Now we get into the big map re-shuffle to set up SF. It’s our first bash at this game, so there’s a steep learning curve, but a few basic ideas come out after poring over the strategy notes of the Europa cognoscente. The southern beaches of Sicily are undefended – I prefer to hold the eastern cities. Sardinia is also virtually empty, though one of my first mines is dropped in Cagliari harbour. I’d like to keep Corsica, and I ship a panzer division over there as early as possible and keep the island under strong air cover. The navy is deployed in Brindisi and near Elba, and the Air Forces only fly into the south in July – the fighters to Calabrian airfields and the bombers in Naples, Foggia and Rome with 10+ heavy FlaK cover as soon as possible. I’ve managed to evacuate from Africa an extra dozen or so ants (mainly light FlaK and construction) as well as the very handy Ramcke brigade and the whole 164th (le) Afrika division.
In north-western Europe, every coastal hex from the Scheldt to Caen is occupied – ports have at least a 5-7-6 and PortFort. Small units in the ports only lightly hold the Biscay coast. Risk is low, as England is soon drained of troops, and every Allied ship is operating in the Med.
Speaking of which, I’d like to keep the Italians in the campaign for a decent run. If I’m going to stop the Allies, it’ll be on the beaches. All ports below the 20xx hexrow have 13+ defence, (with a fort and mine in the major ports for good measure, as soon as available) and 4+ in adjacent hexes. Most of the initial Resource Points are allotted to forts. I’m also defending Taranto, Foggia & the ‘heel’ strongly – don’t want that minefield disappearing before I’m ready for it. There are armoured corps waiting behind Rome and Naples – only a train-ride away from the action. To keep the Italians in the war I used four strategies:
- disband all the hi attack/low defence artillery units for their Inf RPs to buy back all those 2-3-5 XX’s etc
- roll for early activation of all the armoured divisions, to give the Italians an armoured reserve – this worked, only 2 arrived cadred, and none were lost outright
- get the 3RE units out of danger points (like Corsica & Sardinia) and replace them with 1 RE Germans where possible – this didn’t succeed quite as well
- buy back eliminated planes preferentially to aborted planes, as they count toward the 50RE loss condition
M: With the whole Allied African campaign running behind schedule, the Brits have a lot of units that have to start in the Replacement Pool, and not available from the outset. The Desert Air Force, though at full strength, has very few airfields to base at – particularly in the Cape Bon area, as the engineers were tasked with also frantically repairing the devastated African ports (despite our link rules). With the Axis still holding Malta and Pantelleria, their Danger Zones will severely limit the Allies’ invasion options, essentially putting eastern Sicily out of bounds (by being both in Danger Zones and out of fighter range).