First World War Campaigns vs. Panzer Campaigns
With the release of France ’14 the first title in the First World War Campaigns (FWWC) series, I thought as one of the testers of this title, it would be a good idea to write an article to help players familiarize themselves on the main differences between FWWC and Panzer Campaigns (PzC). I cannot stress enough that this article is just a brief overview of the major changes between the two series and players should fully read the rules and especially the comprehensive notes provided by the designer to fully appreciate every aspect of this exciting new series.
Any player who initially played PzC and then moved onto Modern Campaign titles will understand that while the game engine is similar in most aspects, there are subtle differences in rules and tactics that you have to master to become a proficient player.
Night Movement Disruption rule
Any movement on a night turn that is not performed in T mode via a road or rail line or in rail mode has a 70% chance (adjusted by quality) of the unit being automatically disrupted. Special care has to be paid to road stacking limits as any unit that exceeds the limit will also be disrupted. Unlike PzC, armies now tend to stop operations at night because of this rule.
In testing it was found to be very easy to miss the fact that the next move was a night move ruining that perfect attack you had planned, so unlike PzC it is very important to keep an eye to how many more moves there are until nightfall.
HQ Movement & Command
Any HQ unit that moves in T mode and any large HQ (50+ men) that moves deployed is automatically “out of command” and cannot perform its command function, as soon as a HQ unit deploys or stops moving it will become eligible to be back in command.
It is also worth noting the very small command ranges in FWWC compared to PzC which leads to another very important change in that any unit that is detached (out of the command range of its immediate HQ) drops one morale level and receives only half of possible replacements.
Some supreme HQ units are held off map with a 0% chance of arrival, this was done intentionally to represent the effects of an extended LOC.
Forced Bridge Movement
In a major change to the ZOC rules is that a unit can now, in Travel (T) mode and at the cost of its whole MP allowance, cross a bridge moving from enemy ZOC to ZOC (without a friendly unit being in the hex moved into). This rule was introduced to prevent units “straddling” a bridge hex and exploiting the existing ZOC rules to prevent enemy movement across (see example below), I should be noted that this is the only case in which this new ZOC to ZOC movement is possible.
Artillery & MG unit movement and set up.
Artillery is divided into two types, units that can fire indirect (Heavy Artillery & Siege guns) and units that can only fire direct (Field Guns & MG’s).
Field guns and MG units can only move in T mode and use a new procedure to move and deploy. Once MG and Field Gun units are placed into T mode they can deploy only when the unit has its full movement allowance remaining, this is due to the fact that Field gun and MG units require their entire amount of movement points to deploy from T mode. This means that these units when on the attack and being direct fire only, will frequently be exposed in T mode to enemy fire for at least one turn prior to deploying into a firing position, once deployed Field guns and MG units are automatically set up and can fire from the next move.
It should be noted that Field guns and HMG units that use direct fire and have a LOS to an enemy unit can fire the normal three times per turn.
Indirect fire units have to set up once deployed from T mode just as in PzC , once set up their fire now has to be “plotted”. This involves selecting an eligible unit from the artillery dialogue box and right clicking on the hex where you would like its fire to fall. With the exception of mortars, each plotted unit only receives one shot and the fire is resolved at the start of the turn after it was plotted (before the command report); so it is possible the units in the hex you targeted may have moved away, or you may target your own troops by accident.
FWWC by default uses a modified version of the Alternate Fire Resolution optional rule from PzC to determine losses. Some PzC players may be aware of this rule and its effects as it is used in the Tobruk, France, and Normandy titles of that series. In FWWC it is on by default and there is no option to use the fire resolution that most PzC players are used to. The main differences are that if there are more than one unit in a hex you cannot target a particular unit and the losses the units suffer are proportional to their size, hence it is often necessary to assault units with a small number of men to completely eliminate them rather than use direct fire.
It is very important to understand that losses are proportional to the numbers of troops/guns stacked in a hex, so the tactic of “killer stacks” or (“Death Star stacks” – as Volcano calls them) seen in PzC may lead to very heavy losses in FWWC titles, in tests I have seen losses of up to 372 men for a single combined stack shot, you have been warned!
