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Three greatest chess players ever: Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, and Victor Korchnoi.
My overall plan is the following: land paratroops at the three airfields starting with Maleme and Heraklion after launching air raids on turn one. Once those airfields are secure I will begin to airlift the mountain troops to begin to head to other objectives nearby including the port of Sitia. Retimo will be handled as needed either with another air assault or by sending forces from Heraklion.
At the same time I will put heavy focus on crushing the Royal Navy so I can land 5th Panzer division in Souda ASAP. 5th Panzer is strong enough to then capture Canea as well.
I begin by rolling for staff points. I have no interest in spending them on intel this turn and as I have no units to refit I begin to execute my staging phase.
I commit all my He 111 and Do 17 planes to attacking the Royal Navy. My Stukas will reign their bombs on Maleme and Heraklion airfields as well as the port of Suda. They will be supported by Me 110 and 109 fighters while the Italians will be assigned to attack the port of Heraklion.
I also commit three paratroop units to each airfield with Ju 52 planes to deliver them to target.
I now unleash hell upon the Royal Navy! My strikes have resulted in only two hits my worst opening strike ever! Plus one He 111 was damaged. The attacks do result in two destroyers sunk so I score my first VP of the game!
After failing miserably at sea the Luftwaffe land attacks had better be good!!
As the airstrikes are about to begin the allied positions are revealed
Looks like both airfield are going to be tough going unless these airstrikes cause absolute chaos! The goos news is there is only one AA unit revealed thus far but it has the distinction of damaging the Italian air unit!
The airstrikes end with Maleme being cleared of two strong allied units, the 5th NZ HQ eliminated at Souda, and one strong allied unit retreated from Heraklion airfield as well.
So far a mixed bag as the allies prepare to act.
The allied command ends up getting key information from Ultra which raises the Royal Navy level by 1 and they also anticipate attacks in Retimo and Lasithi sectors by ordering forces to reinforce the ports and airfield located there.
So the initial turn ends with a very weak start for the Germans. I am now have to spend precious staff points to find out what is in the newly reinforced areas.
Given the current British deployment, I need to crush the Royal Navy this turn so I can land the 5th Panzer next turn. The good news is there are no AA units at either airfield where I am about to drop paratroopers. However, it seems I will need to drop men on Retimo sooner than I thought.
I roll for staff points which gives me the maximum of 9. I like to keep my staff points to enhance my airborne drops so I will skip the German intelligence phase. Axis refit finds me spending two points to repair my damaged air units.
For the staging phase I will move elements of the 5th Panzer to the amphibious operations box for Canea sector. I put heavy emphasis on the Royal Navy strike by committing all He 111 and Do17 planes as well as 4 Stukas. Tactically I commit a Stuka, Me 110 and 109 to the Canea sector and another Stuka, Me 110 and 109 to the Retimo sector. 3 Ju52 units are committed to the Maleme and Heraklion airdrops.
With no boots on the ground thus far I move on to the strategic air attacks. I record a staggering eight hits which reduces the Royal Navy level to 1. The eight strikes total resulting in two destroyers sunk, a cruiser damaged, two cruisers sunk, and three capital ships damaged. The massive attack yields a whopping 16 VP!
The rest of the Luftwaffe is now deployed to Souda to assist the landing of 5th Panzer and Retimo airfield to see what is there and strike a blow! The Ju 52 units wing their way to the airfields for their drops.
The 5th Panzer makes its way to Souda without incident as the Royal Navy cannot stop them sitting at level 1.
The airstrike at Retimo airfield reveals a surprising 3 enemy HQ so a drop there next turn in certain. Again, oddly enough, there are no enemy AA units
Tactical air assaults yield the following results: no help to the 5th Panzer at Souda and the strike at Retimo airfield turns into a glorified recon patrol.
At Maleme airfield the drop goes very wrong as 2 units hit the ground reduced. while at Heraklion everyone hits the ground running ready to attack (once they collect their weapons canisters of course!).
I begin ground combat at Souda. 5th Panzer secures the port but loses two steps in the process. Two British units are destroyed while another is forced to retreat.
Heraklion sees the British artillery rough up one German paratrooper unit while the Germans land three hits on the allies destroying both artillery units and a strong Greek unit as well. Finally there is the desperate battle at Maleme airfield. The last German paratrooper unit is reduced but the enemy artillery unit is destroyed leaving minimal resistance.
Middle East command responds to the initial assaults with a massive release of reserve units which deploy to Heraklion Airfield, Heraklion Town, Maleme Airfield, Retimo Town, and one to Retimo Airfield (one unit was earmarked for Souda but could not be placed due to German control).
Morale check is rolled and the current VP is +14 so the Germans roll a die and add staff points which again takes them to the limit of 9.
