Showing posts from 2016

Enemy Coast Ahead: Attack on the Ennepe Dam?

On May 17, 1943 a lone bomber codenamed AJ-O piloted by Flt. Sgt. Bill Townsend was circling the dark skies over Germany awaiting orders. In the early morning hours, the aircrew finally received the message they were waiting for. Their target was the Ennepe Dam. In the fog and darkness, the pilot and navigator finally arrived near what they thought was the Ennepe Dam and circled around to pinpoint it on the ground. After making several passes to get the altitude and trajectory right, the custom-made dam-busting bomb codenamed "Upkeep" was finally dropped. With the other men of 617 already having made their bombing runs on the other dams in the Ruhr, Townsend decided to head home to England.

What really happened that night is still not really clear. Years later, eyewitnesses reported that another nearby dam (the Bever Dam) was attacked. Reports from the aircrew of what they had sighted on the ground are consistent with landmarks near the Bever Dam. In the fog and darkness and…

Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raids

Enemy Coast Ahead (GMT, 2014) is a solitaire game designed by Jeremy White that simulates the RAF no. 617 Squadron's May 1943 raids on German dams in the Ruhr. This game held a special interest for me because as a kid, I read Paul Brickhill's book and I remember being fascinated by the technical problems of the bomb design, the raid, and marshalling together the right men and training in secret to do something that had never ever been done before.

Reading up on it now from the vantage of age, I was surprised at how ineffectual the whole thing was on the German war effort. The civilian losses and the POW deaths that resulted from the bombings are pretty appalling too. In the end, it seems the main effect of the raids was to boost British morale, which would have been much needed in those dark days. At the time, however, the raid was seen as a chance to strike a serious blow to Germany's war-making capabilities as its industries in the Ruhr industrial heartland would be rend…

Gulf Strike - Scenario 1: America - Heck Yeah!

It's turn 7 of my latest game of Gulf Strike scenario 1 and Iran is doing terribly. It has taken us seven horrible turns of mucking around with supply problems to get down to the capital of Saudi Arabia and do battle with the Saudi forces protecting the capital. Along the east coast, a handful of Iranian units attempt to break the back of the lonesome small group of elite defenders protecting the Al Hufuh airbase from attack. Without supply or reinforcement, it seems they won't last much longer.

On the other hand, the United States is now activated this turn and can start to get some serious units on to the table.

At the beginning of the turn, we roll for a Random Political Event and get nothing at all. So we go ahead to the Global Military Stage and the US units start showing up at the bottom of the Strategic Map.

I put a US SSN in the waters between Madagascar and the African coastline. Meanwhile, the USS Enterprise CVN-65 is placed to the east with a Marine amphibious ship…

Gulf Strike: Scenario 1 - Battle for Riyadh

In the first five turns of Gulf Strike's first scenario, I've led the Iranian military on a bumbling mess of a military adventure through Kuwait and down into Saudi Arabia. As the major powers gear up to join the war, I've got to admit that the Iranians have probably already lost it. Lack of planning has led to supply shortages and almost no air cover for my advancing troops. It's only because the Gulf Council states are poorly-armed that I have been able to get this far. This turn we see if things can come together again for Iran as it tries to take on the Saudi military for control of Riyadh.

Turn 6:

We start off the turn with no political events. The Global Military Phase begins and the US military uses a C-5 to transport in an airbase, 5th Special Forces Group, and the RDF HQ. The Americans also get 3 x F-4 Phantom units.

I wasn't exactly sure what to do with all this new stuff. If I put the airbase up in Oman, it's very vulnerable to Soviet air strikes from…

Gulf Strike - Scenario 1: Operation Sharp Stick

The first four turns of Gulf Strike scenario 1 were marked by poor planning, bad luck, and lots of hard lessons learned. Using the few remaining brain cells in my head, I had barely managed to get the Iranian army close enough to within striking distance of Riyadh. Turn 5 would be the time for the Iranian Air Force to serve as a beacon of light - the mighty protector of the army as it trundled down the peninsula fueled by dreams of fanatics. This would be the turn for:

At this point, my guys were already looking worn out just from the effort required to travel south in any semblance of organized fashion and within reach of my supply depots. Thankfully, the Gulf Council states were generous enough not to pound the heck out of the Saudi highways with interdiction missions so the supply chain managed to stay intact.  On the other hand, the Iranians were unable to pull off any dazzling air victories of note. Even the navy was having trouble hitting enemy ships.

Turn 5:

We roll a "10&q…

Gulf Strike: Scenario 1 - A Jaunt Down the Road

If you've been keeping up with my latest blog posts about Gulf Strike then you'll know that I've been playing scenario 1 and trying to learn the system as best as I can. The first scenario from Mark Herman's sprawling 1983 epic pits the forces of Iran and the Soviet Union against the Americans and the Gulf Council nations. In the first two turns of the game, Iran barged down through Kuwait, hoping to use air power to destroy the Kuwaiti forces while the bulk of the army kept moving south into Saudi Arabia. It was a gamble that didn't really work. Airpower in Gulf Strike can be a finicky thing and even if your air strategy is golden, you might find yourself without any real gains despite spending lots of supply points to send your planes out on missions.

In this article, I'm going to look at the events of turn 3 and 4 with an eye on what I have learned so far. I'm always thumbing through the rules and gaining a better understanding of how the small things in…

Gulf Strike: Scenario 1 - Operational Thinking & Lessons Learned

Leaving off from my last post about Iran's strategy in the first scenario of Gulf Strike, I'd like to take a deeper look at how decisions about operations can have a knock-on effect in subsequent turns. In this case, the Iranian player starts off the game by invading Kuwait with the aim of quickly subjugating it before heading down south to face the rest of the Gulf Council states (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman).

In the first turn of the game, the Iranian player sends a few core units of his army to conquer Kuwait while the rest of his units move on down towards Saudi Arabia. By committing minimal ground forces for the battle of Kuwait, Iran's reliance on air support plays a central role in the battle. Not only does the Iranian Air Force have the thankless job of neutralizing the Kuwaiti Air Force, it must also make up for the lack of attacking ground units by conducting risky and often futile close air support missions.

The errors start to compound in turn 2 as …

Gulf Strike - Scenario 1: Iran Strategy & Thinking

In an alternate 1984, Iran emerges victorious from the bloody conflict with Iraq begun only three years earlier. After consolidating its gains and finally harnessing its professional army to the whims the Revolutionary Council, Iran is ready to strike again. This time, the stakes are the future of the entire Middle East. In a bold plan to destroy its enemies in the Gulf Council states and spread the fervor of the revolution beyond its borders, Iran will seize the Straits of Hormuz and come to its rightful place as a world power with control over the production and transport of oil from the region.

After the Soviets perform a number of brilliant political maneuvers accompanied by a series of American foreign policy missteps, relations between the Soviet Union and Iran have grown closer. In the Iranian plan, the Soviets see their chance to become the dominant superpower in the Middle East by supporting Iranian military adventure in the Gulf. The Iranians are currently the strongest mili…