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1914: Serbien Muss Sterbien» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Scenario 1 Play rss

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Ryan Schultz
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Today I finished playing the initial eight turn scenario from Serbia 1914. This game covers the bungled opening invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary (A-H). As was historical, the last few turns saw the Serb army go on the general offensive, clearing  A-H out of northern Serbia on the last turn for a win. This was a great, fun game with John walking me through the last few rule bits to get this game down. The game features a push-shove CRT causing, over time, casualties and combat effectiveness losses (think of these as a morale check) as  both sides try to drive the other to breaking point first. Highlights for me was a series of three or four brutally effective attacks which drove back an entire A-H Corps, both divisions of which were nearing collapse as the departed Serbia for safer ground. 

I must admit my first go at this game a few months back was less than satisfactory - mainly due to how dense and packed the rulebook is. The rules, themselves, are quite clear, relatively short and concise. However, the format and organization leaves something to be desired, especially for a new player. Key concepts are not introduced early on and those concepts when introduced have no explanatory background as to why this section is important or how it fits into the overall game flow. I also found the index to be lacking. Still it is all there and all spelled out; you just need to get familiar enough with the rules and the game to pull it all together. My thanks to John for walking me through the learning process.

John plays a quality, clever game, always calculating the strategic and tactical loss vs gain for every attack while keeping in mind the overall situation. He is not afraid to take appropriate risk if the potential reward is there. This makes him a dangerous opponent.
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michael resch

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Hi Ryan,

You wrote "The rules, themselves, are quite clear, relatively short and concise. However, the format and organization leaves something to be desired, especially for a new player. Key concepts are not introduced early on and those concepts when introduced have no explanatory background as to why this section is important or how it fits into the overall game flow. I also found the index to be lacking."

I'm always interested in improving the game. If you have the time, please email to me your ideas about how to organize the rules in a better fashion.

You can reach me at mikeresch @ live . com

Thanks
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Ryan Schultz
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Hi Mike!

Sure thing - happy to provide some suggestions. Thanks for asking.

1. Difference between inactive and active units is unclear. Perhaps add a definition for active to the rules, glossary and index.
2. Do enemy units that start adjacent to an inactive unit at set up make it an active unit?
3. The differences between Force, Formation, Asset, Independent Units, and Combat Unit are very hard to figure out and which rules (combat, retreats, selecting combat intensity, etc.) apply to which type of organization at which times). Perhaps a comparison table with a summary for each type would be helpful to new players. To add to the confusion of what that stack of units can do some rules apply to a hex of units!
4. Combine the ammo and provision supply rules into one section.
5. The 27.0 section on VPs should really be made into a chart (who earns them, how and when).
6. The general game concepts section 3.0 could perhaps be better spent on orienting the player with supply, formations, and the turn sequence. Stacking and limited intelligence can safely be pushed back later in the rulebook. What is now in section 3 is tough to digest before learning more about the rest of the game flow.
7. Promote section 4.0 to an earlier spot in the rulebook. Right now you have me learning about the Sava River nuances and order of stacking which is a real chore before learning the sequence of the game.
8. A table that lists the effects of the various CE levels would be helpful.
9. Do you count ZOCs when calculating the PA placement movement point costs?
10. a table summarizing the maximum MPs available (+3 inf, +7 cav, no art, train?) for a forced march and what the extra MPs can and can't be used for on tasks is needed.
11. Pontoon bridges are not listed on the stacking order chart. Per 21.2 they are supposed to be placed on top of the stack.
12. Some port symbols for the naval squadron naval bases would have been helpful to game play plus a shading of the hexes where the squadron is attacked when entering or exiting.
13. the Syrmien Artillery unit movement restrictions - 25.2 is unclear to me. Is this west of east of the area described? How about a small picture.
14. A marker to count A-H army PA conducted as a count down towards strategic plan abandonment would have been helpful.
15. Missing from the Index: force, formation, combat unit, among others. I can make a note next few playings and add to what I am looking for in the index but did not find.
16. In the play book what the -1 in the right hand column for the A-H 21/8 division is nearly impossible to find. why not just say -1 CE? there is room.
17. The playbook section 29.5 A-H player notes for scenario 29.0 claims a A-H victory achieved of he retains one of four objectives at game end (line 6 and 7). This does not match the 29.4 victory conditions.
18. Playbook unit activations, withdrawals and reinforcement numbers are s-read across several different columns in the set up grids. How about standardizing the location for ease of use? As it is now, I miss these all the time.
19. Playbook set up grid right hand column sure could use a title like Assigned Army. The set up grids are very cryptic to new players.

