1918: STORM IN THE WEST ADDITIONAL VARIANTS
James C. Gordon
1918: Storm in the West (Command Magazine #16) covers the final eight months of the Great War on a strategic level. After three years of stagnant attrition, the campaign in the West broke open with the rebirth of strategic mobility. The Germans used specially trained troops and new infiltration tactics to begin Operation Michael on 21 March 1918. Players maneuver corps-sized units in the ebb and flow across France and Belgium. Victory is determined by the respective national morale levels at the end of the game – or sooner if certain conditions are met. The following 16 variants impact the initial deployment, movement, logistics, combat, morale, and the politics of coalition warfare. The majority of these variants presume some alteration in the strategic situation leading up to the launching of Operation Michael in March, 1918.
1. At Start Deployment.
Deploy one Belgian, British or French unit per trench hex until each hex is occupied. Excess units may be placed anywhere. The British forces deploy between the Belgian and the French forces. There is no limitation on the segment of the trench line each army occupies.
2. Better Allied intelligence.
The German player indicates which hexes will contain more than one unit and deploys half his forces, without revealing unit strengths. The Allied player deploys all his units. Then the German player deploys the remainder of his units.
At the start of each player turn, the phasing player rolls one die. The result indicates the number of infantry or cavalry corps (selected by the owning player) which are out of supply during that turn.
The German player rolls one die. An even result adds one point to the replacement pool and an odd result subtracts one point. The Allied player rolls one die separately for the British, French and American replacement pools and applies the same results. Up to one-half of the American replacement points may be used to rebuild Allied units.
Deploy the British 14 and 16 Corps, and the Italian 2 Corps at start. Roll one die and deploy the U.S. division equal to the die roll at start.
6. Strategic Movement.
Each player rolls one die at the start of a turn. The result indicates the number of units which may use strategic movement that turn. The Allied player has a +3 DRM and the German player has a +1 DRM.
7. Infiltration Movement.
A die roll determines the effectiveness of infiltration tactics. Any unit attempting infiltration movement must roll one die. A result of 1-4 produces successful infiltration movement while a 5-6 is unsuccessful. If Stosstruppen units are making the attempt, a roll of 1-5 equals success. The Allied player rolls the die twice and adds 3 to the combined results. The total indicates the turn during which he gains infiltration capability.
8. Combat Strength.
Each player receives 30 counters to modify the attack and defense strengths of as many units. These counters are evenly divided between +1 AF/DF, 0 (no change), and –1 AF/DF. Each player places his combat strength counters secretly and the distribution is revealed with the first combat engagement. Excess AF/DFs are the first strength point lost in combat, and once lost they are gone permanently – even if that unit is eliminated and rebuilt.
Once each turn, either or both players can roll one die to modify one combat result. An even die roll produces a 1-point benefit on the CRT to the rolling player. This benefit can be taken either as an increase in the enemy losses or decrease of one’s own losses. An odd result produces a 1-point liability, determined by the opposing player.
At start, each player rolls one die. An even result is added to the initial Morale level. An odd result is subtracted. A morale total differential of 5 or more produces a die roll modifier during an attack. This die roll modifier is +1 (if higher) or –1 (if lower). If the difference in Morale levels is twice as much, the DRM becomes +2 or –2.
Either player may build trench hexes. One full-strength infantry corps which does not move or engage in combat during two consecutive turns can build one secondary trench hex. New trenches cannot be built in a hex which already contains any trench or fortress. A secondary trench never becomes a primary trench.
12. Italy collapses.
The Allies must withdraw the Italian Corps plus American, British and/or French forces totaling 15 attack factors. These units cannot return. Roll one die and reduce the Allied morale level by the result.
13. Austria collapses.
Germany must withdraw forces totaling 20 attack factors. These units cannot return. Roll one die and reduce the German morale level by the result.
14. French mutiny.
If the Allied morale drops below 10 and the French have at least 12 units in the dead pile, the Allied player must roll one die for each French unit. On a DR of 1 a mutiny eliminates that unit as an effective fighting force and it is removed from play. On a DR of 2 flip the unit over to reduced strength – a reduced strength unit would be eliminated. A DR of 3-6 makes a unit unable to move or attack but it defends normally. Units which mutiny cannot be used as replacements.
15. U.S. participation.
The Allied player rolls one die at the start. A result of 1-2 makes six U.S. divisions available to deploy at start. On a result of 3-4, there is no change in U.S. participation. On a result of 5-6, the United States does not get involved in the war, no U.S. forces are available, and the Allied morale level is reduced by 5.
16. War in 1919.
Following stalemates in the field and at the armistice talks, the Great War continues into its fifth year. The German armies still occupy French territory and the Allies take the offensive. This scenario runs from January, 1919 until either side meets the victory criteria. The German player places all units except Stosstruppen, AGB, and Big Bertha in a cup. Randomly draw out six Corps for placement in the dead pile and twelve Corps to deploy at reduced strength. All other units deploy at full strength using the secondary trenches as the front line. Germany receives one replacement point per turn and one unit from the dead pile as reinforcements drawn from other theaters. The Allied player deploys second in any hex adjacent to the German secondary trench line. All non-trench hexes adjacent to the German trenches are considered to be secondary trenches controlled by the Allies. Before deployment, place one Belgian, three American, three British and three French units in the dead pile. The November, 1918 replacement point schedule is extended into 1919 for all Allied armies. A die roll determines the Allied strategy for 1919: DR 1-2 = The Foch Offensive. At least one-third of the French units must attack on game turn one. DR 3-4 = The Pershing Offensive. At least half of the American units must attack on game turn one. DR 5-6 = The Haig Offensive. At least half of the British units must attack on game turn one. Morale levels at start are German 10, Allies 20. Either player is declared the winner whenever the opposing morale level is reduced to zero.
NOTE: The 210mm Kaiser Wilhelm railway gun which shelled Paris in 1918 is misrepresented as “Big Bertha.” That nickname was given to the 420mm siege guns designed by Krupp (and named for the manufacturer’s daughter) which were used against the fortresses at Liège in the opening maneuvers of the war.
Transcribed by Mark Kindrachuk