Revised 1914

The old Avalon Hill classic “1914” was one of the first portrayals of fighting in WW1, and tried to get the attritionist nature of the fighting (even before the trench phase) with several innovations like step losses and a CRT that varied with the best defense strength defending unit. It also had a notion of “stance” from best defense factor only toward 3 hexsides while attack had to face its target (the other way). While clever, the execution wasn’t great, with the CRT in particular almost always resulting in just 1 step loss to each side, pretty much regardless of other parameters of the combat.

I think the game is worth saving, and since designing CRTs is kind of my thing, I took on the challenge of “fixing” classic 1914. Besides a new CRT, the game also needs some revisions to its step loss system, since e.g. the original gave the British cavalry division 7 steps, compared to 4 for a first line German infantry corps. Since the combat system trades step losses this hilariously presented a 3 brigade barely armed cavalry formation as more resilient than about 6 German infantry divisions.

To start with, here is the new (two sided) CRT –

New CRT for 1914

This 2 sided CRT uses the best defense factor of any defending unit to determine the left hand side column, which governs attacker losses. The ratio of total attacker strength to this same best defense factor unit determines the odds column used on the right hand side of the CRT, which governs defender losses and retreat results. The results are 2-12, but 3D6 are actually rolled, of 3 different colors. The white die is shared by both totals on the two sides of the table, while the red die is only used for the right side result and the green (or blue) die is only used for the left side result. E.g. a roll of white 3, red 2, green 4 would use the “5” row for the RHS result and the “7” row for the LHS result. Notice, this doesn’t change the expectation on either side of the table, it just establishes a weaker correlation between high attacker losses and low defender losses than you’d get from just 2D6. Sometimes you will get higher losses to both sides, and sometimes lower losses and an indecisive combat.

The way terrain works with the new system is also different. Either all attackers crossing a river or defenders in rough gives 1 column left, but these are not cumulative. Defenders in rough also allows them to ignore R1 results; R2 results still apply.

Last, if attackers attack from either any front-3 hex faces or from 2 non-adjacent hexes, the defender uses its lower first combat factor, not its higher second “prepared defense” factor. This is a revision from the original which required attacks from fully opposite directions (180 degrees apart) to get the flanking bonus. Now attackers being 120 degrees around the defending hex suffices to earn this benefit.

Note that all attacker factors always contribute to odds, but defenders use only their single highest defense strength. In addition, as in the original game cavalry defenders facing infantry only attackers may retreat before combat 1 hex without loss to either side. Attackers get the hex in that case (advance after combat).

In addition, German 210 artillery brigades grant 1 column right on the RHS only if any are supporting a given attack. Any number can contribute their attack factor, but only 1 column shift is available, and only when attacking. German siege artillery only destroys forts as in the original game. French AL artillery brigades do not have this ability.

In addition, each artillery unit can only destroy a single fort with each attack on the artillery table, not all present in a given direction. Each artillery unit may attack only one fort, but if several artillery units are available more than one fort may be attacked at the start of a given combat phase. German 1st Line Corps can also fire using the 150 line if that suffices against a given fort. Forts destroyed before the standard combat phase (“assault” if any forts remain) have no effect on regular combat in that same phase.

In assault combat, forts defend on the “6” DF column if alone, or give 1 column left on the LHS if a unit with at least 6 DF is present, while adding +2 to their DF for odds determination purposes. One fort also absorbs the first step loss in any combat result (though that fort is destroyed in the process) and all fortified defenders ignore R1 retreat results if any fort was intact before the combat resolution step (i.e. not destroyed by artillery beforehand). R2 results must still be taken by any units present. Attackers may not advance into any hex still defended from that direction by an intact fort.

Movement changes – as in the original, for 1 extra movement point in the full movement phase any unit can move in any desired direction and end in any facing. However, the restriction of moving in an exactly straight line without facing changes to use all movement points is relaxed somewhat. The rule instead is that a unit may move to any of its front 3 hexes – maintaining original facing – without spending an extra movement point. Then at the end of its move, it may change facing a single hex spine if desired. Note this means a unit must move within a 120 degree arc in the direction it is facing to avoid the 1 MP cost for arbitrary changes in direction.

The following changes are also made to the step loss system on the unit counter charts.

German R corps – 5-8-3 to 4-6-3 to 2-4-3, 3 step units. 3-5-3 step is skipped.

German LW corps – 4-4-2 to 2-2-2, 2 step units. In addition, a step loss can be assigned to any LW corps stacked with a reduced German A or R corps, increasing that corps 1 step.

German cavalry division – 4-3-4 to 2-1-4, 2 step units.

French R corps – 6-9-3 to 4-7-3 to 2-3-3, 3 step units. 3-5-3 step is skipped.

French T corps – 6-6-2 to 3-3-2, 2 step units.

French cavalry – 2-1-4, single step units, eliminated if they take a step loss.

British cavalry division – 7-4-4 to 4-3-4 to 2-1-4, 3 step unit.

British cavalry brigade – 2-1-4, single step unit, eliminated if it takes a step loss.

Belgian corps – 6-8-2 to 4-6-2 to 1-2-2, 3 step units.

Belgian cavalry – 2-1-3, single step unit, eliminated if it takes a step loss.

Dutch LW division – 2-2-2, single step unit, eliminated if it takes a step loss.

New OCS

New OCS is a full set of modifications to the extremely popular games series from MMP, a special favorite at large gaming conventions like Consimworld in Phoenix.  OCS stands for the Operational Combat Series.  This has far more detail about supply and logistics as well as unit operating “modes” than simply systems like SCS (“Standard” combat series), as well as a fully treatment of air operations and unit quality differences.

I introduced the modifications on the Board Game Geek site first, and you can find the main proposals in that original form in the following thread –

New OCS modest proposals

Here I will both summarize the changes and explain some of their motivations.

I should also say I plan a major playtest of this system at Consimworld 2019, using the specific game “Smolensk – Barbarossa Derailed”, one of the most recent titles in the series.