Learning Gulf Strike - Scenario 1: The Invasion of Kuwait (Part 2)

In my previous post, I talked about the general setup for scenario one of Gulf Strike, which involves Iran going to war against the Gulf Council nations in the mid-80s.  Iran started off the game with plans to invade Kuwait.  Three groups of ground forces were assembled near the Iraq-Kuwait border (Iran has taken over Iraq and made it a vassal state after winning the Iran-Iraq war).  Before their troops rolled in, however, the Iranians sent three strike packages of F-4 Phantoms in to bomb the Kuwaiti air base.  Although it met some light resistance, the Iranian Air Force pulled off an outstanding job and completely eliminated the base.  With the Kuwaitis grounded, it was time to begin the ground war.

Kuwait has assembled its forces into positions around Kuwait City in an attempt to delay the Iranians as long as possible on their way to invading the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.  Although I'm not planning to fight and report on the whole campaign here, I'm just trying to give readers an idea of how the game plays.  Currently, we're in the beginning of turn 1 in the Initiative Player (Iran) movement phase.  So let's get the party on the ground started.

Formations and Movement in Gulf Strike

In Gulf Strike, ground units can move in different kinds of formations.  Some formations are better for moving while others are better for fighting.  For example, a unit in travel formation can move very quickly but fights at only 1/4 of its strength.  On the other hand, a unit in Deliberate Attack formation gets its combat strength multiplied by 3 but the cost of movement through terrain is four times as much as the terrain movement cost.  There are several other formations that fall in between these two and a good player has to figure out the optimal balance between movement and attack in order to achieve his objectives on the ground.  Movement formations all have different supply costs as well and these also need to be factored into ground strategy.  Units can change their formation on the go but this costs movement points as well.

Iran 2nd Armored prepares to move south one hex.

The first thing we'll do is move the 2nd Iranian Armored Division (6 Strength, 8 Movement Points) in hex 1141 south one hex to 1142 so that it's adjacent to the Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade (3 Strength, 8 Movement Points).  Since all units start off the game in Movement to Contact formation, we could simply move the unit (at a cost of 2 MPs for road movement) in its current formation one hex south and declare combat at a 2-1 ratio.

However, because we have six MPs left for the armor division after moving it along the road, we could spend 4 of its remaining MPs to change its formation to a Deliberate Assault, which would triple its combat strength from 6 to 18.  We also move the HQ and the artillery that was stacked with the Iranian armored division and do the same.  We place a Deliberate Assault marker on the stack and declare combat, which will be resolved later in the turn.

Iranians stacked in 1142 prepare a deliberate assault against Kuwaiti 1st Armored Birgade in 1143.
The Iranian 1st Armored Division moves from hex 0841 along the road southeast into Kuwait.  It has spent 4 MPs moving along the two road hexes and spends its remaining 4 MPs switching its mode to Deliberate Assault before declaring combat against the 1st Kuwaiti Armored Brigade in hex 1143.

Iranian 1st Armored Division in hex 1042 cozies up adjacent to Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade in 1143.
Now to take on the Kuwaiti 2nd Armored Brigade.  The Iranians send the 11th Armored Brigade (stacked with the 4th Armored Division) along the road into 0843 for 2 MPs and then southeast to 0944 for 3 MPs.  With 3 MPs remaining, we don't have enough movement points left to switch to a Deliberate Assault formation so we switch instead to a Hasty Assault, which doubles an attacker's combat strength.

Iranian 4th Armored Division and 11th Brigade move adjacent to Kuwaiti 2nd Armored Brigade in hex 1044.
The Iranians have the 10th Infantry Brigade in 0643 and the 7th Infantry Division in 0544 and although I would love to move these guys in to support the attack on the 2nd Kuwaiti Armored Brigade, there's no way to make this possible since infantry units cannot use the Travel formation to move.  Keeping them in "Movement to Contact" formation, I spend the 10 Infantry  Brigade's 4 MP to move from 0643 into Kuwait and leave it in hex 0844.  The 7th Infantry Division moves to hex 0745.

Iranian 7th Infantry Division and 10th Infantry Brigade move into Kuwait.
An Iranian mechanized division and artillery brigade were stacked with the 10th Infantry Brigade in hex 0643 before this move so now it's time to move those guys.  The mech infantry and arty have 8 MPs and they move along the road to 1043 at a cost of 2 MPs per hex.  They declare combat against the Kuwaiti 2nd Armored Brigade.

Mech infantry move adjacent to 1st and 2nd Kuwaiti Armored Brigades
After realizing that I had made a mistake with the number of units I could place in reserve, I fix up the problem a bit and move some units that were sitting to the rear.  It's nothing that should seriously affect gameplay and I'm playing solo here so my opponent doesn't mind.

Iranian ground movement is complete.

Some Afterthoughts

So the Movement portion of the First Action Stage is largely complete here and hopefully I didn't make too many rules errors.  I can see that I probably made some mistakes in planning with the initial Iranian ground setup.  It would have made more sense to place infantry on the northern border so they could reach the enemy faster.  An extra division of tanks and a bit more artillery on the western flank would have been nice too. As it is, I think I can deal some serious damage to the Kuwaitis on the first turn, especially the 1st Kuwaiti Armored Brigade.  With the Kuwaiti Air Force destroyed, the Iranians will be free to throw some air support in the form of helicopters at the 2nd Armored Brigade to help deal out some more damage.

