(Mr.) Kim Beattie
Embrace your inner geek!
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Oil War (S&T #52) Session Report.
Arab units set up in home countries (as required by rules) with an eye to protect ports, which seem to be the key to victory. Half of initial Iranian ground units deployed to protect Iranian port. (This proved to be unnecessary as Marine's must land in clear or sand hex and Iranian port is located in area of rough terrain.) Remainder of Iranian ground forces deployed along Iraqi border for quick move into Kuwaiti region on turn 1.
Iraq has no port to defend so deploy on Kuwait/Iraq border for quick move south into Kuwait and Saudia Arabia to protect the ports there. (Shades of 1991!)
Kuwaiti forces deployed on/near Kuwaiti port. Kuwait's weak ground forces have no chance to resist invasion and must depend on other arab forces for defense. Kuwait contains one port.
Saudi Arabia is the largest country on the board and contains two ports. There are not enough Saudi ground and air forces to offer resistance to invasion. Existing forces are deployed to garrison and protect ports.
Remaining Arab forces (Bahrain and Qatar, one unit each) deployed to protect/defend local assets, but cannot really offer any resistance should U.S. Coalition forces decide to invade either of these two countries.
Arab and Iranian air forces are deployed on otherwise unoccupied airfields to deny, as much as possible, easy landing spots to U.S. Coalition forces. Landings cannot be stopped, but Arabs can force U.S. to land in undesirable areas or spend extra ATP points to land in non-airfield desert hexes.
(Turns out that Arab player should not have used forces to protect and garrison ports at beginning of game, as most ports do not have an airfield and cannot be directly attacked by U.S. Coalition forces on turn #1. A better use, of Saudi Arabian units in particular, would have been garrisoning of airfields to further restrict/limit U.S. player's choice of potential landing sites.)
U.S. Turn #1
U.S. air landing brigade assaults Bahrain and with U.S. Naval air support eliminates defender and occupies the airfield. Bahrain is an island and also contains a port facility, making an attack here a no-brainer for the U.S. player. No effective resistance possible and Arab player will not be able to counter-attack or threaten this occupation. Israeli air landing brigade lands in Qatar and attacks SAM site, eliminating Qatar defender and occupying airfield. Second Israeli air landing brigades lands in unoccupied airfield in southern Saudi Arabia. EEC air landing brigades also land in unoccupied airfield in southern Saudi Arabia. Israeli and U.S. air units attack and destroy loan Iranian F-4 air unit.
Arab Turn #1
(Lesson learned: occupy and garrison airfields and not ports during setup.)
Move Saudi Arabian (SA) infantry south to occupy coastal airfields. Move SA mech unit south. Leave weak Kuwaiti units in Kuwait, but spread out to garrison airfields instead of port.) Iraqi & Iranian ground units move south, as planned, and garrison Saudi Arabian ports. Iraqi and Iranian air forces combine to attack and destroy a U.S. F-4 unit, taking advantage of unstacked U.S. unit.
U.S. Turn #2
ECC launch attack (with air support) into Saudi Arabian oil fields with objective to occupy airfield there. U.S. F-111 air units attack SA ground units along the coast. U.S. reinforcements land in Bahrain (air force units) and Qatar and southern SA airfields (ground units). Air attacks generally fail as I forgot that Israeli air units are not good at ground attack (so attack differential was not as high as I thought it would be...) EEC attack eliminates SA mech unit and occupies airfield.
Arab Turn #2
Saudi Arabian infantry units on the coast move to surround and attack EEC brigade with air support help from SA Lightning unit. The EEC unit is eliminated! All remaining Arab air force units within range combine to attack U.S. F-111 and Israeli F-4 escort. Attack is at +12 differential which has a 50/50 chance of defender elimination. BINGO! The U.S. F-111 is destroyed, which will be a big help to the Arab player and a big loss to the U.S. player. (F-111 units are strong ground attack units.)
(Lessons learned: U.S. player shouldn't try to do too much early in the game. Build up forces and protect the F-111s!)
U.S. Turn #3
Abandon airfields in southern Saudi Arabia. Pull back and with help of reinforcements that arrived on turn 2, setup defensible perimeter across south-east corner of map. Arab air force is concentrated due to attack against U.S. F-111 on turn 2. Send out entire air force to attack Iranian Air force units. Iranian air force loses four units (17 air-to-air strength points), leaving no Iranian air force units in play (although additional units will become available as reinforcements later in the game.) This guts the Arab air attack capability.
Arab Turn #3
Lost bulk of air force. Throw up a screen of units across southern Saudi Arabia and hope for the best. All U.S. Coalition ground units have arrived (except Marine units, not due until Turn 6), so no longer have to protect/garrison air fields. Remainder of Arab air forces gang up on stack of two Israeli F-4 units. (Only 1/3 chance of defender elimination). Probably lose remainder of Arab airforce in counter-attack next turn. Success! Two Israeli F-4s eliminated!
U.S. Turn #4
All ground troops have arrived (except Marine units on turn 6). Additional Air Force units continue to arrive as reinforcements. Spend this turn using most of air force to attack and destroy remaining Arab air units. Also use air units to ground attack three Iranian armor units. One attacks succeeds, two fail. Really missing that F-111. Attack on Arab air force successful. Plan now is to advance up the coast and threaten Saudi Arabian ports.
Arab Turn #4
Remains of Arab air forces virtually useless. Total air-attack strength of all units is 14. Against U.S. defense of 12 or greater for a two unit stack. After looking at position, Arab player realizes that U.S. position is vulnerable to a "surround and eliminate" attack. Attack EEC unit, forcing a retreat which will surround Israeli brigade after attacker advance. Better than hoped for results as EEC unit is eliminated by attack. Israeli brigade is also eliminated in follow-up attack.
