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Subject: Schlieffen Plan February 1916 Triple Entente turn rss

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



Weather: Winter - West Clear, East Snow

Triple Entente Turn

France

The British just got booted out of Cherbourg, the last French port they were holding onto in the north. Now all they have left is Marseilles and Nice in the south of France. What they can accomplish there is hard to say. For sure, they will be occupying more German units than if they weren't there, but how many depends on the German intentions towards the British in Marseilles. Will they send down enough units to attack, or simply leave enough of a garrison to prevent the British from causing any real problems, as the Austrians have done in Serbia? There is not much hope for the British to realistically launch an offensive. They have too few units, having lost most of them fighting a rear-guard action in the north. They would be attacking from isolated positions, which means every D result they get would equal elimination since they cannot choose to retreat. Finally, most of the terrain in the area is rough, making it easier to defend with a -1 DRM for the attack roll.

The British are still stuck with waiting for allies to join them. This being a February turn, there will be Variable Entry rolls made, and Italy has a one-in-six chance of joining the Entente. Mind you, they also have a one-in-six chance of joining the Central Powers instead. While the Italians are normally prone to joining the Entente, the loss of Paris to the Germans makes them strongly consider joining the Central Powers instead. What that means at this point is that on roll of a D6, on a '1' they join the Entente, on a '6' they join the Central Powers, and anything else they stay neutral for at least three more months. The entry of Greece on the Entente side would also give the British a chance to send units to Serbia.

Should Italy join the British, then the situation becomes quite different.

In any case, this turn, they do nothing.



Russia

The Germans continue to bang away at the Russian lines. The Russians are likely feeling a bit better than a few turns ago, as their shortened line has allowed them to defend each hex with more units, and this has had a dramatic effect on the Central Powers' opportunities. The Russian casualties went down, although they are slowly rising again, while the Central Powers losses have been higher than the Russians', a sharp turnaround from the first few turns of the Central Powers' eastern campaign. The counter-balance has been the advent of the Big Push attacks, which gives the Central Powers a better chance to capture hexes and increase Russian casualties. But the Big Push attacks can also be a double-edged sword, as the Central Powers have been tempted to initiate Big Pushes at low odds, hoping to get at least a BD result on the initial attack, and then continue at higher odds. When those initial attacks fail, they have been costly, and the multiple attacks against each hex also lead to more chances for the attacker to lose units. The better Russian position is also somewhat counteracted by the continuing increase in the size of the German army in Russia.

Warsaw is definitely in danger. In fact, it seems inevitable that Warsaw will fall before the Summer, as the German advances in that area have been steady. The Germans already have two hexes adjacent, and have isolated a third hex. They also have their strongest concentration of elite units driving for the city.

Another possible trouble spot is the far left Russian flank. So far, the Austrians have been having difficulty contributing much to the Central Power campaign, but they have made slow progress rolling up the end of the line towards the point where the Russian, Austrian, and Rumanian borders meet. If the Central Powers can get north of Rumania, and they are now very close to doing that, they threaten to move east towards Kiev, and south towards Odessa.

Otherwise, the rest of the Russian line is now holding up quite well. The Central Powers have been slowly widening their original one hex penetration of the Russian line facing south of Warsaw and Brest-Litovsk, but slowly, and failing to take a hex as often as they win a hex. The Russian far right has not even come under attack yet, as the Germans have been content to stack a defensive line there themselves, and focus their attacks in other areas.



Movement

The Russians seem to have decided that the Austrians have come far enough up the Russian far left flank and send a number of additional infantry corps to bolster their defenses in that area. It is likely that the Austrians will need significant German help in making any further progress there.

They also pull out of the isolated hexes outside Warsaw, but leave behind an isolated 2-4-3 infantry in each hex, along with the isolated artillery which do not have the movement capacity to move through enemy ZOCs. The units left behind will be eliminated for being isolated, so they will clearly be making soak-off attacks, hoping to take down one or two German 5-7-4 units. Each low-odds attack will have a 50% chance of doing so. Normally, not a bad attack, except that the Russian units in this case are guaranteed losses, because if they get a D result, they cannot retreat, and even if they don't get eliminated in combat, they will be from lack of supply.

Usually you do these soak-off attacks from hexes from which you can retreat, which balances the loss ratio in your favor when attacking strong units with weak. The one benefit of this particular attack is that the soak-offs are done from hexes that are considered lost already, whereas if done from elsewhere along the line, they might leave a hex or two weakened and susceptible to attack.

Otherwise, no significant movement, as the Russians lines are pretty set.



