Posted: March 24, 2014 in GMT games, Paths of Glory, wargames
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Sep 1914 - Kitchener's recruitment drive poster concentrating on the British sense of duty proved a huge success

Sep 1914 – Kitchener’s recruitment drive poster concentrating on the British sense of duty proved a huge success

So The Great War begins. Before we get into the detail, regular game players will no doubt be thinking. Hang on? isn’t this game designed to be played by 2 or 3 players? The answer is YES and it is so much better that way( I assume) as well. But the game does have a Solitaire suitability rating of 7 out of 10 and lacking any other players nearby and not wanting to lose hours of my life gaming on the Vassal site I’m afraid I am having to play this game solo, making decisions impartially for both sides.  The inherent weakness is as the game is card driven I of course know the contents of each sides card deck so we’ll just have to put that down to fantastic intelligence from the likes of Mata Hari and other spies of the time.

Now the results, the first 2 turns of the game are monthly ones before we adopt a quarterly seasonal turn system from turn 3 onwards. Both sides have commenced the game in Mobilisation stage meaning they have a small deck of cards to select from with which to make decisions.

Western Front – The Central Powers (CP) began as they did historically with the “Guns of August” event allowing them to destroy the Liege Fort, occupy the space and launch a devastating attack on the 3rd French army in Sedan. After this opening assault things became a bit more cautious as both sides jockeyed Armies into position.  The vacant Sedan space becoming the main area of conflict and a killing ground for whoever tried to occupy it.  In September the French were required to conduct a mandated offensive (more on Mandated Offensives next time).


Disaster at Metz – 5 French armies are dashed to pieces attacking 2 entrenched German ones defending the fortress area around Metz. An Anglo-Belgian spoiling attack also fails with heavy loss

1st battles of Metz and Lille.  Mustering a massive 5 Armies of nearly 900,000 men they attacked from their own trench lines against the dug in German 4th & 5th armies at Metz.  Further north, a second attack by the weakened British BEF and newly arrived predominantly volunteer 1st Army, supported by the Belgian 1st Army is launched against the newly held German positions at Lille. As the photo left illustrates, both attacks failed miserably. The French 9th Army was reduced to Corps size, while the 5th Army was damaged.  The BEF leading the British sector attack are reduced to Corps status of about 50,000 men from the original force of 200,000. German losses while by no means trivial (2 armies damaged) are much lower, and their territory has been held. These brutal combats force both sides to use cards as replacement ones to bolster and reinforce their numbers at the end of the month.

Eastern Front – This is the area where the traditional thoughts of Trench warfare tend not to happen. Russia being so vast that this usually is a theatre of movement.  However that didn’t happen in the opening months as being a bit rusty on the rules I concentrated more on the Western Front.  Austrian units made some probing attacks into Russia and small areas of territory were exchanged, the Austrians coming off slightly worse.

Balkan Front -The Balkans looked like they would become a quiet sideshow when all of a sudden, the Austrians launched an offensive against Belgrade. Relief of Belgrade – Initially successful, they began investing the city before a concerted Serb counter attack drove them back with heavy losses.

Summary – After the immediate battles over Liege, events were far more cautious than expected with both sides only creeping up on their War Status footing and moving units into place. Then the major defeats of the allies in battles in September on the Western Front put the German forces at an advantage. The Balkan Front looked vulnerable however and the Eastern Front was a tinder box.


NEXT – Autumn and Winter 1914 – The Central Powers move up to Limited War status, Turkey joins them and the Eastern Front explodes into action


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