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Subject: Schlieffen Plan May 1916 Triple Entente turn rss

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fangotango
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Part Forty-Five of the "Schlieffen Plan" series.



Weather: Spring - West Clear, East Clear

Triple Entente Turn

Things are still not going very well for the Triple Entente. The Central Powers are starting to close in on Brest-Litovsk, and have been managing to chip away at the size of the Russian army the past three turns. The British took another hit in Turkey, and the surge of the Italians has been halted with the arrival of a few more German units.

Italy

After a brief bit of excitement when the Italians actively joined the war in March, a stalemate has developed on both sides of the Italian front. The Central Powers have now deployed enough units to prevent any advances by the Italian army on its own. A significant number of British or future United States troops will have to join them before anything might happen. The United States is still neutral, and the British barely have enough units to protect the few hexes they control on the Continent.

There is no significant movement this turn on the Italian front, other than a couple of replacement units advancing toward the front line. No combat either.



The Balkans

Serbia remains quiet as well. While the Serbians could likely make some progress against the minimal Austrian contingent, they are hindered by the possibility that the Bulgarians may declare war at any time. The month of May, in fact, is one of the turns that the Variable Entry rolls are made. Bulgaria has a 50% chance of joining the Central at the end of the turn, and the border is far to close to Skopje for the Serbians liking. Especially since the Central Powers get to take their turn before the the Triple Entente do after the new belligerents enter the game.

Two Serbian units in Albania and Montenegro realize they have moved out of supply. Because they failed to take control of hexes in Albania (by moving through them) except the ones right on the front line, they are stuck without a supply line to Skopje! The enemy ZoC's on the front line block the supply line on hexes actually controlled by the Serbians, and Citinje can only supply units in Citinje, as the ZoC on that city prevents any supplies getting out.

Britain lost their second 4-6-4 infantry unit to another Turkish low-odds raid. That is two losses in two turns, with no damage to the Turks. It remains to be seem if the British try to maintain their Bridgehead or abandon it altogether.

In the naval phase, the British choose not to send a replacement unit to Turkey, instead sending the one unit they have available to invade and take control Durazzo in Albania. Looks like they may be shifting their focus to helping Serbia.



The only movement is the two isolated units retreating one hex each into Albania. This accomplishes two things. One, the units regain a supply route and avoid elimination. Two, they now control Albanian hexes behind the front line and can use those for supply routes if they advance again to the hexes they just abandoned. Of course, the Austrians may want to take advantage of those empty hexes. I won't turn down free hexes if I have the units to cover them, and I just happen to have shipped an extra couple of units in this turn....

No combat.



Russia

Brest-Litovsk is clearly the next target for the Germans, and there seems to be nothing the Russians can do to prevent their progress. The question is not if but when the city is captured. The Germans are able to bring overwhelming force to bear against the best defenses they Russians can throw up. Granted, that means only three or four attacks per turn, but the progress is steady and is eliminating enough Russian units to slowly erode the size of army the Russians are able to maintain. Not only are they fielding fewer units each turn, but the 3-5-3 units are slowly being replaced by the weaker 2-4-3 infantry units.



Movement

The Russian army is still large enough to fill any holes made by German attacks, and many hexes are still defended by the maximum three combat units. They are also at full capacity with their 2-2-2 artillery units, and have a surplus of artillery replacement points.

However, even the artillery surplus is being worn down turn by turn, and as mentioned, the unit to hex ratio is slowly getting worse. Currently they have 42 combat units in the field, and 19 hexes to make a continuous line from one end of the front to the other. That means they have enough for two units per hex plus four additional units. They do have twelve 2-2-2 artillery units on top of that.



Combat

The Russians make three attacks. Each of them is a low-odds 'raid', as I like to think of them. They have one unit attack a hex of three units in three locations. Any attack below 1:1 odds is treated as a 1:1 attack with a -1 DRM. If there are no other DRM's to apply to the attack, then the attacker has a 50% chance of getting a BD or DD result. If the defender is the overall aggressor on that front, they will have to choose between retreating all three combat units and eliminating any support units (which cannot retreat), or eliminating their strongest unit. If they retreat, then those units are not available for their next combat phase. If you use low-odds attacks with low value units in situations in which the attacker must lose a string unit (i.e. they have no option to retreat) then overall you will cost the other side more than you suffer in losses yourself, assuming your own unit has the option to retreat if demoralized.

The Russians get three bad rolls, losing two units to elimination and the third retreats demoralized. No effect on the Germans. Somewhat bad luck. However, I wonder how effective this tactic will be for the Russians in the current situation. Even if they have average or better luck, the Central Powers have more units than they can use on the Eastern Front. They have 59 combat units plus 20 artillery units. That is a full 3 combat units per hex, plus the 20 artillery, and often they only use two combat units in order to have two artillery units for the extra bonus DRM's. Their losses have also been well below their replacement rate. So losing two or three additional units per turn will likely have no effect on their ability to attack, whereas every extra unit the Russians lose on their own turn are effectively permanent losses, since the Central Powers have been eliminating more than the Russians can replace each turn already.

