Carl Sizmur
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Introduction
The main purpose of this game is to playtest some proposed rule changes/variants provided by Sal Vasta. The changes are:

Poor Weather
- Ground combat: Assault only
- Ground combat: Remove -2 DRM completely

Severe Weather
- Ground combat: Assault only
- Ground combat: Remove the divide by 2

Russian Winter
- As written except that Axis units in Russia have a -2 DRM (which replaces the divide by 2 in the current rules)

German Economic Reforms
- Goes up every four turns rather than every six.

Russian Guards Infantry Upgrades
- To upgrade into a Guard inf, the Russians need to remove two regular inf from hexes on the map. The Gds is placed in either removed unit's hex.

To allow a good comparison of results to previous games, I’m following a fairly standard West First strategy. As previously, this will be an in-progress report but not turn-by-turn. I’ll post when something interesting happens.

September 1939 to March 1940

Things started off in a fairly standard way, with a very quick conquest of Poland, which used only one of the panzer armies and six air unit sorties and allowed the other panzer army to be in place to attack Denmark in October. The first weather roll unusually resulted in fair weather everywhere and Denmark was conquered immediately. Sitzkrieg then set in through to March, when Norway was attacked in poor weather, which was a little risky (the direct attack on Oslo had a 1 in 12 chance of failure with the commitment of the airdrop and Allied ground support) but was successful and Norway was conquered.

During the 5 month lull in operations, diplomacy was quite eventful: Bessarabia, Karelia and Lithuania were all ceded to the USSR; Romania was activated as an Axis ally. The West tried to get Italy but the conquest of Norway allowed the pro-West marker there to be removed. The Soviets also got a rare Political Success and used it on Finland before they seized Karelia, so they have the territory but there’s no pro-Axis marker on Helsinki.


This is the overall situation in the west.

March ended up with one twist: I was quite interested to see how an Allied intervention in Norway would go (As Sal intended in the Policy Setters game, which can be found in the Play by Forum section), so I’d kept the BEF ready to move in Southampton and the French Alps army in Marseille. Both armies were shipped in to Norway, the French to Bergen and the Brits to Trondheim, immediately after the fall of Norway. Now I need to think more about how that might develop. Any thoughts anyone?
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Mark Dey
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For a Norwegian intervention, as the Allies I would consider shipping in the French air to Trondheim and sending the German Convoy to the bottom of the sea.
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Carl Sizmur
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mark dey wrote:
For a Norwegian intervention, as the Allies I would consider shipping in the French air to Trondheim and sending the German Convoy to the bottom of the sea.


One of the things I had been considering was sending both the French navy and air force to Stavanger where the navy could intercept and the air could strike the convoy and provide cover for the navy. The down side is they'd be within air strike range of Denmark, but then again sorties spent on that would be sorties not used on invading France. Just air striking from Trondheim wouldn't be enough as German supply is checked after rebuilds but before Western ops, so there would always be enough sorties available - Interception would be required to stop a supply trace.
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Bruce Tillotson
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cjs65 wrote:
One of the things I had been considering was sending both the French navy and air force to Stavanger where the navy could intercept and the air could strike the convoy and provide cover for the navy. The down side is they'd be within air strike range of Denmark, but then again sorties spent on that would be sorties not used on invading France. Just air striking from Trondheim wouldn't be enough as German supply is checked after rebuilds but before Western ops, so there would always be enough sorties available - Interception would be required to stop a supply trace.

Yep, supply is only a problem for the Germans if there is naval in Stavanger. Anywhere else and the Germans are guaranteed to be able to supply up to two units per turn. (Technically, the ports in Benelux also work, but I suspect those countries won't be around very long once they get in the war.) whistle

edit: A French air unit on the southern coast of Norway can also be a problem. If that happens, smash it with German air.

If the French fleet moves to Stavanger, then the Germans can use the Surface Action for one escort, or move air to Norway to act as escort, or simply burn up an air unit attacking the French fleet (my preference). If the French move an air north to protect the French fleet, then things get a bit trickier. Escorting may be the better move then, though I think I'd still prefer to smash both the French air and navy, rotating German air as necessary. With three German air, they can spread out their sorties, the French can't.
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Bruce Tillotson
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cjs65 wrote:
March ended up with one twist: I was quite interested to see how an Allied intervention in Norway would go (As Sal intended in the Policy Setters game, which can be found in the Play by Forum section), so I’d kept the BEF ready to move in Southampton and the French Alps army in Marseille. Both armies were shipped in to Norway, the French to Bergen and the Brits to Trondheim, immediately after the fall of Norway. Now I need to think more about how that might develop. Any thoughts anyone?

I'm so pleased to see you do this. I was very curious what the plan was and how Sal intended to play it out. Now we get to see.

You don't say if you're attacking France this turn, but my assumption is that you're not. An April attack on France could bog down badly if Poor weather occurs in May/June, and it accelerates the end of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Also, initiating West Invaded frees the UK Med fleets, which could make the Norwegian situation much dicier.

I'd suggest that the main priority for the Germans is simply ensuring they are not driven out of Norway. Once France falls, the UK will have difficulty holding Norway, and if they try, they may open up other possibilities, such as a drive to Suez or even a 1941 Sealion. So everything is geared toward holding out with the minimum force necessary. Since the Axis had to use the Norwegian conquest to remove a pro-Allied marker, they couldn't put a pro-Axis on Sweden. So the Axis will have to do this with just German units.

First, the German INF absolutely cannot allow itself to be isolated. The +2 DRM would make it too likely to be destroyed, even in bad weather. So I'd move it one hex northwest to hex 1523. Yes, he can be pinned in this position, but he can't be isolated. That's the more important issue.

The French made a minor mistake by invading with an INF instead of their MOT. The INF has insufficient MP to attack this turn. So the German INF just has to stop a UK attack. Due to Home Defense rules, the UK air is stuck in Britain or northwest France. Even with the Tank marker, the UK attack is at best +2. With air the German is +4. At those odds, there's a 1/36 of affecting the German INF, so don't worry about attacks this turn.

Second, what do you do about the following turns? I'd prefer to have a second INF in Norway, just in case something bad happens. It can also help block the first German INF from being retreated into Oslo, which can then be isolated. Theoretically, with air and tanks, a combined assault can reach +6 in Fair weather, and the Axis don't want to depend on just luck. Besides, with two WAL units in Norway, the Germans can spare an INF from the invasion of France.

The only German ground unit I see on a port is a GAR (unless there's a German INF in Konigsberg or Danzig). A GAR might actually weaken your defense in Norway, so I'm dubious about moving it there. But if you wait a turn, the French fleet may move to Stavanger, potentially interfering with a later move. It's your call, but I'd be inclined to only send an INF to Norway, even if it takes an extra turn. So...

-If there's an INF in Konigsberg/Danzig: SM another INF east (for Home Defense rule) and ship an INF to Oslo. Full Supply to the forward INF, Low Supply to the one in Oslo.

-Assuming no INF on a port this turn: SM or move an INF to Aalborg. Move the convoy to Oslo to supply the INF this turn. Next turn, if there's a French fleet in Stavanger, you can strike it with your air, likely eliminating any chances of intercepting your convoy. Alternately, you can use the German Surface Action and/or air as convoy escort. Either way, rebase the convoy and transport the INF to Oslo.

Later considerations:

If French air comes north, the German air must stay around. (If French air doesn't come north, some German air must be here, but not necessarily at full strength.) Of course, if French air comes north, the German conquest of France won't be affected by the loss of one German air unit, and will actually be helped because the UK BEF and one French army are not in France. (There are only six mobile French armies in France right now, plus four in fortresses. That's not much to hold a line.)

Keep one of the eastern armies on a port, either Danzig or Konigsberg. Similarly, you might want to keep a GAR in Kiel. You may have to risk sending a replacement INF/GAR to Norway, so make sure one is already in position, just in case.

The UK can build a second air unit at the end of June. That means they can ship the RAF north as early as July. Further, once West Invaded occurs, the UK fleets in the Med are available. Ideally, you'd have Italy as a threat, forcing the UK to stick to the Med, but it sounds like diplomacy hasn't been kind there.

