Getting Ashore: Naval Transport in “Gulf Strike”

Techniques for Safely Delivering Heavy U.S. Ground Reinforcements to Iran in Gulf Strike

Gulf Strike Board Game

Gulf Strike is a game of planning. Let me repeat that. Gulf Strike is a game of planning. I could probably just end the article right here and consider it a great public service to the Gulf Strike playing community, but ego compels me to expound. Planning, at all levels, is essential to winning this game, from “big picture” theater-wide planning all the way down to planning missions for Special Forces detachments. This article examines the challenge of safely delivering heavy U.S. ground reinforcements via naval transport to the theater of operations covered by Gulf Strike Scenario 2.
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Vietnam: 1965-1975 – Designer Responses to Game Questions

Rules Questions

Nick Karp (Designer) Responses to Vietnam: 1965-1975 Rules Questions

Q: Rule “5.5 Casualties”, under the section “Allocating Losses” states that “a player may not expend replacement points in excess of his force’s combat strength”. Does that limit apply per round of combat, or during the course of the entire operation? (assume a hypothetical VC 2-strength point battalion)

A: The restriction is per combat round, not per operation. The VC could thus expend up to 2 replacement points per round.

Q: In the introductory scenario (Operation Starlite), the VC regiment sustains 2 losses in the first combat round, and then sustains 3 more losses in the second round, for a total of 5 lost points. It sustains 4 of them by expending all available VC replacement points and the fifth one by eliminating the regiment and increasing the replacement pool by 5 (the remaining strength points in the regiment). Suppose this had been a force of three VC battalions each with combat strength of 2. Would the same sequence be possible?

A: The same result would be possible, but the route would be different. The first 2 losses would have been taken from replacements, then the three point loss would have been parceled out as three one-point losses, assigned to each of the individual battalions. The battalions would then all be removed, recovering 3 replacements. Since two remain unexpended in the pool, five would remain.

Q: If the US player commits offensive reserves to an operation in progress, but the newly assigned unit is not actually attacking the target unit (used as a blocking force, let’s say), does the maximum replacement point expenditure still increase?

A: No. A unit must actually allocate ground strength points to an attack if its strength is to be counted towards maximum replacement expenditure. But even if a unit splits its ground strength between attacks, its full strength counts toward maximum replacement expenditure in each of the attacks.

Q: Rule “6.3 Security” states that “if all the defending units in the hex have retreated or been destroyed, the operating units may continue their movement, perhaps entering and attacking other enemy-occupied road hexes.” Yet the Operations Flow Chart indicates that after the enemy has vacated the hex, the operation ends. Which is correct?

A: The rules are correct. The security operation should have another decision point, allowing the operating player to continue, provided that the hex currently occupied contains no enemy units and provided that the units that continue moving would not exceed their movement allowance (by exiting a ZOC).

Q: If a US Security Operation results in more than one attack (on multiple target units along the roads), does the enemy get a Reaction Move after each successful road clearing by the attacker, before moving on to the next target unit, or does the enemy only get one reaction move after the Security Operation ends?

A: Only one reaction, after all movement.

Q: Are city and town hexes that have a road passing through them considered “road hexes” for purposes of Security Operations? Can a US Security Operation be used to clear a captured city of NLF units during the Strategic Movement Phase?

A: Yes, absolutely, to both questions.

Vietnam: 1965-1975 (Errata)

Errata for “Vietnam: 1965-1975”, as of October 1984

By Victory Games (Victory Insider #6, The General 21-5)

Counters

  • The US Armored Cavalry battalions designated 1/1 and 2/1 are independent units; they are not associated with the 1st Division.

Charts and Tables

  • The Terrain key lists incorrect Combat Modifiers for three terrain types. The correct values are: Mountains -3; Forested Hills -2; Cultivated -(RF).
  • Coastal hexes lightly outlined in yellow are landing beaches (see 3.4).
  • VC Suppply Conduits cost 0 personnel points (the value given on the NLF Player’s Chart and Table Sheet is incorrect). The map is correct.
  • US Riverine points cost 1 US commitment point each (the value given on the US Player’s Chart and Table Sheet is incorrect). The map is correct.
  • The Population Control Sheet has incorrect identifier codes for three regions: Vinh Binh (pop. 8) should have code IV-8, Vinh Long (pop. 11) should have code IV-6, and Kien Hoa (pop. 12) should have code IV-7.

