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The Kaiser's War: World War I, 1918-19» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Kaiser's war 1918-1919 REVIEW rss

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Terence Co
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Germany and her central power allies at the start of 1918 had the upper hand on the Allies.

1. It had won the war in the east and had collapsed the Russian government and pumelled them into an armistice ending up controlling large tracts of land in the Ukraine, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States, Russia was also riven by the start of a bloody civil war between the Bolsherviks and the White Russian anti communists.The armistice in the east allowed the Germans to shift huge military forces from the east to the Western Front.

2. Her Austro Hungarian allies had overrun northeastern Italy and were knocking on the doors of Venice.

3. In the Middle East, her Ottoman Turk allies had stalemated the British. 4. The Balkans were mostly controlled by the central powers, Serbia and Romania were overrun and the only Pro Allied country in the Balkans, Greece was threatened.

4. In the West, the Germans, French and British were exhausted from four years of war and the situation was still a very bloody stalemate with all sides losing millions of men with seemingly no end in sight. The front lines in western Europe did not really move for four years.

The French and British had practically exhausted their manpower and economic pool while the Germans still having a strong industrial base was not so good as food shortages due to the long naval blockade had grown to famine levels and were threatening the German will to continue the war. Also The Americans had entered the war in 1917 and the USA had a greater industrial capacity than Germany and had fresh manpower and had high morale. At the start of 1918, American troops were just starting to enter the fray in Western Europe.

The Germans even with the upper hand was desperate to end the war before the full might of the USA struck in Europe. The Germans had developed the strosstrupen(shock troops) strategy. The strategy was to reconfigure and retrain German units as assault troops who were heavilly armed with automatic weapons, and flamethrowers and grenades who would after a heavy but short artillery barrage(in order to suppress the defenders) would probe and attack enemy weak points. Penetrate and keep going and hit enemy rear areas disrupting command, support, communication and supply lines and centers. This had the planned effect of rendering enemy front line troops deaf, dumb and blind and not able to fight in a coherent and coordianted fashion. These were mopped up by followup attacks. The Germans to this end had trained a large part of their army as strosstruppen.

Germany was so desperate that there was no option to lose. Losing meant a collapse of the central powers.

The German goal was to flank and destroy the Allied units on the front line. With this defeat, it was hoped that it will break the Allied will to fight and force an armistice that was favourable to the Germans.

From March to July 1918, the Germans attacked and for four months were astonishingly successful as the strosstruppen tactics had heavilly disrupted Allied frontline command and control. Many Allied units were encircled and cut off from their commanders and many surrendered or were destroyed. While the offensive was a tactical success destroying many Allied units and capturing large tracts of the front line, the Germans lost around half a million men and the Allies lost around 1 million, the offensive hurt the Allies badly but did not destroy their will to fight. The Germans lost a lot of their manpower but manpower that was difficult to replace as these were highly trained men. While the Germans captured a lot of territory, these were highly vulnerable to Allied counterattacks. The Germans were heavilly exhausted and were now trying to consolidate their gains.

The situation worsened as American troops were in France in large numbers. This reinvigorated the French and British who called up huge numbers of men including more men from their colonies. A massive Allied counteroffensives from August to Nov. 1918 had overrun German front lines, the Germans were smashed back to their borders losing all their gains and Germany was now threatened with invasion. The German army had lost around a million men, its army was shattered, there was no hope to resist an Allied invasion so an armistice was agreed to and WW1 ended.

Kaiser's war has 228 nicely made and colourful counters and a nice fold up hex map showing Western Europe(France, Southern UK and Germany), Eastern Europe, Russia, Balkans and down to Turkey and the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. Production values are excellent as usual. However what I found was that the turn track is in the magazine and not on the map and VPs have to written down(there is no track to keep track of VP points). This is irritating as the player has to make up some easier means to keep track of the turns and VP points.

The regular game has 5 turns(two months per turn) but an optional rule can extend this to 11 turns into 1919.

The game sequence is as follows:

Central Powers Turn:

a. Central Powers Mobilization phase:

This is not present in turn 1 and during this phase, the Central Powers player brings to the map his reinforcements and uses victory points(VPs) to buy units.

VP points is the most critical feature of the game as these are not only spent to buy units but also to increase combat and movement capability(1 VP per unit can either double combat values or double movement factors). VPs are also lost with the lost of combat units(losing armies can hurt a lot)VPs are of course the final determinant of victory. A side which goes to zero VPs automatically loses and the side with the highest VP value at the end of the game wins.(to certain degrees). VP points are gained by occuptying political and economic cities.

Most units mobilized do not automatically become reinforcements in the same turn that they were purchased, many of them become reinforcement in the next turn or more.

B. Central Powers movement Phase..Well central power units which have a movement factor highter than one can move during this phase. The player can use rail or amphibious movement.

