The Somme Campaign – an early draft play through

I thought I would write up a play through I have done by way of play testing the mechanics of the game as they stand currently. It’s a turn by turn description, taken at the end of every turn. I shall try to describe the mechanics and the tactics/thinking behind each decision as made.

The set up is fairly simple – the British place a unit on each of the corps marked nodes – the Germans on each ‘G’ marked node facing them. The first view is at the end of turn one. Generalship levels and Corps strengths are set as indicated on the map.

Turn 1

A die is rolled each turn to indicate how many compulsory attacks have to be made that turn.

Combat is calculated by adding the strength of the attacking (or defence) score of the Corps, plus any training or doctrine additions, plus a random dice roll (and a few other battlefield modifiers). A difference in score is required to win (in this draft). Both sides units are spent, the loser retreats and the winner moves forward. If the combat calculation is below this difference then both sides stay where they are, but are spent (this is the attrition war)

In this turn the British player wins a successful position attack by XIII Corps to Baz le Grand Wood – pushing the Germans out and backwards.

The British also carried out other attacks on the German lines in order to wear out (or make ‘spent’) their units. This ‘attrition war’ serves a purpose by creating a demand on the German Generalship points to reset the spent units – this means they can’t spend points on increasing the attack/defence strength of their units – or the training and political standing of their forces. This is especially useful at the start because the British get twice as many dice as the Germans for Generalship points, so it is easier for them to maintain their spent units, and harder for the Germans.

In historical terms this represents endless smaller attacks, knowingly made to wear down the enemy in the belief the last man standing will be British, and therefore the war winner.

The Germans received another unit as a reinforcement via the events phase (after combat) – they have placed this extra unit on Montauban to reinforce this defence.

The British have also started to develop their doctrines, which gives permanent plusses to their combat calculation, whilst maintaining the political and training level, and the XIII Corps attack strength.

The Germans manage to keep their heads above water – their defence strength is good, and their training level still adequate. All is steady, however they are not strong enough to attack in their own right yet.

Each turn the Corps strengths and the Generalship scores reduce, only the Doctrine score is not reduced. This represents the natural attrition across the strengths, logistics and leadership of the campaign. Doctrine is not reduced because it represents the military competence level that the forces are operating at.

Turn 2

The British continue to make progress in the XIII Corps front and are supported by the XV Corps as well. The Germans are getting pushed back in the south of the salient.

Elsewhere all is silent, and the corps get weaker as the main strength is put to the south in the Generalship phase. Although again, the British carried out attrition attacks, the Germans hang on, indeed increasing the defence capability of their forces. At this stage the Germans need to hang on – maybe they can attack later.

The events roll adds 2 units for the Germans and they use them to shore up the southern area.

The British cleverly continue to invest in doctrine advances.

Turn 3

The British XIII Corps attacks Montauban, pushing the Germans out and backwards. . Elsewhere the attrition war has meant the British are now struggling to maintain the Corps strength, with bad Generalship rolls. However they continue to invest in doctrine advances, and add attack strength to the X Corps. The British plan is that the attrition battle has worn the Germans down, and another attack elsewhere will knock them out. The British attempt to stack units that can then carry out multiple attacks against the German positions, as they get weaker by being made ‘spent’, which reduces their defence capability.

The Germans continue to struggle to maintain a front, the attrition battle means they are now sending half trained troops into the battle (the Generalship slider is on a minus). Holding on is all they can hope for presently. The Germans carry out spoiling attacks against the British in return, making the British units ‘spent’ so they cannot then attack in turn.

The British back the southern attack up with an additional reinforcement unit gained through events.

Turn 4

Both sides suffer attrition but only Orvillers la Boiselle is lost to a X Corps attack. The British are on a deadline to reach Bapaume by turn 10. The Germans use their Generalship points to train their troops a little, the slider is no longer so bad. The British move units up in the XIII Corps area, but with a bad Generalship roll they barely keep the army at a useable level.

The event roll shows it is raining for the next turn  this places a huge penalty on combat. This could curtail the British offensive.

Turn 5

The British attack Stuff Redoubt in the rain with X Corps and gain the position pushing the Germans back. – the low Generalship score for the second time means the attrition battle starts to work against them. The British Corps strengths, and the Political and Training sliders are heading south, however the bite and hold strategy is starting to create problems in the German line.

German political and training sliders also head south – both sides are now effectively rounding up untrained conscripts and throwing them into the maelstrom.

The British gain 3 units in the events phase (historically to represent the Anzacs) – but have to use them mainly to reinforce spent units.

Turn 6

The British gain Pozierres from the Germans. On the XIII Corps front they attack and gain High Wood, pushing the Germans back. The Germans voluntarily move back out of Fricourt to reduce the line, and XIV Corps move in to occupy the position. The continuing attrition battle starts to actually reduce the on-board number of units, as the Generalship rolls can no longer support all the forces. Training levels once again reduce for both sides, it’s getting desperate all round.

Have the British finally broken the united German front – can they reach Bapaume?

The Germans get the ‘Change Command’ event – this means they are no longer required to counterattack, their forces are divided into 2 Corps, and they now get the same Generalship dice as the British. They can also start to develop and implement  doctrine.

Turn 7

The British XIII Corps pushes onto towards Bapaume – taking Le Barges. The XV Corps takes Bazentine in support. X Corps also takes the surrounded German unit in Contramaison.

The Germans have hit their nadir, the line is falling apart and the Corps strength is as low as it can get. Political support and unit training continues to drop. Can it get worse?

The British are on the rush. Can they make Bapaume by turn 10?

The Germans gain an additional unit in the events phase

Turn 8

The British move forward again and capture Delville Wood, however they are too weak to push onto Bapaume. The Germans hang on – they maintain the training and poltical levels and manage to keep the army in the field in the face of the British attrition war. The British are just managing to keep steady – the Corps are at their weakest, and training and political support levels beginning to decline. Doctrine development continues – this is vital it gives permanent additions in combat and could be vital to the breakthrough to Bapaume

The events god smiles on the Germans – they gain 2 more units which they use to reinforce the Bapaume position.

Turn 9

The British capture Martinputch, and destroy the now surrounded German unit in Flers,  they also manage to capture Ligny Thilly on the way to Bapaume.

The Germans pour Generalship points into training and doctrine advances. The British realise they do not have enough strength to attack Bapaume in the last move, and the Germans don’t have enough strength to capture any British trench on the VIII Corps front. It’s a draw. Neither side achieves its objective.

The game allows for a draw – as the historical campaign.

End. This is a quick little run through to show the general play of the game and how the mechanics are working so far in the development.

2 thoughts on “The Somme Campaign – an early draft play through

  1. Pingback: The Somme Campaign – what is the game about? | diggingforvictoryblog

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