Rules

  • (3.3) Units employing Strategic Movement can be forced into incidental attacks, just like any other units.
  • (4.2 and 5.6) The Combat Modifier for population centers is not cumulative with other terrain in a hex; the defender must choose which type of terrain he will receive the defensive benefit for, if there is more than one type of terrain in a hex.
  • (5.4) A defending stack has a minimum ground combat strength of 1, plus any relevant Regional Forces (e.g. an artillery unit by itself in a town would have an effective ground combat strength of 3 on defense).
  • (7.4) US naval units may never be used during NLF operations, for any purpose.
  • (11.1) Ineffective ARVN stacked with effective units do contribute to the combat odds if an incidental attack is forced upon units passing through their hex.
  • (12.0) Segment 4C incorrectly states that the SVN Draft Level influences SVN Morale. The Draft Level has no effect on Morale.
  • (12.0) Delete the reference to “Pacification Programs” in Segment 5A of the Seasonal Interphase. It refers to a rule that does not exist in the current version of the game.
  • (17.2) The rules refer to the Thai RTA (Royal Thai Army) division. This division was also called the “Black Panther” division; the counters bear the designation “BP”.
  • (17.5) Newly created VC units may be palced on the borders of the regions in which they are created; the production capacities of two (or more) regions may thus be combined to form a unit on borders.
  • (17.5) The heading “Placing VC Units” states that newly created VC units can be placed in any hex not occupied by enemy units. This is true, with the proviso that regional maximums (described earlier in 17.5) must also be observed.
  • (17.5) Sea transport of VC supplies is uneconomical (and virtually never undertaken) using the ratio of NVN Commitment:VC Supplies listed in the rules. Adopt the following correction: Calculate the amount of VC supply that gets through the US blockade normally (per the procedure given in the rules), then add 2 VC supply for each NVN commitment expended to determine how much supply is actually received.
  • (17.6) If 2 or more regiments in an NVA HQ are augmented, consider the division’s HQ augmented (at no additional cost). Once augmented, an NVA HQ moves at mechanized movement costs; its values do not change, however.
  • (18.0) NLF may not be set up in enemy-occupied hexes in any of the scenarios.
  • (18.1) In all of the scenarios, it is necessary for NLF units to capture a population center to receive victory points, not just enter it, as the rules incorrectly read.
  • Battle for I Corps Scenario: ARVN 1/1 was incorrectly listed in the set up as ARVN 2/1. Also US 1/2/1C was incorrectly listed in the set up as 2/2/1C. Play begins with the 1st turn of Spring, 1968 (not 1967). A special rule for this scenario was omitted: There is no Strategic Movement Phase during the first turn of the scenario.
  • Tet Scenario: US starting artillery is incorrectly listed as 8 155mm, 2 155mm, and 6 175mm. The actual initial artillery is 8 105mm, 2 155mm, and 6 175mm.
  • The total population of South Vietnam is 360 (not 350, as the rules incorrectly indicate in a few places). Starting SVN population in the Battle for South Vietnam campaign scenario is 217. Starting VC population is 143. Starting SVC population controlled in the After Tet scenario is 239; VC population should be 121.
  • After Tet Scenario: Add the following special rules:
    a) Begin play with the Unit Status Phase of the Seasonal Interphase of Spring 1968 (not with the 1st game-turn, as scenario instruction #9 incorrectly reads). Since phases 1-5 of the Interphase are skipped, there can be no Coups, bombing, or reinforcement during this Interphase. Future Seasonal Interphases are played normally.
    b) On Game Turn 1 of Spring 1968, skip the Strategic Movement Phase; on all future turns, this phase occurs normally.
  • NLF Morale is modified only during the Politics Phase of the Seasonal Interphase, never during the season (the NLF record sheet erroneously provides a line for morale modifications during the season).

Pacific War (Errata)

Errata for “Pacific War”, as of April 1986

By Victory Games

Rule Book

8-L-5: Fortifications
Clarification: When naval units engage fortifications, combat occurs during the Naval Combat Cycle. The fortification is treated as an unactivated naval unit, and range is bid by both sides according to the Naval Combat Procedure. The only difference is that the naval units use their Gunnery Strength (not Bombardment Strength) and calculate the effect on the Bombardment vs. Installation line of the Air/Naval CRT.
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The Civil War: Cavalry “Stone Wall” (Strategy)

“Cavalry Stone Wall” in The Civil War


Technique for Delaying an Enemy Army on the Move


Overview

Even though The Civil War,  published by Victory Games, is a strategic/grand operational level game, the clever movement and reaction rules make maneuver a more important aspect of the game than is usual for titles on this scale. Often times a key objective will be won without firing a shot, as one army or the other finds itself outmaneuvered and dangerously exposed and decides to wisely give up the objective to “fight another day”. This article offers a technique for effectively screening an enemy Army that does not have any Cavalry leaders present.


The Cavalry Stone Wall

An army’s Cavalry is the best source of information on enemy troop movements and can be used to great effect as a raiding force to destroy enemy supply depots and deny control of critical rail junctions. Cavalry, when properly used in this game, can also be quite effective in inhibiting movement of enemy forces. Given the right conditions a 1 strength point force under a Cavalry leader can halt the movement of an enemy army many times its own size.


The Civil War: 1861-1865 Strategy

Consider the following case:

Three contiguous hexes, in a straight line, identified as hexes A, B, and C, such that hex B lies between hexes A and C (see figure 1).

  • A 5 strength point Confederate Army, containing a Cavalry Leader, in hex C
  • A 20 strength point Union Army, with no Cavalry Leader, in hex A.
  • The Union force in hex A moves into hex B, attempting to either draw the Confederates into a fight they can’t win or, failing that, to bypass them entirely and drive deep into Mississippi.

The Confederates reaction needs to both preserve their small army, and prevent the rampaging Union army from driving any deeper into the South.


The Civil War: 1861-1865 Strategy

The Confederate Army in hex C executes a successful partial reaction (see “Partial Reaction Movement”, under rules section 9.3) by sending only the Cavalry force of 1 strength point and Cavalry Leader Forrest into hex B.

Since the reacting force is considered to have arrived before the force that caused the reaction, the reacting Cavalry force is considered to be the “defender”. Additionally, it is eligible for “Retreat Before Combat”, due to the fact that the moving Union force has no Cavalry Leader (see figure 2).


The Civil War: 1861-1865 Strategy

This, according to rules sections 4.1 and 10.1, will cause the “screening” of the moving force, thereby halting its movement.

And the best part of the maneuver is that the screening Cavalry unit can then retreat back into the hex with the Confederate army, regaining its original position (see figure 3).

Perfect.


The Civil War: 1861-1865 Strategy

Well, almost perfect. The retreat before combat maneuver can only fail if the commanding Cavalry leader fails his leader loss check by being killed or wounded.

There is only a 16.66% chance of this happening since 1-star leaders are only killed/wounded on a roll of 4 or 5 (rolling two dice), and 2-star leaders only fail on rolls of 3 or 4 (see figure 4). So the risk is minimal when weighed against the benefit.


Summary

In this example, a 5-strength point army completely stonewalled the movement of a much larger force with minimal risk to itself. You should always retain at least one Cavalry leader with each of your armies to prevent your opponent from running you into the “Cavalry Stone Wall”.

The Civil War (House Rules)

House Rules for Victory Games’ “The Civil War”

  • NSPs without Naval Leaders – Naval Strength Points (NSPs) without Naval Leaders present CANNOT transport a ground leader by himself (i.e. without troops). However, such ground leaders may be moved by Sea Transport, by spending Command Points in the appropriate theater.
  • Ground Leaders Commanding Navies – When ground leaders command naval strength points, you must spend their initiative rating in Naval or Discretionary Command Points (not theater command points as when they are commanding ground troops).
  • Leaders Without Troops – If a leader and one strength point occupy a hex at the end of a turn and the force is demoralized, the strength point will be eliminated, leaving the leader alone in the hex. The leader must immediately be moved to the turn record track for the following turn. Although it’s not exactly the same conditions, the “Movement of Leaders Alone” subsection of rules section 3.2 is clear about the prohibition of leaders being alone in a hex.

“Hannibal Ad Portas”* – Carthaginian Generals

By Gary Andrews and Fred W. Manzo

Introduction

Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage is not a balanced game. Undoubtedly this is due to Carthage’s strong initial position and numerous advantages. First, its finest general, Hannibal, begins the game with the highest possible battle rating and command of a powerful army further reinforced with 2 elephant units and his special abilities. And second, Carthage may call for help from any of 4 other generals, including Hannibal’s 2 younger brothers.

hannibal_st2_fig1

Against this, Rome starts with only a pair of medium sized armies under, at best, average commanders. But more importantly, Carthage wins all drawn games. That is, Carthage usually needs to control only 9 provinces to win a game, while Rome must hold 10 of the 18 political important provinces.

Even so, Rome’s position is not hopeless as it does get more reinforcements then its adversary and, unlike Carthage, they do appear where needed. Further, 5 of the 7 generals in Rome’s starting command group have a fighting chance against any Carthage commander and, of course, Scipio Africanus (a near equal of Hannibal) does appear on turn 6 with 5 extra combat units.

Still, it’s thought Carthage should win a majority of the time.

With such closely matched opponents, it might help new players to list the Carthaginian generals in the order of their usefulness.


The Generals

hannibal_st2_fig2

Hannibal Barca, the oldest son of Hamilcar Barca, is unquestionably the best general in the game. For those interested, the name Hannibal means “Grace of Ba’al,” while “Barca,” which means “lightning,” may have started out simply as Hamilcar’s nickname.

Most players, after re-creating Hannibal’s legendary crossing of the Alps on turn 1, consider having him go on to attack the only army standing between him and Rome. In order to judge if this is a wise course, players frequently add the number of attacking battle cards to the active general’s battle rating and add 1, they then compare this sum to the number of defending battle cards plus their general’s battle rating. It’s assumed the army with the higher total should win, but when Hannibal is involved two additional factors must be taken into account: the effectiveness of his elephants and his ability to use a probe card as a right or left flank or a double envelopment card. In short, “The Father of Strategy” is considered to be the favorite in any battle in which he is not outnumbered by 3 or so battle cards.

However, northern Italy, with its maze of mountain ranges, remains a dangerous location in any situation as a defeated army without a valid retreat path is annihilated (and retreating armies cannot cross mountain passes). So tread carefully.


* Hannibal Ad Portas (Hannibal is at the Gates!) was the phrase used by Roman parents to frighten their disobedient children.


hannibal_st2_fig3

The Hasdrubal in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage was one of Hannibal’s brothers. He fought Roman forces in Hispania under the Scipio brothers (Scipio Africanus’ father and uncle) once Hannibal left for Italy. Hasdrubal, though, is unique in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage given that he is the only general without a special ability. Even so, his superior battle rating places him second only to Hannibal in the Carthaginian army.

Typically, Carthaginian players use him to defend Hispania (Spain) until reliable sea movement becomes available. He then usually invades Sicilia with 10 CU (Combat Units) as the island contains two provinces. Alternatively, Hasdrubal could be sent to Sardinia in an effort to trap any Roman army hunting raiders there or he could be sent to any undefended province. The main Roman problem during the first two-thirds of the game being that the Old Republic has only 3 generals, while it must defend 4 vital areas: northern Italy, southern Italy, Sicilia and Sardinia. Clearly, Hasdrubal could always follow the advice of baseball legend Wee Willie Keeler and “hit’em where they ain’t.”

hannibal_st2_fig4

Mago, another of “the Lion’s Brood,” was Hannibal’s youngest brother. In real life, Mago fought beside Hannibal in Italy. In the game, he’s primarily used to lead Carthaginian raiding parties into Sicilia or Sardinia as his special ability allows him to move easily by sea.

Typically, a raider’s main job in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage is to prepare the ground for Hasdrubal or Hannibal’s larger armies. Raiders usually start by flipping single spaces to give Carthaginians a refuge in case of defeat and, if not stopped, they quickly graduate to converting whole provinces in order to generate additional allied troops.

hannibal_st2_fig5

Gisgo’s actual name was Hasdrubal Gisco, but as Carthage seemed to have had an overabundance of generals named Hasdrubal, he’s known in the game simply as “Gisgo.”

According to the great Roman commander, Fabius Maximus, Gisgo was “a general who showed his speed chiefly in retreat.” This is reflected in game terms by Gisgo’s ability to avoid battle and intercept on a roll of 1 to 3 and through his low battle rating. These game characteristics make him an ideal candidate to command raiding parties. Like most Carthaginian generals, if Gisgo is eliminated on one of these near suicidal missions he simply re-appears with any other friendly leader, in any other location, at the start of the next turn.

However, at least once per game either Mago or Gisgo should be given a break and used to lead surplus troops out of Africa. Without such a mission, the “Hanno Counsels Carthage” (badly) event will have a devastating effect on play as it prevents Carthaginian reserves from entering the game. Yet, like other events, its effects generally can be mitigated by proper planning.

First, as there are 64 cards in the event deck and as 72 cards must be dealt each game, players are virtually assured of seeing the “Truce” card at least once. And, second, no matter how the “Truce” card is played, it always revokes a “Counsels” card. So, if the “Hanno Counsels Carthage” event appears early in a game, players should expect it to be cancelled before too many reserve combat units have accumulated and if the event appears later there would have been plenty of opportunities to withdraw the forces in question.

hannibal_st2_fig6

Hanno “the Great” as he was known to his supporters, led the political faction opposed to Hannibal and the Barca family in the Carthaginian senate. Carthage, apparently having suffered from a severe shortage of names, had 3 politicians called “Hanno, the Great.” Technically, ours is “Hanno, the Great” number II.

In any event, Hanno starts in Carthage and may not leave Africa. However, in compensation, his special ability enables him to remove the enemy PC marker in the last space he enters. This makes it difficult for Rome to raise allied troops in Africa, particularly when the Republic has only had time to place the bare minimum of political markers it needs in a province. For all Hanno has to do in these cases is to move into the province, remove the critical last Roman PC when he stops and Rome instantly loses control.

Unfortunately, for Carthage, any army under Hanno’s command has such problems getting started that they may not respond quickly enough to make any difference.


Summary

As has been mentioned in other articles, one of the keys to successful play in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your commanders. We hope that the information in this article will provide the foundation for devising your own winning Carthaginian strategies.

Korean War (House Rules)

House Rules for Bethpage, Long Island, NY Gamer’s group


  • Repeated Reorganization Operations – Although the rules clearly state that a unit that undertakes a Reorganization operation does NOT become fatigued (see Section 10 on page 19), it was clearly not the intent of the designer to allow repeated Reorganization operations on the same unit (i.e. Break-down, Build-up, Break-down, etc.). House rule states that each unit can only be involved in ONE Reorganization operation per Action Phase.
    Normally, once the Chinese intervene, the UN player runs out of units more quickly than the Chinese player does, leaving the Chinese player free to maneuver unmolested at the end of the turn. The intent of this rule is to prevent the UN player from artificially delaying the commitment of his units until after the Chinese player runs out of non-fatigued units.
  • FEC Enhancement Restrictions – If a Far Eastern Command (FEC) American unit is completely surrounded by enemy Zones of Control, it may not receive the FEC Enhancement referenced in Section 13.3 on page 24. The unit may be enhanced during the first subsequent FEC Enhancement phase in which it is not completely surrounded. It’s seems unlikely that upgraded equipment and personnel would have been able to get through to totally surrounded units.
  • Chinese Initiative Period Restrictions – North Korean units in South Korea are NOT considered automatically in supply during the Chinese Initiative period (see Section 19.3 on page 38 of the rules). They must be able to trace a supply line of any length, uninterrupted by enemy units or zones of control, back to a CCF Placement hex (see “Placement of CCF Reinforcements” on page 37 of the rules, and the Terrain Chart on the map for more info on Chinese Placement hexes). This restriction applies only to NKPA units south of the 38th Parallel. The intent of this rule is to prevent NKPA units, left behind near or below the 38th parallel, from benefitting from a Chinese supply network that they clearly would not have had access to, particularly when surrounded by UN zones of control.

Korean War: Forward Defense (Strategy)

A Fighting Chance for the South in the Early Days of the Korean War

Introduction

The great challenge of playing historical military games is trying to surpass the achievements (or at least avoid the disasters) of the historical commanders. We try to beat Napoleon’s time to Moscow; defend the tactical donut at Alesia more successfully than Caesar (although he did it well); and actually attempt to score a knockout against the British with our Continentals in 1776. All of this makes for fascinating play, but many of these simulations are, well… lopsided. One side acts as the aggressor until they either succeed or run out of steam. If the initial defender survives, he may be able to transition to the offensive. But by this time the initial attacker is usually a spent force. What follows is more of a mop-up operation that a true operational shift in initiative.
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