Friday, December 02, 2011

AE:TK - Fall of France, Allied Turn 1 thru Allied Turn 2

Last time, we ran through the exercise of how to take Denmark-Norway using the Operation Weseruebung Option card. Now we will brush through the rest of the "Phony War" period as both sides build up for Case Yellow on Turn 3.

At this point, the Allies are unable to mount an invasion of Norway, and really the Brits don't have the troops to do this effectively anyway since they can't get air cover in the vicinity until they have their CV Fleet and even then the Axis can counter it if they can get one more unit up there. We will ignore DN for the remainder of this scenario for the sake of simplicity.

During the Allied Player Turn of Turn 1, we start with the Option Card play as this is a Seasonal Turn (note that we don't perform a Victory Check as it is not part of a Faction turn). The predesignated card plays are 23 - Commonwealth Support for Spring and 16 - Dyle Plan for Summer, so Dyle will be Pending and Commonwealth Support active. Dyle won't be much help other than to put several units in the Delay Box for the Brits and give the French one replacement step at the end of every turn, so not much to plan for there.

The active card for this turn has three sections, an Option Card segment, a Replacements Segment, and a Conditional Events segment that would normally happen every turn during this season. By scenario special rule, however, the Conditional Events event is ignored as those troops were sent to the Mediterranean and that part of the map is outside of the scope of this scenario. The Pacific War Display is not at issue so we ignore increasing the PSV by 1, but we do place the two colonial infantry units (Aus and Ind) in the Force Pool, although we won't get those steps replaced because of the special rule mentioned above. Finally, Britain gets one whopping infantry step, which it places in Southampton with every intent of shipping it to France. Note that this is Britain's last ground unit in the Force Pool, and it will have no further opportunities to place replacements because the option cards for this scenario don't allow it.

There are no Political Events and no need to place any support units other than a Troop Convoy in the North Sea to allow the Brits to bring over a 1-2-2 unit if they wish. The British want to be a little careful because that Airborne unit could show up again, so they will want units in both London and Southampton as they are both spots the Germans could use to get a toehold. A British Troop Convoy support unit is placed in the North Sea convoy box. There is no point in placing the French convoy or the British Air Force unit - the French don't need a convoy, and the AF unit will be needed when the Axis invades.

For the Initial Organization segment, the British choose not to combine the units in Southampton so that they will continue to protect the southern port cities. The French have some combinational opportunities, but the units are out of position to do so, so it will wait until the next turn.

For OpMovement, this is a good time to start getting the defensive line built up. For right now, that means moving the 1-1-2 one stepper infantry in Strasbourg to Verdun to create the larger unit next turn.  I also move the 1-1-2 one stepper infantry in Dijon over to Paris just in case the airdrop unit shows up early. It's out of range, but this is cheap insurance and Dijon is not going to be an area of issue. I also move the 1-1-3 mtn unit from Marseilles to Lyon just in case. Were Italy in play, I might be more cautious with my southern flank, but for now there's really no urgency down there at all.

The Brits first send the Brit 1-2-2 infantry in Southampton to Le Havre via the Troop Convoy. This moves the Troop Convoy to the Used box and we place the moving unit in Le Havre where it cannot move any more. The other interesting move I will do this turn is move the BEF 1-2-2 unit in Calais to Paris to build the AA Army next turn. Why not.

The French are built for defense and since it's Limited War there is no ability to declare war on BH, so at this point the Allied turn is done. There's no need for Reserve movement either. Neither of the Permanent Conditional Events (Finest Hour and Paris Threatened) can be executed, and there is no Occupation issue for West units as there is for Axis units in foreign countries. Here is the final position at the end of the West Faction turn on turn 1:

At the end of the turn there are two things that happen - managing the Delay Box as well as advancing the turn track. The Axis Sub Fleet rolls a 2 with no DRMs and so is placed in the May-June turn box. The Brits get lucky with their Surface Fleet and roll a 1, modified by -1 to 0, so it returns to the Apr-May turn box and will be available right away. The last unit is the Axis Airborne unit, which rolls a 6 and will be out for the rest of the scenario.

Finally, the turn marker advances, flips to the Axis Turn side, and a few units go to their respective force pools - The Axis get the 1st Panzer army and the 18th army (which we were waiting to build next turn), while the Brits get their Surface Fleet back and a CV fleet back, as well as a Polish Colonial unit from the fall of Poland. Sadly it will not see action as the Brits have no replacements coming in.

