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Subject: East Africa - What's the point? rss

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Chris Friend
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I'm only on my first play. In fact I'm still on turn 1 because I'm purposely being slow and referring to the rulbook constantly. I've even restarted turn 1 four times. I've read the rules a few times and the Example of Play. But already I'm asking myself what's the point with even bothering with the East Africa sideshow? What does either side get out of it?
What am I missing?
Thanks in advance.
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Kirk Uhlmann
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General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was never defeated during the course of WWI. Realizing that he was completely cut-off from Germany, his objective was to cause as much damage to the British as possible in order to divert resources to East Africa that might otherwise go to primary fronts.

In the game, the British have little to gain by expending resources turn after turn in order to force Lettow-Vorbeck off the track, though it would be worth 1 VP at game's end. The British, however, do have a 1 point production area and losing it would reduce their production 1 point every turn for the rest of the game and award the German's a VP.

Since Vorbeck's guerilla attack success probability is reduced if his army is spent, there are times when mathematically the British can optimally spend the resources to attack and make him spent in order to reduce the amount of resources they might have to use to refit the British army there in the future as a result of more successful attacks from a fresh German army. If the British army is spent and in British East Africa, they are almost forced to refit it rather than give up the production point.

In the early game, the German player has few choices other than to make his guerilla attacks and hope for the best. However, Vorbeck can make a conventional attack (with bonus modifier) to increase the chance of success and the decision point is the correct timing along with the expected appearance of Re-supply cards later in the German Event Deck.

The German player will want to keep Vorbeck in fresh status to both increase the odds of guerilla attacks and also to retain the ability to make a full conventional attack - especially if the British army is against the wall. The British, likewise, would prefer to not have their hand forced as often and would rather see Vorbeck in a spent state.

East Africa is, as it was in the war, a sideshow to the main fronts and is represented in simplified form to be in proportion to its impact. The Central Powers can cause great angst for the British if they successfully make spent British armies in East Africa, the Near East, have some successful U-Boat attacks and perhaps even some hits with the surface fleets. Then Britian could be looking at spending multiple production points elsewhere instead of the Western Front, or risk giving up production centers.

The British probably have more decision points in East Africa initially, as there are times where it's mathematically profitable to go after Vorbeck (from a total cost over multiple turns standpoint) - if they can spare the resources. Vorbeck needs to continue to make his attacks and optimally time his almost surely successful conventional attack when it is most inconvenient for the Western Allies. Also, the German player must anticipate the re-supply card(s) and the overall game situation to optimize his attacks.

Bottom line - The Western Allies are permanently weakened by one production point every turn if they lose East Africa (and give up a VP) and the Germans must threaten in order to divert resources there at optimal times. East Africa is part of the overall situation in which the Germans would like to see Britain stretched too thin.

Thanks for the question,

Kirk
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Chris Friend
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Wow Kirk! Thank you VERY much for such a detailed response. That's awesome. Apparently my lack of WWI knowledge really shows. (This is my first WWI game.)
I hope my question wasn't taken as a criticism of your fine game. It wasn't intended to be. I'm really liking it. And I'm positive the more I play the more I will like it a lot! So many choices with too few resources! Oh for the want of just one more PP. The careful thought and effort you put into this body of work is clearly evident.
Thanks again!
Chris
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James Lautermilch
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Thanks Kirk. A rock solid analysis of the situation at the time. in reality the allies expenditure in East Africa was almost pathological in nature to what any reward could be and it was almost asking the impossible to bring a well lead enemy force to a decision considering the nature of the terrain and the shear size of the area being fought over.
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Kirk Uhlmann
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Thanks, Chris.

It's a legitimate question and I love discussing WWI. If you have any other questions or comments feel free.

Kirk
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