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Subject: Go East? rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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How effective is it to just hold the Rhine Line (Essen, Frankfurt, Mannheim) and concentrate on Russia and Italy?
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I have not played that much - but it seemed to be a common strategy when learning to play the Central Powers, IIRC. I think at the higher levels of play, it's not always that common. Would love to hear an experienced player weigh in on this issue, as well.

The strategy you propose was the one I used in my first game as the Central Powers . . .
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It is definitely a viable strategy, so much so that PBeM tourneys have shifted about VP areas to push Germany westward. As an historical strategy, its logic is irrefutable; Schlieffen had it all wrong.
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Dan Raspler
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dirubin wrote:
As an historical strategy, its logic is irrefutable;


To the contrary, the Germans could never have sacrificed home territory to go adventuring abroad. The would have been huge public outcry, generals would have been sacked, etc.
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Dan R. wrote:
dirubin wrote:
As an historical strategy, its logic is irrefutable;


To the contrary, the Germans could never have sacrificed home territory to go adventuring abroad. The would have been huge public outcry, generals would have been sacked, etc.


One does not give up the fortified spaces of Metz and Strasbourg if one determines not to venture after Franco-Belgian spaces. They are the most favorable places for the Germans to defend in the west. There was no political demand for a west-first strategy.
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It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.
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Dave Rubin
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chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?
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dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?


I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.
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Riku Riekkinen
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gittes wrote:
How effective is it to just hold the Rhine Line (Essen, Frankfurt, Mannheim) and concentrate on Russia and Italy?


I think its the most effective strategy. Except one is not going to Italy, since that front is just continuation of western front.

chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


I don't know what historical variant you are talking about, but official made Rhine Line stronger. It was called historical, because it made Fall of Tsar (<- This is the key why defend west is stronger) & American entry easier (more mandatory). Then PBEM people adjusted it a bit, but its still very easy to go full east.

Dan R. wrote:
dirubin wrote:
As an historical strategy, its logic is irrefutable;


To the contrary, the Germans could never have sacrificed home territory to go adventuring abroad. The would have been huge public outcry, generals would have been sacked, etc.


I've always wondered, if there is any basis on germans revolting, if they would have had given the west. France did manouvers in NE & Balkans, while germans were in France. Russia did also stuff in NE, while germans were in Russia. In fact thinking other wars, its hard to get example of general being sacked, if enemy is on your ground while war is going well. Examples of generals rampaging through enemy lands while there are enemy troops in own country are multiple. That being said, its a cheesy strategy and I'd rather had a game without it.
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Riku Riekkinen wrote:

I don't know what historical variant you are talking about, but official made Rhine Line stronger. It was called historical, because it made Fall of Tsar (<- This is the key why defend west is stronger) & American entry easier (more mandatory). Then PBEM people adjusted it a bit, but its still very easy to go full east.



I am talking about my historical variant, which is based on the official one, but expands it a bit.

I can paste it here, if you want to read it.
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Dave Rubin
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chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?


I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.


I do not. It's a loose enough term that it could apply to any departure from history.
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Eric Brosius
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This strategy is effective enough that it has an acronym: DTR for "Defend the Rhine". The tricky part is getting the three key spaces up to Trench 2 in time. It's effective because it forces the AP to spend extra activations to get rebuilt armies into attacking positions. You offset the VP loss in the west by taking Italy out and then working to kill Russia.

As mentioned above, there are "historical variants", some used at WBC, to discourage this strategy.
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dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?


I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.


I do not. It's a loose enough term that it could apply to any departure from history.


It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.

For example, imagine the Kaiser saying "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to let the French conquer significant population areas of western Germany, and we will abandon these without a fight! We will abandon them, even though we could easily hold them and take the industrial areas of France instead! No, rather than invade France, as we have planned to for over a decade, with the mobilization and train tables to prove it, we have chosen to create a strategy around invading....Italy! Yes, neutral Italy! We are certain it plans to enter the war eventually...on the side of the Entente! This crystal ball tells me so! And also to cause the fall of the Czar, because we have peeked into the deck and seen there is a card for this in the far future, long after we originally intended the war to be won! Our plan is to cause the Czar to fall before the end of 1917! Forget that Home before the Leaves Fall business I talked about yesterday, our plan now is not to win a swift glorious victory in the summer of 1914, but to abandon the Rhineland! What? No applause? Why are those soldiers walking towards me?"
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Dan Raspler
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chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?


