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Subject: Schlieffen Plan September 1915 Triple Entente turn rss

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Part Twenty-Nine of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.

Weather: Autumn - West Clear, East Clear

Triple Entente Turn

With France defeated, Russia is now on the receiving end of the bare beginnings of a new Central Power offensive. Britain is trying to hold on to as many French ports as they can, while the remnants of the French army are making their last stand around Tours. The Triple Entente do not seem to have many options other to try and hang on as best they can, while hoping against hope for new allies to join their side. The United States, Italy, Greece, and possibly Rumania could all join the Entente. Of course, with Paris in German hands, the chances of the United States and Italy joining are greatly diminished, since a German Paris gives a +1 DRM on the Variable Entry Table for those two countries. Neither nation has any chance to join the Entente before 1916, and Italy in fact has a one-in-six chance each time the Variable Entry Rolls are made (February, May, August, and November) of joining the Central Powers! Greece has a one-in-six chance to jump to the Entente each time in 1915, which will go up to two-in-six in 1916, but Rumania will not have a chance at all until 1916. Add to that if either Turkey or Bulgaria join the Central Powers in the meantime, a +1 DRM is added to all the Balkan countries. Worse yet, if the Russians lose an objective city to the Central Powers, that will add another +1 DRM to the rolls. While the Russian objectives are not at risk any time soon, that could become an issue later in 1916 if things go poorly for them. Suffice to say, the Entente has to hang on until more allied arrive, and they need some damn lucky rolls to go their way when the Variable Entry Rolls come around in early 1916.

In the meantime.....

France

The remaining French units do not have any options. The Germans are slowly but surely picking them off one-by-one, and any thought of attacking would only hasten the process. Realistically, their only contribution to their side is to distract a group of German units for one or two more turns. Any thought of moving away from Tours and forming a defense alongside the remaining British units is now gone, since the Germans have now isolated the French and British units from each other, and they are far too far away from Marseilles.

The British still hold three ports in the north of France, and two ports in the south. It looks like it will still take the Germans several months to push them out of the north, and at least the same amount of time to get enough units south to start the process against Marseilles and Nice. Other than just defending themselves, though, they do do really have many options either. They could pull out of the northern ports, where the Germans have most of their West Front units, and will eventually eliminate all the British units. If they went south to Nice and Marseilles, they might last a lot longer, maybe long enough for the Italians and Americans to join them. All that rough terrain and difficult access for the Germans must be a little bit tempting. At the moment, that is about it, as they have no access to naval operations in the Adriatic as long as Italy is neutral, and no access through Greece as long as Greece remains neutral. They could choose to declare war on Turkey and invade, but the biggest effect of that would be the loss of two replacement points per turn for the Russians (as a result of the Turks blocking British aid to the Russians), just when they could least appreciate such a loss.

Other than trying to stay on the mainland, the more German units the British occupy, the better chance the Russians might have to hang on for a while. For this reason alone, I suspect the British must try to cause as many problems for the Central Powers as they can. The two advantages the British have over all other nations, that their cities are beyond the reach of the Central Powers and with their naval superiority they can go anywhere there is water, the British are ideally suited to such a task. Except, of course, for their relatively small army.



Movement

Very little movement takes place. Being isolated in port cities has that effect. In the north, the British units outside Le Havre retreat into the city, both to defend it and to avoid being eliminated due to isolation, since the Germans now have a ZOC on the port.



In the south, the French artillery units moves out of Marseilles. I strongly suspect this was not so much to make room for more British units, but rather the realization that as long as the French and British units were defending the same hex, the Germans would gain a +1 DRM for the multinational coordination penalty if they mount an attack.

No attacks are made by British or French units.



Russian Front

The Russians are slowly being put upon by the Central Powers, in particular the superior German units. The Austrians have had no luck, having attempted to capture the same hex two turns in a row, each time being repulsed. I think by the same 2-2-4 cavalry on both occasions. The Germans, on the other hand, although they have only attacked a limited number of hexes, have captured them easily, and are able to advance with enough strength to make Russian counter-attacks unappealing for the Russians. The Russians have a very large army, but they also have a very large front to cover, and face a larger army that is able to concentrate superior units for their attacks.

The long winding front, which earlier in the game was of benefit to the Russians when they were on the offensive, now might be their greatest problem. If you think in terms of the attacker seeking to eliminate the defending units at the highest rate possible, the winding front gives a lot of places where defending hexes can be attacked from three hexes at once, whereas a straight front generally only allows the attacker to combine two hexes for attacks. The extra hex makes for high odds attacks, which both increase the ratio of losses against the defender, and makes it far more likely that the attacker wins the hex. The Russians have a superior position against the Austrians as far as that goes, and against the Germans outside of Konigsberg, but in the middle they are very vulnerable.

Falling back to create a straight front, though, means giving up a lot of ground.



Movement

The Russians do begin to withdraw in a small number of areas. A general withdrawal, if that is the plan, would be a slow process, as the bulk of the army has to wait for the most forward units to be drawn in first, or risk leaving them behind. It is difficult to know if a faster withdrawal that leaves a few units behind but preserves the main army and gives it a chance to reform in a few turns in a straight line covering fewer hexes and fully entrenched would be better or not in the long run. Those units left behind would actually be an important part of such a withdrawal, as their ZOCs would prevent rapid advancement by the enemy.



Serbia

After a recent push by a somewhat rebuilt Serbian army, which succeeded in driving the Austrians back a few hexes, the Serbian losses have caught up with them, and another stalemate has developed, especially since the Austrians finally decided to send a couple of extra units to stop the Serbian surge.



Movement

No movement takes place. The Serbians instead entrench, and wait for more units to be replaced. At one replacement point per turn, they will wait a while.



Combat!

The only combat initiated by the Triple Entente takes place in Montenegro. The Montenegrins, clearly tired of waiting any longer, decide to attack the Austrian cavalry entrenched outside their capitol. Now, this attack is a dream come true for the Austrians, and I suspect my opponent did not think through the possible consequences of this action. The attack is made at 1:1 odds, with a -2 (!) DRM. The Montenegrin is attacking from his home city, with no other supply sources or rail lines nearby, and is not allowed to retreat if demoralized, since a unit is not permitted to retreat to a hex further from supply than the one they started in. On any roll of four or lower (66% chance!), the Montenegrin is eliminated, and the Austrian cavalry is allowed to advance after combat into Citinje, and Montenegro is conquered! Gone would be future access to the Serbian front by British forces unless Greece goes their way.

Luckily for the Entente, they roll a five, and while the attacker is eliminated, the defender must retreat and cannot enter Citinje.


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Patrick Bauer
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Montenegro -- someone has to have courage.

But I really should have moved out of Citjne then attacked.
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