C. Central Power First Combat Phase...the Central power units which are eligible to attack can attack this phase. Their are two combat CRTs in this game, the Big Push and Infiltration CRTs. The Big Push is the regular CRT which can be used by anyone, this CRT is damage heavy but has large chance of causing damage to the attacker and lower to medium levels. The Infiltration CRT can only be used if a shock capable unit is involved in the attack. This CRT has mainly retreats but less of a chance of damaging the attacker. However this CRT is deadly as it has large amounts of defender panic results which a unit has an even chance of reterating or getting destroyed.

In this phase, both players can use VPs to increase their combat, use air, command and naval support for their attacks.

D. Central Power Second Combat Phase...well the same as the first combat phase.

E. Central Powers Supply Attrition Phase. Depending on the terrain, out of supply units on certain turns roll an attrition dice. If they fail, units are eliminated.

2. Allied Player Turn...The Allied player does a copy of the Central Players Turn.

3. End Phase

A. Victory poin segment. Both sides gather VPs.

B. Victory Check Segment. A check is made to see if conditions exist for a sudden death victory.

C. Turn Advance segment. The turn marker is advanced to the next turn.

There is also a plethora of optional rules

Assesment:

I found this game a delight to play. The game can be played in an evening and is relatively easy and straightforward to play. However there is a lot of optional rules(which are only found in a downloaded rulebook) which is not foundin the main rulebook which I found irritating. The game however covers most of the ww1 front lines in Europe, and the Middle East in 1918 which I found nice. However what I liked most was the use of VP points as not only a determiner of victory but also in buying units.

VP points in the game represents the political, economic and social stability of a power. So this stability falters as the players drain their manpower and economy in recruiting new units to fight. This is great in showing that while both sides had formidable military power, they were fragile in the homefront.

This is a great mechanism in showing why Germany who still had a very strong industry and military still collapsed in the end while inflicting heavy damage on its enemies.

I found that both sides have to be careful in spending their VPs. Overspending too much and getting a massive loss of VPs due to combat can lead to a sudden death defeat early int he game. The Germans and the Central Powers during the first few turns are under the onus of the attack, they must attack to cause as much damage as possible to the Allies and capturing important territory and hopefully causing a massive Allied VP loss. While the Central Powers have the option of conecntrating on various fronts(Western, Middle East, Eastern, Balkans, Italian). The fighting will most likely be concentrated in the Western Front as it is not only the closest to Germany but also contains the main forces of its most power adversaries(US, Frnace and the UK). Also has a lot of VP income pontential. The Italian front is also important but the Austro Hungarians are not so strong and Germany does not really have a lot of forces here and the terrain favors defense(the Italians also have strong defensive values). The Middle East has a few resource sites and both sides do not have a lot of units and movement is difficult in the area. The Balkans is also difficult, the Central Powers have the upper hand in this area in terms of numbers but still its too little and the terrain is also rugged.

So the Germans and the Central powers have to strike hard and fast sicne by the end of turn 3, the Central Powers player has not achieved certain conditions...he can automatically lose the war. I found that the Central powers mostly ont he Western Front is on the defensive after the first few turns of attacking as large Allied reinforcements start coming in.

I think it depends on how both sides manage their VPs but the game is slightly tilted to the Allies as the Allies have excellent off map VP earners that they get and the Central Powers cannot do anythign about it.

However I like this game...highly recomended.
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Ricatoni
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Nicely reviewed..,thorough and with enough detail to give context to the final analysis.

I have this game and have been tinkering with pulling out a WWI game to play. You have persuaded me that this is worth putting on the table.

What are the off board VP earners for that would give the allies an advantage?

It will still come to the table...Meanwhile...Any thoughts?
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Andrei Shlepov
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Thank you for the review.

What's going on in Russia since it's featured on map?
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Basically the Allies get like 12 VPs from the USA, 6 VPs from the British Empire and 3 from the French Empire. Automatic.

While the central powers have to occupy important cities on the map to get VPs, the Allies get like 21 Vps per turn without occupying anything on the map.

Thoughts???

Easy to play, preety straightforward, the original rules lack the optional rules which can seen in my other post in this forum.

This is a very good WW1 game.
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Well the eastern front is an optional rule. In the regular game, its not featured except for German unit to move out of. In the optional rule. The Germans can decide to attack east and go after teh Bolsheviks. Historically, the Germans thought about doing this and capturing Petrograd or Moscow but they decided that the Western Front was more important.
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Brad Nozik
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Have this game and love it. Every once in a while, S&T hits one out of the park. This is one of those times. Beautiful looking game with lots of strategic options. I've played the base scenario several times, each time trying a different route for CP victory. I'm gonna try going East in my next game. On to Moscow!
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Robert Madison
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Gangrel wrote:
Well the eastern front is an optional rule.
I'm assuming this means optional in some late-war scenario, correct?

Just ordered this game. Looks like it can't hold a candle to Death in the Trenches. :-)
 
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