- Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)(gittes)United States
LouisianaFag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
I am knowledgeable of the Great War, but no expert by any means. That being said I felt that playing 1918 and reading the accompanying article was a lesson in strategy and why the Germans lost in their final gasp for victory.
A Doomed Plan of Attack
Ted Raicer argues in the article that the German plan of attack lacked a strategic vision and that throughout the fighting the Germans simply picked targets on a whim. This analysis has much basis in truth, as German strategic planning was notorious opportunistic, rather than cohesive. The game simulates Raicer's opinion in a blunt way: if you prosecute the offensive the way the Germans did then you will lose, because you'll never gain enough victory points to destroy the Allied will to fight.
The Offensive Spirit
This is not Battle of the Bulge: WWI edition. Germany starts the game with strong units and the Stosstruppen units give the Germans the ability to exploit any breakthroughs in the trenches. However, these units can be brittle, due both to being constantly used in combat and they must always take losses first. Also as the campaign wears on the German get fewer replacements while if victory is not secured by turn 9 the Stosstruppen are converted into normal units, making an offensive victory a chimera.
Trench Warfare is Still Brutual
The 1918 campaign was a continuation of Russian and German tactical doctrines that saw something of a rebirth of a war of maneuver. Yet, that might overstate the case and clearly 1918 shows the high cost of infiltration and small unit tactics by having Stosstruppen take losses first and also through a CRT that is brutal to the attacker, even in victory. This means that developing a lasting breakthrough can, as it was for the Germans, be quite difficult. If the Allies last and make their counterattacks, they too can easily find their offensives to be bloody failures, made even worse by having only a few tank and infantry units capable of exploiting breakthroughs.
1918 does a fair job of giving weight to peripheral factors on the campaign, but not so much weight as to make them decisive. The arrival of the Americans and the prevention of Big Bertha from shelling Paris give morale boosts to the Allies. Aircraft, tanks, Belgian morale weakness outside of Belgium, and weak trenches all give combat bonuses and while using them effectively is important, it is by no means a replacement for sound planning and execution. These factors are thus put in their proper place.
The game is not won by simply destroying armies unless it is to destroy the will of the people. The game is a contest to see which side will break first, and as both sides were near the point of exhaustion, this is a very realistic way to decide the campaign. Basically you must capture key cities to achieve this. However, since combat is difficult and many of the best cities are far behind Allied lines, the Germans must be very smart in their attacks. I mostly like this, but I think a few victory point cities should be added, as suggested here: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/370568 but it is better then making this game an exercise in German fury. Both sides cannot afford to be careless, and in the high causality nature of trench warfare where even a successful attack can be a defeat, this aspect makes for good gaming and good history.
- [+] Dice rolls