Sunday, 6 April 2014

I've got an OB..

and I'm gonna use it!

Yes, progress is proceeding at a snail's pace on the Tannenberg project but it is proceeding which can only be a good thing.

Starting with the Germans I have built up an initial picture of the units involved. This has come from a variety of sources including the Nafziger Collection but also the appendices to the Golovine book, The Russian Campaign of 1914.

Evocative picture of German troops resting in East Prussia 1914. Pugarees?

Russians ready for a fight
The Golovine appendices are great because they give numbers of battalions, squadrons and batteries. This gives a real sense of the components of the German army. I must admit that I wasn't expecting to feel any romance in this story but there is something about the thought of the German fortress troops leaving their positions to reinforce the field army that strikes a cord. In some ways it feels almost medieval.

The data in the book seems OK, having checked against my other sources. Golovine makes some interesting points about how the Russian troops were outgunned by the Germans. He makes an argument that German troop superiority was 3:2, largely because of German heavy artillery. This is part of a sequence of arguments that he puts which are intended to give the impression that the Russians on the East Prussian front were not especially superior to the Germans. Norman Stone in his book "The Eastern front" has a good go at demolishing these arguments.

Hey ho, I'm designing a game and not solving the mysteries of the universe so my design assumptions are:
  • Germans and Russian troops are broadly comparable. Russian first line infantry were professional and should be reasonably equivalent to German first line troops. Both sides had pretty rubbish cavalry, the Russian just had more of it. The artillery on both sides was professional and competent but the Germans had more heavy batteries.
  • The real difference between the two sides are command, control, communications and intelligence and this should be reflected in a number of different aspects of the rules mechanisms.
  • In facing one or other of the Russian Armies the Germans are unlikely to be at a disadvantage in numbers, even on a simple comparison.
My first go at preparing OBs and combat factors for German 8th Army and Russian 1st Army are shown here:

I have used the same combat weightings as shown at the tops of the columns for both armies. Obviously the whole of the German 8th Army is not going to deploy against the Russian 1st, but it has sufficient combat power (weight) to be able to take them on at equal strength. I'm interested that I have not had to apply a different divisor to the Russian numbers, the disparity in strength coming partly from their lack of heavy artillery, one of the points made by Golovine. They also lack infantry but have lots of cavalry. I'm worried that the Russian cavalry "corps" is too strong, this contains four divisions. I'll need to think up a different approach, perhaps applying a different factor to the Russian squadrons. 

Next steps are to research Russian 2nd Army and then to examine the reinforcements. Hopefully I'll have some time over Easter to do this.

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