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Subject: Schlieffen Plan September 1915 Central Powers turn rss

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

Weather: Autumn - West Clear, East Clear

Central Powers Turn

Last turn, with the arrival of new units on the Eastern Front, the Central Powers began, in a small way, their next major offensive, this time against Russia. In France they continue their "mopping up" of the last vestiges of the French army, and the very stubborn British units that refuse to turn tail and run. There was no real excitement in Serbia, as neither side has enough troops to realistically make an attack.

France

Although the French army has been decimated and completely neutralized, the few remaining units continue to fight to the end. With the loss of more than ten cities, France gains no more replacement points, so every unit lost is effectively lost permanently. At this point, other than a single 3-3-3 artillery unit holed up in Marseilles, the remaining French army is stationed around the city of Tours.

Meanwhile, the British are now hanging on to five French ports: Calais, Le Havre, Cherbourg in the north, and Marseilles and Nice in the south. To clear the Entente out of France, means overcoming five separate groups of defenders. The Germans probably have enough units in range to effectively attack two this turn, both in the north. It will be several turns to get enough units to Marseilles to mount an offensive there, and that could be further delayed depending on how quickly I can overcome the Entente resistance in the north.

I do have an army group around Belfort that is now free, but the question is whether to send them east to bolster the attack on Russia, or send them further into France to quicken the departure of the British. If into France, north or south? In the end, of the four 5-7-4 infantry and four 3-3-3 artillery units that were used to capture Belfort, I only leave one in France, and send the rest east. My reasons are (1) it matters more to me to conquer Russia as quickly as possible than to clear France quickly (2) I have what I believe are enough units to eventually clear out the British (3) I am not even sure I want to capture all of France's cities, as that would mean they are conquered, and the British would then get to build their RR Engineers. That is not to say I wouldn't march in if they were left empty (that would be a bit too gamey for me), but I am less motivated to put the resources into finishing the job quickly when I have bigger fish to fry in the east. I really would like to get the campaign against Russia rolling, as my initial attacks last turn have shown that the German stacks easily outmatch the Russians. I just need a lot more of them on site!



Movement Phase

While most of the Belfort group gets sent to the Russian front, one 5-7-4 is moved to garrison Dijon, so that the Dijon unit can use rail transport to Paris and move to attack the remaining French army around Tours. I am only planning a single attack against the French, as I don't have enough units in range to make two attacks at better than 3:1 and 4:1. Getting results which only demoralize the French units doesn't get me very far, as my goal is elimination. So I'm looking for attacks at 5:1 and 6:1, or 4:1 with at least +1 DRM, and will take my time to do so.

The only other attack is against one of the British hexes outside Le Havre. I take this hex, and the other units are forced back to Le Havre, from which there is no further retreat against more German attacks.

In the south, I only send the units that were already moving south to block the British from getting out of Marseilles. There is no sense in sending units there until the railroad is repaired a few more hexes in that direction. The clear weather this turn helps with that, but I have a fear that Marseilles and Nice may take quite a while to root out, considering the British will have many turns to build up their forces and entrench everyone before I can get a significant number of units in place.



Combat Phase

Only two attacks, and both are successful. One attack against a French unit at 6:1, which still has a 1-in-6 chance of not eliminating the unit, but it comes off with a DE result. The attack against the British is at 4:1 +3 DRM, which guarantees their elimination, with only a 1-in-6 chance of the Germans taking any casualties. Again, a DE result, and the Germans now sit outside Le Havre.



Russian Front

The first moves against Russia are designed to gain as much ground from the westernmost point (north of Breslau) towards Warsaw as possible. What makes that stretch so important is the railway line that runs directly from Berlin to Warsaw. The railways are crucial not only for supply, but to move units as quickly as possible to the front lines, and shifting units from one sector to another. Repair of railway lines is a slow process, especially in the East, where the significantly worse weather makes it much more difficult than in the West. In clear weather, a RR Eng unit can move two hexes (which usually repairs two hexes worth of captured rail lines, although if the RR Eng unit started on an unrepaired hex and moves along two more, all three get repaired), while in mud weather only one. In snow conditions, no railway repair is allowed. Not a big deal in the French campaign, as except for the opening turn, the front line moves very slowly until one side or the other has won the war. I fully expect (hope) the Russian front will include much more rapid advances. Combine that with the guaranteed snow for three months in the Winter, plus much more mud and snow in the Spring and Fall than in the West, and you have the recipe for some serious logistical problems.

