Red Storm – Baltic Approaches

Planning a Mission

I am currently playtesting the Baltic Approaches expansion to the amazing Red Storm game, designed by Douglas Bush, and published by GMT Games. The game is truly a masterpiece, and one of the best parts is the planning that takes place before the players ever sit down across the table from each other.

As an exercise for myself and hopefully as enlightenment for the reader, I thought it would be fun to document the planning process.

Step one is picking a scenario and picking sides. I am playing NATO in scenario BA12: Nothing’s Going to Stop Us. The situation is that the Warsaw Pact is sending in four amphibious assault naval task forces toward the Danish coast. I have two naval strike raids tasked with turning them back.

The first problem that I have is that there are four amphibious assault naval task forces, but there are 10 total naval task forces on the map. I don’t know which four are my targets.

Part of my raid package is reconnaissance planes, so they will need to identify the correct targets before the bombers can come in and do their work. Additionally, the enemy fleet will have air cover and SAMs so I will want to attempt to deal with that ahead of time as well.

But first, I need to know which planes I actually have available to me. The scenario instructions tell me what my Order of Battle will be, by rolling on a specified OOB table a number of times. For this scenario, I get to roll twice on the D3 table (Naval Strike Raid). Each Naval Strike Raid will give me 4 Combat Air Patrols, 2 Naval Recon flights, and 4 Bombing flights. I am sending a lot of planes this time.

Now that I have rolled on the table (twice) and started my flight log with the planes that I am sending into battle, I have two major tasks remaining – determine the loadouts on my planes (particularly the bombers) and plot my flight paths. Not all missions need flight paths, but the bombers definitely do. Since I need to plot flight paths before I know the targets, I need to plan release points with some flexibility.

This leads to the question of loadouts. Red Storm has a ton of different types of bombs and missiles, and Baltic Approaches adds to the list. Since I am attacking Naval Task Forces, I am looking at Air to Surface Missiles. ASMs have attack ranges from 6-22 hexes, so as long as I have properly identified my targets, they should all be in range of my release points. Different aircraft can carry different weapons, so you need to check the Aircraft Data Chart to see what your planes are allowed to carry.

Now that I know what I am bringing to the party, it is time to check my intel reports – back to the scenario setup rules. I know that my opponent has significant air defense units, but since he has to roll just like I do, I don’t know exactly what I am looking at. Over the land it is a little more predictable. Looking over his naval SAMs, I think an attack range of 3-4 is to be expected. I have to keep that in mind. He will have an advantage if I am at low altitude, and I will have an advantage at high altitude. I think the ASMs have to be launched from the deck, but the recon guys should stay high.

That is the big picture. Now I need to plan routes. I’ll post those later.