Europa series Game VI, The Campaign in Egypt and Libya, December 1940 to January 1943

Designed by John M. Astell and Frank Chadwick.

2/82 edition. Initial publication. Brown Europa Map box. The original box back was blank, and a printed descriptive box back was added in 1983. Errata sheets for the game was dated April 1983, 14 June 1983, and 7 December 1983. The 7 December 1983 errata is definitive. Printed: 10,847

Western Desert provided Frank Chadwick, ever the North Africa buff, to design a North Africa campaign game.  The game encompasses the campaigns in Egypt and Libya from December 1940 until January 1943, as well as the peripheral operations on Malta and Cyprus, and in Syria and Lebanon.

The Maps Stretch from the battle grounds around Tripoli to the Levant, along with Cyprus, Crete, Malta, and part of Sicily. Over a dozen types of terrain are charted. The counters represent the participatieng forces: The Italian 10th Army and 5th Army, Rommel's Afrika Korps, and the British 9th Army and 8th Army (including Indians, the ANZAC corps, Canadians and more!). Most counters represent divisions, but  individual battalions, regiments and brigades are available where historically justified. In line with other Euopa games, aircraft units are groups of approximately 40-50 planes organized by type (such as fighter or dive-bomber) and model (from obsolete CR.42 biplanes to Me109's and Spitfires). The rules utilize basic Europa game mechanics as a framework, with specialized rules covering the historical situation in more detail. The use of game mechanics originally designed for the Eastern Front is a testimonial to the Europa Series game rules. 

Game Components

  • two 21" x 27" maps
  • 480 die cut counters
  • complete set of rules
  • chart set
  • two dices



Western Desert: Analyzing the Interplay of the Game, the Europa System, and the Historical Campaign, Bill Stone - ETO 3 and ETO4
“2C or Not 2C” Revising the Western Desert Order of Battle, Ben Knight - ETO 32/33

The Grenadier

"Italian Offensive: An unofficial scenario for Western Desert" - The Grenadier 23


Britain: The Middle East, Sep I 39 to Dec I 40, by John Astell, Nuts&Bolts #3
Drive on Beirut. A Western Desert Scenario by Gary Stagliano, Nuts&Bolts #5
Europa Diary: Western Desert/The Near East, by Terry Foskett, Nuts&Bolts #10/11
Unofficial: Western Desert - German Armour Replacements /RECCAM, by Karl Gaarsoe, Nuts&Bolts #6/7
Western Desert Errata and Additions, Nuts&Bolts #4
Western Desert Errata, December 7th, 1983, Nuts&Bolts #6/7

The Europa Magazine

“The Aegean Route.” By Mark Yanaway. TEM 43/44.
“Battlefield Report: Rommel Beyond the Pyramids.” By Grant Luetkehans. TEM 41.
“Cunningham’s Pond.” By Frank Watson. TEM 37.
“A Duel in the Desert.” By Peter Robbins. TEM 13.
“El Alamein.” By Jim Arnold. TEM 28.
“Enter Rommel.” By Frank Watson. TEM 15.
“Inside Europa.” By John Astell. TEN 8.
“Just Deserts: Strategy in Western Desert.” By Mark Pitcavage. TEM 15.
“Layforce in the Invasion of Syria.” By James Willauer. TEM 38/39.
“Making Tracks on the Blue: A Secondary Road System for Western Desert.” By Frank Watson. TEM 15.
“Midnight at the Oasis.” By Frank Watson. TEM 13.
“A New Bearing for Operation Compass.” By Ben Knight. TEN 2.
“Operation Crusader.” By Frank Watson. TEM 31.
“Updating the New Desert Options.” By John Astell and Ben Knight. TEM 14.
“Western Desert Campaign Report: Testing the New Desert Options.” By Ben Knight. TEM 16.

Related Games

War in the Desert - Front cover

War in the Desert - Successor

Torch - Box Art - Front

Torch (Expansion)

The near East - Game Box - Front

The near East - Expansion


Air: Patrol Attacks and Interception Attacks


Is an aircraft belonging to the non-phasing player eligible to execute both a patrol attack and an intercept attack in the same air movement phase? The rules say a patrol attack is not considered a “mission,” so it seems to imply the aircraft is available for a mission after the patrol. On the other hand, this seems like getting two bites at the apple.


Yes, eligible non-phasing air units may make Patrol Attacks against enemy air units during the enemy player’s Air Movement Step. Regardless of whether or not they chose to make a Patrol Attack during the Air Movement Step, eligible air units may make Interceptions during the Interceptor Movement Step. So yes, an eligible air unit could make both a Patrol Attack and an Interception during the same enemy Air Phase.


Posted by Rich Velay on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 13.01.2013 01:20.



When a unit is required to withdraw by the OOB, precisely when during the turn does the withdrawal happen? It is not explicitly stated in the WD rules, but it seems that a withdrawal would occur in the initial phase. Otherwise the unit would possibly be able to participate in a combat before exiting stage left (or right).


