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Europa Games and Military History

Month: September 2008

Game Commentary

Italian Strategy

I followed a fairly conservative strategy at the beginning of the game, essentially looking to seize a few hexes for VP purposes, and then hope to weather the Greek counterattack. I had read of and seen numerous games of BF where the Italians sprint down the west coast of Greece, only to be cut off by strikes out of Ioannina, so I choose to push more towards the eastern side at Kastoria. I believed this would protect Karditsa, which is often a battle ground, and would possibly prevent the seizure of an Albanian town, a +5 VP bonus to the Allied side. Karditsa was fortified as soon as possible, though there was a delay due to my failure to account for attack supply breaking down to res. Pts. After contruction begins. The airfield was also immediately brought up to full capacity by repair. After seizing 4 or so hexes strongly, the Italian army settled in for the winter, expecting a long campaign. I launched no attacks until German intervention after the opening turn (except one or two gimme‘s after Allied Ars), primarily due to insufficient numbers of mountain troops and huge weather/mountain terrain combat modifiers. The Italians simply can‘t afford to attack at 2:1 or 3:1 -3 or worse.

In the air, I generally had complete air superiority over the critical front line hexes. Careful management of ground troops and DAS allowed me to try to prevent anything better than a 3:1 -1, and usually no more than one of those after the first turn. The Allied AF is very small, though they have a slight quality advantage in fighters. One unlucky roll on the P.24Fs though can reduce even this meager advantage.

For air missions, early in the game I struck at the opposing AF whenever possible. When it pulled back to Larissa, one turn of bombing against Athens was accomplished, then the Allied AF pulled back further. At this point there was little the Italian AF could accomplish. Bombing empty airbases only hinders future operations and does the Allies‘ work for them. I did bomb rail junctions and managed to keep the lines reasonably well broken between Athens and northern Greece, in the hopes that it would limit the Greeks strategic mobility when the time came to rush troops to the front (or away from it.)

I also made great use of Rhodes to hinder the Allied sea mov‘ts. This location made for an exceptional aircraft carrier, and knowing precisely when the Allied forces are forced to cross to Greece made it a simple matter to ensure maximum numbers of air units and the Italian fleet would be waiting. In the actual event, a poor weather roll allowed the Allies to slip by with practically no loss, but I believe the strategy is sound. Even so, I did sink at least 3 or 4 units as they were attempting to transit the Aegean at various times, or unloading more frequently, since proper use of night mov‘t essentially limited me to either unloading hexes or maximum range strikes, reducing chances for contact.

At sea, I chose to use the Italian fleet fairly aggressively, and it cost me little and might have paid great benefits. The fleet sortied 3 times, once inhibiting Allied naval mov‘t, twice without any affect to either fleet. I also used the NT‘s aggressively in the Aegean, once I started the Cretan ops. Even the 3 column allows for a good shot at getting troops through to their destination, since only 50% of contacts have an effect on a troop mov‘t. Supplies on the other hand are probably not best sent through the more dangerous zones. I‘ll cover the Cretan/Melos operations later.

Greek/Allied Strategy

I think initially the Allied strategy was too conservative, and it let the Italian army get too large. The Greeks need to whittle the Italians down immediately, or the force ratios will only improve to the Axis good. The Allies did not attack in their first turn, presumably because it was believed a 2:1 even was too risky.
Unfortunately, the muds come quickly, and by the time winter weather arrives, if the Italians haven‘t taken sufficient (or any) losses, 3 and even 4:1 -1‘s can turn into disasters, which is what occurred. The Greeks have no AF to speak of, so the Italians will be able to put DAS where they need it. So, first I would recommend that the Greeks attack immediately, taking as many 2:1 or 3:1‘s even as possible (mountains are essentially clear to the majority of the Greek army, thanks to their plethora of mountain troops and WW‘s mountaineering ability, a rule I heartily agree with despite the fact that I was facing them.) This will push the Italians enough that the Greeks can mitigate the growing Italian army hopefully. It also pushes the Italians out of Greece, mitigating VP benefits the Axis accrues by holding Greek territory.
Also, VP awards for the Greeks are in Albania, as are the political benefits related to Bulgarian and Yugoslavian rolls, so the Greeks must head north. Secondly, the Greeks need to be aware of economy of force, and just how weak the Italian ability to attack is. They should mass their troops in one area and attack relentless at that location. Other areas should be left with minimally sufficient troops. They can afford this because: Even if outnumbered 4:1 in raw terms, the Italian attacks will generally be no better than 2:1 -2 due to limited mountain assets, weather and terrain. They can therefore afford 5 or 6 point hexes in one part of the front, and 18 to 20 point hexes in the other. The Italians will of necessity be spread more evenly since their units are not as strong, stacking is limited, and the Greeks have more mobility in the mountains since their troops are generally mountain. They can therefore shift about easier, adjusting their schwerpunkt as necessary.
In this game, the Greeks didn‘t attack immediately, didn‘t mass until the later part of the winter, and rolled poorly on two of their three attacks, which became AR‘s and ultimately resulted in lots more Vps for the Italians.

As for when the pull back occurs to southern defenses, this should be at least one turn prior to good weather being possible. For why, see the German strategy below.

Finally, the rules, for whatever reason, allow the Greeks to destroy all of northern Greece during the game. Do this immediately, at least no later than January/February. Every rail hex should be blasted, all airfields destroyed and abandoned where possible, and ports hit for maximum damage. This can be done since the Bulgarian and Yugoslavian borders are within 7 hexes of practically all of Greece. The Germans should find a wasteland upon intervention. In our game, the first Allied commander did not do so, and the second had just begun by the time intervention occurred.

German Intervention/Strategy

I wasn‘t pressured in this game since the Greeks never got into Albanian territory, so no Germans were called in until I had squeezed the „Italians holding Greek territory Vps“ dry. At this point, I brought in some long range fighters and Ju88a‘s for long range naval strikes/interdiction.

Intervention for the Germans can be a real dicey affair. Pressuring Yugoslavia before the upcoming weather rolls are made can lead to a very muddy Blitzkrieg indeed. Moreover, the Yugo‘s are guaranteed at least one full turn of mobilization, two if mud stays/hits and the Germans choose not to go in during mud. It is highly likely that a nodl could be formed around Belgrade which would hold during the two „free“ turns of German operations against the Yugo‘s. Yugo survival past the German invasion turn will net huge VP and political benefits.

In this case, I chose not to invade Yugoslavia, for a number of reasons: First, a neutral Yugoslavia nets +20 Vps at end of game, which will offset at least one turn‘s worth of extra operations in Greece. It also allows all of the forces in the Greek invasion to be directed there, vice having some clearing southern Yugoslavia. Two, in this case, when good weather arrived the Greeks began pulling back. Fortunately from the Axis perspective, this left them a bit strung out immediately behind the front and the Germans capitalized. No Metaxas line hex should be overrunable (don‘t forget to include the German Gebirgsjaeger‘s in this calculation… at takes at least two points supported to withstand these folks irregardless of the fortified hex sides. I got in behind the Greek line because one hex was overrunable. I then managed to destroy the entire Metaxas line and its troops in the surprise phase, allowing the Germans to overrun Greek units strung out, trying to make their way to the Spherkios. The Greeks should begin pulling back in bad weather.
The Italians can‘t attack a 5 or 6 point hex in the mountains in mud, so main line troops should abandon the area in March and head for the Olympus gap or the Spherkios, depending upon where the Allies want to make their first stand.

Supply considerations

The Italians have more than enough supply during the first two thirds of the game, especially since their attack potential is so limited. I shipped a number of points around to Rumania in the first half of the game for use by German troops in case a Yugoslavian bypass became an option/necessity, which in this case it did. The Germans can supply their troops along the Bulgarian railways in full attack supply all the way to the Spherkios river, and one hex beyond. Since in 4 out of 6 games this will likely be sufficient due to Greek morale failure, little attack supply will likely be necessary. In the event it is, the Italians have plenty to spare, and the Germans get some as well, albeit in Germany. GSPs can be created on high volume rail line hexes on the map edges, and then shipped south to put units in supply during the Allied player turn. Attack supply will put them in supply during the combat phase. Engineers should focus their efforts on repairing the main line leading from Bulgaria to Athens for this purpose. I never found myself even slightly hindered by supply during operations against the Greeks, despite the „failure“ to secure the Yugoslavian rail line, so I would heartily recommend that Axis players of the future leave the Yugo‘s alone.

Under the WW rules, the Allied (not so much Greek) and Axis forces on islands are going to be out of supply practically the entire game. As an Axis player, the airbase supply rule needs to be looked at with a harsh eye. (As a side note, I‘ve not heard or read anything to indicate that the Rhodes garrison should be considered out of supply during this period, or that air operations were hindered either, so perhaps Rhodes should be some sort of limited supply source, as opposed to merely a terminal preventing elimination at U-4 status, much like the Greeks get on their islands?)

As an Axis player, don‘t forget to use the airbase repair points for the islands, if this rule is in effect. It will rapidly hamper any Allied airstrike missions‘ effectiveness, since your bases can be up and running again in no time.

Special Operations/the Islands Campaign

The Greeks are not going to be able to defend their islands very well, since they can‘t send any troops there during the game pre-intervention… however, troops which start on an island may move to another one. I‘d recommend that since the Greeks probably aren‘t going to be hurting too much under an „aggressive in the early game and conservative in the late winter“ game strategy, that all island troops remain on them, and the Allied player hold off on sending the divisions that start the game on Crete, etc. to the main front.
Allied troops are necessary on the continent to ensure the Greeks have the best chance not to fold during the morale roll, so there won‘t be many of these folks to protect Crete or Melos unless the Allied side is willing to let the Greeks surrender early.

Melos is a great place if the Axis can get to it. The Italians have an ANTP in the game in the Aegean (we added one in the Adriatic as well in this game to cover the possibility of a Kerkyra invasion, which WW for some reason excludes). Using the Ju52 to transport the SM Marine II and somebody else (I sent just the battlalion, which cost me later) so that a full RE landing can be made against a limitedly defended island would be a good idea for the Axis, even as feint to draw off defenders from the north. Having the full RE is necessary for GS if required. In this game, I let myself focus on grabbing the Italian Vps (not necessarily a bad thing) and the weather, and when the chance came to grab it, the Allies had finally got defenders in place and I only had the Marines.
They later abandoned the island and its airbase, so I grabbed it post-haste much to their detriment. The island‘s airbase cannot be destroyed by the Greeks before German intervention, like the ones in northern Greece can, and Me109E‘s or Me110‘s in this location can gain air superiority over all of Crete and Athens as well. It‘s a key piece of terrain, so if the Axis can grab it they absolutely should. The Allies should prepare accordingly. Crete can be assaulted before the Greeks surrender on the mainland. The airborne troops can be shipped to Rhodes via air transport and then dropped the turn after intervention.

They have advantages in seizing airfields and in the turn of drop‘s combat phase, which should be used to advantage. In this game, these advantages didn‘t work out so well, but the island was practically devoid of troops anyway, so it all worked out fine in the end. Another advantage is that he Allies cannot declare an exclusion zone around Crete if the Greeks have not folded on the continent. This means that shipping troops to the island via sea transport is much more likely to go off well. On the 3 column, a troop shipment is going to get through 70.8% of the time. With the exclusion zones up, this drops dramatically to 61.1% in a loose zone, and 30.6% in a tight one. If the bombers as transports rule is in effect, these forces can be routed to Rhodes that much earlier and easier for an assault on either Melos or Crete.

The Spherkios: The most critical spot on the map. It should be garrisoned early and strongly. There is no reason why the Greeks can‘t make this line practically impenetrable by late March. The most critical hex is 0413. Stack at least 18-20 points here, with assorted Greeks in the mountains west (figure a 3 hex line, 4 at most), and ensure you have 2 engineers to get quick construction of a fort going.
As the Greeks did here, put a sacrificial stack in front of this hex to delay an attack if necessary to get the fort. This hex can be made a 2:1 -2 fairly easily, and should be done so at the first opportunity.
That, plus some AA should force the Germans into an untenable situation.
Hold this hex, and even if the Greeks are going to fold if the Germans get within 5 hexes of Athens, you should be fine since taking the hex at these odds can give the Axis fits (with a bit of luck!.) However, don‘t forget to properly defend Patrai from a cross-strait attack. A smaller force at Corinth should be ample to fend of paratroopers, and if it isn‘t, any Axis troops that land should be out of supply and therefore unable to force a Greek surrender even if they advance to Athens.

Overall

Despite the somewhat lopsided nature of my victory, I think by and large the Allies have this game to lose, and an Allied side that recognizes the key points of the game is unlikely to come away with anything other than an Allied Victory. The time schedule the Germans are on is extremely tight. Even with my having cutoff practically the entire Greek Army the Spherkios was held until an assault through a weak Patrai and the fall of Athens left the Allied divisions without benefit of Greek help. A conservative Allied side that punches the Italians in the face early to grab some Vps, scorches northern Greece of infrastructure, and hedgehogs in southern Greece is going to be nigh undefeatable. The only Axis response would be to call the German mountain troops in early. With their assistance, a pair of 16 point stacks could be built (albeit at a huge penalty in Vps) that might force the Greeks to maintain at least 10-12 point stacks in the north. Still, I would wager that 3 to 4 Greek divisions could be stripped from the northern front to garrison the Spherkios and a solid defensive front could still be built facing even massive German aid. Allied troops could then bring the Spherkios line up to full strength upon their arrival in March. At this point the Allied player should be able to sit back and smile as the Axis gnashes its teeth and bludgeons its way over that bloody river, hemorrhaging Vps turn by turn.

Rules commentary

Overall, I think the rules played out just fine.
Having a good portion of the Axis air forces on Rhodes for a turn or two may or may not be historical, but is a viable strategy. As for whether the island could support the air units, I‘ll leave that to others to decide. I have already noted Rhodes‘ supply situation. I think it should probably have some supply capabilities of its own, since I don‘t think the garrison is in the same straits as say the troops on Malta were. Regarding the morale roll for the Greeks, I think this is an excellent rule, but would add some more modifiers for the state of the Greek army when the roll is made. In this particular game, all the troops in eastern Greece were destroyed, and practically the whole of the rest of the Greek army was in northwestern Greece, and out of supply (and a good portion isolated), and German troops had seized Greek territory all the way to Larisa. It seems to me at least that the morale of the Greek gov‘t would have been deeply affected by this turn of events, yet the modifiers don‘t take any of this type of thing into account. In other words, other than taking out Yugoslavia for a single modifier, Axis actions don‘t seem to have any effect on Greek morale.
Parking Allied troops in mainland ports should be insufficient to eliminate the negative modifiers for a lack of Allied support as well, though this wasn‘t an instance that occurred in this game.

Balkan Front Game Report 2: Jun II 41

Allied Player turn

Initial phase: Nothing really, though the allied troops do go U-2, reducing them to ½ defense strength.

Mov’t phase: All units consolidate in hex 0514 and promise to give as good as they get in the upcoming Axis turn. There being no airfields in the area, and the troops being tankers and Imperials, even the generals decide to wait till the end.

Combat & Exploit: None.

Axis Player turn

Initial Phase: All but 30 RE’s German of mountain, parachute and infantry units withdraw, presumably to become Jul I reinforcements in the just opened Russian front. The 15 VP hemorrhage finally ends. GSPs throughout the theatre put units into general supply. .5 German special replacements are earned, placed in Valona, and then the 1st III/7th Fallshirmjaeger XX is rebuilt at Valona. The Italian 1 B M/C III is rebuilt at Durazzo. This leaves only German units in the pool, 1 Mtn RE, 1 Inf RE and the HQ of the 7th Fallshirmjaeger. Centauro’s conversion is again delayed due to supply and zoc’s. Attack supply and GSPs are placed, though hardly expected to be needed. 1 ARP is spent to bring back the floatplanes again. There are 5 aborted German air units, 1 eliminated German glider unit and 1 eliminated Italian air unit still in the pool.

Mov’t Phase: Italian infantry divisions admin north to Albania, while others move south into the Peloponnesus or engage the remaining Allied troops holed up in the mountains. Lots of mountain troops and some German infantry, Centauro and odds and sods, complete surround the Allied troops in 0514. Remaining troops on Crete spread out to garrison the important sites until such time as the less mobile, less combat oriented types show up (after game…)

Combat Phase: With AA halved, it’s supposed that 5 Me 110’s/Ju87’s will be sufficient to ensure an 8:1 -2, thereby reducing any chance for further combat losses. Allied flak rolls no better than a 6, so all 5 get through unscathed to drop bombs on the Allied troops. A 1 is rolled in combat, but the poor roll doesn’t matter as it’s still a DR, eliminating all units in the hex. Huge numbers of Allied troops choose to surrender instead of being destroyed, boarding trains headed north for the stalags of Germany.

End of Game turn: Final VP count, except for end of game VPs is 22:4.

End of Game

VPs are added as follows:

Axis:

  • +1 per Allied enemy RE in pool: +12
  • +1 per Allied eliminated air unit: +2 (assuming bombers in Egypt “surrender”)
  • +1 per two Allied aborted air units: +1
  • +1 per accumulated RP: +7 at Bari, +2 at Brindisi, +2 at Durazzo, +1 at Tirana, +3 at Valona, +10 at Koritsa, total of +25
  • Control of Greece: +20
  • Control of Crete: +10
  • Yugoslavia ends game neutral: +20

Allied:

  • +1 per non Commando/Airborne Axis RE in pool: +1
  • +2 per Commando/Airborne Axis RE in pool: +2
  • +1 per Axis eliminated air unit: +2 (assuming gliders are “eliminated” for VP purposes)
  • +1 per two Axis aborted air units: +2 (5 units, rounded down to 4)
  • +1 per Axis NTP sunk: Should have been added earlier, as an event item, but forgot: None in combat, interference sunk a few (1 attack supply for 3 NTs sunk, 4 GSPs for 1NT, and 2 GSPs for .5 NTs, which I assume rounds to 0.) +4
  • Control of Crete: +10

Added to the previous totals the Axis had 112 VPs, compared to an Allied total of 25 VPs. Differential is 91 VPs for a decisive Axis victory.

Balkan Front Game Report 2: Jun I 41

 Allied Player turn

Weather: Clear throughout.

Initial phase: Things look bleak for the Allies, though the VP count may not be too bad since the Axis clearly haven‘t taken Greece out in the same period of time as in the real event, despite their individual successes and breakthroughs. The Greeks convert two border units in Athens to the 22nd Inf XX, and rebuild the X Bdr X. Defense of the hex rises to 8 from 5 points. In the oldest pocket at 4514, Greek units finally go U-4 and begin surrendering, with 15 Mtn XX cadred, 12 Inf Cadre eliminated, and the E Art III eliminated.

Mov‘t: Practically none. In the major mov‘t of the turn, the A Lt AA III boards ship and attempts to make its way back to Athenai to bump up the AA value for the expected assault against the capital. They travel by day nearest to Crete, and thence into Athens via night, with the P.24‘s planned to CAP the Athenai hex just prior to their arrival to cover the unloading. However, Allied High command misses the naval patrol craft flying out of Rethymnon, so the transports are soon spotted in hex 4303 and contact is made by a Ju88a escorted by an Italian CR32bis (2 rolled, +3 for calm, -0 for distance). P.24‘s immediately cancel their planned CAP to Athenai, since it hasn‘t happened yet and attempt to stop the bombers, bypassing the Italian fighters. The biplanes roll a 3 however and send the P.24‘s to the deadpool. Two points of naval flak rolls an 8, so the bombers are able to press home their attack, making 3 attempts to hit on the 1 column, of which one 6 is rolled, sinking the Greek III and it‘s NTP. The Greek construction brigades give up their digging south of the Spherkios line, and instead move north into the main line to await the final assault.

Combat and exploit: None.

Axis Player turn

Initial Phase: The Axis again lose 15 Vps for failing to withdraw the German forces (they are need to maintain the cordon around the Spherkios defenders and to assault Athenai this turn). In the Greek U-4 pocket, the 16th Mtn XX is cadred, the 15th‘s cadre surrenders, but the D Lt AA III manages to survive a second roll for elimination. More attack supply arrives in Germany, as do more GSPs along high volume rail lines for shipment south. The 395th OFK Static [XX] shows up for duty in the Balkans. Centauro‘s conversion is delayed, as it is out of supply at this time. There are ample Rps of various sorts scattered about Albania, but none are needed as only a 2 regiments of germans (1 mtn, 1 parachute and a single para HQ are in the deadpool.) Thanks to previously unmentioned Axis transfer missions, no airbases are overstacked at this time.

Expecting the end to come soon, and not willing to face complete Axis air dominance, the Allied bombers attempt to fly night transfer missions to Alexandria from Athenai (both fighters are aborted or eliminated at this point.) The Greek Mxd B lands fine, but the Blen 4 is aborted upon landing when a 1 is rolled.

Mov‘t Phase: Though not terribly necessary, 4 fighter units CAP Athenai. Near Athens, Das Reich, Leibstandarte and the 60th mot Inf along with various mechanized non-divs invest Athenai. Centuaro makes it to just east of Corinth, while a regiment of mot Inf takes Kalamai.
The 198th Inf XX crosses to Patrai and moves southeast, while other infantry divisions invest the southern pocket. Screens are maintained against the 3 northern pockets. The Pzr Corp and mountaineers with supporting artillery plan to assault the Spherkios again from the north, though the Battle of Athenai will to large extent determine what can be done in this regards. Engineers, paratroopers and Italian artillery move up to Khania to clear the last 3 points holding out on the west end of the island.

In naval mov‘ts, 1 attack supply is landed at Prevesa to supply any needed assaults in this area. Another point is moved to Valona for shipment south as required. Rail mov‘t of attack supply and GSPs continues south to the main front from the Balkan areas. GSPs are also shipped into Korinthos via naval transport, with 2 of the three shipments interfered with, and one shipment halved and the other eliminated in effects rolls.

Combat phase: First, a few of the Greek pockets are cleaned out. A 12:1, -2 against the U-4 survivors is launched against 4514, with a 3 rolled for a DH, clearing the hex. Next, Missolonghi is cleared with a 6:1, +0, DH (3 rolled). This leaves three one hex pockets of Greek troops, all in mountain hexes north of the main line. Next, limited GS is flown in support of an attack on Khania, resulting in a 6:1 -1 attack generating a DR with another 3 rolled. The Greek units retreat out of the hex to the western tip of Crete and the last outpost on the island is seized by a smorgasbord of German paratroopers and combat engineers and Italian infantry and artillery. Finally, plenty of air (13 units) flies GS over Athenai, facing 5 points of flak. Nine units get through, 2 Ju87‘s are returned, and a Ju88a and the poor floatplanes are aborted.
This leaves the odds at 3:1 -1, and in a surprise a 4 is rolled for an HX, eliminating all but the cadre of the Greek 22nd Inf XX. The German 125th Inf III and Italian 1B M/C III enter the pool on the Axis side.

The Liebstandarte and the 50th Aslt Eng II enter the city in triumph.
Clearly the Greek government will be made to pay for their insistence on fighting on even after the German intervention ensured their eventual defeat, so they choose to fight to the last man on the Acropolis. The majority, including King Moonopolis fight to the bitter end in the Parthenon, but eventually their resistance is over come. (1 rolled on Gov‘t attempt to flee, +5 Vps for capturing the government). SS troops round up the survivors. International organizations decry the damage done to the historic building, but Hitler waves such trivialities away, promising to send Speer down to build a real monument. Elsewhere in the city numerous stocks of munitions are seized (2 attack supply captured with 2 5‘s rolled), though an entire city block filled with fortification materials is somehow destroyed (2 attempts to seize res.
Pts fail.) The Greek SMPs in Athenai are captured as well, as is the Allied Supply Terminal that had to be opened upon the entrance of Allied troops into mainland Greece (+5 Vps to Axis). I‘m unsure what happens to the Greek bombers in Alexandria, as there is no „escape“ mechanism in WW, so I suppose it surrenders too since it is not on a Greek island.

At this point all Greek troops on the mainland surrender, leaving the bewildered Brits, Aussies and Kiwi‘s trapped with no where to run and no where to hide. With the Greek troops marching off to prison camps northwards, an attack is launched on that dratted hex 0413, now reduced to just the NZ 2nd Inf XX and the Brit 1st Arm X. The attack goes in at 4:1 -1, 5 rolled for a DR, and the Allies are pushed from their fortifications. Too bad I had no ZOC‘s to spare to put behind them…

Exploit: The victors of Athenai move north to form a strong line facing the Allied troops on their south flank. Hex 0413 is packed with other troops, while 2nd Pzr and mot Art III‘s seize the 0515 hex, limiting to some extent where the Allied troops may choose to hide. Italian troops are left behind to garrison Athenai. Numerous medals are handed out by Mussolini, church bells ring throughout the country and Il Duce begins casting about for his next target. Hitler has his eyes firmly fixed eastwards….

End of turn: Axis lost 15 Vps for failing to withdraw, but gain 10 for seizing Athenai, its supply terminal and the Greek gov‘t. Totals are now 22:4.

Balkan Front Game Report 2: May II 41

Allied Player Turn

Weather: Clear everywhere.

Initial phase: Allied fort construction is completed at 0413 on the Spherkios, and at 0715 in the Peloponnesus. Fort construction begins at 0513, using 1 Res Pt. The Allied High Command chooses to activate the Well1C and Blen4 at Alexandria (-2 Vps). Two harassment hits are placed behind the Allied line at hex 0513. In overstacked Melos, both Me109E‘s, the S code He111 & the Italian Floatplanes are made operative.
The Italian fleet sorties for the third time this game, in an attempt to impede expected naval mov‘ts to Crete, but a 3 is rolled for an inconclusive naval action (no impact to either fleet.)

Mov‘t phase: The mov‘t phase opens with an Allied air mission aimed at reducing Melos‘ ability to interdict Allied sea mov‘t and support the Cretan front. The Hurricanes are joined by the Greek Mxd B, 2 Blen 4 units and the Well1C in a bombing strike on the island, escorted by the P.24‘s. The Me109E‘s rise up to defend the island, and attempt to bypass the single escort. As seems to be the case over the last turn and half or so, the dice favor the allies. The P.24F‘s roll a 4, aborting one of the Me109E‘s. Random allocation of the other 109 pits him against the Hurricanes, which chooses not to drop its bombs. Both units roll 6‘s, resulting in the Hurri1‘s being aborted, no effect to the 109‘s. There being no flak, the bombers line up for the runs, the Mxd B and the Blen‘s on the airfield needing 6‘s, and the Well1C on the port and needing a 4+. The Well1C misses, but the other three bombers manage to roll two sixes, and the S code He111 & the poor, benighted Italian Z.506 floatplanes again enter the aborted pool.

The A. Lt AA III then uses sea mov‘t, partially at night to attempt to reach the undefended Khania port and airfield complex on western Crete.
Ju88A‘s on naval patrol out of Larissa attempt to contact this mov‘t but fail on a 2 rolled. The Axis stalwart Mxd B unit out of Rhodes similarly fails, with a 4 rolled (+3 for calm, -3 for distance). The unit lands successfully at Khania, redefending the hex.

The Ath. Static X then follows the Lt AA III to Khania. The 3 remaining Axis air units on naval patrol throughout the theater expect artillery to be brought in later, so they choose not to interfere with this mov‘t and the Static X is landed without incident.

As expected, the G. Art III then moves from Athens to Khania. If successfully landed, this would bring the defense of the hex up to 4 pts supported. Ju88A‘s out of Rhodes attempt contact, but fail on a 4 rolled (+3, -3) Ju88A‘s out of Scarpanto fail as well, with a 3 rolled (+3, -2), so each missed by 1 pip of the die (curses again!) The last naval patrol craft can do nothing due to a few night mov‘t hexes, so the artillery is landed as well…

The Allies then adjust their lines near the Spherkios front and await the coming Axis attempts to break the line. From east to west, 0413 is fortified, and defended by the NZ 2nd Inf XX, the Grk 21 Inf XX, the Brit 1st Arm X, with assorted other Greek non-divs, working out to a 20 pt stack, 1/7 ATEC. Hex 0514 is defended by the Aussie 6th Inf, and the Grk 7 Inf, for 11 points of defense in the mountains, assailable from just one hex. Hex 0515 is defended by all Greek units, the 14th Inf XX, 13th Mtn XX and a couple of III‘s for a 13 pt defense assailable from 3 hexes. The Eper Eng X is busy fortifying 0513 and the Mak Eng X has moved up to 0614 to do the same next turn. Athens has 5 points and Patrai has 3 across the narrow straits. Khania has 4, while the lost in the woods Khania static X moves east to the hex just west of Eraklieon to interfere with possible moves against Khania from the eastern side of Crete.

The Allies „skip“ their combat and exploit phases.

Axis Player turn

Initial phase: The Axis lose 15 Vps for failing to withdraw the German forces. The Italian float planes are rebuilt for at least the fourth time as is a Ju87B. In the Axis air pool the Italian BR.20M night bombers sit eliminated, as do the Luftwaffe gliders. The S code He11H sits aborted, as does another normal 111. Additionally, one Ju87B and one Me109E are aborted. More attack supply shows up for rail mov‘t south in Germany, and more GSPs are created to be used in defense by units too far south into the mountains west of the Sperkios line to be in normal supply. A full point of German Inf Rps has now been earned via special replacements, which is placed in Valona. In the islands area, all fighters on Melos go inop due to overstacking, leaving one Italian bomber operable. On Crete, the Allies put the Athenian Stat X in supply via their one RE per turn per port capability. Finally, the P.24F‘s once again CAP Khania.

Mov‘t phase: As part of the requirement that the activated air units must return to base in Egypt by end of turn, the Allies fly transfer missions for the Blen 4 and Well1C to Alexandria. Following this the Axis high command decides to push Italian artillery to Crete via naval transport to ensure the island can be successfully held and taken, so many regiments of Italian gunners move to ports for mov‘t. No Allied bombers were placed on naval patrol, as they were to be used for DAS in defense of the Spherkios line. Therefore, first, the 4C Art III was successfully shipped from Volos to Rethymnon (all interference rolls on the 3(?) column for contact; 6 rolled no contact.) 8C Art II was then moved to Erakleion, again via Volos (2 roll, contact, 4 rolled no effect on contact). 9C Art III moved from Volos to Melos, to finally bring support to that location (6 rolled, no contact… this was done because a planning doc‘t for an Allied special op was published in the Allied initial phase. It was considered possible, but unlikely, that the Allies might call up the British commando‘s and attempt to do something at Melos. The airfield was key to interdicting the Aegean and taking Crete before the rest of Greece had fallen.) Following this, GaF+Sud art III was moved from Volos to Scarpanto, for the same reason as the mov‘t to Melos (7 rolled, no contact.) With all of these mov‘ts successful and plenty of defensive artillery in support of the island redoubts available, Axis High Command decided to continue tempting fate by sending in additional artillery to Rethymnon, so an assault on Khania could take place. So, 14C Art III was shipped Volos to Rethymnon successfully (7 rolled, no contact.)

In ground mov‘t, units on Crete moved to engage the Khanian Static X trapped between Rethymnon & Erakleion, while the 3rd/7th Fallshirmjaeger moved down to take the port of Hagios Nikolaos, returning part of the way back to Erakleion. The last of the airbase repair points currently on hand were used to bring the Melosian, Rethymnon & Erakleion airbases up to full capacity. Additionally, one way transport missions brought the Wehrmact 685 Eng III and the 658 Mtn Eng II‘s into Rethymnon, the Italian 9th Const III to Erakleion, and the 26th Const III to Melos.
The Sturm Glider brigade was moved from Melos to Scarpanto to fully „support“ the artillery regiment on the island, ensuring full defensive capabilities all across the Aegean locations previously seized. An assault on Khania is anticipated next turn.

On the mainland, each of the three small pockets of Greek troops were surrounded by minimal numbers of Italian troops, generally a single division in each hex. The rest were shifted south to assault the larger pocked north of Das Reich. Two plans were launched to attempt the break the deadlock at Spherkios. A combined Pzr/Mtn corps was formed in 0414, whose target was the Australians at 0514. A successful combat here, even with an Allied DR could not cover all hexes behind the Allied line since there were only two divisions defending. One of these three hexes would necessarily be overrunable, or simply left open for exploit. With sufficient air support and mountaineering, a 3:1 -1 is expected to be reached. In the west, the small 3 point stack at Patrai looked capable of being beat, so a combined arms assault across the narrow straits was planned, with Das Reich, the 60th mot Inf XX and 198th Inf XX (winterized) expected to lead the way. Air support would provide the bulk of the striking power due to the terrain effects associated with the straits. Only 3 points of defense makes for easy odds shifts due to air power.

Combat phase: Seeing the massing of troops north of Patrai and fearing a possible breakout, as there are no other Allied troops in the Peloponnesus (even Corinth was emptied to defend north of Athens), the Allies fly their Blen4 to Patrai on DAS. The Greek Mxd B‘s choose not to fly into Me110 interceptor range over the main front (side note, many temp airfields were built up in and around the Larissa/Lamia area, so the Axis by this point have complete air dominance over the front.)

Massive GS is then flown to the two main assault hexes. Over 0514 some small amounts of GS are driven off by flak, but insufficient to drop the odds to less than 3:1 -1. However, the assault to break out of the Spherkios line fails yet again, as a 2 is rolled, resulting in an AS.
Fortunately, the Axis does better in the west, with a 6:1 -2 across the straits into Patrai resulting in a DH on a roll of 5. The border X is destroyed and the lone Greek B art III retreats southeast towards Corinth. All mech units cross to Patrai in preparation for an exploitation breakout into the Allied rear. A third attack is launched against the middle hex of the pocket north of Das Reich‘s previous location, led by Centauro and the Leibstandarte, resulting in a 5:1 +0 DH/zoc kill against the 8th and 9th Greek Mtn XX‘s. The Italian mech corps and Leibstandarte advance into the hex with other non-divs, splitting the pocket into two and opening the way for further exploit into Patrai. Finally, the Khanian Stat X is wiped out in a 9:1 -1, DE (3 rolled) on Crete.

Exploit phase: Das Reich and the separate regiments of the 60th mot Inf XX overrun the hapless B Art III, then proceed to take Corinth and then points further east. Das Reich ends its turn in Levadia, directly behind the main Allied front in Greece. To its southwest, one regiment of the 60th and a heavy flak III guards its flank and protect the Corinithian approaches from the north. To its east a single aslt eng II watches its other flank and seals the now pocketed Spherkios defenders.
The other regiment of the 60th holds 0811, just northwest of Athens, ensuring no significant assaults or counter mov‘ts into the Axis rear from Athenai will take place. Leibstandarte and Centauro cross over to Patrai, moving as far towards Corinth as their mps will take them, while a single regiment from another mot Inf XX heads west along the Peloponnesus coast towards Kalamai.

End of turn: VP count stands at 27:4.

Balkan Front Game Report 2: May I 41

Allied Player turn

Weather: Guaranteed clear and calm throughout the theater.

Initial phase: More special replacements arrive from the front and „behind“ the forward lines, allowing the Greeks to rebuild a number of previously destroyed units. 21st Infantry division forms up from Greek non-divisionals. Greek and British air replacements arrive, allowing the British to rebuild their two aborted air units, with the Blen 1‘s immediately converting to the newer Blen 4 models. The MNBDO British Marine base unit shows up for duty at Alexandria, awaiting transport to the Balkan theater. It looks across the Eastern Med with trepidation at the large number of Axis air units now flying naval patrol misisons about the south Aegean area of operations. (All bombers on Scarpanto, Rhodes and now Melos on naval patrol. Melos is stacked with a Me109E, Ju87R, the S code He111H, and finally the Italian float planes.) A number of harassment missions are flown, escorted, just south of the Spherkios line to hamper Allied efforts to move troops up from Athenai.

Mov‘t phase: The Grk airfield just north of Athenai is destroyed and abandoned. Likewise, the static unit garrisoning Eraklion destroys that city‘s air field, and then abandons the city moving northwest. The airfield at Rethymnon, previously repaired up to full capacity, is now partially blown up with the advance of Luftwaffe paratroopers into the Aegean island area (2 hits placed, returning it to it‘s previous status. I would guess that it would have been destroyed entirely if King Moonopolis had had the mov‘t points to do so.)

At sea, the MNBDO and its transports slip their moorings and head into the teeth of Axis air coverage over the Aegean. Approaching Khania at night, they begin the process of unloading with Hurricane 1‘s flying CAP overhead. The drone of a large armada of Axis aircraft arrive overhead, warned of the arrival of the British marines thanks to Egyptian agents. All three bombers on Melos, escorted by the Me109E fly a naval patrol mission against the unloading unit/transports. Contact is easily made (+3 for calm seas, -1 for distance, a 6 rolled). The outnumbered Hurricanes immediately switch to intercept, bypassing the swifter Messerschmitts. This move was apparently unexpected, as in air to air combat the Me109E‘s roll a 12, easily letting the Hurricanes by to the bombers. The Hurricanes have too many targets however, and random allocation pits them against the Italian floatplanes (worst possible, since they have only 2 pts of bombing factors and no positive modifiers to the bombing roll that the S code and dive bombers will have.) Air to air is equally uneventful however, as the Hurri‘s roll an 11 and the Z506b‘s roll a 6, for no result on either side. Perhaps they all forgot to load their machineguns? The NTPs AA is a bit better, and the large, slow Z506b‘s are easy targets (rolls of 10, 7 & 2 put the Z506‘s back into the aborted pool, their second or perhaps third trip in this game. I keep rebuilding them however since they don‘t take up regular airfield capacity, thereby increasing the number of units I can base at Scarpanto and now Melos.) The Ju87R‘s get 4 rolls on the 1 column against the transports, at +1 to hit, get no better than 4 on any of their rolls, but there are numerous near misses to scare the merchant marine types. The He111H‘s however are apparently the real danger, with 2 rolls on the 1 column again at +1 to hit. Two 6‘s are rolled, and the transports and marines of the MNBDO unit slip beneath the waters in Khania harbor, the waves running red.

At the front, the 6th Austrialian slips left to seal off the peninsula (down to hex 0515.) The rebuilt Greek 13th Mtn XX replaces it in the center of the Allied line (0414), though this hex is now the weakest of the line, with just 5 points defense and approachable from 3 hexes, albeit in the mountains and with two these approaches across the Spherkios. The Greek 21st Inf XX moves up to join the 2nd New Zealand in the rough hex at 0413, as does the British 1st Armored Brigade, bring this critical hexes defense strength up to 18 (a Grk construction brigade furiously attempting to finish fortifications and a lt AA II are also present.) Beyond the main front, 5 pockets of Greek troops trapped by the quick advance of the Wehrmacht languish, one U-2 near Veroia, 3 in the mountain hexes south of the Cham region (one of these a two hex pocket), and the last a 3 hex area north and west of the Das Reich XX guarding the approaches to the narrow straits at Patrai. With no supply lines and no attack supply in any of these pockets, and ample Axis DAS available should the need arise, the Allied high command orders the units not to attempt a breakout. (I‘m not sure, but the Allies may have been able to get close to a 2:1 -1 against Das Reich, but with no attack supply and DAS, it would probably have ended up a 1:2 attack with no chance to cause Axis losses.)

The Peloponnesus is practically empty, except for a 2 unit, 3 defense point stack guarding Patrai, and a construction unit building a fort in the hex just northwest of Korinth. At some point Kalamai‘s airfield was wrecked, but I don‘t recall when this happened. Behind the main line at the Spherkios reserves are in place, consisting mainly of two groups centered on the recently rebuilt 14th and 7th Inf XX‘s. The Greeks have been forced to use all of their Rps immediately, to include using their mtn rps on border brigades whose defensive strength is higher than their attack strengths. King Moonopolis is clearly trying to delay the advance to Athenai with everything but the kitchen sink, while the Axis must hurry to get there as VP penalties start to accrue shortly. The large VP pad the Axis currently enjoy won‘t last long at -15 per turn!

Combat-Exploit phases: Nothing occurs, other than a Luftwaffe transport transferring off an otherwise overstacked airbase. There is another overstacked airbase, but the air units there flew harassment missions, so their inop status is guaranteed regardless.

Axis Player turn

Initial phase: The Italian Z.506 floatplanes and 2 Ju88A‘s are returned to active duty from their aborted status. Attack supply shows up in Germany, and numerous GSPs are dropped on high volume rail lines along the eastern edge of the map, for later transfer to the south.

Mov‘t phase: Italian XX‘s and the Wehrmacht 50th Infanterie maintain the cordon around the Greek stack at 4514, now at U-2. Others move and surround the two pockets (3 hexes total) just south of Cham. German infantry, Italian Alpini and the Italian Armored Corps, along with plenty of artillery move up to engage the Greek 17th Mtn in 4201 from the south and east. Das Reich holds at the northside of the Patrai crossing. 4th Gebirgsjaeger, along with a broken down mtn III and AA III take 4701, facing the southwestern most hex of the Greek Sperkios line at 0515. 5th & 73rd Gebirgsjaeger, along with 2 Alpini III‘s take 0415, flanking the Sperkios line hex at 0414. 46th and 72nd Infanterie, along with 3 Julia Alpini and large numbers of artillery III‘s hold 0315, while a full Panzer Corps in 0314, centered on 2nd, 5th and 11th Panzer faces the main Sperkios hex at 0413. The Allied AF watches all mov‘t impassively, refusing the temptation to CAP any of these hexes. The Greek P.24 does CAP Khania, as the large number of parachute regiments now sitting in Rhodes and the new Axis airbase on Melos is giving the Allied high command worries (sidenote: I was unsure why this was done, since the unit was already based in Khania, and obviously therefore in range to intercept anything at that location. It appeared that the Allied commander was giving up the flexibility of intercepting over other Cretan bases, but I may have missed some tactic…)

At this point Operations Minoan Fury kicks off. In the first of a series of missions, Ju52‘s stage from Kavalla to Scarpanto, while Me109E‘s stage from Volos to Melos. 2 gruppen of Ju52‘s then air transport 1st III/7th Fallshirmjaeger XX to drop on Khania, via Melos, where 2 Me109E‘s launch to provide escort. Hurricanes and Greek P.24F‘s choose not to intercept or patrol, which could be very dangerous if the airfield is seized by coups d‘main. The regiment lands undisrupted (4 rolled, mods of -1 for rough and -1 for enemy in hex) so the Luftwaffe unit makes an attempt to seize the airfield for follow on troops. With 2 pts supported and in special attack supply due to an airdrop against the 2 points unsupported in the hex, the 1st/7th has a 2:1 attack with a +1 modifier for dropping directly into the hex, with any HX, DR, DH or DE result leading to airbase seizure (the combat itself is notional, and determines only the status of the airfield; no combat losses will actually occur, as a „real“ combat will be fought in the combat phase.) Unfortunately for the paratroopers a 3 is rolled, which at 2:1 +1 equates to an EX, 1 shy of seizing the field. This saves the Allied AF from an escape from airbase mission… drat!

Next, Me110Cs and G50bis‘s stage to Melos, escorting transports flown into Rhodes to airdrop on the nearly destroyed airbase at Rethymnon. Again, Allied air chooses not to make an intercept attempt. 2nd III, 7th Fallshirmjaeger then drops on the city, rolling an unfortunate 2 on its disruption roll, leaving the unit disrupted and ½ in the following combat phase. No seizure of this airbase is allowed due to the disrupted status of the 2nd.

Next, the last regiment of the 7th Fallshirmjaeger drops on Eraklieon, whose airbase has already been hit. Disruption roll of „6“ indicates they have landed in fine shape, but as there is no enemy in the hex and the airbase has max hits on it, there is little to seize.

Following this, the SM Marine II on Rhodes boards an ANTP and successfully transits the Aegean sea, landing at Rethymnon, targeted last turn when their previous operation was cancelled due to Melos being abandoned by the Allies.

Upon realizing that despite the successful seizure of Eraklieon that the Axis units don‘t control the port until the next initial phase, and the beach at the beginning of the next phase in the current turn, a planned move of the HQ for the 7th is delayed until exploit. The 7th does board another ANTP however, in preparation for this mov‘t.

At this point a major turn of mov‘t ends.

Combat Phase: Both allied bombers fly DAS to 0414, defended by just the Greek 13th Mtn XX. The Luftwaffe flies a small GS mission to Rethymnon, the Italian Z.1007bs and Z.506‘s escorted by a single CR.42 staged through Melos. The Hurricanes unfortunately continue to sit on the ground (I was hoping they‘d eventually come up, to mitigate the need to continue flying escort, and also to better clarify the numbers of bombers/GS points needed for various combats, but no such luck.) Next, 2 Mc.200 and a Cr32bis stage through Melos while 3 Ju88a units fly in from Rhodes and the main front on a GS mission to Khania. The P.24s on CAP and the Hurricanes on the ground finally come up for a fight (Brits must have finally run out of tea, eh whot?) All attempt to bypass to get to the critical Ju88a‘s. The 3 Italian fighters each have 3 attack strengths, so the extra is aligned against the Hurricanes. Rolls of 6 and 5 against the Hurricanes result in a return result. An 8 on the P.24‘s allows the Greeks into the bomber stream. The Greeks roll a 7 against the bombers, getting an R. The Ju88a‘s roll an 11, for no effect. Finally, 9 air units fly GS to 0413, the main hex in the defense of the Spherkios and hence Greece. There are sufficient bombers to generate a 3:1 +1 if no more than 1 of the Ju87B‘s are returned (smaller tac point air units are included to bump up the chances of the Ju87‘s getting through…), or no more than 3 units total of the nine by AA. The Axis high command figures there is a better than 55% chance that sufficient air support will get through to garner the 3:1 +1 with it‘s guarantee of success.

In actual combat, first a large number of Italian divisions reduce the size of one of the Cham pockets by means of an 8:1 -1 attack on the 11th Greek Mtn cadre, getting a 6 for a DE, eliminating 2 pts isolated. The Greek 17th Mtn XX is then eliminated to a man in a 7:1 -2, 5 rolled for another DE. Then Mars chooses to continue to flaunt the odds, as he did earlier over Crete when a number of airdrops that might have seized airfields failed to do so. A planned 3:1 +1 against 0413, which could have eliminated the majority of Allied power in Greece, and done so prior to the fort furiously being built by the Allies and then allowed a higher odds zoc kill attack against 0414 goes awry. 2 points of flak in 0413 manage to roll two 3‘s against two of the GS Ju87B‘s, dropping the odds to 2:1 +1. A miserable 2 is then rolled in combat, repulsing the armored corps attempt to cross the Spherkios with an AS. The follow-up attack of mountain and infantry against the lone 13th Mtn in 0414 goes in at 5:1 -1, with limited DAS and GS, and mountaineering effects, rolls a 3, for a DR. Without the zoc‘s from a successful attack on 0413, the Greeks retreat one hex relatively unscathed, though at least the 0413 hex is now flanked. Argh.

Even more frustrating, the attack at Khania also runs into a hitch. The GS ensures a 5:1, +0 (rough -1, but direct drop of paratroopers garners a +1), but a 1 is rolled, resulting in an HX. The Greek units go into the deadpool, but unfortunately so does the 1st/7th Fallschirmjaeger, resulting in the Allies maintaining control of the hex (and allowing possible naval transport into the as yet unseized port, and also allowing the blasted Allied fighters a place to land.

Combat at Rethymnon goes somewhat better however, with a 10:1 -1 attack (the SM Marines negate the +1 for direct drop), but a 4 is rolled for a DE. At the end of the combat phase, the Spherkios is flanked but not pierced, while all Allied units on Crete have been eliminated except for the Khania Stat X just east of Rethymnon, though Khanis is as yet not owned by the Axis.

Exploit phase: Centauro and its supporting non-divs cross the mountains and engage the Greeks facing Das Reich from the rear. The 60th mot Inf XX secures Das Reich‘s rear by moving to 4601. The major armored corps at Lamia fumes, unable to run for Athens, as had been hoped. Finally, the HQ of the 7th Fallshirmjaeger attempts to land at the beach in Eraklieon‘s hex. A naval interference roll of 3 indicates that the Allies have found the ANTP, but a roll of 4 on the effects charts means the unit gets through unscathed. Unfortunantely, since the terrain is rough and the unit is landing across the beach, there is a -4 mod on the disruption roll, and a 1 results in the HQ being destroyed. (Side note: No way the Allies land in Normandy if they must makes these disruption rolls. This rule needs to be looked at again, if a unit can land in friendly terrain with no enemies within 100 miles and vaporize, what happens to units landing at enemy held beaches. At least don‘t expect HE units, and especially C/M units to land. By my count, a C/M unit landing at Normandy would be looking at a -7 modifier to land on the beach. HQ or artillery would be looking at a -5. SF players beware!) Two weak Italian fighters land at Rethymnon, overstacked by 1. The failure to take Khania results in 8 air units stacked on Melos, with only 3 plus the Italian float planes able to become operable next initial phase. (Air units include 2 Me109Es, 2 MC.200s, a G.50bis, the S code He111H4, the Z.1007b and the Z.506B floats.)

End of game turn: Vps stand at 42:6. The numbers look good, but does the failure to cross to the southern side of the Sperkios and the failure to seize Khania mean Mars would now prefer to be called Ares?

Balkan Front Game Report 2: Apr II 41

Allied Player turn

Initial Phase: King Moonopolis rallies his troops despite the extremely threatening position and the Greeks refuse to reduce their morale (Demoralization roll is a 6, with no mods since sufficient Allied troops are on the mainland and no others apply.) This puts the Axis in a time bind, since a quick surrender would have practically been assured on a 1-4 roll (getting within 5 hexes of Athenai forces the Greek gov‘t to escape.) Since the Greeks refuse to give up the ghost despite their predicament, the Axis lambasts the central and southwestern parts of northern Greece with harassment missions. Two are flown in the central area since a proper mov‘t unimpeded by harassment would have allowed a Greek division to get a zoc on the unoccupied Katerine hex, which would have temporarily put all German units south of this point out of supply.

Five more missions are flown between Arta and Patrai to keep the Greeks from admin moving into the Peloponnesus. Unfortunately Das Reich‘s zoc doesn‘t quite cut off the Greeks to the northwest. These air units park at a temporary airfield built by Italian construction units along the west coast and at Larisa, slightly overstacked, but the operative units will be able to transfer out to ensure no significant issues. A final harassment mission escorted by a Me109E & Mc200 is flown to just south of the Spherkios, but Allied fighters choose not to get involved. The Greeks begin forts at Lamia and in the rough hex just south of the Spherkios, but it is expected these positions will both fall before the forts are completed (2 turn construction time, since there is only one engineer unit in each hex.) A third fort is begun just northwest of Korinth, but the Axis high command does not expect it to play a part in the upcoming campaign to take Athenai and destroy the Greek government.

Mov‘t through Exploit phases: A 12 point stack of Greeks joins the cadre of the 12th Inf XX at the mountain hex of 4514, just west of Veroia. The remainder of Greek units along the previous main front form a three hex front from 3801 to 4002, while 11th Mtn XX moves up to 4004 to delay the advance of the Italians. The units that were fleeing southeast form a front running northeast to southwest from 4101 to Missolonghi at hex 4603, though the strength is inconsistent from hex to hex. The front also includes a salient at Karditsa. Along the Sperkios, the Ipp Cav XX and various border trash moves up to hold Lamia. The 6th Australian Inf XX and Brit 1st Arm X move into the mountains at 0414. The New Zealander‘s admin around from the Peloponnesus and into the rough hex at 0413. The Greek 10th Inf III moves to hex 4601, protecting the flank of the western Greek front by holding the flank of the lake hexside. Allied air units change bases, but accomplish little due to overwhelming Axis superiority in the air.

They are particularly hampered by Axis ownership of the airbase at Larisa, which had only a single pt of damage against it. On Crete, the 43 RPC const X repairs the airfield at Rethymnon (a surprise to the Axis, since they would expect the Allies to prefer as little airfield capacity on Crete as possible.) It then moves to Khania, while the Rethymnon static III currently garrisoning Melos abandons that island and moves by sea to its home on Crete. It fails to damage the airbase at Melos in its haste to vacate the island. The many Luftwaffe units in the Dodecanese on naval patrol choose not to interfere with this mov‘t, as there is no fighter with range to engage the Hurricanes on CAP over the destination hex.

Axis Player turn

Initial phase: All Greek units except the northernmost units are back in supply and unisolated. Lots of harassment air units remain inop, which will limit to a degree the offensive action that can be taken in the south, since roughly 45% of possible GS is unavailable. German attack supply shows up in Germany. The Allies CAP Athenai with the Greek fighter unit. The Axis high command sends a diplomatic note to the Greeks reminding them that they did not use any of their Rps or special Rps last turn. The Axis allows units to be rebuilt and moved up to a second line north of Athenai, and to garrison Patrai and Athenai itself. This empties the Allied pool of all Rps except a single Brit ARP & .5 Inf Rps.

Mov‘t phase: Since the Greeks now have 5 pt hexes, there are no real overrun opportunities. A one point hex, unsupported in the mountains could have been overrun at hex 4302 by Das Reich, which would have reisolated 6 Greek divisions and various non-divisionals, but it would have allowed 4 other mountain divisions and strong non-divisionals to escape to Patrai next turn. Instead, it moves to hex 4502 in preparation to assault the division guarding Agrinion. Victory here will allow an exploit to 4602, which would in turn permanently cut off all Greek troops to the west and north of the Spherkios/Patrai.

Supporting this mov‘t, 6 engineer units furiously repair seven rail breaks along the main high volume line in east-central Greece. The 4th, 5th and remaining III of the 6th Gebirgsjaeger XX‘s rail along the low volume and high volume lines into southern Greece (11th Pzr is forced to remain in place to prevent Greek zoc‘s from inhibiting this mov‘t). Two options are looked at. A pair of weak attacks against the Greek 10th Inf III and 6th Australian could be launched, but there is limited air available to support both attacks. Perhaps a 2:1 +0 across the Spherkios and a 4:1 +0 against the 10th. Any loss against the 10th would reduce the single mtn xx, and prevent a zoc from prohibiting mov‘t to 4602, which is Das Reich‘s intended goal. Success against the 6th Australian would turn the Spherkios early, but might result in critical casualities. Since there are still 2 more turns after this before VP penalties start to accrue, the more conservative set of attacks is decided upon. All mtn divisions will focus on the 10th, ensuring its destruction. Pzr units will exploit to 0415, which will turn the Sperkios and hopefully allow assault at both hexes by a combination of mountain units on the western hex and Pzr units directly across the river next turn. Success should leave just the Greek remnants rebuilt „last“ turn to defend Athenai and its approaches. Hopefully a NODL won‘t keep the Axis away from the Greek capital, as there are few troops available to form one. Two Pzr units engage Greek Mtn XX‘s in the plains, while the Italians continue their „relentless“ drive against the Greeks facing them. The single 13 pt hex at 4514 is completely surrounded by Italian infantry, though perhaps one hex might face a 2:1 suicide attack next turn (DAS will remain available to lower the chance of a Greek assault.)