In Supply terms, the expenditure for this is immense.  It will cost more than 30 supply points total for these attacks (which is incurred after the attack is resolved). This cost is extremely high for the Iranian player and will almost certainly hurt him later in the turn when he wants to carry out follow-up attacks.  If I were playing this thing through to the bitter end, I would probably have only one of the Iranian armored divisions make a deliberate assault against the 1st Kuwaiti Armored Brigade.

If I really wanted to go all out, I could also try and hit Kuwait from the sea by carrying out bombardment attacks on Kuwait City or by using any or all of my three Iranian Marine brigades to amphibiously assault from the east.  This would cost even more supplies, however, and would further limit the Iranian player's options later on in the turn so we'll leave it for now.

First Reaction Segment

Now that the Iranians have attacked with their air units and moved their ground units into position and declared their attacks, we move on to the First Reaction Segment.  I already have the Kuwaiti player's forces in defensive formations.  The 1st and 2nd Armored Brigades are in a Hasty Defense formation for an expenditure of 2 total supply points.  I would have preferred to put them into a stronger Deliberate Defense but this formation is prohibited in Clear Terrain.

The Kuwaitis have no air or naval units to move and their 3rd Mechanized Brigade is not in Reserve mode so it may not move.  If units are in a Reserve mode and in the ZOC of an enemy, they can try to withdraw from some combat situations.  With no further options left, the Kuwaiti player passes and the Reaction Segment ends.

First Combat Phase

The First Combat Phase begins.  It has two parts to it:  the Close Air Support Segments (Reacting Player and then the Initiative Player) and then the actual Assault Segment where ground combat is resolved.

Without air support for the Kuwaitis, the Reacting Player must pass and the Iranians now get a chance to throw air support into the mix.  The Iranians have some AH-1 attack helicopters over on Khark Island so they send them over into Kuwait to hit at the 2nd Kuwaiti Armored Brigade.  They don't have enough fuel to land back on Khark Island Air Base after the strike but they can be landed at the air base in Basra.

Iranian AH-1 helos take off from Khark Island and head for Kuwait.
As the helos reach the 2nd Armored Brigade, the Kuwaitis get a chance for detection and make their roll, getting a result of "1".  The helos are detected by the ground unit and they fire at the helicopters, getting a "7" and missing.  Both AH-1 units get to fire now and roll against their Bombardment rating, which is a "5".  Both rolls come out as "8" and the units miss and fly off to Basra air base.  The Close Air Support Segments are now over and it's time for the Assault Segment.

The Assault Segment

First, we'll figure out the attack on the Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade.  The Iranian 2nd Armored Division has a combat strength of 18 while the 1st Armored Division has a strength of 21.  The Kuwaitis have a combat strength of 3.   The combat odds are 13 to 1 but the table only goes up to 8 to 1 so we use this column.  Now we take in the modifiers.  The formation for the Kuwaitis is Hasty Defense so this takes our combat odds column down to the 7 to 1 column.  The presence of Iranian artillery, however,will add 2 to the attacker's roll.

We roll a d10 for the combat result and get a "5" for a modified die roll of "7".  The result is a 0/4 so the attackers take no hits and the Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade takes four hits.  The hit capacity of a brigade is 3 hits so it is eliminated.  Normally, defending units can nullify some hits by retreating but there's really nowhere to go except hex 1243, which would eliminate only one of the hits.  With the Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade wiped out, the Iranians send one armored division into the enemy hex after switching its formation to Movement to Contact at no cost.

The Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade is eliminated and the Iraqi 2nd Armored Division moves into hex 1143.
Now to take on the Kuwaiti 2nd Armored Brigade.  The starting combat odds are a 19 to 3, which comes to a 6 to 1.  Since the Kuwaitis are in Hasty Defense formation, the odds table is shifted left to the 5 to 1 column.  The Iranians again have artillery in this battle so there will be a +2 to the attack die roll.  We roll a "1" and it's modified to a "3".  The Kuwaitis take one hit.  They could retreat one hex and nullify the hit but the Iranians would probably pursue them all the way to Kuwait City.  Better to take a stand, suffer the hit, and keep the Iranians at bay.  The Assault Segment ends and the Second Action Stage begins.

That's as far as I wanted to show this time around for Gulf Strike.  I hope this gives you a good idea of how much interaction there is in the game and all of the options available for players as air, ground, and naval forces interact with each other and the other player's forces throughout each game turn.  It's not an extremely complex game in terms of rules but there are a lot of moving parts to the game and it can seem like there is an overwhelming number of choices for new players.  That being said, I'm sure I made some mistakes in here as I'm still really learning the rules!  Thanks for reading and if you have a copy of Gulf Strike, I hope this encourages you to get it out on the table (or loaded up in Vassal) and start playing.


  1. Again, an interesting Victory Games product, and I'd like to hear more about it. You noted that the supply is paid after the attacks, and that you used a lot of it in the first segment, to make the first successful blows. That sounds like a good mechanic, and would like to see how that affects the Iranians in further segments. Also, the air strikes/combat play nicely (at least how you describe them), and they seem to become "alive" in the game. Wouldn't mind reading about how the IRIAF goes against Saudis. How's the Saudi air force in the game?

    Also, I have to say that I finally got Eisenbach Gap (Deluxe), prompted to purchase it by your posts, and have been messing up German countryside a lot in the past two weeks. I have found a lot of advice in your posts, and it's interesting to compare scenario results.

    1. Hi Tuomas! Thanks for your kind comments and questions. The Saidi Air Force is much more of a challenge for the Iranians since it has AWACS and F-15s to intercept any Iranian air incursions. The Saudi ground is not great and hurt even more by limited supplies. I'll play a bit more and let you know how it goes next week!


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