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The Guns of August» Forums » Rules

Subject: Question about "Big Push" attacks rss

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Stu Carson
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26.3 "Beginning in 1916, the phasing player may announce that an attack against three or more combat units will be a “big push” attack provided no attacks against this many units have been conducted yet in the combat phase. This attack continues until an “AE”, “AA”, or “AD” combat result occurs. Units from one country may only participate in one “big push” attack per turn."

The above is the rule for Big Push attacks. Suppose the Central Powers player is the phasing player; he executes a German Big Push against a Russian hex containing 3 defending combat units. May he then execute an Austrian "Big Push" against another hex with 3 Russian defenders?

Pro: The limit implied seems to be 1 Big push/country/turn, so yes he can.

Con: There has already been an attack against 3 defenders (the German Big Push), so no he can't.

So maybe he could attack 2+ hexes with 4+ defenders? since "no attacks against this many units have been conducted yet"?

So does "no attacks against this many units have been conducted yet" mean that the Big Push attacks must be executed first, before any non-Big Push attack against 3+ defenders? Or does it really intend that each Big Push in the turn must be against successively more defending units?
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Patrick Bauer
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I think the part of the rule at the end which states that units from one country may only take part on one BP only makes sense if it's one per country, otherwise it's redundant.

I suppose it could be one per player, and you could have more than one if you're playing with more than one player per side. But that seems dubious.
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craig grinnell
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Quote:
Units from one country may only participate in one “big push” attack per turn.


One could also interpret this as simply meaning that only one nation may participate in the "big push" attack, and not one attack per nation per turn.

But to be honest, I'm not really sure myself.
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grinnell1969 wrote:
Quote:
Units from one country may only participate in one “big push” attack per turn.


One could also interpret this as simply meaning that only one nation may participate in the "big push" attack, and not one attack per nation per turn.

But to be honest, I'm not really sure myself.


I've not played the game, but my reading, without knowing how it plays, agrees with Patrick. I would like to see this hashed out as I have a game lined up for Thanksgiving.
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Tom Cundiff
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As the Phasing Player may control many countries (Allied - British, French, US, Russian, Serbian, etc. ...) and the rules specifically state that there may be only one Big Push Attack per country, specifically identifying country in that phrase, then it is obvious to me that it indicates the Big Push allows multiple Big Push Attacks by the Phasing Player as long as there is no more than one carried out by an individual country. There are multiple instances where the British and French carried out their own offensives to compliment each others efforts.

I'd go for individual attacks carried out by separate countries.
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Stu Carson
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Cundiff wrote:
As the Phasing Player may control many countries (Allied - British, French, US, Russian, Serbian, etc. ...) and the rules specifically state that there may be only one Big Push Attack per country, specifically identifying country in that phrase, then it is obvious to me that it indicates the Big Push allows multiple Big Push Attacks by the Phasing Player as long as there is no more than one carried out by an individual country. There are multiple instances where the British and French carried out their own offensives to compliment each others efforts.

I'd go for individual attacks carried out by separate countries.


This is the interpretation that I favour Tom. It feels right and I think it is probably what the writer of the rules intended. Unfortunately, it isn't quite what the rule says. I really enjoy this game, but there are a few areas in the rules where the natural, reasonable, feels historically right play seems to be implied by the rule, but is at odds with what the rule says exactly, when you read closely.

One of my main motivations for posting these rules issues is that Paul Popejoy seems to be tracking the rules enquiries posted here for a planned 3rd rev of the rules. I've got a pretty thorough set of notes at this point on all the little ambiguities, curiosities and contradictions.

Stu
 
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Patrick Bauer
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It's interesting to note that the line: "Units from on country may only participate in one "big push" attack per turn"is in red. This means it's already a editorial change or correction.

I wonder if the original intent was really only one per player, thus a game would need to be played under the multi-player rules (27) for the original rule to allow more than one per turn; and then only if nation specific.
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Paul Popejoy
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Hi!

The original wording of the rule is:
Quote:
Beginning in 1916, before resolving any combat involving three or more defending combat units, the attacker may announce that he is going to conduct a “big push” attack. If he does, he may continue rolling until he receives an “AE,” “AA,” or “AD” combat result. This rule permits a player to attack the same defending units more than once in a single Combat Phase.

