So finally I had opportunity to play the second expansion to the The Great War – French Army. With great anticipation – new plastic figures, new special personnel, French units – we set-up first scenarios and started the game! Without further ado let us plunge into first two encounters presented by the game.

Scenario 41 – Verdun (Bois des Caures) – 21-22 February 1916

First twelve scenarios of the expansion focus on the Verdun – THE BATTLE of First World War. It shows almost year of struggle between French and Germans forces for that critical sector – critical both from military as well as political / sociological point of view. Not surprisingly, the clashes to get upper hand during that struggle were especially fierce.

We start in February 1916 with initial German advances. I am playing with Marcin (stormwalker) – my long time C&C buddy. He will lead French forces through all 12 scenarios while I will take command of German units. But be ware – Germans attack in the beginning, but French counter attack later. So both of us will have pleasure of going over the top.

Ok, first scenario. Let s see initial set-up:

Scenario 41, Expansion 2. Click to enlarge.

First thing which is vivid in above disposition is disproportion between Germans (attackers) and French units (defenders). But be not afraid, attacking in WWI without huge numbers superiority will not bring success due to modern technology, so Marcin was not on lost position. As we will see how things developed, one well positioned Machine Gun posts can be worth tens or hundreds of attackers.

Second thing which was evident to me was how much better the soft plastic figures were then the first edition hard ones. Not only easier to move, better color – finally you can tell British form Germans – but also in case of defect – quick to fix. And the French forces – they are just simply beautiful… With all those bayonets, helmets and color of miniatures – I love it!

The final situation. Germans barely wins. Click to enlarge.

Ok, enough of impressions. Let us see what happened on board:

  • Marcin as French had possibility to chose 1 Special Personnel. He went for Engineer – pretty cool figure, allowing for building Fortified position. That position itself is very crucial, as it adds possibility to ignore 1 Soldier and 1 Flag hit in addition to terrain below it. And also in close combat! (oh, that was painful in our second scenario)
  • I attacked on right and left flanks; the most heated battles were fought at point (1) and (2)
  • Thanks to “Stretcher Bearer” card I emptied on of the bunkers and took it over; in total, two of my Victory points came from two bunkers I occupied
  • The final score was determined in last turn – Marcin failed to win by “Three on the Match” and I successfully eliminated officer and his squad

Cool scenario, the woods in the middle effectively cuts the war theater in two. French player really has to have good nerves to withstand initial onslaught (I had Infantry Advance two times), Germans need to put relentlessly. All in all, fine design!

Scenario 42 – Verdun (Beaumont) – 22 February 1916

It was still early, so we jumped into second scenario. It happens during the same time as Scenario 41, just south of it. The disproportion in forces is even bigger, with Germans bringing Light Machine Gun, Elite Units. two Officers and… Flamethrower. However, they are mainly in open terrain and only the artillery barrage can bring some places to conceal themselves – which it did – to some extent:

Scenario 42, Expansion 2. Click to enlarge.

I can tell that quite openly – that was a really blood mess. But let us see what happened.

The final situation. Germans barely wins. Click to enlarge.

Main actions:

  • This time Marcin has once again additional Special Personnel and takes Light Machine Gun. It is much more useful the Engineer in first Scenario. That can be due to special scenario set-up or simply, more firepower in first line is always good…
  • The battle is blood as my units has almost nowhere to hide and had to approach enemy trenches ASAP
  • After initial successes on left, all my units are practically destroyed or almost eliminated. That  almost will win me the game, as two one-block infantries survived
  • The war of attrition cannot be withstood by French; in the end they break and only two units lasts
  • The game is finished when Germans entered and kept trench

Not so interesting scenario as 41 but much quicker and accurately depicting the German problems during the Verdun attack. The limited number of French forces has to succumb eventually, the question is when. All in all, cannot wait for the opportunity to play next scenarios in that expansion soon!