I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.


I do not. It's a loose enough term that it could apply to any departure from history.


It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.

For example, imagine the Kaiser saying "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to let the French conquer significant population areas of western Germany, and we will abandon these without a fight! We will abandon them, even though we could easily hold them and take the industrial areas of France instead! No, rather than invade France, as we have planned to for over a decade, with the mobilization and train tables to prove it, we have chosen to create a strategy around invading....Italy! Yes, neutral Italy! We are certain it plans to enter the war eventually...on the side of the Entente! This crystal ball tells me so! And also to cause the fall of the Czar, because we have peeked into the deck and seen there is a card for this in the far future, long after we originally intended the war to be won! Our plan is to cause the Czar to fall before the end of 1917! Forget that Home before the Leaves Fall business I talked about yesterday, our plan now is not to win a swift glorious victory in the summer of 1914, but to abandon the Rhineland! What? No applause? Why are those soldiers walking towards me?"


A single thumb cannot do this justice.

There are plenty of gamers who prefer the original version of PoG. But most guys I know are only interested in playing it as a simulation of WWI, which requires imposing some of the post-publication variants.
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Riku Riekkinen
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chuft wrote:
It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.

For example, imagine the Kaiser saying "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to let the French conquer significant population areas of western Germany, and we will abandon these without a fight! We will abandon them, even though we could easily hold them and take the industrial areas of France instead! No, rather than invade France, as we have planned to for over a decade, with the mobilization and train tables to prove it, we have chosen to create a strategy around invading....Italy! Yes, neutral Italy! We are certain it plans to enter the war eventually...on the side of the Entente! This crystal ball tells me so! And also to cause the fall of the Czar, because we have peeked into the deck and seen there is a card for this in the far future, long after we originally intended the war to be won! Our plan is to cause the Czar to fall before the end of 1917! Forget that Home before the Leaves Fall business I talked about yesterday, our plan now is not to win a swift glorious victory in the summer of 1914, but to abandon the Rhineland! What? No applause? Why are those soldiers walking towards me?"


OK, why do people allow western allies to leave holes in their defense? I think France didn't do that either while still having reasonable troops. Or leave forts? They sure didn't abandon Verdun easily.

Also usually its waste of OPs to leave voluntarily. What if germans retreat after battles & play RPs. Is that also a travesty?

Also there is definite change in the situation after declaring war against France. Britain did declare war on Germany. So one could say the situation is different. Also why are germans allowing Russia to conquer eastern Prussia without fight? Nobody seems to have any problems with that.

So while "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to inflict casualties to France with surprise attack, destroy their industry and gradually retreat to reasonable defensive positions before British mobilize. Our main strength is going to be launched against Russia, who invaded eastern Prussia. We wish to kick one front out of the war, so we won't be leaving in a long two front struggle."

My main grief is that while people are allowing AP to do anything they wish (France leaves walking way next to Paris, Belgians leave Antwerp and Brussels undefended, France empties Verdun & Nancy voluntarily, Italians abandoning northern Italy etc.), people assume that CP is doing things 1/1 like in real war. All variants I've seen limit CP options, but let AP roam around all they wish. Also none of the variants hold competitive play (while retaining history). So you either have non-competitive game (with perhaps more history) or competitive game without.
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Riku Riekkinen wrote:
chuft wrote:
It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.

For example, imagine the Kaiser saying "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to let the French conquer significant population areas of western Germany, and we will abandon these without a fight! We will abandon them, even though we could easily hold them and take the industrial areas of France instead! No, rather than invade France, as we have planned to for over a decade, with the mobilization and train tables to prove it, we have chosen to create a strategy around invading....Italy! Yes, neutral Italy! We are certain it plans to enter the war eventually...on the side of the Entente! This crystal ball tells me so! And also to cause the fall of the Czar, because we have peeked into the deck and seen there is a card for this in the far future, long after we originally intended the war to be won! Our plan is to cause the Czar to fall before the end of 1917! Forget that Home before the Leaves Fall business I talked about yesterday, our plan now is not to win a swift glorious victory in the summer of 1914, but to abandon the Rhineland! What? No applause? Why are those soldiers walking towards me?"


OK, why do people allow western allies to leave holes in their defense? I think France didn't do that either while still having reasonable troops. Or leave forts? They sure didn't abandon Verdun easily.

Also usually its waste of OPs to leave voluntarily. What if germans retreat after battles & play RPs. Is that also a travesty?

Also there is definite change in the situation after declaring war against France. Britain did declare war on Germany. So one could say the situation is different. Also why are germans allowing Russia to conquer eastern Prussia without fight? Nobody seems to have any problems with that.

So while "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to inflict casualties to France with surprise attack, destroy their industry and gradually retreat to reasonable defensive positions before British mobilize. Our main strength is going to be launched against Russia, who invaded eastern Prussia. We wish to kick one front out of the war, so we won't be leaving in a long two front struggle."

My main grief is that while people are allowing AP to do anything they wish (France leaves walking way next to Paris, Belgians leave Antwerp and Brussels undefended, France empties Verdun & Nancy voluntarily, Italians abandoning northern Italy etc.), people assume that CP is doing things 1/1 like in real war. All variants I've seen limit CP options, but let AP roam around all they wish. Also none of the variants hold competitive play (while retaining history). So you either have non-competitive game (with perhaps more history) or competitive game without.


As much as the IMHO ahistorical DTR strategy bothers me, I think that Rikku has a point here.
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Riku Riekkinen wrote:
chuft wrote:
It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.


OK, why do people allow western allies to leave holes in their defense? I think France didn't do that either while still having reasonable troops. Or leave forts? They sure didn't abandon Verdun easily.


I am unaware of any Allied strategy that involves giving up large portions of France voluntarily in order to move French troops elsewhere to another front. Maybe you could enlighten me. As the Allies, I never abandon anything that I think I could hold.

Quote:

Also there is definite change in the situation after declaring war against France. Britain did declare war on Germany. So one could say the situation is different.


I am glad you brought this up, because it goes to the heart of the matter. Britain declared war on Germany BECAUSE of the German invasion of Belgium and Luxembourg. If Germany does not invade, and goes East instead, Britain would not even be in the war, and likely neither would the Ottomans, and who knows about Italy. It is a complete alternate-history scenario. It makes no sense in the context of the standard game, which presumes the German invasion of the West is already in progress and Britain has reacted. Otherwise, it's not really WWI, it's something totally different. Now if you want to use a variant scenario to explore that, feel free, but I don't want it happening in my historical game.


Quote:
Also why are germans allowing Russia to conquer eastern Prussia without fight? Nobody seems to have any problems with that.


I never do that. Sounds like more gamey play to me. Still, the German historical plan was to put most of their army in the West for a quick knock out blow of France. Abandoning East Prussia temporarily is consistent with that, to some degree, although too gamey for my taste.

Quote:
So while "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to inflict casualties to France with surprise attack, destroy their industry and gradually retreat to reasonable defensive positions before British mobilize. Our main strength is going to be launched against Russia, who invaded eastern Prussia. We wish to kick one front out of the war, so we won't be leaving in a long two front struggle."


I don't find this believable. The plan was to win in the West in under six weeks, rather like 1940 turned out. Everybody remembered Napoleon, I don't think anybody believed Russia could be defeated quickly, especially in a two front war.

Quote:
My main grief is that while people are allowing AP to do anything they wish (France leaves walking way next to Paris, Belgians leave Antwerp and Brussels undefended, France empties Verdun & Nancy voluntarily, Italians abandoning northern Italy etc.),


Sounds like these people aren't playing the historical variant, which among other things, puts trenches in northern Italy, and forbids German armies from going there. As France I never abandon any French territory voluntarily in order to shift troops to another front. Any troop positioning I do in France is for tactical reasons, not strategic. Hard to imagine a reason to abandon Verdun and Nancy unless you had no choice!

