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Great War Design Notes

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

Great War Design Notes
1918 Western Front Expanded!
with Wayne Turner

1918 saw great changes in the warfare of the Western Front. Russia pulled out of the war, freeing thousands more German troops to push the Allies back huge distances. The Allied counteroffensives, with their new tanks and evolving tactics, forced the Germans back towards their own borders and defeat. 

This year we have taken the opportunity to expand on the Great War booklet we released with Wargames Illustrated #324. Keeping with the Western Front 1918 theme of the original booklet, we have added more equipment, two more nations, and more missions to expand the book to 72 pages.
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The British

For the British we have the Mark V and Mark V* tanks. This is a more reliable improvement on the Mark IV and was used in the later battles of 1918.

The Mark V* (read as Mark 5 Star) introduced a new concept as a battle taxi. It was made longer to accommodate a section of infantry to be deployed from the tank once it had reached the enemy positions.




Below: Side by side, you can see how much longer the Mark V* (in the foreground) is than the Mark V tank with its extra troop compartment. 

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

The Germans
During 1918 the Germans launched a series of offensives to take advantage of the influx of manpower available when the Russians dropped out of the war after their revolution. One of the key elements to lead these attacks were the Stoss (Shock) or Sturm (Assault) Battalions. To represent these elements we have added a Stosskompanie. With this you can field a whole force of these elite shock troops.

Developed as a response to trench warfare, Stosstruppen (Assault Troops) were trained in the use of infiltration tactics combined with speed and mobility in order to move past enemy strongpoints and attack rear areas. In an attack, the Stosskompanie would move out in front of the main body of troops and bypass enemy strong points that were left for regular troops to contend with. Once in the enemy’s rear area, Stosstruppen would create mayhem, disrupting communications and preventing the enemy from mounting a counter-attack.

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

The Stosskompanie was equipped differently than the regular infantry unit for this role, and used some of the first submachine-guns to be issued en masse to combat troops. The uniform and equipment of a Stosstruppen was designed to provide troops with greater mobility and speed such as a more mobile light machine gun that would provide covering fire for the Stosstruppen and using smaller rifles previously used by the cavalry.

Along with the introduction of the tank, Stoss tactics changed the deadlock seen over the first three years of the war and returned the front to a period of mobile warfare, and to the eventual end of the war. 

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

The French
Any representation of the fighting on the Western Front is not complete without the French. Most of the fighting was on their soil and they held the majority of the front line. They were also tactical innovators, and just like the British and Germans, did much to devise ideas and methods for overcoming the tactical stalemate of the Western Front. They also had a wide variety of colonial troops fighting under their flag. In Great War you can now field a French Companie de Fusiliers with Metropolitan or Colonial troops.
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918 Great War: World War One Battles of 1918
The French were quick to realise the advantages of the British tank and soon devised a number of their own design known as Char d’Assault (Assault Car). Two large vehicles were made and saw combat and shared many features of the British and German tanks: Schneider CA.1 and Char Saint Chamond.
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918 Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

Above: French Metropolitan troops wore Horizon Blue, which was intended to be the French answer to German Feld Grau (Field Grey) and British Khaki.

However, the colonial troops wore a French version of Khaki that better matched the far flung parts of the French Empire these troops hailed from. 

But their most innovative design was the Renault FT-17. This light tank was small and relatively mobile with a fully rotating weapon turret. The rotating turret would heavily influence the design of tanks after the war.
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

The Americans
The arrival of the Americans on the Western Front was celebrated by both the British and French. The French in particular as the Americans were deployed among the French Armies and trained in the latest French methods. The American commanders were fiercely independent and didn’t just want to make up the numbers. They were soon conducting operations of their own. In Great War you can field an American Rifle Company. Support can include British and French, and they have their own tank support in the form of American-crewed Renault FT-17 light tanks.
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918
Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

US tanks and Patton
The most iconic individual that is forever tied to the tank in the US Army did not begin his career as a tanker. George Patton, who would rise to four-star General in the Second World War and be known as the ‘Father of US Armor’, went overseas in 1917 as a member of General Pershing’s staff.

Captain Patton soon grew bored in his position of overseeing the training for the US troops arriving in France. It was during this time Patton first saw the tank and thought about what it could bring to the battlefield.

Patton volunteered to set up the first ever tank school in the US Army. Using Renault tanks borrowed from the French, Patton soon put his new trainees to work learning how to use this new weapon. Patton’s work in training his new tankers paid off and he was given command of the 1st Provisional Tank Brigade, which he personally took into combat during the St Mihiel offensive in September 1918. 

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918

Great War Missions
We have included the Missions featured in the original booklet as well as adding those featured in WI324. We have also added a new mission called Pocket Defence. It pitches a surrounded and isolated company against encircling enemy forces.

With this new book, Great War is expanded out to cover most of the battles of the Western Front in 1918 (and quite a few in 1917). It’s time to break through the enemy’s lines and advance into the green fields beyond!

~ Wayne. 

Great War: World War One Battles of 1918