France 1914 - Games Played
© 2013 Louis R. Coatney
I was the German again, and masters degreed computational scientist Adrian was the Allies. Mata Hari was again a highly effective agent for me, learning the positions of 5 of Adrian's northern French units. He had strategically placed his 3-factor 5th Army on Givet as had Fred in the first game.
Adrian had a dummy marker on Liege, which evaporated when I moved German units next to it, and so I immediately took it at 5:1. The Belgian Army was ensconsed in Antwerp, and would soon have a formidable, entrenched defense value of 7. The Germans need to maintain the momentum of their invasion, and so cannot spare 14 factors for an unrisky 2:1 siege attack early in the game - or later in the game, when they must try to be taking Paris. Thus, the German 4. Army got the game-long privilege of containing the Belgian Army in Antwerp.
I got EXTREMELY good die rolls throughout the game, and steadily pushed back the French, taking Namur in the process. Then I hit something of a bottleneck, and risked (the game with) a 1:1 (with my 3-factor 3rd Army and my 3 remaining kavalrie korps) against the entrenched BEF and British cavalry - a 33% chance of self-annihilation - and rolled a 6 for a D2 combat result!, blowing wide open the Channel flank.
Unlike in the first game, in this one I was able to eliminated a few French defenders, so Adrian wasn't accumulating the huge force replacement pool that Fred had. I steadily pushed Adrian back, although paying for my progress with some infantry korps which I was able to replace promptly. Each of us lost a cavalry corps - the only irreplaceable units lost.
I was getting close enough to Paris that Adrian started shifting a few of his units on the German border to the west. Those and the Taxicabs of Paris soon mustered enough strength to stall my attack, and then November Mud hit.
Even then, I was able to flank and surround an entrenched French army on the flank, but that didn't help my main advance at all, and I ran out of time and lost, the Germans a hex farther away from Paris than in the first playtest.
Adrian says he likes the game too and seems eager to take the German side in another game. It looks to me like the French should have only 8 infantry corps, as I had originally envisaged, and with a superior player as the German, we'll see if the Germans will have a better chance to win. If not, increasing the German Guards Korps to a strength of 2 could be a decisive tweak, enabling one German 7-factor stack, which would mean only one 4-factor army would be necessary for the magical 12 factor attack from 2 hexes.
Fred Forde of Oslo's Ares game club and I just did the first playtest of France 1914 last night, and he said he likes it. The outcome was quite historical. He did get a little perturbed when Mata Hari had seduced 6 French staff officers, letting me see his biggest northern border concentrations ... before her romp was stopped, though.
He set up the Belgian Army on Liege and Liege held, although the Belgian Army - not given No Retreat! orders - was forced to retreat.
Belgium is somewhat narrow but seems far preferable to trying to bludgeon your way across the French-German border and then past the Verdun-Nancy-Epinal fortress line, especially when the exact enemy cross-border positions and strengths are hidden.
The BEF landed and in Turn 2 moved up quickly in Belgium, and I was starting to wonder if I could get any kind of breakthrough at all. When designing the game, I couldn't figure out why the French city of Maubeuge was a fortified area (as shown in the West Point Atlas). I found out, trying to get past it, in the game: It serves as a fulcrum for French/Allied operations/defenses.
However, I did get an eXchange in Turn 5 which was both good and bad. It was good that I destroyed his irreplaceable French and British cavalry units and the Belgian Army. It was bad that I lost the (albeit replaceable) 4-factor German 1st Army in the process, and I would need (and lack) that later for its 6-factor (with 2 korps) concentrated attacking strength.
Even though Fred had strong supporting positions for his entrenched armies, my advance kept threatening/flanking them, forcing him to abandon those entrenchments and re-position, vulnerable to my attacks.
All this time, neither of us had dared to open an offensive across the French-German border in the south, because of the hidden strengths/positions of our units. Pointing out that there was no victory requirement to stay there - there soon will be - Fred began withdrawing his frontier units to support Paris. However, this did shorten the route for my replacements to travel. (The Schlieffen Plan not only stretches the French and Allies, trying to reinforce the German advance becomes an extended and delayed effort.
With his line stretching to the English Channel, I kept him Disrupted/retreating thus retaining the initiative, got some more advancing attacks, and got to within striking range of Paris, whereupon the Taxis of Paris went into action, his strength rallied, and he counterattacked and routed a couple kavalrie korps on my right/Channel flank, exposing it.
That was the end of the last good weather turn - and October - Turn 9 - and Mud not only critically reduced my mobility but lends a 1 shift reduction in attacking odds, so I conceded the game after about 2.5 hours, which wasn't bad for a first time, learning game.
Overall, I am satisfied with France 1914. The game took only a week to design. I suppose there are some order of battle corrections needed - the British cavalry wasn't really corps strength - but the game scale seems perfect for enabling sufficiently realistic tactical moves at its higher operational scale.
More comments by myself and others about the game can be read on ConSimWorld
If you are a friend, and/or if you would like to share info and ideas about military and naval history and game designing and cardstock model shipbuilding, and/or you have any questions about FRANCE 1914, feel free to e-mail me at ELCOAT@Hotmail.com