In an attempt to let you guys have a look at the game and see what it is about, I have been doing a sort of diary of my current freshly started game as Central Powers.
As it turned out during the game, decisive moments in the first year came relatively early, and my game was not really optimal. But I have had fun, so here it goes.
I have opted for the historical start (meaning that both sides are using historical warplans, instead of choosing freely from a number of choices).
The turn Early August have already passed, I have made a very good advance into Belgium, but the other theatres are just coming to life.
So let's get an overview!
Here is Galicia and Ruthenia, which shall be the main "playing ground" (if you can call the imminent loss of tens of thousands of men that) for the main Austro-Hungarian and Russian forces. Not really visible on this screenshot, but I am opting to have a historical attempt of advancing into Russian Poland on my left flank. Risky, for sure, but hoping to be in a superior position to whatever the AI will be doing.
On the screenshot you can see Russian general Brusilov's stack on my right flank. He will either march straight at Czernowitz, or move west into Ruthenia.
As you probably know Brusilov is quite the general, so stopping him will be problematic. For now, I opt to have my 4th Army (facing Brusilov) be cautious and prepare for both possible moves, so I simply order them to march one region to the west. Not ideal, but no chance to be caught with pants down, either.
This is East Prussia, with the 1st and 2nd Russian armies poised to move in. I am in no hurry to react here, luring them in to unleash the (soon to be appointed) Hindenburg on their unfortunate soldiers.
Belgium. As you see I am on the verge of entering France. Having already gained military control of Brussels, this turn I will be triggering the Rape of Belgium event which gives me military control over much of the country.
There is of course the problem of the British Expeditionary Force (‘BEF’ for short). My cavalry stack is hiding one of them at Mons, but I am converging two corps at Lille, with the hopes of getting there before the BEF.
It is probably sub-optimal, but I am sending the main body of the 2nd Army with its siege guns to Antwerp.
Also note that the AI was desperate to get a good look on my main advance, and put a French unit into harm’s way. Let's mention it to future players: do not underestimate your air units! There is a reason why the AI is trying to keep them close to the front: knowing if an enemy stack is the main thrust or just an opportunist probing stack can be decisive especially in 1914!
Serbia. Being confident that my several plays of the game give me an edge in Russia, I am moving the Austro-Hungarian (or A-H) 2nd Army (currently in Hungary) to the eastern edge of the Serbian front, seeking a quick and decisive victory there.
What you can also see is that I am moving with my 6th Army from Zvornik, crossing into Southern Serbia. This is extremely risky, as its general, Potiorek, is a horrible leader, but the Serbs are just given too many options for trickery if I remain passive. The success of this attack will entirely depend on where the Serbian stacks move to, but I want to give a shot for maintaining the initiative.
Here you can see me ordering my eastern main fleet under Scheer to go and protect German merchant shipping in the Baltic Sea. Sometimes the Russian navy tries to have a go at them. With this fleet sailing out with orders to intercept, the Russians will be facing a nasty surprise if they do try.
I have also sent out my submarines to the Atlantic Shipping Box to hunt Entente merchants. Otherwise, I am remaining passive at the seas.
Here is Potiorek doing his offensive, anything but unopposed. It did start surprisingly well, since I managed to get intel on the enemy deploying a strong center in the battle. So I attempted to pull off an envelope flank maneuver:
It did NOT work. Totally backfired, in fact. A horrible defeat: almost 50% losses with 10% for a numerically inferior enemy. A rout.
Speaking of defeats, that was me trying to hold ground at Lemberg. Well, actually, I expected that either the AI would hold in front of Lemberg gathering
strength, or if not, that I could stop the quick rush to it. Neither happened, but at least this was a much closer affair.
The Lille operation did not work, but I will try again! If it fails I will probably have to give up my drive on Paris for now.
You can also see that due to my hurried advance a tiny "stack" (probably a single unit) of Belgians managed to stay in Namur. I will diverge my weakest corps from the Ardennes to hunt them down, but they are very insignificant. On the red bar on the unit you can see that they are seriously understrength, and the green bar shows that their supplies are running out.
Meanwhile, I repulsed a French assault on Metz!
Things are going mostly bad in the Eastern Front.. The Russians are converging on Galicia (already kicked me out of Lemberg if you remember) and my western forces are out of position. This will have to be remedied.
This is the point that I must admit that concentrating on the AAR and screenshots, I managed to replicate the ineptitude of initial Central Powers failures on the Eastern Front, by not moving those two Austro-Hungarian stacks, or the Germans in East Prussia this turn.
Which in East Prussia meant that the (intended) steam roller of the 1st Russian Army crashed into Koenigsberg, where freshly appointed Hindenburg gave them a sound beating:
Ripe for a counter-attack!
