August 01, 1914,
Central Powers army of 152 units opposed to Triple Entente army of 174 units
for a battle of complexity 1.28 at Army(XXXX) level
on a 50 Km/Hex map
for 52 turns of Full Week each.
by Mark Stevens submited on 17-11-2012
Rugged-Defense Playing Statistics
The War to end all Wars - WWI 1914-18
In August 1914 the Great Powers of Europe, with the full support of their citizens, plunged into a four year war that would cost ten million military and seven million civilian deaths, wreck the economies of all the belligerents, bring four empires crashing down and leave the Continent emotionally shattered. The Spanish Flu pandemic that erupted towards the end is thought to have caused a similar number of deaths, as it preyed on the poorly fed and displaced soldiers and civilians. It's generally accepted that the unresolved problems that arose as a result of the war - economic, political and ethnic - led directly to the even more devastating Second World War twenty-one years later.
The Central Powers vs the Triple Entente, August 1914 - November 1918, one month turns (IGNORE THE AUTOMATIC CALENDAR, game dates are shown as a News String for each turn.) Army/Fleet/Air Group level. Each infantry or cavalry squad represents about 100 men (+ horses). Each gun, plane, tank about 10 vehicles, etc. PO for both sides, much better against a friend, as the PO finds it hard to cope with a multi-front war and won't stick to the House Rules (not unlike some human players, of course).
If you are playing against the PO and reach a Significant Victory it's an interesting challenge to switch sides midway through the game and see whether you can dig the other coalition out of the mess into which you've led it.
To maintain the timeline, neutral countries that entered the war will mobilise on their historical dates (shown on the map). They may not be attacked before then: combatant armies forced across their borders by combat must be disbanded at the start of their next turn. (This includes Serbs and Montenegrins forced into Greece before the latter's forces mobilise.) The neutral countries Holland, Spain, Greece, Persia, and Denmark start pro the Triple Entente, and may be invaded at any time by the Central Powers, but may not be entered by friends before then. (Portugal may rail through neutral Spain). The disband rule does not apply to units entering or forced into Albania, which had pretty well ceased to exist as an organised state. See 'Greece' below for more details on the situation there. Neither side seriously contemplated invading Switzerland.
The grand strategic situation will proceed along broadly historical lines: if the Central Powers do not win on the ground they will suffer diminishing supply levels from January 1917 onwards, due to the Allied naval blockade. In April 1917 Germany will resume unrestricted submarine warfare, causing a temporary drop in Allied supply. Improvements to the Entente convoy system and US naval involvement will get the situation under control by August. As a result of the German action the USA will declare war in April 1917 and American corps will begin arriving in western France. Most countries' newly raised armies will mobilise on their historical dates, except for those triggered by the Bolshevik Revolution. The major European powers (only) have one engineer brigade each for when that major river just has to be bridged, or a key rail junction repaired. They're not intended to represent historical combat units.
3. The Russian Revolution
Controlled by an Event Engine Variable: the number may rise as the Russians lose cities: if they launch the Brusilov offensive, as they conscript more peasants (via Theatre Options at the start of 1915 - 16 - 17), and if they order the Petrograd garrison to leave for the front. At some point the Revolution may occur: the Czar's government will be overthrown and desertions will begin, but Kerensky's Provisional Government will fight on. If the situation worsens, or the Central Powers get to within one hex of Petrograd or Moscow, the Bolshevik Revolution will occur: all Imperial Russian units will disappear to be replaced by Red Guards, and the Latvian Rifles. This will lead to the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Once this happens World War One in the East is finished. Central Powers units will automatically form a contiguous line from the north to the south coast and dig in, as will the Turks in Batum and Kars. The Bolsheviks can continue to fight the Nationalists and Whites controlled by the Central Powers to the east of the line, and the Nationalists in the Caucasus. If the Entente PO continues to attack the Central Powers' units (human Entente players may not) and knocks them out of Garrison mode the player's response is limited to attacks to restore the German/Austrian/Ottoman line. Once the treaty is signed the Central Powers player must shift any mobile units to the west of the line of garrisons. (The Central Powers' PO will automatically do this to try for a knock-out blow against France). The Central Powers will get three new, strong, Stosstruppen ('Stormtrooper')-trained armies in the West (unless their mobilisation areas in western Germany have already been overrun, in which case they're in terrible trouble).
