An Informal Introduction to “Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble”

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The following summary is like a five minute run down of the rules from an experienced player. This won’t tell you everything, just enough to get you pushing counters and giving you the bones on which to hang the details.

Gallipoli, 1915 is a grand tactical game, with infantry, artillery, and a few cavalry units. The game operates at two levels – the small-scale tactical (moving, firing, hiding) and divisional command (ordering brigades and regiments, tracking their exhaustion, and orders failure).

Movement is fairly standard. Movement points (MP) are not printed on the counters because they are the same for all units of the same class – infantry have six movement points (9 in column), artillery 9, and cavalry 12. Entering a hex costs one MP. For infantry and mountain artillery, climbing a contour level or crossing a ridge costs an extra MP. Wheeled artillery is restricted in scrubby terrain. It must use roads or trails, only the mule-borne mountain artillery can move freely in the scrubby hills.  Infantry must be in column to use a road or trail, in which case each hex costs one-half, climbing contours is free, and infantry has 9 MPs. However, it costs three MP to enter or leave column, and you are very, very vulnerable to fire. Only use column for long trips behind the lines.

Stacking limits are high, but in practice you will want to spread out. Fire (especially artillery) has positive bonuses for big stacks. Machine guns have zero points for stacking. Units in column can only have four infantry steps or one battery per hex. Artillery delpoyment is limited in scrub hexes. One battery can deploy in a scrub hex, but in a steep scrub it is only one step of wheeled artillery, or one mountain battery. This is especially important near Anzac Cove, the track from Kemal Yeri to Chunnuk Bair is critical.

Combat is by fire: range one for infantry, two for MGs, and typically ten for artillery. The fire points are the left-most number on the counter. Only four points of rifle can fire through a hexside, but up to ten points of MGs can fire. Fire is either commanded fire (a group of friendly units gang up on a one enemy stack), or opportunity fire (one stack fires in response to enemy actions). Commanded Fire occurs just before movement. Infantry can perform commanded fire and then move, but artillery can either move or fire, not both. Opportunity fire is deadlier – there are DRMs for firing at moving units. The more movement points a unit spends to enter the hex, the bigger the DRM. Opportunity fire takes place either in the hex that the unit is entering (like most games), or in the hex that it is leaving.

Fire is resolved on the Fire Table, using Dire Roll Modifiers (DRMs) from the Fire DRM table. Add up the fire points, add up the DRMs, roll five dice. Add the DRM to the green fire die. The result in the fire table will be a decimal fraction such as 1.19 or 0.56. Whole numbers are automatic hits (1 and 0 in this example). Compare the red-white percentile dice against the decimal fraction. If the red-white are below the fraction, then it is an extra hit. Fire is doubled at range zero (i.e. in the same hex). Artillery is either low-angle (typically shrapnel-firing field artillery), or high angle (typically field howitzers). They have separate DRMs.  Every hit causes an officer point loss (below) and a morale check (below).

Hiding: All units can hide in close terrain – towns, scrub, and steep scrub. A unit declares that it is hiding by flipping the counter over, the hiding side has a white bar in the lower half. A unit that is hiding cannot fire, but it is immune to infantry fire from its own elevation or lower, and better protected against shrapnel. A unit hiding in a trench is immune to shrapnel fire – only howitzers have any effect on them.

Us vs Them is a special case of hiding where both players have units hiding in the same hex. Us/Them is created when one side breaks off an assault in a close terrain hex. A hiding unit can “pop its head up” and fire, but the instant it does so it receives opportunity fire from any eligible stack before its own fire is resolved. Units outside of an Us/Them hex cannot fire into that hex.

Assault is how you actually drive someone out of a hex. During the movement phase, an assaulting stack makes a pre-assault morale check, spends an extra movement point and an officer point. If it passes it enters the hex and receives opportunity fire.  Assault is resolved using the assault table. Add up the assaulting fire points (rifle infantry only, no artillery or MGs), and the defender’s points (MGs and low-angle artillery). For the first round only, apply any DRMs by reducing the number of fire points. Cross-reference into the table and roll percentile – the table will tell you who takes the first hit. Each round will produce a hit on one side or another.

Morale is fairly standard – the rightmost number on the counter is the morale (base 100). A stack must make a morale check after every loss and to enter an assault. Use the best unit in the stack and apply the DRMs. If it fails (rolls low) it becomes confused. If moving it stops. If it is already confused and fails it loses another step to rout. If it rolls really badly (typically 00, 01) then the whole stack routs.

Players command their forces using Brigiments (either a Brigade or a Regiment, depending on the nationality and service branch). Every infantry unit belongs to a Brigiment. All units of a Brigiment have the same colored bar at the top of the counter. Artillery and cavalry belong to a division (as shown by the background color). Brigiments have orders, activate one a time, and have Officer Points. The orders type (Attack, Defense, etc.) and officer points are tracked on the Army Status Display. Each type of orders allows certain kinds of movement and actions. For example, assaults are only allowed on attack orders, digging trenches require a Defense order, and a Regroup order allows the recovery of step losses.

Orders can be voluntarily changed, and might involuntarily fail. Perform both actions during the command phase at the beginning of each turn. The more Officer Points that a Brigiment has lost, the harder it is for it to change voluntarily, and the more chance that it will fail its orders. The layout of an order is drawn on the planning maps. Brigiments gain a small number of officer points each turn, depending on their order type and organizational class. Every Brigiment receives a bonus allocation of Officer Points during the 6am turn, starting with the second day. A Brigiment can only regain up to half its original Officer Points, unless it uses a regroup order.

Brigiments are activated one at a time, according to a modified chit pull. Each side rolls a die, the higher moves. Depending on a second sequencing roll the player might be forced to choose randomly, or might be able to choose which Brigiment moves.

Officer Points track the exhaustion and loss of the low-level Officers, NCOs, and runners. An officer point is lost for every step loss, assault attempt, and landing at night.

Experienced players are most concerned with the officer point status of their Brigiments, and keeping track of who has Brigiments still in General Reserve. Especially in the free landing scenario, the game is about conserving your forces and confusing the opponent. If you are the last one with an uncommitted reserve, then you have the chance to land a decisive blow and win the game.

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3 thoughts on “An Informal Introduction to “Gallipoli 1915: Churchill’s Greatest Gamble”

  1. The game looks very intriguing and I am leaning toward pre-ordering it especially to play it as part of our game group’s Centennial of World War I gaming extravaganza. I’m curious if this is a one-off game system just for this situation or is a larger series of games planned using the system?

    • I am planning this to be the first of a series – the rules are written as separate Series and Game books.

      I am four thoughts for the next game, but am open to suggestions:

      1. The Suvla Bay landings & associated battles at Gallipoli in August 1915 (which would automatically include the Order of Battle for the various uninteresting set-piece blood baths in the middle period of the campaign)
      2. Mons – BEF vs Germans in Belgium in 1914 during the opening phases. Not trench warfare.
      3. Belleau Wood – US Marine Corps, but would need an update to late-war artillery methods.

      There is a discussion on BGG on the” GMT P500 Report for Q1 2016″ geeklist, but briefly:

      I’d like to do #1 to have the whole Gallipoli campaign. It is also a landing, and a night breakout from Anzac. The plan showed great promise. But it had appalling British commanders – a whole Corps will sit still for 24 hours while they wait for their Corps commander to be fired. Tricky.

      Mons is possibly more interesting, but requires more research. BEF & Germans in Belgium.

      #3 has Americans, but it is late war, so will need additions to the artillery rules. Mind you, the US weren’t taking much advice from the British or French so they actually used early war tactics, although they learnt quickly.

      • Geoffrey,

        I’m in with a pre-order, and I made a comment on the geeklist earlier today. I’m really looking forward to the game and the follow-on series, and I would definitely suggest Suvla Bay next to have the whole Gallipoli campaign. Mons would be great too along with other suggestions on the geeklist, and in the fullness of time Belleau Wood with its late war additions would be a must-have for me.