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Tamas
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[beta AAR] Plan Rupprecht

Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:25 am

I would like to give you all a little sneak peak on this upcoming game. So, I am going to AAR the 1914 operations of my Central Powers!

Just keep in mind: this is with a beta version, so do not take it up on me if something will look or behave differently in the release version. :) It WILL look differently in some parts, and we keep tweaking the game for the better.
That said, I think it is well in a state to be enjoyable, so first discussing the idea with Calvinus, I started to write this, and I will give it to you in two or three small parts.






So, what War Plans to choose at start? I decided to not go with Schlieffen, so I can show you guys the alternate history which can unfold in WW1.

An obvious choice would be Plan Moltke, which is the German Russia-first strategy. However, despite only AARing the initial year of the war, I want to act like really playing the whole campaign.
And I am convinced, since the days of me playing the original boardgame, that Germany must hit France at start.
Going for Russia is a fascinating study of "what-if, but by no means an easier choice than Schlieffen!
At one point, you will want to defeat France in this war, and with trench and other technologies much improved, and with France not damaged apart from her own foolishness in initial attacks, not to mention the possibility of the French reversing Schlieffen on you and marching through Belgium, your job of defeating your western nemesis can only get harder by time, if they are left alone.

So, actually, I consider the Schlieffen Plan to be the most effective choice, by default. It gives you the highest possible National Will (like all historical Plans), and altough it is a very long and very hard march to Paris, it is still a chance, and if you fail the ultimate objective, you can still be deep in French homelands, hopefully even capturing Lille and other cities of economical and morale importance.
But as I was saying, I wanted to show you something else.


And that will be... Plan Rupprecht! A daring reversal of the historical German plan, where the German 2nd and 3rd Armies open the conlict by invading Switzerland, while the German 1st Army is deployed at Saarburg and Moorhange.

It is needless to say, that the extreme terrain of Switzerland offers many challenges. But! There are several prizes to win. Paris is not one of them, at least I dont think so.
There are other important cities in South France, however, and even more tempting, is the possibility to trap the French 1st and 2nd Armies in the Vosges Mountains! My plan is that hopefully the AI will go with a Warplan requiring it to attack accross the German border, while my 2nd and 3rd Armies cross Switzerland in a hurry along the railroad lines leading to France.
1st Army shall go into a counterattack accross the main border, and the 3 armies will either trap those two French ones, or force them to run, collapsing the southern French front.

To accompany the Warplan, I have two options to choose. One of them needs to be "Good Morale". It is a no-brainer. It gives plus 5 National Will (max. possible NW is 40) at no additional cost, and 5NW can very well be the difference between triumph and disaster late in the war. Not to mention the morale bonus of my near-max NW.
Second option of choice for me this time is "accured mobilization" giving me some more reverse units. Switzerland never surrenders, and I will not have the time to hunt them down in the first months. I will need garrisons for my Swiss supply line.

That concludes the German planning, now it is time to see Austria-Hungary.

You have 3 basic choices with this power: Conrad Plan, the historical effort to fight both the Serbs and Russians, and to focuse on just one of them.
Now, focusing on Russia while your German ally is focused on the West is a rather optimistic plan. It can work to save Gallicia, but there is no hope for much else, really.
The anti-Serb plan is very tempting. It would deploy the 2nd AH Army immediately on the Serbian border, giving it and the 5th Army a pre-turn to attack.
But then that 2nd Army could not deploy in the Carpathians against the Russian hordes. And the Russian AI knows that it does not need to defeat the Austrian armies on the Gallician plains in a head-on battle - it only needs to threaten them with cutting their supplies.
So, I do not dare risking it. I consider the anti-Serb plan to be an all-or-nothing dash for victory by the Dual Monarchy, and I am not in the mood for that.

After much consideration, I decide to be indecisive like my historical counterpart, and go with Plan Conrad!
I am also conservative with Options: Good Morale, and extra ammunitions and replacement points (recruits). The AH army has a decent amount of artillery compared to Russia, but lacks munition and manpower, so I like these choices the best.