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michael resch

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Thank you

I'll go through this list and see if I can apply your suggestions.
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Ryan Schultz
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Appreciate the outreach and looking them over.

It is a great game system and worth the investment to learn.

Please make more.

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michael resch

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Here is the first update to be placed within rule 1.1. This addresses the Active vs Inactive question:

> Inactive: Some individual units begin a scenario Inactive. These units are labeled “Inactive” in the set-up instructions. All other units are by default “Active” and unrestricted. “Inactive” units are restricted; they cannot move, conduct a task or attack; they act normally in all other ways.
An Inactive unit that does not begin a scenario adjacent to an enemy unit is activated if an enemy unit moves into a hex adjacent to that Inactive unit.


Please note that the Serb units that begin the game inactive AND adjacent to an enemy unit are only inactive for the Serb's first Player Turn. Which means they are active for the second half of the game's first GT. Therefore it doesn't matter if they get attacked or if an A-H unit moves adjacent. They are going to be active (activated) no matter what.

Other inactive units are "activated" when an enemy moves adjacent. None of these other units begins the game adjacent to an enemy unit.


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michael resch

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Q. "Do you count ZOCs when calculating the PA placement movement point costs?"

A. No
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michael resch

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Q. "Pontoon bridges are not listed on the stacking order chart. Per 21.2 they are supposed to be placed on top of the stack."

A. Pontoon Bridges are markers pointing at a hexside (they are deployed in a hexside) and therefore are not on the stacking order chart.
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michael resch

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Q. "Some port symbols for the naval squadron naval bases would have been helpful to game play plus a shading of the hexes where the squadron is attacked when entering or exiting."

A. Port symbols are drawn on the map in hexes 23.03, 29.09, 11.08, and off-map at Brod.
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michael resch

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"the Syrmien Artillery unit movement restrictions - 25.2 is unclear to me. Is this west of east of the area described? How about a small picture."

Good idea. I've drawn one. It is now in the form of a PDF, how do I download it to this Geek page?
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michael resch

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Q. "Playbook unit activations, withdrawals and reinforcement numbers are s-read across several different columns in the set up grids. How about standardizing the location for ease of use? As it is now, I miss these all the time."

A. Every scenario has a section entitled 'Chronological Reinforcement Schedules'. Withdrawals are listed there too.
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Paul Borchers
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mtresch wrote:
"the Syrmien Artillery unit movement restrictions - 25.2 is unclear to me. Is this west of east of the area described? How about a small picture."

Good idea. I've drawn one. It is now in the form of a PDF, how do I download it to this Geek page?


Go to the "Files" section on this game's page, and click on the "Upload" button near the right margin. It takes you to this page:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/new/thing/134283

Just follow the instructions there, but be prepared for a delay before it actually is available on the page because it will be reviewed by Those Who Run BGG.
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Ryan Schultz
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Thanks for the excellent feedback and customer support for your cool games!
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michael resch

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Comment "15. Missing from the Index: force, formation, combat unit, among others. I can make a note next few playings and add to what I am looking for in the index but did not find."

Please do make notes and share them with me. I'm interested to learn how players use my rules; to learn what is easily understood and what is not.

Concerning the terms you mentioned that are missing from the index, these term's definitions are found in rule 1.1.

However to make things clear in the 2nd Edition of the rules I've rearranged the booklet and added the following (with graphic examples):

3.1 Formation Units
A Combat unit (2.3) that has a corresponding Attachment marker (2.8) is termed to be a Formation unit. These units are the most important units in the game. Small combat units do not have an Attachment marker. Such units are termed to be Asset Units (5.5).

3.2 Force — General Rule
In 1914 Offensive à outrance the “Force” is the primary maneuver and combat grouping. A Force can consist of either:
(1) a Formation unit along with a maximum of two assigned Asset Units (and a Fort unit), or
(2) one or two Asset Units (and a Fort unit) stacked together but not stacked with a Formation unit.
It is important to note that a Force can never contain more than one Formation unit.
HQ Exception: During movement, a Force that includes a Siege-Train HQ unit can contain an unlimited number of artillery asset units.

