Afrikakorps last edited by Afrikakorps
Greetings, I missed this UK approach in the Allied Playbook (and only played it myself several years ago when I was the UK for 2-3 battles, as we only have 2 games a year) and do not see it in discussions or battle reports.
The basic philosophy behind this UK strategy to handle Italy is to ‘box it in’.
Instead of big decisive battles such as Taranto, where you both lose the Italian and UK fleet because the Axis can scramble their planes, you surround SZ95 + 97 while you bring as much UK fleet and airforce to the Med to be able to counter-attack. As soon as Italy attacks one of the ‘boxed’ sea zones, it get’s out of scramble range, and can be easily destroyed by the UK counter-attack.
You do this by always placing an allied ship in either:
SZ93 (French fleet)
SZ94 (UK cruiser)
SZ96 (UK carrier)
SZ99 (UK destroyer)
This makes the Italian transports useless, as they can never attack either Gibraltar or Egypt in one turn, so this gives you time to counter-attack. Bring your UK forces (fleet + airplanes) to the Med as soon as possible. Italy’s income too small to reinforce their fleet while unable to expand, while the UK can quickly muster even more overpowering forces.
Boxing the Italians is combined with Tobruk, as described in the playbook. You want to clear Africa as soon as possible to start being on the offensive. Ideally you clear Tobruk UK1, then Ethiopia (or wherever they moved to) in UK2.
What often happens, is that Italy is so happy to still have it’s fleet, it does not directly try to get out of ‘the box’ and unites it fleet with the illusion it can protect it. You still kill the Italian fleet in UK2, 3 or 4, but with much more overwhelming forces and Africa + the Med in firm control.
I believe this to be the strongest option of all UK options.
UK can reinforce the med with:
4 fighters, 1 tactical, 1 bomber, 3 destroyers
That can counter-attack in UK2.
It can further send a:
cruiser, destroyer and fighter to counter-attack in UK3
With JDOW1 this becomes even more easy with USA support.
I combine it with a transport in South Africa UK1, and possibly a minor factory in Egypt either UK1 or UK2 based on what Germany did (we consider Sea Lion very sub-optimal but the tradional 6 infantry + fighter remains a standard opening). Persia is also taken in UK1.
I think I conquered Rome with UK early in those games, as you have overwhelming fleet, airforce and troops with 5 transports in the Med in your UK2/3.
@Afrikakorps Sweet plan and Bob Roby (3 time national champ) loves to protect the carrier that way but Germany zaps the blockers with its air and just like Italy can help Germany beat the Russian forces, Germany can help the Italian stack clear the med. The Allies would need an Egypt or Gibraltar Air Base to change this dyanmic and those work pretty well but the more straightforward approach is to do Taranto at best odds, turtle UK properly and not to leave the rest to luck. I did the Gibbastion strategy and the Italians declined to attack but for the UK to make hay out of that they have to assault the Italians at some point and then they’re back to trading queen for queen (because you have to bring it all, and the Axis nuke whatever survives), but at a later juncture.
Not sure I understand. Are you suggesting expending the entire UK med fleet as blockers? What exactly are you blocking?
@simon33 the two SZ 96 and 99. The major issue with these plans is they seem to forget that the Germans can easily blast any or all of the blockers which open the door for the concentrated Italian bastion fleet to hit any of the other spaces (including SZ 91, if the Italians dont squat in the key SZ 97 zone)
SZ96 can’t be blocked. It’s one move from the main Italian fleets in SZ95 and SZ97. Did you mean SZ92?
@simon33 naw i think thats what both the poster and bob intend–that they think they can block a UK fleet sitting in SZ 98 with two ships or any fleet in SZ 91 by blocking 92 which wont work when Ger/italy can so easily co-operate. I taranto, almost every game. Whether you do or don’t the med bonus should be pretty secure until Axis/4 because any ship is easily accessible to one or more of the axis. the UK can only hide in SZ 91 or 81, the med is very intentionally unsafe for the allies until the midgame
You could build an AB on egypt or gibraltar but that idea leaves England vulnerable instead unless all the UK stuff/money forms up in one zone–which works great later on but not on UK1
For some reason I keep thinking of “Boxing Day” when i see this topic
@Afrikakorps Mostly agree with Taamvan here – you’ve described an interesting gambit, but it sounds like your opponent fell for your trap by passively consolidating his Italian fleet and leaving it idle.
As other commenters have pointed out, the Axis can completely counter this strategy by using the Germans to clear away blockers, taking Egypt or Gibraltar pretty early and with potentially disastrous results for the British.
Even without German reinforcements, the Italian player can still actively consolidate their fleet by bringing it together in a different sea zone each turn, killing one British unit at a time. Italy-1, you kill a destroyer. Italy-2, you kill a cruiser. Take casualties on your air units or battleships, save your money on Italy’s first turn, and by turn 2 you can build an Italian carrier + sub, or carrier + fighter, or whatever else you need for naval parity. By passing up the opportunity to kill the Italian fleet on UK1, you may lose the opportunity to ever kill off that fleet, and if you follow through with plans to move the entire RAF to the Med, spend part of the UK economy in South Africa / Persia, etc., then Germany will have a free hand in the north Atlantic, and Moscow will be more vulnerable when the Germans are ready to attack it. Basically any time you concentrate the mobile British forces, you need to achieve decisive results within a couple of turns, because events will continue to develop elsewhere on the board, so if you’re merely stalemating the Italians in the Med while losing ground in the Atlantic and Moscow (and perhaps India as well), then you’re not making the right kind of forward progress on the globe as a whole.