Italian mountain divisions admin around from the northern Albanian front into southern Greece via the Olympian gap. The Volos airfield is repaired, but there are no engineers left to repair Larisa due to the emphasis on rail break repair. Much infantry and armored units move to strike at Lamia, and its destruction is virtually assured by the planned massive assault. Attack supply and Res Pts are SMP‘d and railed forward to prepare for later turn assaults. Bulgarian units enter Thrace, annexing that area to their country. Engineer units enter hexes that might be used to build temporary airfields, as necessary. Finally, Operation Melian Dialogue is launched by the Sturm Para III and Sturm air landing II. Two transports and a glider stage to Kavalla, then carry the units to Melos, where they are dropped on the now abandoned airfield. This operation would have taken place regardless, but the disruption rolls are poor, so it is good for the Axis that the island had just been abandoned. The Para III rolls a 2 (no mods due to good weather and clear terrain) so it remains undisrupted and seizes the island, port and airfield. The air landing II rolls a 1, but the use of gliders provides a +1 mod, so it too remains undisrupted. The airfield is fully usable, so Me109E‘s will be transferred in during the exploit phase to provide air cover over Athenai and all of Crete. (The SM marine II had been part of this op, but its participation is cancelled and a different op is planned for it when the island is abandoned by the Allies.) Likewise, the best naval patrol aircraft and the Italian float plane will head for this base, which should seriously impair the Allies‘ ability to naval transport about the Aegean! Three attack supply are sea transported into Valona, as is 1 Lt Arm RP, all unimpeded by Allied naval assets. Finally, the 7th Fallschirmjaeger is flown into Rhodes and surrounding airbases by transports on one way transport missions. Its HQ is railed into Thessalonike.

At the end of the mov‘t phase, the British Hurricanes fly CAP over the threatened 10th Inf III. The Axis counters with CAP by an Me109E and an Mc200.

Combat Phase: The Allies fly the Blen out of Athenai on DAS. The Hurricanes switch to escort. Both Axis cap planes switch to intercept.
The Me109E‘s engage the escorts, while the Mc200‘s engage the Blenheims.
In the first pairing, the Messerschmitts roll a 6, aborting the Hurricanes, while the escorts roll a 10 and fail to score a result. The Mc200‘s also roll a 6, aborting the bombers. The Blenheims roll a 4, but this merely returns the Italian fighters. This makes up for the losses the Italian bomber corps suffered a turn or two ago…

In combat, an 8:1, -2 is launched against the Greek 51st Mtn III, destroying it with a roll of 4 for a DH. In the west, much combat supply is expended to cadre the Greek 11th Mtn Div (8:1, -1, 1 rolled for DR, zoc cadres unit). The Greek 10th Mtn is destroyed to a man by the 2nd Pzr and GD Lb mot Inf III (3:1, +3, 5 rolled, DE, cadre killed via zoc). The Greek 2nd Mtn XX is similarly destroyed by the 11th Pzr and 294th Inf XX‘s, plus odds and sods (4:1, +2, 4 rolled, DE, cadre zoc‘d.) These two attacks were almost cancelled since the Greeks were not isolated prior to combat and therefore the special replacements would simply reappear in Athenai, but is decided that 2.5 pts probably won‘t make or break the campaign against Athenai, and killing the divisions helps clear up the western flank (feels good too!)

Unfortunately, the assault by the LSSAH allows the Greek A Corps Cav III to get away (9:1, -2, 1 rolled for a DR.) The assault on the semi-critical hex guarded by the Greek 10th Inf III goes as planned however (11:1, -1, 6 rolled for DE.) The last attack of the turn as an automatic success, a 9:1 +1 vs the 12 Allied points at Lamia. The Ipp Cav XX, and Eng X, 2 Bdr X‘s and the W art X enter the dead pool despite the roll of 1.

Exploit Phase: 5th Pzr with support troops cross the western Spherkios, outflanking the 6th Australian. Das Reich enters 4602, and will be out of full supply, but cuts off and isolates all Greek Army elements north of Patrai and the Spherkios line. 11th Pzr moves to enter the western line in the mountains at Karpension. LSSAH overruns the A Cav III, but chooses not to enter the hex, as its rear would have been threatened since no other troops could have reached the hex it would be departing.
The Centauro group enters hex 4301, putting the squeeze on the Greek 17th Mtn XX. The 294th Inf entered Karditsa in the combat phase, and further to the north the Gross Deutchland Mot III III enters the line northeast of the nearly surrounded 17th Mtn. Finally 2nd Pzr and other motorized troops enter the hex north of the Spherkios vacated by the 5th Pzr.

A large air mission is then launched against Athenian air fields to put the Greek AF out of commission. An Me109E staging through Melos escorts 3 gruppen of Ju88A‘s and another of He111H‘s. The Greek fighter on CAP refuses to engage. Unfortunately for the Axis, Athenian AA is well sighted, and three 3‘s and a 6 are rolled, aborting 2 Ju88As and the He111H. The single Ju88A that gets through fails to score a hit against the Greek bombers when it rolls a 4.

End of game turn: Vps remain the same, 42:6. The Allies lost 22 unisolated and 4 isolated strength points, for no Axis losses.

Generalstab Updates, 14.9.2008

The new job doesn’t really leave much time for the website these days, so today its only a game report of “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, submitted by Ralph Sunley, and already published on the Europa mailing list in 2007. Ralph tried the what-if-scenario “Invasion of Spain” that deals with the theoretical occupation of Spain by german forces. Thank you, Ralph!

Balkan Front Game Report 2: Mar II 41

Allied Player turn

Weather: In an Italian disaster (you‘ll see why later,) a 5 and 6 result in mud across Greece and rough weather in the Med.

Initial phase: The Brits arrive for a massive reinforcement of the Greeks. Seeing the build up, Mussolini launches his fleet in an attempt to establish a naval presence in the Eastern Med and Aegean. The British and Italian fleets meet off Cape Matapan, and the Italian arms are victorious (a 6 rolled for a successful Italian interference sortie.) The Brits will now need to deal with not only Axis air power in Albania and the Dodecanese, but Italian battleships and cruisers patrolling eastern waters. Axis air power will unfortunately be mitigated by the very poor weather.

Mov‘t through Exploit phases: Minor tweeks along the front. The real action is at sea and in the air. Since large convoys are no more successful than smaller ones, the Allies launch transfers to Greece in dribs and drabs. First, an attack supply point moves to Khania, both interference rolls failing on the 6 column, and it gets through. (Pair of 6‘s rolled for Eastern med & Aegean interference.) Next, the 4th NZ inf X heads for Khania. 8 and 5 on interference means the unit makes it to Khania. Z1007‘s just southwest of Rodi fail to make contact with a 4, and the unit unloads without incident. Next the 6th NZ heads for Khania, with 7 and 6 rolls failing to interfere in this mov‘t. Z506‘s out of Scarpanto fly through the Hurricane patrol zone, but they allow the mov‘t. The 506‘s fail to make contact however, with a 2 rolled.

Next on the docket is the 16th Aus Inf X, which heads for Kalamai.
(Illegal, but switched to Gythion once this is realized.) An interference roll of 2 gives the Italians hope, but this turns out to be a safe roll for the Brits as well as the effects chart roll results in no effect. The BR20M‘s launch out of Valona, and make contact with a 6.
AA fails with a 7 rolled, but the bombing attempt is off widely (1 rolled.) Lastly, the HQ of the 6th Aust XX heads for Kalamai, but a 12 on the interference chart generates a positive result for the Italian fleet. On the effects chart, a 3 is rolled, and the HQ is returned to Port Said (finally!) At this point, Metaxas decides that he has had enough of the war, and gives up his authority, retiring to quiet island in the Aegean. In his stead, the King takes direct command of the Army, Navy and all Allied forces (Dean Moon takes over mid-turn for Master Broshot.) After a quick review of the rules, the King requests that all Allied forces still in Egypt proceed forthwith to Athenai. A single massive convoy launches with the Hq of the 2nd Nz XX, the 3rd Nz Inf X, the W Art X, the 57th Brit Lt AA II and 1 attack supply point. Main elements of the Italian fleet track this large force down and get in amongst the convoy forcing it to scatter to the 4 winds. The transports with the 3rd Nz Inf X escapes in the confusion, but each of the other 4 groups is contacted by the Italian Eastern Med Squadron (4 of 5 contact rolls successful). The Italians successful sink the transports carrying the 57th Lt AA II and the attack supply. Those carrying the Art X are forced to turn tail for Egypt, while the 2nd Nz XX HQ managed to hide in the squalls of the rough seas and avoid the Italians busily sinking British transports. The two groups of transports carrying the New Zealanders link up again and proceed into the Aegean, avoiding contact with the Italian Aegean Squadron. Ju88A‘s then launch out of Scarpanto, attempting to meet the transports just outside of Athenai.
Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, the poor weather and distance prevent contact from being made (+2 for range, -3 for rough seas, 4 rolled need a 6 to contact.)

