Reports from the Front.
A walk through round one.
With the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Europe, like a powder keg, is ready to ignite into total war. Linked by cultures and treaties, Europe is divided into two blocks. The Triple Entente consists of Russia, France and Great Britain. Within the first year of the war Italy will join this alliance. Together they face off against the Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.
This particular game we’re about to play, as in all the Axis & Allies World War 1 - 1914 games, begins with an Austrian attack on Serbia. This is a little rule I thought I’d throw in there to always remind us where the war began and who kicked it off. So... The Austria-Hungary player, going first, is required to attack Serbia during his opening turn, and in effect begin the Great War.
But I get ahead of myself.. Austria (let’s just call it Austria instead of Austria-Hungary), following the turn sequence, can purchase units and if necessary repair any damaged battleships (dreadnoughts actually) that it can afford to and wants to. Purchasing units, as we all know, is done by spending one's IPCs in exchange for desired units. Here’s the list of units that can be purchased and what their prices are: Infantry - 3 IPCs, artillery - 4 IPCs, tanks - 6 IPCs, fighters - 6 IPCs, battleships - 12 IPCs, Cruisers - 9 IPCs, Submarines - 6 IPCs and Transports also 6 IPCs each. (just thought that you might want to know these numbers). By the way... I use poker chips (not provided in the game) as IPCs when I play.
To kick things off, with an income of 26 IPCs, Austria has some purchasing decisions to make... No tanks can be purchased until the 4th round earliest, so that’s out. At 6 IPCs, and based on Austria's short range plans, a purchase of one of those new-fangled airplanes is probably not a good option at this time. Austria at the moment doesn’t see any need to purchase more ships to add to its bottled-up Adriatic fleet. So in the end Austria settles on purchasing 6 infantry, and 2 artillery units. That’s 18 + 8 IPCs or a total of 26 IPCs – Perfect! The bank is paid and the units are received. They are placed on the map’s Mobilization Zone, and remain there until the Mobilize New Units phase, which occurs just before a player collects the IPCs that the current turn has generated.
OK, so where are we... Austria just placed its newly purchased units in the Mobilization Zone. Austria being a member of the Central Powers, the Austrian infantry unit is placed on top of 5 red chips or a single dark red chip representing 5 of whatever is placed on top of it. In any case, the Central Powers’ chips are basically red. The Allies will use blue chips. They too have two shades of chips. One equals 1 and the other, darker one equals 5. Oh boy this is getting technical... Sorry about that. Things are about to get a bit more exciting, however...
At this point, Austria is ready to mobilize and begins to move its forces around the map. A large force located in Budapest is split up and heads off in two different directions. Some are moved into Serbia and some join another Austrian attack from Galicia into Romania. Both Serbia and Romania are Russian allies. This is indicated by the small Imperial Russian Eagle emblem located on both the territories.
When a major power’s forces are moved into a minor power’s capital territory (Serbia and Romania are minor powers), one of two events occurs. The Minor power either mobilizes to join the entering forces, or it mobilizes to resist the invasion. The reaction depends on the political relationship between the major and minor powers. Only after an aligned minor power becomes mobilized can it generate income for any major power. I should also explain that the number of units that a minor power mobilizes is twice the IPC value of the territory, and that Serbia’s IPC value is 2. That means that 4 units will be placed. Only one of these units can be an artillery unit, and the rest must be infantry. Romania, with an IPC value of 3, gets to place 5 infantry and 1 artillery unit. Russian pieces will be used to represent the newly mobilized Serbian and Romanian forces, and they will be controlled by the Russia player. Hey... I probably don’t have to tell you but this can only happen once per territory.
Austria also decides to move against Italy! It attacks Venice, an Italian territory bordering Austria’s territories of Tyrolia and Trieste. Six infantry, and 2 Austrian artillery, are moved from both Tyrolia and Trieste into Venice. This is a major attack! The Italians have only 6 Infantry and 2 artillery in Venice. They will be out numbered 2 to 1... Can they hold?
At this point Austria is attacking Serbia, Romania, and Venice. It is also making some strategic moves and beefing up Galicia along the Russian border with troops and artillery from both Bohemia and Vienna, the Austrian capital. It is decided that the fleet will remain in port and not venture out and attack the Italian or the British fleets currently in the Mediterranean Sea.
Mobilizing a minor neutral power, note that I said “neutral” power, is another matter that we might get into at some point. In a nut shell they are mobilized by the alliance that did not invade it. They too mobilize twice as many military units as their IPC value. Except for which power’s units are used and who takes control of the invaded territory, it is pretty much the same as invading a minor aligned power.
