Part Forty-Eight of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.
Central Power Turn
Stalemate on most fronts, except of course in Russia. The Central Powers keep making steady progress, but the Russians keep reforming their line, and it has been a grind. The Central Powers are waiting for that turn where the Russian losses and the German growth reaches a tipping point after which the Russians will not be able to maintain a viable defense.
Turkey has repelled the British infantry that invaded by sea a few months ago. They had some luck, but did show that an amphibious invasion of Turkey on its own does not hold much promise. Austria-Hungary has finally realized that they are not able to contribute much against Russia, so have begun redeploying their units to Serbia and Italy. Once the redeployment is a bit further along, maybe they can start something in Serbia again.
The Italian border has become static, but United States units will start arriving very soon. It remains to be seem what that will lead to.
Static Italian Front. The Germans have removed their better units, to be sent to Russia, and the Austrians are taking over more and more of the containment duties against Italy. No plans against Italy. If Russian is overcome, then Italy will be the next target, along with cleaning up the Balkans. But as long as Russia is still fighting hard, all efforts will go to her defeat.
The final 5-7-4 from the Italian border is shipped out, and a couple of 4-6-4 units get pulled off the line to be redeployed next turn, and will be replaced by Austrian units. On the French side, the Germans send in a couple of extra 3-5-3 units, and shift their cavalry further along the line, again using a cavalry unit to sortie into a previously uncaptured hex behind the German line to gain hex control, and another potential supply line if needed. There are several good units, 5-7-4 infantry and 4-4-5 cavalry that could be better used in Russia, but I never got around to switching them out for 3-5-3 infantry. Fact is, Germany only gets so many 3-5-3 infantry, and most are already in use doing garrison duty in captured cities, and guarding the Italian border and Konigsberg. You sure get stretched thin as the conquering nation!
Ever since the Central Powers began their Russian Campaign, aimed at conquering Russia, it has been a long and steady grind forward. I have focused on making a small number of big attacks each turn, most of them quite one-sided (i.e. high odds and positive DRM's from massed artillery), in order to have the best chance of getting DE results (defender eliminated), which I consider at least as important as winning hexes and advancing closer to Russian cities. DE results eliminate defenders while the attacker takes no losses. So much nicer than BD (both demoralized) in which the attacker must lose a unit to gain the hex, or even DD (defender demoralized) while the defender can happily retreat with no losses or only the support units. And those demoralized units are back to full defense the next turn. The Central Powers are lucky enough to be in a position to make the big attacks that force more losses on the Russians every turn than can be replaced. Eventually, the Russian lines must thin out and become vulnerable to breakthroughs.
With more German units on the front line than ever before, and an increasing number of Russian hexes defended by two or fewer units, the Central Powers plan to launch attacks from seventeen of the nineteen hexes on the front. I think this will be the largest offensive launched by the Central Powers in the entire war.
Three attacks towards Brest-Litovsk, where the Germans continue to out-gun the Russians significantly despite it being their primary focus of defense. If successful, the Germans will gain one hex adjacent to Brest-Litovsk, and be in good position to capture two more the following turn. I can already taste whatever it is the Brest-Litovskians specialize in food-wise.
Two small sorties in the north. These will be single unit 'raids' on full stacks of defenders, hoping for a BD result, causing the defender to lose a unit while the attacker can retreat without real loss. I have been loathe so far to attack in this area, but I realize I have so many units, even if the attacks come up as AE, it is no real loss to my side. And the chance to eliminate an extra Russian unit or two is well worth it. Each attack has a 33% chance of succeeding.
The first major effort in the south, along the Austrian end of the line, will be launched this turn. Now that German units have shown up in force, there is enough fire-power to make something happen. Three attacks are planned. Success there will mean a big gaping hole for the Russians to deal with, and an opening of a much wider front.
Combat is successful across the board, although not without losses.
The 'raids' in the north get two good die rolls, and each eliminates a Russian unit and then retreats. My first foray in that area is a perfect success. These two extra lost units will never be replaced, as the Russians will already be losing more than their replacement rate this turn.
