Entering the twenties of our 21st century the Great War is long ago and nearly forgotten. But our contemporary conflicts are more often then not a consequence of the results of this war. Many issues between nations remain unsolved. In the wake of the downfall of old empires national borders prove to having been drawn arbitrarily and thus get contested, especially in eastern Europe, the western Mediterranian, and in the middle East. Therefore to deal with the campaigns of the Great War in reading and wargaming to me means also learning about the basics of todays international relations.
SPW’s Der Weltkrieg Simulation Series offers the entire Great War with the main theatre’s campaigns of western Europe, eastern Europe, and the middle East. After playing the introductory scenario of Tannenberg I went on to the 1914 Galicia scenario. August 1914 most units are just arriving in the theatre of operation. The yellow and blue cubes show units that yet need to complete mobilisation. The white and blue rods show the boundaries of the A.-H. and the Russian armies.
The opposing nations expected from their armed forces to deliver a heroic victory. Plans where prepared long beforehand. With the decision for general mobilisation they now came to be carried out with no margin for adapting them to any new situation. In Galicia the Austro-Hungarian – from left to right – 1st, 4th, 3rd, and Kovess (later 2nd) Armies build up their strenth with the general instruction to take the towns of Lublin, Cholm, and Kowel, and to defend the important city of Lemberg.
The Imperial Russian – from l. to r. – 4th, 5th, 3rd, and 8th Armies are to take Crackow and Lemberg first, and the important fortress of Przemysl after that. Minds are set to show the enemy one’s own moral ascendancy. As the advance starts the opposing forces clash for the first engagements and qickly find out that fighting in this new type of war is costly indeed. The first battles up until end of August eat up 66 and 67 supply points and cost 35 and 40 demoralisation points respectively.
September sees new units arriving in the theater. Just as the 1st Army threatens Lublin the 9th Army arrives in the fortress of Ivangorod with fresh divisions. In an all out offensive the Russianss throw back the Austro-Hungarians encirceling and capturing two A.-H. Polish divisions. This anchors the right Russian wing and in return threatens the Austrian-Hungarian left wing.
As we arrive at mid September the A4th Army threatens Cholm. Otherwise the ustro-Hungarian’s offensive power is largely broken and they need to think about a new defensive strategy. The Russians are advancing towards Lemberg and now have the fresh 9th army at hand ready to advanc on Crackow. But the 5th Army is spent and that leaves a wide gap in the Russian centre.
As for results the supply situation is rather precarious with the Austro-Hungarians. Only 14 supply points remain for the entire theatre. They also have incurred some 90+ demoralisation points. The Imperial Russians are in a slightly better shape with some offensive steam left. The 42 supply points in stock look promising. They have incurred high casualties and some 90+ demoralisation points themselves.
Judging from the victory conditions this is a Substantial Victory. At least here they have fared far better then in the real historical event.
This is an interesting scenario with a game system that moves along. I cannot judge how realstic the rules are. At least three ideas are clearified:
- Any offensive action is going to be very costly and potentially crippling for your own forces.
- There is no chance for victory at all if you don’t stage massive offensives.
- As the commanding general you need to acquire an offensive spirit combined with ruthlessness.