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#1 2007-08-13 10:13:28

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Further playtesting led me to finally introduce a couple of changes I have had in mind for a while:

- A turn 4 (Winter 1914-1915) automatic implementation of the ?Entrench? event. Although I agreed that ?Entrench? should come in effect within the very first turns for the sake of historical consistency ?the static warfare was not the result of a deliberate decision but an inevitable, if unpredicted, result of fatigue, logistical strain and artillery shells depletion, uncertainty and bad weather-, I was initially opposed to the idea of resorting to a specific additional rule because I thought the event would normally be played early enough anyway.
Further experience demonstrated that players would, more often than I thought, slip into ?Limited War? without having played ?Entrench?. Then, with the card shuffled into a thicker deck and randomness playing its part, the event would resurface too late to be plausible.

- A restriction on the Austro-Hungarian area of operations in Russia, namely north of the line Czestochowa / Ivangorod / Lublin / Lutsk / Rovno / Zhitomir / Kiev. I wanted to avoid creating a line that was not immediately identifiable on the map, but too often have I seen unrealistic commitment of AH forces in the North, and the line is pretty easy to visualize anyway.

- Finally, I'll go back on a change I had made to the Brest-Litovsk card, that appears to have adverse effects: I had added an interdiction for Russian units, once peace in the East was concluded, to move and place CP units Out Of Supply. This however, allows the CP to hold their possessions in Russia at the minimal -too minimal- garrisoning cost of one corps per Victory location. The German kept a million men in the East after Brest-Litovsk...


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#2 2007-08-16 16:15:20

Vinci
Praelatus
Registered: 2007-03-15
Posts: 275

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Hi guru,while I do not have to much issue with the 3rd change you are making - as it fits well with the rule of not adding new things unless they are of added value - i would like to understand more about your reasoning and rationale for the 1st 2 changes.

The entrench card has been changed previously to bring it in line with historic play. My current play experience is that it strikes a good balance.smile I do believe that the entrench card represents a concious decision to build deep defensive works of a level and depth not seen before or since. As such it is possible that both players decide not to pursue this option. Generally this is highly unlikely, particularly for the german player who needs its defensive benefits in the 1915+ period. But just like it is unlikely that the allied player will pass the first winter turn without playing blockade - it does happen... ...and reflects the hard choices/options taken by the players. My guess is that with the change you are proposing in many games neither player will be tempted to play the card at all as it effects become automatic, which in turn questions the reason for having the card in the deck.

I also do not understand why Austrians should not be able to go north of the line you are proposing. Again it is unlikely - as the ability of the Austrians to do so would presume they have countered the russian threat in Galicia and held the allies at bay in Italy and the Balkans - no mean feat, or alternatively are exposing themselves to counterattack risks in the same areas by drawing off troops there to be able to push up higher. What represents "unrealistic commitment"?


Die unmittelbare Folge davon ist, dass man die moeglichst groesste Zahl von Truppen auf den entscheidenden Punkt ins Gefecht bringen muesse. ... Dies ist der erste Grundsatz in der Strategie. - Von Clausewitz (1832)

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#3 2007-08-17 00:09:14

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Well, the problem here is that was precisely not a "conscious decision". The static warfare came to both sides as a fait accompli, neither planned nor even desired ?in fact in contradiction to what most generals had in mind for the pursuit of the conflict.
The fact is that the belligerents? armies had been prepared, in terms of headquarter planning, doctrine of use, and logistical backup, for a swift, sharp, war. Given the scope of the conflict and the radical changes that modern weaponry brought upon the battlefield, the armies simply ran out of steam after a few months. During the ensuing lull the armies started to entrench, as a spontaneous measure to gain protection from enemy artillery or sharpshooters. No directive from above ever instated trench warfare.
It went something like this:
?Errrr? Herr General/mon général? the war?s not over, the enemy?s still there, the guns have no ammo left, the logistical network is overstretched, the men are exhausted and we?ve bogged down in the bad weather . What do we do now??
?Oh, really? ? errr? let me see? I?d better check my manuals?. Wait for instructions??
?OK?  I guess we?ll just dig in in the meantime.. .?
?Yeah? yeah.. good idea?I?ll let you know? thanks?.

The particularity of static warfare is that it was the result of both unpredicted and unavoidable factors. Some latitude to the simulation can be considered by allowing the process to be sped up ?playing the event earlier, or delayed until wintertime forcibly brings mobile warfare to a halt (turn 4). Historically the onset of trench warfare happened sometime during Fall (Turn 3).