Around Brest-Litovsk, two attacks are made with big odds (6:1 +0 DRM and 3:1 +3 DRM) and guaranteed success, and get a DE and a DX. The third attack is only at 2:1 with a +1 DRM. That is the problem with attacking a straight line, as you can only get two hexes attacking at once. I do want to get that hex, as it will isolate a hex next to Brest-Litovsk. The isolated hex would then be much easier to take next turn, with higher Russian losses if they choose to defend it. There is a 1-in-6 chance of the attack failing, but the DD result I roll means the attack is now guaranteed to win the hex. If the Russians lose a unit to hold their ground, the follow-up attack against the now diminished defenders will be at 3:1 odds +1 DRM. This attack cannot fail, and it would just get worse after that. So the Russians choose to retreat, saving all but their 2-2-2 artillery unit.
In the south, only one of the three attacks is a sure thing. Oddly, it happens to be the attack that is made entirely by Austrian units! They manage to cobble together a 5:1 odds -1 DRM attack against the lone unit at the southernmost tip. It is nice that this one is the sure thing, as it is by far the most important hex to win. Not only does it suddenly open up the path to Kiev and Odessa, widening the front in a way the Russians likely will not be able to deal with successfully, but it is also the first step in isolating the big Russian stack next door if another attack also succeeds, slightly to the north. If the Russian stack is isolated, there is a Central Powers force ready to attack and eliminate those units, since they will have no option to retreat. The Austrians pull off the first attack with a DE result. Quite a difference from earlier in this game.
The second 'isolating' attack is at 3:1 odds +0 DRM. It is not a sure thing, but again only 1-in-6 times will it fail. It gets a DX result: messy but it gets the job done. Then the big guns step in and pound away at the Russian triple stack that is now isolated and vulnerable to elimination. The attack is only 2:1 odds with a +1 DRM, so again a 1-in-6 chance of failure, although any other result will result in either immediate victory, or assured victory on the follow-up attacks. A DX is again rolled. The Central Powers takes more losses, but so do the Russians. Given the state of each army, the Central Powers are more than happy to pay for the DX.
This was without question the biggest success against the Russians to date. Their combined infantry and artillery losses come to 38 factors, and several key hexes were won. All of a sudden the south is in shreds, and Brest-Litovsk should be in German hands within two or three turns.
The Russians will have great difficulty mounting a viable defense in the current situation.
Russia Big Picture
Here is a picture of the entire Russian Front. Here you can clearly see the problem Russia faces defending the now widened southern front with an ever-shrinking army. The more hexes they have to put units into, the fewer units in each hex, and the more easily defeated.
Russia also has to face the eventuality that Rumania will almost certainly join the Central Powers. On the quarterly Variable Entry Rolls, if Rumania rolls an adjusted '7' on a d6, she joins the Central Powers. There is already a +1 DRM on the roll for Turkey being allied to the Central Powers, once Brest-Litovsk is captured, that goes up to +2 DRM. That means a 33% chance four times a year.
As if things weren't bad enough....
After a long period of nothing, the Serbian Front is experiencing a buildup of troops on both sides. The Serbian army is close to full strength, and the British have started deploying troops to Albania and Montenegro. The Austrians have also been diverting units from Russia to Serbia. It seems both sides are preparing for some action.
Turkey recently had great success against the British Bridgehead on their beach hex. The British lost four 4-6-4 infantry to Turkish attacks, and seem to have abandoned the 3-3-3 artillery unit that still remains. I thought of attacking this turn, but will wait until next turn when I can get a 4:1 instead of a 2:1 attack. The Turkish replacement rate is very low, so I'd rather save it for when it might be needed.
No further units are sent in to Serbia by the Austrians, but the ones that arrived last turn move towards the front line. In the rough terrain of Serbia combined with unrepaired rail lines, getting to the front line takes more than one or even two turns.
I considered an attack on Citinje to take advantage of the multinational penalty for the British and Montenegrin units combining on defense, but decided that even if the attack went well, I would very likely lose the single hex I control next to the city. So I would rather wait until I have at least one more unit in that hex before launching low-odds attacks to snipe at the British 4-6-4 units.
Gian Carlo Porciani
I love this AAR go on!!!
Working on the next one. I had some spare time during the Holidays, hence the sudden output. It'll be slower now....
As always, a pleasure to read!