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Bill101

1914 Call to Arms AAR - Bill v Dan

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The generally bad weather made attacking difficult. In France, the Entente destroyed one German corps and damaged another down to 1 strength. Petain is trying to stretch the German line as far as possible to the South. The Entente has superior numbers and quality over the Germans. I moved artillery forward for next the turn's attacks.

France invested two more diplomatic points into Norway. Norway swings another 7% to the Entente. The Norwegian convoy line to Germany has been diplomatically shut down. I now want to open the convoy line from Norway to the UK.

Italy bombarded and attacked the Austrian coastal corp. A new Italian artillery unit arrived. Italy invested one point in Advanced Infantry.

The UK purchased two more Greek detachments. One new detachment arrived this turn and the Greek HQ arrived. Greece should hold now.

In Palestine, the Ottomans are retreating to the East. Allenby is pursuing them at top speed and has re-established HQ contact with the five UK corps. One Ottoman artillery was destroyed and other units damaged. Ras e Ain and Deir ez Zar were captured.

The bad weather is helping the Russians defend in Poland. They repaired, formed better lines and entrenched. The two new cavalry units were sent there to reinforce.

Russians in Germany moved forward stretching the German lines and entrenched. The new Serbian Russian infantry corps forced marched from Moscow towards Germany.

German National Morale is down to 4%, Ottoman 22% and the Austrians are holding at 49%. I estimate that there are two more turns left before the game is over.

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Ludendorff has totally broken down with his nerves in tatters as disorder breaks out in Germany. The revolution has begun.

Germany.jpg

Despite this catastrophe in our rear, we launch a successful counter attack in the west, destroying some French cavalry, and our Fighters shoot down a good number of aircraft belonging to the Royal Flying Corps.

But no amount of success here can outweigh the collapse of morale both at home and in the High Command.

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The Entente in France destroyed three German infantry corps, captured Aachen and the fortress of Metz (National Morale Objective).

UK forces in Syria/Iraq destroyed two Ottoman detachments and captured Islahie.

Norway swings another 10% to the Entente.

With the capture of Metz, German National Morale dropped to zero which ended the war at the end of my turn with a major Entente victory. Ottoman morale had dropped to 20% and the Austrians had dropped to 47%.

I really enjoyed playing this game with Bill. I thought at several points when the early French lines were cracking and when he snuck Ottomans into Basra, that the Central Powers were going to win.

I saw the decisive game points for the Entente as being:

1. The unmolested complete Entente occupation of both the far and close naval blockade lines. This was the core that destroyed German National Morale which won the game.

2. The establishment of an early hard French defensive river line at Amiens.

3. The early Russian attack, encirclement and then occupation of German cities in Germany. This was not my original plan. My plan was to establish a hard but peaceful defensive line. The deep German offensive by better quality units mandated that this be a win big or lose big Russian operation. I used Russian numbers, entrenchments and cutting off supply by taking enemy cities behind the lines to counter quality.

4. Russia staying alive by being mostly cautious, mostly defensive, building up forces, tying down large numbers of Central Powers units and being a general nuisance.

5. The safe sea evacuation of Belgium/UK forces which sea transported to Greece/Palestine. The Belgiums help hold Serbia. The additional UK units broke through the Ottoman lines in Palestine eventually causing the lost of all Ottoman cities and units there. This was not planned. I had planned to create a hard defensive line in Belgium which would be a springboard for a later game attack. It worked well in our last game. When I realized that my defensive line in Belgium would be easily crushed by Bill, I decided to sea evacuate out all of the units. Once they were on transports, I thought that I have already paid for the sea transportation. I will need more units in Palestine. I may as well send them there now.

6. Investments by all Entente nations in Industrial Technology which provided the MPP's needed to fight. To my knowledge, each technology advance is worth an additional 20% MPP's. My Entente powers had each advanced to Level 2 or 3. Level three is very nice.

7. The winning of the U-Boat convoy war by outnumbered UK/French destroyers. The destroyers carefully picked their U-Boat battles and made the most of the qualitative UK ASW 1 advantage and of location ambushes. Generally three destroyers would concentate on one U-Boat to totally sink it. I was only concerned with sinking U-Boats, not protecting convoy lines. When the U-Boats were gone, the convoy lines would all repair themselves. No destroyer was lost during the war.

8. Diplomatic efforts by the Entente which shut down Holland food shipments, Swedish convoy lines and Norwegian convoy lines. It appeared that the effects of the naval blockades were doubled when Holland switched sides.

9. The successful hard late game push by Entente forces into Belgium/Germany backed by upgraded French infantry and by upgraded French and UK artillery. This could have failed. I almost ran out of Entente units before cracking the German line.

