World War I: Central Powers & Entente



  • Central Powers & Entente

    Introduction

    We have been playing our WWI game which is simply called Central Powers & Entente (in reference to Axis % Allies) for about 6 years now.

    In the middle 2000s our gaming group which is some A&A veterans for almost 30 years felt like having played every strategy and every move so we thought:
    What about creating a really fresh scenario ourself and in the process improve various aspects of A&A not well captured/simulated?
    So we came up with WWI because the conflict is far more balanced from the outset and “diplomacy” comes to the table as an important additional strategic factor.

    In the end the game features the following elemental changes/improvements:
    1. Historical Accuracy (as close as possible)
    2. Diplomacy as a new step in the turn order
    3. Historical Events (Russian Revolution, US War Entry, Hindu-German Conspiracy) 
    4. A&A Rule Improvements

    Some remarks:
    -> 1.
    We wanted to really feel like the military leader of the power facing the real questions of the war. Therefore Germany’s First Army exactly is placed where it historically stood when the game begins (October 1914) and not anywhere else. And in the correct strength as well. We did not want the situation of A%A Anniversary for instance in which Japan has 9 fighters (for about 2800 aircraft) and Germany 4 fighters (for about 3000 aircraft) Same with infantry: Japan mobilized 1.4 million men but in the game it gets 18 infantry initial setup whereas Germany attacked Russia with 3.5 million men alone but gets 18 infantry as well. Where the units are placed as even another story. We simply wanted the game to feel authentic!

    -> 4.
    One Example: We always disliked that casualties can be chosen! General: “How did our offensive go today?” Major:“Well, we lost too many tanks but we sacrificed some infantry instead!” If you think about it, this is simply ridiculous so unit types of casualties are rolled out in a second step after rolling the number of hits.

    In short, it’s a fully fledged out WWI game with extremely high historical accuracy, balanced gameplay and various rule additions and improvements!

    The only purpose was to generate challenge and fun for our gaming group (and some “guests” to drop by). Just did not feel the urge to publish it officially like stated above. But WWI is immensely interesting therefore I posted the original WWI thread on MR Larry Harris website to push him a bit to create his own version which obviously worked! Wink

    –---------------------------------------------

    OK, rules are a relative beast when being thrown right into the face, uncommented!
    But as an A&A player you should quickly find yourself familiar especially when actually playing the game!

    Therefore the rules & setup will be presented periodically starting Monday along with my designer notes why everything is exactly how it is. This includes mostly historical background but some balance changes as well where it was really necessary!

    First will be “Units & Structures: The Trench!”



  • Sounds interesting.  Thanks for doing this!



  • Episode 1: Units & Structures: The Trench

    When you think about World War I the first thought that comes to mind is probably “Trench Warfare”!
    Rightfully so, as it is the dominant aspect distinguishing WWI from WWII. Whether you personally envision troops defending their position from their well established trenches or storming out of them only to be mowed down shortly afterwards, the Western Front which most people refer to in terms of WWI is all about the trenches and of course stalemate as the trench gives the defender such a big advantage.

    But WWI was not everywhere like that!
    At the often forgotten Eastern Front the war was far more mobile due to the enormous length of the front compared to the West. It was often simply not possible to dig in everywhere and have enough forces to hold the line. For the most part this was also the case for many other major theatres like Far East, Balcans and Africa.

    So what are the implications for a WWI game with the intention to be as realistic and historically accurate as possible then?

    1. As the fighting did not happen everywhere in the same way we wanted to have “The Trench” as a physical unit unlike a general combat mechanic as in A&A 1914 in which all combat is resolved equally no matter on which front. A trench should be built if the player feels it is necessary somewhere but it should not be there automatically (which also means for free). This way, the trench being a physical unit, everyone with a slight historical background about WWI would also be able to immediately see: This is WWI!

    2. What does a trench do exactly?
    It is important to realize that a trench does NOT boost defence! An Infantry in a trench is shooting with the same firepower as one in the field. The real difference is that is far better protected or in other words it is far more difficult to hit for the attacker. A shell exploding close in front of a unit in the field means certain death but in a trench it might have survived.

    Thus for our game the rule is as follows:
    If a territoy(tt) is attacked over a trench the attack value of certain attacking land forces is reduced.
    -> Infantry, Artillery, Heavy Artillery -1;
    -> Cavalry has no attack value!

    3. How does the trench come into play?
    It really takes some time to dig a trench and expand it to a functional trench system.
    Therefore Infantry commanded to do so pretty much does nothing else!
    Here is the exact rule:
    Infantry that neither participated in any attack or displacement in your turn can perform a special noncombat action in digging a trench. In the Mobilization phase place one trench you purchased in the Production phase in the tt the digging infantry is located towards an adjacent tt or seazone(sz).

