OK, I managed a not too pitifull 1:2 ratio in the initial sweep and I procceded to a "minute zero" runway strike against Asmara.
I managed to pull it off at the "too many to remember" try (and I still lost three of the four ready frogfoots, damn MANPADS) bombing the runway and the runway-grade taxiway and destroying the tin-shield and both HQ-17 in the process.
Only the taxiway showed battle damage but since there where no planes taking off I assumed that it was merely lack of BDA on that specific facility. That would be shown to be oh so wrong later.
Of course the first Liaoning stike caught me with the pants off and they bombed the viper housing base (don't remember the name) at leisure. I was saved by they use of dumb bombs (seriously, I'm not complaining but; in 2027!?) which make them miserably fail their targets.
I proceeded with my own base strike employing the two ready Hinds (still less than three hours in the scenario at this moment) and It was with an inmense pleasure that I found they bagged fourteen grounded sino-flankers (I targeted occuped tarmacs only but still didn't expected such a success), a later follow-on strike with more Hinds and frogfoots would bag another six for a total of 24 enemy casualities (four downed in the air).
I was feeling very smug with myself when the secong Liaoning strike put me in my place, crossing the whole country from east to west, downing all CAP planes available and a pair of SEAD vipers returning from a patrol. Then they bombed the Kfir housing base and, while they where still using dumb bombs, this time the attack hurt a lot; with half a dozen Kfir destroyed in the ground (some of them where unavailable ones so operational losses where fewer but they still scored negative points). To sum up: a dozen frames lost in less than an hour; ouch .
Then there was a lull in with my planes keep bombing Asmara (they bagged some Y-20 in the hangars) and the stand-off armed Vipers make a raid on the coastal base where they hit half-a-dozen of some type or armed drone I've never heard before, but scored like any other plane so, 300 extra points for me.
The next blow came when a patroling pair of SEAD Vipers was blasted by a HQ-16 SAM appeared of nowhere next to Asmara (later I checked in editor mode and found It was teleported just under the plane so it was never seen before opening fire. Since that base was closed (or so I thought) and out of planes (or should they be called targets?); I deactivated the strike missions over it and let it be.
The sacrifice of my last two SEAD vipers enabled me to destroy the third Liaoning strike, since the escorts RTBd after the engagement and left the strikers alone, attacking a base housing my last three surviving flankers . I took a page of that old "How to give the MiG-21 a fighting chance" video somewhere in this forum and waited until they where at less than 20nm to launch my planes. This time I managed 6:1 ratio .
After that I was thinking what to do exactly (I was at major victory but still more than a day of playtime, and little units remaining to do anything), when the chinese decided for me; and it was "you die".
A message appeared saying president-for-life xingping had declared hostilities against me and I laughed thinking that I had declared on them eight hours ago to great effect. Then missiles started apearing all over my airspace from unseen planes and I stopped laughing.
To make it short, more than a dozen of freshly arrived yet-another-variant of sino-flankers, carriyng PL-15s this time, wiped out literally every fighter plane remaining; while PGM armed ones wrecked all my strike planes on the ground. In less than an hour I'd gone down to minor defeat and had NO airworthy planes remaining.
To rub salt on the wound, all the newly arrived bogeys returned on a straight line to Asmara; with was allegedly inoperant, and when I checked with the editor I found that the runway didn't have even a scratch (after three frogfoots worth of BeTAB bombs scoring direct hits, seems they are unable to damage heavy armor even if they easily destroyed the medium armored runway-grade taxiway) and, since I had ignored the access points earlier, the base was almost fully operational when the reinforcements arrived.
So to resume in a word: HAAAAAAAAARD.
You did'n lie with the difficulty bar, at all.
I loved having to make one very tough decision at the start, strike with all four strikers and two helos (no SEAD) against an airbase protected with almost last-gen SHORAD, or wait to ready more assets when the briefing alerts you the enemy is mustering forces in a big way. I decided going early and I do not repent, but I would love to hear the tales of players trying the "wait to make a big strike" strategy.
Technically speaking the scenario was flawless, the teleport events worked well (the reinforcement planes where all put in undamaged tarmacs, very impressive ).
Air defences maintained EMCON to great effect, even if that turned against them when I managed to destroy the tin-shield radar; and both the strikers and escorts of the Liaoning strikes worked without a hitch, except when the escorts deserted in the third strike but that was them adhering strictly to their ROE, perhaps you should change escort doctrine to winchester to make them stick with the strikers if they still have ammo remaining.
I loved how different strikes where made against different bases employing the same planes, that's seldom seen in CMANO scenarios.
I have of course thrown the towel in this attemp, but I'll do a new one in a few days and employ all my hard earned experience to try to see the end of the scenario ( I have glimpsed something about balistic missiles while cheking the teleport events and I'm already shuddering).
So to resume: unusual arena, great gameplay, no technical issues, fairly sophisticated enemy tactics and hellish dificulty. This is a must play. Thank you very much for your work.