Combat

The Russians get a bit of luck with their two low-odds attacks, and manage to eliminate two German 5-7-4 units. Mind you, average luck would have eliminated at least one unit, so two units is not a big shock. However, the Germans are glad to see the two empty hexes for them to advance into, even though they have been very costly. Hopefully there will be a big payoff down the line for the Central Powers for these very expensive turns.



Serbia

Serbia remains quiet. The Serbians move another unit to the Bulgarian border, as the Bulgarians have a 33% chance of joining the Central Powers at the end of the turn when it comes to the Variable Entry rolls. The Serbian army is up to seven infantry corps, more than it starts the game with. If Bulgaria doesn't enter this turn, they may decide to make another move against the Austrians.



Interplayer Turn

February is a Variable Entry and Morale rolls turn.

Morale Rolls

These will be the first Morale rolls of the game. The Morale rolls are the mechanism in Guns of August that accounts for war weariness, desertion, and surrender. Each country with more than two cities must roll four times a year starting in February 1916. Various modifiers affect the roll, which is a single d6, and if you roll zero or lower your country suffers negative effects of poor morale. A '0' means your replacement rate is halved for three months, until the next Morale rolls. A '-1' = D1, which means every unit in your army needs roll a d6, and any unit that rolls a '1' deserts i.e. is eliminated. A '-2' is the same, except desertion happens on a '1' or '2' for each unit. If you get a '-3' or lower result, your country surrenders, all its units are removed from the board, and it is out of the game.

Modifiers include how many objectives or cities you have lost (depending on the country), whether Britain and/or the US are neutral or actively allied with the Entente, past rolls resulting in D1 or D2, effects of naval blockades and submarine warfare, and what year it is i.e. how long the war has been going on.

The only countries with negative modifiers this turn are Britain and France. France has a whopping -5 modifier, while Britain has only a -1. Britain has no problem, rolling an adjusted '5', and France gets lucky and avoids surrender or even a 'D1' or 'D2', and gets a '0' result. Since they have no replacement points anyway, it has no effect. A 'D1' or 'D2' result gives a country a permanent -1 or -2, respectively, on all future Morale rolls. So despite everything, France refuses to surrender, and her single artillery unit will fight on. Recruitment will be a problem, but not a detectable one.

Variable Entry Rolls

These rolls happen four times a year as well, but start in November 1914. So far, despite five turns of rolls, no neutral countries have joined either side. This turn, the Entente is hoping for Greece to join them (one-in-six chance), while the Central Powers are hoping for Turkey (one-in-six chance) and Bulgaria (two-in-six chance). Both sides have a one-in-six chance of having Italy join them.

Turkey and the United States are the only two neutrals that can only join one side. All the others have the possibility of joining either side. All of them will only normally join one side, but if the other side has some particular success, then that can convince some of the neutrals to consider joining them. For instance, all the Balkan nations are swayed one way or the other by which ever side captures the red-objective cities of the other side, with a plus or minus one for each such objective. That the Germans have Paris makes it less likely for the US and Italy to join the Entente, and could even lead to Italy joining the Central Powers. If either Turkey or Bulgaria join the Central Powers, there is form then on a +1 DRM for the other Balkan countries to join the Central Powers as well.

As it turns out, both Italy and Turkey finally join the war. Italy goes to the Entente, while Turkey joins the Central Powers. A sigh of relief that from my opponent, I'm sure, that Italy went to him rather than the Central Powers.

Italy

The Central Powers are clearly caught with their pants down with the unexpected appearance of belligerent Italian forces on their border. Luckily, replacements are placed on the board after the Variable Entry Rolls are made, and the Central Powers get to move first. Prepare they did not, but hopefully they can minimize the damage caused by their lack of preparedness. The biggest danger would be losing Trieste, an objective city right on the Italian border.



Turkey

One reason it took so long for Turkey to enter is a rule from the Optional Naval Module we are using. Britain has to decide at the beginning of the game whether to sell Turkey some dreadnoughts. If they sell them, then Turkey gets a permanent -1 DRM on her Variable Entry roll, reducing her basic chance of entering each round from two-in-six to one-in-six. If Britain keeps the ships, then Britain gets an extra high quality naval unit added to their force pool, but no DRM is applied to Turkey's Entry rolls. In our game, Britain sold the ships, which has made it more difficult to for the Central Powers to gain Turkey as an ally.

With Bulgaria still neutral, Turkey cannot send her units anywhere. One rule that is meant to recreate the situation faced by Turkey with only a tiny portion of Turkey represented on the board is that they are not allowed to garrison the beach hex. If the British land their, the Turkish units can attack them, but they cannot enter the hex. So they surround the beach hex as best they can, and hope the British invade so they can get a bit of action.

