WiFCE AAR ~ The Persian Puzzle Posted on 19 Feb 13:22 , 0 comments

Today's little study is on the strategically critical Soviet conquest of Iran. Provided you (as Stalin) have set up 5 convoy points in the Caspian sea, you can get 6-8 resources and/or build points to the Soviet Union via the Persian Gulf (5 via the Persian corridor, and up to 3 (if playing with roads) Iranian resources via the Caspian sea) from your brand new chum, Winston Churchill (after Adolf comes kicking in your front door). If Iraq sees the light, this number could increase to 10. These points could mean the difference between victory and defeat in the world's most titanic struggle in history.

If you are playing with Siberians from Territories in Flames, this should not be too difficult a procedure. The Siberians aren't much better than your average Soviet army but their critical benefit is that they all have 4 movement points, making moving and fighting in Asian mountains (which northern Iran is full of) relatively easy.

Siberians lead the charge September 1939

Siberians lead the charge September 1939

If you are playing with pilots from Planes in Flames, this too substantially reduces your problems as you can switch out your pilots from your front line fighters (which aren't needed against Iran as they have no air force) and place them in your reserve bombers, giving you the combat factors to get to Tehran with minimal casualties.

But if you are playing World in Flames Classic, this task is not so easy. Although the Iranian armed forces consist of only a Cavalry and a Militia corps, in the mountains these can be formidable foes.

First off, please download my optimal WiFCE Classic Soviet builds chart for your best possible start against the German hordes. This gives every build by every turn presuming you are only playing WiFCE Classic (but with gearing limits ~ option 39).

This study assumes you have received the Soviet 5-4 2nd infantry army by May/Jun 1940 (based on my builds) which you will do 46.1% of the time. If you haven't received it, you need to change the Lnd2 build in Jan/Feb 1940 to the Mbr-2bis Nav2 as it is critical you have 3 air factors with a range of 6 or more available for the assault (as will become clear below). Playing with pilots, this is not required thanks to the range of your reserve bombers.

OK let's get started. At the beginning of May/Jun 1940 this is the situation you should have set up, ready for your declaration of war.

This looks a lot to face a maximum of 2 Iranian corps but in that terrain you might need them all.

Your Iranian enemy could set up his sole Iranian cavalry defenders (the Iranian militia are still mobilising and can only turn up face-down in their impulse) in a variety of ways. First off, and most obviously, they could set up in Tehran.

This is precisely what you want. With only 3 moves you advance your 1st Mtn corps and 2 Inf army adjacent to Tehran and paradrop with your V para corps.

You are attacking with a total of 24 factors (your Pe-2 & SB-2 bombers' tactical factors are doubled on the impulse of surprise to a total of 10 factors) against the defender's 6 (2 for the Cav + 1 for the notional facing the paradrop, both doubled for the mountain) for a total of 4-1 +2 (+1 for the paradrop and +1 for the face-down notional unit).

On the assault table you're worst result is a 1/1 meaning you occupy Tehran for the loss of 1 Inf army and the Tehran militia will never show up.

But your opponent might want to get cute and place the Cav outside Tehran but not blocking your movement adjacent to the capital (eg hex A2938 or A2939).

This is even easier. You advance as before, paradrop as before and now you are attacking Tehran with 24 factors against only a notional unit worth 4 (1 +1 for the city, +1 for being adjacent to the Iranian Cav corps, and -1 for surprise, then doubled for the mountains) giving you odds of 5-1 on the assault table (there is no 6-1 assault column) +2 meaning you take the city for no loss.

But what if your Iranian opponent is smart and sets up in hex A2839, buying time for the 3-2 Tehran militia to mobilise? Now it's going to be a touch tougher.

This is where your nifty little single-engined Su-2 comes into play. You launch it at the Iranian cavalry in the ground strike step. As it is the surprise impulse you get two shots needing a 3 or less (its tactical factors) on a d10 to disrupt the defenders. This will happen 51% of the time.

If you are successful you advance your 1st Mtn and 2nd Inf to A2939, advance your two 5-3 armies to A2940 and your Mongolian cavalry races to A2738 (disrupted as it costs more than the unit's movement allowance) putting the Iranian cavalry out of supply (it can't trace into a hex in an enemy zone of control).

You then attack the Cav at an automatic 10-1 (the Cav is now only worth 1 factor doubled to 2 for the mountain) and occupy hex A2839 with the 5th and 11th Inf armies which are turned face down due to the mountain costing more than their 3 movement points. This is where Zhukov comes into play, reorganising these 2 armies ready for your final assault on Tehran.

