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 1s 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.
Movt phase: The Grk airfield just north of Athenai is destroyed and abandoned. Likewise, the static unit garrisoning Eraklion destroys that citys 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 its previous status. I would guess that it would have been destroyed entirely if King Moonopolis had had the movt 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 1s 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 Me109Es 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 Hurris roll an 11 and the Z506bs 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 Z506bs are easy targets (rolls of 10, 7 & 2 put the Z506s back into the aborted pool, their second or perhaps third trip in this game. I keep rebuilding them however since they dont take up regular airfield capacity, thereby increasing the number of units I can base at Scarpanto and now Melos.) The Ju87Rs 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 He111Hs however are apparently the real danger, with 2 rolls on the 1 column again at +1 to hit. Two 6s 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. (Im 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 Kalamais airfield was wrecked, but I dont 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 XXs. 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 wont 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 Ju88As 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.
Movt phase: Italian XXs 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 IIIs take 0415, flanking the Sperkios line hex at 0414. 46th and 72nd Infanterie, along with 3 Julia Alpini and large numbers of artillery IIIs 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 movt 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, Ju52s stage from Kavalla to Scarpanto, while Me109Es stage from Volos to Melos. 2 gruppen of Ju52s then air transport 1st III/7th Fallshirmjaeger XX to drop on Khania, via Melos, where 2 Me109Es launch to provide escort. Hurricanes and Greek P.24Fs choose not to intercept or patrol, which could be very dangerous if the airfield is seized by coups dmain. 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 G50biss 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 dont 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 movt.
At this point a major turn of movt 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.506s escorted by a single CR.42 staged through Melos. The Hurricanes unfortunately continue to sit on the ground (I was hoping theyd 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 Ju88as. 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.24s allows the Greeks into the bomber stream. The Greeks roll a 7 against the bombers, getting an R. The Ju88as 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 Ju87Bs are returned (smaller tac point air units are included to bump up the chances of the Ju87s 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 its 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 3s against two of the GS Ju87Bs, 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 zocs 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 Reichs 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 Eraklieons 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 dont 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?