As a game of the Europa Series, War in the Desert recreates the struggle for North Africa and the Near East. Using standard Europa scales and rules, the game covers the campaigns in the Western Desert, from O’Conners offensive against the Italians in Dec 40, to the seige of Tobruk and the battle of Gazala, through to the defeat and pursuit of the Axis forces at El Almein in Nov 42. The battle for Northwest Africa from the Anglo-American invasion of Nov 42 tot eh Axis counterattack at Kasserine Pass to the Axis surrender in May 43. The struggle for control of the Near East, including the pro-Axis revolt in Iraq, the British conquest of Vichy France’s possessions, Syria and Lebanon, and the Allied invasion of Iraq.

Designed by John Astell, Published in 1997 by Games Research/Design.

Game Components

  • 1680 Die Cut Counters (EUROPA counter sheets No 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90 and one universal marker sheet)
  • Seven Maps (3C (partial), 18A, 19A, 20A, 21A, 22A, 24A and 25A)
  • Rules Book (1 x 64 page rule booklet  1 x 2 p. errata 1-6-97)
  • OB Books (1 x 24 p. Neutrals OB and  1 x 32 p. Allied OB; 1 x 16 p. Axis OB)
  • Chart Set:
    • 2 x Unit ID Chart (printed front/back (f/b))
    • 2 x TEC f/b
    • 2 x CRT front only (f)
    • Axis Game Chart (f)
    • Allied Game Chart (f)
    • Neutrals Game Chart
    • 1 x Game Play Chart #1 and #2 (f/b)
    • Game Play Chart #3 (f)
    • Game Calendar Grand Europa (G.E.) (f)
    • Europa Weather Table (G.E.) (f)
    • Corps/Wing Marker Display (G.E.) (f)

Game Reports

Game Report No 1:  Robert Williams granted himself the "Rommels Fantasy"-option in this game report on War in the Desert from 1999.
To the game report

Game Report No 2: This abridged game report by Glen Davis describes an abortive attempt of a "Mini-Wavell" campaign game tried in 2001 which due to circumstances got reduced to a shortened North-African campaign.
To the game report



Battlefield Bulletins in ETO #40ETO #41, and  ETO #50


Mare Nostrum: The Southern Front, by Tom Johnson, Nuts&Bolts #15/16
Unofficial: War in the Desert, by Karl Gaarsoe, Nuts&Bolts #17

The Europa Magazine

“The Aegean Route.” By Mark Yanaway. TEM 43/44.
“Alamein Revisited.” By Andrew Farrelly and Frank Watson. TEM 71.
“Battlefield Report: Rommel Beyond the Pyramids.” By Grant Luetkehans. TEM 41.
“Beyond Compass.” By James Broshot. TEN 5.
“Blueprints in the Sand: War in the Desert, Mark II.” By Mark Pitcavage. TEM 33.
“Compass Points – I.” By Patrick Haugh. TEM 71.
“Compass Points – II.” By Todd Eric Jahnke. TEM 71.
“Continuing WitD into SF.” By Eric Pierce. TEM 78.
“Cunningham’s Pond.” By Frank Watson. TEM 37.
“Desert Cauldron.” By Frank Watson. TEM 36.
“A Duel in the Desert.” By Peter Robbins. TEM 13.
“Enter Rommel II.” By Frank Watson. TEM 71.
“Ex Africa semper aliquot novum.” By John Astell. TEM 71.
“Graziani’s Offensive.” By Frank Watson and James Broshot. TEM 55.
“Graziani’s Offensive Revisited.” By Brian O’Connor. TEM 66.
“End of the Beginning – the Third Battle of El Alamein – October, 1942.” By Frank Watson. TEM 63.
“Inside Europa.” By John Astell. TEN 8.
“The Invasion of Syria: Operation Exporter, June-July 1941.” By Frank Watson. TEM 33.
“Libya First.” By Ben Knight. TEM 23.
“More WitD Questions and Answers.” By Rich Velay and John Astell. TEM 56.
“A New Bearing for Operation Compass.” By Ben Knight. TEN 2.
“No CSIR! A Variant for War in the Desert.” By Thomas Fetter. TEM 25.
“On the Road to Damascus.” By Frank Watson. TEM 38/39.
“Operation Crusader.” By Frank Watson. TEM 31.
“Operation Crusader II.” By Peter Rogers. TEM 55.
“Questions and Answers.” By Rich Velay. TEM 67.
“The Ramcke Brigade.” By James Willauer. TEM 40.
“Red Desert: Adding the Red Army to War in the Desert.” By John Astell. TEN 1, TEM 64.
“Sacrificing the Italian East African Empire.” By Thomas Fetter. TEM 38/39.
“Second Front / War in the Desert House Rules by Rich C. Velay. TEM 59/60.
“The 756th Mountain Regiment.” By James Willauer. TEM 37.
“Sneak Peek: War in the Desert.” By Rick Gayler. TEM 47.
War in the Desert. “Anvil-Dragoon, Desert Options, and WitD Q&A.” In “Inside Europa.” By John Astell. TEM 56.
“War in the Desert Consolidated Errata, 28 April, 1997”. By John Astell. TEM 55.
“War in the Desert Errata, 20 January 1997.” By John Astell. TEM 52.
“War in the Desert Questions and Answers.” By Rich Velay and John Astell. TEM 55.
“War in the Desert Sandgroper Style.” By Robert S. Williams. TEM 71.
“War in the Desert Seattle Style.” By Mark Schmale. TEM 71.

Related Games

Western Desert - Front Cover


Wavell´s War - Cover Flyer - Front

Extension Module


Are Crete airfields available to Allies on his Jun I 1941 turn?


In the June I 1941 turn, Allied forces return from Greece on the Allies turn. On the Axis turn which follows, it states that the Axis player controls Crete. Since the Allied player goes before the Axis player, does he have the ability to use Crete airfields (in this case for the deployment of aircraft to/from Malta) on the June I 1941 turn?


No. The Axis player controls Crete starting with the Jun I 41 player turn.
Note, for example, the effects of the Balkans campaign on British forces sent to Greece are calculated in the Allied initial phase of June I 41 (Rule 29C1), and not the Axis initial phase (which would be the case if the Axis only gained control at the start of their player turn).

(Answer posted on Yahoo Classic Europa Mailing List on 29.01.2013 17:49 by John Astell)

The Italian Fifth Army


Rule 28.A.1. states in part:

“During each Axis initial phase starting with the Dec II 40 turn, the Axis may select at random one unit from this box…”

Is it the actual intent to randomize the entry of these units? If so, is there a suggested mechanic to pick which one? In a face-to-face game, I guess you could draw counters from a cup, but that doesn’t work in a PBEM context. We are currently interpreting this rule that the Axis player is allowed to choose which unit from the Fifth Army to bring in, but I’m not sure that this is correct or if it somehow upsets the game balance.


The intent IS to randomize the entry. Like using a cup. In FtF play, as I recall, there’s nothing on the back, so you can turn them over and mix them up. For PBEM you could always use the same mechanism you use to roll a die and use that to select a random unit.


Answer posted by Frank Watson on 19.01.2013 14:27, confirmed correct by John Astell