"THE GREAT WAR 1914-18: Allies vs Central Powers (CP)

The Great War, is a new kind of TripleA variant with a number of differences from the typical Axis and Allies game. More troops, money, and territories makes for a game that is somewhat more involved than Revised A&A. As such, the Great War requires slight adjustments in strategic thinking on the part of players, particularly as concerns Naval Warfare. We’ve used the standard A&A game mechanics with IPCs, but we suggest that players view them more generically as ‘Game Points’ or ‘Strategic Value Points.’ To make the most of things, we recommend PBEM (play by e mail) and with the Low Luck option in place.

General Strategy Overview

The Allies have the overall economic advantage, but a large portion of their income is tied to convoy lanes, which Germany can take away on Round 1. Another large block of ipcs belongs to the Americans, who must overcome a number of obstacles and cross an ocean before they can get into the fight. This creates a situation where the Central Powers (and especially Germany) have the initial advantage and incentive to attack. The game is set up such that the Central Powers have about 5-6 rounds on an equal footing with the Allies (roughly balanced at around 200 ipcs for each side.) As the underdogs, the Central Powers need to make something happen during this early phase of the game, and gain ground before the Allies recover all their convoy income and start closing in for the kill. This provides for a “race against time” scenario that should be very familiar for Axis and Allies players. Russia is the weak link in the Allied chain. Isolated and surrounded by enemies, she makes a prime target for the Central Powers. But France and Italy are also vulnerable to focused actions early on (especially if Britain is preoccupied on the High Seas.) The key points of vulnerability for Central Powers are along the Western Front and the Mediterranean. The value of the German territories in the Western Front Box is roughly equivalent to the value of Russia, so the French have a chance to gain some much needed cash should the Germans prove lax in their western defenses. The British/Italians can also seize a large chunk of income from the Turks/Austrians, provided they can maintain the upper hand in the Med.

Germany: As the power with the highest starting production, and as the first player, Germany can set the tone for the entire game. Played properly, the German player has the potential to seize the initiative for the Central Powers, and force the Allies to simply react. Its navies in far flung seas can cause a headache for the British. All of its ships can steal control of convoys, but the strategic positioning of its starting forces are what gives Germany so many options. Its Pacific fleet can try to disrupt the flow of troops from India, or make for the Atlantic to support other German fleets. Its Mediterranean fleet can attack into the Eastern Mediterranean to support Ottoman and Austrian endeavors in those theaters as well. Purchasing only adds to Germany's options. Germany can attempt a naval build in the Baltic to bolster its already sizeable fleet. Combined with its Mediterranean fleet breaking out westward into the Atlantic, the British home islands can be effectively strangled. On the land, Germany can focus East or West. Strategic purchases and placement of industrial complexes on the Western Front can tip the momentum in favor of Germany. The most promising option, however, is to try to knock out vulnerable Russia, preferably in concert with Austria and Turkey. These strategies can be combined in varying amounts for a more balanced approach, but Germany has the luxury of many options and being able to set the agenda for the rest of the game.

France: The French player has two fairly straightforward objectives in the Great War: 1) Throw back the German advances on the Western Front and 2) Support Italy against the Austrians. In addition to this, France maintains a small surface fleet, which can be used to support British in the Med and to disrupt German naval movements. The challenge for the French player is to gain ground early, and start wearing down German income.

Russia: Of all the players in the Great War, the Russians probably have the most precarious position. At the beginning of the game the Russian player has a large number of troops at his disposal. Infantry and cavalry abound on R1, but these become increasingly difficult replace once spent. The major Russian production centers in Petrograd and Moscow are a long way from the front, so supply lines can grow dangerously thin if you’re not careful. The Germans, Austrians, and Turks are all knocking at the door, and things can rapidly spiral out of control if Serbia and Crimea fall to the enemy. The key for the Russian player is to conserve his forces, and maneuver his troops to set up major counter attacks. Lithuania is a particularly perilous territory to occupy, but can make for a very effective deadzone when trying to hold the Central Powers at bay. In terms of broader Allied strategy, Russia’s main goal should be to stay alive, and tie down German troops, long enough for her Allies to make advances in the West. It’s important to remember that the value of Russia is roughly equivalent to the German holdings on the Western Front, so the game is not necessarily over if she gets knocked out of war (provided that the Allies can recover their convoy income, and break the German line in West.) Russia can sometimes be sacrificed for the greater good, but timing is everything, so choose your battles carefully.