The allies launch two counterattacks. First they strike Maleme Afield in an attempt to destroy my weakened paratroops. The fighting is intense and finally the two British units are forced to retreat leaving the Germans in possession of their first airfield! On the downside, there was a British HQ unit and letting it slip away cost precious VP.
At Heraklion British armor arrives to assist the elite Greek unit there and the allies land a heavy blow brining all paratroopers to reduced status while taking no hits themselves!!
Allied command level remains high as the second turn ends with the Germans having only 10 VP.
The difficult situation at Heraklion Airfield is making me think I need to send in more troops to secure the area before I incur even more losses. If things continue to go slowly there, I am planning on launching my next amphibious assault at Retimo Port so I’ll have some strong forces to strike the heavily defended airfield. Strategically I will now work on reducing the allied command and send in some Stukas to strike Retimo Airfield. The biggest challenge in securing Crete, IMO, is capturing the ports of Sitia and Stakia as they sit off by themselves. I am starting to sense that this game may go the limit.
Staff point DR= which is no big deal as I am at the max of 9 already. I decided to spend one staff point to try to gain intel on the port of Canea just to see if 5th Panzer might need some assistance but my DR= so I fail. As I control the airfield at Malemen I decide to spend 3 staff points to refit the paratroopers there as I may need them to capture the Kissamos port nearby.
I deploy 3 units from the 5G mountain division to the Heraklion air landing box and 3 paratroopers to the air landing box for Canea including an HQ. In preparation for next turns amphibious action, I deploy 6G mountain to the Retimo amphibious box.
Once again I send all He111, Do17, four Stukas plus the Italians on the strategic bombing mission this time to pound allied command. Tactically I deploy an Me109 to Canea, 2 Stukas, Me110 and Me109 to Retimo, and am Me109 to Lasithi. The fighters will act mainly as recon to let me know what forces are in several key zones.
In the Axis tactical movement phase I deploy four units of the 5th Panzer to Canea Port.
My bombers launch into the sky to rain destruction on the allied command…and the result is brutal for both sides! My Luftwaffe scores 4 hits on allied command but in the process a Do17 and a pair of Stukas are damaged!
Tactically the Luftwaffe deploys its forces to Kissamos, Retimo Port and Sitia while the transports wing their way to the airfields.
In the allied reveal phase, I gain the following intel:
Kissamos: two infantry and an AA unit
Retimo Port: four infantry and the allied Corps HQ!
Sitia: four infantry and an AA.
5th Panzer moves into the port of Canea and discovers three infantry and an AA
The allied AA fails to score a hit and now I unleash my tactical buzzards!
My forces score a big hit at Retimo port destroying the 7th Corps HQ along with one infantry unit while forcing another infantry to retreat!
After the successful air landings, my forces at the port of Canea take heavy losses as one units is destroyed while only one British unit is taken out. Heraklion airfield is finally captured but the allied forces retreat denying me precious VP.
Middle East command again gains Ultra intelligence and they also launch an offensive in Heraklion which means the battle for the airfield is not over yet!!
Allied counterattack yield the following results: the allies are totally routed at Canea as all three units are destroyed! The lone British unit at Heraklion apparently decides the attack is a suicide mission and retreats leaving us in command of the airfield.
The turn ends with allied command again reaching level 12.
This turn I will begin to spread out across the island. Elements from Maleme will strike at Kissamos, I’ll land 6G mountain at Retimo Port, while troops from Heraklion will attack Heraklion port. And given there is only three allied units in Stakia, I’ll drop paratroopers to try to secure the zone before it gets reinforced.
My staff points roll is a so I again reach the max of nine.
I then refit three air units and three paratroopers at Heraklion.
For my staging phase, I send 3 paratroopers to the Canea Sector airborne box and 3 more of 5G mountain to the Heraklion air landing box. Once again I send the usual suspects to blast away at allied morale. Tactically, I am sending Stukas to support the attacks at the ports of Heraklion and Kissamos while sending fighters to sweep some zones in Canea looking for King George.
In the tactical movement phase I send four units from Maleme to Kissamos, two units of 5th Panzer to Armenoi and two paratroopers and three mountain formations to Heraklion Port.
The strategic air assault results in 5 hits on the allied morale while my Luftwaffe suffers three hits!
The Royal Navy failed in its very slight chance to intercept 6G forces on their way to Retimo port (they needed ).
Newly revealed allied units show an HQ, AA, and infantry at Stakia to greet my paratroopers and Heraklion port is reinforced by two strong “4” strength infantry units.
After allied AA completely miss I launch my tactical airstrikes. They prove to be mostly ineffective as only one British infantry is destroyed.
The airdrop at Stakia has its problems as one unit is reduced and another lands in nearby Mounters.
I have no less than 6 ground combats to resolve this turn and an optimistic I will strike the Allies a blow this turn!
PIC Battles for this turn.
It is a hard round of fighting and at the end my men have not secured a single objective!! This does not bode well.
