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 March on the Drina WWI by Princeps Games  Just as envisioned by Bismarck, a great Europeans war did occur because of "some damned fool...

March on the Drina WWI by Princeps Games March on the Drina WWI by Princeps Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


 March on the Drina WWI


Princeps Games

 Just as envisioned by Bismarck, a great Europeans war did occur because of "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans". The Austria-Hungary grab of Bosnia Herzegovina is where it really started. By foolishly adding more Slavic people to its domains, Austria-Hungary had started the clock on a time bomb. There were two wars in 1912 and 1913 in the Balkans. First between the different Balkan kingdoms and Ottoman Turkey, and then between the Balkan countries over the spoils of the first war. Serbia had close ties to the Russian Empire and had always been at loggerheads with Austria-Hungary, especially after their grab of Bosnia Herzegovina. The bullet from Garolav Princep set in motion a slow starting and moving avalanche that soon crushed all before it. Three empires and their rulers would be swept away by the tide of World War I. Only after the greatest conflict up to that time had taken place did the dust somewhat settle. Many historians now classify the Second World War as just a continuation of the first. Did the freedom fighter/assassin (depending on your view) have any inkling what he had started in motion after he shot?

 The Drina River is 215 miles long and was the western border of the Serbian Kingdom and the Austria-Hungary states of Bosnia Herzegovina. The Austro-Hungarian General in Chief Conrad von Hetzendorf believed that a part of his army could conquer Serbia very easily and then get on trains to fight Russia. This was actually in his timetable structure of the war. The Austro-Hungarian Army and Conrad were in for a very rude awakening. The Serbians fought like lions and not only defeated the Austro-Hungarian attacks, but also pushed some of their forces behind their starting lines. Serbia would not be conquered until Germany, and Bulgaria decided to help the Austro-Hungarians. Even then, the Serbian Army stayed together and helped defend Salonika (in Greece) after they were pushed out of Serbia proper. 

 So, this then is the game. You can either take control of Serbia or the forces of the Central powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria) against her. The game can be played with two to four players. For a four-player game, both Germany and Bulgaria have a player, and for three player, Germany/Bulgaria is played by one person. This is what comes with the game:

Mounted Game Board


4 Player Cards

13 General Cards

42 Luck Cards

4 National Military Capacity Chart


Minimap Sheets

24 Control Markers

18 Albanian Orders

45 Military Capacity Units

31 Infantry Units

18 Cavalry Units

15 Artillery Units

13 General Units

84 Tokens

84 Counters

 The game components are definitely a mix of a wargame and a Euro game. The mounted map is beautiful, and nice and large for the play area. The map hexes have either clear, city, or impassable terrain. There is no benefit/penalty between a city or a clear terrain hex. The Rulebook is set forth very well and it is easy to follow along, or to look for a particular rule, etc. It is only twenty pages long. Then there another eleven pages of pictures of the fans who helped make the game possible. The nicest touch is that the pictures of these fans were put right on the counters. The unit counters are rectangular and are meant to set into small round stands. This is another part of the Euro game feel to the components. There are small round magnets that can be added to the troop stacks (no more than two per stack). 

  The Sequence of Play is:

 It is played in rounds, with each country's turn as follows:





 This is from the Rulebook:

"Each round is played as follows:

• The Calendar is adjusted to the next period.

• Players apply the effects which that period brings.

• Players play their turns at the order listed above. At the end of his turn, a player collects MCU (Military Capacity Units). When his turn comes, a player decides whether he will move all units, some units or no units. A player decides whether he will engage in combat or not. After that phase is finished, a player collects as much MCU as it is shown on NMCC (National Military Capacity Chart) and in that way he finishes his turn. When all players finish their turn, a round is over, The Calendar is adjusted to the next period and a new round begins."

 The rules for the game are simple. Each unit can only have three strength points assigned to it. Only one unit at a time may attack. So, you cannot try for a two or three hex attack on one hex of the enemy. The Luck Cards mean that you can only guess at your actual attacking and defending strength. A Luck card is drawn by both the defender and attacker. Their value goes from zero to plus three. With its simplicity and the fact that there is no terrain benefit or hindrance the game may put off the real grognard players. This is a shame, because this is a great game to have around to play with newbies to the fold. The game mechanics of building up your forces or rebuilding them is deceptively deep. So, there is some meat there for grognards to chew on. I think the game is a nice change of pace from playing a really in-depth game with hundreds of counters etc. I believe Princeps Games have done a wonderful job on their first game. It introduces players to a very overlooked part of World War I and does it in a simple and easy way. The components are really well done and definitely catch the eye when you open this large box for the first time. 

