This is a game that I got on the cheap a while ago, but it is also a game that my wife will never, ever play with me. I had been wanting to play it solo for a while now, and a few days ago I finally got the time to do just that.
Brief Game Overview
This game simulates the opening fighting between Russia and Austria-Hungry. The game is played over 12 turns. Each turn the players go through a specific turn order. First supply is checked, and units found in low supply or out of supply. Then units can be moved up to four or they can be rallied and remove combat effectiveness penalties. Next comes combat, and units can attack adjacent units. There are limits to what can attack or defend. Units of the same corps can can attack together with one additional friendly unit. Combat requires adding up attack strength of the attackers, the strength of the defenders figuring out the odds, and rolling 2D6 and consult the combat result table. Next, players resolve the losses using the results from the CRT and artillery bonuses to figure out how much combat effectiveness is lost. Each unit can loose two C.E. before losing a step. The game is played for victory points. Points are earned for capturing strategic towns, destroying enemy units, and even for making an attack! It is this final rule that makes the game interesting. It is hard to create situations that really, really favor the attacker. This means that the attacker is making attacks that may not have optimal odds (odds of 2:1 or more) to get the points. This is game where Turtling is not a good option. The game ends after 12 turns and the side with the most points is the winner.
This is a very basic summary of the events this game portrays. Galicia is a geographical area that is found in parts of present day Poland and Ukraine. The battle was a full army sized action involving about 1.2 million Russians and 950,000 soldiers on the Austrian-Hungarian side. Again this is a simplification, but the Battle of Galicia consisted of three separate battles that took place across the region. These battles took place between August 26th and September 11th 1914. In the North West, the battle of Krasnik was fought and won by the Austrian-Hungarian forces and captured 6,000 Russians. The Austrian-Hungarian forces also engaged the Russians in the battle Komarow. The Austrian-Hungarian forces inflicted heavy causalities, but were not able to claim a decisive victory. The South East in Galicia the Russian pushed through the Austrian-Hungarian forces and thoroughly routed them at the battle of Gnila Lipa. This put the Eastern Austiran-Hungarian forces in retreat, and to prevent being flanked by additional Russian units from the north, units from the successful battles in the East were called towards the "center" of the region. This led to the battle of Rava Ruska which the Russians won. This cause a complete loss in Austrian Hungarian momentum and they were forced to abandon the region. This strategic battle made for a good wargame topic because it features simultaneous attacks by two opposing forces.
The Game I played
Most of the counters represent divisions and some as brigades. This is how the board looked at the beginning (Austrians in Blue and Russians in tan).
The first turn only the Austrian forces got to move. There was a general advance towards the Russian positions. The Austrian 5th Corps engages elements of the Russian 14th Corps and pushed them back.
The Russian 16th Corps reacted and pushed back elements of the Austrian 10th Corps. The Russian 9th Corps engaged the Austrian 12th corps but it was inconclusive. Outside of Zamosc, the Russians 25th Corps inflicted heavy losses on the Austrian 9th Corps.
North of Krasnik, the Austrian 5th continued to pursue and engage the Russian 14th. The Austrian 2nd Corps was able to force Russians out of the town of Sczebrzeszyn. The overall attack in this area did not go well because the Russian 16th corps held their ground to the west of the town. In a bit of an odd move, elements of the Austrian 10th Corps crossed the River Bug and a minor skirmish with elements of the Russian 21st.
At the end of turn 2 the score was Austrians 5 and Russians 3.
Along the Eastern side of the map, Russian reinforcements arrived greatly outnumbering the Austrian forces there and attacks were made all along that front. The Russians were able to cut off the the entire Austrian 12th Corps, but they were unable to push the 12th back.
To the North, the Austrian 1st Corps joined the 5th Corps in fighting agaisnt the Russian 14th and continued to force the 14th back. However, the Austrian 2nd advancing from the capture of Sczebrzeszyn was thoroughly routed by the Russian 16th. In the "center" the Austrian 14th and elements of the Austrian 6th corps engaged and forced back the Russian 19th Corps.
At the end of turn 3 the score was Austrians 8 and Russians 7.
The Russian 18th Corps successfully eliminated an Austrian division. Fighting occurred all along the lines of engagement. The Austrian 17th corps was forced to retreat but the Russian units did not advance due to supply constraints. The rest of the fighting was a stalemate.
The Austrian 1st and 5th Corps continued to push back the Russian 14th corps. The Austrian 10th corps engaged the Russian 18th, while the Austrian 12th corps continued to withdraw to get back into supply.
At the end of turn 4 the score was Austrians 10 Russians 13.
The Russian 8th and 24th corps continued to push west along the Dniester River and eliminated an Austrian division. The Russian 9th and 12th Corps inflicted heavy losses on the retreating Austrian 12th. In the center of the map, the Russian 25th corps forced the Austrian 6th out of Tomoaszow and cut off the Austrian 14th corps. At multiple points of engagement, the Austrians were completely ineffective, almost across the board the Austrians took more casualties than they inflicted from their attacks.
