Skip to main content

Airborne Assault: Conquest of the Aegean - A short update on my inept defence of Malta

Computer wargames, as in computer milsims, generally aren't that great. They tend to either be overly simple or completely opaque with most of the best games being those that are really designed for video gamers such as Ultimate General Gettysbury or Wargame Red Dragon, rather than the games for the milsim crowd.

A few years ago I bought a CD copy of Panther Games Airborne Assault: Conquest of the Aegean off Ebay for £5. I’ve always felt Matrix Games were overpriced (The old publisher for this series) and wanted to try the system before I threw real money at it.


Here is the situation just after dawn of day 3. Last night the Safi and the Central Airfields got overwhelmed. Troops guarding the Victoria Line, the Western harbour and around Nignet had to be hastily redeployed for a counterattack, which as the sun rises appear to have been successful. Unfortunately I have to hold out for 6 more days and I have no idea if more German para regiments are in bound. This game is pretty intense.


Red lines = Allied movements of note, Blue = German. Black Crosses = Airfields.

Originally the Germans landed around the south and quickly forced me out of the southern Airfield. My plan was pretty docile and simple (typical British military) contain the enemy in a pocket, hammer them with artillery and hope they have supply problems. For most of day 1 this appeared to be working. Early on day 2, and probably through the previous night, the Germans started to probe down the coast westwards. I figured this was going to be the big break out manoeuvre so I took most of my reserves from Western Malta and the Harbour and sent them over to Rabat. It now appears to have been a ruse to force my redeployment. Instead the Germans continued probing the edges of the pocket before going all in on a b line straight for the Harbour through the Central Airfield. At the same time, what I had thought was just two units slipping eastward along the coast turned out to be four that swung in land past my lines and stole Safi Airfield right from under my nose. I was expecting defeat by morning, but fortunately the AI planners did a good job of counter attacking. A good test of a ‘proper wargame’ is does it reward you for holding reserves.

Airborne Assault is an innovative game. You can micro manage individual units, or you can select the battalion or brigade command unit and issue it a general order. It will then think, come up with a plan and carry it out ordering the subordinate units. Secondly the game has order delays. I had started moving the units from the Victoria Line a few hours before the disaster really unfolded as I felt the Germans were on the move. Once a formation is on the go changing their orders can take quite some time. There were a tense few hours (of game time, really it was minutes) as I wondered whether the new order to launch an attack would hit home in time.

A large part of the appeal here is the layers of the game. There is a rather complex and sophisticated game under the hood of Airborne Assault, but you can play it very simply. Select a HQ unit, tell it what to attack or defend, watch the results. It is a shame the game (in the digital age) is now unavailable. The later games in the line, now rebranded Command Ops, are however (now published by Lock n Load surprisingly) and I might save up some pennies for them.

edit; on day 5, I'm getting hammered.



Those few german para units that swept around and attacked Safi airfield, one of them managed to secure it for about an hour. This was enough time for a ton more german units to land. Coupled with this some heavy assaults on the east and west sides of the pocket gave me a mauling. I am now 3 days out from game end so I'm changing up my plan. I'm going to pull back to the two black lines on the map above and try and stall for 3 days.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Play Thru: Washington's Crossing

Being a man who likes diversity I bought / pre-ordered 4 games for Christmas about dudes in flashy coats with muskets marching around road networks. I’ve already Quick looked at Nappys Nemesis 1813, Metz is yet to be released from P500, Autumn of Glory is on the shelf, so this weekend I have played Washington’s Crossing.




The Patriot opening more or less followed the script. Washington moved with his stack, crossed the Delaware with decent movement and ferry rolls and come morning was sat just outside Trenton next to Rall’s Hessian garrison. The American gets a rather scripted +5 to surprise rolls when attacking Trenton, plus it being dawn and a prepared attack gave Washington very favourable odds but the roll was terrible and Rall escaped with only 25% losses and a retreat.
Further south Greene collected a few detachments of militia and drove the other Hessian garrisons north.



The Hessians forced marched out wide forcing Washington to either hunt them down for a few extra vps, or look el…

Quick Looks; Red Star / White Eagle

I generally hate it when people describe designs or ideas in games as dated, because many of the most innovative games  are older than I am. Equally it implies there is something innately good about new designs, which I don't think there is.

Dune is arguably the best multiplayer 'war' boardgame and the 70s basic DnD is in my view still the best RPG. I wasn't born until the late 80s and didn't discover these things to the mid 2000s so this isn't nostalgia doing my thinking, its just that some old ideas are better than new ones, despite our apparent 'progress'.



But having said all this Red Star / White Eagle is a dated game design. And this matters if you are looking at popping £70 on a new reprint of it from Compass Games. I am a wary cheapskate so I picked up a second hand copy with a trashed box of ebay for £20. It was worth it, but only just.


Red Star / White Eagle is a GDW 1979 Hex and Counter wargame covering the 1920 Russo - Polish war. Everything …

Quick Looks: The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbour to the Philippines

Imported games have the allure of being foreign and expensive, they also often come with the glamorous trappings of bad rules translation. Pacific War is all of these things but first the good;
It’s short. I’m not being factious here, generally Pacific Theatre war games are long and complicated, which is fine but it leaves the shallow end of the dream pool rather empty. The Pacific War clocks in around 2-3 hours and feels engrossing for this life span.
You’ve got a point to point map, pretty and functional but no pageant winner, a deck of cards, and a load of counters representing ships that come in on a historical reinforcement schedule. Each year long turn you get a variable number of cards. Players take action rounds discarding a card to win the privilege of doing something and then either play an event card, or move some ships, or resupply some ships (so they can move again). Once out of cards they roll off for priority in taking more actions but if they roll doubles the year ends.