 Princeps Games second game has been released. It is called 'Downtown Chase'. It is not a wargame, but from what I read it is a good game night Euro game. Links will be below.


March on the Drina:

March on the Drina - Princeps Games

Princeps Games:

Home - Princeps Games

Downtown Chase:

Downtown chase - Princeps Games

Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo  The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo by Europa Simulazioni  Wor...

Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo (The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo) by Europa Simulazioni Gorizia 1916 La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo (The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo) by Europa Simulazioni

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Gorizia 1916

La Sesta Battaglia dell'Isonzo 

The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo


Europa Simulazioni

 World War I in Italy and Austria-Hungary is the story of two men. The first is Luigi Cadorna, who was the Chief of Staff of the Italian Army in World War I. The second is Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, the Chief of Staff in the Austro-Hungarian Army. They had both risen to the highest places in their respective armies by hard work and seemingly excellent minds, with which to fight the largest war yet on the planet. The only problem was in both cases it was entirely a facade. They were stuck and hidebound, as many other generals in World War I, by outmoded thinking. Again, they both were  like everyone else at the start of the war, in love with the idea that with offensive spirit and with a good dose of 'we can conquer all' thinking the war could be won. Unfortunately for the troops under their command, most generals in the other armies learned the lessons of World War I. Not these two though, no sirree. They could not think of much beyond using their troops in headlong assaults against 20th century weaponry. von Hotzendorf was also obsessed with the idea of taking revenge on Italy (at the start of the war Italy was aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but refused to enter the war). When Italy did enter the war, it was as a member of the Entente against their former allies. Both of these generals seemed unable to learn the new form of warfare that was happening and both were replaced after numerous failures on their armies' part. Strangely, their legacies are also similar. These generals have military historians as both their detractors and defenders. As far as planning, they both seemed to be able to come up with great plans on paper that did not take into account the realities of the war.

 The Sixth Battle of the Isonzo took place in 1916. There were twelve Battles of the Isonzo in all. Five of these are considered Italian victories, four are listed as Austro-Hungarian victories, and three are draws. The Austro-Hungarian Army had just finished attacking the Italians in the Battle of the Asiago or the Strafexpedition (Punitive Expedition). The Austro-Hungarians were stopped just after they had punched a hole in the Italian lines. The Russians also attacked in Galicia, causing them to remove large amounts of troops. The Austro-Hungarians did not believe that the Italians could strike back so soon after the Battle of the Asiago. The Italians were able to move large amounts of troops and artillery in a short amount of time to launch the Sixth battle of the Isonzo. Just as in most of the battles on the frontier between the countries, the assault started well and the Italians seemed to have victory within their grasp. Unfortunately, as was the norm, the attack sputterted out once real movement returned to the to the front. The inability of all of the combatants to keep up pressure once the lines had been broken was seen throughout the first three years of World War I.

 So, there is the background of the game. Sorry if it seems too long, but to me it is one of the most interesting fronts of World War I. This is the second game from Europa Simulazioni that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. Being a bit of an aficionado about this part of the war, I was very interested to see how ES's game compared to history. The game comes in English and Italian for the Charts and Tables. This is what you get with the game:

One 22"x34" map of  the battlefield
1120 die-cut counters
Standard rules and Scenario Instructions (three small and one large Campaign Scenario) 
Charts, tables

 The game is played in daily turns.
It comes with a campaign game of twelve days (August 6th to August 17th).

 The map comes with large hexes to help with the stacking that comes with a World War I game. It is a very nicely done map of the area of the battle. The colors for the different terrain work nicely together. Only two infantry units can be stacked in one hex, but there can also be artillery and some other units. With a 22"x34" map and four counter sheets, the larger hexes help with the congestion. The scale of the map is 1000 meters per hex. The four sheets of counters are all the same size, and the counters are 1/2" in size, and use NATO identifiers for the troop types etc. They are also color coded as to what division or brigade they belong to. There are four types of counters in the game: Combat Units, Artillery Units, Brigade Headquarters, and Informational Markers. The size of the counters means that there is a lot of information in a small place. The Rulebook is in black and white, but is set up in an easy to follow manner. The components are exactly what I was expecting from a Europa Simulazioni game.

