The Land -> Led By Donkeys - Western Powers AAR (2/7/2020 6:15:34 PM)
One of the joys of historical strategy gaming is that you have the chance to do better than history. You have the benefit of hindsight, after all. So obviously investing in artillery and trench warfare is a good move in a World War 1 game.
For this AAR I will attempt to remove some of the benefit of hindsight.
I will play as the Western Entente powers: France, the UK, and if relevant the US and Italy. Russia and Serbia’s historical failures will be simulated by placing them under AI control.
The Central Powers will receive +10% MPP and +1 Spotting.
Further, there will be several limitations achieved by modding and self-imposed house-ruling, to reflect the ignorance, short-sightedness and sometimes downright incompetence of the British, French, American and Italian ruling classes and military establishments.
Photo: Rt Hon Winston Churchill MP, blundering First Lord of the Admiralty who persuaded the British cabinet to assault the Dardanelles. After his resignation he had an indifferent career as a line office in the infantry.
The Dardanelles and Salonika offensives were both bloody fiascos for the Entente, prompted by the idea that the Balkans were some kind of ‘soft underbelly’ rather than difficult terrain with poor supply lines. In regular single player I would ignore both of these fronts and stay focused on the Germans. In this game I will launch at least one major amphibious operation against Turkey within a year of it entering the war, and also reinforce Salonika with at least a few Corps. I may, however, divert from history by undertaking these operations in a competent manner.
Learning from failure
It was only after a long and bloody process of trial and error (often, error) that significant changes were made to weapons, tactics and doctrines.
To reflect this I will introduce significant restrictions on my research.
I will mod Infantry Warfare, Command and Control, Gas and Shell Production, and Trench Warfare for all countries other than Germany and the USA so you can only invest one point in these techs at a time (2 for Trench Warfare). Germany remains un-modded to reflect its relative competence in these areas, while the USA isn’t penalised because it will only enter late in the War.
Further, I will ration my investment in those techs and also Infantry Weapons and Artillery Weapons.
I will count ‘chits’ each time a major power suffers a significant defeat or wins at excessive cost. For instance, losing a battle over an objective or failing to take one with a concerted attack would count as defeats; taking an objective with excessive losses would also count. (The exact definition is going to remain flexible but the idea is that I’ll only count multi-Corps engagements around e.g. major resources.)
I will only invest in these techs when I have chits to spend. Air, sea, industrial and tank research is consciously excluded from this process (Why not include tanks? In part, because they are already heavily limited. In part, because they are fun!).
Chits will be counted for each major separately, as the British and French militaries don’t share experiences. Italy and the US will receive 1 chit on January 1 each year when they’re at peace and an additional 1 on war entry.
I will not upgrade any HQs until 1916. Creating a new HQ, or replacing an existing HQ, will cost learning chits (as specified above). After all, you can’t just sack incompetent generals, it might upset people!
Onwards! The diplomats have been the first to fail, now it is time for the generals!