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This is part five of Germany's Future Lies East, a series of session reports presenting a play of a campaign game of Avalon Hill's Guns of August.

September 1914 - Triple Entente turn



Weather

West: Mud
East: Snow

In the Central Powers' half of the turn, the Germans managed to gain their first hex next to Warsaw, while the Austrian defense of Lemberg suddenly solidified into a solid wall of units. Belgrade fell into Austrian hands, and the Serbian army has once again been flanked and isolated. In France, the Germans captured another French hex, and are in good position to take a third if the French are not able to take at least one hex back this turn. And of course, the British took a beating in the North Sea, losing three major naval units against the Germans who lost none.

West Front

The French waited out the first turn to see which way the British would go, foregoing an August attack against Belgium as a route to Germany. Now that Britain has decided on only limited participation, there are rumors that Italy is considering whether they should join the Central Powers. Word is they came very close to doing so at the end of August, but cooler heads (barely) prevailed. France now has to decide on whether to wait another three months for Britain to become a full participant, or launch the invasion and increase the chance that Britain remains a limited participant even after November.

As it stands, the French have a little problem to deal with which resulted from the execution of their Offensive Doctrine on turn one. While that doctrine is now in the dustbin, the effects of the combat results are still with them. Germany was able to capitalize on the French defeats and capture Nancy, followed by another hex this turn, leaving yet a third hex isolated and at risk of capture next turn. The Germans have "defensively" invaded France. The loss of Nancy is clearly a problem, and the buffer zone the Germans are establishing around Metz must be a frustration for France's long term intentions towards Germany.

A further problem is the isolation of a French artillery unit in hex L13. They have already lost one artillery unit to German attack, and the isolated unit cannot withdraw as it doesn't have enough movement factors given the mud conditions and the German ZoC's. To save it from elimination they will need to either recapture Nancy or L12. The French only begin the game with five artillery units, and only get two artillery replacement points per turn to produce more units. Generally speaking, if the French wish to launch a successful offensive against Germany, they will need all the artillery they can lay their hands on.

West Front beginning of turn


Movement

The French set up to attack Nancy, hopefully recapturing their city and breaking the isolation on hex L13. I am not sure why, but they only advance two fresh units into L13 while withdrawing the three unsupplied units. I would think no matter how the attack on Nancy turns out, they would want the maximum number of units in L13 at the end of the turn. The only reason I can think of is they do not wish to endanger too many units in an isolated hex if the attack fails.

Other than mobilizing their attack against Nancy, there is very little else happening during the French movement phase.

End of movement


Combat

The attack on Nancy comes close to success, but fails and leads to the loss of three French infantry units. They made three separate attacks, one against each defending unit. All three attacks are made at 2:1 odds with a -1 DRM for attacking a city. Each attack has a 50% of failing, and all three must succeed in order to capture the hex. Those are pretty long odds against success. The initial deployment of France against the expected Schlieffen plan attack through Belgium had them station most of their artillery along the Belgian border. Now when they really need the artillery to attack Nancy, it is out of range. It makes me think the next time I play the French, I will station my artillery behind the lines on rail lines, perhaps even entrained, to avoid getting caught with my pants down, artillery-wise speaking. The the artillery convey DRM bonuses to the attack, and also add combat factors as a fourth unit in each attacking hex. Without a bunch of artillery involved in this attack, the French are stuck with a poor chance of success. The first attack gets a BD, which eliminates one unit from each side (the Germans cannot retreat because their retreat paths have enemy ZoC's covering them). The second attack gets an AD, which guarantees the Germans will hold onto the hex, despite the third attack getting another BD. The French lose three units to the German two. But the French also lose their isolated 3-3-3 artillery unit in L13, as its isolation was not broken by the end of the turn.

Turn two for the French goes as poorly as turn one.

West Front end of turn


Russian Front

The Russians are facing an ever-tightening noose around Warsaw. The Germans already have one hex adjacent to the city, and were only prevented from gaining a second hex by an unexpectedly tough defense by the Russian defenders.

So far, though, Warsaw is the only area in which they are feeling pressure, albeit a significant amount. In the north and south, the Russians are the ones advancing against the Central Powers. However, both of those areas have been rapidly reinforced by Germany and Austria, and it looks like there will be fewer opportunities for the Russians in both theaters, although it also looks like the Central Powers do not have enough offensive capabilities in either region to cause the Russians any worry. The fight is all in the middle at the moment. The one problem the Russians have is that they committed a significant offensive force against Austria, which perhaps would be more useful in the center. The unexpected snow in the East which the Germans are grumbling about must also be throwing a wrench into any plans the Russians might have had for a speedy redeployment of those units to the real hot spots once their offensive grinds to a halt.

Russian Front beginning of turn


Movement

Rather than withdrawing from the isolated hexes and simply trying to preserve their units, the Russians decide to launch a counter-attack against the Germans.

