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Is there any way to beat "Alliances"?

 
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Is there any way to beat "Alliances"? - 1/19/2020 9:29:35 PM   
Eboreg

 

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Joined: 3/14/2019
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I've currently finished playing through this wonderful expansion pack but there are a few scenarios which I don't really care about, the first being the snore-fest "Reviving a Giant" (A "Valley of Death" scenario in the vein of Canary's Cage and Operation Brass Drum with a significantly absent amount of Death) and the second being this hard-as-nails op. First off, in my mind, the inability to attack any of the relevant airstrips is a little stupid in my opinion but the biggest issue is the [EXPLETIVE DELETED] AS-4 Kitchen. Those things are impossible to intercept and have enough range for the Iranian bombers to launch from behind their SAM net making Interception incredibly hazardous and you can't just take out the SAMs since you really don't have the ordnance available. Is there a walkthrough/strategy guide/AAR available anywhere that covers how to beat this murderous op?
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RE: Is there any way to beat "Alliances"? - 1/25/2020 2:58:47 PM   
AndrewJ

 

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I hadn't tried this scenario until I saw your post, so I played it this week, and here's how it went. (The computer ate my long AAR, sorry, so this is the abbreviated version.)

I started by spreading out my AWACS, ELINT, recce, and a few small fighter patrols, and soon got a look at the overall picture: two surface groups in the Gulf (small Iranian FFs and the mighty Kalinin and friends), A-50s patrolling over Iran, and some SAM sites along the Iranian coast. (I could have made better use of my E-8s, particularly to get a look into Iraq and get more info on its SAM belt.) I didn't like the exposed position of my own ships, so I ordered them to steam towards each other to improve mutual SAM cover.

Before my ships could close up, the Iraqis launched some bombers from their closest base, fired AS-5s at me, and immediately landed again. The missiles were shot down, and I responded with TLAM strikes at Iraqi airbase hangars, which were moderately effective, completely closing some bases (20+ MiG-29s destroyed at Mosul!), but not getting through to others (Baghdad). (I tried to get clever, looping missiles around to hit the airbases from behind and thus avoid presumed airfield defenses, but that gave more time for interceptor action. Straight-in shots might have been more effective against the distant targets. If I had better E-8 data on unspotted SAM sites I could have routed my missiles better, and I should have used some of my TLAM-Ds on SAM sites. I didn't use all my TLAMs, keeping some in case I needed to hit a special target later.)

My Turkish AWACs spotted bombers forming up around Tabriz in the NW of Iran, and HQ warned about about strikes coming from Zahedan in the east. Fighters (and AWACS) were sent to intercept. The Iranians do not have a continuous SAM wall, so I was able to fight into Iran and engage at a distance. Some Bears managed to launch missiles in the east, but there weren't many of them, and SAMs were able to deal with the missiles while the fighters shot down the shorter ranged Badgers. (To my North-Atlantic mind, Bears were usually just scouts, not missile carriers, so I hadn't prioritized them as targets. Mistake...) The strike in the west was intercepted far from my carriers and completely destroyed. There was a third strike from central Iran that I did not spot far enough in advance, and more missiles were launched just as my fighters arrived. Fortunately, the missiles were aimed at an obsolete contact and uncertainty zone, so they missed the carrier group, passing astern.

Assorted lesser fighting was also going on, to destroy the SAM-sites and radars ringing the Gulf, and thus give me more room for maneuver. F-4WWs, some F-18s with Walleye, and some A-6s worked together on this, doing reasonably well. (This is where I should have been using TLAM-Ds from the moment hostilities opened.) The Iranian ships were also attacked, using Shrikes to knock down the radars on SAM equipped ships, and then A-10s (of all things) were used to sink them with Mavericks and iron bombs. (I wasn't sure what the Russians would do with their powerful SAG, so I was reserving all my Harpoons for potential use against them.) Iraq was also aswarm with lesser fighters by this point, so there was a a lot of fighting around the edges to pick off nearby planes, and during my incursions into Iran I had also shot down their A-50s.

Fighting calmed down, as I started sending Hercs on their resupply missions to King Khalid Military City, etc. The Iraqis tried a Blinder raid on that target, but most of their bombers had been destroyed on the ground by TLAMs, so the remaining planes were easily shot down.

I had started sending recce planes deeper into Iran, looking for the hidden base where some of the Bears seemed to be coming from, and one of them spotted aircraft deep in central Iran. This turned out to be another incoming bomber raid, with jammer support, headed in the direction of my consolidated carrier groups. A desperate scramble and afterburner dash was made deep into Iran (RTB off, refuel off, tankers following on military power) to try and intercept them before they reached launch range on the carriers. The bombers turned out to be mostly Bisons (!), not Badgers, and the raid was shot down. At this point the scenario end triggered.

I kept playing for a bit, to make sure I could land my planes, and while this was going on ELINT detected more jammers with fighter radars, which meant another raid was inbound from the north. This provoked another afterburner dash with my last available planes, to engage and destroy a squadron of Bears before they could get to launch range. (Looking at these strikes after the game, it turns out they were not intended to hit my carriers at all. They were going for Riyadh, and the presence of my carriers in the path was coincidental. Still, it definitely made me react!)


So I think the scenario is definitely winnable. You need to be able to push deep into Iran, both with sensors and fighters, to get the early warning you need to tackle the bomber raids. The Bears with AS-4s are definitely elusive, and the first ones I met fired and got cleanly away, but after that I was mostly able to rush them before launch, provided I had enough raid warning. Fortunately, you have plenty of tankers to support these operations, and long-range ELINT platforms like your ES-3s should be very useful for detecting distant jammers to give you advanced warning. TLAM-Ds should be great at clearing out lesser SAM sites to give you freedom of maneuver, and if you're careful to sort out who's Soviet and who's not (and ignore their provocative overflights), then there shouldn't be any problems with the Kalinin or Russian airstrikes.

(in reply to Eboreg)
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