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Subject: Schlieffen Plan January 1916 Central Powers turn rss

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



Weather: Winter - West Mud, East Snow

Central Powers Turn

This turn marks the beginning of Big Push attacks. The Central Powers will be using these anytime there are two or more defenders in a hex. It allows the attacker to keep attacking the units in a hex until the hex is empty, or the attacker suffers a AE, AA, or AD result. It works very well when attacking with enough artillery to get a +1 or even better +2 DRM. Even a 1:1 or 2:1 attack with a +2 DRM cannot fail, as the worst possible result is a BD, which allows the attack to continue. In many cases, if both sides lose a unit in the first attack, the attack odds will be better for the following attacks. As long as the attacker can withstand their own losses, it can really speed up an offensive.

France

Last turn Tours fell to the Germans, which held the last remaining French combat unit. The Germans also eliminated the British units blocking the way to Cherbourg. The final two ports in northern France held by the stubborn British are now within reach. There is a chance I can take them both this turn, but it is not guaranteed.

The area around Marseilles is still a problem for which I haven't come to any decision on the best course of action to take. Send down just enough units to keep the British stuck in Marseilles and Nice, or send down enough units to successfully push the British out of France once and for all. I am leaning towards just a garrison, and keeping my focus on defeating Russia as quickly as possible. The odds are against Italy joining the Entente any time soon, although there will be a one-in-six chance on the next roll in February. Even then, while I would like to push them out, they really don't pose any significant threat to my position in France i.e that I am holding the four French objective cities.

For now, I will follow through on clearing the northern ports, and then see how things are going.



Movement

I built a couple of 3-5-3 infantry in western Germany, in order to free up a couple of 5-7-4 units that have been wasting their time on garrisoning captured French cities. One of these 5-7-4s is sent to attack Le Havre, while the other is sent south. I still have two 4-4-5 cavalry units also doing garrison duty, and they could both be better used elsewhere, and be replaced by the weaker 3-5-3 German infantry. I would much prefer to use Austrian 2-4-3 infantry for garrisons, but for political reasons the Austrians won't send any units to France or the West front generally.

The attacks against Cherbourg will be entirely made by infantry units with no artillery support. No artillery could reach this turn, and besides, the few artillery units I have remaining in France are needed against Le Havre if I want to make a realistic attack.

Both attacks will be at 2:1 odds. Normally, I wouldn't even bother, and would spend a turn sending my artillery towards Cherbourg for next turn. With the Big Push option though, both attacks have a chance to succeed.

At Cherbourg, the first attack is at 2:1 odds -1 DRM. That only gives me a 50% of eliminating one of the British units and being able to make a second attack. The second attack though, assuming a BD result, would be at 30-6 = 5:1 odds -1 DRM, which is guaranteed to get at least a BD, and capture the city. So the whole attack has a 50/50 chance of working. The big downside is that the worst result, AA (33% chance), would eliminate three 5-7-4 infantry. That is a chance I am willing to take, to have a chance to finish the clean-up job in the north of France as quickly as possible.

The attack against Le Havre is also 2:1, but at +0 DRM, because of the artillery. However, the follow-up attack would be also be at 2:1, but with a -1 DRM. This is because artillery can only attack together with infantry or cavalry, never alone. Further, you can use a maximum of one artillery unit for each combat unit. Assuming a BD result on the first attack, the Germans have to lose one of their four 5-7-4 infantry units, which means only three of the four artillery units can participate in the second attack. Three German artillery only provide a +1 DRM, compared to +2 from four German artillery. The Cherbourg attack started at 35-12, just shy of 3:1, so the second attack assuming each side loses one unit, would be at 30-6 = 5:1 odds. At Le Havre, it is 32-15 on the first attack, which is just a little over 2:1 instead of almost 3:1. Add the inability to use one of the artillery in the second attack, and the Germans are stuck with 24-9 on the second attack.

I undertake the attacks despite their relatively low chances of success primarily because the Central Powers currently have an enormous unit advantage. I can absorb much higher losses than the Entente countries can, so I may as well make all the reasonable attacks I can. In this case, the fact that the British have nowhere to retreat to means that any Demoralized result for them means elimination.

The Fort Engineer sets up shop on a French beach to start building fortifications against future invasions, and the Rail Road Engineers detrain, ready to do their work on the next non-snow turn. The French railways are a mess, as the Germans had little chance to repair the rails when the French army suddenly fell apart. Repairing the rails is not necessarily very important (I am not expecting any combat in northern France once the ports are cleared), but the RR Eng's are not needed in Russia yet, since the Austrian units are enough to deal with the few rail hexes that need repair.

As I review my turn, I see from the map that I forgot to move my units that captured Tours last turn. I used to forget about my units quite often, but I it doesn't happen too often anymore. You pay the price for that often enough, and....

I guess they are taking some R&R.



In the south of France, I send a fourth unit to block the British units. This allows me to push an extra unit next to Nice, and cover two hexes around Nice, which finally isolates it. This means the British will have to use sea supply for the Nice units, while the French artillery has no source of supply, and will be eliminated after three turns if the isolation is not broken.



Combat

The attack at Cherbourg fails on the first attempt, but at least only with an AD result, and not the far worse AA. This results in the loss of one German 5-7-4 unit. With a worse die roll, it would have been an AA result, which would have meant the loss of three (!) 5-7-4 infantry units. So while the attack failed this turn, I'm happy to only take the one loss.

Le Havre goes both better and worse. Better because Le Havre is captured (despite needing to succeed with two consecutive 2:1 attacks), but worse because the Germans lose two 5-7-4 units in doing so. I am pleased that Le Havre is now finally captured, and the British lost essentially the same number of factors as the Germans.