The biggest value of Turkey, other than the Central Powers gaining another objective city, is that the Russians (a) lose two replacement points per turn (based on the British not being able to send aid to through the Turkish Straits anymore), and (b) the Russians have to remove three infantry corps from the board to fight the Turks off map. These units will only return if Turkey is conquered or surrenders. The loss of two replacement points equals the loss of one Russian unit every turn. I know my opponent will be gnashing his teeth of this.

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Pablo Klinkisch
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If I understand it correctly, it would seem that the Entente has a lot more to win gaining Italy than the central Powers getting Turkey. Os is it just because Bulgaria is still neutral?

Great session reports!
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Patrick Bauer
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Praise be! The TE has a glimmer of hope as Victor Emmanuel III leads Italy to the path of righteousness.

Truthfully, it is still a long shot but at least the game has new life.
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jumbit
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Wow, is that the entire Turkish army? Looks smaller than the Serbs...
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I guess this resolves the dilemma of how to handle the British in Marseilles.
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jumbit wrote:
Wow, is that the entire Turkish army? Looks smaller than the Serbs...


That is the entire starting Turkish Army west of the Dardanelles. In GoA the Turks may not enter the beach hex either. This is all a mechanism that abstracts the rest of the Turkey which is beyond the scope of the game and allow for a Gallipoli campaign . Note that Russia has withdrawn three corps to send to off map areas to fight the Turks and has lost 2 build points. This also is an abstraction.
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Da Debil wrote:
I guess this resolves the dilemma of how to handle the British in Marseille.


Yes another problem solved.
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Sancherib wrote:
If I understand it correctly, it would seem that the Entente has a lot more to win gaining Italy than the central Powers getting Turkey. Os is it just because Bulgaria is still neutral?


I think that remains to be seen. All the Central Power replacements for this turn have already gone towards units destined for the Italian border, and may next turn as well. However, Austria, this turn, had already just begun withdrawing units from the Russian front to be moved to Serbia and Italy. There are three Austrian 2-4-3 units in Prussia that just moved to the rail lines, and I was planning to withdraw many more over the next few turns. In my overconfidence, I feel I have been very sloppy with determining how many units are needed in Russia, and how many should be sent to other fronts. I was just about to begin rectifying this wasteful deployment. Especially as the front line grows shorter, and more German units keep arriving, more and more of the weaker Austrian units have become of little use in Russia. I should have started pulling them out several turns ago.

With Italy in the game, Britain can now begin sending units to Citinje in the Adriatic Sea, and come to the aid of the Montenegrins and Serbians. If I had been on the ball, the unused units in Russia could have been employed to capture Citinje and block that route for the British before Italy ever became a belligerent. Now, if Britain sends their 4-6-4 units there, extra Austrian units will not be able to do too much against them, except possibly low-odds attacks, with the added penalty for attacking in rough terrain.

On the other hand, the effect of Turkish belligerence on the Russian replacement rate may turn out to be very significant. The Russians immediately go from fourteen to twelve replacement points per turn, and have already had to remove three infantry corps. Over a twelve month period, Russia will have fifteen fewer infantry units. The Central Powers will probably send about the same number of units to Italy and Serbia that wouldn't have been withdrawn from Russia in any case. So overall, I would say the situation in Russia has worsened for the Entente because of Turkey, despite the entry of Italy, while it is unclear what kind of progress the Entente can make even with Italy on the board. They are not exactly a powerhouse.
 
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Sancherib wrote:
If I understand it correctly, it would seem that the Entente has a lot more to win gaining Italy than the central Powers getting Turkey. Os is it just because Bulgaria is still neutral?

Great session reports!


I think in general this is absolutely true. Italy is far more formidable than Turkey. It appearance almost always unhinges Austria-Hungary's situation and opens a new front for Germany who is usually pressed for units.

But with the situation in France in this game, it is much less of a problem.
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I have to say, this is a really interesting game. But I'm quite allergic to mega-stacks so I'm not sure it is for me. Still on the look for a WWI game!
I really like the slow-pace, as it simulates the war rather good but I have a question: does the game do a good job simulating the mobile part of the war?
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Oh yes, if a player is willing to risk his units. In this particular game Florian was able to drive through the hole I left in France's line by three hexes with his German cavalry. If I have the scale correct that was 180 miles(290 km) in one month.

The citizens of Orleans were terribly disturbed.
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Sancherib wrote:
I have to say, this is a really interesting game. But I'm quite allergic to mega-stacks so I'm not sure it is for me. Still on the look for a WWI game!


Mega stacks are a drag, when using your fingers. But somehow with Vassal it is no problem at all. I doubt I would play it on a board face to face anymore. Vassal only. The stacks are extremely easy to deal with, as is moving units in and out of stacks, and you can always check a unit's movement trail if you want to redo it.
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