The parallel with Blockade is interesting. The event will certainly be played before winter in most games, but failure to do so can be historically equated to an extremely poor strategic conduct of the war ? It remains a viable alternative history for WW1.
On the contrary, expertise or ineptitude of the military leadership could not have prevented  the advent of static warfare in winter 1914, latest ?it could have anticipated it and made the best out of it (the Germans) or initially failed to adapt to it (the Allies, to some extent), something that can be translated in the game by the time of occurrence of the event and the pace of upgrading to stronger trench levels.

Now, why didn?t I think of this before?  I did, of course. It was even suggested on this very forum (by Philip). But I was convinced the event would always be played on time in 95% of the games, so a special rule would be redundant. According to some feedback that I got from players from the Outer World ?and some recent experience- it?s really not so. And the trouble is that if the players get into Limited War with the event unplayed ?if the players desperately needed the card for something else, something that can happen even to seasoned PoGers- then when they?ll want to entrench they may well not be able to before a while, if the card is lost somewhere in the bottom of the deck ?a problem that I hadn?t thought of in the first place- resulting in a very, very implausible timing.

Regarding the Austro-Hungarian limitation on their area of operation, it?s a similar issue. I had thought of it at the beginning ?when I wrote the nation-specific rules. Again, I abstained from including it because it required establishing a line that was not directly printed on the map and I thought the AH, for the reasons you mentioned, would never leave the historical area under normal game circumstances. Game feedback contradicts this, and there are further undesirable aspects, like to possibility to garrison a post-Brest-Litovsk northern Russia with AH units to release valuable Germans.
The restriction makes sense. Although played by the same player, Germany and the Dual Monarchy were two distinct countries with, during the first phase of the conflict, strictly distinct war goals. The AH would not have devoted forces to theatres out of their spheres of immediate interest ?specially if these commitments are  made at the expense of the Italian border garrison, pursuit of operations in Serbia and/or expansion efforts into Ukraine -which is generally the case in the game. And the Germans would not have relied on AH forces anyway. Furthermore, in the early days of the war, cooperation was very seriously hampered  by acute dissension between von Hindenburg and von Hötzendorff.


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#4 2007-09-13 22:08:11

Vinci
Praelatus
Registered: 2007-03-15
Posts: 275

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Have been absent for a while:/...Thanks for the additional comments
- re entrench I believe we have a difference of opinion on what "conscious decision" means - in my world this is not the opportunistic/spontaneous entrenching which all participants did (without ever getting a counter for it under the original rules), but major defensive works - the kind which merit a special counter and involve considerable engineering effort and logistics. PoG is full of "desperate choices", they are difficult, there are trade offs, you get it wrong, you feel the consequences - such is a wargamers life. Giving those who dont get it right or take implausible routes a free ride does not serve the game well in my opinion. My recommendation would be not to implement this change, you will see gameplay will favour the play of entrench before going on to limited war - just what you intended at start.
- re AH eastern possibilities, if I get your point it is not that the Austrians should not go certain places that motivates the rule, but politically unacceptable undercommitment of german forces to the eastern theatre. That I understand and is very true. No Kaiser worth its salt would abandon the defenses of the Kaiserreich to foreign troops. The way to deal with this i suggest would be to have at all times a minimum commitment of german forces on the eastern theatre (for example: min 1 army or 3 corps?; Y (4?-6?) defensive steps...). This is what you were envisioning already for the post brest-litovsk period. It would just extend it to the whole war. Maybe undercommitment (intended or accidental) should be allowed, but at a price (1 VP at the end of every turn below strength?). This elegantly rewards "historical" play without drawing inexistant and non-historical lines which in turn may have other unintended "gamey" consequences.


Die unmittelbare Folge davon ist, dass man die moeglichst groesste Zahl von Truppen auf den entscheidenden Punkt ins Gefecht bringen muesse. ... Dies ist der erste Grundsatz in der Strategie. - Von Clausewitz (1832)

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#5 2007-09-14 14:07:04

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Entrench:  I believe we have a difference of opinion on what "conscious decision" means - in my world this is not the opportunistic/spontaneous entrenching which all participants did (without ever getting a counter for it under the original rules), but major defensive works - the kind which merit a special counter and involve considerable engineering effort and logistics.

These major undertakings are represented in the game by the upgrading of the Trench level through entrenchment attempts. They correspond precisely to your definition: they are indeed a «conscious decision» from the headquarters (the player) and involve considerable engineering effort and logistics (1 Ops for Activation).
The automatic ?Entrench? of the variant only involves Trench 0s, that is, as you say, the ?opportunistic/spontaneous entrenching which all participants did?. The problem with the original rules was not only that you ?never got a counter for it?, but that it was simply not taken into consideration. In fact, the drastic change brought upon the course of the war was precisely the passage from mobile warfare to "spontaneous" entrenching (induced by the already mentioned factors: fatigue, weather, logistical strain, ammo depletion), not the passage from rudimentary trenches to elaborate trench networks. That?s what I wanted to reflect in the game: the real revolution is the ability to cancel retreats, the subsequent upgrading of the Trench is a consolidation of that defensive capability.