3.2.1 Important Rules effected by the Force Concept:
• Movement: No more than one Force may move at a time. (I.e., a group of units cannot move as a stack if it consists of more than one Force.)
• Combat: Combat is conducted per Force. For the attacker Terrain effects are applied per Force. After combat each individual Force must make a Combat Effectiveness Check.
DESIGN NOTE: The Force concept exists due to the presence of small units of regiment size. These small units are called “Asset units.” Large units the size of divisions and brigades can attach these asset units to create reinforced Forces. Players should think of these reinforced Forces as if they were one unit counter.

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Ryan Schultz
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Started the second scenario, the campaign game, and am having a grand time. We are at the start if turn 5, the A-H has made some inroads in the northern Fifth Army and southern Sixth Army but the Serbs are positioning with great anticipation for the turn 6 withdrawal of the A-H 4th Corps to go over on the attack.

Here are a few additional newbie perspective rulebook comments based upon this latest play session (adding on to the numbering scheme from my previous post above). The rules are really quite good and comprehensive - these are really small nits and are offered to help make it easier for other new players to get into this cool game system quicker.

20. Placing selected combat related index terms under the combat entry makes it harder for newbies to find the needed entries. It would be better for new players if the these entries were placed alphabetically in the main index itself - for example "Withholding" should perhaps be under "W" not a sub entry under the "C" Combat entry.

21. The campaign game turn 3 Komitadji marker removal is missing from the set up grid notation - a black circle with a white 3.

22. Rule 26.3 Abandoning the Strategic Plan makes reference to a nonexistent rule 26.4.2 (second bullet under section 26.3)

23. The Army Front Line Definition diagram, rule 3.4.1 on p.4, is very much needed but it is a bit cryptic to a new player. Questions arise from the diagram example notes that more detail would perhaps be beneficial: Why is more information needed to determine which side controls 12.21? What information exactly would be needed? Why is there a difference in control between hex 12.21 and 11.21. Both are in mutual enemy and friendly ZOCs.

24. Rule 3.4 defining hex control by army front lines vice individual combat unit occupation is very hard for a new player to grasp. I still don't think I get it. Could the 3.4.1 Army Front Line diagram example be expanded to include some occupation and VC hex control examples?

25. Can Montenegrin and Serbia combat units stack, attack, defend together if part of the Uzice Corps? Can Montenegrin Asset units be utilized by Serbian formations? A couple of sentences in section 24.0 might help a new player understand this relationship quicker and easier.

26. Does the 15.1.5 Montenegrin special supply rule mean that the Montenegro combat units can't trace supply from Serbian sources or that they get an additional option for a supply source over and above what the Serbian combat units can utilize? Does the special 13 hex supply range have to follow the 15.3.2 terrain restrictions?

27. The Index entry for Elevations (listed as 3.5) and Mountain Contours (listed as 3.5.1) should cite 3.6 and 3.6.1 respectively.

28. 2.0 Nationality color scheme states Montenegrin units are green. In my copy they are a slightly lighter shade of brown than the Serbs under some good lighting conditions. This confused me when sorting the counters and really only became clear when setting the combat units up for the campaign game.


Thanks for making such a fun game and for your outreach to improve future rule versions!

Ryan
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michael resch

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Hi Ryan,

Q. "26. Does the 15.1.5 Montenegrin special supply rule mean that the Montenegro combat units can't trace supply from Serbian sources or that they get an additional option for a supply source over and above what the Serbian combat units can utilize? Does the special 13 hex supply range have to follow the 15.3.2 terrain restrictions?"

A. 15.1.5 Montenegrin Supply: Montenegrin units (not Serbian) trace their supply exclusively from any one of the map-edge supply symbols within a range of thirteen hexes. Terrain restrictions do apply—see 15.3.2.
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Ryan Schultz
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For my item #8 - rather than just be a critic - I created and uploaded to the files section a 1914: SmS Combat Effectiveness Status Chart for all to use in this great game.

Look it over - corrections welcome.

It should show in a couple of days after BGG admin review.
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