France went with Plan XIII. For details on it, check this screenshot:

Image

They also went with the Options of free "shuffling" of Generals, and an Initiative Bonus.

Russia's choice was much more intimadting to read:

Image


That can be quite an effective strategy, altough it has its risks
The Russian Options were more events to draw and keep, and also the shuffling of Generals.

Speaking of events, due to these various choices I only got to keep 3, went with Fog and Breakthrough for future combats, and "Successful Jihad" to help the Ottomans when they join my cause.
Rest of the events phase was only bad news: Entente apparently broke the army codes of the Western Front, so they were to receive fog of war bonuses for the next turn.

As war was declared the initial diplomatic reactions were checked, and I got to send my diplomats around. The last thing I wanted was Italy sending forces to aid Switzerland, so I sent my best (value 2 out of 3) German diplomat to Italy, to strengthen their neutrality. I dispersed the other German and Austrian diplomats among the Ottomans, Bulgaria, and Romania. One must try and keep the AH diplomats out of Romania and Italy by the way.
After these initial checks there is immediately a "normal" diplomacy phase.

And I can't say I was not lucky. Things went well with Italy, I felt I would not have to worry about them joining in '14. Reasonable results happened with Ottomans and the important Balkan minors of Bulgaria and Romania.
The Brits did join the war immediately, as I did not bother to send diplomats there. I felt I had to concentrate on Italy, for the obvious reason of it sharing a border with Switzerland, and on the Balkans, since Austria-Hungary was about to receive some serious punishment.



To see the start of hostilities, here is the opening setup of my armies for Plan Rupprecht:

Image

In the Early August turn, the Russians did not engage the Austrians, only moved up to the border, while my German 2nd and 3rd Armies captured Basel and Zurich respectively. It appears the small Swiss army did not feel like taking up a hopeless fight at the borders.
In the regular August turn, I gave orders for the main body of the 3rd Army to continue toward Bern while a single corps from that army were to follow them behind, converting railroads for the supply trains.
The 2nd Army was to flank Belfort and enter French territory.
All the while, the 1st Army was to launch a frontal attack, probably to meet with the initial French offensive.
In East Prussia, I ordered a gathering of German forces at Tannenberg, to hopefully finish off the Russian 2nd Army.


The Austro-Hungarians were to establish defensive positions in Gallicia, after seeing the big Russian buildup, while going on the offensive against the Serbs.

My bold German attack yielded good results, but at the price of some serious exposal of the border region and their supply lines.
If you study the screenshot below, you can see the situation after the August movements and battles:

Image


The French massed their 1st Army against Saarbourg, but not without any luck, I repelled their blu-red attack with great losses on them. So not only I took a foothold on the Vosges, the smaller half of my 1st Army managed to besiege Nancy, and with the help of the loaned Austrian artillery, managed to take it. The obvious danger at that time was, a desperate French bid to ravage my now empty supply lines at the German side of the border, which would had been suicide for them, but also could delay, even ruin my offensive.

At Belfort. Falkenhayn's Bavarians of the 6th Army repelled Castelnau's 2nd French Army.

There was also a big battle at Metz, but the Crownprince's 5th Army held the ground.

Lanzerac apparently decided to not try a risky flanking through Luxembourg, but rather moved his 5th French Army against Thionville, where he met with the German 4th Army, reinforced by elements of the 5th, and was forced to retreat.

From the screenshot, it should be clear that operations in Switzerland mostly went according to plan, and altough I left a gap, and the infrastructure at the rear required some further work for the supply trains, I crossed into French territory by September.


Next: August at the Eastern Front, and explanation of battle resolution. :)

Palpat
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:54 am

At last! Great! Thanks for this AAR. :w00t:

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pailleterie
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:31 am

The II army seems to be in danger to be isolated.

