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Bill101

1918 Ludendorff Offensive AAR!

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Good Morning!

The match has entered the third and final phase: allied superiority. My troops have achieved a lot of victories, and my advance was quicker and further than I thought. But I never expected to defeat the Allies... honestly: after the second turn I expected Al to be in Sedan in July. I was wrong in that case.

In general the German Army is no longer capable of conducting major offensives, but at least a lot of successes have been reached. I have one more thing in mind, but this might be revealed later. It is now early August, and the match ends in November. It will be crucial for the endgame how my research goes on... Trench Warfare Level 5 is in the 80ies, and a breaktrough there will help a lot.

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Al's Offensive out of the British salient will be more difficult now, the British tank unit was destroyed. Apparently Haig overestimated its strength.

ld076.png

The Central Front is bloody, and it will remain bloody.

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I really love that you and all the folks here do all these AARs. I'm reading them all and they make me less afraid to try to play the game. I hope that you continue to do these threads for all scenarios because not only do they make newbies like me more comfortable, but AARs are excellent marketing tools for new customers. I had a friend read a couple and he bought a copy right after reading!

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OK - back from the snow, though illness prevented me from having too much fun. :-( Will need to recoup the well of happiness while playing SC instead. :-)

Well - the German Army is cracking. Michael is desperately trying still to eliminate the British enclave, but it is costing him so much in terms of manpower that 4 areas of operations are now ongoing and in all 4 the Germans look likely to fall apart. This game could quickly go from one where I could see no way back for the Entente to one where Entente units begin to cut their way through open country. What a turn around - I wonder whether the Germans would have been better sitting tight?

Anyway - let's look at the battlefield. First to the hard pressed British... not so hard pressed now. 4 German corps were destroyed here along with an artillery battery. These are heavy casualties, and more and more British units continue to pour into this area. It is turning into the graveyard of the German army - so many units left out in the open that are just picked off by the Tommy defenders:

britdefence14_zps8915f451.jpg

Further to the east the US main thrust, with French units in support, has now shattered the central German line and I doubt it can be rebuilt now as German lines are thin all over the map:

USattack8_zpsd8085d81.jpg

The question here now is whether I swing this attack force NE or NW... and I am still undecided.

On the eastern flank Michael has stripped everything away in an attempt to shore up his defences elsewhere. This now leaves both Strasbourg and Mulhouse in serious danger of capture, and I have decided to make these 2 cities key objectives once again, having thought that my attack in this area back in June had failed. First to Strasbourg where a German line of sorts is reformed, but will soon be under severe pressure from massed French artillery and the bulk of the French air force:

strasbourg1_zps17df3b4f.jpg

... and then to Mulhouse/Colmar where the two sides are more closely matched. However I suspect that Michael cannot afford to send reinforcements to this sector now... whereas I already know that French corps are going to appear here in the next turn or two to ensure a successful mop up operation. French armour is also going to be very tough to close down here:

mulhouse1_zpsbfeaa259.jpg

So August 3rd 1918 and Entente Command is feeling much better about things. There is a long way to go to be able to take key objectives that will actually win me the game - and I am still far from convinced that this is possible if Michael conducts an effective defensive strategy from here on in... - but as long as he continues to pound away at the British I have a chance because that strategy is literally bleeding his forces white now.

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No Screenshots from my side this turn... I pressed the "End Turn"-Button before I made them... apologies.

No much to report... a few destroyed allied corps, but I will not be able to stop the allied offensive. What might save me a bit is Trench Warfare Level 5, and the counter is in the 80ies.

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Better make up for some lost time with 2 turns tonight - skiing certainly set this AAR back!

With the German Army on the wane I chose mostly to reinforce and prepare for a continuation of the offensive next turn. More progress was made in the centre for sure - a gimme given the amount of force I have there now.

However 2 points of interest for you here. Firstly to the British pocket where a relief operation is now underway. As you can see here I had been gently trying to gather some kind of force to push up from the south and try and break the encirclement. Belgian and Italian troops are not my best, but enough British army artillery was able to strike to break through - and you can see again here how Michael is stripping his lines to try and cover weaknesses elsewhere.

britrelief1_zps322c44fd.jpg

This is hardly a very strong force and not a major breakthrough, but novice players need to realise the importance of initiative in SC: this means specifically ensuring that your opponent spends most of his time reacting to what you choose to do rather than you react mostly to him. The initiative in this game has moved now... and I hope I have the skills to turn this into a game winning situation.

Further to the east the ring around Strasbourg was tightened and there is a very good chance that this NM objective will fall next turn. Hopefully this will be the first of several.

strasbourg2_zpsd26fd056.jpg

So a quieter turn, but plenty in the offing and the German High Command will not be given any respite from here...

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Just as a small hint: the Kaiser´s Army is retreating, but they are not dead... and the German NM is still way ahead the Allied.

ld077.png

Apparently some of the British troops felt too safe.

But most other areas do not looks as good. I hope Philip reads this.. he would have made a similar experience if he would have played this far.

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Al, I believe you mentioned before that if you played as the Allies against Michael again you would likely prevent another large German breakthrough, right? So, how might you employ the US troops in another match up? Would you recommend feeding them into the fight to plug holes and contain his attacks or create a reserve force that spearheads your counterattack? If the latter, what timeframe might you be able to launch a counterattack and what might be your likely targets? I'm interested in Allied strategies and since you're one of the more experienced players whose played the Allies in the scenario I'd appreciate your insights.

Thanks,

Frank

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Just as a small hint: the Kaiser´s Army is retreating, but they are not dead... and the German NM is still way ahead the Allied.

ld077.png

Apparently some of the British troops felt too safe.

But most other areas do not looks as good. I hope Philip reads this.. he would have made a similar experience if he would have played this far.

Ohh i do, with joy. Incredible AAR from you guys. It must be scripted events or changes since we played becaise there was no chance in hell back when we played for a come back with the Entente with their losses. Id be happy to try my luck again, I havent played since we played so I'm kind of eager to get back in the saddle.

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Just wondered how long does it take in game for the Americans to have a force that is strong enough to win the game by taking on alot of fighting or becoming the deciding factor on the field for a win..in real life it wouldn't have been until the Summer of 1919 that they'd really make a difference. Obviously the 1919 estimate was before germany threw away her men in the Offensive..so I presume they will have a bigger impact quicker. Though I think if the Brits and French where nearly destroyed before America had a big enough force there I'd imagine peace terms would have come along.

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OK - some questions to answer. Given another game I would not use the US to plug holes - I would gather them as a reserve to strike. In terms of numbers it seems to me that a US led counter attack is possible in early/mid July. Depends a bit on whether research is invested in early or not - I have not bothered to upgrade to level 2 artillery or level 2 armour for instance. Do that and it would be delayed by a couple of turns.

Likely targets I am not sure. The victory objectives are either NW or NE. I havent played enough yet to know where the biggest NM gains might be, and it would depend on where the German player had massed his greatest strength. I would always choose to counter away from that main thrust... though it must be pointed out that it is much harder for the German player to get reinforcements to the Belgian sector so that is attractive. To the East Strasbourg and Colmar are also very close to the border and definitely attainable.

And speaking of Strasbourg the valiant German defence of the city came to an end. Michael had counter attacked me viciously in this area last turn, and my casualties were heavy, but the city fell.

strasbourg3_zpsa691760d.jpg

The French got a good NM bonus from this and the Germans a decent NM hit.

However the main picture to throw your way is the central front. Here the German Army has quite literally melted away. I destroyed several straggler units and have one last pocket virtually surrounded, but this is very very bad news for Germany now. My US units have broken through and can now roam at will.

USattack9_zpsaa431034.jpg

And to the West? The British continue to hold. It is a bloody battle, but I am now certain I will hold after all. Michael has thrown so much at me here that the rest of his line has fallen apart. The US and French will have the glory of rampaging into Germany, but the British Army has won this scenario now: its constant counter attacks and ability to absorb such huge pressure has been impressive:

britdefence15_zpsb9b431a5.jpg

I think the game will run away from the Germans swiftly from here. My thoughts are turning to my own interpretation of how to fight this scenario. I am hoping for a rematch the other way around with Michael whether as an AAR or just an ordinary PBEM game, but I must admit this is a fascinating scenario. Well worth playing - give it a go.

