MEF: The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was the name given to Army the Allies landed at Gallipoli in an attempt to drive Turkey from the war and open up a supply route to Russia. The attempt failed after a bloody campaign lasting almost a year.
Michel: First and largest of the German 1918 offensives in the west, it was a major tactical success, gaining more ground than the combined Allied offensives of the previous three years, but lack of strategic direction prevented it from becoming a war-winning battle.
Mine Attack: As a traditional part of siege warfare, the use of mines and countermines was a major feature of trench warfare in WWI. The most spectacular example was the British mine at Messines in 1917, which exploded with a force felt in London.
Moltke: Nephew of the Great Moltke who had won the Franco-Prussian war, he commanded the Germany army at the outbreak of hostilities, where his lack of resolve helped lead to failure at the Marne.
Mustard Gas: A burning and persistent gas, it could remain dangerous for days and even weeks after it was used.
Ober Ost: The German High Command in the East, originally under the team of Hindenburg-Lundendorff-Hoffmann.
Over There: Though America entered WWI in April 1917, it would be over a year before major US forces were engaged in combat.
Peace Offensive: Code name given to last German offensive of the war, its failure contributed to the decline in German morale.
Phosgene Gas: One of several chemical weapons used commonly during WWI.
Place of Execution: The code-name given to the German assault on Verdun. Intended to bleed the French dry, it eventually bled the German army white as well.
Pleve: Though old and ill (he died during the war) Pleve was one of the ablest of the Tsarist army commanders.
Putnik: Serbian “Warlord” his failing health forced him to command from a superheated room, but his knowledge of the terrain and fighting instincts drove back the Austrians time and again.
Race to the Sea: After the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914, both the Allies and Germans attempted a series of maneuvers designed to outflank the other. These attempts ended in October when they reached the English Channel, causing this period of the war to be called the Race to the Sea.
Rape of Belgium: German shooting of hostages and burning of towns in the invasion of Belgium would provide the basis of anti-Hun propaganda for the rest of the war.
Reichstag Truce: In the early part of the war the German Socialists (the SDP), the largest political party in the Reichstag, supported the German war effort in a political “truce.” As the war dragged on however, the truce eventually broke down.
Romanian Entry: Mistaking the extent of the Russian victory over the Central Powers in the Brusilov offensive of 1916, Romania joined the Allies, only to be conquered within 4 months.
Royal Tank Corps: The Royal Tank Corps fought its first major battle at Cambrai in 1917, where its initial success demonstrated the promise of armor that would be fulfilled a generation later.
Salonika: Unable to convince Greece to join them in the war, the Allies nevertheless landed a Franco-British force at Salonika in the fall of 1915 in a belated attempt to save the Serbs. This force would grow in numbers throughout the war, but would only prove effective in late 1918.
Severe Weather: As in all wars bad weather-particularly mud-affected the course of many WWI battles.
Sinai Pipeline: Construction of a water pipeline across the Sinai was a necessary prerequisite for a major British drive into Palestine.
Sud Army: This mixed Austro-German force fought effectively on the east front for most of the war.
They Shall Not Pass: The watchword of the French defenders at Verdun, the phrase symbolized French determination.
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk: The treaty by the Bolshevik government of Russia that ended Russian participation in WWI, and led to the German occupation of the Ukraine.
Tsar Takes Command: As his armies were retreating from Poland after a series of major defeats. Nicholas II replaced his uncle the Grand Duke as commander of the Russian armies. It was a disastrous decision for Russia, for while Nicholas played soldier at Russian army headquarters his empire went unruled.
U-boats Unleashed: the German decision to resume unlimited U-boat warfare was taken under the twin delusions there would be no Revolution in Russia (the Tsar fell within weeks) and the submarine campaign would win the war before the arrival of United States forces in Europe.
That the US would enter the war in response to this campaign was accepted as a risk worth taking. It wasn’t.
Walther Rathenau: A brilliant German-Jewish industrialist, he played a key role in organizing the Reich’s economy for a long war. Despite his vital wartime activities on Germany’s behalf, he was murdered by ultra-nationalists after the war.
War in Africa: The Allied war against the forces in the German African colonies tied up huge amounts of British forces, due to the superior generalship of the brilliant von Lettow Vorbeck, who had still not been brought to bay when the war in Europe ended.
Wireless Intercepts: The Russian habit of broadcasting orders in a childishly simple block code (not, as has often been reported, “in the clear”) gave the Germans vital operational intelligence on the east front, especially in 1914.
Withdrawal: Both sides made use of operational withdrawals to blunt planned enemy offensives-most notably the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg line in early 1917.
