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Subject: Schlieffen Plan December 1915 Triple Entente turn rss

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Part Thirty-Five of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.



Weather: Winter - West Snow, East Snow

Triple Entente Turn

France

The last French combat unit was eliminated at Tours this turn by the Germans. Despite being surrounded and out-of-supply, they fought until the end and refused to surrender, as witnessed by the DX result. The only remaining unit is a 3-3-3 artillery unit in Nice. It is unclear how useful it is. In Guns of August, if units of different nations combine to attack, or defend together in the same hex, there is die roll modifier of +/-1, in favor of the opponent. The only country immune to the Multinational Coordination penalty is Germany.

The artillery is also at risk of losing any possibility of supply. Every city is a supply source, and can supply units of the home country and all allies. When a city is in an enemy ZOC, it can only supply the units in the city itself, because a supply path, which includes every hex except the hex the units are in, cannot include any hexes in an enemy ZOC. A city loses its status as a supply source when all the hexes around it are either enemy controlled or in an enemy ZOC. In that case, even the units in the city are out-of-supply, or isolated, to use the terminology of Guns of August. The one way to get supply to an isolated city is by sea, and that can only be done if the city is a port. Sea supply has one significant difference from land supply: the port that provides the sea supply must be of the same nation as the units receiving the supply. So while a French city can supply British units by a land route, a French port cannot provide sea supply to those same units. Nice is the last French city not to be isolated, but if/when it becomes so, then the French artillery unit has no source of supply left, while the British units in the same port can receive sea supply from London or any other British port.

Britain got to build two units as replacements for this turn, which will come in handy during the sea movement phase (that happens during the Interplayer segment after both sides have taken their turn) if they wish to reinforce Le Havre or send units to hold onto a presently undefended Cherbourg.

It really is too bad for the British that the French have not surrendered yet. As mentioned in an earlier session report, a country is not conquered until either (a) every city in the country is captured by the enemy or (b) it rolls an adjusted -3 on the Morale table. The Morale rolls don't begin until February 1916, and happen every three turns after that. The reason I say that it is unfortunate for the British is two-fold. One, once France surrenders, the British (and Italians if they are allies) gain one replacement point for every two French cities they control. Two, once France surrenders, the British get to build the French Rail Road engineers. The British don't have any of their own, so cannot repair any captured rail hexes, which could become a problem if they make any progress in taking back French territory, or if they get access to Serbia and Italy, and want to push into Austria-Hungary. Even though there is no more French army, and with ten French cities in German hands, the French cannot build any more units, France cannot surrender yet.

The British, stuck in the French ports they are occupying, have nothing to do but remain in place. There is no movement or combat in France during the Entente turn.



Russia

The Russians got a bit of a respite this turn, as they had finally established a solid defensive line. Their slow withdrawal in the center had led to a shorter line, so each hex gets more units defending it, and straighter lines, which give fewer opportunities for the enemy to combine three hexes in an attack. The Central Powers did have a lot more trouble in their combat phase, having to make do with lower odds, leading to only two of their five attacks succeeding, and taking far more losses than the Russians.

Still, there do not seem to be many options for the Russians other than shoring up the lines as best they can. The Germans did poke two holes in the Russian lines, which they will surely take advantage of next turn. There are certainly no attack opportunities for the Russians to take any hexes back, as the enemies stacks are all brimming with units. Soak-offs are an option, particularly since many of the Central Power units are not entrenched, as they cannot be in their trenches on turns during which they attack. There is a risk of having one's units eliminated with soak-offs, but if done from hexes which can afford to lose a defender, and aimed at eliminating a few German 5-7-4 infantry units, they might be worthwhile. The trouble is that Germany and Austria both have extra units behind the lines available to fill the spaces in case of losses.

The Russians will also have to face the Big Push attacks next turn, as they become an option for attackers in January 1916. This allows the attacker to attack the same hex over and over in the same combat round until stopped with an AE, AA, or AD result, or the hex becomes empty of defenders.

The question for the Russians is whether to try to hold the line, and defend every hex to delay capture of Warsaw and later Brest-Litovsk, or to withdraw to make stronger, straighter lines to better withstand the Big Push attacks that are coming. It worked well for them this turn, as the Central Powers lost more than double what the Russians did. That loss ratio cannot be kept up for too long.



Movement

The Russians choose to hold the line. The only hex they abandon is the southernmost hex at the end of the line in Austria-Hungary, which the Austrians failed to take this turn. The hex is isolated, and the Russians decide they would prefer to push a unit towards defense of the center than into an isolated outlying hex.

No attacks are made this turn by the Russians.



Serbia

The only development in the Serbian theater is that the Montenegrin 'army' has been isolated by the Austrian cavalry. The Montenegrins always have far more replacement points than they can use, and this definitely have an effect on their choice between withdrawing or attacking. The maximum size of their army is a single unit, so they can be pretty free in using it in combat, knowing that if it is lost, it can be immediately replaced.



The only movement involves the Serbians moving another unit to the Bulgarian border. They have rebuilt a good part of their army again, but instead of sending their replacements against the Austrians, they are preparing their defenses against the possibility that Bulgaria may enter the war in February.

Movement



Combat

The Montenegrin unit does attack the Austrian cavalry units. It attacks both of them at once in their two separate hexes. It has a -2 DRM for the rough terrain and the (very) low odds. They do roll a '6' though, which is good enough for a BD result. The Austrians are forced to lose their 3-3-4 cavalry, while the Montenegrin chooses elimination over demoralization, even though it doesn't have to. As mentioned, the unit is easily rebuilt before the Central Power turn, and it is better to have a fresh unit than a demoralized one, which cannot attack, and gives a +1 DRM to an attacker if it is defending.



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Patrick Bauer
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As stated in earlier posts, at this point I opted to defend every hex unless compelled otherwise. The Russians simply can not withdraw far enough away from the CP during foul weather. On clear turns there's the possibility of "getting away" if the weather changes but it's essentially a choice of fight them here or there. As such there is no logic in ceding cities until I have to because there is no better defensible terrain to my rear until the Pripet Marshes.

Or so I think, we'll see.
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