Hi!

The "big push" was a originally an optional rule that I suspect was added to give each side a means of forcing their way into a hex with three defending combat units without rolling a "DX" or a "DE" result, but only the first such attack in the combat phase in order to prevent players from breaking the front open at multiple points in a non-historical manner.

IIRC, the question about the number of big push attacks allowed during a turn came up in one of the "fangotango - SewerStarFish" replays using the Augmented Rules. My answer was "one" based on my interpretation of the original intent and on the only historical examples I could find that seemed to match, namely the Battles of the Somme (the original "big push") and of Verdun in 1916. I added the nation-based restriction to the Augmented Rules try to clarify the intent of the rule, but in retrospect I think it could have been worded more clearly. For example,

Quote:
An alliance may conduct no more than one big push attack per combat phase.


I am definitely working V3.0, so if you have comments, questions, or suggestions please send me a PM!

Thanks!
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Philip Hernandez
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This is a confusing rule indeed. One would think that a "big push" in the West would not preclude the Russians doing one in the East (though they did not, unless one suggests Brusilov's offensive was so intended). I'd divide the map into two sectors, one for the West and Italian fronts, and one for the East and Balkan fronts, and allow the two opposing alliances one "big push" in each sector. The national restrictions then make more sense; a nation would not have the resources for a big push on two fronts.

I'd further limit the ability to participate in a "big push" to the great powers, possibly excluding the Turks, and also excluding the Americans before October 1918 (or the equivalent turn with variable entry).

(The "Great Powers" were, at the time, Britain, France, Russia, Italy, the United States, Japan and possibly China on the Allied side; Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire with the Central Powers. These include the appropriate troops from their colonies, dominions, empires, etc. Minor powers in the game would therefore be Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Montenegro, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands. Portugal and Brazil, with no units in the game as published, are also minor powers, as are Spain, Switzerland and other neutrals not depicted.)

Phil
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Paul Popejoy
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BroadwayPhil wrote:
This is a confusing rule indeed. One would think that a "big push" in the West would not preclude the Russians doing one in the East (though they did not, unless one suggests Brusilov's offensive was so intended). I'd divide the map into two sectors, one for the West and Italian fronts, and one for the East and Balkan fronts, and allow the two opposing alliances one "big push" in each sector. The national restrictions then make more sense; a nation would not have the resources for a big push on two fronts.

I'd further limit the ability to participate in a "big push" to the great powers, possibly excluding the Turks, and also excluding the Americans before October 1918 (or the equivalent turn with variable entry).

Phil

Hi!

I think that what you do with the Big Push depends on a couple of things:
1. What does it represent historically?
2. How do you want it to affect game play?

It seems to me that the historical context of the "Big Push" is a decision by the attacker to sustain a battle of attrition against a strong position where the assault continues until the objective is achieved or the loss ratio begins to favor the defender. For example, attrition was an explicit objective of the German assault on Verdun and the end result of the 1916 Battle of the Somme and the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres) in 1917. These multi-month campaigns focused on a single Guns of August hex-equivalent, with some months being "normal" combat and some months being "big push" combat.

I wouldn't consider battles that resulted in rapid breakthroughs such as the Brusilov Offensive (1916), the Battle of Caporetto (1917), or Operation Michael (1918) to be a "Big Push" as these had a short, successful assault period of a few days or less followed by exploitation that usually ended when the attackers outran their supply lines and either paused the advance to resupply (Brusilov) or hit resistance they couldn't overcome without better logistical support - usually about 30 - 40 miles (about one hex) beyond the start line, e.g., Caporetto and Operation Michael.

I don't think the Eastern Front really saw the high-attrition set-piece battles like those of the Western Front because the troop density was too low and logistical capacity wouldn't sustain that level of effort over extended periods of time. In Guns of August there usually aren't a lot of places where you can get good odds on three enemy units once units begin to spread out to cover the Baltic to the Black Sea; where there are three units, there is usually enough room to maneuver so that the defender will just vacate an empty hex rather than sacrifice a lot of troops for it.