Yanks and Tanks: The effects of masses of Allied tanks and fresh US troops had a strong impact on German morale in 1918.
Yudenitch: Russian commander in the Caucasus, he won several major, though ultimately fruitless, victories over the Turks.
Zeppelin Raids: Using Zeppelins and giant Gotha bombers, German air raids on England inflicted little actual damage, but did tie up a great number of British air units and artillery in home defense.
Zimmermann Telegram: This attempt to bribe Mexico into fighting the US backfired, and along with the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, brought the US into WWI against Germany.
20.1 Variant Cards Notes
This set of Variant Cards is largely influenced by the set proposed in the v2 cyberboard game box developed by Thierry Aradan; full credit for the original ideas is recognized to the author.
Alberich: Operation Alberich was a staged withdrawal from the Noyon salient to the Hindenburg Line. The retreat forestalled the planned French attacks both flanks of the salient and left the Allies to occupy a devastated territory.
Alpine Troops: Troops specifically trained and equipped for mountain warfare enjoyed substantial advantages when facing regular troops.
Arditi: The celebrated Arditi were the crack troops of the Italian Army
Backs To The Wall: during the spring and summer of 1918 the last gasp offensives of the German Army pushed the front very near the railway hubs that provided a lifeline of supplies to the British Army: few more kilometres of retreat could have proved disastrous.
Bread Riots and Labor strikes: Dangerous cracks in the structure of the Austro-Hungarian Empire appeared long before the summer of 1918. The collapse of the internal front was heralded by the ethnic agitations, the manifestations against the hardships imposed by the war economy and the anti war strikes.
Czech Legion: In 1917 the Czech Nationalist leader, Tomas Masaryk, visited Russia and helped increased the size of the Czech Legion by recruiting Czechs from Russian prisoner of war camps. When Russia made a separate peace with the Central Powers the Czech legion decided to fight on and started an epic retreat towards Vladivostok where it sought to be embarked to go and fight on the Western Front. It did not make it in time, and instead became a relevant force in the Russian Civil War. The merits gained on the field of battle by the Czech legion convinced the western powers to create an independent Czech-Slovak state in central Europe.
Devil's Dogs: American troops were deployed on the front in the late 1918, just in time to show their fighting spirit.
Élan: The “always on the attack” attitude with which the French Army started the war was displayed, to enormous cost, in the attacks in Alsace and Lorraine during the opening weeks of the War.
Emden & Konigsberg: The German raiders Emden and Konigsberg were the only German surface warships deployed outside the North Sea, (apart from Spee's force). The two vessels posed a grave threat to British commerce routes.
Enver Pasha's Offensive: The main Turk war aim was to recapture both Kars and Batum from the Russians. To this end the Turk War Minister Enver Pasha mobilized a large army numbering somewhere between 95,000 and 100,000 with himself personally in command. The advice of the German military advisor, General Otto von Sanders was ignored, and the Turks were defeated at Sarakamis by a Russian force led by General Yudenich.
First U-Boat Campaign: In February 1915 the seas around the British isles were declared a war zone by the German government and any ship found there faced sinking without warning: unrestricted U-boat warfare began for the first time in history. A neutral flag was considered to be no guarantee for safety (flying a neutral flag was a common war deception, for example the British Lusitania was flying an American flag when it was sunk).
German Colonies Conquered: The power of the Royal Navy and of the other Allied Navies made it impossible for the German Government to defend its many overseas possessions. The conquest of the German Colonies was one of the most important contributions of Japan to the war effort (Japan kindly declined to send troops to fight in the Western Front).
Goeben & Breslau: the two German ships performed a daring and successful escape from the Royal Navy across the Mediterranean to Constantinople, and were instrumental in tilting the diplomatic balance at the Porte in favour of the Central Powers.
Haig: “Kill more Germans” summarised Haig's strategy as Commander in chief of the British forces in France during most of World War One. This war of attrition strategy resulted in enormous numbers of British casualties, as killing more Germans required the sacrifice of more English lives.
Influenza: The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 is estimated to have killed more people than the Great War, at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world's population was infected. Half of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe during the war fell to the influenza.
Irish Rebellion & N. Rhodesia invaded: The Great War in Europe was certainly a major occupation of the British Government and people, however it did not free Great Britain from its responsibilities towards the Empire. Often significant energy and resources had to be diverted to address local difficulties.
Kaisertreu: The oath of allegiance to the Austro Hungarian emperor.
Maude: A cautious and consistent rather than spectacular commander, Maude led his forces in a series of victories up the Tigris, starting with the Second Battle of Kut right up to the capture of Baghdad in March 1917.