    4. What are the unit stats?
    For correct categorization in this game the trench is a structure. And of course it has no attack, defence or move value.
    It costs 5 IPCs which is kind of a reflection of the material used like barbed wire and lots of timber. Electricity was also established at various front sections. (they did not have TV though! :lol: )  
    Most important is: It does not come for free which raises various tactical questions to the player like:
    -> For how many rounds might I hold this (for instance) 2 IPC tt? Will it pay off?
    -> What are the tactical consequences on the map if I loose this tt too early if not investing in a trench? (even if it might not pay off!)

    So that’s it: Much gameplay potential in such a tiny structure!

    I hope it was informative and fun to read!
    Next time I will cover another very prominent aspect of WWI: Diplomacy!


  • Customizer

    Not sure about this; trenches were dug pretty much everywhere in every war starting with the US Civil.

    What makes the trenches of the Western Front so iconic was that the line moved so little over 4 years. What caused that was the huge number of men fighting over such a small front.

    To a large extent A&A 1914 misrepresents this by making Switzerland so accessible; it really should be a 4 IPC tt to represent local defenders and difficult terrain for attackers. Larry, Curly and Moe must have decided that the front was just too short and needed extending south.

    Not certain how your rule works:

    Does it apply to ALL infantry in a tt?
    If some participated in a battle can the others (who did not) dig a trench?
    Can 1 infantry did a trench as well as 10 can?
    Can an infantry move into a tt then dig a trench on the same turn?
    If a tt with trenches is captured can they be used by the enemy, or are they considered useless because they’re facing the wrong way?
    Can trenches be taken as a casualty (for example from mining?)


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Flashman:

    Not sure about this; trenches were dug pretty much everywhere in every war starting with the US Civil.
    What makes the trenches of the Western Front so iconic was that the line moved so little over 4 years.

    Yes, I’ve heard that the trenches used at the siege of Petersburg during the Civil War looked a lot like the ones on the Western Front in WWI.  The situation on the Western Front arose from the use of trenches in a special context with two elements.  First, the trenches there were anchored at both ends (the North Sea and the Alps), so they couldn’t be outflanked, and the distance between them was short enough that they could be held all along the line.  That geographic situation didn’t exist on the Eastern Front.  Second, the introduction of the machine gun meant that a single soldier could hold much more frontage by himself than a man with a rifle.  Multiplying this factor (the frontage which could be held by a machine gun) by the mass armies (numbering in the millions) deployed by France and Germany, and adding the protective effect for the defenders of an extensive trench network (which furthermore could not be outflanked) resulted in a situation in which defense was disproportionally stronger than offense.



  • @Flashman
    Yes, you are right! The Western front/trench line was “iconic” because it moved so little because there were too many men and not enough space to move.
    As our game starts October 1914 this iconic line is already printed on the map as a given trench line (with one exception Northern France to Somme area for the Germans the whole front is already trenched. keyword:“Race to the Sea”). Same with Hungary/Bosnia-Herzegowina towards Northern Serbia - trenched already for the Serbs.

    But trenches in the west and east cannot be compared for the most part. In the west the systems expanded to vast systems almost impenetrable. There were multiple line systems and various systems like the “Hindenburg Linie” were even fortified/built with concrete almost like a long bunker. In the east they mostly were kind of rudimentary. Breakthroughs were more regular and not the exception. And as the lines weren’t anchored as CWO MArc rightly remarked they were often outflanked! Progress wasn’t measured in yards but miles.

    Answers to your questions:

    • As I explained defending units do NOT get a boost! The Attacking units face a penalty!
    • Yes, if they do not move in noncombat. .
    • I am not sure if I understand the 3rd one correctly but 1 infantry cannot dig 10 trenches in one round as 10 infantry can (if you want to build 10! Costs 50 IPC!  😄 )
    • NO! Infantry just digs the trench that turn! No attack, no movement!
    • A trench stays on the board. The direction is the direction originally built. This can be debated though but it wasn’t an issue in any of our games.
    • Trenches cannot be taken as casualties as they are structures not units.

    Hope that answers your questions.


  • Customizer

    I don’t understand why you need to pay for trenches, basically the men dig them when they’re not fighting. At this scale a bit of barbed wire is nothing. Now if you’re paying for concrete bunkers…

    What I meant was that since manpower is the main requirement to dig trenches, can one infantry dig one trench on one border in one tt at any lesser efficiency than 10 men can do the same job?

    This might matter since you could leave one unit in a rear area to dig, while 5 attack a bordering tt, all the while intending to fall back to the trenches.

    I would have done it in terms of manpower, e.g. it takes 5 infantry one turn to construct a full trench, ergo it takes 1 infantry 5 turns to achieve the same.



