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During the production phase, players have the option of using their economy to advance technologies for their power.  The Allies: France, England and the USA are considered one power so if an advancement is made by the allied player, all nations benefit.

My first challenge with adding a tech tree to the game was deciding which technologies to include and which to exclude.  There has been some trial and error along the way and play testing has seen some techs come and go.  In the end I went with technologies that help define the image of the First World War. And while others could have been added, I limited it to a few to keep the game simple.  After all, the economic points allotted to each side is very limited.  If I added a lot more techs I would have to add more EP for the powers to buy them with.  Too much money put into the economic system invites more extreme strategies such as all the money into endless artillery.  I know that the extremes could easily be stopped with purchase limits.  However, now were getting into a longer rulebook and getting away from a guiding design principle: keep it simple.

Perhaps at some point advanced rules are in order but for now the available technologies are: Poison Gas, Gas Masks, Aircraft Machine Guns, and Tanks.

Here is a close up of the technology portion of the player board:

The Technologies and How They Work

Poison Gas

The advancement in poison gas, both chlorine and mustard, make artillery attacks more effective against infantry and cavalry units.  Artillery attacks normally score hits on rolls of 5 and 6.  Once chlorine gas is reached on the tech track, half of dice (rounded down) are rolled as a gas attack.  With chlorine gas, 4’s score a hit and with mustard gas 3’s and 4’s hit.  When attacking a fortress hex, poison gas hits (3’s and 4’s) still count against blocks in the hex but not the fortress itself.

Gas Masks

To counter the threat of gas attacks, players may research gas masks.  Research of this technology may not begin until one player has reached chlorine gas.  The gas mask track has two numbers, for example -2/-1.  The first number is the amount of gas hits(3’s and 4’s) ignored if your opponent attacks with chlorine gas, the second if he attacks with mustard gas.

Aircraft Machine Guns

Ah, the all-important interrupter gear.  In 1914 (first couple turns of the game) aircraft are used unopposed for reconnaissance.  Revealing your opponents blocks ahead of your movement is critical.  Researching Aircraft Machine Guns puts a stop to that.  This tech allows dogfighting which gets bloodier as the tech track is advanced.  Depending on the tech level, the defending player can force the active player to “abort” his mission, thereby returning his air marker to his player board without revealing any blocks.  Both players can also score “kills” which shoot down opposing aircraft.

Note: the board pictured says “exchange” and the term has changed to “abort.” Likewise “hit” is now “kill.”

Tanks

Once trench warfare begins and the front stabilizes, movement is all but stopped.  Breakout movement is no longer allowed.  Enter the tank.  Tank technology makes available tanks chits for purchase during production.  Each tank allows a limited number of steps to participate in a breakout move provided the hex is cleared during combat.  As the tech advances, the number of steps allowed to breakout increases.  Tanks are critical to any late war advancement.

 

Design note:  The “tank” is also used to represent what the Central Powers did with Stormtrooper infiltration tactics.  For simplicity sake, the prototype simply has tank chits for both powers.

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