I suspect the most difficult months for Norway will be in the July - September time frame. That's why I think the Axis need a second INF up there. Conquering France early will ensure success in Norway unless the German forces are at their last gasp. The more WAL forces sent north, the less available to defend France, so both sides have a difficult balancing act.

Sorry for the overlong post. I see so many nuances to this, it's going to be interesting whatever happens.
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Salvatore Vasta
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sirwhiskers wrote:
Sorry for the overlong post. I see so many nuances to this, it's going to be interesting whatever happens.


Agreed. A lot to consider and it will be fun to follow.

Thanks Carl for playing and posting this.

Sal
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Carl Sizmur
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April 1940

I went with a pre-emptive strike on the French fleet, which was within range of Denmark, and took it to 6 sorties. The army moved out of Oslo to defend the rough ground to the north and prevent isolation. I didn’t have another army in place to move into Norway, so I strat moved one to Bremen; I’m not sure it’ll be used though. The BEF and French armies moved in and the BEF tried an attack but it went nowhere. I decided against moving the French air to Norway, it’s going to be needed more in France. With limited ops & replacements, Germany bought back its Surprise Attack marker, so a Sealion as early as August is a possibility if France goes well. Weather in the mild zone in May is fair, so I’m thinking the Axis now needs to concentrate on taking out France.


April: An uncertain situation in Norway. I doubt it’s going to develop very far.

May 1940

The Axis declares war on Belgium and the Netherlands and conquers both with no problem at all, then drives into France, trying to cut off as many French armies as possible using the ‘Sickle Cut’ approach. Panzers are across the Seine from Paris but only the army in Lille is trapped and an assault on the western Maginot fort is a failure. Allied attacks in Norway are ineffective but Fighter Command makes the short hop to Calais, pounds on the Luftwaffe and then goes back home to London. One interesting development is a political nightmare for the Axis in the Diplomacy Phase: Political Failure for the Axis (Italy pro-West), pro-Axis for the West (Discarded) and Political Success for the Soviets (Turkey pro-Soviet).


France is already in trouble and could really do with having the Norwegian force back home.
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Charles Finch
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re these

Quote:
The Soviets also got a rare Political Success and used it on Finland

Political Success for the Soviets (Turkey pro-Soviet).


I don't have the rules in front of me but I thought I recall that if the soviets pull a political success while the pact is in effect the marker goes to the allies (and vice versa if appeasement were still in effect) so turkey might be next to a sea zone / uk/france area but i don't think finland is. Also it would be west vs Russia marker...

re:
Quote:
Poor Weather
- Ground combat: Assault only
- Ground combat: Remove -2 DRM completely

Severe Weather
- Ground combat: Assault only
- Ground combat: Remove the divide by 2


You are keeping the divide by 2 for forts?
 
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Carl Sizmur
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cfinchjr2 wrote:
I don't have the rules in front of me but I thought I recall that if the soviets pull a political success while the pact is in effect the marker goes to the allies


No, that's a political failure drawn by the Axis, a success always goes to the faction that draws it.
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Salvatore Vasta
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cfinchjr2 wrote:
You are keeping the divide by 2 for forts?


Yes.

In Carl's last game he tested a -2 DRM attacking a unit in a fort in Poor weather. That has been removed from this playtest.
 
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Carl Sizmur
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June 1940

Lille, Calais and Paris are taken by the Germans after the French air is knocked out but the western Maginot fort continues to hold. I’m not liking the way France is going, so the BEF moves back to Trondheim ready to ship over to the UK. It seems that the intervention in Norway has been little more than a delaying action, and not a very effective one – I just couldn’t see how to make it work without leaving the UK vulnerable to invasion.


It’s quite possible France could fall in July, and that would leave the UK very vulnerable.

July 1940

The Axis gets a breakthrough in France, taking Vichy and Lyon and eliminating another French army. It should have ended there, Dijon should have fallen too, taking French will to zero, but no: Dijon is the new Odessa, taking multiple attacks but holding on to the bitter end and preventing a French collapse. With conquest certain next month, one of the Maginot armies moved in and eliminated one of the German armies that had attacked Dijon but managed to get itself out of supply, providing the first loss of National will for Germany.


The defenders in Dijon certainly cut the mustard.
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Bruce Tillotson
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cjs65 wrote:
I’m not liking the way France is going, so the BEF moves back to Trondheim ready to ship over to the UK. It seems that the intervention in Norway has been little more than a delaying action, and not a very effective one – I just couldn’t see how to make it work without leaving the UK vulnerable to invasion.

Definitely the correct move in this situation (though an alternative was to pull the Gibraltar GAR back to Britain).

I am curious what the WAL did in Norway in May. Did the two armies combine an assault to push the German INF back to Oslo? Using UK Tanks + French INF, I see a +3/+4 attack (assuming German air support to the INF). Not great odds, but still possible to get a DR result.

Similarly, with West Invaded in May, I'm surprised Force H didn't move to Stavanger to threaten German supply lines. From there it's quite possible the German INF would be in Low Supply in June, making an assault a much more attractive proposition. This could be done even without shifting French air north. And by beating up the German convoy, the UK simultaneously protects Britain from invasion. If the convoy has just two sorties at the start of a turn, it will burn one to rebase, one to invade, leaving no sorties to supply the invasion force.

My thinking is there are only two reasons for the WAL to go into Norway: 1) hope the Germans overreact, slowing down the conquest of France, or 2) try to take Oslo. If the former, it seems the WAL can less afford to lose two ground units in France than the Germans can afford to devote an air unit to Norway.

If the latter, then the WAL need to go all out. The idea is to trade an earlier fall of France for Norway. Send the fleet. Send the air. Beat on the German convoy. Take Oslo or else. Risky, but given the diplomatic situation with Italy, I think the WAL could get away with it, even if the Germans hold Norway. Once France falls, if there's no realistic shot at Oslo, then pull out to save PP and prepare for Italian entry. (This strategy is much riskier if Italy is on the cusp of joining the war. The last we heard, there was no pro-Axis marker on Italy, so the risk is somewhat less.)
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Carl Sizmur
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sirwhiskers wrote:
I am curious what the WAL did in Norway in May. Did the two armies combine an assault to push the German INF back to Oslo? Using UK Tanks + French INF, I see a +3/+4 attack (assuming German air support to the INF). Not great odds, but still possible to get a DR result.

Similarly, with West Invaded in May, I'm surprised Force H didn't move to Stavanger to threaten German supply lines. From there it's quite possible the German INF would be in Low Supply in June, making an assault a much more attractive proposition. This could be done even without shifting French air north. And by beating up the German convoy, the UK simultaneously protects Britain from invasion. If the convoy has just two sorties at the start of a turn, it will burn one to rebase, one to invade, leaving no sorties to supply the invasion force.


Yes, an all-out assault on the German army was attempted but with no success.

A decision I made early on was to only attempt to fully kick the Germans out of Norway if there was an early success, but there was two turns of nothing. I was very wary of bringing Force H into range of German air seeing what happened to it in Malta in the last game and really wanted it available to either defend against Sealion or the Italians. Seeing as the Italians have gone pro-West again I've moved Force H to Edinburgh where it can intercept anything crossing the English Channel, which I believe makes any invasion of the UK very unlikely to succeed as Home Fleet is in Belfast covering the south-west.

Part of the issue is probably that I'm quite a cautious player and was never really comfortable with the whole operation and the risks involved, which is why I wanted a quick success before pulling the navy back to defend the UK. A long slugging match, which was the way it was going, was not going to benefit the UK.

On the upside, German air was distracted from France for a while, and Strategic warfare actually went against the Germans purely because they had no +1 for Zone 3. Little things...
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Salvatore Vasta
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Quote:
Seeing as the Italians have gone pro-West again I've moved Force H to Edinburgh where it can intercept anything crossing the English Channel, which I believe makes any invasion of the UK very unlikely to succeed as Home Fleet is in Belfast covering the south-west.


You can't do this if the Med Crisis has not been triggered.

Sal
 
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Bruce Tillotson
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svasta wrote:
Quote:
Seeing as the Italians have gone pro-West again I've moved Force H to Edinburgh where it can intercept anything crossing the English Channel, which I believe makes any invasion of the UK very unlikely to succeed as Home Fleet is in Belfast covering the south-west.

