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 gimmes after Allied Ars), primarily due to insufficient numbers of mountain troops and huge weather/mountain terrain combat modifiers. The Italians simply cant 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 movts. 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 movt 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 movt, twice without any affect to either fleet. I also used the NTs 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 movt. Supplies on the other hand are probably not best sent through the more dangerous zones. Ill cover the Cretan/Melos operations later.
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 havent taken sufficient (or any) losses, 3 and even 4:1 -1s 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 3:1s even as possible (mountains are essentially clear to the majority of the Greek army, thanks to their plethora of mountain troops and WWs 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 didnt attack immediately, didnt mass until the later part of the winter, and rolled poorly on two of their three attacks, which became ARs 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.
I wasnt 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 Ju88as 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 Yugos 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 Yugos. 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 turns 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 (dont forget to include the German Gebirgsjaegers 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 cant 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.
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 Yugos 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, Ive 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, dont 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 cant send any troops there during the game pre-intervention… however, troops which start on an island may move to another one. Id recommend that since the Greeks probably arent 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 wont 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 islands airbase cannot be destroyed by the Greeks before German intervention, like the ones in northern Greece can, and Me109Es or Me110s in this location can gain air superiority over all of Crete and Athens as well. Its 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 drops combat phase, which should be used to advantage. In this game, these advantages didnt 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 cant 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, dont 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 isnt, any Axis troops that land should be out of supply and therefore unable to force a Greek surrender even if they advance to Athens.
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.
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, Ill 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 dont 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 govt would have been deeply affected by this turn of events, yet the modifiers dont take any of this type of thing into account. In other words, other than taking out Yugoslavia for a single modifier, Axis actions dont 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 wasnt an instance that occurred in this game.