  • In terms of scale: One infantry represents roughly 10 divisions (with the exception of Africa)
    So the “men” logic hardly applies here.
    One infantry digs the trench. If some more men join the digging - fine - but still one infantry.
    In your example it would take one infantry more than a year to build a trench system (like in other A&A games one round roughly equals 3 months!). This is far too much. Building just one trench would be halfway through (potential) US War entry. And “hordes” of infantry should not dig. It is a wargame after all!  😉

    We simply did not want to make things overly (or unnecessarily) complicated with various levels of entrenchment. Or the proposed time requirement.
    You build a trench or you don’t - that’s basically it.
    And it is enough to confront the player with some difficult decisions.

    The IPC cost thus is a very good functional instrument to boil it down to one round and an investment to think about (or not).


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13

    I can see paying the 5 icp`s for building a trench with only 1 infrantry. Then you have more troops for fighting and if you retreat back to trench, then you can get better defense. More troops to attack and you won’t have to leave more infrantry behind to build trench.



  • Exactly!

    Besides in terms of sole time requirement intention was that it should perfectly fit into the A&A accelerated production logic which basically means “instantly”!
    Take a BB for instance. 1 BB piece equals 2 to 4 real Battleships. In reality just one of those ships takes YEARS to build. No player wants to start production and then wait for say 10 rounds to get the unit in a boardgame like A&A. Therefore production time is radically cut down by MR Harris to almost an instant for ALL units (1 round = 3 months)…

    Same here: ALL units AND structures are mobilized in one round!



  • Episode 2: Diplomacy

    World War I was very different from World War II in terms of Diplomacy. Whereas the first was a busy time for diplomats and even some reckless diplomatic expeditions, the latter was basically 5 World powers dividing the world and fighting their worldwide conflict.

    In WWI the biggest prize to win (like in WWII) obviously was USA but this could not really be achieved by diplomats alone: USA war entry was event-based thus will be handled in a different episode. For diplomacy as a game mechanic Italy being a world power - at least still formally - is the BIG BANG! In addition there are various other powerful nations in the fray like Bulgaria and Romania with their strong armies. Therefore it was clear for us from the outset: Diplomacy must be a NEW step in the turn order!

    Intermission: When developing C%E we wanted the game to be heavily based on the A&A series. As determinded A&A fans we wished to feel familiar with the rules and mechanics despite various alteration and additions. In short it should not be a totally new game. THus for most aspects we searched the A&A family applicable/suitable rules before thinking about new ones. And even then premise was as consistent as possible with the existing A&A framework. Therefore you will even find rules from the battle series (like Bulge ZOC=zone of control).
    Intermission END

    SO diplomacy was supposed to fit into the existing “Investment” area for R&D (Research & Development/Technology) and Production (Purchase Units)!
    Like in R&D you can buy Diplomatic Dice for each neutral nation you want to influence in your turn. Each costs 5 IPCs and - before Modifiers - a roll of 4,5 or 6 is successful, the lower numbers fail. As a major neutral nation Italy needs 3 steps till war entry, all other minor neutral nations need 2 on their respective diplomatic scale. Once war is declared it is permanent.

    The Modifiers were implemented to reflect the actual political circumstances of the neutral countries!

    Example 1: Bulgaria
    Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria had a strong tendency to lean towards the CPs for 2 reasons:
    1. His personal background: Born in Vienna, grown up in A-H and Germany  (studied there)
    2. Serbia as THE enemy from the Balkan wars. He simply wanted the territories back Bulgaria lost in the 2nd Balcan War.
    So, that’s it: If there was a (good!) chance for the 2nd, Bulgaria might enter war on the side of the CP!

    Game: Bulgaria gets a modifier of +1 for both steps on the CP friendly side of influence.
    (Bulgaria also moves one step towards the CPs R5 for free reflecting the actual swift in the balance of military power towards the CPs on the major European fronts. Serbia’s situation thus became increasingly difficult. This period of intense diplomatic activity to win the Bulgarians was called “Bulgarian Summer”.)

    Example 2: Netherlands
    At the outbreak of war various countries declared “strict neutrality” as their policy. To get them out of it chances arent 50/50  as only 5 otr 6 are successful in this case for the first step towards each side.

