AP#9 Joffre vs Moltke
I don’t like the original "Moltke" card. It seems to be an all-or-nothing gambit harmful to the game balance. Given that by turn 2 the CP player is certain to have the "Falkenhayn" antidote in his hand, the "Moltke" event only finds a use if available and played early on turn 1. In such case, if the CP player has the "Falkenhayn" card (50% chances), he will instantly cancel the "Moltke" adverse effects, propel himself into Limited War, and open the Race to the Sea at a very bad time for the AP. If the CP does not have the "Falkenhayn" card (the other 50% chances), his crucial first-turn advance will be crippled by the activation penalties, with ruinous, if not irreparable, consequences.
I fail to see any interest in this card’s mechanism, nor do I see its historical justification: Moltke ‘s failure to administer the Marne crisis was in good part due to the distance that the advancing German armies had covered, disrupting coherence and complicating liaison with the High Command. It is hard to figure out why Moltke would get all muddled for no reason just upon entering Belgium. On the other hand, the other possible outcome –a first-turn "Falkenhayn" opening the Race to the Sea and triggering Limited War does not seem more credible.
I admit that my variant proposition is a little more complex, but I feel it adds an element of sophistication while more in accordance with historicity.
The German crisis – represented by the activation penalties- will only be triggered by an effective Allied counterattack and are less severe than on the original card. As a compensation the card has inbuilt combat activation for the Allies –the Marne counteroffensive-, including automatic cooperation between the French and the BEF. The variant activation penalties will thwart further German progression towards the heart of France, but redeployment and outflanking attempts, as historically attempted, will not be hindered. In order to prevent the CP player from circumventing the penalties with immediate play of the "Falkenhayn Takes Command" event, and to simulate the recovery delay of the German Army after the crisis, "Falkenhayn Takes Command" cannot be played on same turn as a successful "Joffre vs Moltke" Allied counterattack. Nevertheless, the CP can instantly open the route to the coast with the Race to the Sea event, -matching the circumstances of its historical counterpart- and the CP player might be tempted to pursue offensive efforts against Calais from the Ostend space, (attacking from Belgium does not incur penalty) –replicating the first Ypres battles.
Intelligent and timely use will make the best out of the "Joffre vs Moltke" event, whose Trench O-negating effect is crucial to prevent the German armies from keeping hold of Château-Thierry, from where they can threaten Paris. The CP player will have to respond to a successful "Joffre vs Moltke" with similarly effective play to retain strategic initiative in France.