Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A pause in the action and an initial assessment of Persian Incursion

Edgar and I have now completed 7 turns, so we're a third of the way through the campaign and moving into the middle part oft he third day of the campaign.

Aside from a few rules ambiguities that we've been able to work through, the game seems to be working well enough on a technical level.

The overall situation is developing more or less as I expected it would. Militarily the Israelis are overwhelmingly dominant. Aside from a few targeting errors on my part it's pretty clear that the Israelis can guarantee the destruction of any target they decide to attack. Their main constraints are time, intelligence and military points and the distance to some targets.

The Iranian military options are feeble. Except for short-range SAMs which can knock down some of the precision-guided munitions, the Iranian air defense weapons are a negligible factor and easily neutralized. Sooner or later they may get lucky and shoot down a plane, but unless they capture the pilot this will have no effect on the course of the campaign.
Iranian fighters are likewise toothless, basically reduced to hoping they manage to ambush an Israeli unit at "dogfight" range. As there's only about a 3 percent chance of this happening it is also a case of hoping for a lucky break that might, just possibly, result in a captured Israeli pilot but has no hope of materially reducing Israeli resources. So far the Iranians have lost 21 aircraft without getting so much as a shot off in return.
Showing a little more promise for the Iranians is the "missile war." While there isn't a great chance of getting through, on several occasions the Israeli missile defense have missed and Scuds have landed near Tel Aviv. So far they haven't hit anything, but this is another case where it seems likely the Iranians will get lucky sooner or later. But likewise it seems very unlikely that even a damaging hit will have any material effects on the Israeli war effort.

Terror tactics are also long shot affairs for the Iranians that have also had no effect so far.

The one place where the Iranians ARE competitive is in the diplomatic arena and the play of cards that use political points. The Iranians have, for example, managed to move US opinion to near "support" level and the Israelis have kept the Saudi route open mainly though the opportune play of a "Firm Commitment" card. That card's effects are running out, though, leaving the continued free use of the southern route in doubt. On the other hand, some excellent die rolls after the play of a few cards have moved the Turks to "supporter" status as well (despite aggressive resistance by the Iranians) which gives Israel some new options for Day 3 of the war.
It seems like the best chance for the Iranians is some combination of political events that manage to shut down Israeli access to targets before they've had a chance to do enough damage. This is a real danger for the Israelis and means they don't have the luxury of taking a deliberate pace. They can't count on the full 21 turns to do what must be done.

It's been very interesting and I'm looking forward to taking my turn as Iran, which I still think is the bigger challenge to play.

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