Nivelle and Cadorna: Nivelle replaced Joffre as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. He devised a grand plan to win the war in 1917. When launched in April 1917 the Nivelle Offensive was a failure. He continued with the offensive but unsuccessful strategy until the French Army began to mutiny.
Luigi Cadorna was made Italy’s chief of staff in July 1914. His conventional massed frontal attacks resulted in the loss of large numbers of his trained officers and experienced soldiers. When over 300,000 men and most of its trench artillery was lost in the defeat at Caporetto, Cadorna was sacked.
Paris Taxis: In September 1914 General Gallieni organised a new Sixth Army and requisitioned many Paris Taxis to transport it near the enemy’s flank, where it delivered the decisive blow that stopped the German Army on the Marne.
Prince Max: Prince Max von Baden opposed the extreme right-wing policies of the virtual military dictatorship led Hindenburg and Ludendorff, such as the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare. Many hoped that through his reputation for moderation he would be able to negotiate favourable armistice terms with U.S. President Wilson.
Rennenkampf: Rennenkampf was given command of the Russian First Army for the invasion of East Prussia. His failure to coordinate with Samsonov's Second Army, resulted in a disastrous defeat and in his removal from command.
Rommel: During World War I, Rommel fought in France, as well as in Romania and Italy as part of the élite Alpen Korps. While serving with that unit, he gained a reputation for making quick tactical decisions and taking advantage of enemy confusion. His battalion played a key role in the victory of the Central Powers over the Italian Army at the Battle of Caporetto.
Russian Cavalry: Cavalry played an important part in the Eastern front, as the combustion engine was too new to completely replace the horse. The Russian Stavka favored traditional cavalry tactics similar to the ones employed by the Confederate Cavalry in the American Civil War. Cavalry units were later employed with great success during the Russian Civil War.
Russian Desertions: The weak economic and social structure of the Romanov state proved unable to shelter its subjects from an unbearable reduction in their already low standard of living. Many units did not even have weapons, and more and more of the men simply left the front to go back to their homes to try and save their families from starvation.
Russian Guards: The Russian Imperial Guards formed in 1683 from 50 childhood playmates by Peter the Great had by 1905 swollen to a force of over 50,000 men . These elite troops were wasted in mass infantry assaults during the war and their quality diminished as they were repeatedly bled white and replaced with fresh but raw recruits.
Stavka Timidity: Stavka (Ставка) was the General Headquarters of armed forces in Imperial Russia. The commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. He was appointed at the last minute in August, 1914, and was competent, if not brilliant. With the ousting of the Grand Duke in the summer of 1915, the Czar himself took personal command, and the Stavka lost much of its autonomy.
Strafexpedition: The "Punitive expedition" was a counteroffensive towards the Asiago high plains launched by the Austro-Hungarians on the Italian front. The offensive aimed at punishing Italy for its disloyalty to the Triple Alliance.
The Paris Gun: Also known as Lange Max (Long Max) and William’s Gun it was a terror weapon meant to demoralize the citizens of Paris. It could fire a shell 112 km away reaching a maximum altitude of 38 km, but its accuracy was non-existent: it could hit Paris but not specific targets in Paris.
The Sixtus Affair: Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma was brother in law of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne and then Emperor, Charles I. Prince Sixtus, then serving with the Belgian Army against the Central Powers on the Western Front, approached the French and British governments (even speaking to Prime Minister David Lloyd-George), relying a peace plan proposed by Charles I.
Treaty Of London: through this agreement the Allies convinced an unprepared Italy to join their side in exchange for territorial gains. This piece of “old diplomacy” was incompatible with the new Wilsonian ideals. After much nasty pressure and haggling Italy had to accept a peace without those gains, leading to the conviction that Italy’s Victory had been “mutilated” that later formed the basis for Italy’s revisionist position on the Peace Treaty.
20.2 Substitute Cards
This section is intended to give Players a brief understanding of some of the circumstances represented by the substitute cards.
Agricultural Policy / Food Rationing / Industrial Policy / Labour Regulations / Land Reform / Monetary Policy / Munitions Department / Price Controls / Social Reform / Skilled Workers Recalled / Tax Policy / Working Women: The recruitment of huge Armies emptied the countryside and deprived the Industrial sector of its qualified workers. The Agricultural and Industrial production plunged, forcing the governments of the warring nations to adopt a different organization, to implement new policies to harness the nations’ power and use resources more efficiently while allowing unprecedented social change to limit the impact of the shortages on the popularity of the war effort.
Arctic Convoy / Vladivostok Convoy: The western allies organized several expeditions to help a faltering Russia by delivering all sorts of materials and equipment through the Arctic route and the Far East port. In most cases the materials did not reach the intended destinations because of the poor internal transport infrastructure in Russia.