Very good AAR thanks :coeurs:

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Sol Invictus
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:47 pm

Good read. :thumbsup: Poor Switzerland. :( I would personally be wary about the possibility of getting bogged down in the Alps and allowing for a French offensive against the Germans, but I look forward to seeing how this plays out. Russia better get in gear because this is as good as it is going to get for them and now is their time for glory. :dada:
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Carnium
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:46 pm

Does the Swiss gets any special defensive bonuses and is the Central Power player somehow "punished" by violating a neutral country ?
In RL other neutral countries would not tolerate this and Germany should receive some kind of penalty (maybe with USA more willing to join the Entente etc).

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Tamas
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:07 pm

Carnium wrote:Does the Swiss gets any special defensive bonuses and is the Central Power player somehow "punished" by violating a neutral country ?
In RL other neutral countries would not tolerate this and Germany should receive some kind of penalty (maybe with USA more willing to join the Entente etc).


I mentioned it that when war breaks out, there is a special diplomacy phase where the initial reaction of key countries is tested. As in the real thing, it can be decisive what Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Turks have to say about it, not to mention Great Britain.
Apart from this, your side suffers a penalty to relations with the United States whenever you declare war on a neutral country. (Regardless of wether you are Centrals or Entente)

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Tamas
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:12 pm

Here is another small update with the rest of the August turn. I will finish up the rest of 1914 tomorrow.
Feel free to ask questions in the meantime. :)




The East was only sligtly less busy: Forward elements (two infantry corps) of the 2nd Russian Army did arrive to Tannenberg, but not before the main body of the German 8th Army. And altough they were later reinforced by some cavalry, they were easily pushed back.

Lemberg, Gallicia, saw the battle of the 3rd Armies. The Grand Duke of Russia made a bold push toward this key city, and already captured it when the repositioning units of the Austrian 3rd Army arrived:

Image


Lets stop at this screenshot, and let me explain battles for you a little.

This is the screen which opens up for every battle. You can see it is a minor battle because only the left half of the main part is used. When both sides has 4 units or more at the start of the battle, it becomes a major battle, and the area with red crosses also get used. Those are basically two parallel battles, but they do add complexity because you have to allocate your units for one of the sub-battles, and get a "flanked" penalty for the 2nd battle if you lose the 1st.

So, as you see, each unit has 3 attributes, which are pretty straigthforward: attack, defense, movement. Similarly important are the little flags because these show you the morale and training level of the unit. For example, the yellow ones are active duty soldiers, grey are reserve conscripts, etc.

You can also see the nationality of the unit, when it is applicable, ie. it is not the "native" of his army. This does have consequenes, in form of morale check modifiers. For example, as the Dual Monarchy, you want to avoid sending your Slav conscripts against the Russians or Serbs, since their morale is low enough even without them being forced to shoot at their fellow Slavs.
But, as Germany, you want to send your Bavarians against France, and Saxons against Russia.

You may have noticed, that the artillery has no combat values. Thats because the arty units provide a substantial advantage in form of column shifts on the CRT (combat resolution table). It is decisive to have this advantage (to have artillery while your enemy does not). However, each round of combat where you have an artillery unit costs one ammunition. Ammunition gets scarce around the end of 1914, and during big fights in trench warfare, it just melts away.

The "Reserve" also worth mentioning: these are with your HQ unit, which can provide them to the battle if within range. It is wise to have your artillery as HQ reserves, most of the time.

The attacker's strength is put against the defender's, and after all modifiers (artillery, terrain, events, etc), you get a result. The simplest loss flips your unit. However, in case of a bigger loss, or a flipped unit suffering one, there is need for a morale check. The morale check can have different results, from removing your unit for a single combat round, through removing it for the entire combat or turn, to downright elimination, or the dreaded Panic, in which case the routing unit's panic spreads to your whole force and they run.

So these are the basics of combat, now lets get back to the war!

Sadly, the force of Hungarians, Austrians, and Czechs could not be a serious competition for the Poles, Russians, and Ukrainians, mostly because their artillery support. Lemberg fell to the enemy!

As a matter of fact, check out the map and see how critical the situation became:

Image

Due to that Russian pre-turn, not only the Russian 3rd Army reached Lemberg, but the Russian 8th were already the foot of the Carpathians!

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Sol Invictus
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:48 pm

I see Austria is performing true to form. :bonk: It is really nice that unit ethnicity is considered within national armies; this should really make for some added strategic depth, especially in the East with Austria and Russia. The game looks great! :thumbsup:
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Duckman
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:52 pm

hooray! an aar :D great writing tamas and thanks for taking the time to explain some of the info on the screens. much appreciated :thumbsup:

runnersan
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:06 pm

Great AAR!

Maybe it's already corrected, but I see spelling error, on batlle lemberg screen.

There is I POSLKA, if the coat of arms is really Polish, it should be I Polska or Polski (adjective)

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Sol Invictus
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:13 pm

Does the Orange Flag on the Sibir unit denote an Irregular Unit or simply a Unit on the verge of Routing?
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PhilThib
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:20 pm

No, the color of the flag shows the unit's morale level, and orange is good (veteran or elite).... ;)
Image

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Tamas
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:25 pm

Sol Invictus wrote:Does the Orange Flag on the Sibir unit denote an Irregular Unit or simply a Unit on the verge of Routing?


The orange flag means an elite unit . Yellows are veterans (soldiers which were about at the end of their military service and/or units with considerable experience), greys are conscripted reserves which received training. There are also purple ones which are the normal active duty units, and whites, which are the conscripts hurried into battle without proper training. (yes, the artillery also has a white flag but support units do not participate in the battle the way regular units do, so color of flag is of no significance)

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Carnium
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:28 pm

Thanks for the great AAR Tamas !
Is there a way to see the number of troops involved in a battle and the casualties after it ? I kinda like the statistic as I am always trying to compare my results to the RL events.

stegosarus_army
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:39 pm

will you be able to see the number of men in the corps and how many casualties you sustained during battle? or will these numbers be abstracted like in BOA?

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Sol Invictus
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:09 pm

Philippe and Tamas, thanks for the Flag clarification. :hat: Guess I need to re-read The Guns of August in anticipation of release. :coeurs:
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mi1291
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:54 pm

great AAR...

Many Thanks---

but every day is more diffoult to await 11-11

:thumbsup:

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WallysWorld
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:23 pm

Thanks for the AAR!

This game is looking great.

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Tamas
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:49 pm

SEPTEMBER


Diplomacy in September was concentrated on Belgium and the Ottomans. The former got a bit too close to granting right of passage for the Entente, so I sent several German diplomats to be there when the enemy feels doing a diplomatic mission. Also, Turkey was moved a bit closer to joining the war.


As for military plans, they were rather simple: continue the advance at the West, establish a line to be held in the Carpathians. take Belgrade then continue deep inside Serbia.


A detachment of the 1st French Army did manage to reach and besiege Saarburg before I could cut them off, and my interception attempt did not succeed.
I wanted to move to the offensive with my 4th Army at the northern tip of the front, but it failed quite bloodily. Nasty business.

Also, afraid of giving ground to a breakout attempt by stretching too thin, I did not close the pocket around the French 2nd. Luckily, if you remember their warplan, they had to attack this month, so they did not just run. As for their attack, the AI did not push it too hard.
You can see the end-of-September situation below:

Image





In the meantime, Belgrade still refused to fall, as I still refused to assault it.

The Russians wanted to hunt down the part of the AH 3rd Army which was mostly cut (retreating from Lemberg earlier), but did not manage to kill it, so a bit of the pressure was off there, since altough some Russian forces followed my hurried run to the mountains, the exposure of their flanks was massive as a result, and it made the AI cautious.


OCTOBER

The Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in October! How much this would distract the Russians was remained to be seen.

Once again, my plans for the month were rather simplistic, but how would they unfold were crucial.

Germany received a bunch of small armies as reinforcements. One to Metz, which was just in time to plug a hole there, and the 9th and 10th Armies to the Eastern Front.

I ordered those to attack into Russian Poland, while the 8th Army was to continue hitting the Russian 2nd.


And that is pretty much what happened, altough advance into Poland was minimal.

At the West I had the tasks of finishing the pocket, and getting Saarburg back.