 Just so we understand each other, this is an old school wargame. There are no plastic soldiers, it is not card driven, or do wooden blocks come with it. It is a dyed in the wool wargame whose antecedents are SPI and Avalon Hill. This game, except for the deeper rules and better done components, would be right at home on a table forty years ago. This is a deep simulation of World War I trench warfare on The Italian Front. This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Reinforcement Phase
2. Command Phase
3. Initiative Phase
4. Weather Phase
5. Supply Phase
6. Artillery Phase
7. Event Phase
8. Initiative Player Action Phase
 A. Tactical Movement and Assault Declaration
 B. Offensive bombardment
 C. Defensive Fire (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 D. Assault Resolution
 E. Counter-Assault Declaration (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 F. Counter-Assault Defensive Fire
 G. Counter-Assault Resolution (by the Non-Initiative Player)
 H. Action Completed
 I. Opponent Reaction

 At the end of step I, the Initiative Player can perform another Action Phase, repeating Phase 8 with another Brigade he has planned to activate, or he can 'pass', leaving the decision to the Non-Initiative Player to go to Phase 9 or pass in turn.

9. Non-Initiative Player Action Phase
  A. Tactical Movement and Assault Declaration
 B. Offensive bombardment
 C. Defensive Fire (by the Initiative Player)
 D. Assault Resolution
 E. Counter-Assault Declaration (by the Initiative Player)
 F. Counter-Assault Defensive Fire
 G. Counter-Assault Resolution (by the Initiative Player)
 H. Action Completed
 I. Opponent Reaction
10. Non-Activated Unit Movement Phase
11. Replacement and rally Phase
12.Victory Condition Check Phase

 There are rules about the following:

Logistics and initiative
Force march
Fog of War



 The game also comes with special rules for these Units:

Engineer Units
Cavalry Units
MG Companies
Armored Cars
Austro-Hungarian Night Counterattacks


 The victory conditions are more in tune with the realities of World War I than many I have seen. This quote from the Rulebook sums it all up "The Objectives of both sides were territorial, their own or enemy losses were immaterial". The game can also abruptly end not only because of the Italian Player taking Victory Hexes, but also if he fails to do so. The rule 'Italian Offensive Halt', comes into play and the game is over if the Italian Player does not conquer a Victory Hex for three consecutive turns.


Is that Albert Einstein as the Game Turn Marker?

 The game is an incredibly immersive one about the Italian front during world War I. Everything you would want, or expect, in a World war I game is here. The writing of the rules are very well done for a non-English European game. There may be some usage errors. I am certainly not the one to find them, but the rules are easy to follow and clear cut. For a game about an obscure battle, at least outside of Europe, this is a full blown simulation of the battle. Many times not well known battles get the short shrift when it comes to games; not here. That the Victory Conditions do not include losses at all is a neat touch for a World War I game. Playing as the Italian Player you must, because of the sudden death rule, keep attacking each turn. The game forces you to disregard your losses, and this is as it should be. The Italian Player cannot take the time to get the odds just right, like you can in some games. The clock is ticking for the Italian Player also. Playing as the Austro-Hungarian you cannot trade space for time. You must defend everything as best you can. Hang on by the skin of your teeth if need be, but defend those victory hexes. The Austro-Hungarian night attack can be used once per game. If you pass the die rolls it gives you a Brigade to attack for practically free. As in the real world both sides must also balance Logistics and Supplies. Artillery fire used in 'Interdiction' is a powerful tool at your disposal. If you can use interdiction do so as much as possible. If you can you have made that enemy Brigade useless for the next turn.

 In summation, this is a great game on an obscure subject that more people should be playing. When you go the the Europa Simulazioni site, take the time to browse through their other games. I own several and they are just as well done. Thank you Europa Simulazioni for the chance to review this game. 

Europa Simulazioni:


My review of Europa Simulazioni's La Guerra Di Gradisca 1615-1617: