into general supply and oozing toward freedom. In August, the Entente encircled most of the defenders, one battalion of which surrendered, another battalion of which marched into Gabon, and the remainder of which began imitating a turtle in one last town in Cameroon. In September, the two regiments of Germans remaining in the pocket began consuming four general supply points per month out of 23 on hand. A distant but complete net of zones of control isolated the German battalion in Gabon, which promptly surrendered to a local chief and paid hard cash for food until a few white Frenchmen arrived to dispose of the situation. The British and French also spent September pushing all units not needed for a final assault out of Cameroon, to relieve more mobile units from garrison duty and to reinforce the offensive against the Sanussi before a large Entente force goes into garrison in Cameroon or demobilizes for rest.

In Belgian Congo, the column of German cavalry fleeing the loss of German Southwest Africa gradually recovered its fatigue hits and waded forward, ending September only a few hundred miles south of Stanleyville. The collapse in Cameroon apparently nullifies any great desire to press straight toward that potential source of refuge. It seems apparent that the Germans hope to use the number of their units to eventually corner, isolate, and force the surrender of at least one Belgian garrison unit while en route to German East Africa by way of southern Chad, with an option to turn northwest and assist the Sanussi in the Sahel if that seems prudent when Chad is reached, perhaps by mid-1916.

In Angola, the standoff between Portuguese and African bandits continues its uneventful path. Too few Portuguese units are present even to leave garrison to move supply points forward for use in rebellion reduction, so that the Portuguese can move in their districts but cannot actually go anywhere. The Africans, meanwhile, have not transformed banditry to rebellion, though an additional tribe did revolt shortly after the war began in Europe.

Events in Namibia, ex-German Southwest Africa, are all about the garrison. British Boers are massing on the northern border of Namibia to overawe the tribes there and in Angola. The white mounted riflemen are a huge garrison that South African manpower has been entirely devoted to replacing and emplacing in the new colony of the newish Dominion. British Boer units, eliminated by treachery during the rebellion, offer the lowest cost in South African manpower for the highest number of regiments, so that the Dominion spent all of 1915 replacing them and stuffing them into garrisons not only in the four colonies forming the Union of South Africa but also Namibia, Basutoland, and eventually points north. The Boers would be worse than useless in East Africa, in the face of endless tsetse flies that adore horseflesh, but are entirely capable of replacing leg-mobile units and, particularly, colonial units that will consume less naval transport to East Africa and operate there much more effectively.

The war in East Africa gradually came to be a war, rather than a simple standoff, as 1915 wandered forward. Early in the period, the Entente focused on South African and Indian railroad engineers directing a native labor division in constructing one hundred twenty-five miles of rail from South Africa to the southernmost Congolese river network. The activity was to allow the strategic rail and river movement of units from South Africa all the way into East Africa in one movement phase, subjecting units in transit to only one tsetse fly roll as well as speeding their arrival. The result of the activity was a tremendous pile of supply points expended, two sequential railroad engineer battalions eaten by flies on their last phase before completing the railroad, and a disheartened Entente command giving up on that invasion route as a major factor. Nonetheless, the Entente continued nibbling, first in April with the Belgian garrison of Rwanda-Burundi converting into two units and seizing Bukoba on Lake Victoria. In May, the Belgians seized Kigoma on Lake Tanganyiki before taking position in a fly-Belgian-lake-fly-Belgian-fly-lake defensive line that the Germans can only breach at significant risk for little reward. Also in May, British irregular levies seized Bismarkburg on the southern end of Lake Tanganyika while Portuguese in Mozambique slipped northward their steadily expanding force to deny any easy German sanctuary in their colony. In June, a British colonial battalion from Nyasaland seized Ssongea while the irregulars from Bismarkburg evicted the German mayor from Neu Langenburg. In July, while another British irregular worked its way forward, the Indian Army-led forces in Kenya began offensive operations from there by thrusting a battalion into the mountains west of Lake Natron and an irregular brigade into the mountains southwest of Nairobi to force apart the German frontier defense. [Because mountains force positional combat, fighting in them will virtually always cost the Germans an irreplaceable unit and the British a relatively much more affordable and common unit.] In August, the leading British irregular brigade in the south succumbed to flies in an attempt to take one of the German towns along the southern coast of the colony, which are shielded by a deep belt of woodland fly sanctuaries. Also in August, another two regiments landed in Mombassa and a battalion in Kismayu to reinforce the pressure in the north, which expanded as the British wormed further into the mountains. The Entente brought pressure from the East too, when an irregular cavalry brigade seized Kilwa on the Ruffifi River delta before succumbing to flies. The Germans chose not to risk a unit to immediately retake Kilwa, which green-lighted the planned October amphibious invasion on the north side of the delta.

October II 1915

Entente Turn

The second half of October 1915, surprisingly still under clear skies, passed like a nightmare through Entente ranks. Events began badly, moderated to become only the usual poor, and ended disastrously. In other words, “no news here.”

