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Subject: Player's notes or don't leave the Maginot undermanned! rss

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Robert McCoy
South Korea
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1940 by GDW

Players notes

In December through January, A friend and I played this old classic back to back, and I should mention here that my opponent is a very competent gamer. As the Allied player I won a decisive victory, and as the German I won a strategic victory.

This game is about defeating your opponent's plan. But more important, it is about adjusting your plan as soon as you see your opponent's disposition. If your plan doesn't fit the situation, then you must not hesitate to dump it in the waste basket.

In our first game, I set up the Allied defenses in anticipation that my opponent would try to come through Belgium and ignore the Maginot line. This is exactly what he did, and his offensive was stopped cold. After one of the German panzer corps was eliminated, we called the game as an Allied decisive victory as taking the Ruhr as the Allied player seems a remote possibility. I also mentioned at this time if my opponent had attacked the Maginot line, I might have had a few problems.

This brings up how the next game played out. During my planning stage as the German, I wondered if Jonathan would underman the Maginot defenses, but I wasn't sure. So I decided to keep my options open. I deployed a strong but compact infantry army to the deep south of the German line that would be easy to rail out if the Maginot was defended strongly. The bulk of my army was deployed in the center which could strike the north end of the Maginot line or head towards the Sedan or attack NW towards Antwerp. A weak garrison army was deployed in front of the Netherlands, if I felt it was necessary to invade there.

After I saw my opponent's deployment, I decided to attack the north end of the Maginot line with hefty para support. One Panzer corps was committed to go towards Liege and Brussels. A German infantry army was sent towards Sedan to keep the Allied forces engaged.

I attacked the Maginot line in four places, and three of the attacks failed. The 7th Fleiger division was wiped out. However the attack using the 22nd air landing division with hefty infantry and panzer support succeeded. Two hexes of the Maginot line were taken, north-east and east of Metz. The second hex fell because the rules permit an attacker to advance into unoccupied hexes adjacent to the combat hex — the Maginot line has no intrinsic defense in this game. This had more serous consequences than either of us realized at the time.

The first benefit was the Germans could expand their front and bring more of their forces to bear at various points along the front. More attacks leads to more ground being taken and the front being continuously expanded. This leads to more attack opportunities and so on.

The second benefit from being able to initiate more combats was the paralysis effect retreating French units have on being able to launch counter-attacks. Not only are retreated units unavailable during the Allied player's turn but they impede movement of combat ready units which hampers the co-ordination of being able to counter-attack or even redeploy units in a better defensive line.

Thus keeping the Germans bottled up in a narrow front is an extremely important facet of Allied strategy. Once the Germans get loose, the Allied forces cannot compete with the power and flexibility of the Panzer forces in open terrain. So manning the Maginot line with the minimum force required consisting of the weakest units available is more risky than it may first appear.

The above brings up the problem of the Ardennes which acts as a kind of lateral roadblock for the Germans. Once the Germans have pushed past it, the twelve movement factors of the Panzer forces can make itself felt almost anywhere along the front enabling the German to attack with impunity at the weakest points in the Allied defense.

That the game ended in a Strategic victory for the Germans was a bit of luck for me as it came down to the last turn with an attack on Paris where a British corps was eliminated on a 50% chance.

take care


The German Plan:

Active Army Group 'A'

Primary Objective: The Channel Ports

Army Group 'B' (north) 7th and 4th Armies

Army Group 'A' (center) 18th and 16th Armies plus Panzer Armies.

Army Group 'C' (south) 6th, 12th and 1st Armies
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