Austria-Hungary: The central positioning of the Hapsburg Empire means that the Austrians face threats from several directions. In the East a vast Russian army is mobilizing to confront them, while Serbs in the South continue to plague Austrian designs on the Balkans. Now Italy has entered the war creating a whole new set of problems in the West. Each of these challenges must be confronted, but it’s difficult to expand in all three directions at once. Accordingly, the Austrian player must choose how best to deal with his enemies, focusing his energies in one area while carefully balancing things on the other two fronts. Though Austrians are generally preoccupied with the land war in Europe, they do possess one small fleet in the Port of Trieste. Its effectiveness is somewhat limited at the beginning of the game, but an Austrian naval build can sometimes prove worthwhile (especially if coordinated with the other Central Powers.)

Ottoman Empire: After nearly three centuries of decline, a resurgent Ottoman Empire has entered the Great War on the side of the Central Powers with plans to reclaim its former glory and status as a major European power. Critical to the achievement of this aim, is the recovery of former Turkish holdings in the Balkans, N. Africa, and Southern Russia. Early expansion is vital, but the Ottoman player must be careful to protect to his flanks in Armenia and along the Gulf Coast. The British positions in Cairo and Greece are of key strategic significance to the Allies, and can present some serious obstacles for the Central Powers if not dealt with in a timely manner. Much depends on what Germany and Austria are doing, but if the Turks can gain control of the Suez Canal, and help neutralize the allied production facilities in the Balkans, then the Central Powers have a good chance of locking down the Med. and winning the war in the East.

Britain: The British are probably the most interesting power to play in the Great War. They face a number of strategic challenges at the beginning of the game, but also possess a number of opportunities to turn the tide in favor of the Allies. As the preeminent naval power in the game, the British sport a large armada of warships… but facing down the German Imperial Navy is no simple feat, even with the numbers on your side. Germany maintains a strong presence in each of the world’s oceans, with solid tactical positioning on Round 1. This can greatly complicate things for the British, since 1/3 of their income is tied directly to convoy zones. These are vulnerable to German U-boat actions (especially early in the game) and must be recovered before the British war machine can kick into high gear. In addition to these naval responsibilities, the British player also has the task of managing the War in the Middle East and Africa. The delicate balance of power in the Balkans is also a key concern for the British player, who controls Greece at the beginning of the game. Essentially, it’s the British player’s job support France on the Western Front, while dancing around the globe to confront the Central Powers in the other theaters of conflict.

Italy: The weakest of the Allied powers, Italy does not have very many strategic options. The primary goal is to break through the Austrian line in the Alps. However, depending on circumstances, Italian forces can support British, and possibly French, forces in the Eastern Mediterranean as well. If the Italian navy survives, Italy also has a convenient tactical option in the Adriatic; by threatening amphibious landings in Croatia, the Italian player can draw away Austrian forces, either from the Alpine front or the Balkan front.

America: At the cost of geographical accuracy, America has been abstracted away, and the North Atlantic stretched into a long corridor. This is to simulate America's late entry into the conflict. America is in a unique position in that at no point is it territorially threatened. America thus does not need pay any heed to defense. America is also what gives the Allies the decisive economic advantage. However, America's great distance from any of the theaters might make this moot if the other Allied powers are overrun. The situation is complicated by the presence of a sizeable fleet of German U-boats in the Atlantic corridor. Thus, the overall goal of America is to rush its forces to Europe as quickly as possible, destroying the U-boat presence in the Atlantic and freeing up British and French convoys in the process, in order to bring to bear the Allies' superior economy."

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