Withdrawals occur during the initial phase. Many later Europa games have a detailed sequence of play chart that list exactly when each activity occurs, but earlier ones like Western Desert do not.

In early games like Western Desert, all activities listed in the reinforcements and replacements rule (Rule 29 for WD) occur in the initial phase unless the rule for a feature explicitly states otherwise. In games with a detailed sequence of play chart, the chart governs.


Posted by John Astell on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 08.01.2013 17:3

Bombing Malta: Tactical or Strategic bombing strengths?


When a Ju-87 attacks Malta for the purpose of increasing the Malta number, do you apply the tactical bombing strength (4) or the strategic bombing strength (1) ?

If the answer to the above is “1”, then does the lack of a “1” column on the bombing table imply that the Ju-87’s have to bomb in at least groups of two just to enter the table and possibly get a result?

We are assuming the Ju-87 also gets the +1 “D” modifier whether or not the tactical or strategic strength is used.


Rule 28.D states that to reduce the Malta Status #, the Axis player runs Port Bombing missions against Valletta – this special version of the Port Bombing mission doesn’t affect the capacity of the port, it affects the Malta Status #.

Per Rule 20.F, we find Port Bombing missions described in 20.F.1.a [a strategic bombing mission] and 20.F.2.g [a tactical bombing mission.]
Whether to run a Port Bombing mission as a strategic mission or a tactical mission is under the control of the Axis player, in this case it would behoove the Axis player to employ his Ju87’s in the tactical role rather than the strategic role, due to the significant difference between the Ju87’s SBFs and TBFs.

And with regards to using the Ju87’s SBFs: A total bombing strength of “1” or less is considered an automatic “Miss” on the Bombing table. As I said above, it is generally best to employ the Ju87 using its larger # of TBFs, rather than its smaller # of SBFs.

Note well that each Port Bombing attack must be run as *either* a strategic, or tactical, mission – you can not combine SBFs from one air unit with the TBFs of another. Each individual Port Bombing attack will use, only, either TBFs *or* SBFs, from one or more air units, but *never* the two types of bombing strengths in combination.

A type D bomber get’s the +1 to hit DRM anytime that the bombing mission requires the use of the Bombing table – with the major caveat that type D bombers *only* get this +1 to hit if they are bombing singly, or in a group of *only* type D air units.

If one, for example, combines a Ju88 and a Ju87 together to conduct a single bombing attack, then that bombing attack would *NOT* get the +1 DRM, since the Ju88 is not a type D air unit.


Posted by Rich Velay on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 13.01.2013 09:00

Western Desert Malta Shipments


If a unit tries to ship to Malta and fails the roll, is it done with movement? Or can it continue to move from the port by road, rail, or another port? (assuming sufficient MPs remaining)


Rule 28D (and Rule 26C, which Rule 28D draws upon for the turn-back result), places no special restrictions on the unit that was turned backed, except that the unit cannot attempt to ship to the destination again that turn (28D says that it can try in future turns, which I also read as meaning it cannot try again in the current turn). So, an Allied unit could move to a port like Alexandria, attempt to ship to Malta at a cost of 2 MPs, be turned back, and then use its remaining MPs to move elsewhere.

Historically, this would amount to something like: the high command orders the unit to Malta, but Axis air and naval interference causes the transports to turn back. When they arrive back at port, the high command has decided that the military situation now requires the unit to be used elsewhere.


Posted by John Astell on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 27.01.2013 17:34

Breaking down unit to satisfy loss requirements?


When the results of a combat require you to take losses and one of the units involved is a division that can be broken down, are you allowed to “make change” by breaking down the unit and eliminating one or more component brigades?

For example, let’s say one side had ONLY a 7-8 infantry division in a particular battle, and the combat resolution required that side to lose 2 strength points. Can you break up the division into three 2-8 brigades and eliminate one, or are you forced to eliminate the entire division?


No. See WD Rule 15.A. You can only break down a unit “at the start of a friendly movement phase”.

Since combat occurs during the Combat Phase, you can’t do something *only* allowed during a movement phase, during a combat phase. So you would have to lose the 7-8 Inf XX in your example, cadreing it to satisfy the loss requirements.

Note that when a rule specifies when something can happen, it can *only* happen when the rule says that it can. Any exceptions to this general case will be specified in the particular rule.


Posted by Rich Velay on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 23.01.2013 23:00

Overruns and Attack Supply


In playing Western Desert, I most burn an attack supply point per 10 REs of attackers to be full strength in attack. In either the movement or exploitation phases, would I have to burn a supply point to overrun at full attack factor? Yes, I’m afraid the answer is going to be yes but I’m hoping I’m wrong.


WD Rule 13 (Overruns) does say that overrun strength of a unit is affected by it supply condition.

However, WD Rule 12B, final paragraph, states that a unit out of general supply has its attack and overrun strengths quartered. A unit in general supply has its attack strength halved but has its full overrun strength. A unit only has its full attack strength if attack supply is used.

So, if your overrunning units are in general supply, they overrun at full strength.


Posted by John Astell on the Yahoo Classic Europa mailing list on 24.02.2013 22:25