Nationalists (Finns, Poles, Balts, Ukranians and Caucasians) may move no further than three hexes from the 'Finland', Warsaw, 'Baltic States', Kiev and 'Caucasus' hexes respectively (The White Russians are unrestricted). Italian and French Colonial troops must remain in their colonies. Only Entente units may use the sea roads in the Channel to move from the UK to the Continent.* The Central Powers can try to block them with fleets, or by occupying their entry ports on the Continent. German units forced onto these sea roads must be disbanded (Entente ones are assumed to be evacuated by sea.) The Turks may not move north of the 'Caucasus' hex, nor may they move their solitary mountain unit from the Caucasus to occupy the Gallipoli hex.
5. Fleets and Sea movement
This is going to break the hearts of budding admirals, but the purpose of fleets in World War One was NOT to seek out and destroy the enemy navies in a glorious battle. It was to hamper enemy sea traffic, to protect their own, and to remain as 'Fleets in being' as bargaining counters for the eventual peace conference that everyone knew had to be coming soon. Therefore fleets may NEVER enter enemy controlled ports, even if unoccupied. They may fight enemy navies at sea or in port and conduct shore bombardment. The Central Powers fleets may attempt to block the sea roads used by the British to move their armies to the Continent. The destruction of Triple Entente Fleets will lower the scheduled Central Powers supply falls during 1917 - 18, as the naval blockade is assumed to be weakened. The destruction of Central Powers fleets will earn the Triple Entente player VPs. It may very well be prudent for both sides to keep their navies in port for most of the scenario: boring but very historical. There is no sea movement for ground units: this is covered by the Channel sea roads, and by the 'Salonika' and 'Gallipoli' Offensives.
*The Central Powers PO may pursue its own merry way, programmed or not, and follow up retreating French and British units into the United Kingdom. A human Triple Entente player will simply have to take this in his stride and defend accordingly, evidently the Germans have managed to assemble an invasion fleet.
The British have a TO to withdraw the Second Army from the Western Front and ship it to Alexandria - this is to allow for a stronger than historical Turkish push towards Egypt, and would have been well within the Royal Navy's capabilities. (Obviously this will weaken the Triple Entente on the Western Front. The PO will only take this TO if Port Said is lost.)
Both sides will get the opportunity to launch special, often temporary, offensives, for which they've concentrated extra men, supplies and possibly shipping: each costs 10 VPs (and the Brusilov Offensive will bring in Rumania as a Triple Entente country, and may raise the Russian Revolution Event variable): they don't have to be used in their historical locations or, with a few exceptions, at the historical time.
Central Powers: March 1916 'Verdun' - raises the German Verdun Offensive unit in Frankfurt. It disappears about nine months later. September 1917 'Caporetto' - raises the Austro-German Fourteenth (mountain-trained) Army in Munich. It remains on the map. August 1917 'Yilderim' (Thunderbolt) - raises the Turkish Yilderim Offensive in Damascus. It disappears after four months. February 1918 Ludendorff (St Michael) Offensive TO:deploys one strong 'Stosstruppen'-trained army in Frankfurt. Withdraws after two months. If this can be used in conjunction with the three new armies (Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth) raised after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ideally at the same time as German unrestricted submarine warfare lowers Entente supply, it will give the Germans a chance to win in the west, or at least stop the British and French and force a draw. The Stosstruppen special forces icon, with its disengagement bonus, is the nearest I can get at this scale to simulate their front line formations' infiltration tactics.
Triple Entente: August 1914 'Plan XVII' raises the French Plan XVII Offensive unit in Orleans. It disappears after two months (as does the TO immediately if unused). April 1915 'Gallipoli' raises the British Gallipoli Offensive unit in Gallipoli, and places a Triple Entente supply point there. It disappears six months later UNLESS Constantinople is captured. June 1916 'Brusilov' raises the Russian Brusilov Offensive unit in Kiev. There is a 75% chance that this will increase the Russian Revolution Event variable. It disappears six months later (and has no effect if the Bolshevik Revolution has already occured). A few months after it's chosen, Rumania will join the Triple Entente. April 1917 'Nivelle' raises the French Nivelle Offensive unit in Orleans. It disappears after three months. If the TO is chosen it may trigger other French armies going into Garrison mode over the following months (the utter failure of the offensive caused a number of mutinies/military strikes over the following months) UNLESS Frankfurt is captured. The French units in garrison will recover a few months later, even if not attacked. July 1916 'Somme' raises the British Somme Offensive unit in Cherbourg. It disappears after five months. October 1915 'Salonika' will place the Franco-British Armee d'Orient in Thessalonika (even though Greece is still neutral). If the Central Powers enter Greece to attack the Armee d'Orient the Greek army will enter the war 'early'. Historically the Central Powers simply placed a blocking force to prevent it operating against Bulgaria or Turkey. It remains on the map until destroyed. After about a year it will be reinforced by a similar sized army if Thessalonika is still friendly.