I suppose one way to look at it is that the Russians need a bunch of luck if they want to slow down the Central Powers. If they don't roll any dice, then there is no luck to win or lose.



Interplayer Turn

May is one of the four months each year at the end of which the Variable Entry Rolls, and, starting in 1916, the Morale Rolls are made.

Morale rolls are affected by a number of factors. These include how many cities or red-dot Objective cities a country has lost. This depends on the country. Russia gets a -1 DRM for every city, whereas France gets a -1 DRM only for red-dot cities captured by the enemy. Other factors include naval blockade levels or submarine warfare status, and for the Triple Entente whether or not the United States is neutral or an active ally. Previous results below zero also contribute an additional -1 DRM to all future rolls.

Technically, France is still an active belligerent in this game. Although they have not had a single unit on the board for at least half a year, and have a replacement rate of zero, they have not yet been conquered or surrendered. Conquest requires the enemy to capture every single city in a country, and Britain still controls two French cities. Surrender requires a Morale result of -3. France's first Morale result in February of 1916 was a '0' I believe, which is Reduced Replacements result (= half replacement rate), and half of zero is.... This turn, France, which has a -5 DRM, rolls a '6' for a result of '1'. They still refuse to give up. This is actually problematic for the British, as they could be gaining an additional replacement point for holding two French cities, and get access to their Rail Road Engineer. I suppose as long as France does not surrender, if the Triple Entente recapture enough French cities, they would start getting replacement points again and could start rebuilding their army.

In fact, every country manages to get a positive Morale Result this turn, so there are no Morale effects.

The Variable Entry rolls were a bit more interesting. Bulgaria failed to enter yet again. This is Bulgaria's sixth time to remain neutral. Five times this game they had a 33% of joining the Central Powers, and on this roll they had a 50% chance. Ah well. Rumania and Greece were also possible entries in the war: Greece for the Triple Entente and Rumania for the Central Powers. Both remain neutral.

The big boost for the Triple Entente is that the United States successfully rolled to enter the war. They only had a 1-in-6 chance, but rolled that natural '1'. The first U.S. units won't start arriving for three months, but their navy units are available immediately. They have a substantial navy, and when added to the British, rather unbalances the naval situation. The Triple Entente now has enough naval power to take control of the Baltic Sea in addition to all the other sea areas that they traditionally control. That is something that perhaps should be corrected for future games, as it does not seem to reflect the historical situation.

Here is a look at the naval map. with the US Navy included.



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This might liven things up a bit.
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Michael McCalpin
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Too little too late, I suspect, given the Entente's dire state on basically every front, but I really admire that you guys hung with the game to see how it would play out.
 
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fangotango
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It's not really "hanging in there", as we are both enjoying it still. Either one of us can pull out at any time with no hard feelings whatsoever. We would just start the next game
 
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Pablo Klinkisch
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The Central powers seem to have a miserable diplomacy: Germany is winning the war, Britain attacks Albania but Romania and Bulgaria just look the other way!

Great Session Report, as usual.
 
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Pablo Klinkisch
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Oh, and I totally get this "to the bitter end"!
 
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fangotango
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mmccalpin wrote:
Too little too late, I suspect, given the Entente's dire state on basically every front


I expect so as well. The U.S. eventually brings thirty 4-6-4 infantry, five 3-3-3 artillery, and two 3-3-5 cavalry. However, they enter the game gradually, and it takes eighteen months before all but one cavalry and artillery unit arrive. Also, the bulk of them come in near the end: the last six months accounts for eighteen of the infantry units. The weakness is that the U.S. does not receive replacements points until all the units have arrived. So if the first five or six are lost in combat, they cannot be replaced for a year or so.

By comparison, the French army starts with twenty-four 4-6-4 infantry, eighteen 3-5-3 infantry, five 3-3-5 cavalry, and five 3-3-3 artillery. What makes France so much more important is that they get ten replacement points every turn until they start losing cities. France can also bring her artillery numbers up to twelve units (second largest in the game to Germany's nineteen). We are also using the "unlimited builds" rule, which allows using replacement points to build any unit available in the counter pool. France has an additional eleven 3-5-3 infantry to add to the board, assuming their losses are not using up all of their ten replacement points per turn.

If France and Britain are still in the game, then I imagine the U.S. units would make a big difference. Once three units per turn start arriving that is like getting twelve replacements each turn, and makes the potential size of the Triple Entente armies that much larger. This is only my third game of Guns of August, and that situation has yet to come up. The games have been decided pretty much in the first year. As we get more experienced, I am sure we'll get some closer contests that come down to the bitter end for real.

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fangotango
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Sancherib wrote:
The Central powers seem to have a miserable diplomacy: Germany is winning the war, Britain attacks Albania but Romania and Bulgaria just look the other way!


Lol. While it has just been a little bit of bad luck for the Central Power Variable Entry rolls this game, I feel like there could be a lot added to the Variable Entry rules regarding attacks on neutral countries.
 
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