You can't do this if the Med Crisis has not been triggered.

Sal

Once West Invaded occurs, aren't the UK units in the Med able to move freely?
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Carl Sizmur
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sirwhiskers wrote:
Once West Invaded occurs, aren't the UK units in the Med able to move freely?


That's my understanding based on the UK Conditional Home Defence rule.
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Salvatore Vasta
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cjs65 wrote:
sirwhiskers wrote:
Once West Invaded occurs, aren't the UK units in the Med able to move freely?


That's my understanding based on the UK Conditional Home Defence rule.


Sorry guys, brain fart on my part.

Sal
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Carl Sizmur
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August to November 1940

This four month period started off with France being conquered in August, allowing the pro-West marker to be removed from Italy. At this point I decided against a Sealion due to the strong air and naval presence in the UK and instead prepared for an invasion of Yugoslavia to get a further diplomatic shift on Italy. Yugoslavia was invaded in September and Zagreb taken. In October there was severe weather in the mild zone, so Split on the Adriatic coast was hit with a panzer army with air support as the weather there was only poor, and the city fell. In November the weather turned fair again in the mild zone, which sealed Yugoslavia’s fate and it was conquered with the fall of Sarajevo, sending Italy pro-Axis. In anticipation of Mediterranean trouble, the WDF moved to the Libyan border and Force H shifted to Malta. Then, in the diplomacy phase, everything just fell into place for the Axis: They drew the last Political Success marker and activated Italy. Just to give the UK a bit of a kick in the teeth, the West then drew a Political Failure and sent Spain pro-Axis. With the UK already on 3 lost factories, it will be facing the usual economic struggle to keep things going in North Africa.


The action in the Med is just about to start.
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Carl Sizmur
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December 1940 to April 1941
A quick note on Axis strategy: Because the main purpose of this game is to playtest the new rules, the Axis will be focusing on the USSR as that’s where the changes have the greatest impact. I’m going all-out to attempt to collapse the USSR and will try to take as many of the forts as possible. It looks like Finland will be staying neutral, so it won’t be quite the typical game from that point of view but in a way that just removes a distraction. So, there will be no massive German commitment to North Africa and certainly no panzers or air.

December is fairly uneventful, except for Force H getting smashed immediately by Italian and German air in the poor weather and the WDF getting stopped on its first attack into Libya. Rather than sink production into a lost cause, I elected to eliminate Force H for rebuild in the UK and make room for another naval force.

In January a German army is transported to Benghazi to help out the Italians in the desert but that’s all I plan to commit to what’s essentially going to be a defensive battle. WDF attacks again but gets stopped again with another AS on the first attempt, and it’s at this point I decide not to ship more forces into Malta: I was going to move in Home Fleet and the RAF but then decided that maybe I’d be better off having air support in the desert rather than have air and naval units dying in Malta for a slim chance to interrupt Axis supply. All the time that German air unit is in Italy, Malta’s a death trap. Maybe it will be moved out for Barbarossa... I wish I knew what the other me was thinking...

February and March sees some skirmishing in the desert, ending up with Axis forces crossing the border into Egypt. Diplomacy is going nowhere for the Axis and it’s looking likely that Germany will be going into the USSR with only Italian and Romanian support.

In April, with no prospect of gaining Hungary as an ally, the Axis invades and conquers it; the poor weather makes it quite tricky, and it eventually takes two panzer armies, air support and a bit of luck. The WDF is pushed back again in Egypt but then counter-attacks and takes back the lost ground. May will have poor weather in the cold zone and fair everywhere else: I could start Barbarossa just to grab land, but a few units are out of position and my main focus needs to be on killing Soviet forces. If I leave it at least one more turn I’ll have a final shot at diplomacy and may be able to get Spain to join the Axis. I think I’ll wait.


The Soviets fall back in anticipation of fair weather, but it turns out to be poor.


The UK economy has been holding up relatively well, as can be seen by the lack of sorties on anything.
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Salvatore Vasta
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cjs65 wrote:
I wish I knew what the other me was thinking...