Temporary Offensives are iconed differently to permanent forces (usually as 'heavy' infantry) so that players don't forget they'll disappear.
Both POs WILL take all these Offensives, as they did historically, and may (75%) order the Petrograd garrison to leave the comfort of the capital for the front if Minsk is lost. This, in turn, may increase the Russian Revolution variable.
Although not actually offensives, the Triple Entente has TOs to conscript extra Russians by disbanding off-map units containing 3,000 squads used by the Russians and Rumanians, at the start of 1915-16-17. Each has a 75% chance of raising the Russian Revolution Event variable (and has no effect if the Bolshevik Revolution has already occured).
Both sides will be given TOs to initiate gas attacks on their historical dates, which will give a six months 5% shock bonus at a cost of 30 VPs for the moral outrage caused. After that I'm assuming that counter-measures will lessen the worst effects. Neither side is obliged to use the TO, although both POs will (as they did).
Starts at 100 as a base for both sides, friendly cities and towns provide varying levels. From 1917 the Central Powers will lose 10% every four months as the Entente blockade really starts to bite. Destroying Entente fleets will provide more supply - 10% each for the Italian, British and French fleets, and 5% for each Russian navy. The capture of Kiev, representing control of the Ukraine grainfields, will also increase Central Powers' supply by 20%. If they haven't won a decisive victory on the ground by the end of 1917, nor broken the blockade by defeating the Entente fleets,the Central Powers are likely to face the same crippling supply shortages that lost them the war historically. Do note there is no supply from enemy cities - if you manage a deep advance do ensure that there is a line of friendly hexes back to a supply source.
Apart from the above, the scenario is largely about controlling VP hexes: capital cities, major towns, the Suez Canal, etc. Unlike in many other scenarios, countries don't surrender if their capitals fall: the Belgians, Serbians and Turks all fought on in these circumstances, although capitals have high VPs, are supply points, are usually important road/rail junctions, and the location where reconstituted units are scheduled to reform, so their loss is pretty decisive. The Central Powers player, whether against a human or PO opponent, really needs to hit the Russians hard enough to trigger the Bolshevik Revolution. Otherwise the combination of a war on two fronts, and the arrival of the USA in conjunction with the C.P. supply falls for the Allied blockade is going to make things very difficult towards the end of the scenario.
All units except the special Offensives and most fixed garrisons are scheduled to reconstitute, usually in their national or colonial capitals. Note that Petrograd - not Moscow - is still the Russian capital. Destroyed units whose home country has been overrun may reconstitute in neighbouring ones, occasionally even across seas: it has to be assumed that the broken elements were evacuated there to be reorganised.
Armies that start on the map and those formed during the war from experienced troops are set to 'veteran' status, others as 'untried'.
No disbands except for those units forced into neutral countries yet to mobilise, or Montenegrin or Serbian armies only, and in the Montenegro hex only. (The Serbian army conducted a lengthy and heroic retreat to Montenegro when Belgrade fell, from whence they were shipped off to other theatres by the Triple Entente navies.) (Plus Germans forced onto the sea roads to Britain as covered above under 'Restrictions'.)
Very complicated: pro-Entente forces, largely in the north around Thessalonika, opposed the pro-Central Powers Royalists in the south (King Constantine was a relative by marriage of the Kaiser). In June 1917 Prime Minister Venizelos will mount a coup, the Royalist Army will be withdrawn, and control of Athens (and its 15 VPs) will fall to the Entente. If the Central Powers capture Thessalonika before then, the coup is cancelled. The pro-Entente Greek forces and the Armee d'Orient (only - not other Entente units) may attack the Royalists in Athens at any time (this course of action was tried in 1916, but failed after brief skirmishing and the French general responsible lost his command), however the Royalists will fight back.
10. Design Notes
Mark Stevens October 2012
This is a very large scale scenario, and a lot of compromises have been made with regards to the size of armies and their equipment. However it does give a reasonable feel for the entire war in a small, short game. (Where are the cavalry? They very rapidly became obselete and effectively converted to infantry. There was some scope for its continued use in the wide spaces of the East and the desert, so I've left a handful of corps for use in those theatres.) Tanks were used in small numbers before the scenario suggests, but I've waited until they reach a critical mass - only 40 for the Germans! - before introducing them.
(The 'broken rails' in Turkey are those under construction or that were constructed during the War. The Central Powers never did manage to complete the Berlin-to-Basra railway, seen as a potential threat to Britain's strategic position.)
Comments and criticisms welcome.