You want to get a better understanding of Strategic Command: World War 1? I’ll try to help you as best as I can with this guide, suited for beginners and more advanced players.
Guide to Tactics and Strategies
Basics: What You Should Look to throughout the Game
In short: lose less troops than your enemy, be aware of your industrial capacity, keep allies fighting.
You have four assets to win the 1914 Call to arms campaign. The first is, obviously, your army. Second, your industrial production. Third, your allies. Fourth, your national morale.
Keep in mind that a quick victory is very unlikely to happen, unless your opponent makes huge mistakes. The campaign will most likely be a long, painful and bloody grind, just as World War One was. There will be ups and downs, victories and defeats, moments of despair and of hope. Be careful. Don’t be that leader who thinks the war will be over by Christmas just by pushing a bit further into enemy territory. You’re not just an inch away from victory, but miles and miles. Set yourself realistic objectives, think on the long term and don’t be overconfident.
Nothing goes without the thousands and millions of soldiers in your army. The first weeks of the war will be a slaughter; your losses and those of your enemies will skyrocket, but don’t plan like it will always be like this. With the winter months of 1914/1915, the first offensive phase will be over, and a stabilization phase will set in. Don’t risk the lives of your soldiers for minor gains. You want to make the best of their power, they will be hard to replace if things turn bad, and even successful operations bring heavy casualties with them. Never thin out your army to the point you couldn’t react in case of an enemy offensive.
You will never have enough to cover all your needs and wishes. Always prioritize a healthy army on the field, sending reinforcements to existing land units will cost most of your industrial production (labelled MPPs, military production points, in this game). You will struggle to invest in long term goals, like new units, technologies, or diplomacy. Remember that you have to keep a powerful defensive capacity at all times. No technology gain will outweigh a hasty retreat and concurrent losses.
Keep them in the war, you’ll need them, even when they are a burden and absorb your meagre excess military capacities. Every nation at war on your side is a solid advantage. They bring in manpower, industries, and a bit of hope. If they capitulate, you will lose all of these for the rest of the game, and nearly always suffer national morale penalties on top of it. You don’t want that to happen, so keep support for them high. When in doubt, cancel that offensive you planned so much for and send your troops to relieve your ally if he isn’t doing well. Even when they don’t move and just sit in their trenches, they are very useful, because they are binding enemy formations and prevent morale losses.
If it falls to 0%, the nation will be kicked out of the war. So yeah, it’s ultimately the most important factor in the war, but it will reflect how well you do with your three aforementioned assets. You like bloody offensives? Your losses will be higher than those of your enemy, sitting in his trenches and shooting at your exposed infantry rushing in the open. Your morale will drop faster than theirs. A friendly dreadnought gets sunk? Awful. Your industry can’t keep pace and you’re forced to retreat, leaving a city to the enemy? Not good, morale loss. An ally leaves the war? Be prepared for an event that will lower your morale. There are not so many possibilities to make morale rise, and they are once again dependent on how well you do in the other domains. Conquer cities, make enemy nations capitulate, destroy enemy units without incurring high losses, sink enemy ships without losing some yourself, and your morale will rise. Take it as an indicator of who is currently winning the war, not something you will actively manage.
Central Powers Campaign Openings
In short: you choose where the war outcome will be decided: East, West or South.
The Central Powers decide where the war will be won or lost. Besides operational game mechanics such as unit deployment, redeployment and assigning reinforcements (“repairs”), you will make a most important strategic choice right at the beginning. You have a set of units to assign either to the East or West of Germany. You decide whether an entire Austrian-Hungarian army will deploy in Serbia or Galicia. Later on, it will be your choice to let Italy enter the war on the Entente side or back down and cede territories in order to avoid war with Italy.
You have three options to begin with:
- Focus on the Eastern front or what I would call the Ludendorff variant.
- Focus on the Western front aka “go full Schlieffen”.
- Focus on Serbia, the Hötzendorf dream.
Focus on the East
Put simply, time runs against you from 1915 on. The naval blocus will slowly strangle your national morale. You need conquests in order to keep up with morale in the long run. You need to kick enemies out of the war or you will be overstretched, unable to concentrate enough troops for a proper offensive.
