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Subject: A Knife Fight with Nukes - Playtest AAR Part 2 rss

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Tim Southall
United Kingdom
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In part 1 an Indian government fighting to control domestic terrorism while facing an economic slump launches an all out war against its neighbour in an attempt to seize the entire Punjab region, destroy its military and force the withdrawal of Pakistani support for terrorist groups. Believing they are outmatched conventionally the government of Pakistan authorises the use of tactical nuclear weapons by its military, to devastating effect.


Turn 3

The weather continued to be unseasonable clear and as IROP air reinforcements had arrived at the end of the previous turn encouraged me to try another air battle, before the first US air units could arrive at the end of this turn. Their chances were still not as good as they could be – somehow Pakistan had had one of each type of plane damaged and no more, preventing any recombining of units, and their SOFs and missiles had failed to cause any lasting collateral damage to the ROI air force. Unfortunately it was another disaster - the Indians had consistently better rolls throughout (as in, not a single IROP plane rolled better than its counterparts!) resulting in only an ROI Tejas being damaged and most of the IROP airforce aborted, many with damage and two of the 4*s that are Pakistan’s star players being eliminated on ‘0’ rolls. This time a single IROP JF-17 held on in the superiority box but it was once again apparent just how one-sided the air battle seemed to be without the PRC air in play.

This Indian success was continued by the surviving ROI SOF, which destroyed the nuclear facility at Multan that was still damaged from the previous turn, with another well timed ‘0’ roll. Each facility destroyed reduces the number of available nukes by one but for now there were still plenty of IROP nukes left for the strike phase. This time I switched over to the area around Sialkot and Jammu. Pakistan is probably strongest on this front at the start of the scenario until ROI reinforcements get sent here and I had expected to begin the nuclear attacks here originally. Aiding this decision was that the best targets near Lahore were in Pakistani cities and so are prohibited as targets by their own sides nukes. The Targeted markers in the picture below show where the second wave of IROP nukes were sent. The reason for not putting all three nukes along the main front line was to leave the road open for later IROP supply lines, as I was beginning to realise how big a problem this could be from the previous turn’s attacks.


Note that none of the three nukes target Jammu itself - targeting an enemy's cities or urban hexes with nukes incurs additional VP penalties. Nonetheless international news will likely be dominated by footage of the devastation caused so close to a major population centre.


The results were mixed. Along the main line one fizzled and therefore had a reduced effect and the other malfunctioned completely, but the one to the north had full effect. As the malfunction was on the southernmost nuke, where they had the best chance of a follow-up attack to wipe out the stack, and the fizzled nuke took out only a combat outpost (though did still penalise the remaining units), Pakistan was not impressed with the results in and of themselves but there was still opportunities from the one actual success.

Indian good fortune continued as their missiles took out another nuclear facility, reducing Pakistan to just two more nuclear attacks and garnering India even more VPs. A Pakistani attempt to hit an Indian facility meanwhile (as I felt a Pakistani player would have to worry about a nuclear counter attack by now) achieved only a strike 1, although a strike on the Indian forward airbase at Amritsar prevented the main ROI helicopter force from being used this turn. Then the Indians struck back and used a pair of Mirages to interdict a hex in the south. This placed the armoured units that were at the forefront of the Pakistani attack out of supply. An emergency resupply attempt managed to get the powerful armoured division resupplied but failed with the accompanying brigade and by this point IROP supply points were already dangerously low. The scenario does not grant either India or Pakistan any extra supply points after the start. India was receiving supplies from the US but Pakistan was not getting anything from China and as such they only had a very limited amount of supply to last for the entire 12 turn scenario.

Pakistani attacks met with mixed success. In the south they drove the Indians back but were stopped from destroying a vulnerable ROI stack by an elite mechanised unit reinforcing the hex and suffered heavy losses, over extending their forces which then got hit by a massive armoured counter-attack from arriving ROI reinforcements that wiped out half the IROP strike force. Around Sialkot/Jammu Pakistan had more success but an overly risky assault on Jammu itself (which in fairness would have wiped out another supply depot and trapped two divisions had it succeeded) also cost them several steps. They avoided an Indian counter attack however thanks to the terrain and India’s own losses which left them unwilling to take risks until reinforcements could arrive.

The result was that come the basic movement phase I found myself having to pull many IROP units back to or past their start of turn positions to avoid further losses. To the south an IROP infantry brigade was unable to get back across the Sutlej due the fallout and earlier interdiction strike and was left exposed resulting in its destruction. Meanwhile in the centre Pakistan was able to keep some forces across the border in India but the X Corps infantry had to withdraw over a hastily constructed bridge into Sialkot to avoid annihilation following their attack on Jammu leaving the northern road from that city open in their wake. The Indians had too few troops to advance that way yet but I could see that changing in another turn or two.

