Monday, January 04, 2016

Sixth Fleet Campaign Strategy and GT1 Strategic Cycle

We start with a high level pic of the map. I have placed free setup units as follows:

Nimitz TF in the Eastern Med as there is little U.S. Presence in that part of the map. Boston SN is set up in the Sicily/Tunisia choke point.

Minsk TF sets up SE of Rhodes to support Red Navy breakout from the Black Sea. Nezhn SN sets up near the Gulf of Taranto to interdict the Italian surface fleet there. Sums sets up near Istanbul in the Black Sea to interdict the Turks if they sortie to protect the Bosporus.

The picture is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to get the whole thing into one shot. Future pics will focus on smaller areas.

First, Soviet strategy. The Western Med holds little of interest from a VP standpoint other than Tangiers, so most operations there will focus on disruption and distraction, although Bizerte seems like a good place to threaten. The Western Libyan forces will focus in this area along with the handful of subs and the patrol craft in Annaba, which is a Soviet base in a neutral country.

The U.S. will mostly focus on detection and starting to get transports to their destinations, as they can't begin hostilities. That isn't true for the allies, so this part of the map will depend on the Spanish and Moroccans to defend Tangiers and deal with the Soviet subs in the area.

The central Med contains Malta, the only real objective for the Soviets. The Benghazi TF and possibly the Libyans will focus on this objective. In their way, however, is a sizable US and Italian force that may end up taking four points in Libya if the Sovs aren't careful.

Then we come to the initial hotspot of the game, the eastern Med and the Bosporus. Nine points for the Sovs in Crete, Istanbul, and Beirut, but the U.S. has a few VP to get here as well. Biggest issue for the Soviets early is controlling the Bosporus to liberate their Black Sea Fleet, but the mixed Syrian and Soviet forces in Syria are a huge threat to Beirut from the start. Early rolls will determine how much effort is put on these initial high priority targets.

The U.S. Doesn't have much here, but on the other hand what they do have is a carrier group, and that is always an issue for the Soviets. The Greeks and Turks are going to need to defend the Bosphorus more or less on their own, there will be no other forces moving to that area the first day.

And away we go...

GT1 - AM Turn, Strategic Cycle

First up is the Political Events Phase. This is how the game timer gets advanced, but it's slow. There are twelve of these phases in the game, but you need to roll a six on a d6 to advance the counter, and it has to advance three times. Medium and Short games add a DRM to this roll to speed things along, but we aren't going to fiddle with that. In our case, the roll is No Effect, so nothing crazy.

Next are the three Random Events. The weather is fine across the board, but the U.S. suffers a command-control issue with the units in Rota, and will need to rely on the Spanish to do any strategic air tasks. The Soviet subs are crap in this part of the map, so not a high bar. Finally, both sides are unable to use their satellites to gain any advantage.

This being the first turn, no reinforcements, which won't show up until GT4, the start of the second day. A large guided missile cruiser TFin the Black Sea will have an amphib group to escort, as well as adding in more recon capability in that area. The situation in the western Med starts to heat up with a nuclear sub appearing in the Atlantic. For the US, their own SN shows up in the Atlantic as well, with an Orion P3 to start finding and destroying the Sov subs there. The various allies won't see units for a few days. In other words, not a lot changing except for more threat in the Black Sea.

On to Strategic Air allocation. The solitaire variant has a die roll to see who can place air units, with at least four units eligible. This can result in more success for one side than the other, but air warfare depends heavily on luck so I don't mind. Plus, solitaire! Pretty straight forward, an even roll places NATO, odd places Soviet except a 9, which ends all placement for the turn. Prioritization is critical!

Here are the placements followed by rationale:

Odd, LB MIR RCN from Darnah to E Med, Recon. This unit is looking for the Nimitz, a huge target.

Odd, I38 ASW from Odessa to Tyr Sea, Recon. This barely made it with all of the airbases in the way, but just managed with 30 hexes. This will look for the Boston.

Odd, T16 RCN from Saki to the Aegean Sea, Minelaying. The errata says you can't mine an "island" hex, whatever that is. I am assuming that an island takes up only one hex and there is no mainland coastline in the hex. This will lay mines in Athens.

I should assign the aerial minesweepers at this point, they will go with the Nimitz.

Odd again. This is statistically improbable... T16 RCN from Saki to E Med for Tac Coord. Unfortunately, there aren't many interceptors with enough range to cover these units, hopefully the next roll will end the phase...

Even! Finally! GR RF4 from Suda to Recon in E Med. Looking for the Minsk TF.

Even. IT ATL RCN to C Med from Taranto, Recon. Looking for that sub off the coast...

Even. U.S. P3 in Sigonella to C Med on Minelaying. Will obstruct Benghazi.

Odd. T16 RCN from Saki to Adriatic, Minelaying, Taranto.

Even. IT G91 ATK to Adriatic, Interception.

Nine, allocation complete.

Wow, five placements to four. Here is how this ended up...

Definitely recon heavy, as you'd expect. Not sure if the mines will help, but fun to try. BTw, mines are an advanced rule in later fleet games, but basic in Sixth.

Only one unit is set to intercept, most INT units being saved for CAP or escorts. There is no air to air as only the one interceptor, so we proceed to Bounce. IT AA value is 3, SO AA is 1, so 3-1 odds on the Bounce column. 0/2r result is enough to eliminate the T16 RCN. A cautionary tale for long range mining missions! G91 returns to base on the Strategic Air Display.

Next we drop some mines:
  • US P3 lays mines in Benghazi.
  • T16 in Aegean lays in Athens.
  • T16 in Adriatic was shot down, no mines layer in Taranto.
Next up is detection. 
  • IT ATL in C Med detects Nezhn SN in 1330. Note no roll is made in this game, but in future titles you must roll to locate a sub.
  • GR RF4 in E Med detects Minsk TF. I know we haven't actually formed TFs yet, but it won't matter once I do shortly.
  • SO I38 detects the Boston in the Tyr,
  • LB MIR detects Nimitz TF in E Med.
One T16 remains on Tac Coord in E Med.

Now for para/commando availability...

We add +2 for both the UK and Italy to the US rolls, which net two para and one commando. The Soviets get one para. This is great news for NATO, it will make things much harder for the Soviets to take Istanbul early.

The U.S. invades first. No AA units near VP spaces, and likewise no subs for the commando, but they do have two Paras. The GR A7 unit in Suda drops one in Iraklion, and the other in Instanbul. I found no rule requiring a U.S. unit do the drop! The Minsk and its fighter is out of INT range for the Iraklion drop hex.

Next is the Soviets, who have just the one para. They use the M23 in Saki to drop their Para in Istanbul as well. The fight is on for Istanbul, although there is no combat per se, it's simply a matter of gaining enough of a ratio of your units to your opponents'.

Since he has an AA unit next to Beirut, he places a 1 Marine in that space from the Vilkv. Might as well, highest value target in the area.

Finally, we form TFs. I generally just create these as one force per hex with four or more combat ships. There are just two spaces eligible aside from the free setup units, the Italians in Taranto and the Sovs in Tartus. 

And this ended the first Strategic cycle. Things should move along more quickly, as there were a lot of rules here I hadn't seen before. 

One last note... I will almost certainly screw up rules left and right. This is not meant as a tutorial, just a play through, so I am going to just live with any mistakes and keep moving forward. 

Here is the eastern Med at the end of the Strategic Cycle...

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