But wait, why from 1915 on? The reason is, the first months of the war will be the hardest. You have many troops, but so many more enemies to deal with. It will be a mess. You will most probably lack units to maintain coherent frontlines. You will probably not be able to reinforce all existing units. Research will be limited to tiny and painful investments.
Inexperienced Central Powers players get overrun within months. Initial successes will be replaced soon enough by terrible dilemmas. You don’t have the power to wage an offensive war in the West and East simultaneously, your resources are too scarce for that. You have to make a choice.
My favorite choice is to neglect the West. I would even go so far as to not declare war on Belgium, because I don’t see the point in it. In fact, I don’t think you have a real choice between East and West, because the Russian mobilization is very quick, and while Russian troops are badly commanded and a tad less combative, they are numerous and face few adversaries if you don’t focus on the East from the beginning. You can be overwhelmed by the Russians within a few turns, with little to no hope to recover.
Austria-Hungary needs all infantry it can get in Galicia to halt the terrible Russian offensives. Don’t bother with Serbia, the occasional reinforcement or additional unit will have to be enough to keep the Serbians in place. Placing as much units as possible in Galicia from the beginning has two advantages: the Russians will not succeed with their initial offensive, and you will have enough troops to start counterattacking immediately, either forcing Russia to reroute units to cope with your offensive, or to give away precious territory that will affect its national morale.
As I see it, it’s a win-win. Nothing to gain in Serbia at first (their terrain advantages can only be overcome with artillery, which you don’t have at that point, or massive numerical superiority), everything to lose in Galicia: morale relevant towns and resources, the threat of being encircled, unbearable losses due to numerical inferiority. And worst of all: you give the Russians a chance to wage a war on the long run, because their losses will be small enough to let them maintain an army the size of what their mobilization yields, which is simply huge. Taking off chunks of this army as soon as its units appear on the frontline is a necessity.
Germany also needs every single unit it can get to hold out in the East. I recommend retreating units in East Prussia as far as Königsberg, in order to avoid encirclements in the very first turns. Entrench aside with all units you could deploy in the East where given the choice in the preliminary turn. Deploy nearly everything you build in the East. This will: prevent the Russians from taking Königsberg (a bearable, but nevertheless annoying loss), prevent massive numerical inferiority and thus encirclements, costly and inefficient last-minute redeployments, hasty retreats. Just as with Austria-Hungary, you will also be able to go on the offensive as soon as Russia finishes its mobilization and struggles to fill up ranks bled out by your trench-backed defense.
Sounds good so far? Let’s see what you miss in the West. I rarely get to Lille in the West (granted: I may not be the best player; if you know better, send me some advice and I’ll put it here). Entente resistance is simply too strong, crushing or isolating Belgian troops takes time and efforts. Furthermore, Belgium doesn’t have an ideal territorial depth for powerful advances, forcing you to rely on offensives led by four corps where you would want six for maximum effect. Some resources can be gained in Belgium and Northern France, but most likely they will be neutralized, as they will be on the frontlines and thus not able to produce for either side.
If you don’t declare war on Belgium, you will leave one mine in France (Loos) to the enemy, the Belgian one (Mons) will stay neutral – unless the Entente declares war on Belgium, but that would be idiotic, because their army would join yours and you would be able to defend these resources. The price to pay thus boils down to not be able to neutralize a French mine. That’s not great, but still acceptable.
The gains? You struggle much, much less with Russia, and can focus on kicking them out of the war by 1915 or 1916. You gain a shortened front in the West in a critical phase. You don’t overstretch and lose less troops for meagre goals. You may have some resources left to invest in research. The United Kingdom joins the war about four turns later than usual, delaying troop deployment and the blockade setup. However, you can’t use British neutrality to properly place your submarines on future convoy lines, as the British would react to naval movements in the North Sea with a declaration of war (Britain wants to rule the waves and they are quite susceptible in this regard).
Focus on the West
Frankly, I don’t see this as a good idea, as described above. Russia won’t spare you in the East and you are nearly immediately in a dire, if not desperate position in the East if you don’t reinforce as much and as quickly as you can manage.
I see only one fair chance to fight a war in the East with moderate reinforcements: retreat from the beginning to the fort line south of Danzig. Maybe you could hold out there a few turns until some later reinforcements relieve what is left of your army by then.