Note this will take you 2 more impulses for your III cavalry corps to advance adjacent to Tehran to give you the 30 factors you need to get a 5-1 +1 (the militia is in fact face down being hastily mobilised). This again makes the attack automatic with at most you losing 1 cavalry corps. You could attack an impulse earlier (before your III cav corps is in position) but then the odds would only be 4-1+1.

Either way, mission accomplished!

But what if the ground strike on the Iranian cavalry fails? Now it gets trickier.

Again, the two 5 factor Soviet Inf armies need to move to hex A2940, but you only move your 2nd army to hex A2939 along with your I Cav corps while the mountain corps retires temporarily to stack with Zhukov. That's all 5 units allowed to move in a combined action (you are still not at war with a major power) so the Mongolian cavalry stays put in Siberia for the moment (and in any event, being out of supply does not affect the combat power of face-up enemy units).

Now you have 28 factors (again the SB-2 and Pe-2's tactical factors are doubled during the surprise impulse) against the Iranaian Cav's 4, 7-1 straight. This gives you an 80% chance of destroying the Iranian cavalry without being partially or wholly disrupted yourself, and although the Iranian Cav will be destroyed irrespective of the result, they have a 10% chance of taking one of your brave lads with them.

If you are successful, you just carry on your march to Tehran as above but this time attacking it at 4-1 +1 (most of your bombers having already been used in the attack on the Iranian cav).

But in the worst case scenario (you roll a 1 in combat), you end up looking like this.

That doesn't look too promising, you've lost your I Cav corps and all your surviving attackers are disrupted. How do we get to Tehran after this? This is what Zhukov is for. He reminds his demoralised chaps about the conditions in the salt mines and by the end of the reorganisation step the lads are fired up and ready to continue.

As you are not yet active (at war with a major power) reorganisatiion costs double but using Zhukov's 5 reorganisation points and your TB-3's one (it's very handy having a long-range, air transportable, paradroppable, tactical/strategic bomber and air supply unit all in the one counter), your 6 reorg points reorganise all 3 attackers at the cost of turning both Zhukov and the TB-3 face-down.

The 2nd army, 1st mountain corps and both Cav corps now advance to Tehran and 2 impulses later you launch your attack.

Your assault is now only 25-6 or 4-1 +1 against the face-down militia and thus you are still guaranteed to take it but with a 10% chance of 2 losses. This is by far the worst case scenario and it will only happen in slightly less than 1% of games (49% of not disrupting the Iranian cavalry x 20% of being totally disrupted in the assault on the face-up Iranian cavalry x 10% of rolling a 1 on the 4-1 against the Iranian militia in Tehran).

If you don't have the 2nd Inf (or the 6-4 39th army that is available in 1940) or the 4-4 12th army built, your mobile western force becomes the 1st Cav and 1st mountain corps with only 8 factors rather than 10. This is where the 1 tactical factor of the MBR naval aircraft (based in Baku) comes into play as it provides the crucial 6th ground support point (doubled to 12 for surprise) that guarantees you get 4-1 +2 if the Iranian cavalry sets up in Tehran or 5-1+2 against Tehran if it sets up adjacent as per the above scenarios.

But if you end up having the same worse case scenario losing your 1st cav corps against an undisrupted Iranian cavalry, then your best odds against the Tehran militia drop to 3-1 +1 which would mean a 10% chance of failing. Again this will only happen in 1% of games but will be infuriating in those 1 in a hundred games that it does.

To increase your chance to get your 5-4 2nd army (assuming it hasn't shown up at start) you could change your Jan/Feb 1940 builds from my optimal to 2 Infantry armies (and a Mot (or the Tac2 if not playing gearing limits) and the Nav2) which gives you a 69% chance of getting either the 2nd or 39th army by May/Jun, and if you don't succeed by then, you can almost (90%) guarantee it in Jul/Aug if you are willing to build 3 more Infantry armies (and the HQ Koniev) in March/April (all of which you need against Germany in any case).

I hope this report shows that even in what appears to be the most trivial campaigns against very minor forces, it pays to spend some time planning how you intend to conduct your operations so that they are the most cost-effective and successful possible. 

Considering there are 4900 counters in the game and an entire world to conquer or liberate, the number of calculations required simply to account for 2 defending corps with your 13 attacking units, all in one country and one turn, should clearly demonstrate the subtlety of thought, flexibility in planning and suppleness in execution you will need to become a true World in Flames World War II legend.

Good luck and good gaming.


Harry Rowland

PS For maximum impact, please don't tell your opponents!