The Schlieffen Plan

On the table just now, The Schlieffen Plan. Dave Schroeder is the designer, releasing it under his SPW brand, though it is sold and distributed by Decision Games.

schlieffen

As you should expect, it’s about the WW1 campaign in the West in 1914. The game features division level units, 20 km hexes, and 7 turns to a calendar month.

It is part of a complete series dealing with the whole WW1 campaign in Europe and the Middle East. (Apparently there is a WW2 version in the works.) I have this part, and the Tannenberg and Galicia one.

The map for all the games of the series has a unique terrain analysis, essentially rating each hexside separately for its movement effects. It’s weird at first, but is not difficult.

The counters are clean, simple, and do their job.

The game system is simple enough at the core – “I go, you go” – but tacks on some interesting twists. Armies get supply from their HQ units, and spend the precious points for attack and counterattack in differing amounts by nationality. The defender has a big advantage, so blunt force tactics will rapidly produce a big pile of dead units. The combat system allows for every point of attacker and defender to count – no ratios to figure out – and the bloody combat results show all too well the degradation of forces.

The rules are not long, and not difficult, but there are some exceptions in the flow of things that can trip you up. For example, artillery is more effective against fortifications if there are not enough defending infantry. You cannot freely choose which units advance after combat, as you must let those who took the casualties lead. And artillery units do not pay ZOC costs moving into a friendly occupied hex. But these details are nothing to complain about; you just have to pay attention to the rules.

The major sticking point for some people may be the size of the stacks. However, if you buy the later reissues of the game – as The Western Front – you get Corps markers which allow you to stack stuff off map and make a major difference. Or you could make your own. I suspect if you are iun to this period of history, the stacking will neither be a surprise nor a burden.

The game came out in 1997 I think. I played it a couple of times at least, but not recently until a chance comment in a ConsimWorld folder prompted me to get it on the table again.

I’m having fun. What else matters, for now?