In the West, I would avoid going further than the French fort line (Verdun, Toul, Epinal , Belfort) and focus on Flanders and Lille to outrun or outbattle the enemy. To conquer forts, you would need better artillery (at least level 1) and 6 to 8 corps ready to attack at full strength. A quick Belgian capitulation requires you to take all major Belgian cities, including Ypres. I never managed to achieve that before late war, but it doesn’t seem to be impossible. A Belgian capitulation might outweigh losses in East Prussia.
However, I don’t see how the Schlieffen plan could be successful and force France out of the war within a few months. France is much too powerful for that, and it is backed by the United Kingdom, loaded with MPPs and soon enough well-endowed with troops thanks to Kitchener’s new army. Paris will not fall.
Focus on Serbia
Serbia is a tough nut to crack. You need to conquer all its cities for them to surrender. This is a hypothetical scenario I didn’t check in practice, but may be worth a thought. Send the Second Austrian Army to Serbia. Send additional German troops. Try to outflank Serbian units, forcing them to retreat from their powerful defensive positions. Kick Serbia out of the war soon, triggering a Bulgarian entry into war and freeing your own armies for other duties.
Side note: don’t forget Italy
Italy will join the war in spring 1915. Be prepared, you will only gain about 3 “free” Austrian-Hungarian detachments by event when Italian nationalists start to think about joining the Entente. That’s not enough to fight the Italian army, despite favorable terrain. You need at least 3 additional infantry corps to form a coherent frontline in the Alps, better 4 or 5.
Sparing troops to garrison the Italian border won’t be easy. You want to continue the offensive you began elsewhere, wherever it might be, you get attacked on all fronts and need to repair units. You seriously lack MPPs to do everything you want and now you have to form an entirely new army on a new front? Keep in mind there isn’t any workaround, you can’t afford to not have an army fighting the Italians. Don’t think you can win the war just by pushing a little bit further, just because Paris is a few hexes away or the Russians run for their lives. No advantage can outweigh the need to fight the Italians properly, the cost is simply too high. Or do you really want to lose, Klagenfurt, Vienna, Munich? You might as well surrender. Bit by bit, you can place enough infantry corps in the Alps. I prefer to send newly formed corps there, as I can deploy them directly on the border without having to pay for redeployment. You will most likely build up a mixed force of German and Austrian-Hungarian units, which is fine, as you don’t have a spare HQ right on to command them and will have to do without their bonuses anyway.
A possible alternative is ceding Austrian territory to Italy before a war breaks out. This will result in a diminished industrial production and a serious morale drop for Austrian-Hungarian troops, which will significantly lower their combat efficiency for a few turns. If the Russians are already strong and pushing in Galicia, this might prove disastrous. Excepting this case, it is definitely an option to consider and might be a worthy deal. Italian infantry units aren’t very powerful, but the Italian navy is.
Entente Campaign Openings
In short: delay your opponent where he is strong and put pressure where he is weak.
You’re pretty much dependent on what the Central Powers player will do. He is the one who will decide where he will focus, in the West, East or South. Through the central position of Germany and Austria-Hungary in Europe, he can use his rail network to move troops from one front to another. You can’t, only the United Kingdom and France can support each other directly through troop transfers.
Enemy focus: East or West?
It is quite easy to see where your opponent wants to achieve an early victory. I would push soon with Russia in the East and test enemy defenses. If your troops stumble upon a relatively coherent front, the German player will have deployed spare units in the East. If you find isolated units, then he will have placed his reserves in the East or South. In the latter case, push hard with the Russians to maintain momentum in the East. If you do it well, you can crush the German army in the East with little chances to recover from this blow, especially if your opponent pursues his offensive in the West nevertheless.
An enemy focus on the East means you have some margin to put pressure in the West, as you won’t get pushed to the breaking point in Belgium and/or Northern France. Don’t overestimate your offensive capacities in the beginning though, it takes time to mobilize and keeping a coherent frontline (which equals to every hex being garrisoned with a full force infantry corps) and 2 to 3 units in reserve remains your top priority. Despite focusing on the East, the German army facing you will be very strong. Your job is to weaken it step by step. Enemies that are not entrenched yet or limited to trench level 1 are good targets. Remember that a German advance in the East comes with huge losses. The more losses you inflict in the West, the less your opponent will be able to sustain a healthy ratio between losses and production. Put simply, make sure he loses troops more quickly that he can build up new ones. His army will eventually bleed out, even if it takes years. Again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Help the Russians and Serbs
The British can send MPPs via maritime convoys to Russia. It is critical to send as much resources as possible right from the beginning, as Russia doesn’t have the proper industrial base to replace losses as fast as it needs to. The United Kingdom has more MPPs than in it needs to cover important expenses, so why not send them where there are in dire need? Make sure you have a least a destroyer patrolling the convoy line, the Germans will probably send submarines to sink some of these convoys. Still a good trade, even if you lose about 18 MPPs every turn due to these.
Serbia often needs a little help in the beginning. If you have a chance to send some of your precious French MPPs, do it wisely and only for a few turns. Once at nearly full strength, the Serbians can bear the cost of war themselves. You will encounter serious difficulties in Serbia only if the Central Powers put a focus on it, which is unlikely. If this is the case, it is only logical to send as much MPPs as possible, as this is where the enemy is in search of an early victory. Serbia is in a strong defensive position, every MPP in reinforcements sent there will cause several MPPs in losses on the enemy side.
In short: know your limits, be careful, it will be a long, long road to victory.
Basic Infantry Tactics
Lose less soldiers than your enemy, it’s as simple as that. Attackers incur more losses than defenders when both are in a comparable shape. Well entrenched units should only be attacked with proper artillery support.
One unit will rarely be enough to succeed in attacking. If you want to attack, do it with multiple units, wear the opponent down, don’t let off until you completely destroy the enemy unit. The last blows are the most effective ones, the opposing unit will already be tired and less and less able to defend itself. Remember that a corps attacking will de-entrench the enemy unit by 1, this can greatly change the odds for ensuing attacks during the same turn.
You can swap two units while holding Shift. In a standard situation, I would recommend attacking with at least four units. Attack , swap, reattack, rinse and repeat. Units that moved during the turn have weaker attack values than those that didn’t. Don’t attack fresh enemy units with damaged ones. Remember your opponent will be able to counterattack.
Recon and advance
Congratulations, you successfully destroyed an enemy unit! You see an empty hex, waiting to be occupied. If you want to advance, make sure:
- You can see what awaits you in the hexes neighboring the one you want to occupy. If you don’t, nevertheless advance and an enemy unit is in one of these unspotted hexes, it will ambush you. Your advancing unit will suffer losses and stop, leaving it vulnerable to an enemy counterattack during the next turn.
- Spot neighboring hexes with recon bombers (best option), cavalry (more difficult since suitable hexes tend to be already occupied), or simply by clearing adjacent hexes with other offensives (if possible, which is rare).
- Figure out if it is useful to advance. A hex without a town, mines or favorable terrain will bring you literally nothing at first. It is more important to preserve good units than to gain worthless land.
These bloody trenches
Trenches slow down everything, block sight and give huge defensive values, less so in the beginning of the war. If your opponent is smart, he will invest early in trench technology, so be prepared to face more effective defenses around winter 1914/1915.
Manage your losses, I can’t stress this enough. You won’t see an effect of this prudence right away, but it will strain your opponent bit by bit, for years. It will make the difference between an exhausted nation with low morale and a fairly war-capable nation in 1917. 10% or 20% national morale difference can be decisive for victory.
Errors are human, and sometimes your opponent will plainly forget to entrench a unit, or use existing trenches that are turned to the wrong side, facing their rear and not their front or flanks. Use this to your advantage. A unit entrenched to the wrong side is an unentrenched unit.
Always target weak spots first. Your opponent needs a continuous front line, even in places that aren’t strategically important. If he lets you mow down his flanks unchallenged, he will face the threat of being outflanked and cut from supply. Forcing your enemy to retreat is good, because he will need to set up defensive positions afresh, giving you some opportunities to attack before they entrench again.
SCWW1 is a large scale game, it is not easy to manage your units so that you have enough reserves in decisive moments. You can make up for foresight mistakes by redeploying your units quickly by train (“operate”). This has two major drawbacks : it costs some MPPs and your troops won’t be eager to fight immediately after jumping out of the train.
