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First Contact 1986

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First Contact 1986 - 4/2/2020 7:04:07 PM   


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This is the third in a series of scenarios featuring Norwegian and Soviet light naval units in conflict off the North Cape. As with the others, you can play both sides, which makes a nice change.

As the Norwegians, you have a pair of ex-US Dealey-class frigates and four pairs of Storm and Hauk-class MTBs. All carry Penguin missiles, which are quite reliable but have a range of just 15 (Mk 1) or 20 (Mk 2) nautical miles.

You face two Kashin-class destroyers, four Nanuchka corvettes and four Osa 2 missile boats. The Kashins actually pose the least threat, being oldish ships with nothing worse than Goa SAMs which have a limited anti-ship capability. The Osas carry Styx missiles with a range of 25nm and the Nanuchkas have Sirens, which range out to 80nm!! You are also warned that the enemy have 'over the horizon' radar.

Norway (despite this) has longer-ranged radar, but this is offset by the short range of the Penguins. In theory, the Soviets just need to get you within reach of their 35-40nm surface search radars and then blast you with Styxes and Sirens.

As the default score of zero was a Disaster, running away wasn't an option!. The only real defence seemed to be to use the mountainous coastline as a backdrop to confuse Soviet radar. Accordingly, I hugged the coast (trying to avoid getting ships stuck, as sometimes happens in these situations) while concentrating my forces as best I could.

Presently, the Easternmost pair of boats detected a couple of Nanuchkas. Either the plan worked a treat or I was dead lucky, as I managed to sink both of them before they could get a shot off.

Shortly afterwards, the next pair to the West met two more Nanuchkas. The short, sharp missile duel didn't go quite so well this time, but the Soviets were disposed of at the cost of the MTB Geir.

About an hour in, the next pair along (surprise, surprise) encountered two Osas. Both were sunk, but I lost the MTB Blink. Another Osa duo followed on the heels of their fellows and attacked my survivor, the Terne. It didn't go well for the Norwegian vessel, but she took an Osa with her.

The remaining Osa then went after the Geir's erstwhile partner, the Tross. Possibly helped by having the shore directly behind her, Tross got lucky and avoided two Styxes, nailing the Osa in response.

Not long afterwards, a pair of Kashins hove in sight in the centre. My Easternmost pair sped to engage from one side while the previously unengaged pair, backed by the frigates, came in from the West and all other boats (out of missiles) helped scout with radar. It was easy enough to keep my distance and pick-off the destroyer Ognevoy, damaging her companion, the Smyshlennyy. The latter then gave me a dose of my own medicine and vanished against the shoreline (probably because the AI got her stuck). Some triangulation resolved the issue and the MTBs finished the job without my frigates having to fire a shot.

The result was a Minor Victory with a score of 1,350. As ever with this type of scenario, I was left wondering how much my success was down to good strategy or good luck...

I will update this post once I've had a go with the Russians.
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RE: First Contact 1986 - 4/3/2020 2:08:39 PM   


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Just played the scenario again as the Soviets. It was a near-total massacre!. I didn't think that the AI was likely to replicate my tactics of using the coastline as cover and it didn't. In any event, the Soviet Band Stand radar was so impressive, instantly identifying all the neutrals within range and quickly pegging the Norwegian warships, down to individual IDs, that I wonder if it would have made any difference. Indeed, I even suspected that the scenario settings might be wrong somehow...

The three Eastern pairs of Norwegian MTBs were just shot with Sirens like fish in a barrel, though one (the Terne) was extremely lucky and took five missiles to kill.

Further West, the quartet of Osa boats had more trouble with the frigates and the remaining pair of MTBs, mainly because I wasn't getting precise enough fixes on the enemy with my radar. This delayed firing the Styxes until the Norwegians were within extreme range for their Penguin 2s. As a result, they got some shots off and sank an Osa which disregarded my orders to run away at Flank. Another Osa got lucky when both Penguins fired at it malfunctioned. After that, the Norwegian squadron was slaughtered by Styxes, even though the frigate Narvik managed to down a whole four-missile salvo (spread between two Osas while keeping another in reserve) with her Sea Sparrows.

A Major Soviet Victory with a score of 1,600. I was again left wondering how I'd managed to win with the Norwegians. Was it using the coast or what?.

(in reply to fitzpatv)
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RE: First Contact 1986 - 4/3/2020 7:26:51 PM   


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Was it using the coast or what?.

I think probably yes. the one thing the AI doesn't do well is tactical patience, if it sees a target that fits it's mission/Doctrine parameters, it tends to go for it. A player, thinking through the problem would hug the coast and wait as you did in your first run.

Perhaps the designer could have used a No-Nav zone to keep them pinned against the coast but that gets very awkward and might put them hanging up on islands or something.



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(in reply to fitzpatv)
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RE: First Contact 1986 - 4/8/2020 10:47:20 AM   

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A player, thinking through the problem would hug the coast and wait as you did in your first run.

Indeed, the Aegean scenario I just designed and the Hormuz have the same issues. The A/I just can't take tactical advantage of the islands and gets hung up in them. Not a criticism of the A/I, I don't know how you could design an A/I to do so, but CMO is many a Blue Water game IMHO. Get into the Littoral and the A/I is at a huge disadvantage.

< Message edited by BeirutDude -- 4/8/2020 10:48:07 AM >


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(in reply to Gunner98)
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RE: First Contact 1986 - 4/9/2020 12:51:04 PM   


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Its not just the AI that doesn't take advantage of that kind of tactical nuance. During the 73 war, Syrian boat drivers had the same failures.

There are ways the scenario designer can simulate tactical nuances through lua and reference points. But its still not as reactive on the fly like a person. I tend to play a lot of God's eye view in the editor just so I can tweak AI behavior like that.

(in reply to BeirutDude)
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