We are glad to announce that Strategic Command: World War I - Empires in Turmoil has a release date: November 16th.
Additionally, there's an exciting surprise, an extra campaign titled: "1916 The Big Push".
The French army and Sir Douglas Haig’s British Expeditionary Force stand poised to launch a joint offensive on the Somme to take the pressure off Verdun and potentially win the war in the west.
The Battle of the Somme sees Britain’s New Army fighting alongside pre-1914 regulars and soldiers of the Territorial Force to launch their biggest offensive yet. With multiple mines set to blow under the German lines, a week’s long bombardment, and the infantry better equipped than ever before, armed with Lewis Guns and Rifle Grenades, in places their advance covered by smoke, and supported by Stokes Mortars for direct fire support, the stage is set for a decisive battle.
Strong German Defensive Lines
The very heavy casualties suffered by the British on the first day of the offensive have made the Somme one of the most famous battles of the First World War. Despite this, the British army’s attacks in the southern sector, as well as those of their French allies, were relatively successful. Indeed, it is possible that if the British and Indian cavalry had been much closer to the front line and given free rein, much more ground could have been seized that day.
Nevertheless, over the next few months the Germans were steadily driven back. By November 1916 the British and French, together with ANZAC, Canadian, Newfoundland, Bermudian, Indian and French Colonial units, had nearly reached Bapaume in the north and Péronne in the south.
As mentioned above, on the 1st July 1916 when the offensive began, the British cavalry were held too far back to play any role on the day in exploiting any success. To allow players to experience what might have been had things been done differently, in this campaign there is a Deployment Phase allowing the British cavalry to be deployed at the player’s discretion prior to launching the offensive.
This means that a more successful attack is likely than historically, though they will also have to face German counter-attacks in subsequent turns. It will not be easy, and the battle will likely flow back and forth as both sides feed in more troops and attempt to seek tactical advantages in order to consolidate their positions, or prepare for the next attack.
The Cavalry Attack!
The Somme witnessed both the old and the new fighting over the same terrain, with small scale but successful cavalry charges, as well as the deployment of a new weapon that was to transform 20th century warfare: the tank. This innovative development in warfare occurred when the British used tanks for the first time in September to assist in their attack at Flers-Courcellette, and just as historically, this new weapon of war will be available for use.
The role of the French army on the Somme has been largely overlooked in English language histories, even though their attacks on the 1st July were successful, and their artillery supported British attacks where both armies joined, contributing to the latter’s successes in this area.
In this campaign, the French role is fully represented, with their forces playing a prominent role, covering nearly a third of the front line and controlling some useful artillery units in addition to their infantry.
Winning the Battle
To win a Major Victory, the German army just needs to hold Bapaume and Péronne, and inflict such casualties on the Entente’s forces in order to reduce either British or French National Morale below 50%. This will halt the Entente offensive immediately.
Otherwise, Germany needs to hold both Bapaume and Péronne right up until the 11th November 1916, while avoiding suffering such casualties that would lower their own National Morale to below 50%. This means fighting many successful and careful defensive actions, only counter-attacking when opportunities arise, and avoiding unnecessary risk taking.
Now let us look at how the Entente can win.
British Artillery Shelling German Lines
The joint British and French offensive will win a Major Victory should Albert, Rosières and Bapaume or Péronne all be in Entente hands at any time. To achieve this, strong attacks will need to be launched, taking risks in doing so, forcing the enemy back and keeping them under intense pressure.
An alternative way to win a Major Victory involves pushing the Germans back, in the process capturing either Bapaume or Péronne, and inflicting such loss on the German army that their National Morale falls below 50%, while also retaining Albert and Rosières. This is a more attritional approach than that of taking both Bapaume and Péronne, and might be a wiser strategy to adopt.
If a Major Victory seems unattainable, a Minor Victory can be won if the Entente hold Albert, Rosières, Miraumont, Flers and Combles on the 11th November 1916, provided casualties have not reduced either British or French National Morale below 50%.
All in all, this is a battle for both objectives and to inflict, while not receiving, significant casualties. The terrain is dominated by artillery, both sides will be throwing everything they have into the fight, are you ready to take command and win?
Before you launch your offensive, take advantage of the ability to deploy your cavalry where they can have the greatest impact. As your guns bombard the German lines and the troops prepare to attack, can a war-winning breakthrough be achieved and the cavalry sent through?
Can you do better than General Haig? It must be possible, mustn’t it?
Or will you take on the role of Fritz von Below and stop the Entente’s offensive dead in its tracks?