You should thus avoid to redeploy strategically and think ahead in order not to. Is your opponent really strong enough to sustain his offensive on a particular front? Where will you want to hit next? Of course, it is highly favorable for you to sow panic in your opponent’s heart and mind. If he redeploys excessively, he will incur the aforementioned disadvantages, giving you an edge.
They will appear following events (most likely Senoussi revolt in Libya, Moroccan rebels in Morocco, Arab revolt in Ottoman Arabia) or if your opponent forgets to garrison risky zones (a beaten Serbia for example) appropriately. Partisans are not powerful troops, but aren’t bothered too much about scarce supply in remote regions. Use them aggressively while no enemy troops are in sight to achieve a transfer of troops. Then switch to a favorable position and make it last as long as you can. Every unit bound to chase partisans is one less on an important front. Make sure to reinforce them, as the costs are low.
In short: only fight when you are stronger with surface ships; submarines are sly beasts.
Surface ship warfare is tricky, mostly because you can’t see where the enemy is concentrating his fleet. Sometimes you get hints about their position when you spot units near friendly coasts, but most of the time you simply have no clue.
Big naval battles are one-shots. One navy will be crushed, the other will prevail, huge moral shifts will take place.
As much of a tactical genius as you may be, you won’t challenge the cold reality of numbers. Some navies are simply better equipped than others and it will take time, luck, and skill to change the odds step by step.
As a rule of thumb:
- The Russian navy in the Baltic Sea is weaker than the German.
- The German navy is weaker than the Entente (France and Britain) in the North Sea.
- The Austrian-Hungarian navy is weaker that the Entente (France and Britain, later Italy) in the Mediterranean.
- The Russian navy in the Black Sea is slightly weaker than the Ottoman navy.
- The Ottoman navy is no match for the Entente in the Mediterranean.
If you are weaker, don’t attack, stay in your ports and wait for the enemy to overstretch or simply sit it out. No naval action is a perfectly fine way of handling things if you are weaker. Ships in ports are safe, as they get a huge defensive bonus.
If you are stronger, provoke your opponent. Leave a dispensable unit (light cruiser for instance) in sight of the enemy, but so far that he won’t make it back to his home ports if he attacks. If he takes your bait, crush him with the fleet you will have carefully concentrated nearby.
You took a bait, lost a ship and want to make up for it by engaging more ships? Don’t fight it out, the odds are even less in your favor than before. You might not use your fleet anymore, but you can at least save what remains of it.
Many players are extraordinarily bold with their navies, probably because they don’t see them as decisive for the war outcome. Look at the national morale at stake and keep in mind that they are wrong.
Submarine Warfare against convoys
Your goal as Central Powers is to sink as much convoys as possible. Place your submarines on these nice red lines in seas and oceans. This will upset the USA, but you can either just ignore it, as their entrance into war is not likely to yield advantages for the Entente significant enough for you to stop sinking convoys, or stop when the US are at about 80% war entrance.
There are also convoy lines that don’t affect the US war entrance level. They are mostly in the Mediterranean (Greece to Cyprus, Egypt to UK, Algeria to France, Libya to Italy if they are at war). Feel free to wreak havoc there without fear of US retaliation.
I tend to place my German submarines far away from the British islands. Playing the Entente, you have an interest in tackling down quickly these pesky submarines, and you only have just so much destroyers, the only naval unit really fitted to chase them.
The more you will force the Entente to spread forces, the more you will annoy him and get a chance at evading destroyers. The closer you are to Great Britain, the more likely you are to face entire packs of destroyers. Being chased by two, three or even four destroyer groups at the same time will result in utter destruction. Not only will you lose a precious unit (the basic model costs 200 MPP and takes a long time to be completed), the enemy will be close to his home ports and will not take long to fix the damage incurred.
There are however, as always in this game, drawbacks in placing your submarines ever more close to the Western side of the Atlantic, far from Great Britain. First, you too will be far away from your home ports, not able to repair, modernize or resupply your submarines in an acceptable time span. If you really want to do it, it will take several months. You will also lose flexibility, as you will have to focus on a particular convoy line, and not be able to switch between different ones based on your current needs.