I did manage to do both, including repelling a breakout attempt by the French 2nd Army.
Armies get a healthy boost to manpower and ammunition stockpiles in September, but not much more until the end of the year.
So, when doing a battle, you never just think about that one single engagement. The war of movement in '14 can already give you a little taste of the feeling which will be quite familiar later: "Do I REALLY want to spend this much men and ammo for this single hex?"
So all these attacks, both by me but especially by the AI, clearly had the aspect this month, which should also serve as a good tip for future players: try and push your agenda, but don't forget, there will be a next turn, and you will have to hold your ground.


I ordered the Turkish Fleet to patrol the Black Sea, they did not encounter the Russian fleet. I did not mention this, but naturally I sent the Goeben to Istanbul, so its part of the Turkish fleet.
Also, I moved the Turkish land forces to their various borders with Russia and Egypt.

Much to my surprise, the Russian 10th Army did not wait and attacked with their Georgian units at Sankamish, and in fierce combat they took the town.

Image

My left-behind corps of the 3rd AH army continued its dance of death with the pursuing Russians. It seems the AI was not as keen as I was with my Germans, to move forward with the rear still exposed, so there were no serious fighting in the Carpathians this month either.
I mostly broke contact with the Russians there, so they were probably cautious to advance into the unkown.

This was the Western Front at the end of this month, and I have to say, I could not hope to see it change much before the end of the year. But I was about to destroy an entire French army.

Image


NOVEMBER-DECEMBER

This was the month to finish off the huge Belfort Pocket. It was also the month to go into the transitional phase toward Trench Warfare, as the armies started to build their defensive lines for the upcoming winter.
And don't forget: the month of Jihad! The Ottomans managed -due to my play of the event- to mobilize the zealous muslims in support of their army.
I was also informed about Enver Pasha's bull-headed way of resolving thinks, forcing on me a requirement to launch at least two offensives a year or suffer negative penalties for Turkey.

At West, the French did not only want to break out, but also launched a couple of furious counter-attacks, most notably against Nancy, but the Germans held their ground in some very bloody battles.

However, as a result of the French resistance, I only managed to destroy the French units at Belfort, leaving the other French space next to it, to see the new year. (that French stack wanted to move out against my stack moving in to attack, so at the end of the day, the space remained in their control) However, Belfort itself went surprisingly well. The French units there were much depleted, and they quickly panicked when I sent in my mountain infantry.
The fort remained in French hands, for the time being.

The Russians got a bit braver, but probably waited too much. With the defender using the Trench CRT now, they got repulsed at Cracow and Przemysl in a heroic act of defense. Both Russian attacks pushed almost until the combat round limit, but the reduced odds for them were too much to overcome, apparently. They also failed to push the Germans out of the border regions of Russian Poland, but that German gain can not be said to be important.

Belgrade finally fell, but anticipating the Bulgarian commitment for the CP (at least I spent a good deal of diplomats on them) I did not bother much to continue the attack on that front. It should collapse fast if the Bulgarians help out.

I also spotted some Russian forces moving through Persia, but I could not determine if that was some kind of trickery. This also made me remember my mistake of not sending diplomats to Persia: if you convert them to Central Powers once the Ottomans are in the war, they may end up sending an expeditionary force to Iraq, which can get very hand in bolstering the Ottoman 5th Army.

Speaking of Asia, what was meant to be a probing try at retaking Sankamish ended in quick success, as only a reduced Georgian corps defended the town. It was, obviously, a further proof that the Russians were up to something in that region.




And that was the end of 1914, as much as fighting went, anyway.

I am afraid I was a bit short with the coverage of the autumn, but I hope you got a general picture of the dynamics of the game. 1914 has a lot of battles, as you could see, for the majority of them I only wrote a few words.
I did this to keep this short and on the point, however, dont be mistaken: there really is not a meaningless battle in '14!
What happens in these first few fatal months will greatly determine how the Trench War will look like. That's what so interesting about it: all those battles on 3 or 4 different fronts, and you know they are decisively shaping a long conflict to come.