At the end of turn 5 the score was Austrians 14 Russians 18
This turn continued to see Russian advances. The Russian 18th corps eliminated another Austrian division. The beleaguered Russian 14th Corps finally found their footing and pushed back against the Austrian 5th Corps inflicting heavy losses. Several gains were made all along the Eastern front of the theater.
The Russian 14th was able to thoroughly repulse a counter-attack from the Austrian 1st. The Austrian 6th was able to retake the town of Tomaszow from the Russian 25th. In the East, the Austrian forces pulled back to consolidate their forces and to protect strategic objectives.
At the end of turn 6 the score was Austrians 18 and Russians 24
The Russian advance along the East stalled. However, the Russian 14th corps continued to repulse the attacks of the Austrian 5th and 1st corps. The Austrian 10th corps engaged a couple of division of Russian cavalry and was thoroughly embarrassed by them. In good news for the Austrians, close to the center of the map their 2nd corps forces back the Russian 19th, and in the same area the Russian 5th and 17th corps were surrounded by Austrian forces.
At the end of turn 7 the score was Austrians 23 and Russians 28.
The Russian Guard, which had arrived as reinforcements successfully pushed back elements of the Austrian 10th north of Sczerbrzesyn. The Russian 9th corps was able to beat and force the retreat of the Austrian 12th corps. This allowed the Russian army to capture the strategically important town of Lemburg. This town was a major objective of the Russian army.
North of Lemburg toward the center of the map, Austrian cavalry divisions found a hole in Russian lines and successfully disrupted Russian supply. This made the Russian 5th and 17th corps trapped where they were attacked by the Austrian 17th and 11th corps.
At the end of turn 8 the score was Austrians 29 and Russians 46
The Russian 12th Corps in the East continued to push forward and captured the town of Grodek. The troubled Russian 5th corps managed to rally and push back the Austrian 11th. To the North West, the fighting South of Lubin continued to be deadlocked and yield no results for either side. The Austrian fighting in the center was mixed, the 14th corps failed to dislodge the Russian 25th, but the Austrian 2nd corps did push back the Russian 19th corps.
While a couple of Austrian corps were successfully holding against the Russian advance in the East, the majority of the Eastern forces were about to fall and the larger corps units were going to be cut off. Also, the Austrian fight to take Lubin was completely stalled and victory seemed a long shot. Russian victory was virtually ensured. After five hours of playing the game was called at the end of turn 9.
The final score was Austrian 36 and Russians 57
Here is how the map looked at the end (I removed all informational counters to make it easier to see)
How the Game Differed from History
My knowledge on the history of the engagement is limited, but from what I do know my play of the game differed from the history in a few ways. Essentially, this game has three area of conflict. The Northwest, the center, and the Southeast. Historically, the Austrians found victory in the Northwest. However, in my game that differed. It started off that way, but I diverted some of the forces that participated in those battles towards the center. The biggest issue was luck though, as the Russian 14th corps went from being forced back to standing their ground and inflicting heavy losses. This was mostly due to dice rolls.
The Southeast went pretty much like history, with the Austrians being pushed back and defeated. Historically, what secured the Russian victory was winning the fight for the center. However, in my game that is the only place where the Austrians had real success. This success though would have been short lived since the Russian advance in the South was going to cut off supply lines.
What I learned from playing this game
I feel like this game did give me some insights on the fighting in WWI, especially the early conflict this game portrays. The first thing I observed is how difficult decisive victory was. So many soldiers were mobilized to fight that it was difficult logistically impossible to mass and overwhelm enemy positions.
Second, I got an appreciation for cavalry. At the beginning of the game I found these units pointless as they could not stand up to a Corps assault. However, they served the Austrians well. They managed to raid the supply lines of the Russians and they were important for slowing down the Russian Advance in the East. This allowed for infantry reinforcements to move up.
Third, the rule that points were earned for attacking gave me insight into the attitudes of the high command. The idea of being on the attack was more important to actually winning. It is easy to think that misguided nationalism gave rise to the thought their respective forces would prevail, so attacks would commence when there was no numeric advantage and sometimes only limited strategic advantage because being successfully viewed as on the attack was most important.
My Thoughts on the Game
Overall I liked this game. As I mentioned, it is an interesting battle to explore since it has two simultaneous attacks. This game has all of the wargame trappings like Zones of control, stacking limits, etc. However, it is fairly easy rules wise and for a war game of this nature, fairly rules light. I feel like this game did capture the history of the game well, but ahistorical outcomes (even if it was a variation of the actual result) was possible. My biggest problem with the game is that it was a little fiddly. A lot of time was spent adding -1 combat effective markers to units, just to remove them at the the beginning of the next turn. All told, the game took five hours. I only got to play it because I had a rare entire day by myself. With a three year old and a newborn on the way, that will not happen again for a very long time. I greatly enjoyed getting to play this game, but I probably will not ever play it again.
Very nice AAR/Review. Thanks!
I only got to play it because I had a rare entire day by myself. With a three year old and a newborn on the way, that will not happen again for a very long time.
Speaking as a father of four, you will one day have a little more time. It's great when your kids take interest in this hobby. Most of our weekends, though, are dedicated to watching and/or coaching their games, helping with homework, and the like.
Actually, the rules are available at the website: