From: Vancouver, BC
There has been a very long list of possible fixes for this Gambit proposed in this epic thread. The list includes:
- deleting the railroad from Sarajevo through Ragusa to Centinje and replacing it with a road;
- making both Cetinje and the hex north of it (184,99) High Mountain terrain;
- making Centinje a fortified town;
- increasing the initial strength of the Cetinje Detachment from 7 to 10;
- having the Old Serbia Detachment mobilize on hex 184,99 instead of Pec;
- bringing forward the arrival date of the 10 strength Sanjak Corps to August 8 from August 25, so it can be placed to defend Cetinje;
- bringing forward DE423 so General Jankovic can deploy in Montenegro on August 8 and help defend Cetinje;
- allowing the Serb General Putnik to command Montenegrin units, like any other Major HQ;
- adding a second capital to Montenegro in Pec, so that it does not surrender when Cetinje falls;
- increasing the odds that Montenegrin units outside their country can fight on as Free Units when Montenegro surrenders;
- bringing forward the Albanian civil war DE so Albania joins the Entente before Montenegro surrenders;
- adding a second destination port for the convoy from France so that supplies can still reach Serbia if Cetinje falls;
These are all good ideas and some combination of them would definitely help make the Montenegro Gambit either most costly for the Central Powers and/or less damaging for Serbia, and thus less of a game-killer move in the opening month of the war.
But in my view, there are two larger issues which need to be acknowledged before we get over-invested in any of these small fixes.
1) the fact that Montenegro is a separate minor from Serbia, with its own mobilization schedule, reinforcements, commanders, decision events and surrender effects is a major strategic liability for Serbia - which is already by far the weakest major in the game. The autonomy of Montenegro just divides Serbia's forces into two different armies with two different generals and two different capitals to protect. Add the fact that Montenegro occupies only five hexes, so the Central Powers can easily cut-off Centinje from Pec and surround Cetinje, making it impossible for the Sanjak Corps to deploy anywhere.
2) Serbia itself is too damn weak to defend itself if the Central Powers decide to take it out in 1914. It starts with four under-strength corps on a line behind its exposed capital, plus an under-strength HQ. If the Central Powers send 10 corps or more to attack Serbia in the opening couple of turns - whether or not they use the "gambit" to take-out Montenegro - Serbia will start to collapse quickly, accelerating the arrival of Bulgaria. After that a series of other Balkan dominos fall into place for the Central Powers. This seems to be a far more rewarding opening strategy for the Central Powers than slugging it out over Belgium and northern France against the Entente's two strongest majors.
In theory the Entente can send a couple of French or even British corps into Albania to aid Serbia, once Albania joins the Entente. But unless Serbia can defend itself for the first few turns until these reinforcement arrive, this is throwing away good units in a hopeless fight. When 1915 arrives, new possibilities open up for the Entente to use the base in Lemnos, win over Greece as an ally, perhaps launch a Gallipoli-style invasion to distract the Ottomans. But all of these strategies require having Serbia still in the game as a major with at least one capital under its control to serve as the anchor for the Entente's land supply lines in the Balkans. Otherwise, the British or French are at best occupying a beachhead somewhere facing the full weight of the Central Powers that have a rail line running from Berlin to Medina.
So, you can choose your specific fix to slow down or halt the Montenegro Gambit. But from what I can see, unless Serbia is a given a greater capacity to defend itself, it is not going to make much difference to the trajectory of the game if the CP player decides to focus on them in August 1914.
What can be done to strengthen Serbia? That should be a new thread. But my preferred place to start would be to give Serbia the option to take over the armed forces of Montenegro at the outbreak of war and cease to treat it as an independent minor, with all its own rigidities and vulnerabilities. That would at least allow Serbia to pool the forces it does command at the outset of the war and use them to maximum effect.
< Message edited by mdsmall -- 3/4/2021 2:24:04 PM >