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Subject: Schlieffen Plan August 1915 Central Powers turn rss

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fangotango
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Part Twenty-Six of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.

Weather: Summer time - West Clear, East Clear

Central Powers Turn

The Central Powers are now brimming over with confidence. France is kaput, and the Central Powers are now looking East with no real worries about defending their backs. Once the annoying British get cleared out, that is.

West Front

The only task left in France is to push out the British, and put the finishing touches on the French defeat. In reality, I imagine France would have surrendered already, but they have not yet met the criteria for surrender by the rules of Guns of August. A nation will surrender in either of two situations: the enemy captures every single one of their cities, or they roll an adjusted -3 on the Morale chart. Morale rolls don't begin until 1916, and happen four times a year. France gets a -1 DRM for each red-dot French Objective city the Germans have captured. The Germans have already captured all four of those, so that will mean a -4 DRM for France in 1916. In addition, as long as the United States remains neutral, they get another -1 DRM penalty. That means that if there is one remaining city left uncaptured by the Germans, and the French have no units on the board, they might still not surrender before the game ends. In fact, once the US enters the war, the -1 for US neutrality switches to a +1 DRM.

Strangely, it is to the Central Powers' advantage to prevent France from formally surrendering once they have been completely neutralized. France is the only Western Entente power with Rail Road and Fort engineers. If they are fully conquered or surrender, then the British are allowed to build the French engineers and use them. Until then, the Western Allies are out of luck for engineers. I suspect a house rule might be in order to prevent a German exploit of the conquest rules. Perhaps if a country has no military units and is reduced to zero replacement points each turn, that should be enough.

Germany will be looking to capture as many French cities this turn as possible. Six are already in German hands, and once ten are captured, the French have no ability to replace their losses. Lyon is undefended, and Belfort, Orleans, and Rouen will all be easy targets.

Rouen will be the first attack against the British in a while. Attacking the British will be the primary focus of the Germans for the next few turns now that it looks like I will end the turn with ten French cities in hand. Capturing Rouen will also isolate a number of Entente units from their sea supply line from Le Havre.



The Germans send a few units south, in anticipation of the British landing troops there this turn. This will be the most difficult area for the Germans to send troops to, as the rail line will take a while to repair, at a maximum of two hexes per turn in clear weather. I should really commit more units now if I want to quash British ambitions in southern France quickly, but I'm concerned that will delay "liberating" all the British held cities in the north, or further delay a sustained offensive against Russia. What decides me to send only a token force is that Italy is actually more likely to join the CP at the moment. If that happens, that will be that for any British in Marseilles and Nice. Even if Italy joins the Triple Entente (should it be the Double Entente now?) that won't be for six months at the earliest, and at that point is only a 1-in-6 chance. So, I figure there is lots of time to deal with that. Ideally, if the Italians join the Triple Entente, they will already have German units facing them across the border.

Attacks are prepared against Belfort and Rouen, and enough units are sent to capture the poor isolated French artillery unit in Orleans with an automatic victory. While combat units like infantry and cavalry are always allowed to move at least one hex per turn, even if they don't have enough movement factors (due to terrain and ZOC costs, or movement penalties for weather or being isolated), combat support units (artillery and engineers) are only allowed to move if they have sufficient movement factors. The French artillery unit in Orleans normally has enough points to move through an enemy Zone of Control (ZOC), but when isolated, movement factors are halved (rounded up), so it had to be left behind when the French infantry retreated. When I say "capture", that refers to the fact that when an attacker eliminates defending artillery and advances into the hex, they gain an artillery replacement point for themselves to use.

Enough units are committed to each attack to guarantee success, although not without some likely German casualties.



Combat goes well, as expected, with only the loss of two German units (which actually represents slightly unlucky rolling), and four more French cities are now under German control. The French will now gain no replacement points unless they can somehow recapture one of those cities without losing any more in the meantime.

The British will also have to retreat closer to Le Havre, as their supply line is disrupted by the German units in Rouen. I cannot see them attempting to recapture Rouen, stacked with three 5-7-4 infantry with -1 DRM for defending a city, but I would love to have they try. Even if they succeeded, the losses they took would make job easier and quicker. I am hoping the French unit will stack with the British as they all have only one hex to retreat to. This will give the Germans a chance to get a +1 DRM if attacking a hex with defenders of more than one nationality.

I am expecting that the British will send their replacements for this turn to the south of France, which means no reinforcements for the cities they hold in the north for next turn. We shall see.



Russian Front

This turn marks the first heavy reinforcement of the Eastern Front with 5-7-4 infantry. Germany again uses all of its replacement points in the East, this turn sending units more adept at offense than defense. (Lower quality infantry have a higher ratio of defense factors vs attack factors, but the cost of construction [in replacement points] is equal to the attack factor. So two 2-4-3 units cost the same to build as a single 4-6-4 unit, but net a total of eight defense factors vs six for the single stronger unit. The two units also have the flexibility to defend two hexes, and make for less expensive losses individually.) This turn will also mark the first attacks of the campaign against Russia. Probably only two or three, but these will be designed to capture and hold hopefully strategically useful territory.

The first goal will be to start pinching the Russian bulge in Poland. Even the threat of cutting off the supply lines to all of those units will likely force them to retreat, so two or three attacks at the neck will likely gain me many hexes as the Russians begin to pull out. A stab from the north towards Warsaw and one from the West away from Breslau should get things started. That would set up a potential stranglehold on the Russian bulge next turn with only one more hex captured on each side.

Every combat unit (infantry and cavalry) exert a Zone of Control in all adjacent hexes. This ZOC impedes movement, but also prevents enemy supply to pass through. If the Germans can get to within two hexes of each other from the north and south, supply for the Russians in western Poland would cut off.

There are also some weak hexes the Austrians could attack, although they have to choose where to attack, as their units are not so strong as the Germans, having only about half the capabilities of the German units. Again, I will choose a hex that can be the first step in a thrust aimed at isolating Russian units to the west.

While this turn will feature only three attacks in Russia, I expect each turn will bring more 5-7-4 infantry and artillery units to Russia, and the rate of attacks will increase from turn to turn. Each British pocket cleared out will free up that many more units for the Russian campaign, not to mention three or four replacement units each turn in addition.



The replacement units and artillery move quickly to the front line, and mass for attacks south of Konigsberg and east of Breslau in the beginning of the pincher move. The Austrians also prepare to attack north of Przenysl. I wish I could start something to the north and east of Lemberg, but the Austrian units are not strong enough nor does the shape of the front line lend itself to the Central Powers making strong attacks. The Russians are wrapped around the Austrians, which means there is nowhere from which to attack Russian hexes from more than two hexes at once. Attacking north towards Brest-Litovsk and east towards Kiev will have to wait until I can start deploying German infantry and artillery units in the area.

Things will be slow getting started, but I'm hoping they will snowball as the German deployments increase and the Russian losses begin to outpace their replacement rate. If Turkey were to join the Central Powers soon, that would be another blow to the Russians. While Turkey remains neutral (or if the Triple Entente capture Constantinople), the Russians gain an additional two replacement points each turn from "British Aid" through the Turkish straits. As soon as Turkey becomes a belligerent, Russia will be two replacement points poorer each turn. So far, the British choice of selling Turkey two dreadnoughts at the start of the game (which gives a -1 DRM to the Turkish Variable Entry Roll, but costs the British a major naval unit) has paid off nicely for them.



The German attacks succeed, and they advance in strength to hold the hexes they have gained. The Austrians are not so fortunate, rolling a '1' on their first attack against their hex, which was at 4:1 odds with a -1 DRM. This roll meant an AD result, which ended the Austrians chance from the get-go to capture the hex. The second attack gets a DD, so at least they only lose one unit.

The Russian campaign is a go! Too bad I don't have a good codename for it. Any suggestions?



Serbia

Serbia looks very sparse. Very few units running around. The Austrians only have three units blocking the Serbians and Montenegrins, but it seems sufficient at the moment. The fourth unit is stuck on garrison duty.

Garrisons of captured cities are required, or else the capturing power loses a replacement point for each city they fail to capture. In the West, Germany currently has to commit 14 units to garrison duty for the cities they have captured so far, and there will be more to come. I have on occasion chosen to leave a city ungarrisoned for a turn or two, if I felt the unit was crucial to an important attack. Leaving a city permanently ungarrisoned will quickly cost you far more than that unit is worth in lost replacements. The Germans have 3-5-3 units as garrisons (which would cost three replacement points to replace), so in one year four times that many points would be squandered.



No big plans in Serbia. The isolated unit retreats to form a new line (of two!) against the Serbian advance, while the cavalry in Montenegro advances next to Citinje and digs in.

The Austrians do finally deign to send two more units to Serbia, although they consist of their two weakest units, a 2-4-3 infantry and a 2-2-4 cavalry. Although cavalry are not so good on defense (the second number is the defensive rating), their movement factors allow them to move two hexes in the rough terrain in clear weather. This can be very useful in an area where most of the units can move only one hex per turn even in the best of conditions. Only the elite infantry units (4-6-4 and 5-7-4) have the same ability.

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Patrick Bauer
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With the Russians I decide to try the "as far forward" defense hoping that I can cause losses on the German attacks and make the occasional counter attack. This can only be tried for so long as the French campaign resulted in almost no German artillery losses. Once the artillery gets to the lines it will be mayhem.

The only advantage is that Russia has hoarded quite a few artillery replacement points. I can attach these support units to my weaker cheaper defenders and thus reduce my replacement costs for infantry on the combat results where I don't get completely eliminated. It seems we've finally found a use for attaching a support unit in defense, oh joy.
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fangotango
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The next session report in the "Schlieffen Plan" series, the August 1915 Triple Entente turn, is now posted at http://boardgamegeek.com/article/9657957.

 
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