PoG is full of "desperate choices", they are difficult, there are trade offs, you get it wrong, you feel the consequences - such is a wargamers life.

I understand the point of view, I only think that the many wrong decisions a player can make should correspond to wrong decisions that could have been made (or were made?) in reality. Let me give an example: imagine a Barbarossa card-driven wargame, where ?Mud? is a Soviet card. The Soviet player omits (voluntarily or not) to play it. Serves him right, you say, he should ?feel the consequences? for ?getting it wrong?.  No fall rains, no thawing of the snows, no Russian rudimentary road infrastructure, no rasputitsa? That?s simply not possible. That?s no longer a simulation. The advent of ?Mud? cannot be tied to a player?s decision,  it has to be triggered automatically at some moment in the game.
Now, under this context, both players can make lots of wrong decisions that will, depending on the side, aggravate the situation or fail to exploit it. It?s the same with the variant PoG: Trench 0s appear at some stage, whether the players want it or not. Now they can make lots of plausible mistakes: fail to upgrade, etc?

you will see gameplay will favour the play of entrench before going on to limited war - just what you intended at start.

I know. That?s why I think it?s a very minor change, that in most cases won?t even apply, because good players will probably prefer to play it before turn 4.
The change is only designed to prevent some marginal options to produce  an illogical  situation.

AH eastern possibilities

I basically agree with you? but the problem here is simply a question of rules rationalization. I could come up with a million more rules to channel more realistically AH involvement in the East. Your proposition is perfectly valid, but it adds one ?device?, or ?sub-rule?, to the game (counting armies, or defensive steps). I tried ?it?s my subjective design choice- to add as little changes as possible, and when necessary keep the number of ?rule devices? as low as possible, that is, use those existing or streamline those created. The territorial restrictions were an imperative ?sub-rule? if such absurdities as the Bulgarians on the Nile were to be avoided, and apply to many countries. I preferred to model the AH restrictions through such existing ?rule device?. Specific sub-rules always seem an improvement when taken individually, but when numerous they tend to make a game somewhat unmanageable ?Triumph of Chaos is a good example.

(?) a minimum commitment of german forces on the eastern theatre (for example: min 1 army or 3 corps?; Y (4?-6?) defensive steps...). This is what you were envisioning already for the post brest-litovsk period.

Yes, but I gave up the idea of a specific ?sub-rule? because reverting to the original Brest-Litovsk allowing Russians to cut off CP units and the new AH restriction rule, in my opinion, deals satisfactorily with the problem. Again, with reduced impact on the homogeneity of the body of rules.

(?) undercommitment (intended or accidental) should be allowed, but at a price (1 VP at the end of every turn below strength?).

That?s precisely the clever design-for-effect of the cutting off thing of the original Brest-Litovsk card (I admit I overlooked that initially): to prevent encirclements the CP need to garrison the East properly. If they  don?t, they?ll lose Victory Locations (the cut off units will be destroyed, and the space will be re-entered by Russian units), that is, suffer Victory points penalties.

(?) if I get your point it is not that the Austrians should not go certain places that motivates the rule (?)
(?) This elegantly rewards "historical" play without drawing inexistant and non-historical lines?

It?s not really an abstract line. The German and AH HQs had pre-determined the respective zones they expected to extend into, control and administer. They had de facto agreed on a partition of the military operating areas, roughly along the line I propose in the rule.
Again, I believe this change to be very marginal, because most games will intuitively respect this partition without resorting to the rule...


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#6 2007-09-15 12:03:52

Vinci
Praelatus
Registered: 2007-03-15
Posts: 275

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

Thanks for your additional explanations - clearly you have thought this through.

In terms of practicalities:
- the entrench card if not played by turn 4 stays in the deck until removal end 1916, but can no longer be played? (Should be another incentive for early play)
- austrians cannot move or SR north of the line, but are allowed to advance after combat?


Die unmittelbare Folge davon ist, dass man die moeglichst groesste Zahl von Truppen auf den entscheidenden Punkt ins Gefecht bringen muesse. ... Dies ist der erste Grundsatz in der Strategie. - Von Clausewitz (1832)

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#7 2007-09-16 01:22:41

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

- clearly you have thought this through.