An attachment in FWWC is now corps to armies, whereas in PzC it tended to be divisions to corps.
Although the stacking rules are the same as PzC, it should be noted that these limits are far higher in FWWC than PzC to reflect the different nature of early WW1 tactics. As noted in the Fire Effects comments, the more units you stack in a hex, the greater your losses to fire will be (you have again been warned!). On the other hand, the greater the stack density then the better the results will usually be in an assault. The dilemma is knowing just when to stack densely and when to stack sparsely.
Also to prevent players taking advantage of the higher stacking limits and massing field guns and/or MG units in a single hex, a new “towed gun” stacking limit has been introduced, in effect only 450 men (1 gun=10 men) can deploy in a single hex, this limit does not affect greater amounts of guns/MG’s moving through the hex in T mode, only those wishing to deploy and fire.
Engineers function very much the same in FWWC as they do in PzC but with the following important exceptions:
•Only Engineers flagged "Has Boats" can ferry units over full water or river/canal hexsides (but not in a storm).
•Engineers cannot lay or clear mines or clear wire obstacles (read the designer’s notes on why).
•Only engineers can damage ferries or rail lines.
•Engineer bridges are considered only to be medium bridges for the purposes of movement, but the lack of any armoured units (apart from armoured cars) in F14 means this has a limited impact in the early war titles.
Any assault at night will result in the automatic disruption of the attacker, the night disruption effect will be applied after the assault is resolved.
There are two new types of fortifications in FWWC, Forts and Redoubts. The effects of these and other such defensive works are fully explained in the rules and notes.
In testing the new rules dealing with the movement and tactics of Cavalry produced more discussion than any other subject. The designer has gone into great detail about this subject in the notes so I will not repeat what is said there in this article, all I will do is list the main characteristics:
It costs a cavalry unit 2/3 of its MP allowance to change from deployed (dismounted) to travel mode (mounted). It is far easier to dismount from a horse and have it move to the rear than it is to gather the horses back up to remount. Just remember that dismounting comes with the sacrifice of mobility in more ways than one.
As mentioned above, travel mode (T mode) when applied to cavalry units represents those units being in a mounted formation and in a position to launch a cavalry charge. When a mounted cavalry unit assaults (charges) in T mode, the cost of the assault is only 1/3 of the unit’s MP allowance. Hence, a cavalry unit can potentially assault three times in one move, also a cavalry unit conducting an assault has its assault value quadrupled.
Cavalry defending an assault in T mode only suffer 1/12 of the normal losses, but you will be forced to retreat if the assaulting force contains a non cavalry unit.
As it states clearly in the notes, a cavalry charge should be a carefully considered act. Even if a charge seems to have been successful on your move it can turn into a disaster on your opponents move when infantry, MG & artillery fire mow your cavalry down like corn. Since cavalry units are worth considerably more victory points than infantry, a badly thought out charge could cost you very dearly.
When on the defensive, it pays to leave cavalry in T mode to reduce losses from a surprise charge and avoid the penalty for changing from deployed to mounted, but of course this leaves these same units vulnerable to fire.
Mounted cavalry units (cavalry units in T mode) cannot recover fatigue while they remain mounted. This means that in order for your cavalry to recover from fatigue, it will have to deploy from travel mode and sacrifice mobility. This was done to allow for historical cases where cavalry forces were literally rode into the ground by constant movement without respite.
You should also note there are several different types of cavalry often with different attributes, so take time to familiarize yourself with the types of cavalry under your command.
New Toolbar Button
A new toolbar button has also been added, “Highlight Travel Mode” aids players in spotting those all important MG & Field Gun units that may need to be deployed and might have been missed in a large stack.
It is my personal opinion that FWWC is a fantastic addition to the HPS range of titles based around the original PzC engine and I hope that players will try out F14 to see if they enjoy playing the title as much as I have testing it.
I would like to thank Ed Williams (Volcano Man) for allowing me to be part of the test team and have an input into this great new project.