Archive for April, 2014


1916 and the Central Powers grip became stronger. A spectacular and successful offensive on the Western Front backed up by a tenacious defence looked to have broken the back of the Allied forces. But somehow despite huge losses the Front held albeit it in a parlous state. Hitler quoted in the Second World War about Russia “We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down. This quote would have been more appropriate in this game on the Western Front. Elsewhere the Russians had given more ground but had reinforced hugely taking some of the pressure off their Western Allies. The Italians also carried out limited and successful operations against Austria. In the Near East the Turks proved themselves holding out against small scale British attacks.  I believe that at this stage the war has effectively been won by the CP and it just remains a case of when rather than if the Allied powers will capitulate.

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Top L&R – CP Michel offensive breaks the Allied Line at Sedan. Bottom L&R – French counter attack fails to dislodge Germans at Sedan. And wider picture showing the Italian drive into Austria and a last ditch French offensive failing at Mets in 1917

Western Front – The German Michel Offensive finally broke through at Metz. A hurriedly launched French counter attack only served to make matters worse for the allies who were now holding the line with a severely depleted force.  

Italian Front – After a slow build up of troops the Italians launched an attack against the fortress of Trent which fell after 6 months. Another attack on Innsbruck followed but this was stopped by a hastily redeployed Austrian army.

Eastern Front – The Russians gave more ground but tended to refuse combat and over the course of the year began building up huge reserves of men.

Balkan Front – This front stabilised with the Austrians holding Belgrade and the Romanians unable to launch any meaningful relief.

Near East Front – The Turks proved themselves as tenacious warriors holding the line east of Sinai as well as blocking the British advance north of Baghdad. The British unable to risk losing more troops were then forced to hold their own positions.

Summary – Its looking increasingly bleak for the Allies as they begin to run short of reserves. Still only on a Limited War footing they have been forced into a spectators role watching the majority of major offensives with an increasingly toothless response.  If the war continues for another year it will be a surprise to everyone.

NEXT – 1917 – Is the Coup de Grace about to happen?

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CP achieve TOTAL WAR status after play of Walther Rathenau event

CP achieve TOTAL WAR status after play of Walther Rathenau event

As 1915 drew to a close it appeared that the Central Powers were firmly in control. However as the Allied powers clung on in the West and slowly gave ground in the East, other theatres of War sprang to life.  The Central Powers playing key Event cards moved up to Total War status which should have brought in a wealth of new cards. However with the fog of war of my wife shuffling the card deck what happened was that that only one or 2 new cards appeared in the CP hand, the rest being previously used Limited and mobilisation status cards.  Its occurred to me that the CP appear to have a clear advantage when it comes to playing event cards with war status points as these seem to be worth playing immediately whereas the Allies are sometime not worth immediate play but use as Ops or replacement. In an attempt to relieve the pressure the AP conducted some limited offenisves in the Near East against Johnny Turk and then managed to induce Romania to enter the war opening up the whole Balkan Sector and causing mild panic among the Austrian ranks.  

 

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Disaster at Metz. German fortified positions negate the Hurricane Barrage and repel the Anglo-French attack

Western Front – Major German attacks continued in the North but this time the Allies managed to conduct an offensive against Metz. Despite utilising a Hurricane Barrage it petered out into another total failure with no tangible gain but heavy loss.  Emphasis was then switched to other Fronts as the AP attempted to deflect the CP’s attention.  

Eastern Front – The CP reduced the fortress city of Riga and brought up fresh German armies.  Unable to inflict meaningful casualties on the CP, the Russians attempted spoiling attacks against the Austrian forces but these too were met with heavy loss and more territory had to be surrendered.

Romania becomes the 10th Country to enter the War in the Winter of 1915

Romania becomes the 10th Country to enter the War in the Winter of 1915

Balkan Front – Initially this Front which had been quiet looked to be falling under the CP control as the Serb 2nd Army had to withdraw out of Belgrade for a second time.  This time the siege was successful and the Austrian forces triumphantly entered the city and looked to destroy the remaining Serb forces. Then Romania entered the War on the Allied side and all of a sudden the Austrians has 5 fresh Corps to contend with. Forced onto the back foot they rushed their reserve 3rd Army into position at Cluj.

