I’ve been playing Aegean Strike for the past several weeks and I’m slowly putting my way through the scenarios. The first scenario featured a battle between the US and Soviets over North Africa. The Soviet player got stomped the first time around but after fiddling with the Soviet setup a little and replaying the scenario, it was a clear win for the Warsaw Pact. Since then, I’ve been playing scenario 2 from the game, starting and restarting it and trying different things. It has been a long time since I’ve played the Gulf Strike system and I’m starting to relearn it again, which is no easy task.
|Fun in the sun of the Aegean Seas – Victory Games’ Aegean Strike designed by Mark Herman|
Mark Herman’s creation is an intricate system that has all sorts of moving parts. It’s smart and it makes sense but it takes a long time to get it down to where you can take your focus away from the rules and concentrate instead on the strategy. I’m still very much in the process of learning the system and I’ve always approached complex games by curbing my own play style so as not to have to learn a bunch of rules at once and forget them. I made the mistake of trying to do too many different things at once in my first playthrough of scenario 2 and made a bunch of rules errors as a result.
This is a World War III scenario with the Soviets and Bulgarians attacking Greece and Turkey. The Pact needs to capture Istanbul in the short version of this scenario (7 turns). Unfortunately, the first time around, I made some mistakes with which ground forces could attack during what segments. I also screwed up supply. These are two big aspects of the game and you can’t really claim to have “played” the Strike system if you don’t have these rules down. So I’ve restarted the scenario and focused mainly on ground combat. I haven’t done much with the naval units this time around and the air units have mainly been flying close air support when they do go up. I have found so far that focusing on this one aspect is really helping to clarify the ground combat and supply rules in my head without the clutter of worrying about the naval and air aspects of the game. Having spent all this time learning the system, I’m dreading the idea of putting the game away for a long time and forgetting it once more.
Anyway, here are a few things I’ve slowly gleaned from my first plays of Aegean Strike scenario 2.
1.) This game is hard to solo in some respects. This is because of both the “hidden information” and bookkeeping aspect of the Pact player getting 30 Spetsnaz mission detachments right at the start of the war. The ambush mission is especially hard to solo out as written in the rules. What I’ve done to get around this is to convert the number of missions assigned to ambush as a percentile chance, which I roll during the End Stage segment for each enemy unit that has moved during the turn. If I roll under the percentage chance, the enemy unit takes a hit and the Spetsnaz mission detachment is automatically eliminated.
I think this keeps the “uncertainty” element of the ambush mission intact while at the same time making it more manageable for a solo player. Checking during the End Stage instead of the Movement stages also takes the work out of checking for ambush for every single hex entered by an enemy unit. I also think eliminating the ambush units after the mission makes sense as the effectiveness of these tactics would probably diminish over time as new tactics are developed to deal with the threat of Spetsnaz ambush as the war continues. It’s admittedly crude but it seems to work for me.
2.) One of the biggest advantage for the Bulgarians is having lots of mechanized units. The Greeks and Turks have some wonderfully powerful infantry units but the 2-column shift gained by having mech. units vs infantry helps the Bulgarians so much with dislodging the Greeks and Turks from those stubborn mountainous terrain hexes.
3.) The other big advantage for the Bulgarians is the huge amount of air power they can get from the Russians. During turn 1 of the war, I spent dozens of supply points just on air ferry missions to get my Soviet planes over into Bulgaria. This paid off nicely, however, as the close air support they lent to the Bulgarians in both offense and defense was vital. On the attack, having close air support plus attacking armor vs. defending infantry means both a column shift on the CRT and a bonus added to the die roll for the attacker.
In my current game, the pre-war situation went on for 8 turns. This gave the Soviets just enough time to mobilize quite a few divisions and also to get most of the naval units out of the Black Sea and through the Turkish Straits. NATO managed to get some air reinforcements (F-16s, F-111, and AWACS) in the region. The war finally started when the Turkish Straits were closed twice.
Spetsnaz raids captured a small island near Greece that had an empty airbase. They stationed a MiG-31 here to intercept enemy planes coming through the area. One hex of the Turkish straits was captured by a raid. The Bulgarians sent three divisions southeast to attack Turkey while the ground units to the west held firm, expecting a Greek attack.
The Turkish ground units fell back east towards Istanbul. The Greeks responded by pushing into southern Bulgaria. One division of infantry threatened the Bulgarian right flank near the border of Greece and Turkey. In the second turn, the Bulgarians had to pull back a bit to stay in supply. The Greeks tried to attack the Bulgarian units in the west of Bulgaria but failed to do much of anything. Soviet ground reinforcements were headed south towards Greece. NATO air units were unable to do much of anything without getting detected by Soviet naval units in the area and intercepted as they approached the front. The Bulgarian and Soviet air forces pounded the Turks and Greeks near the frontline. By the end of turn 2, the Turks have sort of regrouped and are managing to hold firm against the Bulgarians but I wonder for how much longer they can last…
|End of War Turn 2 (Game Turn 10)|