You bet! wink cool


the entrench card if not played by turn 4 stays in the deck until removal end 1916, but can no longer be played? (Should be another incentive for early play)

It stays in the deck, but not in the hand, since it can be played for Ops, RPs or SR. Since it is a "3 Ops" card, which is more or less the average of the deck, the disadvantage of having it in the deck is not really serious. Just as in the original game, with the player that has not played the event.
I don't understand the "removal end 1916" bit... the Fall 1916 only calls for a discard of all cards held in hand -with the exception of the naval card. I fail to see how this is supposed to affect "Entrench" in any particular way...

Austrians cannot move or SR north of the line, but are allowed to advance after combat?

Yes, units can advance into one space beyond the "limit", and from there can still attack outwards but may no longer advance (they may advance or even move if it is towards their "regular" zone of operations). This is valid for most territorial restrictions applying to other countries. This creates a one-space latitude from the planned zones of operations where you can pursue an enemy force, and a two-spaces latitude into which you can conduct attacks (in terms of territorial surface, it's very wide). So that you can respond adequately to contingencies and do not have your hands tied by excessively rigid limitations.

"Spaces that a unit cannot enter via movement or SR are ?restricted? spaces. A unit may only end retreat in such spaces if no other unrestricted space corresponding to the same retreat priority level (see 12.5.7) is available. A unit may freely attack into restricted spaces and may advance after combat from an unrestricted space into a restricted space if not specifically forbidden to do so. However, once a unit is in a restricted space (due to retreat or advance after combat), it may not receive replacements, and may only advance after combat into another restricted space, or even, as an exception, move into another one, if the advance or movement is made towards the closest unrestricted space."

Thanks for your meticulous and constructive scrutiny smile


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#8 2007-09-18 19:57:56

Vinci
Praelatus
Registered: 2007-03-15
Posts: 275

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

for entrench all clear (my brain was a bit muddled, so forget my remark) tongue

Re austrian line: looking at the map the line you suggest leaves the pripjet marshes (part of "southern russia" on the game map) outside austrian sphere of influence, allowing the russians to leave that side undefended when facing the austrians something they generally would not do in game terms due to the very good defensive terrain. Looking at the map I suggest that you review the line to either lublin-brest litovsk-pinsk-sarny-rovno OR lublin-kovel-pinsk-sarny-rovno


Die unmittelbare Folge davon ist, dass man die moeglichst groesste Zahl von Truppen auf den entscheidenden Punkt ins Gefecht bringen muesse. ... Dies ist der erste Grundsatz in der Strategie. - Von Clausewitz (1832)

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#9 2007-09-20 09:52:41

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

I suggest that you review the line (...)

You'll be surprised, but I'll have to agree this time roll.
Not really because it deprives the Russian from "very good defensive terrain" -being, under the variant rule, impassable, it became even better than that, but because further research indicates that the northernmost section of the AH operating area was pretty much the Kovel area, defended by the Archiduke's 4th Army. Pinsk may be left out since it was clearly part of the German sector, under von Linsingen, and its rail lines and roads did not directly lead to the AH sector. (If the Russians choose to defend Pinsk, the AH will of course be allowed to attack and advance into it.) I had chosen the initial line  because it was the closest thing to a straight line (that seemed to conform to the historical partition) and so would be more easily identifiable...


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#10 2007-09-22 22:35:46

Vinci
Praelatus
Registered: 2007-03-15
Posts: 275

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

we agree on most things...lol
as pointed out the new rule makes some terrain "impassable" to Austrians, allowing the Russians to play with an "open flank" (rather than needing to defend it). The suggested change would make this not/less possible as well as being more historical.
The historical line would be lublin-kovel-sarny-rovno?


Die unmittelbare Folge davon ist, dass man die moeglichst groesste Zahl von Truppen auf den entscheidenden Punkt ins Gefecht bringen muesse. ... Dies ist der erste Grundsatz in der Strategie. - Von Clausewitz (1832)

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#11 2007-09-23 10:35:04

The Guru
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Registered: 2007-03-07
Posts: 743

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

The historical line would be lublin-kovel-sarny-rovno?

Yes.


"It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." General Lee.

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#12 2009-02-18 09:13:49

John
Praetorianus
Registered: 2007-03-29
Posts: 11

Re: LATEST MODIFICATIONS

this makes sense as  entrenching just happened spontaneously,it is wrong in 1915 to have to wait for the right card to dig.On the russian front i also agree having occupied a huge russian area with a very small occupying force which seemed wrong at the time.


"git thar fust,with the most men" Nathan Bedford Forrest 1863

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