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Subject: An introductory guide to attacking France rss

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Brett Johnson
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This is intended to be an introductory guide to attacking France. Accordingly, it is somewhat conservative and some of the recommendations may be sub-optimal for advanced players. There are many variables and no single guide can account for every variation.

Conventions explained:

INF, ARM, CAV, PARA, GSU - Infantry, Armor, Cavalry, Paratroop, Ground Support Units
INF-3 - Infantry with a maximum strength of 3
cadre - a unit at strength 1
SA Special Action
SA-0/1/2/3/4/5 - Special Action # - NOTE SA-0 is the Operational Movement phase and doesn't require spending a SA
ND-39 - November/December 1939 game turn
(ASSAULT) - type of attack recommended - assault or regular


Poland:

Do not spend SA for extra strat moves to move stuff from Poland to the West (14 should be enough). Leave behind any INF wounded down to cadre level and build enough new cadres to satisfy the 5 block requirement. GSU are your last priority to strat move as these can be moved in MA-40 if needed.

Production Guidelines for attack on France:

1. do not build flak, fighters, bombers, field forts, fleets
2. do not build your elite ARM, paratroop steps, or any new INF-3 - these are all an inefficient use of WERPs
3. do not fix any units left behind in Poland
4. do not loan WERPs to Italy, but if you must - loan as little as possible
5. build subs to 13 ASAP and keep them there until after France falls, then build max
6. rebuild any damaged units from Poland that will be used in the West
7. build 5 SA
8. build CAV-2, 2xGSU, ARM-4 - all other production to INF-4 and INF-4 cadre
9. Units intended for use against France should be either max or cadre (for INF-4 to be reinforced on the turn of attack)

Overview of attack plan:

1. ND-39 & JF-40 - build and prepare
2. MA-40 - attack Netherlands/Belgium
3. MJ-40 - attack France & Denmark
4. later in 1940 attack Norway, Yugo, Greece, etc.

Locating Units prior to attack:

1. Ruhr (force A - Netherlands) 4xARM-4, INF-3, CAV-2 (if you want to be extra cautious in mud, add another INF-3)
2. Ruhr (force B - Denmark) INF-4, INF-3, Para-3 (cadre), GSU
3. Ruhr (force C - defense) weather dependent
4. Rhineland - the BIG stack - lots of INF-4, a few INF-3, several INF-4 (cadre), PARA-2 (cadre)
5. Baden (defense) - 5xINF-3
6. Berlin (defense) 1 block (weather dependent)
7. Bohemia (defense) 1 block (weather dependent)

MA-40 Attack

1. Netherlands - (move units from Ruhr to Netherlands) INF-3, CAV-2, 4xARM-4 (ASSAULT)
2. Belgium - (move all units from Rhineland to Belgium) Big stack - a lot of INF-4, a few INF-3, approx. 5-8xINF-4 (cadre) (ASSAULT)
3. Denmark - leave the Denmark attack force in Ruhr for the moment, they will attack next turn and can help defend Rhineland/Ruhr this turn if needed
4. Baden - 3xINF 3 move to Rhineland to guard the flank, 2xINF-3 stay behind

MA-40 Defense (after movement):

1. Baden - 2xINF-3
2. Rhineland - 3xINF-3
3. IF SNOW, THEN 1 block in Berlin (INF-4 or cadre), 1 block in Bohemia (INF-3 or cadre), 1 extra block (ARM-4 ideally, but can be INF or cadre for deception) in Rhineland

MJ-40 Production

1. Top off to 5 SA (this is CRITICAL)
2. build up those INF-4 cadres and damaged INF-4 to max that you moved into Belgium, top off your CAV if it got dinged
3. IF planning to attack a big stack in Pas de Calais or Paris, THEN build another ARM-4 (or two) in Rhineland
4. IF attacking a big stack in Metz/Maginot, THEN build another 2xINF-4 in Rhineland and maybe another GSU in Berlin