U.S. Turn #5
(Lesson learned: Do not position units side by side. Units should be positioned in alternating hexes to avoid surround and eliminate attacks.)
Dark day for U.S. led coalition as Arab attacks eliminate two coalition ground units. Just didn't think Arab player would attempt an attack against strong U.S. forces. Didn't realize that defensive line was vulnerable to surround and eliminate attacks. Over confidence and slip shod tactics could spell the doom of this invasion/intervention. Fewer ground units will make it harder to achieve victory. Launched general counter-attack this turn after stacking units and positioned them every other hex to avoid surround and eliminate attacks. Used growing air force to support ground attacks and add defensive support against potential Arab counter-attacks. U.S. striking power is impressive! Talk about a Iron Fist!
Arab front line crushed by combined ground and air attacks. (Three attacks, two at +20 differential and one attack at +16 differential, result in elimination of all defending units. Remaining U.S. air forces attack and eliminate the Kuwaiti ground forces. Situation is looking less dire.
Arab Turn #5
Ouch! Stack 'em up and add air power and the U.S. Coalition forces are irresistible! Arab front line has disappeared. I can throw more units into the attack but the effort would be futile. The Arab ground forces cannot go toe-to-toe with the coalition forces and hope to win. The best strategy is to throw up a screen of units to keep the coalition ground forces as away from the Saudi Arabian ports as possible. Remaining forces have to be spread out along Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian coast to deny as many landing hexes to the Marines as possible. (Marines must land in unoccupied clear or sand hex.) Use remaining Arab air force as defensive shield over Iranian ground units protecting SA ports. Can't compete with coalition air force but by stacking an air unit with a ground unit, the U.S. player will not be able to use coalition air units in a ground attack support role against defended units. (The air units will probably be destroyed in air-to-air combat, but they will have protected the ground units...) No Arab combat this turn.
U.S. Turn #6
The U.S. Marines arrive! Strong punch but vulnerable to surround and eliminate attacks if not supported. U.S. player needs three ports to win a decisive victory. Already have one (Bahrain). Looks like Saudi Arabian ports (two) are what is needed to win this game. Launch general attack against Arab screen. All attacks, except one, at +20 differential (thanks to air support). Remaining air force units attack Arab air force units hoping to attrit them. Hope this attack will wipe out Arab line allowing for rapid advance up coast roads on turn 7. This will force Arab player to throw up another screen of units and hopefully weaken his port defenses. Marines held in reserve this turn. Attack is successful. Arab screen is destroyed.
Arab Turn #6
Wow. Defensive screen completely wiped out. It served it's purpose, but what to do now? Throw out another screen (two units at strategic intersections) and spread remaining units out to deny landing hexes to Marines and not allow them to attack Kuwaiti or Saudi Arabian ports directly next turn. Cover as many units as possible (not many) with few remaining air units. Some units vulnerable to overwhelming attacks by Marine units, but will prevent any attacks on ports until turn 8. No Arab combat this turn.
U.S Turn #7
Time's running out. No subtle strategy this turn. Assault Arab defensive screen. Land Marines south of SA ports with objective to attack and occupy SA ports on turn 8. Use remaining air force units to eliminate remainder of Arab air force. Looking at situation I belatedly realize that I will not be able to occupy enough oilfields to win a decisive victory. Should have been paying more attention to the oilfield situation. Arab defensive screen eliminated. Marines hit the beach and advance towards SA ports.
Arab Turn #7
The U.S. player mis-calculated! Arab player can put up a screen of units between the SA ports and the advancing coalition forces (marines included). No marines in reserve, so don't have to worry about attacks behind the Arab lines. Coalition forces will not be able to capture and occupy the SA ports on turn 8! The best the U.S. player can hope for now is a marginal victory.
U.S. Turn #8 (last turn of game)
Oops! Didn't analyze situation closely enough last turn. Assumed U.S. forces would be able to move and attack SA ports this turn. (Once again, over confidence catches the U.S. player off guard!) Arab player has put a screen of units between U.S. forces and SA ports. Looks like the U.S player blew it! Use air force to eliminate remainder of Arab air force so they can't screw up occupation of oil fields. Marines attack and occupy oil field near SA ports. By my count I need this oil field to win a marginal victory. Arab player will have the opportunity to counter attack and take back oil field. Nothing I can do about that now.
Arab Turn #8
Only forces left are a few Iranian ground units. All other ground and air force units wiped out in combat. But we still hold the Saudi Arabian ports! All remaining ground units will attack Marines and attempt to re-take the oil field. Last turn, so need to worry about flanks or future attacks. Re-taking oil field may deny U.S. marginal victory. Attack is a stunning success! Two marine brigades destroyed in combat! Oil field re-taken.
As it turns out, the U.S. player had mis-counted occupied oil fields and ended up with fifteen (despite losing one to Arab counter-attack on last turn of game.) Along with port in Bahrain this results in a marginal U.S. victory. It was a close fought battle, but the U.S. player ekes out a victory despite making many mistakes.
U.S. Coalition losses:
5 Ground units
5 Air units
23 Ground units
17 Air units
Remaining U.S. Forces:
7 Ground units
22 Air units
Remaining Arab Forces:
6 Ground units
0 Air units
First time either player played the game. It seems like an experienced U.S. player should be able to win some level of victory easily. It Might be best for more experienced player to play Arab side. With two evenly matched opponents, I think the U.S. side has the advantage. Preliminary analysis based on 1 game. Take with a grain of salt.
(Realize, after reading other session report on BGG, that there are strategies and tactics to this game we did not realize due to being first time players. Additional plays neccessary before making a final statement on play balance.)