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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

MacGowan

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MID-WEEK Q&A

Sources vary of course but this exact source notes that the Russian War Ministry and Minister argued that partial mobilisation was not technically possible.
Looks like you're right, I tried to fix it a bit in last week's update
That is a ballsy move by the Ottomans.
Game kind of tied my hands there. For whatever weird reason DOW did not occur last week, and hence I was unable to seize the Ottoman dreadnoughts through the event triggered.
The hour for words has passed. It is now the hour for deeds, for the bullet and the bayonet.
War it is.
A while back I read a book defending the German perspective on the war, and it has made me understand this powerful quote a whole lot better. Grey was dictating foreign policy for the 9 years before the beginning of the war. He declined multiple calls for rapprochement and reaffirmed British relations to the Entente. At that moment, he realized what he was partially responsible for.
I have noticed pro-entente sentiments when reading up on the history (naturally), and I do find the Germans less responsible for WWI as I find a global Imperial mindset as a whole at fault.
This is the real problem with the British war effort, filthy bean-juice drinkers in the highest ranks of the Army. Fingers crossed he does indeed go to France and get hit with a shell in the face.
Treason.
it wouldn't surprise me if it was his catastrophically malignant incompetence that allowed the Ottoman Dreadnoughts to escape.
Seeing as he's just a captain, I'd be surprised if our bean drinker had much to do with it.
At this point they were on sea-trials with an entirely British crew, so short of the Ottomans making a boarding action and taking that crew hostage they cannot get them. And if the Ottomans have taken two crews hostage and stolen two ships (they aren't Ottoman property till after sea trials are complete) that is an act of war.
IIRC the sea trials were finished and OTL they were confiscated simply because the British ran out of excuses to delay handing them over. ITL they were boarded at night, with no incident. Honestly I find that more plausible than Churchill handing them over.

War breaks out this week. I'll be posting some different looking graphics, let me know if they work for you guys.

England Expects.



 

TheButterflyComposer

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Looks like you're right, I tried to fix it a bit in last week's update
Eh, it's all good. Of course ttl russia could have ordered a partial mob, it just wouldn't have worked. But since we want russia to survive at least the first year (presumably) for interest, they need to be as ready as they can be.

I have noticed pro-entente sentiments when reading up on the history (naturally), and I do find the Germans less responsible for WWI as I find a global Imperial mindset as a whole at fault.
It's really something that was bound to happen eventually, and everyone recognised it in the 1870s when prussia first got really powerful. You can't have an international culture of empires proving your power status and prestige when two countries own half the planet between them. GB has just got out of a war where they struggled against a few farmers, and france spent the last few decades spewing blood and getting the poop kicked out of it by various people. Add that to jingoism, relative peace since the 1850s and a ton of labour movements and problems at home, pretty much every country in europe was banking on a massive Napoleonic war type situation to shake things up and allow them to get to the top (or stay there) for the next century.

What it actually did was bankrupt europe to such an extent that they only regained their trade and economic hub power after about 80 years of further war and rebuilding. It also guaranteed that the empires were going to die, peacefully, gracefully or not, and that soft-power hard power swung back to the former for a long time.

I don't really fault germany for being ambitiously insane, because they all were. And unlike some, they, much like in ww2, genuinely had problems only war could really resolve (russia threat, resource crisis). That being said, everyone can share blame for fighting past christmas 1914.
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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For one I am extremely happy to see Ottoman battleships "delivered".

I always seemed very distasteful to see Brits openly act as bloody thieves. No other word for taking your property, without even proper compensation.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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For one I am extremely happy to see Ottoman battleships "delivered".

I always seemed very distasteful to see Brits openly act as bloody thieves. No other word for taking your property, without even proper compensation.
Nah, outsourcing your navy to a country that doesn't really like you is the crime here. Especially paying in advance.
 

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UK for the last hundred years was literally only thing between Ottomans and them being overkilled by their subjects, Russians, Italians etc. ;)

If this is not long term friendly relationship, I don't know what is :D
 

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UK for the last hundred years was literally only thing between Ottomans and them being overkilled by their subjects, Russians, Italians etc. ;)

If this is not long term friendly relationship, I don't know what is :D
Friends is subjective. It was more a superpower keeping a corpse alive/fending off scanvengers. They weren't allies, indeed the british nicked a ton of land themsevles including all of Eygpt and lots of arabia. The ottomans would quite like to break through being constantly under threat by russia and needing proteftion by parasites like the western european empires. Of course, they were probably doomed no matter what they did by 1914, unlike most other participant's who at least have a chance.
 

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Nah, outsourcing your navy to a country that doesn't really like you is the crime here. Especially paying in advance.
Ottomans weren't quite that bad. They knew the Turkish yards were utterly incapable of building anything and so got a package deal - first batch of ships were built in the UK while Vickers-Armstrong refitted and upgraded the main docks and yard on the Golden Horn. Luckily the refit works went exceptionally slowly, the naval base was in even worse condition than the Ottomans pretended and needed massive amounts of work. As everything had to be done locally (the Ottomans wanted an entirely domestic capability, including supply chains and supporting industries) it would have taken till the 1920s just to make the base able to fully maintain a dreadnought, years more on top before they could build one.

As for the ships themselves, the Ottomans paid by instalments linked to progress on the construction and at the time of the requisition the British Cabinet did offer to pay for the ships in full. However by then the Ottomans had already signed the Ottoman-German Alliance and were committed to joining on the German side, so they refused and took the propaganda gain of the British "stealing" the ships without compensation to help enrage the population and ease the path to war.

Interestingly the Ottomans suspected the ships were going to be taken by the British, because everyone knew the Ottomans were leaning pro-Germany, so were attempting to sell them on to the Germans during the July Crisis. This was all part of their negotiations with Berlin to join their alliance, an action that to my mind entirely validates the British concerns. As it happens the Germans weren't that stupid (the British would be even more likely to seize the ships if they were German!) but I find it another telling little detail.
 

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Also, we did much the same with Chile and honoured our post-war promises to them. The ottoman situation was not unique.
 

MacGowan

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AUGUST 4 - AUGUST 11, 1914

WAR!

"On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.."


- A.E Housman, 1896 -







London, England

“Do you know how much I love you?” Margarete said, still clutching his hand.

“I will be safe away from the frontline, dear.” John lied. “General Cecil requires me for my intelligence, not for my youthful athleticism.”

She laughed.
A tear landed on his hand.

“Why must we have war? Whatever good will come of this?”

“One day we will have peace, my dear.”
he replied. “Our sons and daughters will grow up spoiled at the prosperity we leave behind.”

“Empty words.”

“I know.”

“Come back to me.”

“Yes, my dear.”

She wrapped her arms around him in a very unlike British manner and cried on his pristine uniform.







-------------------------------------------------


“Field Marshall Kitchener, sir.”

“General Cecil. At ease.”

Kitchener entered the office. His steely eyes and imposing height radiated an authority few could match.

“How is France, sir?” Cecil said as he picked up a large dossier from his desk.

“A right sordid mess, Cecil, a right sordid mess.” Kitchener replied as he sat down. “So let’s get to work, shall we?”


AUSTRIA-HUNGARY INVADES SERBIA:

“Yes, sir.” Cecil pointed at the Kingdom of Serbia. “The Austria-Hungarians launched their invasion on the 8th, a rather fumbling affair, if I may say so myself. A few smaller skirmishes have been waged on their borders. Roughly a thousand casualties, 60% being Serbians. It appears the Austro-Hungarians are having some issues transporting their troops fast enough.”

“Terrible terrains as well.”

“Most certainly, sir. Plenty of hilltops and mountains.


GERMANY DECLARES WAR ON RUSSIA:

And it didn’t take the Germans long to declare war.”

“I’ve read the newspapers.”

“Of course, sir” Cecil replied. “Well, yesterday the Germans won the battle of Czestochowa, a thousand Russian casualties, sir. They are scrambling about like mad.”

“If only that was the extent of the Russian disaster.”

“Oh, whatever do you mean, Sir?”


THE BATTLE OF POMERANIAN BAY:

Kitchener threw a stack of papers down on the desk. A list of names with red lines etched across them.

“The madmen are attempting to lose their own navy. Or whatever is left of it.”

“Good Lord..”

- Armored cruiser - Pallada - SUNK
- Pre-dreadnought battleship - Tsarevich - SUNK


“Yesterday the German Grand Fleet went hunting for a fight in the Baltic seas. Our North Sea blockade is now fully operational, so I’m surprised we did not catch wind of this operation. In any case, The German High Seas Fleet intercepted a Russian squadron, and engaged them. Heavy losses on both sides, but the Germans came out of it with 1000 seamen lost. The Russians are looking at closer to three times that. As reinforcement closed in, the German fleet broke off, and disappeared.”

“So the Russians are losing on land, and sea?”

“Very much so, Cecil.”


THE NAVY BLOCKADE:


“But we have our own Grand Fleet patrolling the North Sea, sir. And it is costing an awful lot of oil. We were hoping to lure out the High Sea Fleet, but they’ve proven to be a tad bit more clever than we gave them credit for.”

“That might be so” Kitchener replied. “But we’ve also commandeered 9 merchant ships headed for Germany. The blockade is working wonderfully in preventing supplies from reaching their docks.”


GERMANY INVADES BELGIUM:

“Well, in other news, sir: Following the declaration of war, Germany began an invasion of Belgium, as they denied their troops military access in order to reach France.”

“Again, Cecil, this was in the last briefing.”

“Ah, yes sir.” Cecil replied. “But they seem to be stuck in Liege. The fortifications there have slowed the German advancements to a halt. It’s rather remarkable. Marvellous bastards, the Belgians. It is giving us plenty of time.”


BRITAIN DECLARES WAR:

“August 8th, In response to the attack on Belgium, our government declared war on the Germans and their allies. The General Mobilisation has gone far better than we could ever imagine, Sir. The men are lining up, ready to do their duty, just as you hoped.”

“We’ll see where we are next year.” Kitchener said gravely.


THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE IN FRANCE:

“The BEF has been separated into 2 corps” He continued as he threw a map of France down on the desk. “General Haig is located at Dunkirk, while II Corps and our HQ, under General French’s command has been tasked with moving into Lille and setting up operations.”

“And what of the French? I see plenty of movement”

“The French are madder than the Russians.” Kitchener grunted. “Belgium is lost, and if we pull in to save it we will be lost as well.”

“And the last 8 divisions from Britain?”

“They will reinforce when needed.”

“What sort of war are you fighting, Sir?”

“A long one.” Kitchener answered cryptically.


THE EMPIRE BEGIN MOBILISATION:

“Does Asquith know about your plans?”

Kitchener’s steely eyes pierced through Cecil’s soul.

“Cecil. Are you questioning my decisions?” He asked with a reserved tone.

Cecil coughed, flabbergasted. “Of course not, sir, of course not.” He hurried over to the large map on the wall and shifted Kitchener’s focus away from France. By pointing down at Africa.

“We have begun mobilising the rest of the empire, sir. We have looked at the numbers, and there is a tremendous potential of manpower…”

“South-Africa?” Kitchener grumbled. “What could you possibly do with South-Africa that will not cause another rebellion?”


AFRICA:

“Well, it’s not just South-Africa, sir” Cecil pointed at the other British colonies in Africa. “We have several militias and garrisons we can move into minimally defended German colonies. We also have the French troops to aid us, as well as preventing any German reinforcements by cutting off the Mediterranean sea.”


CLAIMING GERMAN PAPUA NEW GUINEA:

“Ah,” Kitchener replied. “That reminds me. Certain measures have been made in the Pacific to seize German positions.”

“Oh?” Cecil replied. “What sort of measures?”