Austria, after having completed all its movements, finds itself in Serbia with 7 infantry and 2 artillery against 3 Serbian infantry and 1 Serbian artillery (in the form of Russian pieces). The Romanian battle includes Austrian units consisting of 5 infantry and 2 artillery about to do battle with Romanian units consisting of 5 infantry and 1 artillery (also represented by Russian pieces). Finally, Venice is turning into an even bigger campaign. The Austrians have moved 12 infantry and 4 artillery units against Venice’s 6 infantry and 2 artillery. All three of these locations are now considered “contested.” Italy must now reduce its income level by Venice's 2 IPCs, as contested territories aren't controlled by any power and thus don't generate IPCs. (Serbia and Romania, being minor powers and starting the game not controlled by any power, do not require any national production level adjustments.) A round of combat in each territory will immediately commence.
As I just said... with the Movement phase over combat can immediately commence. By the way... this game only has one movement phase.
With Serbia required to be attacked on turn one, let’s make it the first battle and let’s follow that battle in detail. Remember... Serbia has 4 units in it. Three of them are infantry and 1 is artillery. The Austrians are attacking with 7 infantry and 2 artillery units. The rules clearly state that combat occurs when your units share the same space with units belonging to one or more opposing powers and you decide to commit your units to an attack. That’s all fine and good... What this is saying is that you have a choice of attacking or not attacking. In this case, the attack on Serbia, you have no choice. You are required to attack when moving units into territories that have become contested this turn due to your movement of units into them.
The battle board is an important tool in this game. It is divided into several boxed areas. At the top of the chart is where the defender will place the dice he or she will be rolling during the battle. Units are not moved from the map board to the battle board. Instead dice are used as proxy representatives of the units on the map. This is referred to as “loading the battle board”. Both players load their sides of the battle board simultaneously and load it with dice.
Austria, as the attacker, counts the number of infantry it has and places one die for each of them in the box that reads “Attacking Infantry”. In this case that would be 7 dice. It then places one die for each of its artillery (it has two of them) into the box with the image of the artillery piece where it reads “Attacking Artillery”.
If it had tanks it would do the same thing by placing one die for each tank it had. If it had aircraft it would also place one die for each of its fighters in the box containing the images of the flying aircraft. There’s also a box for offshore bombardments. We’ll get into how that works in a later write up.
Some of Austria's battling infantry are going to be “promoted” on the battle board. They will be moved to boxes that give them higher combat values. This shift represents the advantages that combined arms provided during the war. For each artillery piece that Austria has, and it has two, in the “Attacking Artillery” box, one infantry is moved from its original attack box to its “with Artillery Support” box. The Artillery Supported boxes (for infantry and tanks) each have a higher combat number posted (3 in both cases). In this way, when the dice representing these units are rolled Austria will be looking for a 3 or less rather than a 2 or less. They have been promoted.
The defending Serbia (whose forces are controlled by the Russian player), following the same procedure, places dice on the defending side of the battle board. However, the defender’s units receive no promotions for combined arms. The defending infantry, represented by a box with a manned machine gun image in it, has a combat number of 3, the same as the defending artillery.
I could get into how air supremacy is established, but there are no aircraft in this particular battle. I’d rather save that explanation and use it when walking through battles that include aircraft. I will say this, however... If one side gains air supremacy either by being the only one with any fighters left, or was the only one to have any fighters at all, he or she gains air supremacy. The player with air supremacy immediately promotes all of his or her artillery to the box that reads “Artillery with Air Supremacy Support”. Nice promotion... the now hit with a 4 or less. Air supremacy provides your side with a high altitude reconnaissance advantage... a bird’s eye view of the battlefield if you will. In addition to gaining promoted artillery, the side with air supremacy also gets to roll for their remaining fighter(s) against the enemy’s land units.
Austria, being the attacker, roll all its dice first. The boxes on the battle board automatically assign combat values. All the dice in each box are rolled together, one box at a time, scoring a hit with each die that shows the combat number on its box or lower. In this case the Austrian player will be rolling 5 infantry dice looking for 2’s or less, 2 infantry with artillery support looking for 3’s, and 2 artillery looking for 3’s as well. Each die that scores a hit is placed along the defender’s side of the battle board. That will be the number of hits scored and thus the number of enemy units that must eventually be removed.
After the attacker has rolled all his or her dice, the defender, following the same basic system as the attacker, rolls all his or her dice and places any dice that scored a hit along the Austrian side of the battle board. Again back to our example the Serbs will be rolling 3 infantry dice looking for 3’s, and 1 artillery looking for 3’s.
