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Subject: Schlieffen Plan January 1916 Triple Entente turn rss

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fangotango
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Part Thirty-Seven of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.



Weather: Winter - West Mud, East Snow

Triple Entente Turn

This will be a fairly short report, as very little happens during this Triple Entente turn. Russia is trying to hang on as long as they can, without any opportunities to make worthwhile attacks, while Britain and Serbia are waiting for something, anything, to happen that they can work with. That is, they are hoping Italy, The United States, or Greece will become their allies soon. Until then, they will wait.

France

Le Havre just fell to the Germans, with the loss of two British infantry and an artillery unit. Cherbourg, on the other hand, managed to withstand the first attempt to take it during the Central Powers combat phase this turn. The Cherbourg force in fact did not even lose a unit, and the British have the option to send a third infantry unit to make the defense even stronger. However, next time round, the Germans will likely add up to four artillery units to their attack, which was lacking in their first attempt.

Not much happening around Marseilles or Nice, and as both cities are now isolated, the units cannot go anywhere. Even though it is a thin line of German units blocking the British, attacking would be foolhardy, as there are no attacks with very good odds available, and attacking from an isolated position means D results equal elimination. Given the British replacement rate (5 replacement points per turn), they cannot afford to add to their losses above what the Germans have been inflicting on them lately.

The French artillery unit in Nice is now isolated. An isolated city loses its status as a supply source, and while the British can be supplied by sea, sea supply can only be received from a port that is of the same nationality as the unit(s) being supplied. Unless the isolation can be broken, the French artillery will be eliminated in two more turns, which would be the demise of the last French unit.

There is no movement or combat by the Entente this turn in France.



Russia

Things are tough for the Russians. Despite a large army, they are simply outnumbered and outmatched, particularly by the German units. Germany now has fifteen regular 3-3-3 artillery units in the East, plus their 3-2-2 siege artillery slowly making its way towards Warsaw. The attacks the Germans can muster are very difficult to defend against. While Britain has succeeded in delaying a large number of German units from going immediately East after France was defeated, that effect has diminished significantly as the Germans have slowly knocked off one British stronghold after another. Now Britain is essentially waiting for the US or Italy to join them, and Russia is waiting for the western Entente allies to make something happen to draw Central Power forces away from Russia. That equation is not a good one for the Russians. First there is a delay before Britain gets allies, then another delay as it will take some time before they can put together an offensive somewhere that can force the Central Powers to respond in strength. In the meantime, the Central Powers will continue to pound away at the Russians.

The Russians are not really lacking units at the moment. Most of the hexes in their line are fully stacked with three combat units, and they have all of their artillery on the board as well. As the Russian line is forced back, it happens to be getting shorter, so fewer units are required to keep the majority of the line at full strength. Back in August 1915, just as the Germans started to shift their focus from West to East, the Russian line was 32 hexes long. Many of the hexes were defended by two units, and a few by one. Mind you, they were still trying to make some headway with their own attacks, so they had a few areas where their forces were concentrated. Now, the line is only 21 hexes long. Even though they have fewer units than they did in August, they are able to have more units defending each hex.

This has had an effect on the Central Powers campaign. The overwhelming attacks of the first few months are now more difficult to engineer, even though the Central Powers have increased their overall number of units, quality of units, and amount of artillery. They are still making progress, but not at a greater rate than before, and at a much higher cost.

The Russians need to be careful of two things. One, if the Central Powers can eliminate more Russian combat factors each turn than the Russians can rebuild, then pretty soon those stacks of three defenders will become stacks of two. Two, if the Central Powers can find a way to make the front line longer, they have plenty of units to fill the new hexes, whereas the Russians will find themselves stretched thin. I see the area at the far eastern Austria-Russian border as the key to the second point. If the Central Powers can get around the northern tip of Rumania, then the entire line from Kiev to Odessa is opened up. Perhaps a push towards Kovno could have a similar effect.

The only thing I can think of for the Russians, is to do everything they can to straighten out their line while they can still field three units per hex. I'm not saying it would necessarily work, but every turn and curve in the front line gives the Central Powers chances to concentrate three hexes against one, and create pockets of isolation from which the Russians cannot retreat during combat. This only increases Russian losses while reducing Central Power losses. It is of course a difficult decision to give up Warsaw without a real fight, especially since every city the Russians lose affects their Morale rolls, so I cannot say that my opponent is wrong in his approach to defend most every hex, but I think I would lean the other way. As the Central Power player, I am actually less concerned with capturing cities as with the body count at the end of each turn.



Movement

Nothing of note in the movement phase. The Russian units actually have very little movement to do, as they had no holes in their lines or weak spots even after the Central Powers captured five hexes. Like I said, they are not short of units at the moment. But neither do they have many extra....



Serbia

Again, not much to report in Serbia. The Serbians move their defensive line against Bulgaria one hex to the north, and the Montenegrins entrench. Stirring stuff....

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Patrick Bauer
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Here it turns out we're both thinking along the same lines: Russia is no longer really trying to hold cities specifically, but is just trying to cost the CP, and the Germans in particular, as many losses as possible. Now of course the cities give me a defensive die roll modifier so I defend them but I'm hoping for as many exchanges and ADs as I can.

I am also looking for targets of opportunity where I can risk a soak off but these are not occurring. Russia is completely defensive.

Meanwhile I can no longer risk the appearance of Bulgaria against Serbia, mobilizing the border is preventing any Serb nuisance attacks in support of the Tsar. In the end it may be the nation who started the war (in the eyes of the CP) will feel the hammer stroke last. The Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum of July 1914 should have been accepted.
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fangotango
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Regarding your comment in a previous session report that Germany might go for Britain, I will admit that I considered it, but am very reluctant to engage in a large naval battle, considering how long they take in Guns of August, in particular when resolving them by email.
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