As for my final analysis of the situation: it was a moderate success. The border change is not impressive, that is true, but by giving up on conquering the entirety of Switzerland, I could form a relative short defensive line at the south-western edge of the map, on some excellent terrain.
As a matter of fact, apart from a space or two, I hold forests, hills, mountains, and cities.
On the other hand, the French face these mostly out in the open. So if I was to continue (which I won't but rather help test further improvements :) ), the situation would nicely lend itself to the repeat of the historical switch o focus to the East in 1915.






Again, what I gave you was a brief coverage, but I hope you enjoyed it. :)

vonRocko
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:00 pm

Fantastic! Thanks for the aar. I am drooling in anticipation :neener:

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Lannes
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:08 pm

me too :bonk:

Palpat
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:10 pm

Enjoyed it, we did!

How is the AI?
And is there some casualties things like Guns of August, when seeing the amount of dead of one's monthly attacks can be quite depressing?

tufruchtu
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:39 pm

Thanks for this Great AAR. :thumbsup:
I've been longing to play La Grande Guerre since reading an article when the boardgame came out back in 1999 (although I never managed to get my hands on a copy...), so I can't wait for 11/11 :D

Just a couple of things with regards to the CRT change rules:
What triggers the switch from movement combat to trench warfare? Are there pre-conditions to be fulfilled? Are all fronts dugging trenches at the same time or is it still possible to have fluid operations on some front? (i.e. Solid line on the western front whilst the East is still on the move)

Last, is there some kind of switch back to the movement warfare CRT towards the end of the war to simulate increasingly porous lines of defense resulting from the introduction of new doctrine & technology?

Thanks again for the great work on such an interesting part of history :)

JY

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Tamas
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:50 pm

tufruchtu wrote:Thanks for this Great AAR. :thumbsup:
I've been longing to play La Grande Guerre since reading an article when the boardgame came out back in 1999 (although I never managed to get my hands on a copy...), so I can't wait for 11/11 :D

Just a couple of things with regards to the CRT change rules:
What triggers the switch from movement combat to trench warfare? Are there pre-conditions to be fulfilled? Are all fronts dugging trenches at the same time or is it still possible to have fluid operations on some front? (i.e. Solid line on the western front whilst the East is still on the move)

Last, is there some kind of switch back to the movement warfare CRT towards the end of the war to simulate increasingly porous lines of defense resulting from the introduction of new doctrine & technology?

Thanks again for the great work on such an interesting part of history :)

JY



At the start of 1915, the switch to Trench Warfare is automatic, for the preceeding transitional period, there is a check for each side.

As for switching back, think the warfare of 1918, which is triggered in the game. :)

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Sol Invictus
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:21 pm

How do Leaders affect combat?
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Tamas
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:34 pm

Sol Invictus wrote:How do Leaders affect combat?


They modify the dice-roll, and some has other special bonuses. These have the relevan icons on their counters (with tooltips, of course).

runnersan
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:59 pm

Can I buy new corps or reinforcments in this game, or they arrive on historical time?

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Tamas
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:04 pm

runnersan wrote:Can I buy new corps or reinforcments in this game, or they arrive on historical time?


The initial mobilization of the countries is scripted, meaning with the starting nations you receive stuff for the first couple of months, and with countries joining later, you get a given set of similar reinforcements. But from there, you buy them.

runnersan
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Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:05 pm

Tamas wrote:The initial mobilization of the countries is scripted, meaning with the starting nations you receive stuff for the first couple of months, and with countries joining later, you get a given set of similar reinforcements. But from there, you buy them.


Thanks! Great, but one more question, when in later phase I buy new corps is his nationality (Czech, Polish, Bavarian) defined by me, or automatic?

<edit> very bad english correction, sorry :)

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Griffon
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Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:21 am

le concept de nationalités des troupes me plait bien

c'est conforme à l'esprit de l'époque !

peut on trouver : des Ecossais dans l'armée Britannique ?

des Bretons dans l'infanterie de marine française en Flandres ?

des Flammands dans l'Armée belge ?
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