 

Near East Front – Desperately attempting to take the pressure off the Western Front the British begin operations against Turkey in Persia.  The Turks despite being ably led by German Liman Von Sanders were defeated at Baghdad but they inflicted sufficient casualties to stop the British advance. No sooner had this operation ended but in Libya a revolt against the British began with Senussii Moslem tribesmen allied to Turkey.  The British forces in Alexandria moved to crush the revolt but were beaten off with heavy casualties.

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British halted outside Baghdad and have to deploy troops to Libya

Summary – Although advantage still rests ith the CP, the Allied powers made some good use of minor allies and theatres to halt the momentum.  Austria’s border looks vulnerable but is it asking too much of the Romanians?  The Near East now looks like a place where the British forces could make gains but with the Western Front chewing up their reserves its unlikely that anything else but limited operations will be launched.

NEXT – 1916 – The Central Powers try again to breakthrough


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Kayla landing at Selhurst Park

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West Ham 0

Crystal Palace 1 (Mile Jedinak – penalty 59 minutes)

Well well well. I’ve been holding off on this until we were mathematically safe (such is the cruel hand of fate being a Palace fan) but after a fifth successive win (equalling our best ever record in the modern premier era) we have finally confirmed our Premier League status for the first time in our history.  Well done Eagles and especially well done to the manager Tony Pulis.  Now we can have a say in who actually wins the league.

 


 IMG_2669As 1915 began the Central Powers were firmly in control. Momentum had shifted completely their way and continued attritional attacks on the Western Front followed by gradual advances in the East seemed to be paying dividends. The Allied powers options became limited as they were forced to sacrifice offensive operations for replacing eliminated units and reinforcing their lines. In the East, the fall of Riga (a Victory Point square) allowed the CP to trigger the “Tsar takes Command event” Historically as the Russian armies retreated Tsar Nicholas II replaced his uncle as commander of the army thinking he could do a better job. Actually a disaster as while he played at being soldiers his empire went unruled and his wife fell under the influence of Rasputin. In game terms this is the first stage of 6 towards the CP forcing revolution and Russian capitulation 

Western Front – Continued Central Power offensives on Sedan forced the allies to take a defensive stance and throw in reserves after more reserves of British troops while the critically weakened French sat in their fortresses. Such was the parlous state of the French armies that there was a real risk of a German breakthrough if a good result could be achieved.

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Debacle at Riga. Russian forces led by their best elite Guards are repulsed with heavy loss. The Tsar in a pique of rage sacks his commander and takes personal charge

Eastern Front – The CP made gradual advances leading to the disastrous Russian offensive at the Battle of Riga.  Here despite Russian Guard support, the Russian forces dashed themselves against the German defences in a vain attempt to wrest control back from the German occupying forces. Russian losses included a whole army, worse still the Germans remained at full strength and despite plenty of Russian armies still in play, all were hundreds of miles from the front.  Following this debacle, the Tsar sacked the Grand Duke and took personal control of his armies.

Balkan Front – This sector remained quiet.

Near East Front – This sector remained quiet.

Summary – The Allied powers despite a healthy VP score are in some disarray.  Forced to continually fill in the gaps made by German offensives has left them having to react to each CP move.  In the East the CP breakthrough looks imminent yet with the situation so serious on the Western Front, neither Allied country is in a position to take the pressure off the other by launching their own offensive.

NEXT – 1916 – Can The Central Powers breakthrough in the East or West?


Horsmonden Dry 2013 vintage

Horsmonden Dry 2013 vintage

At last news on last years efforts. Very soon Rotherfields finest will be on sale. Those back breaking 10 hour days grape-picking last year look to have finally borne fruit (ed pun intended). Coming home stinking of grape juice with pruned up and secateur notched fingers not to mention trench foot look to be well worth it.