Although tanks are not part of this battle, I should point out that if they had been they would be absorbing hits, at least the attacking tanks would be. Defending tanks simply roll 1 die each and are looking for 1’s. The attacker, reduce the number of hits scored against him or her by the number of tanks they have in the battle. For each tank they have, they remove one die that scored a hit against their side of the battle board. In other words... each attacking tank discounts one hit.
Starting with the attacker, the players each remove one unit from the contested territory for each remaining hit scored against them. Each player can select any unit in their attacking or defending force as a casualty, including fighters. However, at no time can an army not have at least one infantry unit present. In other words, if a player has one infantry, one tank and one artillery unit left and is required to remove two of these three units, the infantry unit cannot be selected as one of the casualties because this would leave him or her with no infantry. Infantry belonging to a friendly power in the same territory do not fulfill this requirement. The Austrians suffer 2 hits! They remove two infantry. Leaving them with 5 infantry and 2 artillery. The Serbs suffer 4 hits... All the defending Siberian units (3 infantry and 1 artillery) are removed. Serbia has fallen!
If the Serbs had at least one unit left at the end of the battle the territory would have remained contested and would have lived to fight another day. Unfortunately for the Serbs, they were all eliminated and Austria, still having units left, takes control of Serbia. In the rare event that no units from any power remain in the territory, the original controller of the territory will assume control.
With the capture of Serbia, Austria takes control of the territory, The Austrian control marker is placed on it, and Austria’s national production level is adjusted (this chart is located map inside the wastelands of the Sahara). Austria’s national production increases by the IPC value of the captured territory. In this case that means 2 IPCs.
Let’s take a quick look at how it’s going with the two remaining battles... Romania! Romania is being attacked by 5 infantry and 2 artillery and defended by 5 infantry and 1 artillery. The attacking Austrians having loaded the battle board roll 3 infantry looking for 2’s, 2 artillery supported infantry looking for 3’s and 2 artillery looking for 3’s. The Austrians score only 2 hits. The Romanian forces are defending with 5 infantry and 1 artillery. Both groups are looking for 3’s. The combined 6 dice are rolled and 5 hits are scored... amazing!
Hey it happens... (and I'm also trying to make a point). The Austrians begin to remove their casualties. Each player of course selects his or her own casualties. The Austrian player can only select 4 infantry, he must always have at least one infantry present whenever possible. The 5th casualty will have to be an artillery unit. The player controlling the Romanian forces, which will be the Russian player, removes 2 infantry.
This first battle for Romania is over. The Austrians did not manage to breakthrough and capture the territory. The Romanians held the line. The surviving forces remain in place. They can be reinforced or even withdrawn in future rounds. That’s up to the controlling players. Romania in its current situation is a contested territory. That means that it generates no income for any player.
Now on to Venice. The Austrian player places 12 dice on the Attacking Infantry box located on the battle board. He then places 4 dice on the Attacking Artillery box. With the artillery placement, he promotes 4 of his 12 Attacking Infantry dice to the Infantry with Artillery Support box. He’s ready to begin rolling but first the Italian player must load his battle board. 6 dice are placed in the defending Infantry box and 2 dice are placed in the Defending Artillery box. The defending forces are not promoted. Only defending artillery can be promoted, and then only if the defender has air supremacy.
The attacking Austrian rolls his 8 infantry dice, looking for 1’s and 2’s. He scores 2 hits. He then picks up his Attacking Artillery dice and Infantry with Artillery Support dice, they both are looking for 3’s or less so they can be rolled at the same time... 8 dice are rolled and 3 more hits are scored. The Italians will have to remove a total of 5 units, but only after they themselves roll for all their units. The Italian player, with 6 dice in the Defending Infantry box, looking for 3 or less and 2 dice in the Defending Artillery box, also looking for 3 or less, rolls 8 dice, and scores 4 hits. The Austrian player removes 4 of his 12 infantry. The Italian removes 5 infantry. When the dust clears, the Austrians have 8 infantry and 4 artillery left. Italy has 1 infantry and 2 artillery left. No matter... it held and Venice is not totally lost. Being contested, it has ceased to generate income for Italy, but Austria did not capture it.
Austria’s turn is just about over. The 6 infantry and 2 artillery units it purchased at the beginning of the turn are moved from the Mobilization Zone on the board to the Austrian capital of Vienna. Austria’s final act is to receive its income. Having begun the game with 26 IPCs and having gained control of Serbia, it collects 28 IPCs. Now it braces itself for what will certainly be a counter attack by the Russians. The Italians are not too happy, either.
