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Subject: Summary of my second campaign game rss

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Björn Hansson
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Bromma
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This was the second time I played the campaign game. The first game ended in a crushing victory for the Vichy regime, so the Commonwealth (CW) was eager to even the score.

Some people have voiced concern that the game is quite hard for the CW. That is true. It is hard, but far from impossible. Since resources are so scarce (both troops and supply) it is one of the most demanding OCS games I've played when it comes to careful planning of every move - as well as some good luck with the dice of course. But it sure is a lot of fun!

The game basically has three frontlines, along which the battle is waged. There is the coasal road to Beirut. It might seem like an attractive route at first, but as you drive north from Haifa you quickly realize that this narrow strip of open ground, has a lot of rivers that need to be crossed. And it is quite hard to go around them, since you're surrounded to the east by uninviting foothills and to the west by the, equally uninviting, Mediterranean ocean.

Then there's the Merdjayoun pass. Don't know it that is the real name. This is a valley wedged between two mountain ranges in southern Lebanon. Just by looking at you can tell that this place is hard on the attacker. Leave your vehicles at home, infantry is your friend here.

The last front is the vast open plains of Syria that lead up to Damascus. Then just south and southwest of Damascus the El Awaj river forms a natural defense line that is quite tough to crack.

This session report would be too long if I took you through it turn by turn, so I'm basically just going to skip to the end. Let's have a look at each individual front.

The game ended in a marginal victory for the Vichy regime. An improvement. But let's look at what I could have done differently. And, please, feel free to comment and leave suggestions of your own.

The pictures all show the situation at the end of the game.

The coast


Man this route ate a lot of resources. The sudden death victory by taking Beirut is a tempting enterprise, but in hindsight I might have spent too much resources getting there. Or should I say, wasted too many resources. Early in the game I tried to keep momentum by keeping the initiative for the CW. Later I realised that this is a waste of time. You really need those double turns to crack the river lines and avoid being pushed back.

The Litani river (to the south, not in the picture) is the hardest nut to crack. Had I gotten across there sooner I might have been able to force the lines back closer to Beirut at the end of the game - giving me a chance to snag two VPs at Ain Trez by attacking it from the north (or just starving it). Taking Ain Trez from the south is just not possible, as long as the defender is sober.


Merdjayoun

I managed to take Merdjayoun early in the game. However, I lacked the resources needed to take that part of the battle any further. Air support is always needed elsewhere and the terrain and low troop density makes artillery very inefficient. I opted to keep a minimal force there. Enough to keep the Vichy player a tad concerned, but not more.

During the last few turns, when supply was a bit more bountiful, I opted to bombard the Vichy defenses a bit. Didn't hit anything but rocks a single time, but if I had, I might have been able to advance those few extra miles to Hasbaya and claim another VP. Getting further from there however would just have been to painstaking.


Damascus


The Damascus part of the front turned into complete chaos at the end of the game. My bold attempts to gain a *permanent* foothold on the northern side of the El Awaj river (and its dried out river bed to the east), was so costly that the Vichy player actually mounted a counteroffensive, which took out one of my headquarters. As luck would have it I managed to stop the onslaught by piercing his lines, forcing him to withdraw. When his defenseive line finally broke chaos ensued. The retreat to new defensive lines around Damascus didn't go as planned for the Vichy player and he found his entire eastern force out of trace supply at one point. Damascus (both hexes) fell on the very last turn of the game. Mainly due to the luck of the dice and the fact that it was declared an open city.

Had I've been able to achive my breakthrough a couple of turns sooner (which I probably could have) this might have looked a lot better. The Vichy players eastern front completely collapsed and even tough the VP areas northwest of Damascus are situated in fairly nasty terrain I reckon I would have had a large enough force to do some serious damage there.


Lessons learned
I consider myself an experienced OCS player. Been a way from the series for some time now, but man was it great to return to it. It really is the best wargaming series I've ever played. The specific lessons that I feel that I have learned playing the CW in Reluctant Enemies are:

+ Strike very hard early on in the game. Do not be afraid of losses. Make sure to capture as much ground as possible before your opponent forms a coherent defense.

+ Yield the initiative as often as possible. True for every OCS game, but you really need it to punch a hole in the lines of your enemy.

+ Use your naval artillery to target units in reserve. Naval artillery is always spotted and you need to take out his reserves if you want to get across rivers and stay there. Lesson for the Vichy player: keep two separate stacks if reserves on the coast.

+ Threaten to attack, even when you're not going to. Bleed the Vichy player dry at the end of the game. At the end of the game you will probably have a lot more resources than the Vichy player. Send in your bombers and strike his frontline. Force him to fire his artillery to prevent your attacks. At some points I did some small-scale, semi-suicidal attacks just to force the Vichy player to use internal stocks. He was really driving on fumes the last week in the game.

+ Consider building an airbase close to the front. Stopping his bombers will get you a long way. I built one south of the El Awaj river. I should probably have built one along the coast as well.

Midnight here right now. Too tired to go on, but feel free to comment and give me your thoughts!
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Paolo De Francesco
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Hi.

A good report.
I'm one of those consider hard to win with CW but surely is very funny play this game.
I'm agree with your first lesson learned. CW have to be aggressive immediately and also, I might add, after if it wants some chance to win. In a word: always.
Obtain double turn for CW is important but that implies a previous double turn for Vichy and it could reinforce very well his front.
Good use for naval artillery and the Vichy reply.
Fourth point is linked to the first. Always attack as much as possible. CW has more supply than Vichy, although defensive costs are cheaper, but force him to use internals is a way to weaken Vichy.
I consider to build an airbase but Vichy has, on average, best fighters. Could be a waste of SP to prevent 1-2 air barrage with no good probability of success (in close terrain and with no more than 1 RE). Its however to take in count.

Paolo.

P.S. I would like to play with you at Reluctant, of course with Vassal module. Should be interesting.
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Brad Nozik
United States
California
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I believe the reason for the CW difficulty is that, in the actual campaign, the VF launched a disastrous counteroffensive. No competent VF player in RE would do so, thus the CW difficulty.
I've played twice solo & twice FTF (against two different foes) with four VF victories.
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Gary Wright
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This will sound like an odd comment, and it is very hard to tell from the images you posted, but were you replacing your dead units (1 for every 3) as per the game rules?

I only ask as I have just completed two games one as CW and one as Vichy (with a third as Vichy ongoing) and I don't really think my game ever got so sparse - like I say it might just be the areas shown and all is good but I thought it curious enough to check. I appreciate sometimes these extra game specific rules get overlooked.
 
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Björn Hansson
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garywright wrote:
This will sound like an odd comment, and it is very hard to tell from the images you posted, but were you replacing your dead units (1 for every 3) as per the game rules?

I only ask as I have just completed two games one as CW and one as Vichy (with a third as Vichy ongoing) and I don't really think my game ever got so sparse - like I say it might just be the areas shown and all is good but I thought it curious enough to check. I appreciate sometimes these extra game specific rules get overlooked.


Valid question. Yes, the dead units were replaced (1 for every 3).
 
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