To the Indians annoyance they ended the turn gaining 19vps (ignoring the nuke VPs which don't count for this), one short of reversing the initiative, but I couldn’t find a way for the Indians to gain the extra VP even with the potential double move allowing for risky forward movements. They had however had a very good turn thanks both to the dice and my initial overconfidence with Pakistan. As a result they were now only 1 VP behind Pakistan overall despite the latter’s initial pre-game VP lead. And despite IROP reinforcements now beginning to arrive India still had troops arriving and the lead US units were now also arriving. Still, the remaining two IROP nukes might cause some problems and India was, I felt, still a way off a front wide offensive.


Fierce fighting on both sides of the front during turn 3 results in significant losses for both sides. In the centre however Lahore is quiet as the Indians maintain only a loose siege of the city till more units can be brought up.


Turn 4

On turn 4 I felt I had no choice but to ground the IROP airforce. With US planes now beginning to arrive and half the Pakistani units that were still operational being reduced the chances of them even inflicting a single loss on the Allied planes seemed remote and not worth the potential VPs they’d give the Indians. Pakistan would not fly its airforce for the rest of the scenario leaving the Allies free to dominate the skies, aided by the weather that remained incredibly clear.

The arrival of US SOFs saw final (unsuccessful) efforts being made to shut down the remaining IROP nukes before they could be fired. However it also saw new efforts begin to locate IROP supply depots for their cruise missiles to hit. The first attempt failed but Pakistan had too few supply points to be able to easily react to this new strategy.

I considered using the final two nukes in the south to stem the new Indian advance on that front. However I decided that nukes were too expensive to use on merely delaying the enemy and had to cause casualties, directly or indirectly, as well to make up their cost. Therefore the last two nukes were targeted in the centre, as shown by the target markers in the image below.


The inhabitants of Jammu and its environs suffer still further as more nuclear weapons are detonated to the south.


Combined with the earlier nuke they would form a wall of radioactive hexes which would make any ROI offensive towards Sialkot or Narowal from the north very difficult. Unlike in the south however there were enough IROP units to follow up the nukes and wipe out the damaged enemy forces. Unfortunately the fallout would also hinder any IROP attempt to seize Jammu and Trikuta Nagar so this was also an admission that I no longer felt Pakistan could successfully launch an offensive into India, at least not for several turns (India could too easily route their new reinforcements here before either city was likely to fall and Allied air dominance also increased the risk of a catastrophe). Both nukes achieved Full Yield results leaving devastated Indian stacks in their wake.

Cruise missiles took out another IROP nuclear facility, too late to stop the last nukes but still worth a juicy 5VPs. I focused the IROP missiles on airbases however, to try and cause collateral damage and to hinder the ROI helicopters from flying. Pathankot airbase was destroyed and Amritsar airbase narrowly avoided the same fate but Pakistan was running out of missiles as well as supply points. The allies also were able to fly several strike missions against a variety of targets thanks to the lack of need to fly air supremacy. Most of the missions had little effect but the IROP rocket artillery brigade took a strike 2 result and it was clear worse would come when the USAF strategic bombers began to show up next turn.

Pakistani attacks finished off the survivors of the recent nukes, netting them 7 VPs in the process. Although this left them in the nuked spaces and therefore suffering severe Efficiency penalties due to the fallout India had too few units left here to risk a counter-attack, especially one that might then put them back in the fallout in turn. Instead they set up to block further advances and awaited the arrival of the XII Corps, which I was sending along the road network to reinforce them. However the Indians did now launch their first attack on a Lahore urban hex, deciding they were safe enough to begin the attrition process on the defenders. Their efforts to press the battered IROP II Corps to the south of Lahore however were hindered by the old nuke markers and the Sutlej River and canals. Thanks to HQ bridges they were able to bring force to bear on the IROP supply depot (that I had foolishly set up on the front lines last turn when I was being overconfident with Pakistan) but the defenders managed to hold them off with a 1/1 result and the imminent arrival of the IROP XXXI Corps looked set to create another deadlock, or at least a safer IROP withdrawal.

Sadly for India the VPs from destroying the nuke survivors were enough to give Pakistan another initiative turn for turn 5. The flood of US reinforcements now arriving promised to be very useful however.


India's forces around Jammu have been badly hit but the nukes required to do that have made an actual advance on the city by Pakistan difficult.