The first two attacks by the Germans last turn were aimed at pinching the entire area west of Warsaw, with one attack to the south of Konigsberg, and the other east from Breslau. While it is a small beginning to what will be a slow process, the threat of it is already enough to make the Russians begin pulling out. (Pulling out is also a slow process ) Both sides know that more, a lot more, high quality German units are on their way. As far as railway engineers, there is only one in Austria on the Russian front, and one in Serbia that will be sent to Russia this turn. The German RR Engineers are still occupied in France. The sudden collapse of the French army created a lot of ground to capture, and the need for railway repair in all directions. No big deal so far, as I haven't captured any Russian hexes yet that need to be repaired, but I clearly hope to get at least a hex or two repaired before December and three months of snow. Remember that snow and mud also shorten the non-rail portions of a supply line from five to four hexes.

The Germans added another full stack of 5-7-4 infantry with replacements in Konigsberg, and plan to use rail movement to bring another stack from France this turn.



Movement Phase

The extra stack from France is employed to immediately attack from the West along the Berlin-Warsaw corridor. The Germans also position themselves to attack the hex next to the lakes south-east of Konigsberg, and directly east of Breslau. The attacks are designed to be high-odds, with the goal of (1) solidifying the gains from the turn before before attempting to penetrate deeper, and (2) having a good chance to eliminated, rather than demoralize, Russian units. While gaining ground is useful to reach objectives, isolate enemy units, and set the stage for future attacks, eliminating more enemy units than they can replace is what eventually leads to victory. Of course that only holds if ones own losses to replacement ratio is better than the enemies'! Attacks at 4:1 and better ensure both of those goals in the long run.

The Austrians, who are a little less able (to say the least) to launch overwhelming attacks due to their position (they are essentially 'inside' the Russian line and cannot concentrate three hexes against one in many places) and lower quality units, will try again to capture the same hex they failed to last time. This turn, they will have slightly better odds, and have an 83% chance of taking it. It gets very frustrating attacking a hex turn-after-turn and coming up short, or taking so many losses in doing so that the hex is easily recaptured by the enemy. The Austrians hope that LL15 (immediately north of Przenysl) doesn't become that hex for them.



Combat Phase

The Germans attack and capture three Russian hexes, while the Austrians fail again to take LL15. The Russian casualties only amount to thirteen combat factors, which is one fewer than they can replace. The CP losses were far fewer than they can replace, so at least the balance is in the Central Powers favor.

In retrospect, I should have used the isolated German unit that had penetrated the Russian line last turn to advance even further, despite being isolated. It could have joined in the attack capturing the hex by the lakes, and then regained supply once the hex was in German hands. The ZOC exerted by this unit would have ensured that the Russians had no option to retreat, and would have been eliminated. Not to mention the extra penetration would create a myriad of problems for the Russians. A pretty significant missed opportunity!

Things are starting very slowly indeed, but I have to remind myself that I got started as soon as I had enough units to launch two good attacks. Patience. More units will arrive turn after turn.



Serbian Front

Serbia is again not very exciting. The Serbians advanced a bit last turn, but do not have the units to threaten more attacks. As long as the Austrians can send enough units down to create a continuous line wherever there are Serbian and Montenegrin units, they can continue to essentially ignore the area.



Movement Phase

With the arrival of two units sent from Prussia, the Austrians simply form a defensive line and sit back to wait.

There is no combat initiated this turn by the Austrians.




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Patrick Bauer
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The weight of the unified Central Power forces is beginning to take its toll in the east. The attack in central Prussia increases the demand for the Russians to withdraw into a tighter line. It will be difficult to reinforce the area under attack quickly enough.
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fangotango
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Sorry folks, I hit "submit" when I meant to hit "preview". Will complete this post when I get a chance blush
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fangotango
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I have now finished this session report that I accidentally submitted before completion while writing it. I don't know if it takes time for the changes to be approved, but there should be descriptions of activities for the Russian and Serbian fronts now as well.
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