“Nothing drastic.” Kitchener answered. “A small garrison from New Zealand has been tasked with securing Papua New Guinea. Nothing the Germans shall ever be able to contest.


A NEW, BETTER CHINA FLEET:

Also, the East Indies Squadron has been sent to link up with the China Fleet in Hong Kong. The Germans are only dangerous one place in the Pacific, and that is Tsingtao… or Qingdao, or whatever the hell they call it now. Churchill and his boys want to lay siege on it.”

“Well, that’s good and all, sir, but it’s in France the war will be won.” Cecil said.

“You’re very much on the money, Cecil. And we’ll need every last man.”

“Millions, sir?”

“Every last drop of blood, I fear.”







-------------------------------------------------


Belgrade, Serbia

A large explosion hit the building. The world trembled as grey clouds of dust filled the air. Vlad fell over and cowered under a cafe table.

“We have to keep moving!!” Bete yelled at the top of his lungs.

The Austro-Hungarians had begun shelling the capital from afar. Every hit was random but aimed to disrupt and cause chaos in the city.

“I’m so tired, brother…” Vlad laid on the street amongst the rubble. “So tired..”

Bete grabbed the younger brother by the arm and threw him over his shoulder.

“We are getting out of here.”

As they begun walking they spotted three Serbian soldiers running down the street.

“What the hell are you two doing out of your uniforms” one of them barked.

“We just arrived.” Vlad answered quite confused, attempting to stand on his own.

“That’s sir to you.” The man barked before turning to one of the other soldiers. "Marko, find these clowns some uniforms.”

“Yes, sir.” Marko replied.

“Do you know how to fire a rifle?” The man asked, before correcting himself. “Ah, never mind, we don’t even have enough rifles for ourselves. I’m Captain Pavlović. Now fuck off and don’t let me see you two in my company without a uniform. We’re moving out in an hour.”

“What? Where?”

“North, we’re going to kick Franz Joseph in the ass.”




 
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TheButterflyComposer

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“Yesterday the German Grand Fleet went hunting for a fight in the Baltic seas. Our North Sea blockade is now fully operational, so I’m surprised we did not catch wind of this operation. In any case, The German High Seas Fleet intercepted a Russian squadron, and engaged them. Heavy losses on both sides, but the Germans came out of it with 1000 seamen lost. The Russians are looking at closer to three times that. As reinforcement closed in, the German fleet broke off, and disappeared.”
Hmm...interesting. The Germans didn't do very well if that was their entire fleet against a russian squadron.

“Ah, yes sir.” Cecil replied. “But they seem to be stuck in Liege. The fortifications there have slowed the German advancements to a halt. It’s rather remarkable. Marvellous bastards, the Belgians. It is giving us plenty of time.”
Again, interesting. If we can keep the Germans out of France compeltly and stuck on the Belgian frontier, it will stop our allies from doing silly things to try to push them back and disheartened the germans.

“North, we’re going to kick Franz Joseph in the ass.”
They did ok, at least otl. Certainly served a massive can of whoopass on an unsuspecting Austria.
 

stnylan

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Blood will most certainly be needed. Open the Somme public abattoirs.
 

El Pip

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“Do you know how much I love you?” Margarete said, still clutching his hand.
Suspiciously German name there for John's wife.

She wrapped her arms around him in a very unlike British manner and cried on his pristine uniform.
Un-British like because she is not British! I'm calling it now, she's a German spy. The Germans clearly targeted John because he drinks coffee and is therefore lacking in morale fibre and basic decency -he's a weak link and they found him.

“But we have our own Grand Fleet patrolling the North Sea, sir. And it is costing an awful lot of oil. We were hoping to lure out the High Sea Fleet, but they’ve proven to be a tad bit more clever than we gave them credit for.”
I do hope it isn't costing much oil, because most of the Grand Fleet is still coal fired with oil sprayers to reach top speed and boost acceleration. Patrolling around the North Sea should be at cruise speed and so just using the abundant coal.

This is what happens if Kitchener will insist on getting naval briefings from Generals and not Admirals. It's never going to work. But perhaps he doesn't want anyone from the Admiralty to distract from his continental dreams by bringing up inconvenient facts.

On a more positive note, those were some excellent maps. I'm impressed they had the right sort of style, conveyed all the information and looked good while doing so. :)
 

Specialist290

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Kitchener does not seem to be suffering under any delusions of a short, victorious war. All the better that he's preparing for the long haul now.

The Germans are only dangerous one place in the Pacific, and that is Tsingtao… or Qingdao, or whatever the hell they call it now.
Minor techincal note: Pinyin romanization wasn't introduced until the 1950s. Wade-Giles is basically the English standard transliteration for Chinese at this point, and would be the most familiar system by far to a British Army officer.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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This is what happens if Kitchener will insist on getting naval briefings from Generals and not Admirals.
Using the First Order method of having Admirals commanded by Generals.

So France is looking to prop up Belgium. That...was what we were going to do. So now what are we going to do?

EDIT: Apparently 'Empire of the Graves' will make google think you are talking about Afghanistan.

Yes, British propaganda really is that good.
 
Last edited:

MacGowan

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MID-WEEK Q&A

For one I am extremely happy to see Ottoman battleships "delivered".
Well it does further cement this unique timeline. I was even playing with the idea of Italy "honoring" their alliance in the Central Powers and invading France. But honestly I remember how AAWWII spun out of control and it's probably best to leave that alone.

UK for the last hundred years was literally only thing between Ottomans and them being overkilled by their subjects, Russians, Italians etc. ;)

If this is not long term friendly relationship, I don't know what is :D
Haha!
Hmm...interesting. The Germans didn't do very well if that was their entire fleet against a russian squadron.
It was not their entire fleet.
Again, interesting. If we can keep the Germans out of France compeltly and stuck on the Belgian frontier, it will stop our allies from doing silly things to try to push them back and disheartened the germans.
I've forgotten how slow things work in the 1914 scenario. Just rebuilding organisation for the BEF after the sea transport is taking forever.
Send BEF rather to Russia. King's imperial relative is just insanely bad in all that leading country in war-stuff.
Honestly not a bad idea. The Russian front is the weak.
Blood will most certainly be needed. Open the Somme public abattoirs.
Ourf, been watching some documentaries and movies about WWI lately. What a stupid, terrible war.
everyone can share blame for fighting past christmas 1914.
Especially after 1914.

There are things we can do to save British lives though. Here's a question. If we give up France, will it leave us in a better strategical position? That is; We'll have fresh men, not a riot happening every week, and plenty supplies if we begin working on an anti u-boat campaign. A sort of WWII solution to WWI.
she is not British! I'm calling it now, she's a German spy. The Germans clearly targeted John because he drinks coffee and is therefore lacking in morale fibre and basic decency -he's a weak link and they found him.
My wife says she wants to read your story more.
those were some excellent maps. I'm impressed they had the right sort of style, conveyed all the information and looked good while doing so. :)
Thank you! I really appreciate that. :) I'm trying to still keep that DH vibe, but cut it down to the minimal.
Minor techincal note: Pinyin romanization wasn't introduced until the 1950s. Wade-Giles is basically the English standard transliteration for Chinese at this point, and would be the most familiar system by far to a British Army officer.
Thank you! I appreciate those corrections. I want to make this AAR immersive and realistic, and it's pretty tough when we go week by week, so feedback with the Ottoman dreadnoughts, etc come to good use.
Apparently 'Empire of the Graves' will make google think you are talking about Afghanistan.
Apparently it's also a song? I just found out.

So this Sunday will mark the first real week of the war. And let me tell you, it's going to be an absolute shitshow, so buckle up, gentlemen, cuz the Great War is about to hit us with full force.


England Expects.



