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The Guns of August» Forums » Variants

Subject: AEF revisions (provisional) rss

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Philip Hernandez
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These are some proposed changes to the US order of battle in The Guns of August. This list is provisional, as I need to do some more work on the infantry. Comments and corrections are appreciated.

1. Delete the 3-3-5 cavalry division arriving January 1918. The only US cavalry units sent to France were the 3rd Cavalry Regiment in 1917, which served as a depot unit for replacement horses (no cavalry horses were actually shipped to France, and horses had to be procured there), and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which did see some combat, but not as a complete unit. If one must have the 2nd Cavalry, it is a 1-1-5 regiment, and arrives April 1918. Note that the division arriving January 1919 represents the 15th Cavalry Division, which was indeed scheduled to be shipped to France. (At that time there were no 1st-14th Cavalry Divisions! There was a "Cavalry Division", which represented all of the pre-war cavalry assets.)

2. A 3-2-2 siege artillery unit appears in August 1918. (A counter for it appears in the Augmented Guns of August packs in the Files section. It is correctly labeled "355", as 355 mm equals 14 inches.) This represents the five naval 14" railroad guns sent to France. The Army obtained six more, and these could appear January 1919; alternatively, only the one unit appears, but in January 1919. If the "superforts" rule (from another variant) is used, these guns get a +1 modifier, the same as the German 420 unit.

3. The first American license-built Renault FT tanks reached the front right at the armistice. In addition, a factory was under construction in France; this was to build Mk VIII "Liberty" tanks for the Allies, primarily for the British and Americans. Beginning in January 1919, the US receives one 2-1-2 tank brigade every two months.

4. Billy Mitchell made the first effective use of tactical air power. To reflect this, give the US an air unit in August 1918. In any event, the US should have one in 1919, as the deHavilland DH-4 was being license-built, and many French and British planes had been obtained.

5. Not all US infantry divisions were created equal. At least one should be 3-5-3, representing the incomplete 93rd Division, which received much equipment from the French and brigaded with them (a French helmet was chosen for the division's shoulder patch). I suspect other divisions should be reduced. The hard-luck (in both world wars) 92nd is one, and other green divisions were hastily sent in. I am researching this now, so do not have numbers or dates of arrival yet. Provision for rebuilding them as 4-6-4s could be made. Also, the 2nd Division, with its two marine regiments, could be a 5-7-4 and as such should be treated similar to the BEF divisions. The USMC provided a number of combat veterans from earlier campaigns for the Marine Brigade. This should be the second US division to arrive (August 1917) and is one of the at-start divisions in the 1918 scenario.

Note that counters would have to be made for most of these "new" units.

(Another note: many siege guns on both sides were railroad guns, but they do get a regular movement allowance to reflect secondary rail lines and the specially-built rail spurs these guns used, which do not need to be shown on the map.)
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Philip Hernandez
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A little bit more on this. I haven't finished looking at all the divisions, but it looks like the 1st, 2nd and 90th Divisions (at least) rate 5-7-4, while I would rate the 30th, 37th, 79th, 92nd and 93rd Divisions as 3-5-3 because their artillery brigades had been detached either as corps units or to support other divisions. (These did receive support from other artillery regiments.) Also the 93rd lacked most of its other support troops, only the two infantry brigades being complete. Based on perceived performance, I rated the 35th and 78th Divisions as 3-5-3 as well.

Had the war continued, newer divisions apparently were going to have to have some of their units organized in France; thus I have the 96th and 97th Divisions as 3-5-3, probably the 95th as well.

I am working on the order of appearance, but that probably won't need any major tweaks.

One optional unit will be the 94th Division (3-5-3) which the Army attempted to raise in Puerto Rico. Between the politicians and the lack of Spanish-speaking instructors for the technical arms, the project failed, though three infantry regiments were organized. [Why include it? I'm Puerto Rican.]

I was reviewing some after-action reports of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. It did conduct a number of mounted reconnaissance patrols during the major offensives; these were successful, but they did better when the infantry had made a good-sized penetration. This indicates that perhaps the generals were right: had a major breach occurred in the front, mounted cavalry would have been useful in pursuit. (The US Cavalry, at least, had a healthy respect for enemy machine guns and artillery.) Even though never more than one squadron was in use at any given time, they still achieved most objectives and in one case took a good haul of prisoners. One interesting note was that the only heavy weapons available were two Browning Automatic Rifles per troop.

These reports also confirmed my assessment of the 35th Division.

Phil
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Paul
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"Capitaine Conan," by Roger Vercel (1934).
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Phil,

I find it really cool that folks are still playing and offering alternatives to this game. Played a few games when I was a kid, and bought another copy last year.
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Paul Popejoy
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BroadwayPhil wrote:

2. A 3-2-2 siege artillery unit appears in August 1918. (A counter for it appears in the Augmented Guns of August packs in the Files section. It is correctly labeled "355", as 355 mm equals 14 inches.) This represents the five naval 14" railroad guns sent to France. The Army obtained six more, and these could appear January 1919; alternatively, only the one unit appears, but in January 1919. If the "superforts" rule (from another variant) is used, these guns get a +1 modifier, the same as the German 420 unit.

(Another note: many siege guns on both sides were railroad guns, but they do get a regular movement allowance to reflect secondary rail lines and the specially-built rail spurs these guns used, which do not need to be shown on the map.)

Hi!

I think your proposed U.S. 3-2-2 siege artillery unit is spot-on.

In implementing the "superfort" variant (from Bruce Harper's "The Guns of August" article in Battleplan #5), I would be inclined to give a "superfort" (i.e., a fortress built using steel-reinforced concrete) a -3 combat modifier and give any "siege" artillery a +1 bonus but limit the number of siege artillery units available. The reason is that while the "siege" artillery unit is shooting directly at the forts themselves, it is also performing its historical mission of reaching many kilometers behind the front lines in a tactical interdiction role against logistics centers and transit choke points, a role subsequently assumed by bomber aircraft in World War II).
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Tom Cundiff
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Is Battleplan #5 available online anywhere?
 
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Philip Hernandez
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Found the article in question at grognard.com, articles 742-744, but it looks like most of the main article was typed in. I have a copy of the magazine handy and will get the original article scanned and uploaded. The charts and counters from that issue were scanned into the last two articles mentioned above.

Phil
 
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Philip Hernandez
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And still more ideas...

The naval variant has far too many American BC counters! Only six battlecruisers were planned, and two actually started (Lexington and Saratoga); there were delays because the original design was impractical.

In addition, a later battleship class was proposed in the 1916 building program, with twelve 16-inch guns in four turrets. These would certainly have been the most powerful battleships afloat in those days, and only the Washington Treaty prevented their construction. I am not sure how to handle them, but they are certainly not the same as dreadnought battleships built before the war.

Phil


A bit of an update: After the four Colorado class ships were laid down (one was not completed), the next were the six South Dakota class ships, and these had the twelve guns. They were roughly one-third complete when the Washington Treaty was signed. So there are too many battleship counters as well. (Assuming four battleships per counter, that means five counters if all the Colorados are built; the South Dakotas come after that.) Pre-dreadnoughts are separate, of course. The six battlecruisers were laid down in 1920-21, same as the South Dakotas.
 
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Tom Cundiff
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Received your scan. Thanks very much. Interesting to note that the Battleplan issue and the original writing of the "Rails of August" article I wrote were both written in the late 80's (and I think in the same year).
 
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Philip Hernandez
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I have scanned the Battleplan material and sent the uploads to BGG; if these are accepted you will find them in the files section.

Phil

Update: I'm not familiar with uploading multiple files to a file page, and I noted that to the admins, but they are making me do it myself anyway, so there will be a delay on the article. (Naturally I submitted them in the opposite order so the article would appear first, and it was the article that got rejected.) I think I have it figured out.

BTW that is a very inconvenient way to submit multiple files to one page. You have to submit one, then wait for it to go through before you can upload the rest to the same page.

P.
 
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Philip Hernandez
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Further update: the admins are getting sticky about the Battleplan #5 material. But my original AEF OOB is coming along nicely.

Phil
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Tom Cundiff
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Thought as much. That's why I didn't post my "Rails of August" material. It saw publication in the old Boardgamer. There was no signed contract between me and Bruce Monin, Boardgamer's publisher, about rights, so I still own them, but publishing something in a magazine leads people like the moderators at BGG to assume the rights belong to the magazine and therefore they will not publish it here. They will make the same kind of assumptions in the case of Battleplan too.
 
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Philip Hernandez
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Apparently they were satisfied with my explanation, and the full article is now up. I found a wonderful little book from the Center for Military History with lots of information on all the AEF infantry divisions, so that will be done soon. I will probably make new counters (I'm going to pick a new color, too) to avoid any problems.

Phil
 
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