Aegean Strike: Battle for North Africa - Soviet Setup

Scenario 1 of Victory Games' 1986 "Aegean Strike" is called "The Battle for North Africa".  It features an air and naval battle between the US and Soviets as the Egyptians (US allies) and Libyans (USSR allies) duke it out on the ground.

Okay, so this scenario only takes place on the Strategic Map (much like Scenario 5 of Gulf Strike).  There are no actual ground units anywhere on the map but there is a marker called FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battle Area) that represents the frontline between Egypt and Libya in the ground war.  The FEBA marker starts off in AV-07, halfway between Benghazi and Cairo, and it can be moved east or west by one of the major powers scoring five more hits on it than the other.  If the marker gets to Cairo, the USSR player wins.  If it reaches Benghazi, the US player wins.

Here's a look at the map before we start:



That's it!  It's a huge change from Gulf Strike's strategic map, which covered most of the Indian Ocean and Middle East.  The US player gets a CV, BB, DD, LHA, two SSNs, a couple of F-16s squadrons in Cairo, and a P-3 Orion in Sigonella.  Meanwhile, the USSR player has a CA, CVH, two CGs, an FAC, along with several subs and a few aircraft stationed in Benghazi.  The Soviets set up first and they can set up in any strategic hex.  Neither side can enter a transitional or operational hex during play.  The US player sets up second in any unoccupied strategic hexes. 

Due to time constraints, I'm playing this on and off and really slowly at the moment.  So in this post, I just examine my setup on the map for the Soviets.  I'll get to the Americans in a future post and then do a playthrough.

Soviet Setup

Okay, so it's time to play "Justify Your Setup!" Let's jump in and take a look at the reasoning here.  

I don't know where the US player will set up yet. My guess is that they really have only two options:  They can go north through the Suez and try to come west or they can start in Italy and move east. I doubt they are silly enough to risk a setup placement in AV-06, AW-06, or AX-06 with the Soviets being the initiative player.  They might place submarines here but the CVH and the CGN both have helos to help take care of sub incursions.  

My basic idea here is to set up a Soviet stronghold for my surface ships right on the coast of Libya and Egypt, pinching off access to the area with mines to keep out the American carrier group from this battle area.  Soviet Tu-20s will place mines in the AT-06 hex while the SSN in AY-08 will probably move up to the strait and place mines there in the first turn if the US carrier group starts near there.  The SSN in AY-08 is just slightly south of the canal so as to detect any US ships early on if they place in AY-09.

The SSGN in AX-07 is right on the coast off Cairo in order to launch cruise missiles at the US air base with F-16s stationed there. I know I should probably use it for intercepting US surface units instead but I'm hoping that the mines and the older SS subs will pick up the slack.  The CGs in AW-07 are there to ensure a knockout blow to the US airbase in Cairo early on.  They also have cruise missiles ready and loaded.

The FAC is in AU-06 to fire SSMs at any detected US surface ships that approach from the west.  They're tucked in near the CVH and CGN to help give it some protection against subs and/or air attack.  The two SS subs located in the western portion of the map are there to detect and harass any American surface ships that set up there.  The SSN located right off the Israeli coast is just there to deter the US player from setting surface ships there from the start.

So my priorities, as the Soviet player, are to:  1) damage US airbase capabilities (destroy the F-16 base located in Cairo) 2.) prevent the US surface ships from getting too close to the Soviet surface battle group 3) detect and attack US surface ships in the region using submarines

Once the Americans have been crippled enough, I can use the remainder of my naval and air assets to comfortably hit at the FEBA marker and help the Libyans win the war!  

Would you have set up any differently?  Have you spotted any glaring mistakes that I've missed?  Drop me a comment and let me know!

Comments

  1. I don't have Aegean Strike but loved Gulf Strike, and if they are similar:
    - Expect the diesel submarines (SS) in advanced positions to be nothing more than sensors and speed bumps. At least those from GSh were, likely Kilo-class. At a sub-surface attack rating of 4 and low ECM/stealth/countermeasure they have negligible resistance and/or threat to a CV group or modern US SSN.
    - Are there reasons the Lybian FAC's and CG to be placed detached from the main group, that would provide better mutual protection in all categories? (from air, from submarines)
    - Maybe a combination with a lowly sub placed just in front of the heavy Soviet missile ships, so that if US ships advance they can be detected by sub and receive a missile salvo from ships? Then the US will do everything possible to find and remove the sub before.
    - Interested dispersed placement of the better Soviet submarines. If I remember well the SSGN is less stealthy but with some antiship missile barrage (Victor III), and the SSN are better at sub vs sub survival, closer to the US super-subs.
    - It depends if the F-16 in Cairo can have stand-off anti-ship missile, or any anti-submarine value, or just the basic 5 bomb, 6 air rating from GS (and a surprisingly low ECM of 4 if I remember well). In the second case, their value is just marginal, as long as the serious Soviet AA ships can survive parked off the ground front line to cover it with the AA umbrella. After/if Soviet AA gone, and if they survive, the F-16 are just good ground support to win the war.
    -It also depends how good gun Bombardment rating these Soviet cruisers have, if they have enough to help the ground war significantly. If I remember well in GS, not much (gun rating of 3). All in all, do Soviets have enough firepower together to inflict 5 hits on ground in a 3-action-phase turn ? or their value is more as an umbrella so the US cannot do the same before getting rid of them?

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  2. Hmmm... is there a map clarification specific for AeS, or one needs real map data to know Cairo is 180 km/111 land miles/97 nm from Alexandria, so that Soviet ships off the coast cannot bombard the Egyptian airbase ? Or maybe they can from the Suez hex ? or they can with the medium-range anti-ship missiles? (don't know if at that time Soviet guidance systems were good enough to hit fixed targets inland too)

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  3. Thanks for the comments! For the Cairo mistake - that's actually mine. The airbase is in Alexandria. Sorry about that! As for the cruise missiles on Soviet ships, it's an optional rule that I thought might even things out a bit for the Soviets.

    For your other comments, you were bang on! All of the things you mentioned about placement were prescient, to say the least! I just finished playing through turn 1 and I'll be updating in a day or two. You had some excellent points and I think you'll see the results of my bad Soviet setup come back to haunt me shortly in another post. I'd like to really try this again, this time incorporating all your advice. It's on my to-do list!

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  4. Glad that my feedback counted !
    If Egyptian airbase is in Alexandria and they have no alternative base inland, then it's very easy prey for Soviets concentrated just for old-fashioned gunnery. Did you mention a CA ? that is a WW2-style heavy gun cruiser? I remember from computer Harpoon Soviets kept a few 1950's era CA as theater command flagships and for ground support, like mini-battleships.
    And F-16's are taken into AA sights as soon as they take off. They get crushed, without possibly doing anything.
    Also to see if Soviet/Libyans are good for anything if based from Benghazi - vulnerable to US carrier air, or if it isn't safer for Tu-26 and Tu-20 to fly back from Crimea (if GS rule on home air defence still applies - that was totally deadly).
    So focus points become: Alexandria to see how fast Egyptian base crumbles, and Benghazi to see whether Soviets can protect it - perhaps with a ship/land-based-air (LBA) mix?
    [Remembrances of VitP = Victory in the Pacific thinking, where mighty LBA masses deter the strongest 8-carrier fleets. In VitP, LBA are much -like 6 times- less vulnerable than carriers, compared to their striking power. Don't know in Nth fleet...]

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