If we allow each side to have two "Big Push" attacks, with each country (Britain, France, Russia, the US, Germany, & Austria-Hungary) participating in no more than one "Big Push" per turn then I would expect a much more fluid game on the Western Front than is normally the case or that occurred historically once the trenches start to form. They may also be self-limiting since the number of units lost per battle may be more than the limited number of replacement points per turn can support. Note the rule requires a "Big Push" to continue until specific conditions are met - the attackers cannot voluntarily call it off just because they are taking more casualties than they expected!

Has anyone tried playing with multiple "big push" attacks per side turn and, if so, how did it affect game-play?

Hope this helps!
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fangotango
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Pat and I had a couple of games in which the number of Big Push attacks were not limited by a per turn rule. In turns that multiple Big Push attacks were made in the West with both sides at full strength all along the line, the result was a more fluid Western Front, but also extremely high casualties, which neither side would be able to sustain for very long.

My favorite Big Push attack of all my games was by a German 4-4-5 cavalry that attacked a hex of three Russian units. All three Russians got eliminated. The German either got eliminated on the last attack, or got to retreat. I think it was near the Eastern edge of the board, and I was hoping it would be eliminated to be rebuilt in the West.
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Stu Carson
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We are presently in September 1917 in a game which has allowed each country to execute a BP. Of course, if 2 or more countries combine units in a single BP, then that counts as the BP for all participating countries since units of 1 country may participate in no more than 1 BP per turn. This does not seem to have seriously distorted play.

In our game:
France has not chosen to make any BP on their own
Neither has Italy
Britain has tried twice in France (+ one Anglo-French)
Russia has tried twice each against or approaching Konigsberg and Lemberg

Germany has tried 5.
Austria has tried once.

My opponent and I seem to have been proceeding on an unspoken assumption that BP attacks may not be launched by minor powers, I had not even considered the possibility until this thread. I would suggest, for any proposed rules revision, that only the powers that roll on the morale table (and maybe not Turkey), so powers with 3+ inf replacements/turn may initiate a BP.

The Russians really can't get on to the 3:1 column against 3+ Germans. BP attacks at 1:1 or 2:1 are very risky, and with poor attacking values the DX at the top of the table is almost as disastrous as the AE at the bottom. In our game the Russian player has (IMO) hurt himself more on the BP attacks, (including one very bloody DX at Lemberg that resulted in AH recovering most of Galicia), than he has hurt the CP.

The French never seemed to be in a position to afford the worst possible result, and so never used the BP. Again, with an AA at one end and a DX at the other the BP is a very risky proposition. Possessing good die modifiers just makes it worse. Much the same may be said for the Austrians; except it is even worse for them since they must pay their AA or DX with units of 2 or 3 Attack strength versus 3 or 4 for the French. Killing 12+ or 15+ attack points worth of units leaves a pretty ragged front, ripe for counterattack to say the least. The one that was made was opportunistic against Isolated (and halved) defenders.

Tp summarize:

Only the Germans, and to a lesser extent the British, perhaps in concert with the French, have the ability to get the initial odds on to the 3:1 column. So they have made somewhat more use of the BP, and only they have really made effective use of the BP, since only they have the offensive power to consistently gain the hex, even if they do need to pay an attritional price for it via 1 or more BD results.

The French ability grows with time and their potential to effectively use the BP improves as they gain the ability to form 17 point stacks (tanks) and the German army begins to degrade (if the German opts for more units, there are more 3-5-3s and fewer 5-7-4s to defend with). So the later in the game it is the more effective France will tend to be with the BP.

The Russians can bring forward large troop mass, and send it against the enemy, but with variable results. They may have some success, and take valuable territory, but they may also experience a bloody catastrophe. The 4 Russian BP attempts were 1 Pyrrhic tactical success/strategic failure, taking Lemberg on a 19 point DX (and so weak they could not keep it), 1 costly success, taking a hex beside Lemberg with 3 BDs, and 2 limited failures by ADs.

To my subjective idea of what the BP represents this feels about right: The Western powers and the Germans can attack a hex with reasonable prospects for taking it if they are prepared to pay. Large offensives by the Western powers gain effectiveness later in the war, the Germans lose effectiveness later in the war, but have Stoss to compensate. Russia can attempt large scale offensives - and may succeed - but may also experience a bloody fiasco since they lack offensive power. The other countries never really seem to be in the position to try on their own, but might if circumstances were sufficiently favourable. Again this feels right.

All just my 2 cents,

Stu
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