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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/

May 1942

May I

Allied:

Libya – Supplies are desperately needed at the front line and all efforts are made to get them to the front. The Infantry units provide a covering force to the Armoured units that reorganise, with the 7th Arm XX forming up.

North Africa – French units everywhere rally too the fight! France has fallen, France will rise again! The long distances make it difficult to immediately respond and aside from approaching Constantine, there appears little that can be done to save Tunisia. An urgent call is sent to the Americans for troops and aid.

German:

At Malta, a motorised III and arm II arrive to garrison the island.

Tunisia – The HQ 133 Lit XX arrives in Bizerte while the paratroopers rush off to Tunis itself. At Souza, the Spahis of the Tunisian Cavalry are overrun by the Panzers of the 5th III at Sousse. Having brushed these aside, the Panzers attack Tunis from the east while the paratroopers strike across the river from the west. Overhead uncontested air supremacy allows bombers to rain destruction on the outnumbered defenders who are forced to capitulate. (4:1 -1 City = DE) Inside Algeria, the 310th Mot III attacks the 3rd Algerian X in a desperate attack (no AS) but is unable to dislodge the startled Africans from their positions. (2:1 -1 Rough = AS) In the follow up, the CinC orders his sole Panzer unit (5th III) to stop drinking all the captured wine in Tunis and hurry up and take Constantine. The units obligingly heads into Algeria, leaving the paratroopers to party well into the night.

May II

Allied:

Libya – Supplies continue to be brought forward while aircraft are flown into forward airstrips in the desert, ready for the forthcoming offensive. Desperate pleas from the French are ignored for the moment by the cold hearted Allied CinC who remembers well the bitter fighting in Syria.

North Africa – The French Commander can do little other than continue to bring his soldiers as far forward as possible. If sufficient strength can be gathered then there is the slim chance the Axis spearhead can be broken and the line pushed forward back into Tunisia before more Axis reinforcements arrive to strengthen their grip.

German:

Libya – Air strips are built to redistribute the Axis airforce behind the line. AS are transported down the coast, but it is hard with limited transportation facilities. Removing trucks from the 101 Mechanised XX is toyed with by the German CinC but he decides that it is not needed at this stage. At Malta, the 2nd CCNN XX arrives to garrison the island.

Algeria – Glider and parachute units are flown into Bizerte. Along the coast, the HQ 133 Lit XX and an Arm III seizes Bone. South of here, the 15th Pz XX attacks and destroys the defenders of Constantine, bringing great relief to the CinC how desperately wanted this critical junction. The losses in the air were heavy however, with French fighter pilots punishing the Luftwaffe bombers and taking a heavy toll. (3:1 -1 Rough, +3 AECA = DE) Following this series of battles, the 133 Lit XX forms up at Bone.

 

Letter from Benghazi

To: OKH

From: Field Commander Afrika

Subject: The Battle for North African Domination.

Send more tanks, planes and men. With the Italian buffoon out of the way, I have confidence I can prevent any more debacles such as the Christmas day rout at Alamein. First I must secure my rear – namely Malta and remove that potential thorn – Vichy North Africa. It is obvious that the Americans will become involved soon, but I must hold them as far from Tunisia as I can – ideally Casablanca – and the time to strike against the French is fast approaching. Once this is done I can turn back to Egypt and sweep the desert clean. But I must have more tanks and planes. Four Panzer Divisions is not enough!

Your servant,

General Rupert Von Wilhelms

Note: Following discussion at length with the Commander Middle East, he wishes the following press communique issued via the BBC Home Service.

“The following statement is incorrect: ‘British CinC releases a communique that he has drawn a line in the sand and the enemy shall not cross it. There is much flag waving and cheering in Westminster at this news.’ The Commander Middle East is an Australian! Damn your eyes, sir, for such a slur on the fine fighting qualities of the Middle East Command!”

 

Feb 1942

Feb I

Allied – Replacements are formed up back in the Delta and marched to join the main front. Supplies are trucked to the units at Halafaya who obviously need them the most. German – Reinforcements arriving from Italy are sent to Tripoli. The crucifixion of Malta continues – 3 hits for no losses in Axis aircraft.

Feb II

Allies: The might and power of the British is unleashed in a massive front wide offensive. Along the coast, Kiwi, Aussie and British Infantry Divisions and the remnants of the 5th Indian attached push through the ZoC of the 2nd Pz and 101 Mech (rebuilt and hurried into the line). These forces smash into the Halafaya “Von Wilhelm” Line and are stopped dead by the defenders. (2:1 -1 fort = AS) Above the escarpment the majority of the 8th Army crashes head long into the motorised and mechanised Axis forces. Fighting is fierce and prolonged, but ends in a stalemate with the both sides exhausted. (2:1 +1 AECA, -3 ATEC = AS) In the south, along the frontier, the Australian 8th XX, with two SA and one Aussie recon battalions swing deep into the desert to be south of the main defence line. For some unknown reason, the 1st Dragoon regiment clatters off in its dinky armoured cars to the Siwa Oasis. The German CinC is perplexed – what is this strange tactical movement for?

