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Europa Games and Military History

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Hello, Goodbye

I was adding some new posts on the Africa campaign replay of Todd Jahnkes ongoing DJ05-monster game recently. The Africa postings basically constitute a full game report by themselves, yet they are only one single post from a truly epic game. Putting these online reminded me – together with some helpful comments by readers – that there is still a lot to fix in the War Archive in terms of game reports lost and disconnected.

No Total War showed up on my doorstep, and thats not because I moved (a second time since I pre-ordered TW more than a decade ago). Rather, without comment, excuse or even any information, the shipping of TW has obviously been postponed again. Everyone has his own endurance if it comes to loyalty. To me, this means finally saying goodbye to Europa, since I think it might be more worthwhile to concentrate on another seemingly endless pet project of mine: The TO/E database.

So in short, here are my three very first Generalstab-related new years resolutions:

  1.  Fix the Kriegsarchiv and get the missing game reports back online.
  2. Sell all Europa-games plus the magazines in my basement.
  3.  Re-Install the develoment-platform and launch an alpha version of the TO/E database.

A happy New Year to everyone!

Terms and Conditions

In the past couple of days I have made some effort to update the glossary, put some images in and fill out those terms that needed some revision – or some text at all. Now it`s far from finished, but what on this website ever is? I think the status is good enough to at least have it online for the time being.

I have never been privy to the gaming industry, so I have no access to the cabals, intrigues, takeovers and corporations taking place. And since I wasn´t very active in terms of strategy games for quite a while, I totally missed out on the publication of The Second World War-Series by Diffraction Entertainment from the UK. Thomas Hannaford kindly sent me a link to their newest publications.

Truly a series of monsters, most games contain more than 4.000 counters and enough maps to decorate a medium sized family home. From the very beginning the game series is designed to a unified standard of rules and charts, with the eventual integration into one super-monster of “World War Two at a divisional level” which will need a small conference center to be played.

Comparisons to the Europa series have been made, and several people obviously consider TSSW a copy of the Europa series. Which puts me into a difficult situation, first and foremost since I obviously mostly missed out on the whole discussion about the Fall of GR/D and the ensuing copyright and legal battles.  On one hand, I do not want to hurt anyone`s feelings, especially in the Europa-community that I have been a member of since I started wargaming with 17. Even though since it`s been years I found the time to play, I follow Europa closely and am still hoping for TW to come out some day.

On the other hand, the idea of having a set of divisional-level games to recreate all of world War Two is, while at the core of Europa, not a copyrighted idea itself. And any such game series is bound to have great similarities with Europa – divisional counters, similar-sized maps and such. And I have to confess that the prospect of anyone actually finding a way to the holy grail of uniformed system like Grand Europa will have my support. Whether I want to shell out a couple of thousands of bucks to stack boxes in my home I won`t have time to open is another issue, but unless we have an equally complex computer program available, my wallet will be itching.

One of the commenters at boardgamegeek.com had it nailed down: Say what you will, but they actually publish games.
If this contest of games turns into a contest of loyalties, we all loose.

Classic Europa

John Astell’s contribution to the Europa-Series is such that I would be hard pressed to find any Europa game that does not show his handwrit, be it that he designed it directly, be it that it heavily borrows from the rules canon John established over the years. Taking over from the founders of GD/W, Paul R. Banner and Frank Chadwick, John, always working in team with the relentless Europa-publisher and promoter Winston Hamilton, made Europa what it is today. In short, without John Astell, there would be no Europa-series today.

John’s “classic Europa” website is back up now after falling victim to the lamented end of “Geocities”. Of particular interest are the “Legion of Honor”, a list of people who contributed to Europa in the past, and of course the extensive designer notes, covering nearly every Europa-game ever published, and some of the game concepts and rules implemented such as abandoning equipment and “extended rage” for air units.

For more than a decade now there haven’t been any new “Europa”-games. Until and if Total War ships, John’s website is the premier source for background information on most published Europa-games.

Date: February 26th, 2013

URL: http://classiceuropa.org/

Sept 1940

Sept I

Hearing reports of the intended advance of the Italians into Egypt, the plucky Western Desert Force mechanised units scuttle back from the border to Matruh to join the Machine Gunners of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and have a cup of tea and a friendly game of cricket against the CinC Middle East’s first XI.

10th Army attacks! The glorious legions march again for Mussolini’s dream of uniting Northern Africa under the benevolent iron fist of fascism. A short advance to Sidi Barrani is unopposed by the cowardly British. Telegrams sent back to Rome report the woeful road condition over the border requires substantial construction work before full supply can be achieved for the spearhead of the march to Cairo. Troops rest for chianti (except for the Libyans who piously suck oranges). A whole 14 REs are countered by RAF recon planes, and the commander, General Roberto Guilliamo, is promoted to Marshall for displaying such valour in the field.

Sept II

Indian forces are railed into Matruh with the 4th Indian Divisional HQ team trouncing the Armoured Corp team by an innings and 8 wickets in a friendly played over several days. Free French forces look on in disbelief. To remind the world that Britain remains undefeated, an attack of by Blenhiem bombers attacks Tobruk. A hit is made on the port. Italian fighter pilots at El Adem airfield are caught napping in the fierce African heat and do not react. The wrath of the CinC is great and fearsome to behold… (I forgot to intercept!!)

Meanwhile at Halafaya, construction continues of the road to Sidi Barrani. Italian engineers complain bitterly of the lack of resources to assist in such a thankless task while infantry at the sharp end organise well laid out camps and have community singing sessions in the evenings along the beaches of the Med…… 250 SM 79.1 bombers fly a retaliatory raid on Alexandria, weak and ineffective AA fire misses but the bombs fall wide of the mark and the port is safe.

 

June 1941

June I

British – At Haifa the tattered and torn remnants of the Greek Debacle come ashore (2 AS X’s, 1 NZ X, 1 Br X, Layforce Commando X, 6th AS HQ, Blenheims and Hurricanes) These units, despite the ordeal they have just suffered, are thrown into the invasion of the Levant that begins this turn.

Levant – Cavalry, Springboks, Free French, Czech’s, and Brits hit two Vichy units in the hills north of the border, but despite air support the Vichy are dug in and determined, fighting off the allied attack. (3:1 = AS). Further towards the coast, 2 British Xs with artillery support drive back some colonial rabble with cavalry support (3:1 = DR). In the centre of the front, the Polish Karpaty X with SAAF air spt smash the 16TT III and threaten to break the Vichy line. (4:1 = DH)

Iraq – The newly formed Habforce canters along the oil pipeline road towards the far off front. The 2nd Assyrian Battalion occupy Basra against minimal opposition. Here they await the promised arrival of units from India.

Egypt – Under the cover of darkness, merchant ships provide supplies to the defenders of Tobruk. Behind Halafaya Hurricane fighters arrive at the forward airstrips, ready to protect the Allied forces. The Allied CinC is fairly confident that he can hold the line while he tidies up the annoying distractions in the Near East.

Axis – Supplies reach the front at Tobruk. The HQ of the 90th Light XX is returned to Sicily by patrolling RN vessels operating out of Malta.

Egypt – 20REs of units are used to try and storm Tobruk. The attack is hard pressed and should be overwhelming, but to the anger of the CinC, it is beaten off. (4:1 -1 ATEC, -1Fort = AS) This attack should have succeeded, and there is consternation that the Allies may improve the fortress making it next to impossible to seize! To show his resolve at pressing forward, the HQ of the CinC is moved forward from Bengasi to Barce.

Levant – The Vichy commander withdraws his lead units into the mountains while Colonial and Legion units head south to join the battle. He welcomes with open arms the arrival of LW Ju 88 bombers and Me 110D fighters. He is surprised to learn some of these have been assigned to Iraq. Sacre bleu!

Iraq – The newly arrived LW units are received with wild jubilation by the locals. in the south of the country, Iraqi military units advance to Basra, hopefully to block off this access route to Iraq. From Iran, the Shah sends a personal message of goodwill and encouragement to the leaders of the coup. This disturbs Allied intelligence officials.

Jun II

British.

In an ominous sign, engineering units are observed by Luftwaffe recon planes erecting Fortifications outside Alamein. Severe name calling ensues across the frontline between the respective CinC’s. Axis intelligence summaries indicate that either the Allies plan to run away to the Alamein line and draw Axis forces away from Tobruk or that the CinC Middle East is a cautious commander. The HQ 50th XX is observed at Matruh.

