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They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Verdun 1916» Forums » Sessions

Subject: On the back side of the breach rss

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Peter Lloyd
United States
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This was our/my first game of They Shall Not Pass. It was as much a learning experience with the game as it was a lesson in moderate scale WW1 operations. As such, the outcome reflects as much blundering into the nuances as any operational planning. Take this as being an overview of the game and a reflection of lessons learned.

The game opens with a French Corps, of 3 divisions, being attacked by 4 German Corps, 3 with 2 divisions and 1 with 3. In all the French have 20 infantry regiments trying to hold off 31 German regiments. Both sides have artillery and special support units. The French start entrenched, and have 2 fallback trench lines. The Germans have better quality units and an artillery advantage due to preparation and doctrine.

The general objective is for German player to get victor points. The outcome is a ring-the-bell scale with the Germans trying to attain 9 points, while the French want to hold them to under 6. A river marks the boundary of the eastern play area. That and logistical considerations on the west side, force the German drive onto an increasingly narrow front as the French receive reinforcements.

I had the French in our session. In our ignorance, neither of us understood the brittle nature of the German situation. I could maintain my line, mostly intact, against the German onslaught, falling back to the second line of trenches. I was being pushed onto the third line as the reinforcements began to stiffen my defense. An odd development was how my initial corps was forced to move more toward the center, with the reinforcements moving to shore up the flanks.In the middle game, my situation was still reactionary, but as more reinforcements arrived, the situation began to stabilize. On the last two turns, I was able to start counterattacking.

Lessons learned:
1. If the Germans have not gotten a break in the French line by turn 4, the game is over. That is the brittleness I mentioned before. The constricting front and French reinforcements mean the Germans MUST create a hole early.
2. Low odds attacks are not necessarily a bad choice. If your opponent is committing resources (like artillery) to keep your attack odds low, it creates better attack opportunities elsewhere.
3. Mixing Corps bad, mixing divisions good(ish). This mostly has to do with how the artillery ad supply rules work. Mixing divisions allows more artillery support. Mixing corps makes the supply situation harder.
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