Decisive Victory 1918: Soissons

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Decisive Victory 1918 is a series of three games that when combined will cover the entire Allied offensive in July of 1918 know as the Second Battle of the Marne. It is significant for a number of reasons; it was the first time that the French army used a large-scale attack with tanks supported by a surprise (i.e. not pre-registered) artillery bombardment, similar to the British attack the previous year at Cambrai, and it was the first time that full-size US divisions went on the offensive incorporated in the French army. It was not known at the time, although suspected by many, that this battle was the death-knell of the German army.

This simulation illustrates the main features of late WWI combat. If the campaigns of 1918 were a far cry from the static trench warfare which had characterized the previous years, defense still retained absolute tactical advantage over the offense. Even with the element of complete surprise and greater numbers of troops and equipment facing a tired enemy, the French army was unable to maintain the pace of the advance attained on the first two days. This was not through any lack of competent commanders: not only could the defender always bring in reinforcements in men and equipment faster than the attacker, but the attacker’s speed, maneuverability, and ability to operate autonomously were still limited. It was very difficult, after the enemy's frontline was breached, to maintain any prolonged advance once the troops had progressed beyond friendly artillery cover and outpaced their logistical services. In addition, a few resolute defenders huddled around a handful of machine guns could inflict grievous casualties and delay vastly superior numbers. As general Mangin, commander of the French 10th Army portrayed in the game, used to say: “Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men”. To adequately reflect these key aspects of late WWI warfare, the design incorporates elements and mechanisms that depart from the more standard hex & counter systems.

The game features mandatory attacks into multiple hexes, very rigid ZOC and severe restrictions on disengagement and advance after combat. “Threat zones” extend beyond the standard 1-hex ZOCs and represent limited knowledge of the enemy’s positions, thus preventing unrealistic infiltration through narrow gaps in the frontline.

The Combat system is highly attritional , in terms of casualties and cohesion disruption. Reorganization is a slow process, conducted under the cover of the night. Attacking units rapidly deplete their offensive power. Defending units, on the other hand, are never completely eliminated, and retain (as “remnants”) indefinite residual defensive power. Defensive initiative superiority also translates into special “fall back” movement, which allows defenders to extricate themselves from dangerously outflanked positions and avoid encirclement.

Moreover, the system emphasizes the need for proper coordination and preparation in order to launch a successful assault: Artillery support, effective command control, and a fundamental factor, most neglected in the vast majority of wargames, time, to draw battle plans, register artillery coordinates, conduct adequate reconnaissance and rest and resupply the troops. Accordingly, the system requires assaults to be prepared one turn in advance. Improvised, “on the move”, attacks are also possible, but are likely to be ineffectual unless facing negligible resistance.

The Entente player will have to make the best out of his initial breakthrough, and be careful not to exhaust its offensive power too soon in order to retain some impetus for when German reinforcements move in to consolidate the frontline. Judicious use of his unwieldy and short-lived, but powerful armored assets is critical to the success of the offensive. The German player will have to conduct a methodical retreat, knowing when and where to give ground to preserve his forces and when and where to make a dogged stand.

The game, playable in one sitting, has a low counter density and is highly suitable for solitaire play.


  • 5
    Great Games

    Posted by John on Nov 3rd 2022

    Absolutely beautiful game. Counters, map, rules, all well done. This is the third Legion game I have, and all of them are best looking and playing games on my shelf.

  • 5
    Just looking at it

    Posted by Louis Wardlaw on Aug 11th 2021

    The game is nicely produced and covers an offensive I had never heard of before. I cannot really comment on the game play since I just got it two days ago. I did read some of the history, which is well written. There were no computer grammar mistakes, which is appreciated in a day and age where people doing proofreading seems to be a thing of the past. I think it is a bit silly to ask for a review so soon after the game arrived.... wargames are notorious for sitting on shelves for years before we actually figure out if they are good games or not. However, I can say the customer service is good and the product itself is nicely produced. The production value is a pleasant surprise, given how small the company is. It is too bad you have to "get it while you can" with interesting wargames because the print runs are so small.

  • 5
    History Comes Alive

    Posted by Eric Walters on Jul 26th 2021

    I've never played nor even heard of a game covering this particular late Great War offensive. So I dove into the supplemental booklet which was chock full of historical background as well as well-considered players' notes. The components are the usual Legion Games top-notch production quality and the game screams to be played. Will need to solitaire it some to get good with the rules so I can play the Germans when I am ready to play face-to-face (let's face it, I'd have a hard time arranging a game with someone who would want to play that side first time out, given the historical situation! Everybody wants to play with French tanks!

  • 5
    Outstanding Production

    Posted by Brian J Patterson on Apr 20th 2021

    The game components are of excellent quality and the art work is exceptional. Rules so far have been clear and easy to understand. The supplemental booklet is a very nice touch. Will comment on gameplay once I get it to the table.

  • 5
    Excellent Presentation

    Posted by Victor Harpley on Apr 20th 2021

    This survey comes before I have actually played the game. I have read the rules and find them easy to follow and learn. The component quality is top notch. I recommend this game on a lessor known campaign.