Quote:
people assume that CP is doing things 1/1 like in real war. All variants I've seen limit CP options, but let AP roam around all they wish.


That is because the CP are in the driver's seat and are in a position to shift troops around between fronts in a way the AP are not. The AP options are already more limited to begin with. They can't just throw French and British armies into the Middle East for example, nor the Balkans. It is easier to abuse a central position. AP abuses tend to be more of the card-play variety, such as keeping Italy and Romania neutral and never going to Total War, but that has been more or less outlawed by official rules changes.

Quote:
Also none of the variants hold competitive play (while retaining history). So you either have non-competitive game (with perhaps more history) or competitive game without.


An interesting statement, given that you have not even read the text of my variant, never mind played it. I will admit "competitive play" is at the bottom of my list of concerns - I always warn an opponent when they are in danger of encirclement for example. But tastes differ.
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Dave Rubin
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chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
dirubin wrote:
chuft wrote:
It's effective enough that I only play PoG with a historical variant, since some people can't seem to resist violating the history in the name of competition, and the game design does not punish them enough for this.


What do you mean by "violating the history"?


I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.


I do not. It's a loose enough term that it could apply to any departure from history.


It means to do something historically preposterous because the game rewards it.

For example, imagine the Kaiser saying "People of Germany! We have just declared war on France! Our strategy is to let the French conquer significant population areas of western Germany, and we will abandon these without a fight! We will abandon them, even though we could easily hold them and take the industrial areas of France instead! No, rather than invade France, as we have planned to for over a decade, with the mobilization and train tables to prove it, we have chosen to create a strategy around invading....Italy! Yes, neutral Italy! We are certain it plans to enter the war eventually...on the side of the Entente! This crystal ball tells me so! And also to cause the fall of the Czar, because we have peeked into the deck and seen there is a card for this in the far future, long after we originally intended the war to be won! Our plan is to cause the Czar to fall before the end of 1917! Forget that Home before the Leaves Fall business I talked about yesterday, our plan now is not to win a swift glorious victory in the summer of 1914, but to abandon the Rhineland! What? No applause? Why are those soldiers walking towards me?"


This is a Straw Man argument. A defensive strategy in the West and focus on the East does not require permitting the occupation of German areas. Indeed, it was what the Kaiser favored until he was told by the General Staff that the railroad plans could not be revised.
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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A few things...

1. I had the strategy done to me and lost. Granted, I conquered the Near East and nearly broke through the Rhine.

2. Why is it wrong for the Allies to stay in limited war?

3. I am playing a session tomorrow with some variants I rolled for from the player's guide. In this scenario Belgium has caved in and Italy has joined the CP. However, France is better prepared and so is America.

After Tuesday's session I will let you all know how it goes.
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gittes wrote:
A few things...
2. Why is it wrong for the Allies to stay in limited war?


It's a gamey move to keep Italy and Rumania out of the war and use their Entry cards as recirculating 5's in a very small deck, and keep the total War Status down so the Czar can't fall. It's as gamey as it gets.
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Yes; the idea that Italy might have offered to join the AP and that the AP would have said "no thanks" is completely ahistorical, even though the AP would in most cases love to have that happen. Thus, a penalty is applied if Italy does not enter in a reasonably timely way.

(Note that Italy can stay out, but the penalty is significant.)
 
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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chuft wrote:
gittes wrote:
A few things...
2. Why is it wrong for the Allies to stay in limited war?


It's a gamey move to keep Italy and Rumania out of the war and use their Entry cards as recirculating 5's in a very small deck, and keep the total War Status down so the Czar can't fall. It's as gamey as it gets.


I was not thinking about the Tsar but I did notice that rotating 5 OPS card for Italy and Romania would be nice.
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Here is a thought to counter the Rhine: make each German VP space worth 2 VPs. That makes falling back much more costly.
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gittes wrote:
Here is a thought to counter the Rhine: make each German VP space worth 2 VPs. That makes falling back much more costly.


