Part Thirty-One of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.
Weather: Autumn - West Clear, East Mud
Triple Entente Turn
France has been beaten, and the Central Powers have turned their attention towards the conquest of Russia. However, there remain a small number of stubborn French units fighting until the end, and the British refuse to give up on the French ports without a fight.
In the face of the demise of the French army, and a France overrun by the Germans, the British have chosen to try and hold on to the French ports as long as possible. The strategy is doubtless to delay at least some German units from transferring to the East. Essentially, the British are trying to take as much pressure off Russia as possible. As long as the Germans do leave a relatively strong army group in France, the result is inevitable, but it is not a quick process.
The British just lost Calais to German attack, with all hands lost. This leaves them with just two ports in the north of France. The French lost two more units, and are now down to a single infantry unit in Tours, and an artillery unit near Marseilles. The British presence in Marseilles looks set to last the longest, as the Germans have not completed repairing the railway that far south, and have only a handful of units to keep the British at least contained. If the British are lucky, Italy has a small chance to join their side in only four more months. It seems unlikely that the Germans will have been able to mount a viable attack against Marseilles let alone Nice in that amount of time, so there is some hope that the British can retain a foothold on the continent long enough to gain Italian reinforcements.
What they can do with that foothold, way down in the south of France, is another question. In the meantime, though, the strategy of delaying a significant portion of the German armed forces from being deployed against Russia is working very well.
All of the Entente forces in France are simply in passive defense mode. Entrench and make it as costly as possible for the Germans to root them out. As a result, there are no moves for them to make, and other than the lone French artillery unit in the south moving to Nice, nothing else happens in France during the Entente turn.
The Russians enter their turn without any major problem areas. They have no isolated units, no major holes in their lines, and the areas the Central Powers could possibly make the quickest capture of Russian cities (from Konigsberg toward Warsaw and Kovno) are strongly enough defended to have persuaded the Germans to focus their attacks elsewhere.
The Austrian front has proven to be very stable so far. The Austrians on their own don't seem to have the ability to easily overcome the Russian stacks. The Russian and Austrian units are pretty much on par, which in Guns of August makes life difficult for the aggressor. For the bulk of the combat units defense factors are two points higher than attack factors. Also, any attack below 3:1 is a pretty weak attack, on average causing more losses for the attacker than the defender, and even 3:1 is not a fun combat column to be on without bonuses on the die roll. On top of that defenders are helped by terrain, cities, and entrenchments. Artillery can help the attacker tip the balance in his favor, by giving bonus DRMs for every six factors of attacking artillery. However, the Russians and Austrians both suffer from the same problem, which is that their artillery units are weak (2-2-2) and it is difficult enough to get three of them together on an attack let alone six of them!
One dark cloud on the horizon is that the Germans have now sent two of the superior German artillery units (3-3-3) to join the Austrians. If the Germans send more artillery and some of their combat units, also superior to both the Russian and Austrian units, then the Russians could be facing a lot more trouble along the Austrian border.
Another problem for the Russians is that the Central Powers have managed to eliminate an increasing number of Russian combat factors each turn, and this last offensive actually cost the Russians a few more factors than they can replace. There is no reason to think the trend won't continue, as the Germans are throwing more and more infantry and artillery at the Russians every turn.
The Russians pretty much stand pat, shifting units slightly in response to the most recent German gains, and only retreating from one hex of their own accord.
If I were the Russians, I would be very worried about the trend in losses. I would strongly consider a large withdrawal, in order to establish a better defensive position further back, that might be more difficult for the Germans to penetrate. The goal would be a defensive line that would offer fewer opportunities for easy attacks to eliminate Russian units. Currently, the Russian middle in Poland is the weakest area, offering easy attacks for the central powers both because the Russian stacks are short (one or two units in many places) and the shape of it allows the Central Powers to attack many hexes from three sides. The initial goal would to pull that entire line back, to create a shorter, straighter line with stacks of three units each. I have no idea if it would be feasible, but the upcoming winter would be the time to try it, as the Central Powers will have no rail repair capability, and shorter supply lines.
The Serbian front, short on units on both sides, remains quiescent. Digging trenches is the order of the day for both sides.
Waste Water too
Mid-Atlantic Air Museum
So since this is all new territory for me, I have decided to stick with my far forward defense. Russia has no easy targets because the CP attacks were well organized and their advances were full stacks. I have Russia shorten the left but the weather and terrain make it difficult to retreat more than one hex per turn. So extricating myself is going to be a problem.
I may be making an error in my defense of Warsaw. I contemplate ceding it but as I can't run away fast enough I elect for a slower withdrawal. I set myself up for more loses in defense in hopes that the CP offensive will grind down.
Over the course of the game it had been relatively quiet on the eastern front. This allowed Russia to amass its maximum artillery counter limit and stockpile a bevy of artillery replacement points. My defenses along the front include a host of hexes with a low cost defender, an artillery unit and some better Russian units. By attaching the artillery to the low cost unit in defense I am some what mitigating the effect of the losses. But I have my doubts this will last long.