On the gournd, the King begins a pull back from the line, straightening the line in the south but giving up all but the 3 southern-most hexes of the Cham region to Italian control (one mtn & one rough hex are retreated from since Greek hexes are no longer providing the Axis with Vps and thereby shortening the line by 16 miles.) The majority of Greek strength still lies to the south, where hexes are between 14 and 19 pts each. To the east, hexes are 5 to 6 points strong and bumped up in the last mtn hex row before the Phlorina valley. Further to the east, the King launches a reasonably aggressive scorched earth campaign, blowing both bridges over the lower Axios, 2 rail hexes on either side of the northern bridge near the Yugoslavian border as well as another rail hex at Phlorina itself. He also orders the destruction of 2 of the 3 airfield capacity points at Thessalonike.

The Dodek Mtn III is brought across from Samos and moved into Metaxas line in eastern Greece, while the Ipp Cav XX makes it‘s way from the Peloppenesus into western Greece, slomping through the mud on its way to the line. Allied troops move north as well, with the 1st Arm X just shy of the Spherkios, the previously landed New Zealander‘s heading past Korinthos northwest and the 16th Aus Inf X making it‘s way north from Gythion. On Crete, the 43rd RPC Const X moves to occupy Rethymon, previously emptied when its static III was sent to garrison Melos.

A planned air operation is cancelled (Dean tells me he cancelled something, but I‘ve no idea what.) At this point, mov‘t ends, as does the Allied turn since they plan no combat nor exploit mov‘t.

Axis player turn

Initial Phase: It is decided not to pressure Yugoslavia at this time.
The odds are roughly even that a positive result would occur for the Axis, but with a 2/3rds chance of poor weather and no desire to see a Mud-krieg in Yugoslavia, the Germans decide to wait until Apr I 41.
During the supply check, it is realized that most Italian units in the eastern part of the line are out of supply, as are most of the Greek units in the south. This would have had no impact on the Allied mov‘t, so the units are brought up to their proper U status. Another supply officer is shot, as I decide later in the turn I would have liked to have some GSPs available in case the weather remains mud and the Italians in the east go U-2, but by the time I realize this, it‘s too late to do anything about it. 1 German ARP is used to bring back the previously aborted Ju88A unit. There are no other reinforcement activities. No Allied air missions at this time.

Mov‘t Phase: The Allies open the turn by transferring the Allied bomber force off Crete and landing it at Athenai, where it will be protected by the heavy AA presence in that city. The Hurricanes remain on Crete on standby.

The Italian high command sees a possible offensive opportunity in the east, so plans are laid for a possible combat against on of the weak, eastern most hexes of the Greek line. In the meantime, the units in the south occupy the two hexes given up by the Greeks. Once again, parades are held in Rome and Valona, and fascist recruiters are busily signing up warm bodies. Infantry troops are shifted south, while the mountain troops, currently in the southeast bend of the line move northeast. The 4th Cns Alpini division breaks down to further the offensive opportunities. The troops of 4 mountain divisions (one broken down), plus a ski battalion, three artillery regiments, the 131st Cn Lt Arm XX and some other combat motorized odds and sods converge on Kastoria and the hex just southwest of this point, planning an attack on hex 14A: 4415, currently defended by the just the Greek 15th Mtn Div, a reserve division by all appearances (4-5-6).

Combat Phase: There are no DAS opportunities as all Allied bombers have flown. The Greek high command fails to notice the build-up, or simply does not care, so the Hurricanes make no attempt to fly CAP over the at risk hex (Dean was busy and declared no missions since I had yet to fly any even though he hadn‘t looked at the file to my knowledge. I‘m not sure it would have mattered, and I may be mistaken about this to boot!)

The Italians put two fighters on GS, which bumps the odds up a bit (24.5+.5 for GS to 5, +1 for greater than 50% mountaineering, -2 for mud, -2 for mountains). Additional air units could raise this a bit more, if every air unit in the theater excepting those assigned to the Rhodes garrison are brought in. It is decided that it‘s worth the additional chance for a positive outcome (5:1 -3 has 2 AS, 1 EX, 1 HX & 2 DR‘s; 6:1 -3 has 4 DR‘s, 1EX and 1 DH). All a/c from across the command fly GS, and a 2 is rolled in combat, for a DR. 131 Cn Lt Arm XX, the 2 Tri Alpini XX, 2 corps level art III, the ski II and the 4 M Arm II seize the hex. The plains of Phlorina lay before the victorious Italians. However, all planes are forced to base in Albania or Italy, so there is nothing to prevent Allied naval mov‘t in Rhodes or Scarpanto except the garrison air units.

Exploit Phase: M/C units move into Kastoria to solidify the hex now that the Lt Arm XX has advanced.

I wish I had some GSPs in case of the likely poor weather, since my 17 pt hex will be U-2, but c‘est la guerre.

End of game turn: No VP occurring events, so the totals remain 42:6 in favor of the Axis.

Balkan Front Game Report 2: Mar I 41

Allied Player turn

Weather: A 3 & 4 result in mud in the north and clear in the south, and calm seas in the med.

Initial phase: The first significant British reinforcements arrive, consisting of the 1st Arm X. A colonial construction unit also makes an appearance. The Allies lose 1 VP for not having the required garrison on Crete. For the Axis, everything except the F‘s goes on naval patrol.

Mov‘t phase: The engineers fix things, and troops begin to shift towards Corinth and Patrai to protect these vital choke points. The line between the Albanian and Bulgarian front begins to solidify. The construction unit moves from Egypt to Khania, thereby reestablishing the Cretan garrison. This mov‘t is not interfered with by Axis planes, since their preferred target is the tankers of the 1st Arm X. These folks wait until the exploit to sea move.

Combat phase: No planes really available for DAS, and no need anyway due to mud. No combat.

Exploit: Fearing the Axis air units on Scarpanto, the Allies begin an attempt to reduce this base. The P24‘s and the Blens attempt an airbase bombing raid. The Italian Mxd F and German Me110‘s rise up to the challenge, with Mxd F taking on the escorting P24‘s while the heavier 110‘s head for the bombers. In air to air, a 3 and 5 result for the interceptors and escorts, resulting in both planes aborted (Italian 2F2‘s facing Greek 4F4‘s consider this a fair trade.) The Me110‘s roll an 8, compared to the Brit‘s 11, so the Blenhiems are driven off with an R. Expecting a follow-up raid with the British Hurricane 1‘s, G50bis‘s out of Albania stage to the Dodecanese and fly CAP over Scarpanto. As expected, the Hurricane‘s then launch. The Me110‘s scramble away just in case, while the CAP switches to intercept and the Hurricanes choose to keep their bomb racks loaded. Unfortunately for the Axis, this apparently doesn‘t slow them significantly, and both units miss one another (7 for Axis, 10 for Allies). An AA roll of 7 does little on the 1 column, and then the Hurricanes roll a 5 for a hit against the German Ju88A‘s. The 1st Armored then departs Egypt able to avoid a long range intercept out of Scarpanto. They head for Kalamai and unload there (this is later determined to be illegal since the port is on the central med, an area not officially in-play in the BF scenario, but they could just as easily have landed at Gythion, which would have been Aegean, so it makes little real difference.) Long range naval patrol out of Albania launches, first a Z506 which successfully contacts the unloading transports with a 5. AA fails with a 7, but the bombers roll a 1 and a 4 for their two strikes and miss the 1st Armored and it‘s associated NTP. Five NTP mov‘t points later the BR.20M‘s launch , also from Valona, and they too successfully find the unit unloading at Kalamai.
Unfortunately a lucky 3 on AA drives the bombers off, which is fortunate indeed since a 4 and 6 would have been the bombing results. C‘est la guerre (or whatever the Italian equivalent.) The tanks head towards Corinth…

Axis Player turn

Initial phase: ARPs bring back the aborted Mxd F on Rodi. German ARPs that should have arrived aren‘t discovered in time, so they won‘t get the chance to bring back the aborted Ju88A until next turn (errata question and answer arrived after files posted.) More reinforcements for the front, artillery and construction units, which will head for the Greek front this time. Another Ju88A is called up at the cost of -2 Vps.

Mov‘t phase: Naval interference has no effect on the Italian units headed to Albania. Four more raids by the Me110‘s and 3 Italian bombers on the Melian port result in a single hit. Three railroad strike missions result in a single hit west of Thessalonike (thanks to the returned Ju87B/R unit!). A rail-marshalling yard strike by the BR.20M‘s gets by flak but misses (this unit‘s commander is fired, as despite the recent conversion to new and improved airframes, they haven‘t hit a thing yet!)

Combat & Exploit: Nada…

End of turn: VP totals are now 42 to 6 in favor of the Axis