Apr-May is a Mud turn, so that will have several effects on the game, the main one being that it's hard to conduct an offense in Mud. As such this will primarily be a preparation turn for both sides. Here's a rundown of what Mud does in this scenario:

  • Air units can only be placed at sea and doesn't provide shifts in combat;
  • EZOCs become *very* sticky - no leaving them under any circumstances.
  • Blitz Combat is not allowed
  • Defenders get a shift to their benefit on the CRT, and;
  • No exploitation (but you can advance into the defender's hex if vacated)
In other words, a bad time to invade France. That's OK, we have a good Option card for doing that next turn. For now, there's not much point in doing much besides placing the supply convoy to Norway, combining some units, and getting ready to invade next turn. It is possible for Norway to become a battleground with the two UK fleets available, but for our purposes we'll stick to history. 

If you remember, we held off on combining some of the one-steppers last turn because we were waiting for better units to come along, and two of them have. Using the formula on the Axis Force Pool, we combine the infantry and tank step just west of Hamburg to create the 1st Panzer 5-4-4 tank army, then combine the other 2-2-4 tank unit in the space to bring it to full strength. Similarly, we build up the 18th Army using the steps in the hex west of Kassel. 

During movement, I finish up by moving the 18th to Koln, the three 1-2-3 infantry in Frankfurt to Bremen (to build next turn), the Sou HQ and 1-2-3 infantry in Kassel one hex to the west, the 2-2-4 tank unit in the Ruhr up to the hex just east of Rotterdam, and the 8-6-4 tank army west of Hamburg to the Ruhr. I also bring the 2-2-4 tank unit in Hamburg down to the hex west of Kassel. I don't engage in any combat, nor do I see a point in reserve movement. I keep the 1-2-4 mountain unit in Hamburg just in case the Brits get ideas with an invasion, but Frankfurt is safe for this turn, as is Munich. 

At the end of the Axis faction turn, I see no reason to declare war on BH, as I'll get to at the start of the next turn with the Case Yellow Option Card, and there are no conditional events, permanent or otherwise, to execute, and that ends the Axis turn. Here's the situation at this point:

The West faction turn is similarly set up. There's really no need for support units, better to save them for the coming turns. There are only two combinations, flipping one of the two 1-1-2 French infantry steps in Verdun to it's two step side, removing the other step to the Force Pool. The other creates the AA multi-national army in Paris, so in this case we take the French 1-1-2 step and put it in the special Minor Infantry Step box in the Western Force Pool. With a very few multinational units, the minor nation unit used to build the larger unit is not available for building elsewhere, as it is for most multi-step units. 

Movement is even simpler - move the Br 1-2-2 infantry in Le Havre to Lille to help bulk up the line. The French HQ is positioned to protect any stack of units from Metz to Calais, although it will only be able to protect one per combat phase. At this point, the West has done all it can do and the turn is over once the Br 3-4-2 infantry unit, the Ge 6-6-3 infantry, and the Axis Sub Fleet have gone to their respective Force Pools as the turn marker advances to the May-June turn space. 

As you can see, some turns go much more quickly than others. The key lesson to take from this is that war, even at this level, has a tempo, with build-ups that eventually lead to campaigns. Once the materiel and forces involved in a campaign are spent, you need to build back up. The obvious times to do this fit in with the calendar and how seasonal weather affects operations. 

Here is the map just before Case Yellow is to kick off in our next installment:

I should also note, in case it is not clear, that I am a rank novice at this game. As such, the choices I am making are probably not optimal because I simply haven't learned enough yet to make really good choices. That said, I'm hoping that by going through this exercise I *am* finding various things that *will* point out good practices, such as how to invade Norway. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to get the Airborne unit up there, learning as I went that it needed to be in supply when it landed, so it needed the supply convoy as well as to be in a port that would qualify as an Open Port. I expect I'll make similar discoveries in Case Yellow. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dug, your blog is being of great help to learn the basics of this game. Lots of small details we have overlooked.

But there's one thing: there's this "French War Economy +1" marker and also the wallied "Minor Country Prod +1". Could France use them both in the seasonal replacement segment to recruit two inf. points?