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Subject: Strategy and Balance Question rss

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Greg Frank
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Hi all,

So I played this game recently with a buddy and I am a bit confused on what exactly the Allied player needs to do to gain an advantage. It seems like the German Armies are Super Strong and Super tough. So most of the game he steamrolled through my units. When I attacked or defended, he would just wipe out my armies and only lost 2 armies. By the time we got to Limited War and turn 8, I had most of my french units, a large number of corps and russian armies in the death box and he had like 3 armies and 2 corps. I never saw a way to rally back. I was able to spawn russian armies and make my way to berlin by sneaking around the board. Also the Far East didn't have any action. I couldn't move any of my units, according to the rules only certain corps and armies on the allied side can move and attack there while his Turkish army could move and attack freely. Also my Serbian and Italian armies were so weak that I didn't see much of a use for them other than to guard VP locations.

So I am wondering from those who have played this game a lot, how balanced is it?

Also what is the strategy for the allied players? It seems the Central Powers have a lot more 4 OPS cards and CC cards that help make their German Armies unstoppable. Some of the CC cards on the german side have a * but the only way they lose those cards if they lose combat. So if that have a stack of 3 german armies that is a strength of 15 with a DRM +1 against even russia which has a max of 9, unless they roll really poorly are almost unstoppable.
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John David Galt
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I've played it a lot but am still uncertain of the answer. Still, I'll share what I've seen.

When played standard, I see the game to be fairly evenly balanced.

In my games, the west always stalemates (usually with Germans owning Brussels and Sedan, but sometimes at the original positions if they roll badly in Aug-Sep 1914) while the Germans will usually eventually conquer Russia (they have more spare armies, especially if they've knocked out Serbia early -- and if the Germans put 4-5 armies in Russia, everything the Russians own isn't enough to stop them). And if Russia is conquered before about Turn 15, the Treaty will happen. But the Turks only lose their empire about one time in 8 (the Allies need Allenby before either Turk army comes into play). While this result seems to favor the CP, in score terms it's about 50/50.

If playing historical variants, the Tsar falls much more easily, while it becomes harder for the Germans to advance in the west (so even getting most of their armies early won't help). This unbalances the game in favor of the Allies. The only change that favors the CP is that the value of the Near East is reduced by two or three VP, so in the rare event it is conquered the Allies don't gain as much.

I'm working on a compromise variant of my own.

As far as the card decks, I'd say the "big" events favor the CP -- but they need to, because the Allies start with the dominant map position. In terms of Ops numbers you will find the count of each number at each War Commitment Level is identical for both players (assuming you don't use any of the variant cards from the Player's Guide). By the way, you're wrong about the CC cards with an asterisk -- like all cards with an asterisk, they can be used only once, whether you win the battle or not.
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Ted Torgerson
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1 Try to get to Limited War by Turn 2. In the Limited War deck there are higher Ops cards for Replacements and more Reinforcement Cards.

2. If GE is attacking on one front, AP has to use its OPs to attack on a different front. The best way to defend France is to attack with RU.

3. Play your War Status cards for the event. Play reinforcement cards and replacements. If you have spare replacement points, attack with that country because those are free losses for you to absorb.
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Dan Freedman
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IMO, the key is to "out-RP" the CP.

Many of the suggestions given by other posters are ways to achieve this. Some other (might be repeating) ways:

1. Most important....Mix stacks of the Fr armies with Br armies in Turn 2+. Put them in spots under attack...preferably all armies full strength so you can choose losses on LF=4+. Now those 4-Ops cards become really nice RPs. 4 vs 3 advantage now.
2. Carefully plan retreat to block holes in lines. This will allow you to spend cards on RPs instead of Ops (to fill holes). A bad retreat can really put you behind the eight ball.
3. If you are able, attack the Germans on the East front with the Russians..to make RPs even better for you.
4. Look for an opportunity to counterattack Germans if you can reduce an GE army to a corp and would only cost an AP army flip from full to reduced.
5. Risky: Entrench (single) where you feel vulnerable...so as to even up the odds some.

It is tough for CP to maintain offensive unless he is rolling really well. Because while he is attacking with each action and moving around to try to get back into attack position...you are RP'ing every other action.
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John David Galt
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Quote:
1 Try to get to Limited War by Turn 2. In the Limited War deck there are higher Ops cards for Replacements and more Reinforcement Cards.

For me this isn't as important. I'd rather try and get all the French armies in the Mobilization deck into play (if I'm the Allies) or all the Germans (if I'm the CP) before advancing the commitment level.

Quote:
2. If GE is attacking on one front, AP has to use its OPs to attack on a different front. The best way to defend France is to attack with RU.

I find this isn't necessary. If the German has me outnumbered in armies (which happens quite often in the early game) I simply stack three armies in each French fort, place any reserves in some central place like Bar-le-Duc, pull two spaces away from the Germans along the northern front (that is, leave Sedan/Cambrai/Calais/Amiens empty), and place corps in Melun and Bar-le-Duc so that he can't cut my supply. This limits the damage he can do. If he advances next to the line of corps they simply go one step south. If he tries to grab a lot of territory, he'll overextend and his lines can be cut.

Quote:
3. Play your War Status cards for the event. Play reinforcement cards...

There are trade-offs in doing this, but yes, it's usually a good idea to get as many "*" cards as you can out of your deck quickly. A small deck is one that you cycle through faster, giving you more flexibility.

If I'm the CP, though, and having trouble getting all the German armies on the board, I will often stop playing War Status cards as soon as I reach Total War. This puts the Allies in the annoying position of having to play every last WS card in their deck in order to get the US into the war.

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... and replacements. If you have spare replacement points, attack with that country because those are free losses for you to absorb.

This is easy to spot your opponent doing, and to counter, especially if you're the Allies (it's not practical for the CP to start spreading AH units around on the French front).

As the Allies, I try to play at least one RP card early in the turn (in the first four actions). This not only leaves the CP uncertain whether I'm going to play a second one, it also gives me the flexibility to use the advantage of going last in each turn to put somebody OOS.

Quote:
1. Most important....Mix stacks of the Fr armies with Br armies in Turn 2+. Put them in spots under attack...preferably all armies full strength so you can choose losses on LF=4+. Now those 4-Ops cards become really nice RPs. 4 vs 3 advantage now.

This sounds like it was written by someone who never attacks with the French or British. A mixed FR/BR stack takes 2 Ops to activate, so if you stack this way you won't be using large Ops cards to attack from 4 or 5 places at once, at least on the west front.

I try to have the British (and Belgians) holding Brussels, and sometimes Sedan or even Verdun if enough British armies are on the board. But there usually won't be any combined BR/FR stacks. If the Germans have (for instance) attacked FR armies and left Brits alone to try to waste my RP, I find some opportunistic place to attack with the Brits on my 6th action.

Quote:
2. Carefully plan retreat to block holes in lines. This will allow you to spend cards on RPs instead of Ops (to fill holes). A bad retreat can really put you behind the eight ball.

I answered this under Ted T's item 2 above. Having a supply path that can't be cut means not having to worry too much about holes in your lines. (Of course the Germans mostly don't have this problem anyway -- once they've got 2 armies per space on the French front, it's next to impossible for the Allies to make them retreat, even with repeated pounding.)

Quote:
3. If you are able, attack the Germans on the East front with the Russians..to make RPs even better for you.

This is mostly a wasted action, but it can be worth it to make the CP waste his AH RPs if he's already taken some losses in the west this turn.

It doesn't work too well against me, because one of the first things I do in the game as Germans is SR four GE corps onto the board and stack them with Austrian armies in Poland. (Technically this is two actions: an SR to bring them onto the board, then a move or SR to stack them.) The combination is not as strong offensively as a GE army, but it's good enough to make the Russians keep their armies in stacks of at least two, especially once you play Sud Army.

Quote:
4. Look for an opportunity to counterattack Germans if you can reduce an GE army to a corp and would only cost an AP army flip from full to reduced.

This is nice if you can do it, but it more or less requires that a GE army be by itself, not even accompanied by a corps, and unentrenched -- a situation I try never to have happen, especially on the west front.

Quote:
5. Risky: Entrench (single) where you feel vulnerable...so as to even up the odds some.

I look for opportunities to combine entrenchment with movement, so as not to waste Ops doing it.

Example: I'm the CP and have two armies in Sedan. On your first action of Fall 1914, you attack Sedan and reduce one of those armies to a corps. On my action, I activate Sedan and (let's say) Koblenz for movement, move an army up from Koblenz to Sedan to replace the one I just lost, move the corps from Sedan to someplace behind my lines (say, Aachen) -- and have the army that stayed in Sedan attempt to entrench. He might as well, since I've activated that space for movement anyway.

In the early game, when Entrench has not been played, I try to be the one to do it, because an automatic trench can be a big advantage, especially on the East front where it's harder to dig. As the Allies I will usually place it in Belgrade; as the CP, probably Munkacs.
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Greg Frank
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Thanks all, next time I play I will keep these in mind. I didn't see in the manual that * CCs get removed after use, that is HUGE!!! I got my butt handed to me a lot because of the same * CC card. Good to know.