They advance fresh units into two of the isolated hexes (but lack a unit in range for the third hex). They set up for two attacks near Warsaw. One against the hex the Germans control next to Warsaw, the other against the Germany 4-4-5 cavalry and 3-3-3 artillery by the lake. The attack against the hex by Warsaw would break the isolation of two hexes and reestablish a Russian perimeter around Warsaw. The attack against the cavalry and artillery is an opportunistic one, with a decent chance to eliminate a couple of units, including an artillery. I believe more so than the 5-7-4 infantry, the artillery superiority the Germans have in Guns of August is their most potent advantage.

Russia seems to have given up the attack north of the lake already in the face of a stronger German defense. In truth, I am relieved, as I feel like my 5-7-4 infantry are rather exposed there to soak-offs by the Russian 2-4-3 infantry or 3-3-4 cavalry units. And the Eastern Front seems to be eating them like popcorn so far! I have no immediate plans to attack there, so if the Russians weaken their line with failed or successful soak-offs, I am not even in a position to take advantage of it.

In the south against Austria, the Russians are satisfied with only one attack, against the single 3-5-3, which is easily isolated with a flanking move before the attack, which looks to be at very high odds. Its best hope is a DX result to go out with pride. The other Austrian hexes have been significantly strengthened since last turn, and if the Russians wish to continue against Lemberg, they will have to attack triple stacks of Austrians backed up by artillery. I think the first turn was the Russians' best chance to capture hexes adjacent to Lemberg, when the Austrians were stretched so thin that even the most important hexes were limited to two units plus an artillery. One advantage Austria has on defense is that their units are fairly weak, which makes even soak-offs by the Russians unattractive.

End of movement


Combat

The attacks the Russians make against the Germans are very successful. First, against the cavalry and artillery by the lake hex, they get a perfect '6' on a 3:1 odds +0 attack for a DE. The following 1:1 odds +0 attack against the artillery nets a BD result, eliminating the artillery (support units cannot retreat), while the Russian unit retreats. They don't win the hex, but very nicely eliminate two quality German units with no losses of their own.

Near Warsaw, the two attacks are at 1:1 odds +0, and 2:1 odds +0. There is really no difference between 1:1 and 2:1 odds, except that a result of '0' is slightly worse at 1:1. The Russians roll a '5' and a '6', which are DD and DX. The Germans are eliminated, the Russians recapture the hex, but at least take a few losses on the DX.

Against the Austrian 3-5-3 the Russians win on a 6:1 +0 attack, but do so in the worst way with a DX result. Good for that Austrian unit. Posthumous medals for the entire corps.

To my chagrin, my Germans have lost more valuable units, and most of my recent gains have been erased by a small but successful Russian counter-attack. At least the Russians took a few losses. I think they lost more on their own turn than during the German combat phase.

End or Russian turn


Serbian Front

Belgrade just fell to the Austrians, but there is not much the Serbians can do about it. For the second month in a row the bulk of their army has been flanked and isolated. They will likely have to retreat again without a fight. Given that their replacement rate is now one point per turn, they are probably loathe to risk losing any units.

Beginning of Serbian turn


Movement

The Serbians do retreat from the north, and also out of Montenegro. I am surprised that the unit in Montenegro didn't move to the northeast rather than just east, as that move would have prevented the Austrians from repeating their isolating maneuver next turn. Perhaps they prefer to retreat to the rough terrain regardless, and that unit is then better off blocking any flanking attempts in the south.

End of turn in Serbia


Graveyard

Here is a pic of the graveyard, where all the eliminated units get sent, hoping to be rebuilt with replacement points. This pic shows the losses suffered by each side during September. The Central Power total was 47 factors of losses, including five 5-7-4 units! Triple the Entente lost 40. It was far more one-sided than that after the German turn, but the high losses of the French and the two DX's the Russians got evened things out a bit. This game is very tough on the attacking side!



Reinforcements and Replacements

The only activity during the Interplayer Turn is placement of reinforcements and replacements.

Reinforcements are units that a country receives over and above what they can build using replacement points. They arrive on a set schedule. September 1914 is the biggest month for reinforcements. Russia is scheduled to receive nine 2-4-3 infantry and three 2-2-4 cavalry. France gets three 4-6-4 infantry and six 3-5-3 infantry. Germany gets only three 3-5-3 infantry, while the Austrians get six 2-4-3 infantry. Next turn Russia gets the same again, but for the other major powers, that is it for the rest of the game.

Reinforcements often have a specific city in which they must be placed. If that city has been captured by the enemy, then they are lost for good. For instance, the twelve Russian units arrive on the RR hexes along the eastern edge of the board. The German infantry arrive in Berlin, and the French units arrive in Marseilles, Paris, and Lille. Lille is probably the only city that is at any risk of being captured in the first two turns before the reinforcements are due.....modest

For replacements, since the Germans have broken the British naval blockade of the North Sea, Germany gets her full twenty replacement points. With the West Front fairly quiescent, I use this opportunity to replace four of my lost 5-7-4 infantry units for use in Russia. I also build two 3-3-3 artillery: one for the West so they now have the six artillery factors that will give a +1 DRM to an attack I have planned against hex L13, and the other on the East Front.