Austerity: Inflation manifested itself as one of the many adverse consequences of the War. Foreign items were particularly costly and hard to find, and most governments promoted low quality local products and materials as patriotic alternatives.
Austro-Hungarian Pride / Imperial Spirit: The Austro-Hungarian Empire had offered years of development and peaceful orderly coexistence to its ethnically diverse population, a memory that inspired remarkable dedication and numerous acts of heroism in its poorly equipped and poorly led soldiers.
Barbed-Wire Cutters: Barbed wire quickly became an essential part of defence, as it slowed attacking troops just long enough to allow machine guns to mow them down. Most Armies trained special troops to cut openings in the barbed wire prior to making an attack, a tactic that proved excessively costly and unreliable, and that required almost suicidal courage.
Bomber Raids / Shore Bombardment: Several aerial bombing and naval bombardment raids were performed during the war, where the objectives were urban areas far from the front. Their psychological impact went well beyond the direct damage, which was negligible in the context of the wholesale destruction brought about by the war.
Cabinet Re-shuffle / New Foreign Minister / New Prime Minister / New War Minister: for four years the governments of the belligerent countries could show very little result for the extremely heavy losses sustained to wage the war. As the frustration dictated the frequent changes in the policies new personalities emerged to lead each Country and shape the efficiency of the national effort.
Capitalist Commitment / Industrial Commitment: as the war evolved into a standstill, the social cost of the war became unbearable without social change. Victory became the sole hope of survival for the Business community, providing a strong incentive to sustain, and often lead, the national effort to equip the Armies.
Chinese Manpower: while very few Chinese soldiers fought in the war, most western nations extensively imported and employed Chinese manpower to substitute the workers that were being sent to the front.
Clockwork Artillery: in the confusion of the battlefield the forward battalions were often hit with devastating friendly artillery fire. Both sides developed tactics to “time” the target selection. While the frequency of friendly fire hits did not diminish, this tactic often resulted in lost opportunities, as frontline troops facing undefended trenches could not advance for fear of the pending artillery barrage.
Clockwork Railways / Railway Links: the strategic potential of rapid troop movements by railway had been demonstrated by the American Civil War and by the German defeat of France in 1870. The German Army was often able to make good use of its militarily conceived Railway system. Allied efficiency lagged behind at first, but quickly closed the gap exploiting the higher industrial potential of the Allied nations.
Commonwealth Troops / Indian Reinforcements / Foreign Legion: The French and British Empires received substantial material help from their colonies, both in manpower and resources.
Concealed Artillery: Firing artillery was more easily spotted and easier to knock-out in the critical hours before an attack. A risky tactic consisted in re-positioning Artillery, but this had an adverse effect on accuracy.
Coordinated Offensives: The Allies often tried to coordinate their offensives to increase the pressure on the Central Powers’ resources. The time required for this coordination was such that the Central Powers were often able to steal the initiative and attack first.
Defensive Installations / Defensive Works / Defensive Preparations / Defensive Network / Enfiladed Approaches / Flexible Defense / Fortified Refuges / Higher Ground: Rapid fire Guns, machine guns, barbed wire and strong networks of entrenched positions made Defense the Queen of the battlefield.
Diplomacy / Foreign Aid: While soldiers fought on the frontlines, the diplomats worked tirelessly to secure new friends and new resources for the war effort.
Economic Offensive / Political Offensive / Strategic Offensive / Surprise Offensive / Thorough Preparations: Some of the great offensives of the war aimed directly at specific Economic or Political results, such as controlling vital resources, raiding a crop or crippling the will to resist of a particular nation.
Enemy Plans Captured / Secret Preparations: As in all wars, surprise and prior knowledge of the enemies intentions were the most effective weapons.
English Labour Unions / Extended Suffrage: As the governing classes showed their unfitness and unprepared ness to manage the scale of the losses brought about by the war, social groups previously at the margin of society were able to claim a more direct involvement in government and decision making, the privilege being paid in blood everyday in the trenches.
Espionage Network / Spy Network: both sides tried to gain useful information through their webs of informers.
Ethnic Stirrings: The war started because of the centrifugal force of the Serb Nationalism combined with Pan-Slav ideology. As the war progressed many other ethnic groups in Central Europe identified in the crumbling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the opportunity to set up new independent ethnic-based states.
Extended Conscription / Extended Recruitment: As the butcher’s bill grew unbearable, all nations had to turn more and more citizens and subjects into soldiers. By the pre-war standards many of these would have been deemed unfit for service.