My top priorities regarding convoys are:
- The one leading from the UK to Russia. The UK has a huge industry, Russia has an endless need of MPP and can convert them to power in the battlefield quickly, whereas the UK is more prone to hold defensive lines in France without suffering all too many losses. They will have excess MPPs. Therefore, as Central Powers you have an interest in stopping this MPP flow. I like to position my submarines in the White Sea, this will anger the British as they have to send their destroyers very far away. The Russian fleet doesn’t have units there. When Russia falls, you will take a moderate amount of time to regroup in Germany.
- Pretty much any convoy going through the Atlantic to the UK. You don’t get national moral bonuses after triggering unrestricted naval warfare when you don’t place submarines on the specific spots near Great Britain but hey, take what you can.
I would avoid messing with these convoy lines:
- Algeria to France: It is simply too close to the home ports of France and Italy. While there aren’t many destroyers in the Mediterranean, the Entente naval superiority is so obvious they can send cruisers to neutralize submarines
- Libya to Italy: same, too many ships deranging your comfy raiding.
- France to Serbia: tough one, doable if your opponent is scared of sending Entente ships to the Adriatic Sea. Wouldn’t recommend it, the Austrian-Hungarian fleet is no match for the Entente, most players know this and act accordingly. Only makes sense if France is actually using this convoy route to send resources to Serbia. This will probably not be the case during offensive action on either side in France.
Regarding Central Powers convoy routes, the same logic applies. If you want to obstruct the Sweden-Germany route, better place your submarines in the north, far from German home ports. If the Russian fleet is still intact, there is an additional incentive to do this, as the Central Powers player will possibly refrain from stretching out his fleet with a (albeit minor) danger on its flanks. However, let’s face it : the Baltic Sea is not that wide, the German destroyers will soon be at you. Maybe it is better to persuade Germany’s trade partners by diplomacy to cease their trade (see the Diplomacy section for more details).
Remember that your submarines have no raiding effect if an enemy ship is in a neighboring hex, regardless of its sub attack values or other factors. They are also way less effective when at low supply. Every enemy attack lowers the supply of submarines.
Other Forms of Naval Warfare
Alternative Submarine Warfare
There might come a time when you have excess submarines, be it because you want to stop unrestricted naval warfare to not anger the USA, because you suffer excessive losses, or simply because you don’t want to send out your submarines too far. You can use them as naval recon units, they are pretty good at it. As we have seen, getting an overview on enemy ship positions is a risky yet necessary part of naval warfare. When unexpectedly bumping into enemy ships, submarines don’t take many losses. It will be much better to lose one or two submarine strength points than to see your dreadnought being stopped by an enemy one, losing five strength points in the process and most importantly, leaving your ship in an exposed place that will make it easy for you opponent to finish it off.
A variant to intercept convoys, with surface ships rather than with submarines. Right click on a naval unit and set its mode to raiding. It will start attacking convoys if it is placed on a convoy line or in its immediate vicinity. Haven’t seen it used much outside of the Norway-Germany convoy route, where Entente surface ships like to raid, because they know the Germans can’t retaliate.
This is pretty straightforward: place naval units on the marked spots in the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to blockade Germany and thus lower its national morale. The effect might seem meager, but in the long run it makes a huge difference. Prioritize units in the North Sea, the effect is greater there. Also, send your powerful units there. If the German fleet is foolish enough to attack you, you want your dreadnoughts and battlecruisers to be there. Place obsolete, weak or damaged units in the Atlantic. They are not likely to see action, so let them deal with merchants.
As Central Powers, you will want to make this blockade as difficult as possible to maintain. Unfortunately, you don’t have that many options to achieve this. In fact, it will only work out if your opponent plays badly and constantly wastes naval units. I would only risk a decisive naval battle in the North Sea if your opponent already lost about 15 naval units without you losing any. Yes, this is unlikely to happen. Don’t risk your fleet just because you want to see action. You will lose, and the effect on national morale will be huge.
Lost naval units are excruciatingly hard to replace. Don’t let it happen, there are swarms of dreadnoughts and cruisers waiting for you, even if this tempting armored cruiser you see in the North Sea seems so lonely (note to Entente player: tease your opponent with some bait; you don’t mind losing a cruiser if the German fleet makes a sortie, just be prepared to crush them in case of a full blown attack).
In short: secure recon capacities and don’t do more.
One of the least important aspects of the game. It boils down to being able to recon with recon bombers or not. Most nations get recon bombers and fighters for free (via initial production orders), just make sure you repair them in time. If you need recon, send the bombers out. They will incur some losses that will be easily replaced (provided your fighters escort them when enemy fighters are around).
