Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Aegean Strike: Scenario 2 - Part 1

After playing around with scenario 1 in Aegean Strike, I decided to take the training wheels off and give a scenario that uses the whole map a spin.  I don't have time these days to write a really detailed AAR but I'll update occasionally as I play.  I can't stress enough that this is the first time I've played this game and I really don't know what I'm doing in terms of strategy.

In the second scenario, World War III has begun and the game focuses on Warsaw Pact operations in the southeast European theater of operations.

One of the interesting things about Aegean Strike is that war doesn't necessarily begin on the first turn of the game.  There's an indeterminate pre-war phase where players need to mobilize their forces and they can move around the map and shift units around.  A die roll at the beginning of each turn during the Global Political Stage determines whether or not war starts (a "10" begins the war) so there's a certain amount of tension here that builds up.  Reinforcements can come in and units that are not mobilized can slowly build up their strength.

I set up Turkey and Greece forces first.  Greece set up mostly around the border with Bulgaria and had five divisions and 2 brigades fully mobilized.  The rest were still busy gearing up and are placed on their reduced strength sides.  Most of my naval units were placed in Athens although I had a couple of surface units in port near Crete.  The Turks secured their border with Bulgaria with about 5 fully mobilized divisions.  7 other fully mobilized divisions sit to the east of Istanbul.

Setup of Turkey and Greece

An American carrier group set up near Naples and a British sub sat in the depths of the Turkish straits, hoping to detect Soviet surface units that tried to approach.  The Soviets set up some elite regiments up in the Black Sea ports along with surface units and bombers.  I could have set up some units in Latakia in Syria but wasn't sure really what to put there.  I put a token group of air units there to hit at any American carrier forces that tried to approach the Turkish Straits.

Strategic Map: Dunno why the FEBA marker is there.  

Setting up Bulgaria, I wasn't really sure what to do but I decided on one set of three divisions for fighting Greece and another set for hitting Turkey.  Hopefully, the Soviets would step in and get their reinforcements down south to help buff up my forces before the war starts.  One group of divisions
was fully mobilized while the other needed time to gear up.

Border of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey

After getting all of this set up and ready to play, I rolled to see what would happen on the Global Political Stage for turn 1.  I rolled a "10" and war started immediately.  So it seems that both sides have been caught with their pants down and no one really has had any time to mobilize many of their units.  The Soviets haven't arrived yet with their own ground forces so Bulgaria really stands alone right now.

The political event roll was a "7" and Romania has declared neutrality.  The Soviets need to move several divisions there by the end of the game turn in order to draw supply from the country.  Unfortunately, I don't have any Soviet divisions anywhere near the theater right now so this is impossible for me to do.  The Warsaw Pact supply lines are already in trouble.

The Soviets start off with 30 Spetsnaz missions to assign.  Playing this thing solo, it's hard to assign ambush hexes but I did put a few in some hexes that made sense.  I sunk some ambushes along the roads behind the Greek and Turkish units near Bulgaria hoping to catch any units that attempt to reinforce the front.  I have assigned three Spetsnaz missions to try and seize the airbase near the Turkish city of Balaksir, which (if successful) could be used as an airbase for the Soviets to use.  I also have three missions assigned to try and seize the Turkish Straits.  Finally, I've assigned about 8 missions to LRRP along the Greek and Turkish border, which will add 1 point to bombardment rolls. Here we go!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Aegean Strike: The Battle for North Africa

Before we get started, each naval unit gets a single detection roll.

1.) The SSN nearest Italy in AS-03 detects the US carrier group in AR-03.
2.) The Soviet surface fleet in AV-06 is detected by the American SSN in AV-05.  In turn, the SSN is also detected.
3.) The Soviet SSGN near the coast of Egypt in AX-07 is not detected nor is the American SSN in the adjacent hex to the north AX-06.

Turn 1 begins!

First Action Stage

First Naval Movement Determination Phase:

The USA and USSR roll for Naval Movement Points for the phase.  The US player gets 3 NMPs and the USSR gets 4 NMPs.

First Movement Phase

First Initiative Segment:

The USSR starts off with some sub hunting.  Launching 3 Ka-25s from the Soviet CVH and CGH, the USSR player manages 2 hits on the American SSN in the AV-06 hex.

Next, the Tu-22 and the MiG-23 in Benghazi take off and head towards the American carrier group.  They are detected by the E-2 circling above the carrier and an F-14 on CAP intercepts the incoming Soviet planes.  The F-14s shoot down all of the MiG escorts without even being detected.  However, the Tu-22s get through and manage to score a hit on the American carrier.  1 hit is assigned to the EA-6 Prowler squadron (that was dumb, now that I think about it - I just hampered my ECM ability on all my airstrikes from the carrier for the rest of the game).