What you can see is the plan for Operation Correct The Mistake. From the west, my stronger stack, the main body of my 1st Army, is being sent on train around the mountains to get to relieve Przemysl from the south. The smaller stack is going to Krakow and in October will react from there to whatever the Russians decide to do.
On the east, the 4th Army will leave its weakest corps at Czernowitz, the rest will deploy just south of Lemberg on the other bank of the Dniestr, hopefully in time to support the weakened 3rd Army if the Russians decide to continue their charge (although they failed to take Lemberg on the move, so that may slow them down).
On the Western Front, not much changed, as my half-hearted attempt to dislodge the BEF failed again. I will have to move the German 1st Army north to do the job, as I am uneasy leaving my flank weakened and exposed.
Meanwhile, the Entente has started moving in Africa as well, but their initial effort has been repulsed:
This is the bad news picture of this turn. This piecemal probing of the BEF was a horrible idea. Now again I was defeated by it. As you can see I am trying to make it move away from its entrenched positions by moving my cavalry behind it. But that stack is losing organisation and supplies so how much the AI will far for it is a question. I will of course try to flank from the north but first I need to organise my piecemal-ly defeated stacks into a strong force.
French reinforcements also bound to arrive any time now, but so far they have not given up their offensive down south. Makes sense seeing how I let myself be stopped cold by the BEF alone. And they did win the first battle of this turn at Metz, took me one more battle during the 15 days long turn to dislodge them from the region. Still a huge French stack is there.
I have started moving into French territory from Luxembourg and the Ardennes to relieve pressure.
This is the good news screenshot of this turn. Here is what happened: the Russians meant business with their quick advance, not wanting to slow down, they led two assaults against an intact fort of Przemysl (a somewhat unusual move, usually the AI besieges it). Has it succeeded, it would have captured it before my reinforcement arrived. But it did not. It was a bloody affair after which the demoralised Russian forces gave up altogether and retreated instead of taking up battle with my arriving reinforcements.
I REALLY needed this Russian setback. It is probably a decisive moment in this campaign. I am expecting Galicia to be relatively silent for now, I have a good defensive position behind the Dniestr, I don't think the Russians will try to cross without gathering a sufficient force first.
Meanwhile, I have ordered the creation of a couple of corps worth of units in both Eastern Germany and Austria-Hungary (Czech and Hungarian reservists in the latter).
Hindenburg has done well and caused serious losses to the 1st Army. The Russians are now probing on the Polish border as you can see, so I am moving my (not too numerous) reserves from Germany proper.
This is the small good news picture of the month. While the Serbs were busy slapping my 6th Army around at the west, the 2nd Army from the north-east, and the 5th Army from the north descended upon Belgrade, defeated the Serbian force there, and put the fortress under siege.
My epic screwup of the Western Front continues. My "fool the BEF into running back with my cavalry" operation is a total failure as the poor guys are running out of supplies and getting disorganised, while French reinforcements starting to appear to plug the worst gaps.
I still have not given up hope on a northern flanking operation though.
And as you can spot above, the Ottomans have joined the war on my side, yay! I have had my diplomats working in the Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Persia. Now one of them can switch focus to Italy.
On the Russian front there was relative quiet, Hindenburg continued mopping up the Russians in East Prussia, and in Galicia the Russians have been busy reorganising (and I am happy to be busy digging in while they are doing so).
Russian Poland seems to be more and more busy though, and a single Russian unit launched a probe advance into Germany. Little did it know that my reserves are coming in from the opposing direction.
I have also ordered some new units in Southern Germany, and an assembly of Austrian regulars.
That is an event option I have received this turn, and will of course play it, hopefully slowing down inevitable British advances in Africa.
As you can see, my northern flanking attempt in Belgium met a similar attempt by Great Britain, and now I am hurrying to close the gap between my two stacks there.
Worse still, since I have failed to put any kind of serious pressure on the west since I decided it was a splendid idea to divide my main force into 3 parts and attack the BEF in three separate sittings, the Entente has been somewhat free to ship some reinforcements to besieged Antwerp, turning that from a side operation to a serious hindrance.
The Russians are busy preparing for Round 2. Hopefully they will wait to sort out the supply situation of their Lemberg stack, as my Hungarian reserves are gathering in Budapest to be sent East.
On the Balkan front, I have probably got an explanation for my success in Belgrade (which is still under siege as I do not want to assault): My two corps incursion into Eastern Serbia (near the Romanian border) from previous turn was counterattacked and repulsed by a strong Serbian stack, with my guys running back to their bank of the Danube.
I have decided not to press the issue.
I haven't really mentioned my (ever disappearing) German cruisers out on the oceans creating trouble for the Entente. Here is SMS Nurnberg very much at the end of her capabilities, but still managing to sink merchant shipping, according to the news I received.
The Western Front was quiet, although I am worried that the reinforcements shipped to Antwerp earlier may try to cause major havoc by collapsing my siege.