If I had to pick one of the two to win, it would have definitely been Le Havre. What makes Le Havre so tough is that you can only attack it from two hexes. At Cherbourg, I can combine three hexes to attack it, so once my artillery get there, plus a couple more 5-7-4 infantry, it shouldn't take too long to close that chapter of the French campaign.



Russia

Things have opened up a bit since last turn. December was a tough turn for the Central Powers to make headway, but they had just enough success to create better opportunities for this turn. Add to that the Big Push option, and the Russian campaign has a good chance to get back on track.

In addition to wearing down the Russian army, I also have Warsaw and then Brest-Litovsk as initial goals. Capturing an opponents cities reduces their replacement rate by one point for each city. If you figure the Russians will be mostly building 2-4-3 infantry (better bang for your buck if on defense - spend two replacement points [based on the attack value] for a 2-4-3 infantry, and gain a defense value of four points), capturing one city is the equivalent of eliminating six Russian infantry corps per year. On top of that, Russia suffers a -1 DRM on the Morale table for each Russian city controlled by the Central Powers. Surrender from low Morale rolls is the most likely way for Russia to be defeated.

While the drive towards Warsaw has been steady from the north and west, I have made little progress from Austria. The Austrian units are simply not strong enough to do much against the Russian units. The Russian and Austrian armies are similar in make-up (the Russian army is much bigger, although that is no help when the German army is thrown in the mix), and since defense factors are higher than attack factors for mist units, that makes it tough for the attacker to make much headway, especially considering the Austrian line is surrounded by the Russian one, unlike in the center and north where the Germans have been operating. Slowly, I am starting to shift the more capable (efficient?) German units into the Austrian line, and eventually hope to replace most of the Austrian units with German ones. I would very much like to be able to make a strong push towards Brest-Litovsk from Austria, and another towards Kiev. The longer I can make the front, the more thinly spread the (hopefully) diminishing number of Russian units will become.

The Austrians, after several attempts, have finally made some progress in driving the Russian line out of the area south of Lemberg. Another hex or two, and the Central Powers will be able to threaten north (towards Brest-Litovsk), east (towards Kiev), and south (towards Odessa).

Four additional German artillery units are available south of Konigsberg this turn. These will be very helpful in forcing through the Big Push attacks.



Movement

Attacks are planned against five hexes this turn. The Austrians will attempt to capture two hexes in the southern end of the Russian line, which, as mentioned above, is a significant area to make progress. The first attack against the 3-5-3 will have a 50% chance of succeeding (7-5 = 1:1 odds -1 DRM), but if successful, will isolate the Russian hex adjacent, which is defended by two cavalry. These would then be facing elimination on any D result. The attack against the cavalry units will be at 25-5 = 5:1 odds -2 DRM (the high odds by the Austrians are because cavalry units have lower defense values relative to their attack factors than infantry). The DRM is not so good, but at 5:1 I am guaranteed to win the hex, although casualties are likely.

There will be a joint German-Austrian attack from three hexes just north of Przenysl. This attack will be only 2:1 odds, but because of all the artillery, the DRM is +2. Even at 2:1, with a +2 DRM I am guaranteed to capture the hex with a Big Push attack. The worst result possible is a BD, which would lead to a follow-up attack at 3:1 +2 DRM.

The hex to the north-east of Warsaw will be attacked from three hexes at 3:1 odds and 18 factors of artillery (= +3 DRM!). This is equivalent to a 6:1 attack.

Also attacked at overwhelming odds is the western-most Russian hex defended by a single 3-5-3 infantry. Its job is clearly to delay the Germans, and it succeeds at that, but will not survive the 6:1 attack with +1 DRM.



Combat

Combat goes well for the Central Powers. All five hexes are captured, and the Russian casualties are 20 factors this turn, which is more than they can fully replace. The Central Power losses are far lower than last turn, at only 10 factors of Austrian units, and no German losses at all.

The Germans now have units next to Warsaw. The hole in the Russian-Austrian line is now two hexes wide and will allow for three-hex attacks in both directions along the Russian line. The Austrians have also succeeded in making their best progress so far at the far right of the Austrian line, capturing two hexes there this turn, which will hopefully lead to progress towards Kiev and Odessa. I'm thinking that area might be worth a few of the elite German units soon....



Serbia

Serbia is quiet again. The Montenegrins are again backed into Skopje, and are unlikely to attack from their capitol, risking an instant Austrian conquest if their attack fails. The Serbians are busy establishing a defensive line against the possibility of the Bulgarians declaring war in February or May (the next two Variable Entry roll turns). So, the Austrians don't have any worries or pressure on them in Serbia at the moment. Time seems to be on their side. It is much more likely that the Bulgarians will join the Central Powers before, and if, Italy and Greece join the Entente.

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Patrick Bauer
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All the British are doing at this point is buying Russia time with their lives. Since we are playing with the naval rules I am taking a bit of a risk by committing to defending the French ports in this manner. Should the Germans decide to vie for control of the North Sea and win this universe's version of Jutland Britain would be in jeopardy of invasion by the Germans.

In GoA the naval phase and sea movement of land unit phase, including invasions, occurs before the replacements/reinforcement phase. With only one unit (sometimes two) ever in Britain, Germany could take 3 of the 5 British cities unopposed. That would leave me in quite the difficult position of deciding to transport back to the cities I still control or invading the now German cities. I am relying on Britain's naval numerical superiority to win the day.

Game-wise with the de facto loss of France I see no reason to play conservatively. My opponent has earned either the opportunity to attempt the rare conquest of Britain or the fun of an as difficult as possible unimpeded assault against the Tsar.
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Or both.
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