Levant – SA and Brit infantry arrive with the 1st Tank X. Two massive attacks are made, one south of Beirut by British Armour, Free French and SA that destroys the Vichy defenders and one at Mt Hermon pass by Aussies, Poles and Kiwis that likewise grinds the defence into small pieces. The French commander signals Vichy desperately for troops to aid him, but the strong control of the sea lines by the British makes it next to impossible to provide any aid other than aircraft.

Iraq – Habforce arrives in the swamps east of Ramadi, much to the relief of the 1st Assyrian II. At Basra the HQ 10th Indian arrives with a single Brigade in support. Many complaints are made about the lack of sanitation and comfortable billets. Overworked supply personnel set about developing a supply terminal at the port. Outside the city, the disappointed Iraqi soldiers arrive too late to interfere and set about wondering how they are going to defend their country now…….

Axis.

The Levant – With the flower of the Vichy Army being decimated by the brutal British and the uncultured riff raff of the Globe, the valiant forces of France fall back again into the mountains, trading space for time and looking rakish in their kepis and chain smoking gitanes, muttering sacre bleu and zot alors as they watch the tanks of the British in the valleys below. They can only hope for good news from Egypt to save them now. By sheer coincidence, a scratchy radio signal is received from Tobruk…………

Libya/Egypt – With no supplies, desperate and hungry, in a vain but glorious all-or-nothing bid for eternal glory, the besieging Axis forces of Tobruk attack at half strength the redoubtable Tobruk defenders. In a what is obviously a surprise, a breakthrough is made quickly and the entire garrison is routed for the loss of a few German tanks of the 21st Pz XX. (2:1 -1 ATEC, -1 fort = EX) Churchill is dumbfounded, CinC Middle East is suicidal, the Italian Commander gracious in victory with only a small amount of war dances and cries of “in your face”. (Truly a jammy moment in wargaming history!) To make matters better, the Attack Supplies hoarded in Tobruk are captured intact. Suddenly the garrison at Halafaya are as nervous as a herd of sheep in a field on a dark night outside a New Zealand pub….

Iraq – The ever victorious forces of the Iraqi military gather outside Basra – 2nd XX, 4th XX and 1st Mech X, with lots of wonderful air support from the mighty Luftwaffe and dashing pilots of the Iraqi air force. Soon the impudent infidel dogs will be pushed into the sea (or maybe the desert depending on what way they want to retreat) and Iraq will reign supreme in its homeland!!

 

Aug 1941

Aug I

British: Numerous units are rebuilt in the Delta, especially Australian and New Zealander now that sufficient RPs are available. The Italian CinC is stiff lipped about but does worry about the possibility of future operations against the Alamein line. Who will win the battle of the build up??

Iraq – Newly arrived Indian forces join in an attack by the 10th XX on the Iraqis outside Basra. the results are a smashing victory. (6:1 = DE). Further north, Habforce launches an attack on the Iraqi 2nd XX and with the aid of its superior armour, smashes it into the desert sands. (DE) Showing true cavalry spirit, Habforce charges into Baghdad, capturing all Iraqi coup leaders while in the middle of an emergency meeting. Iraq is free from the scourge of the Germans. No-one can locate the German agents who were last seen heading towards Iran in a black mercedes at high speed…….. In Basra there is much swearing and fighting as Australians and New Zealanders disembark at the port to find all the fighting over. What the hell are they here for when Jerry’s at the front door of Cairo?

Levant – A mass attack goes in against the remaining Vichy forces holed up in Allepo, fighting is desperate, with two British brigades being shredded in the attack, but ultimately the French give way and are marched off into captivity. (3:1 = HX)

Axis: Muffled sobs are heard from the new Matruh bunker of the Italian CinC. Iraq and Levant in the some time period are lost to the cause. Blame is laid squarely on the French by all concerned. An attack is launched by Axis Mechanised units on two Allied XXs (SA 1st and 50th) holding a portion of the Alamein line. Heated air battles occur overhead, with the Stuka air support being chased away by Hurricane fighters at great loss to the RAF and SAAF. The eventual attack is a failure (1:1 = AS). Over Malta more bombing occurs and damage done to the island.

Aug II

British: While on a roll in the Near East, Iran is invaded, much to the annoyance of the Shah. A battlegroup under the command of the Aust 7th HQ attacks the 6th Iranian XX with Air Spt from Bombay Air transports. The Iranians are forced back. (DR) Further north the newly converted 9th Lt Armoured (ex Habforce) crosses the border to seize Karind (sp) and Shahabad.

Egypt/Palestine/Levant – Mass reshuffling of units to set up garrison needs and get troops down to Alamein. The HQ 70th XX, Czech’s and a couple of brigades land in Cyprus to defend the island against reports from SOE operatives in Greece that Goering’s skygangsters have been spotted in the region.

Axis: The bombing of Malta continues unabated. Supplies are hurried to Alamein. The troops are there but no bullets! CinC 10th Army and titular commander of DAK, hears rumours that Rome are most unhappy with his performance to date. Something desperate needs to be done…..

Iran – Shah orders all available troops to head south and west to hold the borders against the British while he fights the Soviets in the north. The long marches begin….

Oct 1940

Oct I

British build up at Matruh continues with Australian and British units from Palestine arriving. Complaints are received from the RAF Mess Committee over troops being ordered to dig slit trenches in the middle of the cricket pitch. Enraged at the lack of sporting facilities, the RAF Blenheims attack Tobruk again, smashing some dockside cranes and warehouses, limiting by a small amount the ports capacity.

Italian construction crews complete their first stretch of highway and move on to their next sector. Slowly the road is being built. Behind them stockpiled supplies are waiting transportation to the front line where the Libyan motorised forces practise for their eventual integration into an Armoured Division. The parachutists of the Tonini Regiment are sent to Halafaya to meet up with the 10A artillery regiment to provide an invulnerable two defensive strength points at this crucial piece of real estate. This’ll have Tommy trembling in his boots if he tries any sneaky deep desert strikes. Medals are handed round to all 10th Army staff officers in recognition for this cunning tactical planning. (armoured battalions placed in stacks to give -1 AECD roll)

Oct II

CinC ME orders the RAF to destroy the ability of the Italians to reinforce their frontline forces. Obviously he has planned something so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox. Bombers fly over Tobruk in a non-stop bombing campaign, trying to smash the port out of the war. Italian bi-planes scramble from airfields around Tobruk and try and stop any Blenheims getting through, but fail miserably although no damage occurs from the RAF attacks. Around Matruh the build up continues, supplies are stockpiled on the outskirts and more troops, Aussies, Czech’s, French and Indians join the battlegroups coalescing around the 7th Support Brigade and Indian 4th HQ. Australia beats England in a four day test to claim the first Matruh Ashes Cup. The horse boys HQ in Palestine are railed down to Matruh to convert to the “W” Art X. Missing chins and drawled consonants are required to join this outfit as an officer.

Construction is completed of the second stretch of road and Italian engineers move on to the next. Reports from the forward command post of the brave Italian CinC indicate he is gravely concerned over the actions of the British, who continue to build up forces at Matruh. It is anticipated that the road will be opened by Dec I and a British attack would be most likely at this stage. On advice from his staff, he decides not to inform his forward commanders at this intelligence estimate lest it cause panic amongst the soldiers…….. SM 79s rebase to Sicily for commencement of the air offensive on Malta.

 

Sep 1941

Sep I

British: Scanning the skies fearfully, the allies remain in position at Alamein.

Iran – The 9th Lt Arm X surprises everyone by attacking and nearly destroying an Iranian Corp. (1:1 +2 AECA = DH). Remaining Iranian XX flees into the hills but the rapidly approaching Polish Mtn X will mean they are unlikely to delay the British advance for long. In the south, Australian and Indian forces overrun the 6th Iranian XX just north of Ahwaz allowing a SA Lt arm II to race through the mountains to hold the north end of the mountain pass leading to the plains and Teheran. Right in front of them is the 1st Lt Arm X from Teheran which was on its way to join the 6th XX. The Shah is reported to be very angry. So angry he surrenders!

Axis: The loss of the Iranians is another (inevitable) blow. But fearing nothing but defeat itself, and galvanised by a stern letter from Il Duce, the Italian CinC launches the second battle of Alamein. Massive dogfights break out over the frontline. The Axis attack is powerful but the mixed bag of Aussies, Indians and South Africans hold out (4:1 -1 = DR). The reason for the ferocious attack is soon clear as parachutes are spotted over Damietta as two Para IIIs land, seizing the city. Over Port Said, glider-borne soldiers of the 16/22 III land, overrunning the ME Commando unit (which has been sitting here looking pretty for quite a while). The Special Operations Forces have shown their hand and the drive is on to seize the Delta. The long range of the operation (from Rhodes and Crete) has severely limited initial commitment, but there are few forces available to stop them in the Delta without stripping the Alamein line………. At Bengasi troops of the 2nd and 5th Pz XXs land, unaffected by the British, although the HQ of the 5th and one Mot III is returned to Italy. Over Malta, 4 hits are made for the loss of one Ju 88 to AA fire.

Sep II

Allied – The 1st Tk X rails down from Palestine to Ismaila and joins in with a couple of artillery and rear area units in attempting to block in the paratroopers. Australian forces sail from Iran and Iraq to Port Suez to join in the effort. At Alamein, the line is drawn back onto the second line of forts on the town itself. No attacks are made on the Axis.

Axis – Massive airbattles occur again over the Alamein battlefield as another effort is made to break the line. Unfortunately the vital Ju 87s are beaten back by relentless SAAF and RAF air power. Curse those Hurricanes! The loss is heavy to Allied fighters however (3 Fighters Killed). On the ground, the 10th Army and DAK are exhausted by the dogged defence and make no progress. (2:1 = AS). From Crete and Rhodes, more airborne troops are flown in with Mansura taken by the glorious paratroopers and Rosetta seized by another airborne landing by the 3/7 and 1st St.

 

November 1940

Nov I

A general reorganisation of the front line – 7th Armoured reorganised astroops sent to Greece. The Malta convoy of supplies and Cheshires getsthrough untouched by Italian pilots who fail to locate them. Blenheims andWellingtons attack Tobruk, but the build up in AA is effective. One wing ofBlen 1s are shot to pieces, scattering the desert sands outside the portwith wreckage. The other Blenheims and Wellingtons are returned to theirbases.

Over Malta, the SM 79s rain bombs on the island, but score no hits. AA fireis ineffective and weak. Reinforcements in the form of the 3rd ArmouredBattalion arrives at Tobruk.

Nov II

Newly arrived Australian brigades garrison the fleshpots of Cairo andAlexandria, drinking the city’s bars dry and complaining loudly about thepresence of New Zealanders in the area. Elsewhere little happens as theunits of the planned offensive wait to unleash death and destruction on theItalians.

The last sector of the Bardia-Sidi Barrani Motorway is completed. Theconstruction unit is barely finished when they are sent marching backtowards Bardia, away from the battlefield expected to soon develop.Supplies are moved back towards the border and in a cunning tacticalmanoeuvre, the entire 10th Army steps back 16 miles to throw any carefullyworked out British attack relying on use of full movement points intodisarray. This masterful movement is rewarded by a round of medals to thestaff of 10th Army.

 

Letter from Tobruk

Dear Il Duce,

Well its been a busy time since I last wrote, what with the Glorious Battles in Iran, Iraq and Syria. I have no doubt had they been stiffened with some of your glorious blackshirts they would have fought harder and lasted longer. Oh well, so much for them.

As you know, I captured Tobruk in a masterstroke – make it look like I was on the ropes, my men tired and hungry (only one kilo of Pasta per man! Mama Mia!) and then, kapow, seize the port in a fine display of Generalship. Hurrah for me! – and you of course most great leader.

I am confident that this latest battle at Alamein will see me through to the Nile within the month. Many British soldiers are still in the Near East and I believe it will be too late for them to return and affect the battle. The paratroopers in the Delta will no doubt be causing my opposite number troubles and soon I believe I will be able to receive you in person at the Pyramids and like that most noblest of Caesar’s, carve our names in one hundred foot high letters in the side of them.

Viva Italia!

your most obedient servant,

Marshal Roberto

(PS, thank Clara for the photos)

(PPS – What is it with all these Germans? Soon they will out number my Italian troops in terms of combat power and may demand an equal say in operations. Never!)

 

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