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J. Atkinson
United States
Grant
AL
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I got another session of this done late last night again after getting my son to bed. Finding my son in the middle of another campaign when I got home was both frustrating and enjoyable to see. I had my heart on busting out another session as soon as I got home, but I spent part of the evening helping my son make sure he had the rules correct and record his data in the his log. It was fun sharing the excitement of the new game will all the cool stuff with him and talking about all the various military aircraft. Now, I'm wondering if I should buy a second copy to solve my little "problem"(a good problem to have).

When I got him to bed, I started the Iraq 1991 campaign over again with Rapid Deployment with the same aircraft and pilots except the Cobras. I figured I needed the extra SO points this time, and it turned out to be a good decision. The first day was a little rough. I unwisely split up my forces to take on two battalions. Even though I was able to reduce both to half strength and eliminate a 2 SO daily penalty, I think it would have been better to have just combined my Apache and Thunderbolt and completely destroy the artillery battalion. My best thunderbolt pilot got way too much stress with engine, pylon, and structure damage in the attack on the artillery, and I felt like my Apache pilot wasted a bunch of ammo on the other battalion. The Apache cannon feels almost useless without a good pilot with cannon modifiers. However, the next day is what makes this game so amazing, and I'll try show you the decision process I went through in no particular order.

So the next day began with my fast and skilled thunderbolt pilot, "Pirate", with 3 stress and close to shaken. I had already paid the priority R&R to get him down to 3 and knew he probably needed to sit out. The thunderbolt was sitting in the hangar bay with pylon damage and some structure damage, but at least the engine was repaired from yesterday's mission. I draw the the special operations card for the day, and found a nice surprise: Reduced Enemy Air Cover! I could destroy enemy helicopters in battalions at the start of each mission for the day. Well, I looked through my enemy intel (battalion deck) and saw that the enemy headquarters was the only battalion with helicopters in the area. Even though I would have fly my pilots far over enemy lines to their rear, I figured it had to be worth a shot, since the two helicopters make up six points of battalion strength and the headquarters would be easier to take without them harassing my pilots.

With that decision made, I then started looking at what pilots and aircraft to bring. I had two Apaches and a Thunderbolt with pylon damage (reduces weight limit by two). Since there were so many targets in that battalion and I figured I needed to load up as much as I could. The pylon damage was frustrating, because I really could use the extra two weight points back. I had decided to take fuel tanks as well costing yet another two weight points, because I wanted plenty of time to destroy this battalion. I lost my scout on the way back from the last mission from yesterday, so I had no hope of getting some extra turns without fuel tanks. What made the weight problem worse was that flying to the enemy rear would cost me 4 weight points on my aircraft, so I decided to pay the 1 SO point to negate it and give my pilots plenty of ordinance to take out the target rich environment.

After figuring out my maximum weight constraints, I looked at my targets to see what kind of weapons I needed for this mission. While looking at the targets, I was also thinking about what pilots should I bring. I really wanted to rest my "fast" thunderbolt pilot, so I decided to try my "slow" and green thunderbolt pilot. I rationalized that if I could destroy this battalion with the extra 2 XP for doing so, then I could promote my pilot (Viper) who would then be fast and average. Now I would have two fast pilots in thunderbolts, and man, does pilot speed make a difference in this game (being able to shoot and move first is so awesome). However, with all the AAA and SAM sites, my slow pilot would be at severe risk at being shot down before he could get his shots off. This lead to me pulling in my two fast Apache pilots (one with some stress) to give them the priority of taking out the AAA and SAM's.

Following that, I lined up all my little enemy unit counters in a couple of rows to begin calculating what targets I needed to take out to reach the destroyed value of seven. From that I determined what targets I could ignore, and make my final decision on weapons. Since the Thunderbolt pilot was slow, I gave him the job of carrying the high powered ground pounding ordinance to take out the buildings with the -4 die roll modifier and worth 3 battalion strength points a piece. I loaded up six hellfires on the Apache with my pilot with +1 standoff ability to make him extra dangerous from long range, and I gave the other Apache three LAU 61's for attacking at close range with his -1 standoff ability.

With my aircraft loaded and ready to go, I sent them off to their mission. I was really sweating it while wondering if I had enough to pull off a destruction of this battalion with it's anti-aircraft protection and hardened bunkers. Those SAM's are nasty with their long range capability. On the way there, I was fortunate that someone called in an MLRS bombardment ahead of them! Yes! I'll pay the 1 SO point for that.... sweet action! I setup the terrain hexes and placed all the enemy units in their proper location. I then proceeded to trash the two helicopters with a grin on my face. With bated breath I began rolling the die looking for the numbers eight to ten as I rolled for each remaining enemy target. What joy I had as I saw all the SAM sites taken out along with two of the hardened bunkers. All that remained of a serious threat to my pilots were the AAA vehicles and AAA sites which were only bunched up in 3 locations. I examined the optimal flight path for my aircraft placement. I came up with what I thought would be an optimal location for each that would allow my Apaches to swoop in on the AAA units while my Thunderbolt would catch up from behind dropping heavy payload on the bunkers and storage buildings. I could not ask for a better plan as I worked through the first few turns crushing the AAA with hellfires and LAU-61's. The Thunderbolt performed marvelously punching through the bunkers. I was able to clean up most of the targets in about 5 turns and leave behind only three points of battalion units which was enough for destruction. To keep my last Apache pilot from taking too many shots, I actually took him high altitude near the last hex to get over a ridge. I was hoping for no enemy pop-ups, but a SAM site did pop up in range. However, he was fast and able to leave the area before a missile could be launched. We did have to drop some weapons on the way out to avoid more enemy SAMs.

My pilots came away with some stress and some bullet holes, but nothing to worry too much about. It was a smashing success. Had I known, that the MLRS bombardment would be available beforehand, I could probably have foregone the fuel tanks. But that's the beauty of this game, you never know what will happen no matter how well you plan. You just try and plan for best with what you have available to you and hope that you can execute on it to the best of your ability. Sometimes things go your way, and other times they don't. Also, the day's special operations condition cards really make for interesting decisions on which targets to attack for the day.

Enemy HQ destruction on full display below ...


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Paul Dodds
United Kingdom
Reading
Berkshire
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"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."
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Great session report! This is easily one of my favourite solitaire games, but criminally one that I don't play as much as I want to.

It's always great to share in the enthusiasm of others as they discover this fabulous game, so big thanks for posting. I think it's awesome that your son is also interested, even if can lead to a clash of sessions! Two copies makes perfect sense....

As a closing thought, you could try sharing a campaign but flying different missions: collectively plan the day's missions to be flown and then split the individual missions between the two of you to play out.
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J. Atkinson
United States
Grant
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Kyuss wrote:
Great session report! This is easily one of my favourite solitaire games, but criminally one that I don't play as much as I want to.

It's always great to share in the enthusiasm of others as they discover this fabulous game, so big thanks for posting. I think it's awesome that your son is also interested, even if can lead to a clash of sessions! Two copies makes perfect sense....

As a closing thought, you could try sharing a campaign but flying different missions: collectively plan the day's missions to be flown and then split the individual missions between the two of you to play out.


Thanks. Actually we did just that this past weekend, and it was fun.
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Peter Kossits
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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What you could also do is get a copy of Hornet Leader and play the combined campaign for both games together. What your son does in Apache helps you out and vice versa.


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