The siege of Lahore begins to tighten this turn while to the south the fighting dies down a bit. The turn ends with sizable US reinforcements arriving.


Turn 5

On turn 5 the Amritsar airbase was finally destroyed by an IROP SOF raid despite the presence of the newly arrived 82nd Airborne, causing collateral damage to air units, airmobile points and the newly arrived US helicopter squadron. The constant IROP assaults on these airbases were only irritants but they were very big irritants – there had been a notable absence of allied helicopter combat support for several turns by now.

Meanwhile several volleys of US cruise missiles pummelled the southern IROP supply depot, which, as it was on the front lines, was automatically detected. The missile attack destroyed it, placing most IROP forces in the area out of supply. Meanwhile allied planes battered the IROP defence tracks which were now getting critically low (again due to a lack of supply) and a pair of Mirages destroyed the IROP rocket artillery with help from a US SOF targeting mission, though not without damage to one Mirage. There was also a fierce exchange of fire between HQs in the strike phase, each side trying to reduce their opponent’s ability to support combats with their HQs.

Despite the supply issues in the south most of the IROP forces were able to move into defensive positions along the canal and river and an MSU had been hastily scrounged up in Multan to move forward and cover the supply gap in the future. Elsewhere too, despite having the initiative, Pakistan was on the defensive, facing either much superior forces or being prevented by the nuclear wastelands they had created. The latter could have been bypassed to the south by moving forces to meet the ROI XII Corps around Pathankot but that was beyond Pakistan’s current supply range and of course their MSU was already busy (neither of the primary nations have a good logistical record and so both are limited to a single MSU at a time). I did start to consider a crossing of the Ravi towards Amritsar at this point. The forces weren’t in place for it yet but could be soon and even though the US 82nd could probably defend the urban hex itself it would still pin them down and draw off other ROI units. I was also very conscious that Pakistan seemed to have run out of offensive options and wouldn’t be able to win unless I could change that.

Then, in the reaction phase India attacked Lahore again and for the first time had maximum combat support thanks to USN air support and the effects showed (albeit aided by a great combat roll). The -/2R result didn’t take the hex or eliminate any units thanks to a passed ER check but it was clear the IV Corps would not be able to hold out without assistance, which meant diverting some of the arriving IROP reinforcement corps to Lahore itself rather than to new offensives. This rather stymied my plans for a new offensive across the Ravi, at least for the short term and as Pakistan I felt under increasing pressure.

A further Indian attack on Lahore later in the turn kept the pressure on with a 1/2R, thanks again to the maximum combat support the Allies could throw in. To the south IROP reinforcements, now resupplied by the MSU, spread out along the banks of the Sutlej to prevent a flanking crossing. The Indians responded in kind to cover a US Marine advance on the city of Bhawalnagar. The city was successfully cleared at the end of the turn and I formed the III MEF taskforce to provide an additional powerful offensive unit for the Allied force building up along the Sutlej.

I had deliberately not deployed the 82nd Airborne anywhere this turn, to give Pakistan time to commit its reinforcements to the front and so hinder their ability to react to any rear line incursions I made with them. Thankfully the press of the main ROI forces had essentially guaranteed all IROP units would need to be committed to the front rather than create a reserve.

The end of turn 5 situation along the main front looked as follows:



On the left of the picture are the paired river defence lines I setup. In the centre the Indians are hammering one of the Lahore urban hexes hard and have cut the highway to Multan. On the right a line of nuclear fallout is hindering either side from moving. Any future action here will be between the Ravi and the southern edge of the fallout. Just off the bottom of the picture the US 10th Mtn Division has arrived ready to try just that. The Kashmir valley meanwhile remains virtually unchanged since the start of the game.

Current Victory Point totals are:

India/USA: 59
Pakistan: 61

Pakistan has pretty much exhausted its logistical supplies – it has only 5 supply points left and 2 of those will go to setting up a new supply depot to the south in turn six. The remaining 3 may have to last for another seven turns. Pakistan has long since stopped upgrading or repairing its air defence tracks and regrets even the small efforts it did do in in this area during the first couple of turns.

On the other hand the weather forecast for the next week looks…interesting.
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Dan Stueber
United States
Vernon Hills
Illinois
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I am the Sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.
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BRAINS????
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Awesome report!!
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Peter Veenstra
Netherlands
Delft
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Attaque! Toujours attaque!!
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BooBoo130 wrote:
Awesome report!!


Agree!
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Mike B
United States
Everett
Washington
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Continues to be fascinating. Very well done!
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