I keep bombarding them (there is a Regional Decision, these are played like cards on regions, which in case of presence of heavy artilleries and sufficient military control allow heavy bombardment of forts, for a price), but because of the pesky reinforcements (this is sort of happened in real life as well with British Marines arriving), I dare not risk an assault, and of course starving out a major port without ships is a bit tricky. So I am starting to send in reinforcements to launch an assault and end this potentially dangerous thorn in my side.
As for the French, they were doing some reorganisation of the front line. I cannot see where the troops are headed, but I did spot Sedan to become
underdefended, at least temporarily. So I have ordered the 3rd Army and the XI Armee Corps under its command to advance and extend the front line, which should result in a more stable front. But it is on the assumption that there are no French reinforcements coming in on the railroads behind the Fog of War. We shall see.
This is the important part of the Eastern Front now:
A Kazakh cavalry unit was sent to recon out the Przemsyl region, but that is not significant. The Russians continue preparations for a major attack at Lemberg, what I could do about it is feigning an advance on my right flank, but I am a bit reluctant.
My attention is mostly fixed on the two Russian stacks approacing River Wisla on my left flank, especially the one at Kielce. It is perfectly feasible they are merely trying to defend their own flank and has no intention to attack. On the other hand my forces there are presently concentrated at Krakow. I would need to know more about the strength of the Russians before deciding if I should disperse these units to form a line of entrenchment, or I should keep concentrated and ready to counter-attack.
I have my recon planes tied down eyeing Galicia and Serbia, but luckily a new squadron I ordered has just finished training right in Krakow, so hopefullyI will get better intel there next turn.
My 4 corps worth of Hungarian reservists and field artillery has been trained and formed under their commanders. This turn I am sending them to the Carpathians, ready to be railroaded to whichever hotspot might form.
IF there will be none, they will be used on the right flank in the aforementioned feign attack to draw Russian forces away. But they are just reservists, so not really meant to be leading offensives.
Winter has set in on the East, and Russian movements suggest they are getting ready to defend.
As you can see, their concentrated forces are being dispersed along the front line, although their strongest stack just east of Przemsyl is actually moving west toward the fortress, so this may not be it for the year.
In any case, I have decided to do likewise, and ordered my fresh new Hungarian corps to plug in potential holes. The Carpathian Mountains are giving a nice defensive position, with impassable mountain regions at places making a 100% continuous trench line unnecessary.
Also my newly trained German regulars are about being sent to the Russian border. I might use them for a drive into Russian Poland, but I am not feeling strong enough for that, and I should be constructing more units, really. So the plan is to set up defensive positions for the winter, and create a new army to bring the war to Russia when spring comes.
The West continuous being pretty much a disaster. In the Ardennes it seemed the French indeed decided to cut their line shorter and defend behind rivers. I also got my answer regarding their troop concentrations, as they had another go at Metz, yet again punishing me for not being able to distract them enough up north. But the defenders held, avoiding catastrophe.
You can see that there is still the northern flank to advance into, which I am doing, but the frontline appears to be pretty much set.
The Serbs moved into Zvornik recently on the western edge of that front, now I am sending the weathered forces of General Potiorek to dislodge them.
Otherwise as you can see, I am setting up a line of defense. I am not intending to do much here but to contain, until (and if) the Bulgarians join me.
Speaking of diplomacy, the Entente effort of bringing Romania in is going worringly well. That could set off quite the chain reaction on the Balkans.
And finally, unfortunately no screenshot to show it, but the Russians made a probing attack across their border with the Turks, but were quick to retreat, lacking any serious intention to break through.
Look, Potiorek actually managed to win a battle!
Failure in the West is not without consequences:
Winter creeps up on the West as fronts continue to stabilise:
This was "in other news". Now here is the real issue that I ignored last turn. Let's jump to Galicia:
That stack east of Przemysl. It did NOT move to Przemysl. And maybe it doesn't need to.
It has just become a huge issue for me as it can strike into 4 different directions and each very painful. AFter my contemplation I have decided to abandon my defensive positions just south of Lemberg, and move one region back to where my airbase is, and to Stanislau respectively. Those will still be excellent defensive terrain, but less risky.
Although the Late December orders are yet to be resolved, this pretty much concludes 1914 and my AAR. As I mentioned at the start, decisive moments came relatively early, and they were mostly my (unintentional) making: the piecemeal attack on the BEF was a new strategy I wanted to try. Well, not the actual repeated attack, but the attempt to units two racing corps just before they bump into the BEF. Horrible idea. A spearhead needs to be a spearhead.
Also my attention diverted to writing this AAR/diary left me a bit out of position against the Russians, which could have become a much more serious problem, if not for the probably bloodiest series of assaults on a fort I have seen in 1914. Two healthy stacks of Russian troops were reduced to rubble.
I hope I managed to shed some light on the game. I might update this AAR further if time permits, but hopefully this has already given you a basic idea.