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FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
08-03-2020, 02:28 AM,
#1
FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Okay, so very new to FWWC.  Have played 1 complete PBEM scenario (crossing at Dinant) as the Belgians and lost but fared well mechanics wise on the defensive.  In my 2nd PBEM now with another very small effort (Exposing the Enemies Hand) and again playing as the Allies (French) because I wanted to experience a small taste of offensive mechanics.  I confess that I have found it to be very tough going, and I was wondering if this gives an adequate taste of what a larger battle would play out like.  More specific I find the mechanics of offensive combat in FWWC to be extremely frustrating (have not tried with the Germans yet).  I read the Designers Notes twice, so I had the sense that French Rifle Fire would be "less than" but that their assault values would be "more than" and I've looked at the numbers and understand the ratios and scales.  All that said, my immediate impression is "Same Old French".  If anything they're worse in 1914 than 1940.  Their small MG sections get blasted by the larger more lethal Germans MGs with regularity, their infantry battalions, should they miraculously get into a position to conduct an assault (they usually disrupt whenever a German spits at them) they routinely fail said assaults against even completely disrupted positions even if fresh.  I confess that the scenario size (5 turns) has inspired in me a certain lack of discipline (who needs reserves in a 5 turn game) but I mean in a larger battle, practicing a standard battalion rotation of 1 up, 2 back, and rotating through, all I see that would result is French move, french draw fire, french disrupt.  If they're disrupted and stay up front to wear the enemy by fire, the exchanges are horrible....shoot, kill X, take defensive fire, take XX, and so on.  Who has the map key for playing the French and not wanting to succumb depression.  Is it as simple as...well in the larger scenarios you do have to be patient, and play the long game (which if that's the answer from a design level I get that, but it does mean in smaller scenarios the French are pretty much always the punching bag). 

All you veterans of FWWC, gimme the gouge.  Are we doomed to Napoleonic Wars if we want to see France triumphant on a battlefield?
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08-03-2020, 03:35 AM,
#2
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Paul, it has been awhile since I have played the F'14 stuff, and the latest there was campaign level. However, my take at the campaign level - doesn't apply necessarily in short scenarios - is the French/Allies have to give ground until it is time to counterattack. So as you noted, standing toe to toe and trying to hold ground will drive up losses and destroy units. And that is historically how things happened overall.

Now tactically, the French 75s are the equalizer. But you have to find good positions for them, as they will generally die quickly in the front lines, until the Germans get worn down a bit. So finding a ridge and fighting a front slope defense is key - have the 75s on the ridge with a view of at least 2 hexes in front, and deploy supporting infantry in the hex to their front and sides. If you can find a ridge allowing a chain of this, they can chew up the Germans as they move up to disrupt and push the infantry out of the way. Then if the infantry does get pushed back, the artillery retreats - meaning keep a viable retreat route or the artillery will be trapped in woods, for example.

If you can do this for a bit, the Germans are ripe for a counterattack as they move up - then the infantry can assault, the German MGs aren't deployed yet, the artillery hits the second line Germans after the assaults where possible and the infantry falls back in front of the guns again.

That is what seems to work best from my memory.

Rick
[Image: exercise.png]
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08-03-2020, 07:28 AM,
#3
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Without knowing your experience-level with the Tiller engines overall, you'll forgive me if I'm stating the obvious.

But in the second scenario you mentioned (Uncovering the enemy's hand), it's worth noting that most of the French force is reserve divisions.
55th DR is mainly D morale, with maybe half a brigade of C morale in there.
56th DR is all D morale.
And you can't really attack with D morale troops unless you have an awful lot of them.... Well, you can, but the results aren't going to be impressive.

So the 55th go onto the wooded ridge, and deploy their MGs. Bring up the 75mms with them, and they'll have some pretty good fields of fire. Cycle the infantry battalions in front of the hill and just wear the German cavalry down.

56th will have to hold the center by simply rotating units into the frontline as they disrupt. Keep the HQs right behind the front so disrupted units can move into the same hex to increase their chance of recovering.
It's not pretty, but it works. And you have a fresh brigade coming up that can take over if needed.

The south contains your only real viable attacking force, the Moroccan brigade. These guys are B morale, and can take some punishment.

There are three VP locations practically open.
[Image: NxKLyX3.jpg]
The center one (marked in red) is a bit of a red herring. Open terrain, and you're running right into German fire with D morale troops. On the other hand, you have to keep pressure on it to simply tie down German troops.
The southern one should fall to the Moroccans after a fight. Even with superior German firepower, that B morale should see them through.
The northern one is only guarded by a single cavalry regiment, and you have almost a full division at your disposal. Granted, they're D morale, but you have artillery and a lot of infantry.
So unless the Germans send one of their infantry brigades to reinforce, it'll fall.
And if they do, they only have one brigade to hold the center, against a full division.
Even with the French, that's pretty good odds. :)

Overall, you have almost 6 brigades against their 3. So keep the pressure on, and grind away.
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08-03-2020, 09:07 AM,
#4
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
All great advice from everyone so far, playing a 5 turn scenario it might be difficult to put all that good advice into practise as these types of scenarios tend to be frantic and the result can often go one way or another with the odd disruption or lack of recovery from disruption altering the result one way or another.