Allied Middle East command releases 4 more reserve units but only one makes it to its destination as the other locations are in German hands!
The allis now launch their counterattacks which result in Kissamos being captured, 5th Panzer clearing their present zone so they can push on to help the paratroopers at Stakia where now only one reduced paratrooper unit remains Heraklion port is cleared but the allies hold on by their fingernails in Retimo port.
As the allied command adjustment phase begins an urgent message is delivered revealing the loss of Creforce HQ and 5th NZ resulting in a loss of four morale! (Translation: This is the one rule I always seem to forget when playing this game. So I did it now but, of course, it would’ve been even more helpful a turn ago!)
So the final adjustment bring the allied moral level to 7. Allied evacuation check DR= Evacuation has been ordered!!!
Allied forces in zone with no ports and airfields withdraw.
With evacuation now triggered I must capture the remaining three ports and airfield ASAP!!
I don’t think I can possibly capture the port of Sitia unless I am willing the risk an airborne drop into a space with 5 allied units. The other two ports should fall easily enough but the Retimo Airfield with 7 allied units is a long shot. My only real chance is for the Luftwaffe to really earn their wages this turn!
The staff points die roll is a so I will have 7 points for use this turn.
I refit my 3 Luftwaffe forces as I will need everyone of them at maximum strength if I am going to have any chance of really winning.
I decide to gamble a prepare 3 paratroop units to drop on Sitia. I hope to score a few hits and destroy the remaining allis in the counterattack phase.
I commit my air units to tactical air support at Stakia, Retimo port and Retimo airfield.
In the tactical movement phase I converge two elements of 5th Panzer and another paratrooper on Stakia. Three mountain and three paratroopers prepare to assault Retimo Airfield with one mountain unit moving from Heraklion airfield to the port to maintain control there.
Allied AA again scored no hits.
The Luftwaffe tactical airstrikes went as follows:
Stakia: HQ destroyed and AA forced to retreat.
Retimo Port: British infantry destroyed
Retimo Airfield: Armor and infantry retreat and a HQ destroyed.
A good result!
The airdrop at Sitia resulted in two paratrooper units reduced basically wiping out all the VP my Luftwaffe just scored!
The fighting at Retimo Airfield resulted in one mountain unit being reduced while German forces destroyed one infantry and two enemy HQ while forcing the lone partisan unit to retreat thus securing the airfield!
But at Sitia the paratroopers were hammered with two units being destroyed and one forced to retreat after being reduced
The last allied troops then leave the island from Sitia port.
3 airfields=30 VP
6 ports=24 VP
Campaign Battle=8 VP
Total= 62 VP a tactical defeat!
Post game comments: The biggest mistake I made was getting too impatient with the ports and sending paratroopers alone with no nearby ground troops to support them into Sitia and Stakia, Granted, the Sitia assault was a gamble to capture the last port and bag some allied troops but it failed miserably. The allied command decision to withdraw on turn 4 was a surprise and I was not ready for it. I should’ve stuck to the plan of landing the 5th Panzer and now mountain division at Souda and Retimo and then having elements from both drive south to capture Stakia. Instead of the extra paratroop drops, I would’ve been better served to fly more units into Herkalion airfield and then send some to Retimo airfield while others drove west to capture Sitia. All in all not one of my better efforts in this game.
But as always it was a lot of fun and I think this session report reflects the fun and challenge of this game.
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
Nice AAR. Glad you enjoyed the game, it's one on my Secret Santa wishlist (or post-holidays must-buy list).
I find it amusing/interesting that you posted this just a couple days before StukaJoe finished up his video replay of the game. The outcomes in both games were tactical defeats, with scores in the mid-60s.
The general consensus seems to be that this is a really enjoyable game. However, it's also pretty clear that the 126+ point victory condition delineated in the rules is unachievable. I've played played the game a dozen times now and the best I've done was 112, and that was with absurdly lucky chit pulls and die rolls.
My understanding, from a conversation with one of the playtesters, was that the original victory threshold was 75+ points, which was found to be way too easy to achieve. It was then bumped up to 100+, but testers were still winning "too frequently." Then, just before the game went to press, it was again raised -- this time to the published 126+ requirement. Although he hasn't confirmed it in writing, based on a few conversations I've had with the designer, I suspect Joe Miranda's goal was that the player should only win about 30-35% of the time.
Mr.Miranda is on record (on CSW) as confirming that the present victory conditions are flawed, and indicated that something would be forthcoming from DG soon to rectify this situation. However, it appears that his proposed "fix" will revolve around awarding extra points to the player for forcing the Allies to evacuate earlier than the final turn. That's perhaps a step in the right direction, but I don't think it addresses the underlying flaw, which is that 126+ is simply too high a threshold.
Nice report! There's an error on the map: it is Rethymno not Retimo!