Here is the blog post I wrote for GMT’s blog. A link is included below for the full post including Gene Billingsley’s introduction.
I haven’t haven’t had any time of late to dedicate to blogging but I’m hopeful that is about to change. For now I give you the attack on Liege…
Today, August 5th, marks the 100th anniversary of the German attack into Belgium. What better day to give you a little peak at where we are with development as it relates to the opening moves of the war?
When playing the 1914 Mobile War or Grand Campaign of Fields of Despair, your first order of business is to plan the attack into Belgium. In your way is the fortress city of Liege just as it was 100 years ago. Below is a photo of the scenario set-up and my awesome hand-drawn arrows to illustrate the German war plans.
One guiding design goal is present you the player with the historical start and let you take over within a system that makes historical out comes probable but by no means a guarantee should you opt for extreme strategies. The 1914 scenarios afford the German army an opening move to which the French and British cannot reach. It’s critical to make the most of it if you hope to get within sight of Paris.
So just for fun, here are a few of the invasion of Belgium strategies I have observed over the past 3 years of play. The first is illustrated above. Players familiar with the First World War opt for it in some variation striking first at Liege before swinging down into the next fortress city of Namur and on to Antwerp.
Then there’s the aggressive player that gets a little greedy and goes for broke right out of the gate (Is this you? I’ve been guilty). Liege and Namur are attacked at the same time while other units rush around towards Antwerp. It’s great when it works, disaster when it doesn’t.
Finally, there’s the player who prefers overkill as seen below. The importance of taking Liege is obviously not lost on you but at what cost? Will the German army advance far enough? You’ll certainly have some ground to make up in the coming turns.
Regardless of what strategy you use, once arriving at Liege, you’ll be able to unleash the might of the “Big Bertha” howitzer the same way the Germans did in 1914. It doesn’t come cheap. Bertha was so massive, that in August of 1914 it was delivered to Liege in parts an assembled by a 1,000 man crew. If you want to fire Big Bertha you have to spend one of your precious “Logistic Points.” Logistic Points allow you take unique actions throughout the game not otherwise allowed by the rules. More about them in a future post, but let’s just say you want to be careful and deliberate when using them.
I have watched players agonize over this decision. The learning curve is, admittedly, much steeper with the German army. If you follow history and bring in Big Bertha, you most likely capture Liege in the opening move of the war sacrificing some flexibility and options in later turns.
The siege of Liege is so important that the development team has played out every possible attack, made adjustments, and attacked again. It has been the catalyst for many of the rules related to fortress hexes and for the design of an Introductory Scenario that begins after the capture of both Liege and Namur. I think first time players will enjoy cutting their teeth on a scenario that gets right to the meat of the mobile war. Experienced players, they will start this day in history August 5, 1914.