Various formations received replacements as the middle of the month passed away:
Prussian: 12-14-5 and 9-12-5 XX from cadre
Wurtemburger: 15-17-5 XX from cadre
British: 0-2-5 siege eng [III]
French: 13*-16-7 and 6*-9-5 XX from cadre; disband 2x 2-3-6 AoA, 2x 1-2-6 AoA, and 2x 1-2-6 Metro X’s

In hopes of taking advantage of the unusually long summer and the shrinking German ammunition stockpile, the Entente pushed as hard as it could during the fortnight. French forces massed for an attack against the usual sector 1120 battlefield, only to cancel when 2:1 odds met with failed aerial reconnaissance. French forces on the upper Rhine River, with their artillery recovered from movement-induced disruption, likewise attempted to attack across the water, but likewise non-conducted their event upon the failure of aerial reconnaissance.

On a new battlefield, grid 1518 in Luxembourg, the French again failed their aerial reconnaissance efforts, but the attack was in an unexpected direction and with unusual force, so that they pressed onward regardless. Woodlands and entrenchments countered national will and the elite French riflemen. Two engineering attempts succeeded, giving the French hope for a break-in to the German position. Falkenhayn failed to influence the battle, exactly countering the useless French gas engineers. Bombardment scored five hits, by far the best effort of the war to date, and significantly weakened a defense such that even with a pair of zeppelins flying defensive support (one returned by a patrolling French fighter, in another first), and with an engineer regiment reserve moving into the fight, the odds were exactly 3:1. Such an attack, 3:1 odds with a net +2 DRM, is practically unheard of in its power and potential, so that the French duly rolled a 3 and enjoyed another BX result.
German loss: RP and 1-2-5 eng III eliminated; 7*-10-4 and 7*-9-5 [XX] to cadre
French loss: 2x RP, 4-5 fld art [III], 1-5 eng III, and 2-5 fld art II eliminated; 13*-16-7 XX to cadre

The British too put forth their maximum effort in late October, successfully battering themselves down to a national will of three and their morale to the point where they cannot gain a bonus during the February morale check. On the border of The Netherlands, at the extreme north end of the front line, the British struck under the only successful aerial reconnaissance of the phase. Entrenchments countered national will and the British risked a single brigade of engineers with irrelevant success as odds of 2.2:1 rolled upward and another chance for a significant victory washed away in the blood of another combat roll of 3. The BX combat result left:
German: RP eliminated; 12-14-5, 10-13-5 and 9-12-5 XX’s to cadre
British: RP and 1-5 eng III eliminated; 10-13-5, 10*-13-5 IND, 9-12-6, and 9-12-5 XX’s to cadre

Meanwhile, the first French forces reached the front near Lake Garda as Italian forces continued to shift eastward away from the Germans in that critical sector.

In the air, the Italian Ca-2 bomber aborted the Austro-Hungarian LohL reconnaissance fighter but was returned in turn and therefore scored the guaranteed no damage against the Austro-Hungarian fleet in Trieste.

In response, three German zeppelin groups successfully bombed Milan, dragging the Italians ever further below their functionally impossible “historical” level.

Central Powers Turn

During the Germanic half of the turn, another variety of divisions received fresh riflemen for their cadres:
Prussian: 12-15-6, 7*-10-5, and 7*-9-5
Indian: 10*-13-5
French: 13*-16-7 and 8*-11-5

The very stressed German military shifted forces to cover its weak spots while the Austro-Hungarian Army stretched its line a bit further north of the Isonzo River.

In the air, three zeppelin groups missed Milan while two groups failed to find London and several fixed-wing aircraft missed ammunition dumps.

The Entente catastrophe really came smashing down during the reaction combat phase. The British, Belgians, and Italians failed to budge, probably irrelevantly in the latter two cases. The French did jump, and their efforts went horribly wrong.

On the usual battlefield, sector 1120 in the Ardennes Forest, woodlands and entrenchments countered national will and the single engineer attempt, which at least succeeded. Gas engineers failed, as usual, as did a trio of aerial reconnaissance groups. Odds of 2.1:1 rolled downward, but it did not matter as a combat roll of 1 resulted in yet another AX result.
German losses: RP, 7*-9-5 XX, and 0-1-4 BAV eng III eliminated; 2x 12-14-5 XX’s to cadre
French losses: RP and 0-1-4 eng [III] eliminated; 10*-13-5 COL, 10*-13-5, 10*-13-6 AoA, 5x 8*-11-5, and 12*-15-6 AoA XX’s to cadre

Essentially the same thing happened to a pair of French corps attacking into the city of Luxemburg. Aerial reconnaissance did not fail in this case, but entrenchments and resource centers protected against national will and the aeradales. Falkenhayn failed to contribute, but so did a brigade of engineers. The French had found a battlefield on which they enjoyed a straight-up 3:1 superiority, but a roll of 1 felt like the wrong kind of a light rushing down the tunnel at the Entente.
German losses: RP, 13-15-5 PR and 12-14-5 SAX XX’s, and 6*-7-5 cadre all eliminated
French losses: RP, 3-2-7 FFL III, and 3-4-7 mot art [III] eliminated; 12*-15-6 AoA, 13*-16-7, 5x 8*-11-5, and 3x 9*-12-5 XX’s to cadre

In the air, the Italian Ca-2 bomber was returned by the LohL over Trieste, maintaining the perfect Entente record of scoring no morale damage against the Austro-Hungarians in the past three months.

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