Michael, the Good Padre from The Mad Padre's Wargames, and I decided to give this GMT game a try via VASSAL and email. Our objectives were three-fold: Learn VASSAL as a means for conducting boardgames via PBeM; learn Resch's 1914 series on operational WWI warfare; and play an enjoyable game with a like-minded friend. When did we take on this challenge? Well, almost exactly one year ago! I guess one might say we have taken the long, slow road to learning the game.
For a brief overview of the game and its scope, I pulled the following from the GMT's website:
1914, Offensive à outrance, The Initial Campaigns on the Western Front in WWI realistically covers the battles fought in Belgium, France, and Germany during the first months of World War One.
Historically, Germany launched its armies through Belgium and northern France in an attempt to achieve a quick triumph and avoid a long costly two-front war. The first weeks of the war resulted in a series of German victories that took them to the outskirts of Paris. There, in early September, the French counter-attacked at the River Marne and forced the Germans into a short withdrawal. Subsequently, when the Allied counter-offensive stalled at the Aisne River, the belligerents unsuccessfully maneuvered to outflank each other in what is known as the “Race to the Sea.” The campaigning season ended in exhaustion and stalemate at the Battle of Ypres.
1914, Offensive à outrance (translation: Offensive to excess) is a comprehensively researched model that explores this fascinating set of campaigns with an accurate order of battle and detailed game map. The map encompasses the entire theater of war from the English Channel to the Swiss Border. The game system used is a streamlined derivative of the 1914, Twilight in the East system, modified to speed play, with care not to lose focus on those aspects of warfare that made the opening stages of WWI so unique. This game system, in conjunction with the accurate map, allows the German advance to be conducted along historical routes with the eminent “Open Flank” present (instead of units strung out from map edge to map edge). The Allied player has an opportunity to recreate a “Miracle of the Marne” type victory or to stop the Germans earlier. Likewise, the German player has a chance to change history and defeat the Allies’ armies in 1914.
The Grand Campaign scenario covers the period from the fall of Liege on August 16th to exhaustion at Ypres in mid-November. Two shorter scenarios, The Battle for Lorraine (a learning scenario) and From the Marne to Stalemate are also provided.
1914, Offensive à outrance is a playable “Monster Game” designed with the expressed goal that the majority of the game can be completed by four dedicated players in one five-day long Expo. The 24-page rules booklet is concise, well written and organized. The game is exciting and gives wonderful insights into one of the most important campaigns of the twentieth century. The result is that 1914, Offensive à outrance is a game that the "WW1 enthusiast" must have and that a gaming connoisseur will enjoy.
1914, Offensive à outrance is designed by Michael Resch, winner of the 2007 CSR Award for Best pre-WWII Board Game and Best Wargame Graphics for his design 1914, Twilight in the East (GMT 2007).
29.0 THE BATTLE FOR LORRAINE – Introductory Scenario This scenario is intended to be a learning scenario. Players are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Player Aid Cards and to practice with the movement and combat mechanics. Specifically players should concentrate on paying MPs when crossing a hexside (rather than when entering a hex). It is also beneficial to learn the Forced March procedure, Cavalry Reaction procedure and the effects of placing Prepared Attack markers. The combat resolution procedure is unique and can be experimented with until the process is mastered. This scenario has not been designed for winning and losing. The intention is to allow players to take a small bite of the apple. Historical Notes In order to fulfill France’s prewar promise to Russia, General Joffre ordered an offensive into German-held Lorraine when mobilization and deployment were completed. The offensive began on 14 August with the advance of the First and Second Armies in the direction of Saarburg (Sarrebourg) and Morhangin (Morhange) respectively. The advance was methodical but whenever German forces were encountered the French attacked “à outrance” as per their pre-war doctrine. The German forces opposing this advance consisted of the German Sixth Army and a large portion of the Seventh Army. Initially ordered to take a defensive stance, the Germans allowed the French to slowly advance. On 20 August, the Germans launched a counter-offensive that threw the French Armies back across the border. The Germans followed this success with an advance into France. 29.1 Scenario Length and Map The Battle for Lorraine begins on the French Player turn of GT 1 and ends after the completion of the German Player turn of GT 4. The scenario is played using a portion of the South map. The boundaries of the playing are (all hexes listed are in play): NW: 48.49, NE: 64.49, SE: 64.60, SW: 48.60. Players can download a 8-1/2”x11” scenario map from http://www.consimgames.com/docs/1914_Oao_The_Battle of_Lorraine_Scenario_Map.pdf.
|At start positions|
|German counter offensive|
|Front line At Game turn 3|
|German Counter attack Game Turn 3|
Where we stand at present is the German Move of Game Turn 3. As seen from the screenshot above, the German player has launched a series of attacks all along the front in the penultimate turn. Historically, after the French offensive across the border ground to a halt, the Germans launched a counter-offensive. The German counter-offensive pushed the French back to their borders. Not likely the situation in this game. Before the German attacks can be resolved, the French player gets a chance to conduct any counter moves. Still some play left in this one.
An interesting and challenging game that provides a plausible model for WWI operational combat. Clearly the best operational WWI game I have seen or played.