Last turn, the Iranians pushed into Kuwait and eliminated the Kuwaiti 1st Armored Brigade while the 2nd Armored Brigade put up a surprisingly stiff defense against overwhelming odds. The Kuwaiti player, with his air force completely obliterated, had no chance of holding out much longer against the Iranian armored divisions that were quickly knocking on the doorstep of Kuwait City, help by a single regiment of Kuwaiti Military Police and an HQ unit. The Kuwaitis moved their 3rd Mechanized Brigade up north to help delay the Iranian 6th Mechanized and 4th Armored Divisions.
Turn 2 began and the Gulf Council nations were now in the game. In the Global Political Phase, I surprisingly managed to roll a “10” and an event occurred. Rolling a “7”, the table result showed that the Soviets were having major problems in Afghanistan right now and this would drain their supplies each turn from Supply Source “C”, which didn’t affect anything because the Soviets draw through Supply Source “D” (representing Iranian cities) for this game . Of more concern, however, was that the Soviet air bases in Afghanistan would have their number of available sorties halved until a division was sent into Afghanistan as a garrison .for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to fix this mess until the Soviets are activated in Game Turn 7.
The Saudis set their special forces units to the west in reserve mode and set their air force on interception missions. The Saudi AWACS was sent up in hex 1259 right between the Saudi air bases. The Saudi ability to detect Iranian aircraft could be the crucial difference between a successful defense or becoming just another Kuwait. The Iranians didn’t change up too much in the early stages, putting a mechanized division and an armored division in reserve and keeping the bulk of their air force on offensive missions.
|Ground forces setup near Kuwait/Saudi border|
In the Naval Movement Determination Phase, the Iranian player got 4 Naval Movement Points and the Gulf Council player got a measly 1 point.
The first act of the Iranian air force is to attempt to shoot down the Saudi AWACS. Given the superior detection ability of the AWACS and the ample number of F-15s in the Saudi arsenal, I put up the Iranian fighters with faint hope of an early victory. Two F-4 units took off from Basra and headed straight south. The AWACS attempted a detection at 21 hexes away and rolled a 9 – no luck. The Iranian F-4s pushed on towards the AWACS, which got another attempt to detect at 15 hexes but a roll of 10 meant that the Iranian air units were still undetected. At 5 hexes away, the Saudi AWACS finally detected the incoming planes but it was too late. I had positioned the AWACS one hex too far to the north. A pair of F-5s units were scrambled from Al Kubar air base and rushed to intercept. The Iranian F-4 units arrived in the AWACS hex and shot it down. The Saudis get another AWACS in play next turn but for now, their detection capability is severely hampered.
|Iranian F-4s about to shoot down a Saudi AWACS as F-5s arrive too late for an intercept.|
After the AWACS was shot down, the F-5s decided to engage the Iranian Phantoms anyway. Both sides detect each other but no one scores any hits in the combat and the planes return to base (the Iranians need to land at Bushehr because of low fuel).
An F-4 unit takes off from Shiraz and heads straight for the Saudi coastline. A Saudi frigate parked at Ras Tanura detects the enemy plane at 8 hexes out after rolling a “1”. The Saudis now have a choice to either intercept or let the plane go. One of the great things about Gulf Strike is that you’re never sure what kind of mission an incoming enemy plane is on. Players secretly place mission markers underneath their plane so there’s a guessing element as to whether you’re intercepting a strike package or if you’re sending your fighters into a trap meant to lure them out. Since I’m playing this thing solitaire, I make a roll in these situations to determine whether or not any intercepting planes are scrambled and what kind of mission the enemy is undergoing.
The Saudis decide to try and intercept the incoming F-4 with a Lightning. The F-4 detects the Lightning and the mission is revealed – it’s a strike package. The Saudi Lightnings get a free shot at the Iranian Phantoms and a “6” is rolled. It’s a miss and the Lightnings return to base. The Iranian Phantoms continue their mission and attempt a bombing run on the Saudi frigate at Ras Tanura. The anti-air defenses fail to down the aircraft and the Phantom gets a successful Bombardment roll of “2”. The frigate fails its ECM check and takes the hit. What a mess for the Saudis so far.
|Saudi Lightning about to attempt an intercept on incoming Iranian F-4 Phantoms on a strike mission vs. frigate (hex 2055)|
The Iranian Air Force decides that now is a good time to start eliminating other countries’ naval capacity now that they’re all in port and unable to do much right now. An F-4 is dispatched from Bushehr air base and it attacks the sole Fast Attack Craft unit docked in a Bahrain’s port. The unit detects the incoming air unit but is unable to do much about it. The Iranian Phantoms score a hit on the FAC and it is sunk. So much for Bahrain’s navy.
With Saudi air detection gone, it’s time to weigh our options for the coming ground attack on the frontline Saudi units. We have four Iranian air units left on offensive air missions – a pair of F-4 units and another pair of AH-1 attack helicopters. We could opt to directly bomb the ground units at a slight risk to our aircraft. We could also try to directly destroy their supply depot sitting vulnerable (with only a transport unit to defend it) in hex 0755. It’s not a bad option either and it might work well in delivering a considerable blow to the Saudis. However, an even better option seems to be sending a pair of interdiction missions to bomb the road just north of the depot, which would put the armored divisions in 0947 and 0547 out of supply range (beyond 20 MPs). It’s a risk-free option since there are no air defense or ground units in either hex so a pair of F-4s are sent out from Ahvaz and one hits 0753 while the other hits 0754.
|Iranian F-4 Phantoms run interdiction on the road north of the Saudi supply depot. Several Saudi ground units are SOL.|
Now that the Saudi ground units are out of supply, they face several negative consequences. Their combat strengths are halved, they cannot declare combat nor can they be repaired. Out of supply units also suffer one hit during the End Stage of the turn (unless this would eliminate them).
That’s it for all the air I want to throw in right now. All of this has cost the Iranians 8 supply points. Since we received an extra 20 supply points at the beginning of the turn, we still have plenty left right now (44 supply points total). We’re still in the First Initiative Segment and the Iranians have moved some naval forces and the bulk of their air force. The only thing left to do is to get the guys on the ground moving and declaring combat. We’ll take care of that in a future post.
Wow, what a total fiasco for the Saudis! The problem was that I got way too arrogant with the AWACS and built my entire defensive strategy around the presence of early detection and the ability to scramble lots of aircraft. Unfortunately, the AWACS failed some pretty crucial detection attempts (with some desperately bad rolls) and was placed just a bit too far in the danger zone. The Iranian player managed to take it down and the rest of the segment was basically a turkey shoot for the Iranian Air Force, which could hit targets with impunity. The most punishing blow for the Saudis was the interdiction mission that put pretty much their entire ground force out of supply!
Next up: The Iranian ground forces attempt to mop up in Kuwait and the invasion of Saudi Arabia begins!