Sean since you seem interested, here is the variant I use:

Historical PoG

The official ruleset:

1. Set-up using the complete optional set-up:

· A-H corps in Stanislaw and Trent from Reserve
· Russian corps in Lutsk from Reserve
· Remove trench at Brussels
· Add trench to Strasbourg
· Add 4 Italian Level 1 trenches to Verona, Asiago, Maggiore, and Udine

2. The CP Player must open with Guns of August as an Event.

3. Entrench may not be played as an Event on Turn 1.

4. Only Austrian and Italian armies may operate in Italy (move, attack, or advance into any space in Italy) and no German armies may end their movement (OPS or SR) in Trent, Villach or Trieste until the start of a turn at which both sides are at Total War. After that, all armies of either side may operate freely in Austria and Italy if permitted by the normal rules. Corps are not affected by this rule.

5. The following cards may double as OPS when played as Events: Landships, Zimmermann Telegram, Over There, Tsar Takes Command, Fall of the Tsar, Bolshevik Revolution.

6. If the game ends with an Armistice or at the end of turn 20, add 1 VP for each US Army that has never entered play. If the game ends with an Armistice or at the end of turn 20, subtract 2 VP if the Tsar has not fallen.

7. Use the optional 8 card-hand.


My additions, after trying the official ruleset:

8. No Rhine Defenses: Germany loses two VP at the end of each Winter turn in which they control no spaces in Belgium or France. Grenoble doesn't count.

9. 1914 should feel like 1914: Limited War cannot begin until the end of Turn 4 (instead of the end of Turn 2).

10. 1917 and 1918 Events should not occur in mid-1916: Total War cannot begin until the end of Turn 12.

11. The Ottoman Empire: Rules 9 and 10 should help avoid the excessive attention on Turkey in 1915 that plagues so many games. Still, Turkey is ahistorically weak and needs a boost like Italy got. Also, this foolishness of defending the Ottoman Empire to the last Bulgarian has got to stop.
· No Allied units may enter or leave the Near East while Turkey is neutral.
· Turkish corps may be rebuilt directly in Ankara and Constantinople in addition to the Reserve Box.
· No non-Turkish CP units other than German corps are allowed in the Near East.

12. Galicia: There is a temptation for the Russian in 1914-1915 to ignore this key campaign and just focus on defending Vilna. Needless to say this is an ahistorical grotesquerie. Therefore, in order to play Tsar Takes Command, the CP must hold three Russian VP spaces as normal, OR two Russian VP spaces plus either Czernowitz or the (undestroyed) Przemysl fortress. Przemysl cannot be used to fulfill the card's requirement if it has ever been occupied by a German army; the same goes for Czernowitz. This is Austria's fight.

13. Italy Part II: The restriction on non-Austrian and Italian armies in/adjacent to Italy in Rule 4 is not lifted even by Total War.
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Riku Riekkinen
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AP schenaningans include sending FR armies to Italy and italian armies to Balkans. But in fact mere existance of AoO kind of speaks agains countries not sending troops to distant missions while home country is under attack.

chuft wrote:
Quote:
Also none of the variants hold competitive play (while retaining history). So you either have non-competitive game (with perhaps more history) or competitive game without.


An interesting statement, given that you have not even read the text of my variant, never mind played it.


The scenarios have flaws, if players are playing for victory, since RP mechanism doesn't allow CP to succesfully do multi front war. So scenarios can be separated in 3 categories (no scenario so far has the balance (of available strategies for CP) of the original setup IMHO):

1) Force CP to attack west (more than in original, so obviously best strategy)
2) Force CP to attack east (more than in original, so obviously best strategy)
3) CP just loses

chuft wrote:
I will admit "competitive play" is at the bottom of my list of concerns - I always warn an opponent when they are in danger of encirclement for example. But tastes differ.


People in tournaments also warn opponents. I didn't mean douchebaggery, I meant players are playing for victory ; not trying to repeat history point to point.

-----

Now your variant falls to category 1. Historical setup & 8 card hand is already very good for german early west attack. People in tournaments are already focusing everything to west (as CP) and not going even to limited war. As AP I've countered it by going to LW quick & then having better RP cards, more Russians etc. Forcing LW turn 4 means the whole game is probably going to be decided before sides get to LW.
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