Thank you all for sharing our game experience. I have learned a lot from playing with Bill. Bill and Hubert have created a wonderful game.

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As you can see, the result was not to the Kaiser's liking:

Victory.jpg

But this has been one of the most addictive and enjoyable games I've played in a long while, partly because writing the AAR really added to the experience. Knowing there is an audience and that they will see all your mistakes probably long before you do definitely adds a certain something!

As to the detail of this game, my biggest mistake was in not realizing when the French held our advance at Amiens in the summer of 1914 that then was the time to switch to the defensive in the west.

I could have lined the right bank of the Somme, built up my defenses, kept some reserves in the west and still sent reinforcements to the east so that Hindenburg and Mackensen could have advanced together into Russia.

Instead, as we saw, Hindenburg went it alone and got a bit carried away after some initial successes. By the time Mackensen was deployed, it was too late for that joint offensive because Dan had cut off Hindenburg's line of retreat by land.

Everything snowballed from there, and due to my impetuosity in the west in continuing to launch ferocious but costly attacks for sometime after I should have halted there, German casualties mounted and our morale declined.

But it was great fun and I can't wait to start our rematch!

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Fantastic and enjoyable AAR guys.

This game really highlights how difficult the Central Powers situation is, especially when the Entente is in the hands of a formidable opponent. It also gives some insight as to how prescient von Falkenhayn was with his Verdun strategy. You can't allow France to build up unmolested - and the area of greatest weakness is Verdun and, in this game, the southern end of the front at Belfort. The French are doomed to suffer in any winning Central Powers strategy.

Having only played the AI so far, and having never been threatened in the Middle East by the Entente, it was fascinating to see how quickly the Ottoman position crumbled. Ditto the Russian advance from the Caucasus.

Would have liked to see a major sea battle in the North Sea. Takes a bunch of guts on both sides to pull it off tho......

So, the Tsar remains in power, prestige enhanced, with the Dardanelles and more in his possession. Lenin remains an unknown socialist crackpot, a cause without a country. Germany, Austria Hungary and the Ottoman empire broken up into a thousand pieces and prostrate. The USA the worlds creditor but more isolationist than ever..........

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Thanks for posting this AAR.

I have to admit that I really wasn't expecting this outcome after the the first few turns. After the unbelievable progress that the Germans made into France I thought the game was practically finished already. When Germany crossed the river near Amiens I did not think that France would've been able to push them back. That would mean that Germany would have to cross only a single more river to get into the unprotected rearland of France. Turns out France did manage to push them back and reestablish a defensive line near Amiens. Amazing.

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great AAR,best I've seen on the forum for years, explaining your thinking to us all and agreeing not to read the AAR of each other was fantastic. Can't wait to finish the SC GC tournament and have the time to play this game. hopefully not for a while :)

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Excellent! Thanks for the AAR and the pointers in it. I'm in 1917 as the German against the AI. Things are going well, but that isn't stopping my morale from crumbling. I've also got lots of Marxists in my army. Maybe I shouldn't have send Lenin to Russia??? Well I'm at the gates of Paris, Russia is out of the war, so onward!!

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Bill,

Were you and Dan testing out any other new features beside the forced march ability?

Drew

Hi Drew

The Forced March feature was the most significant new feature we were testing out, and it worked very well. Though one has to be careful not to overuse it, because troops that have forced march aren't at their peak in combat until they've rested for a turn or two.

In our next game we've got two new features we'll be trying out, one of which is really going to please a lot of people.

Until we've given it some testing it would be too soon to give any details, but rest assured that an announcement will be made in due course. One could almost call it a stress reliever! :)

Bill

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This AAR might influence me to buy this game.

I wandered in here from CMBN, interested in the idea of a WW1 simulation that actually workes. The AAR was fascinating, and raised dozens of questions in my mind about strategy.

And the German player: I incredibly sympathize. It would have taken veins filled with ice water to reach that far into France, have one set back in Amiens, and then set up a defensive position and go elsewhere. Maybe the right thing to do, but....if the pivot did not work, one would have asked oneself, "What if I had pushed a little harder?" Not to mention that your study of the French front was likely intense at that point.

Fortunately, this was only a game. What if that human impulse had cost real lives?

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Thinking further on this game, one thing I did make a mistake in not investing in early enough was diplomacy, as it could have kept the neutral minors trading with Germany for longer. Instead, I only reacted to the Entente's use of diplomacy later in the war when it was almost too late to stop it having an effect.

Concentrating solely on the military side after the initial battles was an expensive mistake. Lesson learned!

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Bill,

It's funny how the 1914 ending battle lines along the Western Front are almost exactly the same in every AAR and in my own game. But I think it is unavoidable given the historical setup and the perfect hindsight knowledge of all the players.

