The two main factions in Paths of Glory are the Allied Powers, led by Great Britain, and the Central Powers, led by Germany. Since the game reflects actual events, people, and countries that took part in World War I, no fantasy factions and groupings were introduced. However, since the aim of the game was not originally to create a faithful account of the sequence of events during the war, most games will not feature all the belligerent forces. The exception, to some degree, is the Historical Campaign, where some additional rules require the use of cards that trigger key historical events.
The game plays out in three phases, namely Mobilisation, Limited War, and Total War. Here are the forces on each side that can join the conflict during each phase.
During this phase of the game, Britain is already in Belgium. France and Russia can join them. Germany and Austria-Hungary are on the opposite side of the conflict. The major historical event was Germany’s march towards France through Belgium.
On the allied side, a lot happens during this phase. Italy is a major independent nation to join the war, while British forces are reinforced by Australian and Canadian forces as part of the Empire. Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) joins the Central Powers, as well as Bulgaria. War can also break out in Africa.
When all hell breaks loose, the Germans unleash their U-boats to try and attain superiority at sea. The Allied Powers can be boosted in this phase of the war when the United States of America and Greece join. Domestic political unrest in Russia can cripple the effort of the Central Powers. The Russian Revolution’s February and October uprisings are represented in the game as the Bolshevik Revolution and Fall of the Tsar cards. When they are in play, it will lead to Russia exiting the war early, in 1917.