 

J_Master

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There are things we can do to save British lives though. Here's a question. If we give up France, will it leave us in a better strategical position? That is; We'll have fresh men, not a riot happening every week, and plenty supplies if we begin working on an anti u-boat campaign. A sort of WWII solution to WWI.
That might be the worst thing to do. You might not have thousands of boys dying each week, but it would mean loosing the war. The economic blockade will only be effective if Germany's reach in Europe is limited. Victory over France would mean access to French agriculture, a collapse of Russia and access to Ukrainian grain. We would be in a situation in which we could only attempt to safe face by signing a sort of peace with honour. Reentering the continent via a naval invasion will prove to be incredibly difficult, and afterwards we would face the full might of German manpower and industry, a fight which we can't win alone. Italy could also side with the Germans when they are at the doorstep of Paris when offered with Savoy, Nice, Tunis and possibly concessions in Egypt and Sudan, opening a pincer on Egypt and cutting us off from India, the Far East and Australia and New Zealand.

As for the situation in Belgium and France. Belgium provides 2 good natural lines of defense, the Meuse and the Scheldt. The problem with the Meuse is that it lies too far forwards. The Belgians won't delay the Germans long enough to dig in behind the Meuse and reorganize. This would leave central Belgium open since it's just plains. In Belgium, the next line of defense would be the Scheldt. It lies only a shot amount forwards from our current positions and it would allow us to threaten the port of Antwerp. Keeping the fight out of France, when her coal, iron and industry are mostly concentrated in the north would be the most important gain from such a situation.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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There are things we can do to save British lives though. Here's a question. If we give up France, will it leave us in a better strategical position? That is; We'll have fresh men, not a riot happening every week, and plenty supplies if we begin working on an anti u-boat campaign. A sort of WWII solution to WWI.
It would be far better to secure Belgian and french borders, or as close as possible, and then don't do anything aggressive until we are ready. Let the germans wear themselves out on the battleline, then smash them in early 15 with a suprise naval invasion a few counties behind enemy lines. AI will shit itself. War won by August.
 

El Pip

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My wife says she wants to read your story more.
Clearly a woman of taste and discretion.


It would be far better to secure Belgian and french borders, or as close as possible, and then don't do anything aggressive until we are ready. Let the germans wear themselves out on the battleline, then smash them in early 15 with a suprise naval invasion a few counties behind enemy lines. AI will shit itself. War won by August.
Admiral Fisher approves of this plan.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Admiral Fisher approves of this plan.
Not sure if would work in reality but in the game? Probably.

Only problem is Russia. If they can hold on, great. If it gets invaded from three sides from the begining, its doomed.

To convert this to an in-universe strategy...hmm.
So the BEF gets to continent, secures Belgium or most of it, solidifies the french border which hopefully hasn't moved much, and then notices how many germans are dying just by letting them attack their trench line. This would slowly filter up chain of command (who were in the process of deavting grand strategy with the french) and they come to a 'wait and see approach' since if the germans can't break the defensive line and take mass casualties each time, it makes sense to just let them keep making that mistake.
Hopefully at that point someone argues convincingly that if the prussian military can't break a modern trench, the British can't either and they need to do something else. At which point the navy loudly coughs, thanks the army for its troubles and then takes over the war by planning several naval landings in the baltic to overextend the already depleted german frontline (depleted both because of heavy losses in france and because they are doing much better in russia and thus are in the process of overextending themsevles).
Fisher's plan gets brought up again, someone gets excited about it (hopefully Churchill because it'll certainly pass parliament and the press eventually if he's selling) and they execute it sometime in mid 1915. Russia is badly mangled from german advances and the ottomans have taken the plunge to get some land for thensevles. However, this leaves the central powers blindsided when not only does the western front erupt into a mass assault for the first time on the allied side but the RN lands several armies on the german north coast.

They panic, make stupid decisons, we either win outright or push the front into german industrial sector, which is good enough. Russia gets breathing room, we prepare to do the same naval trick again with austria or ottomans and the war seems to be going well with far fewer casualties for the britsh and french.

The weak point of the plan is of course russia holding out, and the Entente not doing anything srupid like seeing the massacres along their own lines and deciding they can clearly do better.