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It seems like the Russians are always "cautious and defensive" and that of course leads to big problems for the german player as the russians only move in force when they are good and ready.

Perhaps there should be some sort of incentive to attack early to create the actual imperatives of the war. The russian could still choose remain defensive, but perhaps with some sort of penalty?

One thought I had about this AAR is that the CP did not challenge the entente enough at sea, warfare at sea (though a lost cause) could probably have opened the way a little for the u-boats, perhaps raided a little, and thinned the blockading forces and slowed the NM decay.

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Bill,

It's funny how the 1914 ending battle lines along the Western Front are almost exactly the same in every AAR and in my own game. But I think it is unavoidable given the historical setup and the perfect hindsight knowledge of all the players.

In my experience the Germans either tend to get held near Amiens, or to breakthrough and have their advance slowed down much nearer Paris. Though I have had the misfortune to have my German advance halted on the Marne by a counterattack that was fairly like the Battle of the Marne.

If halted, the most important question is of course what the Germans should do next. As Rankorian pointed out above, that isn't an easy decision and no one wants to later on be regretting not having pushed hard enough. I should have erred on the side of caution, but got a bit carried away instead!

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Has anyone actually captured Paris in 1914 using the retail version of the game (not the playtest betas)?

One thing needed by the Germans is the extreme luck of having clear weather for the entire string of early turns. My first pbem opponent had this bit of good fortune. When I play I always get mud bogging everything down after the first turn..LOL.

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I would think that actually capturing Paris is very hard to do in 1914.

As to where the front lines settle, in my experience near Amiens is quite common, but sometimes its not even that far into France. Quite a few times it's been much further into France, even to the west of Paris, and in my latest game with Dan they have settled here:

WesternFront.jpg

I could have gone a bit further west but would have lost heavily in the process. I was far too impetuous in our last game so have settled for less gains, and therefore lower casualties this time around. But we now hold a good chunk of France too!

Since the front lines settled down in October 1914, we have taken Compiegne but our salient near Paris has been under heavy attack, losing two Corps there.

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Yes, quite a few. My German losses so far have only been four Corps, two of which will soon be back in the line, so I haven't lacked troops.

However, there is a rather nasty Russian offensive underway against Austria-Hungary, so all is not yet rosy in the Kaiser's camp.

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Here's a short update on my current game with Dan now that we're up to July 1916. It's turning out rather differently than the last one, and the Kaiser is much happier with our progress this time! :)

Serbia fell in 1915 and since then we have been facing stiff resistance by Albanian, French, Montenegrin, Greek and exiled Serbian forces. But with Serbia in our hands we certainly have the advantage here.

The blue arrows show Central Powers attacks. An enemy Corps has just fled into the mountains in eastern Montenegro.

BalkansJuly1916.jpg

Poland has been conquered in a lightning offensive that has sent the Russians reeling. It came as a real shock to the Tsar and only took a few turns to accomplish.

The Russians have suffered tremendous casualties here, including two HQs, Samsonov and Evert, and will be hard pushed to recover from this catastrophe. Brest-Litovsk will fall next turn, and then we can either send reinforcements to the west, or follow up our success by driving deeper into Russia.

PolandJuly1916.jpg

The western front has seen a lot of action, and the Entente have pushed me a little bit away from Paris.

Compi├Ęgne has been changing hands, and I've just destroyed a French Corps that had breached my line on the Chemin des Dames. The situation here is far from stable, with my forces frequently having to counter attack to prevent the enemy from driving us back further.

But good news is that we now have even heavier German artillery, and I am transferring some of my airforce from the east now that the campaign in Poland is virtually over. If we can bomb and shell the Entente's artillery on the western front then he'll find it very hard to continue his attacks.

The red arrows show the places where the British and French have been attacking.

FranceJuly1916.jpg

In the long term, I am considering an attack on Verdun once I've transferred all my artillery from Poland.

One bad spot is the Ottoman Empire because it has been under serious pressure from the Russians in the Caucasus, and the British in both Palestine and Mesopotamia.

Austria-Hungary bought peace with Italy at the expense of losing Trento-Trieste and this had a savage impact on our National Morale, but we are expending some of our income to boost civilian morale. This is slowing the decline in popular support for the war, and hopefully our successes in Poland will lead to further victories, especially as Romania is likely to enter the war very soon. Just as in real life, after the Russian army has been defeated! :)

National Morale is also looking good for Germany as both France and Russia have suffered significantly more. The Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans are not doing so well, and the Ottomans may need support from some German forces to prevent a collapse.

The diplomatic situation is very good as I invested early in the game to keep Holland, Norway and Sweden trading with Germany.

This time, the Kaiser has a chance of victory!

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