MJ-40 Attack Guidelines

1. Your primary goal is to collapse France in one turn, by using most/all of your SA
2. Your secondary goal is to kill British units and/or force Britain to use a SA and fleets retreating them
3. Your tertiary goal is to minimize the WERP cost.
4. You will attack efficiently and apply virtually your entire force against about 1/2 the Allied force - you should have AT LEAST a 2-1 (ideally closer to 3-1) advantage in every fight.
5. do *not* assault into the Maginot line (initial round), unless it extremely weak (~4 blocks) and probably not even then
6. do *not* assault across the river into Paris against a moderate/big stack (initial round)
7. In general, you should be assaulting for all other attacks
8. You want to accept Vichy, leave conquering France until you are an experienced player
9. If you attack the Maginot head on, consider leaving your ARM out. It can't shoot in the intial round at all and if it runs into enemy ARM it will get chewed. NEVER attack with ARM into the Maginot if facing a moderate-big defense.

MJ-40 Attack on Denmark (regardless of French Defense and attack plan)

This sets you up to attack Norway next turn.
1. Move INF-4, INF-3, PARA-3 (cadre), GSU into Denmark (ASSAULT) - Denmark collapses.

Typical French Defenses & Attack Options (5 cases)

1 Forward Defense - (also explained in playbook) - Big (~55%) stack in Pas'de Calais (including most British), Big (~40%) stack in Metz, 1-2 blocks in Paris
1.1 CASE 1: Attack Pas de Calais, then Paris - typically this is your better option with light British commitment
1.2 CASE 2: Attack Metz, then Paris - typically better with lots of British in Pas de Calais and/or when Metz has relatively few blocks
2 Rear Defense - big stack in Paris, small stack (4-5 blocks) in Metz, med stack in Normandy (including British), cadre in Pas/Lyon/Marseilles
2.1 Surround Paris
2.1.1 CASE 3: Attack Maginot - save SA by attacking Pas de Calais and Maginot simultaneously
2.1.2 CASE 4: Avoid Maginot - spend extra SA by attacking Pas de Calais first, then Metz
2.2 CASE 5: Attack Paris

CASE 1: MJ-40 Attack (Forward Defense - Pas de Calais)

This is the attack plan when Metz looks too strong

SA-0: move big INF stack from Belgium into Pas (leave 1 weak INF in Belgium, usually PARA-2 (cadre)), move ARM/CAV/GSU into Pas (REGULAR/ASSAULT) - either works, regular attack probably means an extra SA to finish, but with less casualties. Strat move 1-2 defensive INF-3 to Belgium.
SA-1: Pas de Calais (ASSAULT)
SA-2: Pas de Calais (ASSAULT)
SA-3: Pas de Calais (ASSAULT)
SA-4: Paris (REGULAR) - ACCEPT VICHY
SA-5: Paris (ASSAULT) - ACCEPT VICHY (if needed)

CASE 2: MJ-40 Attack (Forward Defense - Metz)

This is the attack plan when Pas looks too strong, especially w/ massive British commitment. This is the case where extra armor is not needed or helpful, you should not have built extra armor (or at most 1).

SA-0: move big INF stack from Belgium into Metz (leave 1 weak INF in Belgium, usually PARA-2 (cadre)), move INF from Rhineland into Metz, move CAV/GSU into Metz (REGULAR),
SA-0 move ARM to Rhineland (do *not* bring it into the Metz fight), move (operational or strategic) any defensive INF-3, INF-4 to Rhineland, strat move 1-2 defensive INF-3 to Belgium
SA-1: Rhineland reserves move into Metz (all armor and a few infantry)
SA-2: Metz(ASSAULT)
SA-3: Metz(ASSAULT)
SA-4: Move all ARM, CAV, GSU, and approx. 1/3 Infantry able to move to Paris (ASSAULT) - ACCEPT VICHY
SA-5: Move all ARM, CAV, GSU from Paris to Pas de Calais (avoid river). Move INF from Metz to Pas de Calais. (ASSAULT) - Kill naked British stack

“Maginot” or “NO” - that is the question...

When attacking a rear defense, your first interesting choice is whether to spend a SA to go around the Maginot or save a SA hitting it head on. A rule of thumb is to go around unless there are 4 blocks or less in Metz.

CASE 3: MJ-40 Attack (Rear Defense - Surround - attack Maginot)

This is the attack plan when Paris is massive and Normandy is a little weak. Plan is to surround Paris and declare Vichy. Attacking the Maginot at the same time as Pas de Calais during Operational Movement (i.e., SA-0) saves a SA, but at the cost of additional losses. Not recommended unless Maginot is very weak (less than ~4 blocks).

SA-0: 2xINF-3, CAV-2, all ARM move to Pas de Calais (REGULAR) leave PARA-2 (cadre) in Belgium, Strat move 1-2 defensive INF-3 to Belgium
SA-0: ALL remaining INF from Belgium and all Rhineland INF and all GSU move into Metz (REGULAR) - if this fails to clean out METZ, you spend another SA (more WERPS than if you had gone around)
SA-1: Move big INF stack from Metz to Lyons, move ARM/CAV to Lyons (REGULAR) - leave nothing unless there is a British Unit in Paris, then leave 1 INF block
SA-2: Move big stack to Bordeaux (REGULAR) - leave nothing unless there is a British Unit in Paris, then leave 1 INF block
SA-3: Move big stack to Normandy (REGULAR/ASSAULT) - leave 1 INF block - ASSAULT if there is any doubt about being able to clean out Normandy
SA-4: ASSAULT in Normandy - ACCEPT VICHY
SA-5: Flexible, may need to spend cleaning out Metz w/ 2nd attack if not used here, then it's safe to do the river assault into Normandy with a regular attack, since you have a spare SA

CASE 4: MJ-40 Attack (Rear Defense - Surround - avoid Maginot)

This is the attack plan when Paris is massive and Normandy is a little weak. Plan is to surround Paris and declare Vichy. Going around the Maginot costs an extra SA, but saves losses.

SA-0: Move big stack from Belgium to Pas de Calais, leave PARA-2 (cadre) in Belgium. Move all ARM, GSU, and CAV to Pas de Calais. (REGULAR) Strat move 1-2 defensive INF-3 to Belgium
SA-1: Move big stack to Metz, leave behind 2-3xINF-3 (ASSAULT) - do *not* cross the Maginot line so there is no Maginot effects
SA-2: Move big stack to Lyons (REGULAR) - leave nothing unless there is a British Unit in Paris, then leave 1 INF block
SA-3: Move big stack to Bordeaux (REGULAR) - leave nothing unless there is a British Unit in Paris, then leave 1 INF block
SA-4: Move big stack to Normandy (REGULAR/ASSAULT) - leave 1 INF block - ASSAULT if there is any doubt about being able to clean out Normandy
SA-5: ASSAULT in Normandy - ACCEPT VICHY

CASE 5: MJ-40 Attack (Rear Defense - Paris)

This is the attack plan when Normandy is strong. Plan is drive straight into Paris.

SA-0: Move big stack from Belgium to Pas de Calais, leave PARA-2 (cadre) in Belgium. Move all ARM, GSU, and CAV to Pas de Calais. (REGULAR) Strat move 1-2 defensive INF-3 to Belgium
SA-1: Move big stack to Metz, leave behind 2-3xINF-3 (ASSAULT) - do *not* cross the Maginot line so there is no Maginot effects
SA-2: Move big stack from Metz into Paris, (avoiding river) (ASSAULT)
SA-3: Paris (ASSAULT)
SA-4: Paris (ASSAULT) - ACCEPT VICHY
SA-5: move into Normandy (ASSAULT) - leave 1 INF in Paris - KILL naked British
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Andrew Harding
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Wrote this up as a private response but thought it might be of interest to more people. I haven't read the above yet, will do so and post a followup shortly.