    TATAA! Italy
    In addition to diplomatic rolls Italy might be influenced by some events that can occur in the game caused by the players (or not) and its diplomatic marker would automatically move one step in result!
    (like USA)
    For instance: Italy though formal member of the Triple Alliance did not feel obliged to join G and A-H in their war effort due to the defensive nature of the treaty. In their interpretation the assassination did not justify the casus belli and their participation in it. Of course this came in handy to check how things go to join the side who is likely to win later. For the game, if Germany is able to conquer Yser and/or Bourgogne-Champagne (B-CH) R1 and hold it for one round Italy will be enthused about such military strength and moves one step in favor of the CPs.On the other hand if Germany fails to conquer Yser and B-CH at all Italy would see the tide swing in favor of the Entente and the marker moves one step towards them which is what happened historically.
    Same with the famous Gallipoli Operation. The intent of such an outrageous bold manouvre let the Italians finally agree to the war entry on Entente side in the London treaty 1915. So if Uk executes the Gallipoli Operation (which is a given manourvre in the game!) and fullfills certain conditions during it again the marker moves one step towards the Entente.

    When Italy or one of certain minor neutral nations enter the war they get their own troops and units; when the other minors do so they get predetermined units of a certain woprldpower. Example: Norway (Entente) UK / (CPs) Germany.

    I hope all this gives you a brief glimpse into the ideas, historical background and of course the mechanics of the new step Diplomacy!
    Questions are welcome!

    Next: Historical Accuracy!



  • Episode 3: Historical Accuracy - Part 1

    Ready for a new history lesson?  😄
    Here we go:

    How would it really feel to be in the position of the great WWI military leaders? Erich von Falkenhayn, Erich Ludendorff, Conrad von Hotzendorff or Enver Pascha for the Central Powers, or Ferdinand Foch, Philippe Petain, Douglas Haig or Tsar Nicolas on the Entente side.

    In order to obtain a feeling as close as possible we wanted to start the game as historically correct as possible! Thus the start setup was meticulously researched!

    First question that arose beforehand was when to start.
    Ottoman Turkey joined almost 3 months after the outbreak of war!
    To prevent a Turkish player from being excluded from the first round we decided that the game should start right before the Turkish war entry on 29th October 1914 with the bombing of the Russian Black Sea Ports.

    So starting with Germany, where did Kluck’s First Army stand at that time? Or von Bulow’s Second? (and so on…)
    Studying the respective maps in Bundeswehr university we realized that the famous “Race to the Sea” had almost come to an end with only few spaces left for movement at the end of October 1914. In result, the really interesting question for the German HQ (German player) is how to manage the “Zweifrontenkrieg” that should have been avoided at all costs! Do you resume the offensive in the West? And if so, how hard will you press? And what about the “forgotten” Eastern Front? Which delicate balance might lead to glorious vitory?

    Now, to obtain a correct setup there is the question of what the units ahould represent.
    From the World War One Data Factbook we opted for the following guideline as it has military reasoning and was fitting very well:
    1 Infantry miniature represents roughly 10 Divisions (often an army)(depending on nation about 15.000 men per infantry division).
    1 Artillery       "               "           "          800 guns (6 or 4 guns per battery)
    1 Cavalry       "               "           "             5  Divisions. (depending on nation about 5.000 men per cavalry disision)
    1 Recon/Fighter                                       60 planes (UK should get one; G/F 3/2 ratio)
    1 Destroyer                                             32  ships  (4 Flottillas)
    1 Cruiser                                                 16  ships  (4 Squadrons)
    1 Dreadnought                                           8  ships  (2 Divisions)
    1 Battlecruiser                                           4  ships  (1 Squadron; UK Jutland: 3 ships BC Squadron (attached to Home Fleet) + 6 ships separate BC Fleet)
    1 Submarine                                             10 boats  (~ 1 Flottilla)

    There is one exception to this unit key which is Africa:
    If the above key were used there would be one Infantry in South Africa and that is it!
    Sad, if such an interesting war area would be completely lost right from the start.
    So to get at least some units on the African continent all units had to be overrepresented just as much so that one or two units appear in the crucial territories.

    There was much calculation on fighting strength as well as - for instance - a German infantry had a higher one than a Russian one. Many Russian soldiers did not even have an own rifle because of production problems. They were simply told to pick one up from a dead comrade! :evil:

    Voila!
    The resulting setup does not make historical A&A “mistakes” like 16 infantry for over 4 million German soldieis, whereas Japan gets 16 infatry as well for just 1,4 million soldiers in the Anniversary setup for instance.
    And in addition, every unit rightfully stands where it stands representing the historical forces!

    That was a tough one!

    Part 2: The Map

    P.S.: After 3 reports it might be time for some resumee: What do you like? What do you miss personally? Any constructive feedback - or praise 😉 - would really be appreciated and might improve the experience for all!



  • Episode 3: Historical Accuracy Part 2

    Advent 1st - Time to end the silence with a photo of the map!*

    *Final version 2012 features the same map but with some adjustments/changes/additions. I do not have a photo of it but will upload one with an ongoing match later.

    C&E Map1_kl.jpg



  • Here it is:

    Marion DEZ12 bis JUL13 558kl.jpg


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