You want fancy zeppelins? You will get some, but they won’t make much of an effect. You won’t have the luxury to build up a strategic bombing fleet, aerial warfare was in its infancy at this time and their strategic use is limited. The colossal amounts of research needed for a powerful air force are just not worth it. Make sure you can recon on land and you will be fine. Zeppelins make fine makeshift recon bombers.
Oh wait, there’s one bomber type that can be useful: land based maritime bombers. They have a decent range and naval attack value. You can use them to hunt submarines (best in the Mediterranean) and even main battleships. They are not too expensive to build (150 MPP) and repair, thus able to support your fleet efficiently while battling in range of an allied coast. It can be a surprise for your opponent as I didn’t see them being used much.
Managing Technology Investments
In short: trenches > artillery weapons > infantry weapons > shells.
Most importantly, you need to get better trench technology to improve defenses. As soon as you can afford the costs (40 to 70 MPPs per chit, depending on the nation) without endangering your frontlines, buy at least one and up to three chits for this technology. The more you have, the sooner you will reach the next level. It will give you an important edge in defending, reducing your losses and possibly scaring off your opponent to even attack.
To overcome enemy trenches, you will need better artillery, so this will be your second priority, and it is expensive (125 MPPs), provided your starting nations don’t have a chit invested in it by default.
- Level 1 artillery (you start with level 0) de-entrenches with every hit, it is thus extremely useful to overcome entrenched units.
- Third, I would invest in infantry weapons in order not to fall behind in this respect. Once researched, you need to upgrade your units one by one, which is expensive and takes time (you cannot upgrade units in contact with the enemy), so be sure to set aside some MPPs when this research nears completition.
- Fourth, pick gas and shells. It will take time but give a significant boost to future offensives. Every artillery will get one additional shell unit per turn per research level, initially doubling the rate at which you collect them, therefore enabling more offensive action against entrenched units.
Obviously, don’t invest in artillery tech when you can’t afford an artillery unit with this nation. The same logic applies to naval, aerial and tank investments.
The United Kingdom needs to buy one or two anti-submarine warfare chits (ASW) as soon as possible. Germany gets a huge load of free submarines (via initial production) and they will soon be a serious threat to your numerous convoys. Your destroyers can deal with them even without upgrades as long as submarines aren’t upgraded themselves, but it makes things much easier to have upgraded destroyers. One nation with upgraded destroyers is enough, and the United Kingdom has the most MPPs, so don’t bother with ASW investments in France or Italy.
Russia is not likely to see the end of the war. It is constantly involved in huge and bloody battles that will drain all your resources. Only invest in trenches (1-2 chits), you won’t have the time to see returns for other researches.
Diplomacy: Do’s and Don’ts
In short: look for enemy diplomatic moves, counter or attack where a real advantage is within reach.
Diplomacy investments take a very long time to yield results.
It’s hard to bring a neutral nation into war. Bulgaria sometimes needs a little extra push to join the Central Powers, Romania won’t join the Entente without diplomacy investments. These are the obvious candidates for limited diplomacy efforts. Invest to make potential allies join or make potential enemies hesitate.
As the Entente, you can try to tip Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark towards a slight pro-Entente leaning. If this works out, these countries will stop trading with Germany, resulting in MPP losses for Germany every turn. This would be a huge blow to the German economy. However, expect your opponent to track down diplomacy investments and taking counter-measures (you should do the same, you can see investments in the graph section; as for the exact country the investment has been made in, you have to guess).
Don’t use submarines or raiding against Scandinavian countries if you plan to win them over diplomatically. Stopped or sunk merchants will worsen relations, cancelling every diplomatic progress you made.
While Scandinavian countries only need 1% leaning towards the Entente to stop trading with Germany ,the Netherlands need more investments to overthink their trading. The potential effect is much greater too, as Germany gets 65 MPPs every turn from trading with them.
Finding a Balanced Playstyle
Winning in SCWW1 is all about finding a balanced playstyle, setting priorities without neglecting anything vital too much. This guide covers mostly the beginning of a campaign, depicting possible scenarios in middle or late game is much more difficult, as so much can happen after the war begins.