The USSR player activates the SSGN off the coast of Egypt and it launches a cruise missile at the Alexandria air base, achieving 2 hits.  It then moves west towards Benghazi, still undetected.  It sits off the coast, waiting to sneak up and launch its remaining SSMs on the US carrier group as it approaches from the north.

Both CGs adjacent to the Egyptian coastline are activated and launch cruise missiles at the US airbase in Alexandria.  One missile scores 2 hits and the other manages a hit.  The base at Alexandria has taken 5 hits, one shy of what is needed to take it out of operation.

First Reaction Segment

The US player decides to send his planes out on a sub hunt.  A P-3 Orion from Sigonella and an S-3 from the carrier both fail to hit the Soviet SSGN.

Next, the SSN in AV-06 activates and launches ASM at the Soviet CGH, scoring 2 hits on it in total.  The other SSN, two hexes away from the Soviet surface stack, launches ASM next.  The first one hits the CVH for 5 damage, which sinks it.  The second attack sinks the CGH after scoring 2 hits.

Wishing to keep their carrier group together and intact, the US player decides not to move any surface ships and ends the segment.

End of Phase Comments:

...Wow, half of my entire Soviet surface group just got wiped out in the first part of turn one without a single thing to show for it.  A couple of things I've already learned from my setup.  Number 1 - you just can't ignore submarines.  They can eliminate surface ships quite easily and in bulk.  It might have been better to set up submarines around my surface group to help avoid detection right off the bat.

Better yet, it would have been worth all my naval movement points in the first initiative segment to sink one or both of those US subs.  The F-16s would not be so great of a concern considering that they have no ASM capability (though they do have a so-so bombardment rating).  Putting the Soviet SS near Italy in hopes of catching the US surface group was worse than ineffective.

Although one of the subs did detect the US carrier group, they did not have any ASM capability to fire at it.  The SS should have been placed as pickets around the Soviet surface group to detect and attack American SSNs.

I've also managed to lose all of my MiGs in the first go.  This means any offensive air power against the American surface group will almost certainly get show down by CAP on the way in.  Was it worth the 1 hit on the American carrier?  Certainly not!

Considering the very high Soviet losses (2 major surface ships and 6 air units) thus far, I'm wondering if this is worth continuing to play.  I considered abandoning the game at this point but the masochist in me wants to see this thing through.

Second Action Stage

Second Naval Movement Determination Phase:
USA - 2 NMPs

Second Movement Phase

Second Initiative Segment

The USSR player starts off by sending his Tu-20 to mine AU-06.  The Tu-22 goes for a bombardment of the FEBA hex but fails miserably (rolling a 10).  The FAC gets activated and heads for the US carrier group.  Undetected, it is able to get close enough to launch its SSMs at the carrier but only scores 1 hit damage.  Still, that's not too bad!  The hit on the carrier is assigned to an F-14.

Next, I decided on closing the barn doors after the horses had already left,  The Soviets sent an SSN west to destroy the American SSN in AV-06.  A short battle ensued with the Soviet submarine scoring 2 hits (for a total of 4 damage on the US sub) while taking 1 hit itself.  I suppose I could justify this attack by saying that I was trying to keep the Soviet sub fleet intact by taking out American sub-surface capability but the real threat is actually from the P-3s and S-3 Vikings and that's something I can do nothing about as the Soviet player.

Second Reaction Segment

The American carrier and the destroyer in AR-03 move 2 hexes south together.  A P-3 Orion from Sigonella launches and detects the Soviet SSGN sitting off the coast of Tripoli.  It attacks it for 3 damage.  The carrier launches S-3 Vikings, which finishes off the Russian sub.  A-6 Intruders go for the stack of Soviet ships near Tripoli in AV-07 and fail to score a hit.  

End of Phase Comments:

Another devastating series of losses for the Soviets.  With no air cover, the Soviet surface fleet is completely open to air attack.  The decision to send the FAC out to hit the American carrier was born of desperation and it didn't really pay off.  The big loss here was the Sovet SSGN.  It was a pretty deadly part of the Soviet arsenal that could have dealt a killing blow to the US carrier.  I can't see this ending particularly well for the Soviet player.  But here we go!

Third Action Stage

Naval Movement Determination Stage:

Not many ships eligible to move around anymore but we roll and the USSR gets 2 while the USA gets 1.

