Turn 9 saw the Indian counter-attack start sweeping the Pakistani Army back into Pakistan across most of the front, while the Indian defenders in Kashmir continued to hang on...
Storms roll back in.
The Indians got 29VP last turn, so they get another initiative turn.
Each side gets 1 HQ detected. This is suddenly relevant again due to the pending nuke release by Pakistan as only detected stacks of enemy units and enemy installations can be targeted.
Only one Indian team left. Tries an interdiction mission in Kashmir that fails, but the team survives.
The Indians/Russians are able to initially outnumber the Chinese and Pakistan air forces, the later of which has been heavily attrited by missile strikes. Initial placement:
Results are muted in the storms in terms of kills. In Long Range the Chinese stealth fighters only manage one DA result. Standoff sees both sides totally whiff on 14 shots between them. In dogfight the dice tilt toward the Indians. They get 2 damaged and 1 abort result to just one damage result for the Pakistan side. Final results are 5 PRC/Pakistan to 7 Indian/Russian, so the air superiority marker goes to "contested".
1st Strike Phase
Pakistan's leaders granted nuclear release authority at the end of turn 9. The Pakistan side thinks the only way to change the dynamic of the game is to use the nukes to blunt the Indian counter-attacks and break the stalemate in Kashmir in the hopes that VP earned up there will outweigh the cost of using them. They also have a 10 to 7 nuke point advantage due to the capture or damage to Indian nuclear facilities earlier in the game.
Only 3 nukes per strike phase can be placed. The Pakistanis first hit the stubborn defenders of Sunderbani in the Jammu highlands. They use the other two tactical nukes in Kashmir, hitting the town of Bandipora (4610) and the hex just south of Baramulla (4410). The Bandipora strike is intended to just weaken the defenders. The other strike is intended to isolate the defenders of Baramulla since you can't trace a line of communication/supply through a nuked hex.
All 3 strikes roll up at full effect. The strike in Bandipora eliminates a reduced Indian mountain brigade while flipping the others, so the VP split is +1 Pakistan / +3 India. Note that the unit VP go to "this turn" but the Indian VP add directly to their total instead. The nuke in Sunderbani (3611) eliminates the reduced Indian 25th infantry division, so the VP split is even at +3 Pakistan / +3 India. The final strike south of Baramulla is similar, with the reduced Indian 28th Mountain Division being eliminated, so again the split is +3 Pakistan / +3 India.
Other strikes in the phase are less exciting. Although both sides missile attacks score "X" results on enemy airbases, for 2VP to both sides. HQ strikes see the Pakistanis get hits on a couple of Indian divisions.
At the end of the phase the Pakistan side rolls to see if the Chinese expeditionary force heads home. They roll a 6! Just enough to send the Chinese home at the end of the turn, and until then they can only defend, not attack.
The only major change is the Russian paratroopers in Kashmir again going out of supply due to the airbase in Srinagar they were using having been destroyed.
In Kashmir the Indians decide to pull the defenders of Baramulla out. They will be isolated for the rest of the game due to the nuke strike adjacent. They stay put in what's left of Bandipora for the time being. To the south the Indians keep their offensive rolling, taking the strategic crossing point at Fazilka and retaking the city of Ferezopur (2018) with a pair of 11 column attacks. They move another reduced division into the nuked town of Sunderbani in an attempt to hold it against the expected attack.
Almost all the Chinese are flipped, and with the pending withdraw there isn't much they can do anyway, so no moves.
The Indians shift some forces up to the line but don't launch any attacks assuming that any breakthroughs will get nuked in the coming 2nd strike phase.
In Kashmir the Pakistani Army enters what is left of Baramula, placing a clearing marker. They attack without help from the Chinese at Sunderbani, taking advantage of the reduced defenders very low EF rating due to the nuke strike. Both sides put in air but a roll of "0" sees the Indians lose the 6th Mountain Division. The defenders retreat, but the Pakistanis can't advance due to the nuke in the hex (a nuke hex can only be entered during a movement phase).
At Bandipora in Kashmir the Pakistanis put together a 13 column attack on the remaining defenders, eliminating a mountain brigade and retreating the rest.
The Indians decide to respond to the Pakistan use of tactical nukes with 3 strikes of their own. They target two strikes on off-map Pakistan nuke sites, with the 3rd one hitting the pile of Pakistan units in 2017, near Ferezopur.
Unfortunately one of the off-map Indian attacks is a "malfunction", so only two strikes cause damage. The VP splits are +5 India / +3 Pakistan on the off-map strike and +3 India / +3 Pakistan on the other due to the elimination of a Pakistani mechanized division.
The Pakistanis come back with three more strikes of their own. This time they target one off-map nuke site and one on-map in 1620, destroying both for a total VP split of +10 Pakistan / +6 India. These strikes also take out 2 Indian nuke points. The other strike hits a powerful Indian armored division in 3215 poised to cross the border near Sialkot, flipping it.
At the end of the strike phase, the Indian player rolls to see if the Russians stay with them. They blow the roll, so the Russians are headed home at the end of the turn along with the Chinese.
The Pakistan nuke on the road/nuke site hex in 1620 puts an entire Indian Corps out of supply on the far left flank of the Indian line. That hex was the only way the corps could trace supply to the board-edge supply source. The Indians will need to build another depot or get an MSU in play to extend supplies.
Not much action, but the Indians are able to reoccupy Sunderbani before the Pakistanis can move in. Up in Kashmir the Pakistan FCNA corps is able to finally occupy Bandipora, after 10 turns of fruitless attacks.
Not much going on, but the Pakistanis do clear Baramula in Kashmir thanks to a "3" clearing chit. Overall Pakistan scores +9VP in Kashmir by taking Baramula, Banidpora, and Kargil this turn, largely due to the nuke strikes. The Indians get a few points back by liberating Ferezopur and one other town on the left flank.
It was a wild turn with the nukes going off, which increased both sides overall VP while also scoring some big "this turn" VP.
India 125 + 16 = 141VP
Pakistan 78 + 33 = 111VP
The 30 point Indian advantage is not enough for an automatic victory roll, so the Pakistanis (somewhat) stop the bleeding on VP with their 6 nuke strikes to just 2 for the Indians. They are able to rack up a huge "this turn" total as well, giving them an initiative turn in T11.
The nuke targeting was really interesting due to how the VP work. Hitting enemy nuke sites is a definite 1st choice in the future I think. You get +5VP for taking it out, and you reduce their nuke points by 1. Since the sites aren't in Indian cities you only give them +3VP for using the nuke, so a net +2 per strike. Hitting cities is a huge +10VP to the other side, so both avoided that here. Towns, however, can be hit with only the standard +3VP to the other side. Another effective use was hitting hexes with the sole purpose of isolating or cutting supply lines. A final interesting wrinkle was the inability to advance after combat into the nuked hexes, which makes the nukes a bit tricky to use on the attack, even though they cause a lot of damage to a defending stack.
At the very end of the turn the Chinese and Russians depart, which suddenly makes the map look kind of empty, especially in Kashmir! There, the remaining Indian defenders have formed a pocket around Srinagar, but they don't have many steps left. Critically, both sides are down to 2 nuke points remaining.