Finally I got some time to write some more about my duel with Wickers. I played for CP, Wickers as Entente. That was my first PBEM in scenario Call to Arms in this game.
As a CP player I needed to face few strategical questions - Main one - How to win the war? In my thinking the easiest way was to kick Russia out of war, or neutralize her as soon as possible. Other question - how to do it? I was thinking that I should focus to quickly eliminate Serbia first, and then use forces from Balkans for decisive strike in Galicia. I used this pattern when I played with AI opponent and it worked.
However reality of playing with human player is that plans tend to be worthless...
Firstly, after small success on Serbian front, Austro-Hungarian forces were stopped after capturing Belgrade, and stuck in the trenches. At the same time Wickers launched offensive in Galicia, literally starting slaughter of AH troops. On western front I noticed success and stopped offensive just outside of Bolougne, returning punches with French and British. I was effective in turn to turn combat, but couldn’t get a breakthrough anywhere, wasting time. Meanwhile Russians under Wickers command smashed Austrians, took Peremysl fortress, Tarnow, Lwow, Oilfields, and Krakow. Situation was critical, I needed to glue up front using German forces that I planned to use as offensive forces.
In 1915 Austria was on the ropes, only Balkan forces existed, and morale was collapsing. Bulgaria joined the war but still it wasn’t enough to crush Serbia. Russians already got through Carpathian Mountains and all southern fronts were shaking. I was seriously considering surrender the game.
Then I decided I will cede land to Italy to avoid opening another front, because in my opinion my forces were already too stretched. This decision had consequences. Italy didn’t join the war, and AH morale dropped below 25%. I didn’t mind much because already AH forces couldn’t do nothing against Russians. They were only useful in final attack supported by three German corps, and Bulgarian forces, which finally crushed Serbia. That put Greece into the war, but that was OK for me, I was already strategically deploying Ottoman Army(three cores, Mountain core, artillery unit and HQ) into Carpathian mountains against Russians storming Hungary.
That was about time. Wickers was 5 hexes from Budapest. End of 1915, beginning 1916 I still had hope I can overcome Wickers’s forces. I pushed hard Russians in the south, using Turkish and incoming German forces. Meanwhile on Caucasian front Russians made surprising amphibious assault and captured Trebizon, but by tactical mistake of sending them into mainland rather than secure the port - I was able to destroy those forces.
Austrians were blocking Greece, and secured the flanks by capturing Albania. Also I had some tactical successes in Suez Canal front, were British took heavy losses. I recall during this time I eliminated eleven Wicker’s units in one turn! I had big hopes that I would take initiative by crushing Russia and kicking her out of the war.
It seemed real and Oberkommando in Berlin were full of optimistic. However, excited about future victories, I missed one crucial fact - West Front was completely quiet, not counting local fights - I will kill you one core, and you will take one mine. I didn’t think it meant that French had many MPP’s, which Wickers used to upgrade his western forces - numerically and technologically. In end of 1916 I discovered that his got superior artillery in the West, also I forgot to upgrade my trench warfare level - which caused lots of losses from shell fire later in the game.
1917 brought defeat for CP. All my plans collapsed. Wickers withstand pressure in the East - even though he lost Galicia, Przemysl, Krakow, Tarnow. Germans moved to Vistula-Narew line and captured Warsaw, Lublin, Bialystok and Ivangorod fortress. Brave Siberian corps defended Gieorgievsk Fortress behind enemy lines till the end of the war.
One by one Central Powers states were collapsing. First - Austro Hungary - I was prepared for it and I send German units to cover up the front. However I didn’t know that event of AH surrender will kick my units out of the new Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland borders (only Galicia – part of AH). There was huge hole in the front. After few months I managed to capture Hungary and Poland, but Czechs were too strong entrenched for my forces, they managed to hold around Prague till end of the game and tie up three of my cores.
BTW – In my opinion this event needs to be modified – Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians wouldn’t be able to train, equip and organize such a force as game gives them in a week. There were thousands of those people willing to fight for independence, and that should be reflected into the game, but >puff< there are two polish cores, cavalry core and HQ out of the sky, doesn’t seem real.
Next crushing defeat was Turkey - morale started running low after Arab revolt kick Turks out of Arabia and Brits were advancing in Iraq. I was predicting this, and formed HQ with best Turkish Commander – Kemal Pasha, but it is impossible to supply properly troops in Iraq – or I don’t know how to do it. Final blow for Ottomans was a clever move by Wickers: amphibious British invasion in Syria. I was fighting back and withdrawing to Anatolia, but morale was falling down. Soon afterwards Turkey withdrew from the war.
There were only Bulgaria and Germany left standing. I still hoped that maybe if I make Russians bleed enough they will collapse as well. Bulgarians were fighting bravely with Russians, Romanians Brits and French. However meanwhile in an act of desperation I started unrestricted submarine warfare. I also gambled and sent Zimmermans telegram. US joined the war and Bulgarians surrendered.
Germany was alone, and on the ropes in the West. Carefully gathered French and British forces started offensive, supported by massive artillery bombardment (6! units). I was pushed behind river Rhein, but it only delayed the inevitable. I still got some tactical successes in the East - I destroyed several Russian cores and the Baltic fleet. Wickers tried to put an amphibious assault in the East Prussia, but he had bad luck this time - Russian marines bumped into German battleship and sunk on the spot. In November 1917 turmoil in Russia started, but it couldn’t change the tide. I was defeated. Guns went silent on 2nd of December 1917.
I made a few big mistakes during the game:
- I didn’t have any idea how to use my fleet in a strategical way; also I lost most of the Austrian fleet in a stupid attempt to get out into Mediterranean Sea; my U boats helped only a little at the beginning blocking convoys to Russia via Archangielsk
- I forgot to pay attention to my research - delay in inventing trench warfare level 3 costed many lives, also I didn’t keep the pace with French and British in infantry and artillery warfare
- Giving up Trieste to Italians - after all it turned to be a strategical mistake - I just follow the strategy I used in my game against the AI. After consideration I need to admit I made this decision emotionally.
- I didn’t manage to defend Galicia effectively - Wickers were beating me there like a bully - Austrians were just bayonet dummies for Russians
I know it is not modest, but I guess few things went well:
- I was good on tactical level, especially in counterattacks against forward enemy troops, My counteroffensive supported by Ottoman and German troops on Austrian front was pretty devastating.
- Two times I managed to withdraw troops by sea (from Antwerp and Varna)
- Even suffering heavy losses in the West I was withdrawing in orderly way
That’s all Volks!
Thank you for reading and looking forward for what Wickers will say.