The start of the 1939 campaign is all about setting up for Barbarossa and I see France as the Allied player's only real chance to influence the amount of Axis force available for that. So I'm willing to commit a lot to France.

Similarly I'm on the lookout for chances to throw grit into the Axis plans right from the start of the game (attack on turn one, reinforce Belgium, breakthrough the Rhineland, etc.) If I don't get any chances my setup is something like this (it does get varied from game to game).

Normandy 1 good FR block
Bordeaux 1 good FR block
Lyons 1 good FR block , 1 FR cadre, 1 BR block
Calais 1 FR Cadre
Remainder split between Paris & Metz, slight edge to Metz (since if the Axis go from Calais to Paris there are more reinforcements and a river bonus).

Reinforce whichever of Paris and Metz gets attacked. If I've only sent three BR blocks this lets them all fight with one SA, keeping the second to allow withdrawal. I don't actually expect to get any of the BEF back but it's nice when it happens (or even if the Germans burn more SA to prevent it).

With a Calais/Metz defence the Axis have the same option to fight an army with no river shift. This way they need three more SA to mop up rather than one (meaning ten less WERPS going into Russia).
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Andrew Harding
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Now that I've read the OP...
Leaving just two blocks in Baden, three in Rhineland seems low to me (especially in Snow). The Allies can hit either with substantial force.

Both listed Allied setups are weaker than the one I've given. Paris/Metz improves on Calais/Metz thanks to the river and on Paris/Normandy/Metz by concentrating force. It is harder to extract the BEF in my setup but dead Germans make more difference to Barbarossa than live British.



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James Pinnion
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I would have to second Andrew's comments - in my games the French defense has always been Paris/Metz for the bulk of the units; with singletons elsewhere in France as speed bumps (possibly two blocks in Lyons - though I might be imagining that). More blocks in Paris; though there can be joy to be had from applying all 2-Inf to one or the other province to bluff the Germans.

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Brett Johnson
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I freely admit I didn't try to cover all the possibilities...

The defense you describe is a type of rear defense. All of the "rear defenses" forces a choice between attacking a well defended Paris or an encirclement of Paris. It's better in some ways, worse in others than what I described.

The rear defense I described has the advantage the British units are sitting in a port (Normandy) and have a river to help defend & cause German casualties. The disadvantage is that you spread out blocks between Metz and Normandy.

I was intending this for new players generally start out using a forward defense, because it is historical, obvious, and what's in the playbook. After discarding the forward defense, a rear defense is typically the next thing explored.

Personally I like not getting my British killed in France, but that's just me... And it probably biases how I think...

The three ways of attack this - step across river with a regular attack, kill Metz with two assaults then surround Paris, and take an extra turn to conquer France. I didn't get into it, but taking an extra turn is sometimes the cheapest solution.

3 units in Rhineland and 2 in Baden is enough in Mud. In snow, I called out additional units as potential reinforcements (Berlin, Bohemia, Ruhr).

I suspect if I regularly played people who push 6 British blocks in France my advice might be a little different...
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Andrew Harding
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jpinnion wrote:
I would have to second Andrew's comments - in my games the French defense has always been Paris/Metz for the bulk of the units; with singletons elsewhere in France as speed bumps (possibly two blocks in Lyons - though I might be imagining that). More blocks in Paris; though there can be joy to be had from applying all 2-Inf to one or the other province to bluff the Germans.


Two French blocks in Lyon is normal so that there is still a speed bump after the other French (and British) blocks there reinforce. Better use of reinforcement SA is one of the key advantages Paris/Metz has over the other setups. (Though my dismissal of Normandy as a serious option is only based on analysis, I'm yet to see anyone use that approach).
 
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James Pinnion
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Per the above, defending Normandy would involve leaving more than four blocks in Metz - I would be a very happy German to see the enemy split into three groups in France.
 
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