I would careful of that guy. He's very crafty.
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Carl Sizmur
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May to June 1941
May sees German units getting into position for Barbarossa and a failed Axis offensive in the desert, which is matched by an even worse failure by the UK. Force H moves to Malta to make another attempt against the Axis supply lines now there’s fair weather in the Med and the Luftwaffe has moved away to Romania. With a pro-Axis draw in diplomacy, Spain activates as an Axis ally: If this game wasn’t about the playtest I’d probably ship in some panzers and air and go for Gibraltar, but as it is I’m now not sure what to do with the Spanish... I only just realised they have a lot of vulnerable territory to protect and probably not enough units to send anything to Russia. Activating Spain may actually have been a bad move.

June brings fair weather across the board and policy evaluation ends the Nazi-Soviet pact. I see no reason to delay any further, Barbarossa is on. The attack into the USSR is not a spectacular success, but lots of ground is taken; the USSR loses 8 cities, 4 factories and 1 army for a total loss of 17 will, leaving them with 80. Then the curse of Malta strikes and the Italian air unit, accompanied only by Lady Luck, takes Force H to 5 sorties, rendering it ineffective for supply interdiction. That remaining sortie is important though, allowing Force H to limp away to Gibraltar so the Med Fleet can move in from Port Said. WDF manages to push back both Axis armies in Egypt, taking the fight back to the Libyan border. The Soviets withdraw to their next defensive line, leaving behind one pinned unit near Minsk.


The Soviets fall back, as expected, but they’re not giving up Kiev without a fight.
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Salvatore Vasta
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cjs65 wrote:
May to June 1941Then the curse of Malta strikes and the Italian air unit, accompanied only by Lady Luck, takes Force H to 5 sorties, rendering it ineffective for supply interdiction.


Wow, Lady Luck must have been very Italian. Starting with +1 vs +4 in Fair weather, with an ever growing negative DRM for the Italian, there must have been some wide die roll results.
 
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Carl Sizmur
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svasta wrote:
cjs65 wrote:
May to June 1941Then the curse of Malta strikes and the Italian air unit, accompanied only by Lady Luck, takes Force H to 5 sorties, rendering it ineffective for supply interdiction.


Wow, Lady Luck must have been very Italian. Starting with +1 vs +4 in Fair weather, with an ever growing negative DRM for the Italian, there must have been some wide die roll results.


It was bad, first 3 results were 1/1 with the UK rolling no higher than 2 and good rolls for the Italians, then finally Force H got the upper hand when it was too late to matter much. I'm back to using real dice too, so can't even blame Vassal.
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chris yates
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Carl,

many thanks for undertaking and posting this play test. I'm hoping it addresses the only concern I had with the game which was the multiple largely fruitless attacks done during poor and severe weather.

This will hopefully speed up the game too. Balance is the unknown quantity.

Chris
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July to August 1941
In July the Axis offensive in the USSR continues and takes Tallinn, Minsk, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk, also eliminating two armies for a total loss to the USSR of 10 will and 2 factories. In the Med, Malta is attacked as usual, but the Med Fleet manages a couple of interception attempts (both failures) before relocating to Port Said. Home Fleet takes its place in Malta. The war in the desert comes to a halt as both Germany and the UK need the production for other purposes. The Soviets fall back to their next defensive line but they’re pushed for production at the moment after an unusual hit in strategic warfare and may struggle to make another organised withdrawal next month.


July ends with more Soviet cities in Axis hands but the bulk of the Soviet army intact.

August sees the Axis forces at the height of their effectiveness, with more than their fair share of good rolls, including back to back 6-1 rolls (1 in 1296 chance) leading to the capture of Velikiye Luki, Smolensk and Kharkov and the destruction of 4 armies; that’s a loss of 10 will and 1 factory. In the Med, there’s the first successful supply run interdiction by the Malta force after it fights off the Italian air. I also realise that Benghazi is in air strike range of the UK front line in Egypt, so the RAF moves to the front and hits the Italian naval units there hard. The Soviets do their best to patch up their lines but it’s not looking good; if the Axis can get in a solid blow in September things could go badly for them.


Four armies missing means the Soviets are stretched more thinly now.


The Malta force is still active and Benghazi has been heavily damaged by the RAF.
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