Davenport vineyards is a small family concern based in Sussex with vineyards there and in Kent and run by a fantastic bunch of enthusiastic winemakers. For the past 20 or so years they have been making organic dry whites, sparkling wines, occasional Pinot Noir reds and this year possibly a Rose. Featured in the latest (7th edition) World Atlas of Wine they have won plenty of World Wine awards and their products are well worth a try if you want proof that the English can produce more than just fizz.  It was a sheer pleasure to help out last year picking about 25 metric tonnes of Siegerebe, Ortega, Bacchus, Huxelrebe, Pinot Noir, Auxerois, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.  If you’ll forgive my own enthusiasm, I can’t wait to give this a right old go! 

Website – http://www.davenportvineyards.co.uk/news.html


IMG_2647As 1914 drew to a close both sides moved up their war status from Mobilisation to Limited War. To achieve this the mechanics of the game require a side to achieve 4 or more War status points.  These are gained during the game through play of strategy cards as specific events.  Those cards that have a number in parentheses add that number to the sides War status.  Once the required amount has been attained, that side changes its war status to Limited War. The advantages are that this then allows the player to add a whole new deck of cards. The events are wide ranging from Russian Revolution and US entry into the war to reinforcements or more local scale events.  The cards can and in most instances are used for other purposes however.  The top left hand corner number provides a number of Ops points with which to conduct combat and movement operations.  The set of numbers on the bottom are used instead if that player wished to use the card to provide for vital replacments of troops.  In the end it comes down to managing the deck as best as you can. The Central Powers who have the momentum at the present reached Limited War status through play of Guns of August (2 pts), then Oberost (1pt) and then Falkenhayn (2pts). The allies made it though British reinforcements of the 1st and 2nd Armies (1pt each) on either side of the Blockade (2pt) event.  

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Autumn 1914 – 1st battle of Verdun. Germany launches a massive attack on the French fort system around Verdun. The French refuse to give up the ground resulting in catastrophic losses

Western Front – The Central Powers maintain momentum with a series of devastating attacks on the French lines culminating in an all out attack on Verdun. 1st battle of Verdun.  With the 3rd Army holding the Sedan sector they launch a 2 pronged attack with alongside the 4th and 5th armies.  The defenders number the 3rd and 5th French armies and a corps. Desperately clinging on despite horrendous casualties, when the dust settled one French army and the corps were destroyed, the other reduced.  The Germans didn’t have it all their own way, their 4th and 5th armies also suffering a reduction in capability. With the potential of a German breakthrough very real, the AP were forced to bring in fresh troops but this was at the expense of handing all momentum to the CP and going onto a defensive war footing. Eventually they managed to dislodge the German forces in Sedan and attempted to entrench the area but at very high cost. The CP also successfully entrenched at Liege and heavily repulsed an Anglo-Belgian attack

Eastern Front – This theatre took on a more fluid aspect than the Western Front.  The CP managing to make small inroads but frustrated by fortress cites Warsaw and Lomza holding out behind their lines could not exploit the gains.  These cities affected the CP supply chain and held back any major advances while the AP reinforced.

Balkan Front – This sector remained quiet with some CP Austrian units moving into position

Near East Front – Turkey’s entry into the war directly threatened both Russia and the British Empire, however apart from some reinforcing of units on borders the sector remained quiet.

Summary – The attritional battles of the Western Front continued to dominate the War.  The situation for the Allied powers was particularly alarming with use of strategy cards for replacements taking precedence but curtailing operations while the CP could attack wherever he liked.  The Eastern Front looked like a tinder box just waiting for the fall of Warsaw and Lomza to signal a massive CP offensive. The Balkan Front had stabilised into a minor sideshow while the lack of any action in the Near East was a welcome relief to the AP

NEXT – Spring and Summer 1915 – The Central Powers consider whether to switch focus to an offensive in the East or attempt to break through in the West.