 
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Stuart Cudahy
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In 1914, Go nuts as the German in the west.screen the Russians in the east. Send force west to East when you think it is necessary. I mean, this is history 101 cheers stu
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Apan Arne
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Various tips gathered from several hundred hours playing time -

1. Use tournament rules, much better game.
2. Play all reinforcements and war status asap
3. Cull deck whenever you can (for example, cull 11th army as GE if you can - this pays of sooo much down the line)
4. As GE, always open with the 'chateu-bomb' in the west. This forces FR to retreat to Paris or loose the game. There is virtually nothing safe AP can do other than to accept it
5. As AP, pound the AH as much as you can, regardless of RU losses. Send BR armies to france asap and toss them at the enemy - you will have soo much BR rp anyway.
6. Try to save BEF earlygame
7. As AP, your best weapon is RU. If you can get all reinforcements out quick, GE will have to commit one or two armies to halt you atleast. It is not uncommon to have RU threaten or capture Budapest
8. Once GE goes east, pound mercilessly with BR and FR. And don't mix them or it costs too much ops. You want to use 4 ops to attack with 2 stacks of FR/BR. You must attack so much GE can't even get a single replacement if possible
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John David Galt
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What's the "Chateau bomb"? Trying to capture C-T early?
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Tom Gregorio
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If it's the same as "The Western Hammer", it's getting three full strength German armies into C-T on turn 1. When this happens, the AP best play is often to abandon BOTH Verdun and Nancy. If you haven't faced the Hammer before, you could be in for a rough ride...
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Jason Cawley
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Some useful tips from others, but first the basics. You want the Germans playing their cards fir ops to attack you, flipping your units and some if theirs. But your cards played for replacements and reinforcements, just gaining you steps. You only want to play for ops to fulfill mandated offensives (minor) and to spread the pain around, so that your replacement points have full use e.g. for the Russians early, and minors, and such.

Then just avoid surround kills and try to have enough strength in each hex that you put one flip on a German army every time he attacks. The replacement asymmetry will do the rest.

Yes he will inflict something like 2-1 losses when he attacks. But the headwind he shoukd be facing is doing more damage to you with his ops card, than you gained back with your RP card. Much taller order.

The way you get into trouble is playing your own cards for ops, just to move and patch holes. Every time you do that, look at the RP value of the card you just used - that's the damage the Germans just did to you by "forcing your hand".

A good allied turn will see 2 RP cards and 1-2 reinforcement cards, and 0-1 cards played as events e.g. for war status etc. And just 2 ops cards. If instead your play 4 ops cards and 3 of those are just moving, the higher hits the Germans are putting on you will be unanswered, and you will lose.
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Kevin Xu
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Isn't C-T bomb dangerous ? German can be cut easily from supply easily in early game and all the French armies can flank attack it with certainty Coz it is all surrounded by French armies .
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Riku Riekkinen
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Akyiikaung wrote:
Isn't C-T bomb dangerous ? German can be cut easily from supply easily in early game and all the French armies can flank attack it with certainty Coz it is all surrounded by French armies .


That is quite usual though when people hear about it at first. However Sedan is forest, so one can always cancel a retreat there. Attacking with sure flank needs 4OPs. Those are precious in mobilization (and later also, even if not so much ). More of all one shouln't usually attack in front enemy is trying to advance (of course if enemy miscalculates odds, you can turn tables). I mean that allied using big OPs to hurt both sides is playing in CPs favor as then CP doesnät itself have to use OPs for casualties. CP can play RPs and just move back. CT has a problem with not enough retreat space, but its rare to capitalize that.
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Yan P.
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T1, you start with a flipped army in Paris, B-L-D, and 2 full armies in Verdun.

That's only rolling on a 10. Under those odds, even if you attack first, your odds to force a retreat are low. You're most likely to force single flip, and take 4-5-7 in return which can be quite catastrophic.

Even if you manage to retreat the full sedan army with withdraw or CP attacking with 1 army and rolling a 2, you're looking at attacking on the 13 table, where it's only 1/3 chance of rolling a 7 and 5/6 chance that they don't roll a 7 in return. Not odds I want to bet my game on.

Therefore, the safest thing to do by far is to retreat. That stack of 3 armies will activate on 1 ops and absolutely wreck everything. If you don't move at all, 2 armies attack paris & advance, 1 army attacks B-L-D or Melun and destroys units there, threatening OOS of the 4 armies in the Verdun/Nancy forts. It's not something you can afford.

Now, the CP open with 7 armies in the West. Sticking 3 in C-T only leave 4 to cover their lines. 1 in Sedan, 1 in Metz, 1 in Strassburg, and the 1 in Mulhouse starts flipped. It's a tall order to do. To be correctly done in T1, involves the following :
-CP wrecked the army in Sedan AND the BEF in Brussels, so that they have little worries of being cut off in Sedan.
-CP has Falkenhyne in hand or another high ops card in case France counters 3 armies to C-T with Moltke
-CP is playing almost all ops to get this to work.

A more conservative version of this play is to do it later in LW. In Mobilization, half the cards you get in T1/T2 are events you want to play.
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