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:
They also went with the Options of free "shuffling" of Generals, and an Initiative Bonus.
Russia's choice was much more intimadting to read:
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:
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:
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.