Friday, May 9, 2008

OCS Sicily - Part 1

In another of our larger, OCS games, Eric and I got together to try Sicily: Triumph and Folly, based on the July/August 1943 Allied invasion. Once more I was the Axis player, and Eric was the Allies. We had originally planned this game for a yearly week-long wargaming extravaganza, but Eric's schedule nixed that idea. I had an open weekend, so proposed that as an alternative, and Eric's wife was kind enough to allow him to come out and play, especially as we planned it for the full weekend.

For deployment, I had planned to use the sample Axis deployment that Eric found on ConsimWorld, but come the allotted time on Saturday morning, I found that it only covered 4 of the 12 beach landing zones (the main Allied landing zones). So, my morning was a scramble to come up with a deployment before Eric arrived. As such, I'm not sure I picked good locations for all my units, but as they were all outside the landing areas it really didn't matter a huge amount, and they weren't doing a whole lot of movement, anyway. For the variable placement units, I try to angle them towards the likely landing areas, but also trying to keep no more than 1RE to a hex in order not to present a good target for air barrages. Here’s my initial deployment:

South-east corner

South coast

East coast

West island

North-east corner


(Future pics will focus on the first two areas, where all the action occurs, and I'll refer to them as east and west, although the latter is really the south beach.)

In the pre-game actions, Eric rolled for damage to the ports. Some had only light damage, others extensive, but 3 of the 4 with light damage were in his immediate landing areas, and would give him a good base for expansion and landing SPs. Those heavily damaged were my main ports on the eastern coast. Nice planning Eric!

The fun starts with the Brits landing on the east coast from the south-east corner through just south of Syracuse. 1st Airborne lands just south over the river from Syracuse, with the sole unit north of the river drifting into the sea (leaving its 1T SP to land in the open!) and the AT unit landing near an Italian division. He also captures the air base there after winning a fighter sweep (even air ratings, so a 40% chance of losing), I miss a 60% interception roll (with a +1 on my rating, we both abort on the modified 7) and the flak misses (with a +4 modifier, required 7+). In the west, the Americans land at Scoglitti, Gela and Licata.

His naval bombardments DG most of my units that are facing a Beach Assault (BA), however he misses the units at Gela. (I miss my first 4 air interceptions, 3 of them with a +1 modifier, not being able to roll higher than a net 7 in any of them.) All his BAs go well, except for Gela, where he gets repulsed after a nasty surprise roll. As part of the combats I roll for the two Italian coastal divisions (206th in the south-east corner, and 207th, facing the US at Licata and to the west.), and both decide to give up. (Each coastal division and artillery has to roll the first time they’re involved in combat, with a 50% chance of being removed. Yes, the entire division, in one go. Can seriously dent your line!) This is a big blow, as these are the two biggest coastal divisions, and it gives him complete and easy control of the entire south-east corner of the island without even the semblance of a fight.

In my turn I start moving towards the beaches to try to contain the landings and possibly set up some counter-attacks. There’s a lot to decide as I need to figure out where to commit the divisions. I try a few air barrages, missing all but 1, but succeed with an artillery barrage against the US troops at Gela.

I have only the one combat, removing the exposed 1st Airborne AT unit.

Here’s the position at the end of the first turn:



At the end of the turn, I’m quite concerned. The entire south east is defended by a single puny 1-3-6 armor unit. I’d hoped to be able to hold him up a little more than that. In the US sector he hasn’t been able to link up his beach-heads, due to my unexpected success at Gela, but the road is open to the west for a large flanking maneuver, with only weak Italian troops to stop him.

During the turn we had an extended discussion on coastal artillery, and that they don’t get to fire on the landing craft, as they sail up, land, and sail away out of range before the artillery can do anything. (Hey, I'm the defender, so, of course, it's not good!) It was only at the end of the day’s play that I found the relevant section of rules (hidden in the Naval Power section), which has coastal artillery treated like naval units, allowing them to fire once per game turn in any barrage phase (air/naval, combat, exploitation or reaction) without requiring a Reserve marker. This still would not have allowed them to fire on those landing craft not making a BA (which I still think is wrong), but at least being able to fire on those who are making a BA is something for the attacking player to be concerned about, as a DG will certainly cramp their chances of assaulting successfully. Who knows what effect it would have had on our game, but it would probably have made the landings harder. It's hard to create naval casualties, as only a real high roll will give you a hit, rather than a DG result. Individual DG results get removed as normal, but a second DG result gives a hit, so the secret is to either have multiple coastal artillery units fire (naval fires are targeted individually, rather than aggregated into a single fire like other barrages) or to also use air units, to get those multiple DG results.

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