I’ll cover this information as each section of the game opens up, but since for the moment the action is limited to the Balkans, we shall start there.
The modified rules for setting up the Greek forces are used (those pertinent to using the Balkan map overlay, which is being used in this game.) Also, the errata regarding border troops setting up is in use. This is much more restrictive regarding how much force the Greeks can put along the Greco-Albanian border. By breaking down units into supported non-divisionals, they may have been able to cover the border. In this case however, the Greek high command has decided to go with a hedgehog/strong point defense. He has a strong defense at Phlorina of 7 DS centered on the 1st Mtn XX, while another 7 is guarding the road crossing the border just 1 hex west of Phlorina, this time centered on the 8th Mtn. At Kalpaki, the border guards are beefed up by having the 9th Mtn XX provide support. Between the 8th and 9th Mtn XX’s, only a single hex is occupied by the 51st Mtn III, at 4417. To the west of the 9th Mtn’s stack, there is nothing on the flanks leading to the sea (in other words, there are only 3 of 8 hexes occupied by Greek units along the border, though one of these is backed by a strong stack watching the Yugoslavian border.) I can only guess the Greeks have set themselves up in this fashion to limit the amount of units that can be attacked by the Italians on turn one. However, my Italians should manage to completely surround the 9th Mtn stack while eliminating the 51st Mtn III isolated.
The Italians set up for a more aggressive push to the south (my recent games have all had pushes more towards the east), due in part to the way the Greeks have chosen to set up their border forces, but also due to the new E zone terrain on the west side of Greece. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make better use of Centauro with this improved weather area. Centauro actually sets up in the mountains northeast of the Greek 9th Mtn XX stack, but from here it can participate in the planned assault on the 51st Mtn III while executing a maneuver around the 9th Mtn in exploit. Attack supply is split between the east and south sections of the front, while the Const III sets up at Koritsa to start repairing the airfield.
The Italian AF sets up to the rear for the most part, other than a G.50 at Koritsa.
The Government of Italy makes contact with the Greek Government, indicating that their continued oppression of Albanian nationalists in the Cham region is intolerable. Italy will abide by their defensive pacts with the Independent Republic of Albania (cough) and ensure the free and fair assimilation of the Cham into greater Albania. Since Metaxas chooses not to respond within the 30 minutes allotted, Italy declares war on Greece on behalf of all Free facists (uh, peoples) everywhere. Weather is by rule clear. All Greek units are in supply, as are all Italian units in Albania. Rhodes goes U-1 black. 1 attack supply is converted to 3 resource pts at Koritsa. All Italian garrisons are in place and no construction efforts begin. Neither side puts up any CAP, nor does either side declare naval patrol.
The San Marco Marines hold the narrow straits across from northern Kerkyra in the face of the defending Greek 10th Inf III set up on the north hex of the island. The 47th Bari XX moves from Port Edda south and seizes Egouminitsa on the coast, trapping the Greek 10th Inf III on the island due to having seized the ferry’s port hex. This should put the 10th out of supply and isolated as the Kerkyra port is neither a supply source nor a limited supply terminal for isolation purposes. 19th Venezia crosses the border and engages the Greek 9th Mtn and the border troops from the southwest. Centauro Lt Arm XX plus the 29th Pie XX cross the border between the 9th Mtn and the 51st Mtn III, pinning the division while engaging the Greek regiment. To the north and northwest of 9th Mtn, weak non-divisional stacks defend from a counterattack by the Greeks into Albanian territory (1 and 2 pt stacks), but this is considered to be a small risk given the soon to be isolated status of the 9th. The CCNN Albanian blackshirts feint at the Greek mtn III from the front, while the 3rd Julia Mtn XX supported by the GdS Inf III slip between the 51st and the Greek 8th Mtn further to the northeast. Five point defensive stacks are set up along the border facing the 8th Mtn, while the 51st Si. XX advances into the empty 4215 hex. The 51st is a lure to encourage the likely Greek counterattack to fall on this unit (it wouldn’t have a retreat due to zoc’s, but the loss of the hex would be minor and would get the Italians into the muddy weather of November, which should shut down Greek offensives in the east. The 5 pt defensive stacks at 4216 and 4317 cannot be attacked at 3:1 due to the Greeks not being able to get enough troops into the single 4316 hex to launch such an attack on Nov I 40. The large stack at 4416 can be attacked at 3:1, but it will have a retreat open to it at 4417 since no unit with a zoc can get into 4517 and 4417 will be left empty of Italian units, preventing any sort of double attack netting a zoc scam.) In the rear, the 26th Const III fixes two hits on the Koritsa airfield, while SMPs lug 2 attack supply forward in the south. No air missions are launched by either side.
The Greek air force contents itself with sipping Uzo in the café’s of Athenai. Z.506B’s and Z.1007b’s launch GS missions in support of the big attack against the Greek 51st III, which is isolated. Attack goes in at 7:1 -2 (most units get a/s, mtns) and in a triumph of Italian arms a 6 is rolled for a DE. Divisional and regimental commanders give themselves medals for this feat. No units advance however as this actually protects the Julia Alpini XX to the east.
The Centaura XX exploits around the rear of the Greek 9th Mtn XX and VIII and IX Bdr X’s, completing the encirclement of that stack. SM.81’s launch a rail bombing mission against the line leading up from Athenai, at the rail junction 2 hexes north of Lamia. The big 6 is rolled again, so the SM.81 pilots all get medals too.
End of Turn
The Italians throw parades for having seized 15 hexes of Greece and earned 8 VPs (1 per hex, but a max of 8 per game turn.) Many of these hexes are in fact in front of the Italians thanks to their zoc’s, but 8 of these hexes are actually on or behind the Italian lines, so they are well positioned to earn some more VPs next turn. Athenai or bust! Meanwhile, the Greeks will have trouble advancing up the west coast of Greece in strength to rescue the pocketed 9th next turn, given the distance from the nearest units (and the 7 points AS in the stack will be quartered, so the units preventing a Greek attack into Albania should not be threatened.). A limited push further south along the coast may be an option for the Axis, though the Italians will be doing their best not to expand too far and thereby weaken their hexes.