Austria’s turn will be followed by Imperial Russia... This struggle will continue until either the Allies control Berlin and at least one other Central powers capital or if at least two Allied capitals, one of which must be Paris or London are controlled by the Central Powers.
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I still have issues with lack of strategic movement, especially if all new units are placed in the capital; and of course I've never liked "capture the capitals" as victory conditions.
But overall the report has definately increased my enthusiasm for this game.
Hopefully there will be no silly anomalies such as America building an industrial complex in Syria, or control of Palestine blocking movement through Suez.
I'm also interested to see how American mobilization works, since the US army arrived in France with nothing more than small arms, and used steel helmets, tanks, aircraft and artillery provided by the Allies.
The first trans-Atlantic flight was in 1919, so US fighters being able to fly to Europe would be a big oops.
Another major concern is the Allies ganging up 3 to 1 against Germany on the Western Front: won't Germany have to keep a HUGE stack in France in order to survive successive French, British and American attacks?
I like how all movement is done at the same time (before combat), and you will need to plan accordingly. So this one movement phase will work as both your combat move, and non combat movement phase at the same time (should speed the game up too). This phase will be used to non combat move units up to the front from your production centers (capital), or to retreat units back. It will also be used to reinforce territories that are already contested (you chose if there is a battle or not if it was already contested if I got that part right), or to flee a contested territory. If you enter a territory making it contested, then a battle will automatically commence (awesome).
I will be interested to how air units work in this one movement phase, or if they get to move after combat. Will they be stuck at the front now, not being allowed to NCM out and how do air units works at sea? They would have to land after a battle over water right? Guess I'll just have to wait until the next chapter is posted LOL
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But I'd still prefer that units within friendly tts can rail anywhere (other than contested areas); the Central Powers will suffer if every infantry has to walk to the front line. To be fair, so will Russia, but the Western Allies are more reliant on sea transport so will be effected much less.
How can the Germans and Austrians prop up Turkey without the old Berlin-Baghdad railway?
One quibble over the battle board: should fighters which have engaged in air-to-air combat still be able to make ground attacks? Air-to-ground attack was pretty feeble until 1917, and then only when the Allies had almost total control of the skies, and with specially adapted aircraft. I suppose it depends on what combat value they have, but observation for the artillery was really what fighters were all about in this war.
Who knows though, Larry gave us costs and combat values for units in the battles he chose. He gave us a peek at the movement phase where all his movements resulted in combats, but hasn't really went over a units movement ability that didn't result in either combat or entering a contested territory (that I've seen). We are assuming that these ground units only move one space and probably do, but maybe more will be reveled in the next chapter. I think the next chapter will be about battles at sea, and air units (maybe more about tanks too). He also mentioned the Austrian navy being bottled-up in in port in the Adriatic Sea, I wonder if "in port" gives them some type of defense mechanism? It could also include more about using your movement phase to reinforce territories or shuffle units around that might include some kind of bonus movement mechanism (more NCM stuff). I think that this is unlikely, but maybe he's holding back that little tidbit just for your benefit Flash LOL
One thing I didn't see was if it was possible to leave a contested territory and move into another contested territory (which makes sense it wouldn't be covered since turn 1 there are no contested territories). For example if Germany moves into the France's easternmost territory, the next turn could they move right on into the next French territory? Or in order to move into an enemy and/or contested territory do you have to control and/or have uncontested the territory you are moving from? What if you want to retreat from a contested territooy back to a contested territory you own?
This could all be a cool dynamic where depending on how the rules are might actually lead to being able to outflank an army. (Granted I haven't had a ton of time to read the report a third time).
OK bear with me.
The Carrots are the Paris, Cucumbers: Low Countries, Celery: Germany, Tomatoes: Northwest France, and peapods: West France.
Germany moves into the Tomatoes and peapods. It takes the peapods outright, and contests the tomatoes. France moves in and contests the peapods. Now,
1. From the tomatoes, can Germany move into the carrots if there are still French in the tomatoes?
2.Can they move into the beans from the tomatoes since they already have units there?
3.Can they retreat from the contested territories (or vegetables ) to either another contested territory or back to Germany?
I was under the impression that in a contested territory units cannot leave (from an earlier interview I got that notion), but the description of Romania's victory made me think otherwise is possible.
If you can't leave a contested territory, without seeing the map, it's possible that you could tie a bunch of infantry down in a zone while marching around it.
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