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The German Army does not have en easy life at the moment... casualties are high on both sides.

ld078.png

I continue to attack in the north, but less aggressive... this is more to keep Al busy. If I stop to attack here, Al can divert forces to the south and push harder there... no good idea, he is way ahead there anyway.

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My forces take back Strassburg, but the NM effect does not come back.

In general I need to say that the game has now reached the state I expect for July... after I saw Bill's changes from 1.00 to 1.01, I did not feel the Axis has a chance to win. I was able to achieve a lot of great victories, but since 5 months I get outproduced every single turn. I am still way ahead in terms of NM and destroyed units, but the direction is very clear: retreat or destruction. Esp. the allied Arty superiority is not possible to cope with, and the American Superman divisions are too difficult to destroy... they have better combat values than the German divisions, and there is a lot of them.

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Bloody fighting and swapping of units continues in the British pocket, around Strasbourg and also in the fast east around Colmar and Mulhouse. All are objective areas for me now.

However to make them happen more swiftly and with fewer casualties I need to be a little more creative on a strategic level, and I have made my mind up now.

First to the west. A trickle of British reinforcements will continue to enter the pocket to keep it alive and kicking, but the main British effort has now been transferred to the south of the pocket, and to the relief operation that will liberate the hard pressed British enclave and then push on to retake Belgium. Troop numbers here are not high, and the Italians are not great quality, but this force is growing and it stretched the German defence line on the river further, with a corps destroyed and German HQ and artillery coming under attack:

britrelief2_zps2bb604a2.jpg

In the centre I have decided now to swing the main operational focus to the East, and to liberate the forts of Verdun and push on to Luxembourg. For this I will use my very strong US army, with French units taking up a more defensive position on the North and Western flank of the US attack. In essence, having broken through, I am now swinging my main effort in a 90 degree pivot, and German units around Verdun will soon be under massive pressure.

This graphic shows it well I think, with US forces driving east:

USattack10_zps4bf3e19b.jpg

All going well at present.

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My French assault on Mulhouse is nearly ready to go. Artillery and fresh units moved to the area. Note that Michael's detachment that advanced one square last turn actually led to a morale drop for France as it got close to Belfort! Always worth learning the scripts - and that is one I will remember...

Mulhouse3_zpsbe1afea8.jpg

Elsewhere the US juggernaut is already ready to take Sedan and advance on Verdun:

USattack11_zps072c07cb.jpg

... and further to the West the British relief operation sustained quite big casualties but is closing the gap nonetheless, and 3 more German corps were destroyed on the edge of the main pocket:

Britrelief3_zps75207709.jpg

There is no coherence to the German lines now, and Entente advance will come swiftly from here.

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Not many good things to report, but a few :-)

ld080.png

A combined British-Italian Force attacks Doullens and does not succeed in taking the city. The attackers suffer heavy losses, and the German counterattack destroys two allied divisons. At least a small victory.

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Sedan will fall sooner or later, but a good amount of fresh German division approach. First time in months I get a major reinforcements. Maybe I can hold the line there... in the next two turn I have 9 fresh divisions coming in.

But definitely: this is getting more and more difficult for the German troops!

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No, he won't! :-)

Learning a level from history, the worst casualties occur when an Army is defeated. This happened to Lee at Appomattox, and the losses the Wehrmacht suffered in 1944 and 45 were horrible and unnecessary. I can stop Al for a couple of weeks, maybe until early November, but this campaign runs until the 31st of December... and I think Al will reach German soil way earlier.

I am still ahead in terms of destroyed units and NM, but to give you readers an insight: the campaign is clearly lost, so I see no further reason to sacrifice troops. Of course this is not really grateful to Al, because he would have deserved to march into Germany.

So I will accept Al's offer, and I hope the peace treaty will be very fair. A German delegation will head for Versailles, and let us see if we can find a solution... and avoid the next war. :-)

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Thanks very much for running this, it's been great to read and to see how the battle has turned around. I seriously thought we were going to see the Kaiser having dinner in Paris at one point!

By late October, historical factors like the withdrawal of Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire from the war would seriously impact on Germany's National Morale - especially if the Germans weren't near Paris at that time.

So given the situation, the Germans have made the right decision to spare lives.

Great stuff! :)

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