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Excalibre Games


Basic Training
By: Marshall Barrington
(alias Drill Sgt. Payne)

All right you maggots, fall in! And wipe those smiles off your faces before I knock them off! You probably think you know all about combat because you've played wargames for years? You're wrong! Drop and give me ten! Some of you number-crunching putzes may actually believe that warfare is all about comparing combat factors to get the perfect odds for an attack? You're wrong! Drop and give me another ten!

So, listen up. I'm here to teach you the three golden rules of combat. And the best darn way I know of doing this is to teach you how to play EastFront, a game about real warfare, a game that demands you become a lean, mean, armor-chomping commander if you hope to survive. I'm only goin' to say this once, so pay attention.

Rule #1: Guard your supply lines, son. Units that don't have a supply line die! Most units in WWII were not destroyed by combat; they were forced to surrender because they were isolated. This is the whole point of blitzing and exploitation. If you think being unsupplied is no big deal because you only lose one step per turn, you're wrong! Whole army groups will disappear faster than virgins at an orgy.

Especially watch your rail lines! There is a reason why they are printed in red on the map! If you don't know exactly where your troops are getting their beef and bullets, you're dead! Be especially careful in isolated areas like northeast of Leningrad and down south around Astrakhan and the Caucasus. After you have your own supply lines under control, figure out exactly how the other guy is supplied. Now you SHOULD be able to see where a slam-bam attack will make him whimper.

If you don't know exactly how and when hex control changes, you're in for a rough ride, son. Read the supply rules again and again. They may seem darn confusing at first, but that's 'cause in most wargames you never had to worry about logistics in the same way. This is a whole new game.

Rule #2: Maintain a reserve! How do you expect to guard your supply lines if you don't have a reserve? With most wargames, you never have a good reason to maintain a reserve! Supply is easy to trace and you pansies always know where the enemy is and what he has. If you think real commanders had it that easy, you're wrong! Drop and give me twenty!

Most new commanders want to throw every unit at the enemy. Don't do it, knucklehead! You may think that getting all units fighting is a great idea, but the enemy may wear you down, find a weak spot, blitz through and beat you like a red-headed step child!

When you commit every unit to the front you are what we call in military terms "decisively engaged". That means you are betting the whole war on holding the line. Bad idea! When you don't have a reserve, all it takes is one enemy breakthrough to get your army break dancing to the supply attrition shuffle. Keep a reserve, or don't come crying to me.

The standard military guideline is to keep one-third of your forces in reserve. This means behind the front line, unengaged, preferably on an important rail line, with the HQ power (more on this to come) to make a counter attack.

Rule #3: Keep your HQ strengths up! In most games every unit can move, every turn. Every movement phase they all go shimmying across the map like Elvis Presley on a bender. Show me one army that moved that well and I'll show you twenty that had real command and control problems.

How important is it to keep HQ strengths up? Look at it this way: no one moves without HQ command! If none of your units can move, how long will take for the enemy to surround your army and win the war? One turn, maybe two. Most new commanders try to move too much. Remember, on this time scale in this war, the entire front often sat inactive for several turns.

Pace your HQs, son. You don't have to accomplish everything in one turn. Break up your operations into several steps and spread them out over several months. Blitzes may be potent but they are expensive. Wait for the right opportunity to use them, like when you see a lightly defended enemy supply line and the silly bugger has no reserve.

The best measure of HQ strength is relative to your enemy. If you just blitzed and your HQs are weak, that's okay if the enemy is scrambling to catch-up, and his HQs are weak too. But if your HQs are exhausted, while he still has several full strength HQs around, say your prayers son! An old lady with combat boots and a broom could sweep away your army.

Most wars have been lost 'cause one side forgot to watch their supply lines, failed to keep a reserve, or ignored their logistics. And the same fate awaits all chumps who ignore the three golden rules in EastFront. But if you've hung in 'till now, and understood just half of what I've said, you'll win more than your share.

Fall out, maggots. Permission granted to head for the EastFront, and whip some butt!