As Rick says the 75's are key to any French success, I am playing a scenario at the moment and a major German attack by my opponent has foundered on the destruction well sighted 75's have spat out , but as has been stated wearing the CP player down is usually the most effective tactic.

One more point to add is that cavalry units should be always be assaulted by infantry without waiting to disrupt them, unless you get a very bad dice roll the result will always be favourable, even if you don't take the hex the fatigue suffered by the cavalry will be high and any losses are great on the VP table as cavalry losses earn you considerably more points than infantry.

I think you are going through a learning process here, if you get you head round playing the French in F14 and then decided to try the Russians in EP14 then you would again need to learn what makes them "tick".  Wink
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08-11-2020, 07:26 AM,
#5
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
All advice is good, and CheerfullyInsane is spot on in the analysis of the scenario.

(08-03-2020, 09:07 AM)Mr Grumpy Wrote: I think you are going through a learning process here, if you get you head round playing the French in F14 and then decided to try the Russians in EP14 then you would again need to learn what makes them "tick".  Wink

Good point. One day maybe a useful and interesting (or funny) thread might be a ranking of the various WW1 armies in FWWC. Certainly the Germans are good all-rounders, but from there is a very interesting exploration, and they all play very differently.  I like that about them too, that you really have to study the strength and weakness of each to get good at (or effective with) them. It gives a bit of 'easy to learn, difficult to master' aspect to each force, rather than everything being cookie cutter without any actual historical characteristics.

I'd say the French and Russians are close, having very different negatives and very different positives, but if you really want to have fun then you should try playing with the Austro-Hungarians (my personal favorite at the moment - I am a glutton for punishment, I guess).  Big Grin
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08-11-2020, 12:28 PM,
#6
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
The French aren't bad on the defensive due to all those MGs and the 75mms, but they really suffer from the lack of decent rifles if they have to advance.

I actually really like the Russians. Granted, they're fairly brittle so you have to manage them very carefully. But if you can get into a position where you can field a full brigade on a 3--hex front (keeping everyone within HQ range) you can pour out some serious punishment.

The Austro-Hungarians are a complete mystery to me.
All the weakness of the Russians without their numbers, and atrocious quality.
Every time they manage to disrupt someone, I always imagine that it's simply the Serbians p*ssing themselves with laughter. Big Grin
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08-11-2020, 08:35 PM, (This post was last modified: 08-11-2020, 08:36 PM by Andrea G.)
#7
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Indeed the A-Hs are the funnier; no augsburg plan withstand the impact with the enemy.
Hope will see them covered in more games; I am currently reading "Collision of Empires" and figure myself as Conrad trying to hindemburg the russians in Galicia and being thrashed  Big Grin
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08-11-2020, 10:57 PM,
#8
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Oh god yes.
A-H vs. Russia in Galicia, now that would be something.

I imagine it would be something like watching pre-schoolers playing soccer.
Everybody just clumps together and goes to wherever the ball (objective) happens to be at that particular time. Big Laugh
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08-12-2020, 04:41 AM,
#9
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
(08-11-2020, 12:28 PM)CheerfullyInsane Wrote: The Austro-Hungarians are a complete mystery to me.
All the weakness of the Russians without their numbers, and atrocious quality.
Every time they manage to disrupt someone, I always imagine that it's simply the Serbians p*ssing themselves with laughter. Big Grin

Indeed, they have to be handled with kid gloves and anyone thinking they can boldly advance without being given a bloody nose from the Serb's now and then is in for a big shock.

I can't remember which but there is a Bde HQ in one division with a command range of 0, just try to advance or defend with those boys!!  Big Grin
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08-12-2020, 05:18 AM,
#10
RE: FWWC France 14 Musing and Wonderings
Once you have the German infantry disordered than attack lone German battalions with 2 French Battalions (my standard approach in longer scenarios. You will win most times. In the short scenarios as the French you have to do things that would be unthinkable in longer scenarios--3 Battalions vs 1 disordered German will pretty much always win but leave you very vulnerable to fire and high casualties.

one battalion vs one battalion melees often work but not often enough, in my experience. So disorder the Germans with artillery and MG's and then pile on.

In longer scenarios rotating your infantry and giving ground works. You want to make sure your front line battalions are not disordered and once they get above 100 fatigue rotate them. Also, if you have good fields of fire with artillery and mg's, it is often a good idea not to fire with lone French battalions in the front line, since they risk getting disordered.
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