The Austrians use their points to build a 3-5-3 inf, two 2-4-3 inf, and a 2-2-2 artillery. All of them are placed in Lemberg in case of Russian attack, but otherwise to continue building up the Austrian presence turn by turn in the hope that they will eventually be able to join the attack on the Russians and not just leave it to the Germans.

The Russians place all their replacements in Warsaw, Brest-Litovsk, and Kovno. This seems to indicate that the attack against the Austrians may be abandoned. The only units that are in position to reinforce the southern offensive are the 2-4-3 infantry and 2-2-4 cavalry reinforcements. These units, though, are not the ones one would send to strengthen an offensive.

France places theirs in Rhiems, right in the center of the line, perhaps signaling a build up for a future Belgian invasion.

Serbia only has enough points to build a single 1-1-2 artillery unit.

I am very much hoping for better weather for October. There is only one chance in six that it will be snow again on the Eastern Front, so hopefully the next two turns will be clear or mud, and allow for at least a couple of hexes of rail repair. If there is even one more turn of snow, none of my replacements will be able to reach the front lines in one turn, and the Germans may start running into supply problems if they manage to advance much further.

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Michael McCalpin
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Since I had just read about the opening guns only yesterday, it was quite a shock to my senses to read about German control of hexes adjacent to Moscow ("What have I missed?"), as I expect it would have been for the Russians.

EDIT: Complete rewrite
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jumbit
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mmccalpin wrote:
"Moscow"!?! Don't you mean "Warsaw"? Or are you very optimistic.

The guy goes out of his way to write 2,500 words with photos and a sarcastic remark is the only thing you have to say? Let me try:

Great report! Wow, I love reading these. In the beginning you typed Moscow when you meant Warsaw. Sounds like the battle is really heating up. I look forward to your next one!

Was that so hard?
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Michael McCalpin
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jumbit wrote:
mmccalpin wrote:
"Moscow"!?! Don't you mean "Warsaw"? Or are you very optimistic.

The guy goes out of his way to write 2,500 words with photos and a sarcastic remark is the only thing you have to say? Let me try:

Great report! Wow, I love reading these. In the beginning you typed Moscow when you meant Warsaw. Sounds like the battle is really heating up. I look forward to your next one!

Was that so hard?

It can certainly be a challenge both to encode and to interpret tone in written communications. Apparently, my encoding was off enough to make misinterpretation of it possible: perhaps I should have used an emoticon to make my harmless purposes clear. That said, I don't suppose it would have harmed you to grant me the benefit of the doubt as to my meaning, would it?

If I offended the good author of these splended reports with my brevity and perhaps excessive informality, I apologize to him. Now, please, back to the war instead of all this unpleasantness. Oh, and I almost forgot: whistle

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Pablo Klinkisch
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As always: fantastic!
A really interesting read.

And it does seem that attacking in GoA is a bad idea in general

I'm getting the sense that this game is a good military simulation of WWI specially during its trench phase and I would be tempted to get the game _if_ the political part was a bit more convincing.
With a couple of "will to fight" tweaks this game would be the perfect WWI game (or so it seems to me).

But, of course, WWI is probably way more difficult to simulate than WWII.
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fangotango
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Sancherib wrote:

With a couple of "will to fight" tweaks this game would be the perfect WWI game (or so it seems to me).


I wonder if the Morale rules simulate what you mean by "will to fight". Starting in 1916, each country has to make a morale every three turns. This roll is affected by how well or poorly the country and its alliance are doing in the war. If a country gets a low enough result, then there are consequences, which include a reduction in the ability to recruit more soldiers (half replacement rate), mass desertion (D1 or D2, every unit has to roll a D6, and on a '1' or a '2' [depending on how bad the result was], the unit is eliminated), and the worst result is that a country surrenders.

Does that fit the bill of what you were looking for?
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Pablo Klinkisch
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It does, up to a point: I still remember the other game where all of France was occupied...
All of it? No! Nice still fought on!
... And with it France, which seemed a bit odd

And there is the matter of the Russian Revolution...
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fangotango
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Sancherib wrote:
It does, up to a point: I still remember the other game where all of France was occupied...
All of it? No! Nice still fought on!
... And with it France, which seemed a bit odd

And there is the matter of the Russian Revolution...


Well, the French simply made very high die rolls on all of their morale checks, and history would record that the French remained stalwart to the end, and never gave up hope. The forerunners of the French resistance in WWII. And the Russian Revolution would simply be the equivalent of a surrender result. Russia and Austria are particularly susceptible to morale problems, as they get a -1 DRM for each city they lose, whereas France and Germany only get a -1 DRM for each Objective city they lose.

Other factors are also taken into account. The Western Entente countries get a +1 DRM once the first United States units arrive on the West Front. Britain, Germany, Italy, and Austria are all affected by blockades and submarine warfare negatively. Previous desertion results mean a permanent -1 or -2 DRM for each one, so they begin a downward spiral.

I don't doubt that a few tweaks could improve the game. Does anyone out there have any house rules they use for Morale?
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Patrick Bauer
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fangotango wrote:
Well, the French simply made very high die rolls on all of their morale checks


And not one other high roll anywhere else.
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Murray Fish
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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As ever, great session report!

Please do keep 'em up!
 
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