Third Reaction Segment

The segment starts off with the US player sending out A-6 Intruders to strike at the Soviet surface fleet near the FEBA marker.  The Soviet CA takes 2 hits and is nearly sunk.

The US player tries some sub hunting with the P-3 Orions and the S-3 Vikings but finds no joy.  Two F-18 squadrons launch and try to hit the FAC adjacent to the carrier task force.  The ships are SSM depleted so this is more for fun than anything else.  The Hornets score 2 hits on the FAC while taking 1 very lucky hit from AAA fire.

The US player moves his battleship from AR-03 to link up with the carrier in AR-05. I could have used it to utterly destroy the FAC but there's no real point to using up an SSM when the Soviet surface fleet is still clinging on further east.

Third Initiative Segment

The Soviet player sends out his Tu-20 on its remaining sortie to put another mine in AV-06.  The only remaining ship that hasn't moved is the Soviet SSN in AZ-06, which moves directly west to engage the American SSN in AX-06. It detects the sub and combat ensues.  The American SSN takes 1 hit while the Soviet sub is hit for 2.

End of Game:  One crowded map!

End of Turn Analysis:

Well, that began and ended really poorly for the Soviets.  Thanks to a less than ideal Soviet setup, the Soviets lost two of their most important ships on the first part of the turn and things just kept going downhill from there.  The lack of pickets to keep the surface ships safe from detection and attack really hurt the Soviets from the start.  The placement of SS subs near the carrier group did literally nothing.  A couple of lucky one-shots from air and the FAC managed to damage the US carrier but not enough to really hamper air operations.  In the coming turn, the Soviets will undoubtedly lose more ships to air attack from the US carrier until the entire surface fleet is wrecked.  After that, it will simply be a matter of moving the carrier group close enough to hit the FEBA marker and help the Egyptians to an easy victory over the Libyans.  So I'm calling the game here.

This is one of those games I want to set up all over again using the lessons learned from this play and have another go at it.  On the bright side, I've learned a bit here about closely examining your unit capabilities before setup and trying to have a really good clear picture of what each unit will be doing and why and when.  Aegean and Gulf Strike are severely punishing games for anyone who doesn't take the time to seriously think about these things before play.  This particular case should help prove the point.

I would like to thank my opponent, me, for being gracious in both victory and defeat.  I also look forward to playing myself again very soon should our schedules permit.  Congratulations to myself, the winner!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Aegean Strike: Battle for North Africa - US Setup

In my previous post, I set up the Soviet ships for the first scenario of Aegean Strike called "The Battle for North Africa".  The Soviets tried to lock out the US surface ships out of the area around the Egypt/Libya coastline.  After the Soviets set up, it's time to get the American ships on the map.  Here's a short post on how and why I did it in a little write-up I call "Justify Your Setup".  Here goes:

US (red) has set up prior to start of play.
Since I'm playing solitaire, I simply rolled a d10 to determine if the US player would set up to the northwest (near Italy) of the conflict area or down south nearer to the Suez Canal.  The die result was the first option so I put my entire surface ships together in one stack (CV-69, DD, BB, and LHA) just north of Naples in AR-03.  This was pretty much the only spot on the map where I wasn't dangerously close to two Soviet submarines at the same time.  It doesn't keep me out of range of Soviet bombers stationed in Benghazi but at least they won't have MiG escorts coming in with them if they do decide to hit me early on.

Both sides will get a roll to detect enemy units prior to play so I'm counting on detecting the Soviet sub in AS-03 from the start and then sending out the P-3 Orion on Sigonella and the S-3 Viking on the carrier to damage or destroy it before carefully moving south.

While the US carrier group cleans up the seas near Sicily, the US SSNs will sink their knives into the Soviet carrier group in AV-07.  The SSN in AV-06 will hopefully detect the ships prior to play and then slice into them in the Reaction Player Segment.  The SSN in AX-06 is there to give the Soviets some hard choices.  The Soviet player will either have to lambaste the Alexandria air base (with two F-16 squadrons on them) with the CGs and SSGN or spend his precious naval movement points instead to deal with the American sub before it becomes a big problem.

I was thinking of putting this sub next to Benghazi to launch its own cruise missiles at the Soviet airbase there but I really want to cut down the Soviet navy as fast as possible in the early game.  Having two SSNs operating very close to the Soviet surface fleet is also a bit of psychological warfare too.  Every decision by the Soviet player will need to be weighed with both American subs in mind.

Any thoughts?  If you would have set up differently, please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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!