In the follow up phase, the Aust 8th is joined by the 7th Arm XX HQ and a motorised 7th Inf X. “I say old chap”, asks the Major General commanding 7th Arm XX, “you haven’t seen my tanks around here have you?”

German: The front line is shortened with the mechanised Axis forces doubling back to slam into the 8th Aust XX and HQ 7th Arm XX. The exposed Allies are forced back in a wonderful victory showing true Axis domination of the region. (2:1 -1 AECD, +3 AECA = DR) The commander 7th Arm XX says “If I’d had my tanks there, none of these shenanigans would have happened!”

To emphasise the ability of the Axis, the 15th Pz Cdr beetles down the road to Oasis di Giarabub and send signals in clear to the 1st dragoons – “We’re coming to get yooouuu!”.

Jan 1942

Jan I

Allied – The chase begins as the infantry marches out towards Matruh, halting just short of the town. The 1st SA XX is sent to the NE to maintain garrison requirements.

Axis – Various units in the replacement pool are scrapped to help rebuild Italy’s shattered forces. The 21st Pz is rebuilt from cadre and various other German and Italian units appear in towns in Cyrencia. The retreat continues through to Halafaya where a fort is built south of Bardia. Over Malta bombs continue to fall, maintaining previous damage levels.

Jan II

Allied – Repairs begin on the Matruh railway while other engineers construct airfields to support the advance of the Desert Air Force. Wellington bombers with Beaufighter escort attack Tobruk. Matruh and Sidi Barrani are retaken by advancing Allied infantry and armour. At Sidi Barrani, the body of the Italian CinC is found, wrapped in an Italian flag, his Barretta side arm still pressed to his temple. He is buried with full military honours by the beach overlooking the sea towards his homeland.

German – The Italian infantry is sent to Tobruk. The remaining mobile forces remain at Halafaya. From his tactical HQ, three miles in front of the leading Axis positions, the new German commander swears he will not rest until the British are driven from Egypt and a new world order is imposed on the region. There will be no retreats, no defeats, only ever lasting glory and victory etc etc etc……. To show his seriousness, Malta is struck five times by the mighty bomber fleet from Sicily and the counters for the Italian Special Ops are placed on the map next to Malta in a noticeable manner. To continue the psychological warfare, the 4 infantry XXs and odds and sods of the 5th Army in Tripoli are advanced to the Tunisian border. Supplies are landed in Tripoli and moved to join them. Whatever this new commander has planned, it obviously seems to lie westwards towards the Atlantic instead of east towards the Nile. Hmmm.

 

Dec 1941

Dec I

Allied – The third battle of Alamein begins with a massive attack by several Infantry XXs on the 21 PZ, 102 Mot and assorted odds and sods. Air support is massive from the Allied side, and there is little the Luftwaffe can do to contain them, suffering heavy losses in trying to do so. The battle goes poorly for the Axis who are able to inflict some losses on the infantry, but not nearly as much as was hoped for. (3:1 -2 AECD = HX).

In the exploitation phase, the Allied armoured units enter the vacated positions of the Axis and try to look as enticing as possible to the German armour just behind the line. (Ha – me attack at -4 ATEC, I’d have to be stupid!!)

Axis – Initial news at 10th Army Command in Matruh is bad – supplies are reported to have been sent to the bottom of the ocean by Malta based pirates. In response a massive raid inflicts 3 hits on the defenders. At Alamein, an all out counter offensive is launched to crush the Allies and drive on to destiny. Over the desert, more planes are flung into the repair shops or crash and burn on the desert floor as air superiority is contested. There appears to be no clear winner in the skies. On the ground, the coastal attack on the Allied armour fails badly with the troops fleeing in terror from the resolute defenders. (3:2 -4 ATEC, +2 AECA = AR – call me stupid.) South of this battle the majority of German and Italian Armour is engaged against some Australian and Indian units. Despite rough parity in strength, the armour gives advantage to the Axis and, in exchange for the finest armour in the desert, is successful in routing the defenders from their lines (3:2 +3 AECA = EX).

In the follow up phase, Pz cadres and the 101 Mech with attached riff raff advance to just south of Alamein, over running an empty fort and breaking the allied line – ahead of them is clear terrain until the Nile. The message is sent back to Matruh and there is great rejoicing and a round of medals for everyone. Cairo will be a Christmas present for Il Duce!

Dec II

Allied – Mustering all their forces, the Allies close their trap on the lead Axis force. Attacking from four directions (the southern most being blocked by the Qattara salt marshes), the Allies smash into the defenders who hold out for a short while before panic sets in and they try to flee from battle. Along their retreat path however are Allied patrols and artillery killing zones. Troops begin to surrender en masse and only the remnants of the 101 Mech make it through to some form of apparent safety (4:1 -3 ATEC +1 AECA = DR with ZOC all around).

Exploitation Phase. Italian tankers of the 101 Mech rest from the terrible ordeal they have just been through. They are caught by utter surprise when British tanks and armoured cars over run their hasty defence lines, and all are forced to join their comrades in captivity. (overrun by exploiting armour – boo hoo).

Axis – Disaster, utter disaster. With heavy heart, the retreat begins – airfields and airstrips are evacuated and destroyed by retreating units. The Matruh rail line is blown up and the remaining Panzer forces cover the retreating Italian infantry.

 

Nov 1941

Nov I

Allied – The 6th Indian XX is sent to Palestine to relieve the 2nd SA which returns to Egypt. At Suez, the 8th AS arrives, and with the 6th AS and 38th Ind X attacks into the swamps and canals against the 22 Glider XX at Port Said. Using rafts and locally commandeered fishing craft, the Germans slip away from the overwhelming Allied might to the island north of Damiatta. (5:1 -1 = DR). Meanwhile to the west, the 7th AS and 2nd NZ drive the paratroopers out of their positions in Damiatta to join the Glider regiments. (5:1 -1 = DR)

Axis – All that is written in the Italian CinC’s log for this time period is: “AS to Alamein. Spec Ops withdrawn. WASTE!” No doubt due to the pressure from Allied forces Goering determined it was no longer feasible to maintain his units in the Delta while the main thrust at Alamein had been thwarted. Obviously there were lots of tears and tantrums in the bunker that night. It is believed there was on going bombing of Malta also but the results are lost to history.

Nov II

Allied – The 9th Arm X and Indian 3 Mot X switch positions to maintain the NE Garrison and allow more armoured force in the main theatre. There is a mass build up of XXs behind the Alamein line – 6 infantry, 1 Armoured and a handful of various brigades and artillery units. Allied Fighter strength is rebuilt and supplies stockpiled just behind the main line. The Allied Commander is reported by Italian Intelligence as being seen in a Cairo brothel living it up with his staff and celebrating his forth coming victory. The Italian CinC is not amused.

Axis – The supply trucks work their wheels off getting AS to the front. Units are shuffled to try and get maximum ATEC/AECD. Malta is again bombed to bits by the air units based on Sicily.

Oct 1941

Oct I

Allied – More troops are placed in the Delta, blockading the airborne units, but no attacks are made by the allies. The Allied Commander ignores the furious pleas and demands from Whitehall and remains cucumber cool in the current crisis. The Cypriot Garrison is brought back to Alexandria, obviously there is no danger to the Allied CinC of further landings being made.

Axis – Malta is struck heavily by combined might of the Luftwaffe and Italian airforce. 3 hits are inflicted on the island for 1 Ju 88 destroyed. On the ground outside Alamein, another attack is launched, with another massive air battle occurring overhead. 350 Axis fighters escort 200 bombers and attack craft against 200 British fighters. Losses are heavy on both sides, but the Italian CinC’s handwritten notes of this episode record “Allied Airpower broken!!!” (The multiple exclamation points an example of his unravelling mind) The ground battle goes poorly again, and the valiant troops of fascism are forced back beyond their start lines. (2:1, -1 = AR) What is needed to break these colonials?

Oct II

Allied – Calmly the Allies rebuild the NZ 2nd HQ and a couple of British brigades. The last Aust. X’s arrive from the Near East and again reinforce the Delta blocking positions. No movement or attacks occur at Alamein. Obviously General “Iceman” is unruffled by anything the Axis can do….

Axis – The 2nd and 5th Pz XXs form up at Matruh and march to Alamein. The 101 Motorised converts to Mechanised and replacements are assigned to the Ariete and 21Pz XXs. The Axis units prepare for the final thrust into Alamein to join their brethren awaiting on the Nile, motors on tanks are revved up, smoke is laid down, march routes and timetables prepared. Then the dreaded report from the commissary arrives – no supplies available! Cursing at discovering the nearest supplies are back at Tobruk, the Axis are forced to wait… and wait.

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