|The Battle of the Marne|
|Paris taxis transport 6000 French troops to the front |
for The Battle of the Marne.
At least partly because of air planes and taxis, Paris had been saved. The salvation of the French Capital would come at a terrible price, however; the Allied “Miracle of the Marne” meant that World War I would not end in the fall of 1914, but would drag on for four more years; with a final cost of over 10 million dead, and many tens of millions wounded and maimed.
THE MARNE is an historical simulation, covering the period from 30 August to 15 September, of the single most decisive battle of the early days of World War One. The Battle of the Marne was, as the introduction to the game explains: “the Allied counter-offensive that shattered the right wing of the German Schlieffen Plan, drove the Kaiser’s armies out of range of Paris and decided that the war would not end in 1914. The game covers the critical days of September, 1914 as the French and British armies, retreating towards Paris, rallied and counterattacked.” The intrinsic drama of the “punch, counter-punch” historical situation, and the uncomplicated game system, makes THE MARNE one of the most exciting and fun games of this historical period. This title’s clean, intuitively logical rules — almost no post-publication errata — and the preprinted map locations for starting units, make this a particularly easy game to jump right into and play.
THE MARNE offers two Allied counter-attack scenarios and one German pursuit scenario as part of the standard game. The Allied counter-attack scenarios offer the option of historical or free Allied initial setup. Both begin on 6 September and last for ten game turns; the German pursuit scenario begins on 30 August and continues for seventeen game turns. In addition, THE MARNE also presents four optional “what if?” German Orders of Battle. These four alternatives represent plausible variations in the forces available to the Germans during the actual battle. The objectives for both players are challenging: Can the Kaiser’s armies smash through to Paris, before the Allies can rally and block their advance? Or instead, can the Allied counter-attack achieve its historical outcome and become the “Miracle of the Marne?” Despite its somewhat old-fashioned graphics, THE MARNE is a worthwhile addition to the game collection of anyone looking either for an easy-to-learn, exciting simulation, or for an interesting, highly playable game about the First World War.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
The Battle of the Marne was a near-run thing for the Allies, and only a combination of good luck on the part of the French and British, and overcautiousness on the part of the Imperial "Great" General Staff saved Paris from German capture in 1914. As a game, THE MARNE does a surprisingly good job of simulating the seesaw nature of the actual battle. And it does so using a very easy-to-learn and fast-playing game sytem. THE MARNE is certainly not the most complex, detailed treatment of the battle available as a wargame, but it is arguably one of the most enjoyable simualtions of this critiical World War I clash that I have personally ever seen.
THE MARNE is one of a number of games designed by John Young that basically spanned the period from the Napoleonic Wars, through the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, to the Second World War and beyond. I confess that I am a big fan of Young’s many games. His designs are almost always — I’m still not sure about SEELÖWE or THE FALL OF ROME — innovative, interesting, playable, and fun. Despite his tragic and untimely death many years ago, John Michael Young leaves behind a library of some of the best game designs that, in my opinion, SPI ever published.
- Time Scale: 1 day per game turn
- Map Scale: not given
- Unit Size: divisions
- Unit Types: infantry and cavalry
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: low
- Solitaire Suitability: above average
- Average Playing Time: 2–2½ hours (depending on scenario)
- One 22” x 34” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Unit Set-Up, Turn Record Chart, and Combat Results Table incorporated)
- 200 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 6” x 11” map-fold style set of Rules with Terrain Effects Chart and Scenario Instructions
- One 8½” x 11” Errata sheet (October 31, 1973)
- One small six-sided Die
- One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet