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Ludendorff gets his will

We are grateful to announce that Eric Pierce has graciously given permission for his MTV Battle Scenario “Battle of Liege” to be published on these pages. The less-than historical achievements of the German side in the initial moves of several “March to Victory“-playtests have been discussed for years on- and offline. As usual, several fixes has been advanced and rejected.

Today Eric, one of the designers originally involved in the great War Series, shares his take on a more balanced (if the term is approriate for a steamroller stomping a small neutral neighbour into submission within a couple of weeks) approach to the first moves of any “Great War” game. Wether it manages to resolve the issues plaguing the German Juggernout – find out for yourself!

MTV Scenario: Battle of Liege

Designers Notes:

Here is the long awaited revised setup for MTV, AUG II 14. The revision concerns the issues of German deployment (especially) as a result of their attack on Liege during the AUG I 14 turn. It was planned to revised the OB years ago but time just slipped away! I have been working on TGW & Glory intensely (Europa too) for some years now, and have built quite the inventory of materials. Due to recent discussions on the topic concering the lack of vigor in the German drive into France, I have moved forward on the issue. Believe it or not, AEG and I have discussed possible solutions for years. I had hoped that he would of addressed the issues officially but he seems always distracted by other considerations. As a result of his (HMS) lack of activity, I will do my best to provide support to those that have interest in both TGW & Glory. “March to Victory” is one of the battle scenarios developed throughout the design process for TGW.

Battle of Liege

(The Great War Battle Scenario One)
Special Rules:
1-No river effects AUG I 14, and German attacks receive a +1 during the Schlieffen Plan (new).
2-Triple any Belgian RE losses for the purposes of Morale Losses (R15D) during AUG I 14.
3-Sequence:

AUG I 14

Entente:
Initial Phase-mobilization Pt-II, Units Red Eff.
Movement Phase– mobilization.
Combat Phase– mobilization.
Reaction Phase– mobilization, Units Red Eff. [See R41BBB9e; the rule is used here as part of the mobilization effects)
Exploitation Phase– mobilization.

CP:
Initial Phase-mobilization Pt-II, Units Red Eff, except “Army of the Meuse”. “Army of the Meuse” is fully mobilized; it may move and attack Liege, and any hex adjacent to Liege.

Movement Phase– mobilization. “Army of the Meuse” moves adjacent to Liege: the 34th Bde and 2 Hv Cav Corps enter Viviers (GW2:1116); the 11th & 14th Bdes enter Verviers (GW2:1216); the 38th & 43rd Bdes enter hex (GW2:1216). The 420A siege art unit moves into Verviers (GW2:1216). The 34th Bde and 2 Hv Cav Corps cross the river and enter hex (GW2:1016).

Combat Phase– mobilization. The 11th, 14th, 27th & 34th Bdes and the 38th & 43rd Bdes from the southeast, along with the 420A siege art unit (4pts x4), attack Liege [one Rsc Pt is expended]. One type Z air unit provides GS.
Reaction Phase– mobilization, Units Red Eff. The check for Reaction (use leader) and succeed, and withdraw the Belgian 3rd Div to hex (GW2:0918) and the 15th Bde to Namur.

Exploitation Phase– mobilization.

Changes: to German OB AUG II 14: Historical:
A) 1st Army & 2nd Army Setup:
Move to the Breakdown Box –
3×16-18-5* Rifle XX…6,7,18
1×15-16-18* Rifle XX…14
2×10-12-5* Rifle XX…2GR,22R
B) Add to Setup:
*Place the following units with the 1st Army – 2×7-9-5* Rifle X…11/6, 12/6; 2×7-9-5* Rifle X…13/7, 14/7; 2×7-9-5* Rifle X…34/18, 36/18; 2×4-6-5* Rifle X…43R/22R, 44R/22R; and the 22ndArmy – 1×7-9-5* Rifle X…27/14 & 1×6-7-5* Rifle X…28/14; 2×4-6-5* Rifle X…26R/2GR, 38R/2GR.
*Place 1×8-2-4 Hv Siege Art [II]…420A (KLM) with 1st Army.
*Place 1x Hv Cav Corps HQ…2 & 2×10-6-7* Cav XX…2, 4 & the 1×3-4-7 Jgr III…6 with the 1st Army.
*Place 1×10-6-7* Hv Cav XX…9 with the 2nd Army.

German:
Liege Special Assault Force.

Army of the Meuse (Otto vEmmich):
1x Hv Cav XXX HQ…2
3×10-6-7* Hv Cav XX…2, 4, 9
DN: The 9th Cav Div (2 Cav Corps) operated to the southwest of Liege, and was moving on Huy. Following the attacks on Liege, the 2nd Cav Corps attacked Hasselt where the Belgian 1st Cav Div & 8th Mxt Bde were deployed. A large portion of the Belgian Army & its GHQ were in the Gete area (west of Hasselt) at the time. Meanwhile the 9th Cav Div assisted the crossing of the Meuse at Huy by the 2nd Army. O the 18th of August the King ordered a general withdrawal to Antwerp.
4×7-9-5* Rifle X…11/6, 14/7, 27/14, 34/18
2×4-6-5* Rifle X…38R/2GR, 43R/22R
1×3-4-7 Jgr III…6 {7, 9 btn}
1×8-2-4 Hv Siege Art [II]…420A (KLM)
1×7-9-5 Hv Art III…{4 or 9}
DN: This represents the heavy artillery that might have been attached (or released) to the assault. It contained the 210mm (Morser) as well as the standard hv art. I cannot confirm that there were any independent hv art bttys, so this unit might not be there. There were however 150mm bttys from the parent divs operating with the brigades, but how many in total? However, Ludendorf himself had taken command of a 150mm section on two occasions (27 Bde).
1x 1 Z 4 1-2/12*…L7

Breakdown Box.
4×16-18-5* Rifle XX…6, 7, 14, 18
2×10-12-5* Rifle XX…2GR, 22R

Belgian:
Frontier Force:
Liege (GW2:1117):
1×3-5-4* Fort [XX]…LieT
4×2-3-5* Rifle X (Red Eff)…9Bru/3, 11Has/3, 12Lie/3, 14Lie
1×5-3-0 Hv Art [X]…3Fr
Hex (GW2:1118):
1×2-3-5* Rifle X (Red Eff)…15Char/4

Breakdown Box.
1×6-9-5* Rifle XX…3Lie

AUG II 14

German:
Setup:
Hex (GW2:1016):
1x Hv Cav XXX HQ…2
1×10-6-7* Hv Cav XX…4
1×3-4-5* Rem (7-9-5*)…34/18
1×3-4-7 Jgr III…6 {7, 9 btn}
Hex (GW2:1017):
1×10-6-7* Hv Cav XX…2
Hexes, Verviers (GW2:116) and/or (GW2:1216):
3×7-9-5* Rifle X…11/6, 14/7, 27/14
Note: German player is eligible for R15G in the Liege hex.
Verviers (GW2:1116):
1×8-2-4 Hv Siege [II]…420A (KLM)
Rail hit
Hex (GW2:1217):
1×10-6-7* Hv Cav XX 9
1×4-6-5* Rifle X…43R/22R
Hex (GW:1216):
1×1-2-5* Rem (4-6-5*)…38R/2GR
Note: A Rem is a ½ RE unit.

Belgian:
Special Note: Reduce Belgian Morale Points by 7 points.
Frontier Force:
Gete (GW2:0918):
2×2-3-5* Rifle X…9Bru/3, 12Lie/3
Liege (GW2:1117):
1×1-2-4* Fort Cadre (3-5-4*)…LieT
1×2-3-5* Rifle X (Red Eff)… 14Lie
Namur (GW2:1019):
1×2-3-5* Rifle X (Red Eff)…15Char/4

Replacement Pool.
1×2-3-5* Rifle X…11/3
1×5-3-0 Hv Art [X]…3Fr

Campaign Notes:

Events:
6-7 August.
North.
2 & 4 Cav Div moved into Vise then crossed to the north near Lixhe and skirmished with the Belgian 12R of the 12 Bde – which then withdrew into the fortress area. The two divisions (along with the 7 & 9 Jgr btns) moved around the northern side of the Liege Fortress in order to isolate it.
34th Bde occupies Vise (Verviers hex), crosses the Meuse, and moves south; attacks the fortress at Mermee, and along a front of Prealle/Herstal. A group enters Liege but is repulsed, and fire from Ft Liers & Pontisse force a retirement to Lixhe (Meuse R). The Bde later entered Liege late on the 7th. [1180 cas.]
27th Bde advances south of Vise and reaches Argenteau where it comes under fire from Ft Barchon. The Bde moves further south but is repulsed and retires to Argenteau. Meanwhile a fighting column (cav) had advance towards Ft Barchin on its east side but withdrew to Battice when word reached it that its Bde had withdrawn. The Bde entered Liege late on the 7th.
East.
11th Bde attacking from the southeast towards St Hadelin & Magnee. An attack on Romsee was successful (Bel 14R) but all advances stop after the attack; a retirement to Magnee was then carried out. The Bde entered Liege late on the 7th.[cas. ?]
14th Bde (with Ludendorf) Advanced to Retinne (cmdr wounded) and Ludendorf takes command. On the 7th the Bde advanced and then reaches Liege (believing that Liege’s bridges across he Meuse were underdefended), securing the bridges with Regiment 27 and the town.
South.
38th Bde attacked into Boncelles but Ft Boncelles forced the Bde to move to the NW. The 38th Bde continued attacking but withdrew to Lince on the 7th. [cas ?]
43rd started in reserve but join the attack latter on the 6th. It then participated with the 38Th Bde in its attacks and movements thru the 7th. [cas ?]

8-16 August.
7-11th Bde takes up defense position west of Liege. The 14th and 27th Bdes also move into the Liege positions. Fort Barcheron capitulates. The 34th Bde takes up positions at Lixhe.
7 thru 10-The 38th & 43 Bdes withdraw to Theux.
Note: The Belgian 3rd Div {9, 11, 12 Bdes} withdraws by the 7th to Gete.
8-The VII, IX and X crossed Belgian border.
10/11-The IX Corps moves to capture Ft Liers, Pontisse, Evegnee, and Fleron. The VII and X Corps move to capture Ft Chaudfontaine and Embourg.
12-The IX captures Ft Evegnee and Ft Pontisse surrenders after a bombardment with 380mm (AH) and 420mm (Ge) siege howizters (heavy siege).
14-Ft Liers and Ft Fleron surrender after a heavy siege bombardment.
15 thru 17-The western forts are taken-surrender.
16-Ft Hollogne and Ft Flemalle surrender after a short bombardment.
17-The German 1st, 2nd, 3rd Armies commence operations.
Note: The Germans found 17 locomotives crashed together at Verviers.
18-The 2 & 4 Cav Div attack towards Hasselt – on a line Budingen to Diest, but were halted after the Belgian 1st Cav Div was reinforced by the 8 Mxt Bde

Jan II 43

Allied Turn

This time the Allied player rolls a six for the game turn’s weather die roll; so it’s still mud in the E weather zone and rough seas in the Mediterranean. Per Advanced Rule 36D2-Desert Storms and Temporary Airfields, he rolls again to check for desert storms and they do indeed occur this turn. The single on-map Axis temporary airfield at the Tripoli dot city hex is unaffected by the desert storms due to the presence of the It 0-6 const III 5A in the hex. But the Allied player’s numerous temporary airfields in Egypt are hard hit for the second time in the current WD/Cauldron scenario. Bad luck with his die rolling for the sand storm’s effects at temporary airfields without the presence of a const/eng unit inflict nine more damage hits (some are double hits per the success table) at his Egyptian temporary airfields, jacking up the total damage hits in Egypt due to sandstorms to an incredible total of 22. A withering total of 12 air units are rendered inoperative by the wind blown sand of the two Western Desert sand storms recently endured. I wonder if this is a world’s record in WW for the desert storms? Ironically the Egyptian coast road temporary air field at 19A:1519 where the Allied player just last turn airlifted the 0-1-4 const X 66RPC with the US C-47 air unit has no air units at the hex. Perhaps miffed by Fate’s mean trick done to him, he has the const X repair the rail hit there during the movement phase.

At Mechili (18A:4019) the 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC builds a 2-cap temporary airfield. A little westwards, at stony desert road hex 3423 (one hex west of Msus) the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8 builds a 3-cap temporary airfield, complementing the one at Msus (3523).

Early in his movement phase the Allied player gets down to his last game turn’s war business and unleashes a final big bombing offensive against the Bengazi hex. After staging some fighters to his newly built airfields, he first sends the two B 24 HBs and the US B 25C on a day bombing mission escorted by the SA Spit 5, a Br P 40K, the US P 40F, and a Br Hurri 2C. This compels the Axis player to send the four Axis fighters defending Bengazi to intercept the Allied mission. The intercepting force contains the MC 202, the two Me 109G2s, and the Me 110E HF. The four Axis fighters based at Bengazi are too far away from another Axis airfield to fly “a 1-leg air transfer [scramble] mission” per Rule 23D2-Scramble, and so they fly to their fate. The P 40K and the Spit 5 are aborted, along with a Me 109G2, but the Allied bombers score no tac bombing hits against the Bengazi airfield.

Having made the Axis player use up all his operative fighters at Bengazi against the initial Allied air attack, the Allied player then flies the three A 30s and two Hurri 2Cs on a tac bombing mission, but they also miss the Bengazi airfields in the mud weather.

Finally the Allies send the two Well 1Cs and the Blen 5 on a strat bombing mission against Bengazi’s port capacity. The bombers miss their port target and the Blen 5 is aborted by the port’s flack.

In the movement and exploitation phases the Allies send westward along the Libyan coast road what might be called a stalking force towards the retreating Afrika Korps forces. The Allied stalking force eventually enters the Sirte hex at 18A:1727, but then backs up and ends the turn at 2127, 12 hexes away from the Axis desert front line at hex 1025. This westernmost Allied occupied hex at the game’s final Allied turn contains the Br 7th Arm XX, the two Br 2-1-10 lt arm II’s 1HRC & 1DG, the Br 2-10 lt flk X XXX, the Br 1-10* support group X 2, and two steps of attack supply. The other three Br arm divisions 1, 8, & 10, along with a large array of powerful 8th Army arm/motorized ground units, remain at hexes 3129 & 3130, available for a hypothetical “next turn” to either strike northwards and attack Bengazi in (hopefully) clear weather or westwards down the Libyan coast road, if perchance the Axis gets frisky and changes direction.

By the end of the exploitation phase the Allied player transfers westwards some more fighter units to facilitate the siege of Bengazi. At his forward airfield at 3423, next to Msus, is the Br P 40K, the Br Spit 5, and a Hurri 2C. At Msus is the US P 40F. The Allied player reassures me that in a hypothetical Feb I 43 Allied turn he’d rebuild the aborted SA Spit 5 and the Br P 40K with two of his 17 now available ARP’s and place them at Msus along with the US P 40F. At Mechili are two Hurri 2Cs. This gives the Allies a total of 8 good fighters in the Bengazi zone. At Tobruk is an old Hurri 2 and at the 3-cap permanent airfield at 4818 are the three A 30s. A variety of other mostly bomber types are available at airfields farther east.

 Axis Turn

On the last turn of the game the Axis player wants only to put an exquisite end to what he thinks has been a good Europa desert war game. With the one Ger ARP available he rebuilds the aborted Me 109F2 and places it in Sicily. This leaves available one It ARP. In Libya he symbolically continues the Afrika Korps westwards retreat towards Tripoli, while not actually exiting the west edge of Western Desert map 18A. The three Axis attack supply steps at the road hex at 18A:1025 can only move to coast road hex 0622, six hexes away from Tripoli. One of them can move one coast road hex further west. A couple of It ground units keep them company (and prevent a potential Allied capture) and a coast road “rat tail” connects them to the Tripoli hex.

The Axis player uses his 3 RE Cent Med sea transport capability to safely coastal ship to Bengazi another step of attack supply beginning the turn at the Tripoli hex. This gives Bengazi a total of six attack supply steps. Right now it seems to the Axis player that a plentiful supply of attack supply steps at Bengazi (about 6) is more important/useful than attempting to somehow slip (and presumably hopefully eventually out) a WD scenario It 0-6 const III into Bengazi. Sadly however, he air transfers the three remaining Axis fighters at Bengazi, a MC 202, a Me 109G2, and the Me 110E, back to Sicily. He sees no point in wasting good Axis fighters and ARPs in an air war of attrition over the besieged, permanently cut-off, and frankly doomed Bengazi hex. From now on until its fall it will no doubt be “raining bombs” on Bengazi, regardless of good or mud weather. The good Axis fighters there can be of greater use elsewhere in the Med/NA Command for prolonging the existence of the Third Reich.

The Ju 52 based at Tripoli (transferred during the previous Allied turn) airlifts another Ger inf RP stored there to the mainland Europe off-map holding box.

There are still bombers at Scarpantos and Rhodes menacing the Allied facilities in Egypt and eastern Libya, but the Axis player keeps then grounded, wishing to avoid last turn air unit losses due to the formidable Allied flack at virtually any and all tempting Egyptian target hexes, particularly at the Suez Canal. Admittedly, in a WW North African or WitD scenario all these Axis air units currently in the east Aegean zone would in this time period be very busy and frankly very likely more useful in the Tunisian area.

At the end of the game both players happily declare the reported Western Desert/Cauldron scenario Europa war game a draw.

The game reporter will attempt for the EA a final WD/Cauldron game report which will attempt to be a summary of lessons learned and a description of Europa desert war gaming insights derived from the current game. A very brief WD scenario VP analysis will be presented.

Jan I 43

Allied Turn

Allied Turn. Allied Western Desert air power notably increases this turn with at least 6 good air unit reinforcements and the arrival of 15 ARPs, along with some interesting air unit conversions. Buried in the Allied turn’s long OB listings is a three Ind inf X Mid East Command withdrawal, along with a Blen 4, to the Near East that the Allied player needs to be ready for.

At the turn’s start the Allied player rolls a 3 on the weather table and so it’s still mud in the E weather zone and calm seas in the Mediterranean. For the time being the Axis hasn’t yet lost on his Bengazi gamble.

The Allied player has so many unused ARPs remaining at the start of the new air cycle that he gets to carry over two of them to the new air cycle per Advanced Rule 25C7-ARP Accumulation, and so has a new net total of 17 combined US & British ARPs. The 12 unused Br ARPs reaps him 3 VPs pr the same Rule.

However, the Ind inf X withdrawals mentioned in the first paragraph cost him an eventual net of -2 ½ VPs for his Palestine garrison requirement when he uses three Ind inf Xs he has there for the Allied OB stipulated withdrawal. He has enough available garrison capable ground units in the ME replacement pool to cover ½ RE of the Palestine garrison. He nixes my suggestion he use the three Ind inf Xs of the Ind 10th inf XX bearing down on Bengazi, saying he likes these Indians where they’re at.

At the start of his movement phase the Allied player sends 8 fresh gsp’s to Malta. The Malta Status is still 0.

The Palestine garrison requirement is eventually fulfilled in the movement phase with the arrival of the reinforcement Fr 1-10 mot inf X L, the Ind 2-8 inf X 7 sea transported from Cyprus, and the Br 1-8 MG II 2 Ch from Egypt.

Using one of the new US ARPs he brings on an American B 25C from the ME abort box.

The Axis player does no harassment missions at the end of the Allied initial phase, perhaps another sign of the end phase of the Western Desert scenario.

Early in the movement phase the two colonial 0-1-4 const Xs complete their 3-cap permanent airfields at Tobruk (18A:4817) and at the due south adjacent hex at 4818. One 0-1-4 const unit then admin moves to El Mechili (4019), where it ends the movement phase stacked with the Fr 2-8* inf X 2FL.

The other colonial 0-1-4 const X is picked up by the US C-47 and airlifted to one of the “sanded-in” (2 hits of damage) 3-cap temporary airfields at Egyptian coast road hex 19A:1519.

Meanwhile the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8 builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at Msus (18A:3523) and then moves one hex westwards and ends its movement at stony desert road hex 3423, along with the two SA lt arm IIs 4 & 6, the Ind 1-2-10* mot anti-tnk X 3, the Br 3-2-10* lt arm X 4, and the old Br 1-10* mot support group X 2(nd arm XX). At Msus is the Ind 2-8 inf X 11, the Br 44th inf XX HQ unit, and three steps of attack supply.

The Br para II 156 arrives at Tobruk, where it ends its movement with the 2nd NZ inf XX HQ unit and the NZ 2-8 inf X 6.

The Ind 6-8* inf XX 10 ends its turn at 3518 and is reinforced by the arrival of the Br 1-8 anti-tnk II 95. At Bardia (4116) is the Ind 2-8 inf X 5 and the 0-8 lt flk II 57. Other stout 8th Army stacks encamp close to Bengazi at 3323 and 3422, and the Br 2-8 inf X 132 lingers at 3620.

The Allies then begin a major air offensive against the beleaguered Axis defenders at Bengazi (18A:3121). First they send the Aus Halfx 2 night bomber and the three Wellingtons on a night strat bombing aiming to score port damage hits. All four bombers make it through the city’s flack, but score no bomb hits.

Next the Allies sends three US B-24s on a day bombing mission, but cancels the mission as soon as the Axis sends three of his four fighters based at the Bengazi hex on interception missions. Right afterwards he sends the Bftr 6F NHF on a daylight tac bombing mission against the Bengazi airfields, but cancels it as soon as the Axis sends on the interception mission the last fighter based at the port city.

Then, having forced the Axis player to use up his available operative fighters at Bengazi on bum steer interceptions, the Allies unleash the three A 30s on a daylight tac bombing mission against the Bengazi airfields. Once again, however, after getting through the seven flack factors, the A-30s miss their Axis airfield target. They are followed by the Br Blen 5 and the US B 25 on a daylight bombing mission, but they also miss their airfield target.

Finally the Allies send the Br B 24C bomber on a daylight strat bombing mission, but again can’t score a hit against the Bengazi port. Although superficially “lucky” in that the Axis suffered no bomb hits (all Allied bombing factors halved due to the mud weather) at the Bengazi hex, the Axis player is beginning to feel the “blueness” that an Axis soldier caught in the Stalingrad pocket might feel on a “good” early Jan. day there. He wonders if he ought to evacuate his four fighters based there to avoid a possible last turn Jan II 43 Allied drubbing?

At the desert front line the Allied player sends a strong mobile force westwards down the Libyan coast road to 18A:2328, thereby gaining hex control of the coast road up to here. However, by the end of the exploitation phase this advance mobile force returns eastwards to the new Allied desert front line back at 3129 & 3130, both two hexes east of El Agheila (2930). This puts both powerful Allied hex stacks within 10 hexes of Axis held Bengazi, putting this force within striking distance of the besieged city, assuming clear weather on the Jan II 43 game turn, the last one in the WW Western Desert scenario.

Perhaps as a kind of end of game honor guard, the Allied player puts the Aus desert rat 1-10 lt arm II 1 at the Agedabia hex (3327).

Late in the exploitation phase the Axis player does big a non-phasing air unit transfer reshuffle. His single Ju 52 air transport goes to the Sirte airbase (1727). To the Khaina (19A:4403) airfield at Crete go three Ju88A4 air units and a MC 202. To the Erakleion (4903) airfield on Crete go the two Z1007b’s, a Ju 88A4, and a MC 200 air unit.

By the end of the turn the Allies have on-map in the Western Desert 14 good fighter units fighting 10 Axis fighters of mixed Ger & It qualitites. An It G 50bis still guards eastern Sicily from the two Spit 5s at Malta. This turn the Western Desert air force fields 17 B & A types compared to 11 Axis B & D types.

It might be interesting to note the dispositions of the by now perhaps splendid Allied Western Desert air force. At Msus menacing Bengazi is the US P 40F, the Br P 40K, and the SA Spit 5.

At Tobruk are the Br & Aus Hurri 2Cs and a Br P 40K. At the adjacent airfield hex due south of Tobruk at 4818 are the three A 30s.

At the cluster of airfields at the Libyan-Egyptian border between rail hex 19A:0219 and Sidi Barrani (19A:0718) inclusive are the US B 25C, a Br Blen 5, the Br B 24C, two Well 1Cs, the Aus Halfx 2, three US B 24D5s, the SA P 40E, the Br Bftr 6F, a Br Hurri 2, two Br Hurri 2Cs, and a Br Spit 5.

At the string of Egyptian coast road airfields between Matruh and Alexandria inclusive is a mixed assortment of 11 other good air units.

Axis Turn

The Axis get essentially nothing this turn in reinforcements, though it looks like the still functioning Med/North Africa Command’s Western Desert scenario’s air cycle will see a 1 ARP carry-over for both Ger & It for the game’s remaining one turn (eg., the Jan II 43 game turn) new air cycle. The Axis gain 1 ½ VPs in the initial phase for accumulated ARPs. There is also this turn’s Axis production per the WW Production Charts that technically is first available in the initial phase in the mainland Europe off-map holding box, though historically maybe most, if not all of this production went to Tunisia on the (unused) Torch/WitD/North African scneario maps. There’s also some older current game stuff lingering in the scenario’s mainland Europe off-map holding box.

Meanwhile, at the very start of the Axis movement phase, the Axis sends a mission to the Valletta hex at Malta using the Sicilian based Me 109F3 and the MC202 as escorts and the It Ju 87B on a tac bombing mission. The two Br Spit 5s there intercept and a Spit 5 is aborted. The dive bomber is on a tac bombing mission of the port’s capacity for the Malta Status mission, and the port’s AA is accordingly adjusted two columns to the left. It makes it through the adjusted flack and scores a hit. Then the SM 84 based at the 3-cap permanent airfield one hex south of Tripoli at hex 18A:0122 does a day strat bombing mission for the Malta Status, makes it through the flack, and also scores a hit. Then the Axis sends the three Ju 87Ds at Tripoli on an extended range tac bombing mission for the Malta Status, but score no hits after adding all their tac factors to a total of 2.49, but miss on the bombing die roll. By now the Malta Status is 2.

Then the Axis player attempts to sea transport to the Bengazi port hex one of the turn’s new Axis steps of attack supply, using the new arrival free shipping, but the step of supply is sunk by Allied anti-shipping die rolls.

Using their three RE Cent Med on-map shipping abilities, the Axis safely ship to Bengazi via coastal shipping a step of attack supply at the Tripoli hex, jacking the total there to 5.

The Ju 52 at Sirte airlifts a resource point in the hex back to mainland Europe.

In the movement phase the Axis does another major westward strategic retreat, rather too quickly to take the time to push back the Allies’ coast road hex control ending at hex 18A:2422, but not so hasty as to neglect damaging with MP’s and subsequently removing from the map two permanent airfields at Sirte and 1527, and also the 1-cap temporary airfield at Misaurata (1022). The Afrika Korps (AK) new desert front line at 18A:1025 is 22 hexes away from the closest Allied front line stacks at 3129 & 3130. Found at road hex 1025 is the 21st pz XX, the mot lt flk II 617, the mot anti-tnk II 605, and three steps of attack supply. An Axis “rat tail” goes on to 0925 (15th pz XX), 0824 (90 LE mot inf XX), 0823 ( It mot inf XX 101 Trs), 0723 ( It Arm XX 131 Cn), and hence along every Libyan coast road hex up to and including Tripoli.

At the Tripoli dot city hex the 0-6 const III builds a 3-cap temporary airfield. By the end of the movement phase the Tripoli hex possesses a tall stack with 11 flack factors, including the newly arrived and reconstituted Lw 2-10 mot hv flk III 102. The step of attack supply that has been sitting at the airfield one hex south of Tripoli at 0122 finally gets to move into the adjacent Tripoli hex, making it the second of two steps now there. The other AK Lw 2-10 mot hv flk III (135) is at besieged Bengazi.

The other 0-6 const III admin moves to coast road hex 0722, ending its move with a mixed bag of other retreating Italian units.

Late in the exploitation phase the Axis air force on Crete stages to the Axis airfields on Scarpantos and Rhodes. The two Z1007b’s on Rhodes do an extended range Allied shipping strat bombing mission at the Port Said harbor hex and both somehow make it through Said’s 5 factors of flack and score a hit, reaping the Axis player 1 VP. One of the four Lw Ju 88A4s bombs the rail line running through the Alexandria hex and three bomb the rail/causeway rail line at 2517, adjacent to Alexandria, but all bombers miss their rail line targets.

By the end of the Axis turn both players realize that the spector looms of an Axis Bengazi holding out in a hypothetical bigger and longer WW WitD or North African scenario game for maybe as long as the Mar I or Mar II 43 game turns, relying on the -2 to the combat roll to avoid Allied attacks due to the likely mud weather in the E weather zone during the period running from the Jan I to Feb II 43 game turns.

Even as early as the last Jan I 43 Allied turn has the 8th Army paused in its until then hard pursuit of the retreating AK. This is perhaps due a necessary balancing of Allied Western Desert forces corresponding to the current war game map situation, probably primarily due to the Axis stand at Bengazi.

This game’s Axis stand at one of their North African standard supply sources/major ports has admittedly essentially arisen here due to a “home brew” WD/Cauldron battle scenario at start stipulation done by the designer. In other WW Western Desert/WitD games played with RAW, both the Allied and Axis armies would in many games probably march in silence and with indifference past an unimportant Bengazi with an at start standard port and in many instances press on towards some other final Axis pocket in North Africa in ’43, likely at Tunis.

However, the game report has the added special features of the “highly experimental” Optional Rule 12 C1e-Standard Supply Terminal Suppression, perhaps originally designed to hasten the fall of an Axis Tunis general supply source. Importantly, a close reading of the rule seems to indicate that even a suppressed supply terminal per Rule 12 C1e is considered an Axis standard supply terminal for the purposes of Rule 42 A-In-Theater Surrender, as the “capture of a suppressed standard supply terminal results in the same consequences…as capture of an unsuppressed standard supply terminal.”

When I complement my opponent by reassuring him how wise it was of him to begin bombing Bengazi as much as he did on his Jan I 43 turn in order to suppress the standard supply terminal there, he cuts me short and says the top Allied bombing priority at Bengazi from the start was for the elimination of the Axis fighters there and/or inflicting airfield damage hits there.

Ever since the Allied Torch invasion of French NW Africa, Axis North African strategy has shifted from maintaining a strong but essentially static post-fall of Tobruk defensive position in the Libyan-Egyptian Western Desert to a new game of maneuver towards and continued control of the gradually diminishing defensive enclaves surrounding the three Axis North Africa standard supply sources/major ports at Bengazi, Tripoli, and (historically) presumably at off map Tunis on map 25A. This is due to the overwhelming ground and air superiority of both the 8th Army and the Torch invaders.

In the current Western Desert/Cauldron scenario game, the implication of all the above is an Axis held Bengazi hanging on until perhaps the Mar or Apr 43 game turns, after the weather there turns good and favorable for a big Allied final attack. An Axis Tripoli could perhaps successfully remain Axis controlled for a number of turns defended perhaps lightly while between an Axis Tunis and Bengazi, all the while giving aid and support to both the Tunis and Bengazi enclaves/pockets, until finally ultimately captured by almost certainly a reinforced 8th Army desert front line attack in the Tripoli vicinity done only after the fall of an Axis Bengazi.

In Tunisia the implication is perhaps a vertical north-south Axis front line facing westwards towards the Allied Torch invaders at roughly the Tunisian-Algerian border, or maybe a little eastwards. This line could be quite powerful at its north end up by the Mediterranean coast, but might likely taper and weaken in strength as it continues southwards, perhaps petering out altogether on map 25A in central Tunisia somewhere south of the E Weather line. This is after the infusion into the Tunisian pocket of the main bulk of the AK force retreating from the Western Desert map group (and perhaps by a big buy-out of Italian Med/ North Africa Command replacement pool motorized items built with It arm & inf RPs stored at Tripoli) by about the Jan II Axis game turn, minus the Axis force at the Bengazi hex and some stragglers/guardians in the Tripoli hex vicinity in Libya. The idea is to keep effectively apart the indigenous 8th Army and the newly arrived Torch invaders until the good weather begins in the E weather zone in the spring of ’43.

Although consoled with the war game wisdom gained by the current game report, this Europa war gamer can’t help but feel that the current war game is perhaps deservedly metamorphosing himself to a classic “Tojo-like” 20th century WW II creature chock full of the same “to the death” battle cries this same armchair general so “righteously” condemned just a little earlier at the global EA when it applied to the Japanese case in WW II. The whole concept of frenzied last stands at strong points (eg., Bengazi, Tunis/Bizerte, and Tripoli) designed to weaken the will of the stronger enemy force to continue its fight against the weaker force and thereby aid in achieving a more favorable (presumably) negotiated peace now arises with all the foreboding and regret of witnessing an ill omen. For those interested in the European version of the “Tojo” modern world war strategy syndrome of “fighting to the death” one might read “The Fall of Mussolini: His Own Story …,” edited and with a haunting preface by Max Ascoli (1948). Note Il Duce’s interesting comments on Pantelleria.

Dec II 42

Allied Turn

At the start of the new game turn the Allied player rolls a 5 on the Weather Table and it’s still mud in the E weather zone with rough seas in the Mediterranean. The Malta Status becomes 0 this turn.

The Allies get no reinforcements this turn nor do they spend any RPs or ARPs. They still have 14 ME ARPs and there are still some units in the ME replacement pool.

Late in the initial phase the non-phasing Axis player sends harassment missions to 18A:3228, 3229, & 3230 to help protect his desert front line from a possible big Allied attack.

In the construction segment of the initial phase the two colonial 0-1-4 const Xs begin building one turn 3-cap permanent airfields at Tobruk (4817) and the adjacent overlooking ridge hex due south of Tobruk at 4818. In the movement phase the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8 moves westwards to Msus (3523), where it ends its turn stacked with the Ind 2-8 inf X 161, the Br 44th inf XX HQ unit, and two steps of attack supply.

In the E weather zone portion of the rough terrain Cyrenaican “bluge” region, the Ind 10th inf XX continues its westwards march in the mud weather down the coast road to 3617, closing in on Bengazi from this direction. Behind it the Ind 2-8 inf X 5 and the Br lt flk II 37 occupy Derna. Just south of the E weather line and just above the Cyrenaican interior road the Br 2-8 inf X 132 guards hex 3620 and farther east the Ind 2-8 inf X 11 guards Mechili (4019).

Menacing Axis held Bengazi from the south, just below the E weather zone line, are two stout 8th Army stacks at road hex 3223 and stony desert hex 3422. At road hex 3223 are the Br 6-4-6 arm X 1T, the 4-3-8* arm X 23, and the 3-10 art X 10. At stony desert hex 3422, just west of Msus, are the Br 7-8 inf XX 50, the 3-2-10 arm X 7, and the NZ 3-8 inf X 5.

The Fr 2-8* inf X 2FL admin moves westwards from Giarabub to 4318, where it ends it movement with a 1 RE transport counter and perhaps happy to again rejoin the world war.

Just to the SW of Agedabia, three hexes away from the Axis desert front line in front of El Agheila, the Allies form up a quite powerful new desert front line shield at hexes 3328 & 3428. The Allied desert front line’s westward flank is protected by the impassable coast salt marsh hex 3227. Each desert front line hex stack contains at least two Br arm XXs. At 3328 are 29 half AECA/ATEC defense factors, seven flack factors, and four steps of attack supply. At 3428 are 25 half AECA/ATEC defense factors and ten flack factors. The Allied desert front line eastern flank is protected from encroachment by the nearby Sebchet el Gheneien impassable salt marshes and the Br 3-2-10* lt arm X 4 at hex 3527. Not far away on the opposite SW side of the Sebchet el Gheneien is an Allied multi-national mobile force at 3730.

During his exploitation phase the Allied player does a night strat bombing mission against the port capacity of Bengazi (in this scenario a major port and Axis standard supply source) using the two Well 1C NBs, the Well 2 NB, and the Aus Halfx 2 NHB. The Aus Halfx 2 NHB is returned by Bengazi’s four factors of heavy flack, but the Wellington NBs get through Bengazi’s total of seven light and heavy flack factors and also inflict two bombing hits, in spite of halving the strat bombing factors due to the mud weather, which convert into four port damage hits due to Bengazi’s artificial harbor, jacking the port damage total up to 5.

One thing the Allied player is certainly trying to do in inflicting port damage hits to the Axis standard supply source at Bengazi is to implement the “highly experimental” Optional Rule 12C1e-Standard Supply Terminal Suppression, and thereby knock out Bengazi’s Axis standard supply source status capabilities. I currently think this might be a good rule and might be a way out of the “Bengazi problem,” which evidently began when the Cyranaican “bulge” region was incorporated into the E weather zone in the WitD map revisions and perhaps some influential Allied players (this is said respectfully) began to find it hard to capture Bengazi during the spring 1941 mud weather. Added along with this optional rule, which I understand from an earlier EA posting was originally intended to be used against the Axis at Tunis in ’43 in order to help hasten its fall there, might be a new special rule making Bengazi a “fragile” artificial harbor and that one port bombing hit equals to maybe three port damage hits. This would probably compel the Allied player to use his Wellingtons and Blenheims to bomb the port capacity of Bengazi in 1941, which I think historically is precisely what they did many times in the Western Desert campaign during this period. I think this is certainly better than making Bengazi a standard port “at the start of all War in the Desert scenarios” and as perhaps a sop to historical True Believers, throwing at them the almost insulting dog biscuit Advanced Rule 141h-Port Construction (my gripe here being only in its use at Bengazi as a standard port), which I currently believe very few Axis players could or would ever actually use at Bengazi, and thereby the port construction rule in effect makes sure that Bengazi almost always remains a standard port and therefore never a standard supply source. Yes, Bengazi as a major supply port for the Axis should often be worthless, but I think, due to constant Allied port (night) bombing in 1941 and ’42 and not by knocking it down to a standard port, which frees up the Allied Western Desert bombers for use elsewhere. I believe Playfair in his Western Desert war history says that the British had no problems quickly turning Bengazi into a major Allied supply port after its final Allied capture in late 1942.

On the other hand I’ve currently no problem with beginning Bengazi as a major port but not yet an Axis standard supply source (eg., for WW Graziani’s offensive scenarios, for the regular Dec I 40 at-start WW scenarios with the desert maps in use, and perhaps in hypothetical future WW/Enter Rommel II scenarios) and fitting it with a probably appropriate chain hobble like Advanced Rule 12C1d-Axis Standard Supply Terminal Restrictions, which in WW games without the Balkans in play means Bengazi couldn’t become a new Axis standard supply terminal per Rule 12C1a-Standard Supply Terminals until at the earliest about the Jun II 41 Axis turn.

Later, the Allied player says that he might have begun bombing Bengazi’s port capacity on the Dec I 42 Allied turn, but then still harbored hopes that the Axis would, by his turn’s end, abandon any intentions of taking a “to the death” stand there and continue its westwards retreat towards Tripoli of the entire Afrika Korps. He also goes to the trouble of saying that the Axis defenders at Bengazi will soon be “sacrificial lambs” and is pleased that an It arm XX is among the trapped sheep herd there. I remind him that Bengazi is still Axis with 33 defense factors with 1/10th ATEC, possesses a fort counter, the weather there is still mud, and the end of the Western Desert scenario is close at hand. Don’t worry; we’re old friends.

Near the end of the exploitation phase the Axis player does a non-phasing air unit transfer of the Ju 52 at Tripoli to the 3-cap temporary airfield at coast road hex 18A:2418, containing the It 0-6 const III 5A, a Ju 87D, the It Ju 87B, and a resource point. A Ju88A4 based there transfers to the 3-cap permanent airfield further west at coast road hex 1427, three hexes west of Sirte, which contains another Ju88A4, the It 3-6 inf XX 16 Pis, and the It 0-6 lt flk II 11

By the end of the exploitation phase the two SA 1-10 lt arm II’s 4 & 6, moving stacked together in order to gain hex control per Advanced Rule 5B4-Half RE Units, end their exploitation movement at Oasi di Gialo.

German Turn

This turn in the initial phase the Axis withdraws 5 Western Desert (WD) Axis SMPs per Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario Axis Reinforcements OB, which we’re using in the game. This leaves the Axis a net of 25 WD SMPs, which puts an additional pinch on what’s already become an attack supply step and resource point movement problem for the regular long striding retreating Axis forces.

An airbase repair point in the mainland Europe off-map holding box is used in the initial phase to repair a hit of airfield damage at Erakeion (18A:4903) on Crete per Optional Rule 141l-Axis Airbase Repair on Islands; at least this is how we play the rule here.

Although the Axis still has the 4 It & 4 Ger WD ARPs from the last air cycle, they’ve been unused and a CR 42AS and G 50bis still remain in the Med/NA Command’s eliminated box where they’ve been since the game’s start. The Axis player is holding onto his remaining WD ARPs to bring back better quality fighters (or needed B, D, or T types) from the WD replacement pool as they are aborted or eliminated.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis player again attempts to sea transport 1½ Ger arm RP’s from Tripoli back to mainland Europe using his Cent Med on-map shipping ability, but for the second Axis turn in a row the convoy is sunk by the Allied player’s Axis anti-shipping die rolls. The Malta Status is 0 and the Axis player is learning the hard way how difficult it sometimes can be to sea transport in this unfavorable situation.

The Axis player uses the Ju 52 based at the 3-cap temporary airfield at coast road hex 18A:2418 to air transport the It 0-6 const III 5A there to Tripoli. A better destination may have been to Bengazi, and then sea transport out of Bengazi the Ger 3-10 mot inf III Afr there to Tripoli using coastal shipping, but the mud weather at Bengazi prevents the single Ju 52 (the only Axis air transport capable unit on-map) from doing this particular transport mission.

The other It const III admin moves to the 3-cap permanent coast road airfield at 18A:1427, two hexes west of Sirte, where it ends its move with the It 0-8 lt flk II 82.

Meanwhile, the Axis desert front line conducts what might be considered another major westwards retreat along the Libyan coast road and ends its movement with a new desert front line at 2127-2128-2129, twelve hexes away from the Allied front line. A protective south flanking covering line dog-legs westward at 2029 & 1929 from the new Axis desert front line shield.

The Afrika Korps would have retreated en masse even further westwards this turn to perhaps Sirte (18A:1727), but was held up by slower moving Italian motorized 8 MP units that protected remote flanking southern positions at 3133 & 3233 at the turn’s start. However, the Axis retreat this turn is not so hasty as to neglect destroying with ground unit MP’s the five 3-cap coast road airfields at 2328, 2428, 2629, 2829, and at El Agheila (2930). The previous turn the Axis player took the time to place a weak It motorized III at four of the five mentioned coast road airfield hexes specifically for the purpose of destroying the airfields there this turn. A fairly long “rat tail” of Axis ground units runs from the rear of the desert front line shield westwards along the coast road up to and including the Sirte hex towards the Axis Tripoli supply source, thus helping to protect the forward units from possible Allied ZOC encirclement in their exploitation movement. This tactic can also be used in WW Balkan Front games.

EA members unacquainted with WitD games may not understand why the Axis player has been conducting these almost regular westward retreats when a superficial study of the Western Desert map situation as described in the game reports may seem to call for a bolder stand, say at El Agheila or even at Agedabia, and take a war chance with an Allied attack. A slug fest might then develop where the Axis may get the best of both sides’ die rolls and thus an essentially evenly balanced front line stalemate could perhaps result, which could be judged from afar as better than the current somewhat unfavorable Axis situation, where the Allies seem to have a definite close-in preponderance, at least when they have a full fighter umbrella available to protect their desert front line and plenty of A, B, and F (w/ a tac factor of 2) type air units in range for GS & DAS. The reason for the regular Axis westwards retreating during the end game period of the reported Western Desert scenario is the playing war gamers’ perceived reality of the Allied Torch invasion of French NW Africa and also what is perceived here as simultaneously historically happening in Tunisia. This observation is not at all a complaint by either players regarding the Western Desert scenario design and we both sincerely assure the EA and the WitD and WW developers that we love playing the existing Europa desert game and find it quite fascinating and satisfying. Keep in mind even TW will have a seemingly arbitrary and abrupt “photo-finish” ending in the midst of an ongoing violent and fluid but by no means unfinished campaign.

Meanwhile, the Axis is forced to do a major reshuffle of its on-map air units and suddenly finds itself way short of available airfields in what’s left of Axis controlled Libya. As a result the Axis feels it must air transfer to Sicily a Me 109F3, a MC 202, a MC 200, a G 50bis, two Ju 87Ds, two Z1007b’s, the SM 84, and the It Ju 87B.

At the Cauldron at-start 1-cap permanent airfield at Sirte is a MC 202, along with the It 1-6 arm II 21, the 1-8 mot art III 1AC, three steps of attack supply, and a resource point. Two hexes to the west of Sirte at the 3-cap permanent airfield at coast road hex 1427 is a ME 109F3 and a MC 200. The Cauldron at-start 1-cap temporary airfield at Misurata (18A:1022) is still knocked out and useless by a damage hit due to the big desert sand storm earlier in the current desert scenario. At the end of the movement phase the Misurata hex contains the retreating It 2-6 inf XX 60 Sbr and the 0-6 lt flk II 36. A motley crew of other retreating weak Italian non-motorized units are scattered along the Libyan road hexes between Sirte and Tripoli.

At Tripoli (18A:0121) is the Ju 52, two Ju 88A4s, a tall stack of recently arrived It ground units including a total of 7 flack factors, and two steps of attack supply. At the 3-cap permanent airfield one hex to the south of Tripoli at hex 18A:0122 is a Ju 88A4, a Ju 87D, a MC 200, a recently arrived stack of It ground units including 2 flack factors, and a step of attack supply.

At encircled Bengazi are 33 defense factors (but no construction/eng. unit), four steps of attack supply, 8 Bengazi generated gsp’s, two Me 109G2s, a MC 202, and the Me 110E, all “on their own” just like at Stalingrad now.

Dec I 42

Allied Turn

This turn the Allied player rolls a 3 on the Weather Table and there is still mud in the E Weather Zone, but with a calm Mediterranean Sea. The mud weather will put a hobble on the Allied ground advance into the Djebel Akhbar rough terrain region of the Cyrenaican “bulge” region. Later in his initial phase the Allies rebuild the aborted Well 2 night bomber and a SA 1-10 lt arm II in the Allied ME replacement pool. The Allied player also spends an arm RP to upgrade the Br 1-10 lt arm II 1 DG to the 2-1-10 lt arm II 1 DG.

In his movement phase the Allies finally venture into the mud weather of the E Weather Zone in the Cyranaica. The Ind 6-8* inf XX 10 marches through the mud into Derna (18A:4116) and ends its movement one hex westwards at coast road hex 4015, thus gaining Allied zoc control on the coast road up to hex 3916. The 8th Army’s main spearhead force proceeds southwestwards down the good weather Cyranaican interior road, but halts and then fans out as it nears the split Axis forces at Bengazi and Agedabia. The main Allied armored forces end their moves at 3525 and 3625, each hex stack containing two Br arm XXs along with other ground units. Protecting the Allied southern desert flank at 3725 is a strong armored stack with 12 defense factors. Another strong Allied armored stack with 11 defense factors stands at stony desert hex 3323, adjacent to the Axis Bengazi covering forces at Soluch (3222) & 3223. Two hexes behind it at Msus (3523) is the Allied forward infantry force with the Br 50 & 51st inf XXs, the NZ 3-8 inf X 5, the Br 1-8 anti-tnk II 95, and two steps of attack supply. The two westward facing sebkha (salt desert) hex sides of hex 3524, just south of Msus, aid in rounding out the Allied desert front line. Additional Allied Br & Ind inf Xs protect the Allied northern flank at 3621, 3821, Mechili (4019), and back at Derna on the coast. Two more steps of attack supply end their turn at coast road hex 4618, two hexes west of Tobruk. At Tobruk (18A:4817) are the 2nd NZ inf XX HQ unit, the NZ 2-8 inf X 6, the Br 0-8 lt flk II 37, and the admin moved in 0-1-4 const X 66 RPC. The 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC ends the turn admin moving to the adjacent overlooking ridge hex 4818, one hex south of Tobruk. The Br 1-2-8 eng X 8, having hitched up with a 1 RE mot transport counter, builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at road/rail hex 19A:0219, just inside the Libyan border, and ends its now motorized movement at 18A:5018. The 8th Army’s available eng/const forces are so paltry and so far back from the rapidly advancing Allied desert front line that evidently at this time there is no thought of sending even an 0-1-4 const X back into Egypt to repair some of the “sanded in” temporary airfields along the Matruh to El Alamein coast road in order to release the six inoperative Allied air units stranded there due to the Nov II 42 Allied turn desert storms. Later in his turn the Allied player complains that the big Axis westwards retreat on the Nov I turn has forced the 8th Army to overrun their fighter cover umbrella protection, come what may, in order to keep some kind of close-up ground unit pressure on the retreating Afrika Korps. I reassure him I had little choice in the matter, in particular if, as the Axis player, I play the WW Western Desert scenario with the historical Allied Torch invasion of French Northwest Africa and an off-map historical progression of events there in mind.

By the turn’s end the Allied player has seemingly done all he can to move the 8th Army forward and westwards and thereby keep the heat and pressure on the retreating Afrika Korps. Splitting the Axis forces between Bengazi and the Agedabia desert front line has perhaps surprised him, as by now he may have become accustomed to the perhaps more cautious and conservative Axis play done ever since its invasion of Egypt earlier in the game after the Axis capture of Tobruk. Next turn Axis ground units can still march freely out of Allied zoc’s between Bengazi and Agedabia, although the Allied player was careful enough to gain zoc control of the Gulf of Sirte coast road hex 3225 before backing to 3525. There is also an Allied zoc on the road hex at 3323, where the Ger 7-8 inf XX 164 LA is at. However, Allied offensive punch during the Western Desert end game period seems quite hobbled now with the closest Allied airfield to the desert front line in western Cyrenaica being the far away newly built airfield at 0219 in far eastern Libya, where he bases the three A-30s. Maybe the paucity of the 8th Army’s eng/const units during this time period is a historical fact. The WitD Allied OB has the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8(th Army) arriving onto the Torch maps (eg., entering onto map 25A) from the Middle East (eg., the Western Desert map group) on the Feb I 43 Allied turn and the 0-1-4 const X 61 RPC arriving on the Torch maps from the Middle East on the Mar II 43 Allied turn. And that’s it for Allied const/eng ground units coming onto the Torch maps from the Mid East. If one looks at the Second Front (SF) Allied OB booklet for additional guidance one finds on the Jul I 43 initial turn the two 0-1-4 const Xs 64 & 66 RPC, the 0-4 const X 54 RPC, and of course the 0-1-6 RR eng X MEF all in the SF Middle East holding box. This is essentially the same place these construction units are found in Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario, I think, with an Oct II 42 Allied turn beginning. Are all these construction units still in garrison and/or still building the Haifia-Tripoli RR in the Levant? For the Haifia-Tripoli RR see Advanced Rule 14A1e-Other Railroad Construction & WW Game Play Chart 5-Allied Garrisons. In the SF Allied at start OB the 61 RPC is listed in the British forces in NW Africa (eg., available for a SF Operation Huskey type invasion) and I cannot find the Br 8th Army 1-2-8 eng X listed anywhere in the SF Allied OB.

German Turn

Early in the initial phase the Axis player deactivates two sp op Ju 52s and a DFS 230 glider unit in the mainland Europe off-map holding box that were brought on the Sep II 42 Axis turn. This turn marks the maximum activation time line limit in WW of the WitD Axis OB German 1942 Special Operation Forces. This is perhaps important because it implies that in WW WitD and North African scenarios the Axis could maybe do a Nov I or Nov II full fledged 5 turns planned in advance air drop against Tunisian targets (say, at Tebessa-25A:2817, or Souk Ahras-35A:2714, or Gabes-25A:3021), or perhaps better yet, do 1 turn planned in advance Axis air drops (see WW Game Play Chart 4.2-Special Operations Planning Requirements Summary) using sp op Ju 52s and the WitD regular reinforcements It 2-5 para IIIs of the Folgore Para XX and/or the Torch scenario regular reinforcement LW para IIIs.

Perhaps now might be the time to note that the use of the Axis sp op Ju 52s in this game to airlift steps of attack supply from mainland Europe to the Western Desert did not inevitably result in an In-Theater Surrender decisive Axis victory in the game per Rule 42A. Indeed, the large number of Axis steps of attack supply in the Western Desert has become a SMP transport burden (along with some resource points in the Western Desert) for the Axis in the end game period of the WD/Cauldron scenario when in many games it might conduct its long westwards retreat towards Tunisia.

This desert war gamer also admits that he never found an opportunity to use the sp op Ju 52s along with the It Folgore XX 2-5 para IIIs for any viable 1 turn planned in advance Western Desert target hexes, say to help encircle portions of the Allied desert front line shield from behind in conjunction with a big Afrika Korps frontal ground attack or further eastwards against, say, Alexandria, or Delta targets, or Suez Canal targets. The main reasons for this inability were the strong Allied fighter cover umbrella over their desert front line and the “just enough” defense (eg., some flack, maybe a ground unit, maybe a fighter in interception range) of rearward targets in the Delta or at the Canal.

It should be noted that Axis para-drops are not the only interesting special operations possible in WitD games. Allied para-drops and perhaps small amphibious operations in eastern Algeria and western Tunisia on the Nov II, Dec I, and Dec II 42 WitD/Torch turns are quite important WW II events and interesting Europa war game exercises. This is another reason that a “Race for Tunis” add-on subscenario for WW Western Desert scenarios, perhaps using Rick Gayler’s bigger Kasserine Crisis scenario as a developmental aide, might be an interesting new Europa desert war game feature for someone to attempt to design.

Also in the initial phase, per Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario Axis Reinforcements WD OB (which we are using in the current game), the Axis player withdraws from the map the just converted Ger 1-8 eng III Afr. The single Axis resource point in the mainland Europe off-map holding box is broken down to six Cent Med Axis airfield repair points so as to repair a hit of damage on a Crete airfield next turn.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis successfully sea transports his initial phase It arm RP reinforcement across the Cent Med to Tripoli. The Malta status number is 1.

The single remaining Lw Ju 52 (a regular WitD reinforcement earlier) air transports the initial phase It inf RP from mud weather mainland Europe to the Tripoli airbase. However, 1½ Ger arm REs are sunk by Allied Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls when the Axis attempts to sea transport them from Tripoli back to the mainland Europe off-map holding box using his on-map Cent Med sea transport ability.

The Axis player, in the end game period of the WD/Cauldron scenario, decides to keep the initial phase Axis attack supply steps and the turn’s Ger arm & inf reinforcement RPs in the mainland Europe off-map holding box, where for the time being they’re safe.

In his movement phase the Axis player reinforces the Bengazi defense force and holes them up in the port hex, which also has a recently built fort counter and a Cauldron at start 3-cap permanent airfield. He stacks in the Bengazi reference city hex all the ground units in the vicinity because the Allied player may get lucky and roll clear weather for the E weather zone for the upcoming Dec II 42 game turn. This turn an additional step of attack supply is scurried into Bengazi from Agedabia. By the end of the exploitation phase the 3-cap permanent airfield at adjacent hex 3220 is removed from the map after Axis ground units inflict 3 hits on it by MPs before entering Bengazi.

By the end of the turn the Axis has at Bengazi the It 7-6-8 arm XX 133, the It 5-8 inf XX 102, the Ger inf XX 164, the Lw mot hvy flk III 135, the Lw 4-8* para X Ramcke, the Ger 3-10 mot inf III Afr moved in this turn, the two It 2-3-6 art IIIs 20C & 24C, four steps of attack supply, the Me 110E, two Me 109G2s, and a MC 202. The Bengazi artificial harbor major port still has one hit of damage.

During the movement phase the Axis desert front line retreats westwards from the Agedabia front line to a new desert front line shield at 3029-3030, which might be called an El Agheila (18A:2930) front line. Some It mobile IIIs guard 3133 & 3233 farther south against any Allied attempt to outflank the new Axis desert front line by looping southwards around the impassable Sebchet Gheizel salt marsh hexes.

Before leaving the Agedabia vicinity, Axis ground units destroy with MPs the 3-cap permanent airfield at Agedabia (18A:3327) and the 3-cap temporary airfield at adjacent road hex 3427.

The two on-map It 0-6 const IIIs 5A & 10A each build 3-cap temporary airfields at adjacent coast road hexes 2328 & 2428. This adds to the already existing nearby 3-cap coast road road airfields at 2629, 2829, & at 2930 (El Agheila). By the turn’s end there are in this zone four Ju88A4s, three Ju 87Ds, the It Ju87B, two Z1007b’s, two MC 202s, two Me 109F3s, and the SM 84 (transferred back to the Western Desert from Crete during the Allied Dec I 42 turn).

A large array of Axis non-motorized ground units continue retreating westwards along the Libyan coast road and by the end of the Axis turn are spread along the coast road between Tripoli and Sirte inclusive.

The Axis player also sends every one of his B type bomber units on a daylight strat bombing mission against the port capacity of Allied controlled Derna, but reaps only one port hit after 7 rolls, all halved of course due to the mud weather. There are no flack factors in Derna, nor are there any Allied fighters in interception range.

By the turn’s end the Axis player realizes that he has passed the point of no return and will indeed get to find out what will happen if the Afrika Korps split their Libyan forces and attempt to take a do or die stand at Bengazi at the end game period of a WW Western Desert scenario. Will Fate play a joke on him and make sure the Allies roll clear weather for the next couple of turns in the E weather zone? Will an Axis Bengazi stand tall until the game’s last turn or will it in the war game end up being just another “African Stalingrad” and be wiped out?

Nov II 42

Allied Turn

This time the Allied player rolls a 6 on the weather die roll, so it’s mud in the E weather zone with rough seas in the Western Desert map group used in the game. Here this includes the Djebel Akhdar rough terrain region of the Cyreaniacan “bulge” region, Sicily & Malta on map 18A, Crete on 19A, and Cyprus & Rhodes on Near East map group map 20A. And that’s not all. Desert storms occur per the Allied player’s second die roll (for rolling a 6) and per the subsequent damage hit die rolls for each side’s unmaintained temporary airfields (per Advanced Rule 36D2-Desert Storms and Temporary Airfields) the Allied player gets “sanded in” with no less than 11 hits of airfield damage at many of his numerous Egyptian temporary airfields between 19A:1119 (by Matruh) & 2120 (by El Alamein). The way we play the rule is that only the airfield sustains the desert storm damage and any air unit based there is not aborted, just maybe inoperative later in the same initial phase per Rule 16C1-Air Activities: Initial Phase. In our case the Allied player has six such inoperative air units, one B type and 5 F types, at sanded-in temporary airfields mostly at Egyptian coast road/rail hexes at Matruh and thence eastward. The Axis player suffers only one damage hit at the Cauldron at-start 1-cap temporary airfield at Misurata (18A:1022), which was vacant. In the reinforcement phase the Allied player rebuilds the Br 1-10 lt tnk II 1DG in the replacement pool from an earlier current game battle loss at a remote Western Desert battlefield, perhaps anticipating its Dec I 42 Allied turn OB strength upgrade. Late in the initial phase the Axis player mulls over his harassment air missions in the context of the mud in the Djebel Akhdar region of the Cyranacia and mets out 5 harassment hits each to the Gazala hex 4518 and the important adjacent coast road fork hex at 4417. However, the numerous Stukas based in the Bengazi vicinity can only carry mud weather affected half loads of bombs and inflict 2-21/2 harassment hits to hexes 4019 (Mechili), 3921, 4122, & 4123. Ju884s and the SM 84 score 3 harassment hits to hexes 4317, 4521, & 4620.

As usual, the Allied player sea transports 8 gsp’s to Malta (they all make it, including two from the very busy West Med Gibraltar hex) and two to Cyprus. A resource point at Alexandria is sea transported in the East Med to Bardia, where it ends the turn with the Br 1-8 MG II 1RNF and the 0-8 lt AA II 12. At Matruh is the Br 1-8 MG II 2 Ch, 5 steps of attack supply, a resource point, a 3-cap temporary airfield with one hit of sandstorm damage, and the Hurri 2D and a Hurri 2C. In far western Egypt right by the Libyan border the Br eng X 8 builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at Halfaya Pass (0419). The 64RPC const X builds a 2-cap airfield at coast road hex 0519 and the 66RPC const X builds a 2-cap airfield at 0420, one hex south of Halfaya Pass. From these new bases three Wellingtons and the Aus Halfx 2 bomber do a big night bombing mission on Bengazi’s port capacity, but fail to make any hits and the Well 2 is aborted by the port’s Ger mot hv flk III. By the turn’s end the airfield at 0519 has two Br A-30s, at 0420 is a Br P-40K and the Aus Halfx-2 bomber, and at Halfaya Pass are the two Well 1Cs and the long-ranging Bftr 6F fighter. There are no Allied air units or airfields in Libya, but the Allied player’s big pause of his const/eng units at the Libyan-Egyptian border to build a cluster of airfields there and the subsequently enabled big night air bombing raid of Bengazi harbor serves notice to the Axis player that the Allies are back. At the Sidi Baraini 3-cap temporary airfield (no hits) is a Hurri 2, a Hurri 2C, and a Spit 5, along with a step of attack supply. Scattered between the Matruh vicinity and Alexandria are 12 other air units (including two transport air units), 6 of which are inoperative due to the big sand storm damage to temporary airfields. The two air transports are at Alexandria and at the 3-cap permanent airfield at rail/coast road hex 19A:2218 are two US B 24D5s (HB types). Also available in the zone is an A-30 and at least three good fighters.

This turn the British reoccupy Tobruk, and by the turn’s end the war plagued North African port fortress is guarded by the NZ 2nd inf XX HQ unit, the NZ 2-8 inf X 6 and the Br lt AA II 37. Two hexes west of Tobruk at coast road hex 4618 are 7 steps of attack supply (all that the Allies now have in Libya) and the Br 2-8 inf X 132 and the Br anti-tnk II 95. One hex to the west at Gazala (4518) are the the Br inf XX’s 50 & 51 (a 7-8 & 8-8 respectively), the Ind 6-8* inf XX 10 and the NZ 3-8 inf X 5. As if being marched into exile, the FF 2-8 inf X 2FL is sent to occupy Giarabub in remote SE Libya. At the forefront of the advancing Br 8th Army are two tall and powerful stacks at Mechili (4019) and at the near by sand hex 4121. Each of these two hexes contain two Br arm XX’s plus other good mobile ground units. Fully armored capable intermediary stacks guard at 4218 & 4322, and a buffer of three Ind inf Xs and the Br 44th inf XX HQ unit block 4519-4520. The whole Allied forward formation between Mechili and Tobruk appears somewhat like a large crab or lobster claw pointing at the long but thin Axis front line desert shield ranging from 3730 southwards to 3726, and also at 3827. However, no Allied units venture into the Djebel Akhdar rough terrain region north of the E weather line. Derna is still Axis controlled at the end of the Allied turn as is the eastwards adjacent coast road hex 4216 and also westwards down the coast road to Bengazi and beyond it to Agedabia & Tripoli. But the Allies claim the coast road up to 4317 and the Cyrenaican interior road to stony desert hex 3921, only two hexes ahead of their westernmost position at Mechili, and thus have driven hard down the good weather central Cyrenaican interior road to threaten Axis held Bengazi from the south. The Axis player does some non-phasing air unit transfers throughout the Allied turn, including transferring two Ju 52s and a glider unit from the Tripoli vicinity to the mainland Europe off-map holding box, where in the initial phase of the Axis player’s next turn they will be deactivated and removed from the board. Two other Ju 52s transfer from the Tripoli vicinity and base at Agedabia and El Agheila. They are intending to maybe begin airlifting some meager Axis Western Desert forces back to mainland Europe, but the bad weather in E zone hampers this good intention. An MC 200 at El Agheila transfers to Tripoli. In a surprise move the Axis player transfers to a Sicilian airfield at 18A:0403 two Me 109Gs from the Bengazi vicinity and also an MC 202 from Agedabia. They base within patrol and interception range of the two Spit 5s at the Valletta hex airfield, but surprisingly the Allies decline the fighter mission.

To give us down here perhaps some needed late 1942 perspective enhancement to the current WW Western Desert/Cauldron game, we’ve provisionally tacked on Torch map 25A to the west edge of Western Desert map 18A and have tentatively retrofitted/revised Rick Gayler’s Kasserine Crisis II from Europa #37 into a kind of truncated “Race for Tunis/Kasserine Crisis subscenario” intended to be an unofficial and tentative add-on play test to the current 100% WW WD(/Cauldron) scenario project, all still ending on the Jan I or Jan II 43 turn, depending if we use the WW WD scenario rules end date or else maybe utilize Watson’s Jan I 43 end date found in the End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario from Europa #63. David Tinny’s Europa #78 Historical Background article entitled “The Torch Landings,” along with some history book referencing and some notes from a WW Torch scenario game we played a couple of years ago helped in backtracking Gayler’s Dec I 42 Axis turn start date (a clear weather turn in E zone, in his scenario) to around a possible subscenario at start date on the Nov I Axis turn or maybe the Nov II 42 Allied turn for a map 25A “Tunis/Kasserine Crisis subscenario link-up” for use in WW WD/ME scenario games. More later on the Tunisian project. Right now, when pondering the WW WD victory conditions within the framework of all the above in the current WW WD/Cauldron scenario, I’m wondering whether getting a certain measurable quanta of Axis ground and air units into western Libya (eg., western Libya on map 25A) by the Jan I 43 Axis turn equal to what is listed in the WitD Jan I 43 “Appears in Libya” Axis Torch OB is every bit as important as keeping Tripoli hex 18A:0121 Axis controlled by the end of the Jan II 43 Axis turn, which fetches Europa war gamers a big +200 VP’s in WW WD scenarios. What do other EA members think about the WW WD scenario endgame paradigm and victory conditions? What about Axis late ’42-early ’43 North African/Tunisian WWII/wargame strategy for both sides? Could the Allies have won the race for Tunis? Is all the Axis effort in Tunisia really worth it or are they actually little more than trapped rats in a large barrel, marching from one side to the other seeking perhaps a false safety in essentially maybe silly and no doubt tragic time delaying maneuvers: meaning a few more months in North Africa as an Axis soldier against overwhelming “killer” odds? What about an evacuation?

German Turn

Early in his initial phase the Axis player deactivates two sp-op Ju 52 air units and a DFS 230 glider unit based in the mainland Europe off-map holding box that were brought on the Sep I 42 Axis initial phase. On the Western Desert map group are two more sp-op Ju 52 air units and another DFS 230 glider unit that will be deactivated on the Dec I 42 Axis initial phase. During the reinforcement/replacement segment of the initial phase the Axis player withdraws the It 2-10 mot inf X 10B per Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario Axis Reinforcements OB found in Europa #63, which we are using in the current Western Desert/Cauldron scenario. An It 1-6 arm II is rebuilt from the Axis Med/NA replacement pool using ½ It arm RP from Bengazi and ½ It inf RP from Tripoli, and is brought on at Bengazi. This is done to help clean out the remaining It RPs at Bengazi before it is either very soon evacuated by the Axis or else captured/cut off and besieged by the Allies. In the naval movement segment at the beginning of the movement phase the Axis player safely sea transports via coastal shipping the last remaining 1½ It arm RPs at Bengazi to Tripoli.

Early in the movement phase the Axis player uses two Ju 52 air units to airlift a resource point at the 3-cap permanent airfield at Agedabia (18A:3327) back to mainland Europe. It will likely eventually be further broken down and used to repair a hit of damage at the permanent airfield at Erakleion (18A:4903) on Crete per Optional Rule 14A1l-Axis Repairs on Islands. At Tripoli in Libya, a Ju 52 air unit and the remaining on-map DFS 230 glider unit airlift two Ger inf RPs back to the mainland Europe off-map holding box. Miraculously, the glider unit does not crash land at mainland Europe. Both air transport missions “double up” on their cargo carrying due to the mud weather in the E weather zone. By the end of the Axis turn there are 4 It & 10 Ger arm RPs and 2 ½ It & 7 Ger inf RPs at Tripoli. At mainland Europe are 5 Ger inf and 5 Ger arm RPs. This admittedly tardy and feeble airlift of some of the trapped Afrika Korps (AK) forces in Libya is perhaps somewhat in conflict with what historically is simultaneously going on in Tunisia, where the Axis is attempting to secure a bridgehead at Tunis and Bizerte, but the Axis player thinks all the above mentioned actions may still make sense in terms of Axis world war strategy.

Evidently historically the Axis actually believed it could sustain its presence in North Africa at the Tunisian bridgehead. I believe after the Torch landings Doenitz dispatches 10 German U-boats from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea to aid in the defense of the Tunisian build-up. I believe all 10 are eventually sunk in the Mediterranean. Historically, the Axis attempts to use its air transport resources to simultaneously supply both the Tunisian bridgehead and the Stalingrad pocket. Historically, the later East Front drama/tragedy is just beginning this game turn in Russia. I believe near the end of the Tunisian disaster the Axis air transports in the central Mediterranean historically are largely squandered in fiery deaths against overwhelming Allied fighter superiority as they desperately try to supply the Axis defense of the Tunisian bridgehead in its death agony. The last quarter of ’42 and the first half of ’43 are certainly a quite disturbing and horrific epoch for the German and Italian Axis partners in WW II. In the Pacific the Japanese evacuate Guadalcanal after frightening force losses. Play a WW Torch scenario to relive the Axis disaster at Tunis.

Meanwhile, back on the Western Desert war game maps in the western Cyranacia war zone, the Axis player must decide what to do about Bengazi in the context of all the above. In the current WD/Cauldron scenario game Bengazi is an Axis standard supply source per the scenario’s at-start Axis OB. Maybe the conservative and wise Axis move would be to continue the methodical and steady paced westwards retreat towards Tripoli (and hence further westwards into Tunisia) with all the currently available Axis forces, hopefully sending some back to mainland Europe to be saved to fight another day and sending the rest to their certain death or captivity in the Tunis pocket. The point here is not a cruel joke but rather to keep the unfortunate Italian ally in the war as long as possible, keep an Axis pinch on the Allied sea route through the central Mediterranean as long as possible, and to protect the southern flank of Germany as long as possible using just the available Axis MTO forces and not drawing from other theaters. In real life the world war experience occurred only once, but on the Europa war game maps we can play and replay over and again the same historical event, tweaking, altering, and changing various pertinent details to see what might then happen without ever facing any real life responsibility (eg., hanging, prison, or firing squad) or consequential war horrors resulting from our war game decisions. Accordingly, this Axis player decides to maybe initially risk a bloody stand at Bengazi to see what happens in the context of a WW Western Desert scenario ending in a few turns from now, either on the Jan I or Jan II 43 turn, depending if we use the WW WD scenario rule or Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario rule. If a strong enough force is kept in Bengazi and the weather remains mud in the Djebel Akhbar rough terrain region of the Cyrenaican “bulge” region, the Axis might be able to hold onto the Libyan major port till the end of the WW Western Desert scenario. To be sure, Tripoli would likely be the better place for the AK to take a stand in Libya, as it is also an Axis standard supply source and there is no by-pass road going around it (thereby blocking and stopping at Tripoli the Allied 8th Army’s westwards advance), as does Bengazi with the Cyranaican inland road route going through Msus and El Mechili. However, an Axis stand at Tripoli cannot be effectively attempted in a 100% WW Western Desert scenario game (which the current game more or less claims to be) as the Western Desert map 18A ends just west of the Tripoli hex, thereby hindering meaningful war game play around the port city of Tripoli. Therefore in this game Bengazi is chosen to be the scenario’s “Axis Alamo.”

The Axis does not need to immediately hole up in Bengazi, where a little earlier in the current game a fort was built, but for now can screen the port hex with a presumably nonoverrunable forward covering line running from 3220-3221-Soluch (3222)-3223. Behind it at Bengazi are the Ger 2-10 mot hv flk III 135, the It 133rd arm XX HQ unit, three attack supply counters (the third moved in this turn from Agedabia), two Me 109Gs, an MC 202 (these three air units transferred this turn from Sicily), and the It Ju 87B. The strongest elements of the AK form a stout and powerful blocking line at Agedabia-3427-3528. The It lt arm 2-1-8* III 3 guards sand hex 2530 and the It 1-8 mot art III 2AC stands at sand hex 2531 to protect the Axis desert front line shield from any possible Allied dash around the nearby Sebchet Ghenein salt marsh region to the east of the Axis main force.

Virtually all the remainder of the AK is retreating westwards in a long snake-like column on the Libyan coast road between 1627 and 2930 inclusive. The two It const Xs are at 2328 and 2428. The Ger 0-8 const III Afr is at coast road hex 1927, two hexes east of Sirte, but it will be withdrawn next turn per Watson’s End of the Beginning El Alamein scenario Axis Reinforcements OB. At Agedabia are three steps of attack supply, 19 full AECD/ATEC defense factors, the 21st pz XX & the 90 LE mot inf XX, a MC 202, the G 50bis, and the Me 110E. At 3427 are 25 full AECD/ATEC defense factors, the 15th pz XX, two Me 109F3s, and a MC 202. At 3528 are two It arm XX’s (the 131st and the 132nd), the It 5-8 mot inf XX 101 Trieste, and the Ger 3-10 mot inf III Afr. Most all the AK’s remaining D & B air units are at the three nearby coast road 3-cap airfields at El Agheila, 2829, and 2629. A Ju 88A4 remains at Sirte (18A:1727). On a lark the SM 84 and a MC 200 are transferred from Libya to Erakleion on Crete. At the end of his turn the Axis player wonders if the Allied player will immediately use his ground units to decisively cut off the Axis Bengazi force from the main AK force at Agedabia desert front line or if instead he’ll do a more cautious westward advance towards the split Axis forces. If he holds back somewhat this could allow another turn of Axis movement between their Bengazi and Agedabia force concentrations.

Interlude: On the Eve of Torch

There’s been a good amount of work done on crafting, improving, and correcting the initial draft of a WW/WitD update of Frank Watson’s original Desert Cauldron (DC) Battle Scenario (for the original GDW Western Desert war game) found in Europa Magazine #36. The initial draft of the DC revision was used as the OB of the current abbreviated WW Western Desert/Cauldron scenario used in the Game Reports to the EA. This DC reviser is thankful he didn’t dash off to the EA what he had at the very start of the war game reports, as he has done some useful corrections and necessary alterations of a couple of particular details of the Allied at start OB that were caught only by looking ahead in the Allied OB from the scenario’s May II 42 start. It seems relatively easy to revise the DC at start set-up from the old WD maps 18 & 19 to the newer WitD maps 18A & 19A, but refiguring the old WD Axis and Allied OB’s to the newer WitD OB’s is quite tricky, especially regarding the new ground units found in the WitD OB for the period. Where should a DC scenario reviser put them? Should some be eliminated? When comparing the original WD to WitD, one notices that there’s also been some OB date shifting around of some important Allied armored conversions which did not become apparent in the DC revision labor until their WitD changes were stumbled upon as the current WD/Cauldron scenario progressed.

Frank Watson’s “End of the Beginning” El Alamein battle scenario, beginning on the Oct II 42 Allied turn and found in Europa magazine #63, helped with crafting the revised DC at start OB in regards to the new WitD units. It also helped regarding the locations of the revised DC at-start airfields and will undoubtedly help a lot in determining the current WW WD/Cauldron scenario’s end-of-game victory point tallies, if that point is in fact reached for the game being played for the game reports to the EA. Perhaps both the DC and the “End of the Beginning” El Alamein battle scenarios raise the WW II strategic issue of an optimal post “fall of Tobruk epoch” Axis Western Desert strategy in the context of the the Afrika Korps inevitably finding itself at the end of 1942 trapped in between Montgomery’s strengthened Allied 8th Army and Eisenhower’s massive Torch invasion of French NW Africa. In his designer notes I think Watson admits that the “End of the Beginning” at-start set up puts “…Panzerarmee Afrika in a relatively untenable position and being asked to hold it.” He also says that “Montgomery’s plan [at Alamein] was to win the offensive battle using defensive tactics. At this he succeeded and the Axis [‘Europa as History’ Oct II 42 Axis counterattack at El Alamein] AH models this well.” One thing a WW WD/Cauldron campaign game does is, for one thing, allow the Axis player to explore alternative Axis strategies for a mid ’42 invasion of Egypt besides dashing itself against Motgomery’s El Alamein prepared defensive line, which of course is only part of what the “End of the Beginning” battle scenario is about. To a certain degree this “post fall of Tobruk epoch” Axis invasion of Egypt alternative strategy is what the EA game report WW WD/Cauldron campaign scenario has been a lot about. However, at this point in the DC discussion this desert war gamer must take the time to admit to the EA that the “fall of Tobruk” in Watson’s DC is no “done deal” at all, and that this “cardboard armchair Rommel” considers himself downright lucky in the current WD/Cauldron scenario that Tobruk in fact fell onto his lap “on the cheap,” thanks to the perhaps hasty and untimely Jul II 42 Allied turn “Crusader style” attack against the Tobruk Axis besiegers at 18A:4918. The combat die roll of 1 and the 3 to 1, -1 AR result only then in fact made the fall of Tobruk a “done deal,” whereas just prior to the attack the Axis player was seriously worried that he might not ever be able to capture the heavily defended improved fortress in the WW WD/Cauldron scenario with a relatively powerful Allied defensive force (relative to what Wavell had on hand in Egypt in the mid ’41 siege of Tobruk) just east of the Libya-Egyptian border. Watson says “Desert Cauldron can be a real slugfest” in his DC designer notes, and also that “…the Battle of Gazala hung on the brink.” Perhaps he tries to appease those influential desert gamers who might insist to him that Rommel’s capture of Tobruk must be a “done deal” (because it’s “historical!”) each and every DC battle scenario game by offering a “Tobruk in Disrepair” Optional Rule which, as he admits “…obviously tilts play balance in favor of the Axis player.” In real life the ’42 fall of Tobruk was perhaps a risky war battle gamble, and as such may well be what one writer (Samuel W. Mitcham) has called “Rommel’s greatest victory.”

For all the EA postings related to a 1942 Axis amphibious invasion of Malta done earlier this summer and early fall, I don’t think any brought up the fact that in Watson’s additional DC Axis OB for using Cauldron as a starting point for the older WD “War in the Desert” campaign game, he calls for an Axis planned at-start special operation against Malta for the Jul II 42 Axis turn involving “all units in the Axis Special Forces Pools.” In his DC designer notes he says “historically, the special operation planned against Malta for Jul II 42 involved all units in the Axis Special Forces Pool except for one Italian 3-6 infantry division, which was planned for an amphibious operation against Gozo…on the same turn.” This self-styled “DC reviser” confesses to deleting this original stipulation in the present WW WD/Cauldron scenario done for the EA game reports because at the time he believed it to be an unwanted “chain hobble” that was doomed to failure if attempted, and thus limited the Axis player in attempting other possible special ops in the second half of ’42 WW WD/Cauldron time frame: specifically using the Ju 52s for supply and reinforcement cargo carrying from mainland Europe to Libya, or else perhaps for a daring and admittedly risky air op against Cyprus for the purpose of gaining airfields closer to the Suez Canal in order to more readily strat bomb it for Axis VP’s, or else to perhaps augment Axis air drops at Tunisian hexes on the Nov I, Nov II, and/or the Dec I 42 turns (using the Folgore para IIIs and/or the Nov I and Nov II 42 Axis WitD OB Lw para IIIs for the Torch scenario) in order to better initially secure the Axis Tunisian bridgehead. Perhaps someday, if a worthy DC revision is ever posted/published, a Europa desert game aficionado can demonstrate to the EA or the Europa magazine “how to do it.” This labor can clear the air if in fact the WW rules actually allow for these sort of dramatic but complex sp ops to actually occur or if the rules are in fact one way or another “broken” and little more than useless window dressing whose main purpose is to maybe fool and deceive war game buyers into thinking they’ve bought a fascinating product enabling them to explore such genuine WW II possibilities. The 1942 Axis amphibious/air drop Malta operation is evidently no idle and silly table talk, as the real historical existence of the It Folgore para XX, the It air lndg XX 80 LS, and the Lw para X Ramcke (regardless of its wretched permanent supported status in the current WitD OB) is no joke or deception. Their otherwise pointless existence in late 1942 can probably only be explained in the context of the abandoned mid ’42 Malta amphibious/air drop mission.

One problem that’s becoming evident to us here while playing the WW WD/Cauldron scenario is that the Jan II 43 game end and the western edge of map 18A in effect puts the WW Western Desert campaign in a vacuum: the world in North Africa becomes flat and its westernmost edge is a few miles west of Tripoli. That’s one reason why we’re using the more severe Axis Reinforcements OB found in Watson’s “End of the Beginning” scenario. I think what the Western Desert scenario really needs is a map 25A add-on (or at least the eastern half of it) and then a skillfully crafted rework of Rick Gayler’s Kasserine Crisis II, found in Europa magazine #37, perhaps with the ultimate hope in the Western Desert scenarios of allowing the Axis and Allied players to play out the initial Axis occupation of Tunisia and its early battles there with the eastward advancing Allied Torch ground units entering the zone in the Nov I 42 to Jan II 43 time frame, with the WW WD scenario still ending on the Jan II 43 game turn. This idea is not my own and I first heard of it from Victor Hauser at least 25 years ago. Even though the current Axis final VP situation appears somewhat favorable in the WW WD/Cauldron game being reported to the EA, it’s the belief of both players right now that in terms of Axis world war strategy and assuming the existence of a Tunisian Axis bridgehead, the Afrika Korps needs to be largely west of Tripoli at least by the end of January 1943, lest the Tunisian bridgehead be prematurely encircled by the Allied Torch invaders and the Axis end in North Africa ultimately being played out around two diminishing Axis enclaves centered at its remaining major port standard supply sources: Tunis and Tripoli. The implication here is a successful Allied eviction of the Axis in North Africa possibly well before the historical May I 43 game turn. This should perhaps somehow affect Italy’s continued participation as a German ally in Second Front. In the larger context of a WW North African or War in the Desert campaign scenario, the Allied player should perhaps be allowed an additional fairly substantial amphibious capability against the Axis in late 42 and early 43 in both the Tunisian and the Libyan war zones. Watson maybe has the beginnings of this concept in mind with his Allied Amphibious Capability optional rule found in his “End of the Beginning” scenario. Second Front players need to ponder how to link WitD to SF and then figure out how the Axis can economize their losses in North Africa for eventual use in defending Italy from a Husky type Allied invasion and also how the Allies can hasten the end of the Axis presence in North Africa, perhaps using the aforementioned enhanced amphibious assault concept in western Libya or in Tunisia around perhaps Sfax or Sousse. Maybe a future SF game will need to include a super-bloated Herman Goering 25-10 Pz XX for use in Sicily, assuming elements of it were never sent to Tunisia to be subsequently destroyed.

In a small but probably important addition to the revised DC at start Allied OB, the Br Colonial 0-1-4 const X 43 RPC has been included and placed in “Syria or Lebanon” along with the 0-1-4 const X 61 RPC and the 0-4 const X 54 RPC. All three const Xs are busy building the Haifia-Tripoli RR and will be released on the Jan I 43 Allied turn. Per the WitD OB, the 43 RPC const unit is “historically” removed from the Allied ME replacement pool on the Jun I 41 turn. But I currently believe its inclusion is needed afterwards in WW to make game sense out of the WW Haifia-Tripoli RR construction requirement and also to provide the Allied player with a third const/eng unit in the Western Desert in the second half of ’42, which both myself and my opponent believe the Allies then need to make a good go of it. I’ll admit, however, that Watson evidently excludes the 43 RPC const unit in his “End of the Beginning” Allied OB.

Oct II 42

Allied Turn

The weather die roll is a 1, and so the weather remains calm in the Western Desert. But next turn there’s a 2 in 6 chance of mud in the Djebel Akhdar region in the Cyrenaican “bulge,” which throws a new factor of instability into the Western Desert war zone. In the initial phase the Allied player still does no ground unit replacement builds, evidently keeping his inf and arm RP’s either for quick rebuilds of important offensive units after big attacks or else maybe for VP’s at the end of the game, which in the WW Western Desert scenario occurs at the end of the Jan II 43 game turn. Near the end of the initial phase the Axis player sends out eleven B, D, and F (the RE 2001 CB) type air units on the harassment mission to possibly completely protect his desert front line from any Allied ground attacks. They fly the harassment missions to Egyptian hexes 0519-0520-0521, 0419 (Halfaya Pass)-0420-0421-0422, and 0320-0321.

At the start of the movement phase the Allied player gets all his gsp’s to Malta without any ntp losses due to the Axis anti-shipping Cent Med die rolls. He also sea transports two gsp’s to Cyprus to supply the Ind 2-8 inf X 7 and the British Colonial 1-2-8 inf X SDF defending the East Med island. The 8th Army’s 1-2-8 eng X moves westwards from Matruh, builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at 1119, and ends its movement phase at 1018. The 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC builds a 2-cap temporary airfield at 1319, and the 0-1-4 const X 66 RPC moves form 1519 to the newly built airfield at 1119. At the first opportunity in the Allied movement phase the Axis player does a non-phasing air transfer of all five Ju 52s based in the Tripoli vicinity back to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box.

Then, in the most aggressive 8th Army action of late, the Allied player advances up to within two hexes of the Axis desert front line “shield” at Bardia, 19A:0218, and 18A:5119, and ends his turn’s movement with his powerful desert front line stacks at 0421, 0420 (just south of Halfaya Pass), and at the fine overlooking ridge defensive position at 0520. Intermediate flanking stacks are at Sidi Barrani, 0721, and 0922; and the Ind 1-2-10* anti tnk X is the southern flanking lynch pin at 1024. When asked why he does no port bombing night missions against Tobruk, Derna, or Bengazi, the Allied player says that this would only be aiding the Axis player’s westward retreat “to do” list of facility damage. By the same token the Allied player has for some time declined utilize Rule 37F-Allied Raiding Forces and do any “desert rat” attacks on Axis airfields by doing the appropriate die rolls on the Success Table. Evidently this turn’s thick wall of harassment just east of the Egypt-Libyan border has saved the Axis desert front line from ground attacks during another Allied combat phase. But the Axis defensive “house of cards” becomes harder to balance each turn, and as he retreats the availability of Axis airfields for the numerous air units needed for the desert defense becomes a critical factor. Moreover, proclaiming themselves True Believers in the pursuit of a genuine “historically accurate” WW II WW WD/Cauldron scenario, both Europa war game players think the right thing to do is to use Frank Watson’s “Axis Reinforcements” OB for the Western Desert scenario found in his “End of the Beginning” El Alamein battle scenario published in Europa Magazine #63, which calls for some additional Axis Western Desert scenario withdrawals than specifically called for in the WitD Axis OB. Perhaps more later on the “hard road” in WW desert games in the second half of 1942.

German Turn

In the initial phase the Axis player rebuilds the aborted Ger Ju88A4 bomber, the only Ger air unit in the Axis Med/NA replacement pool, leaving a net of 2 Ger ARPs. He also rebuilds an eliminated It MC 200 and the aborted CR 42 to be withdrawn the next Axis turn, leaving 1 It ARP. Near the end of the initial phase the non-phasing Allied player sends harassment to 19A:0223, 0323, 0324, & 0423 in order to hopefully prevent the Axis this turn from sweeping around his desert front line at 0421-0420-0520 and attacking. The harassment missions to hexes 0223 & 0323 are within interception range of two Axis fighters at 19A:0218 (the Me 109G2 and a MC 202) and the Allied player sends some fighters as escort along with each bombing mission. But once again the Axis player declines to intercept the Allied harassment missions. He has no intention of risking possibly bloody ground battle clashes (with maybe EX or HX results) at this time and place and doesn’t want to risk losing any good fighters now for the sake of attrition combat alone. Anyway, the Allied player has 12 remaining ARPs. He feels he needs every available Axis fighter and strong front line ground unit in the upcoming Nov I 42 Allied turn in order to face down potential Allied ground attacks and thereby continue a little longer his slow but steady strategic retreat westwards. To be sure, there is perhaps at least one more game turn and likely one more geographical zone on map 18A where the Axis player may choose to take a stand and risk a desert clash ground battle die roll.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis player sends out the He 111H4 at Tripoli on a Malta Status night bombing mission and scores a hit, upping the Malta Status to 5. The Heinkel bomber successfully lands at Tripoli. Then for the second time the Axis player attempts to sea transport the It air lndg XX HQ unit across the Cent Med and rolls 11, but the subsequent die roll on the Shipping Results Table results in a NE (no effect), and the air lndg XX HQ unit safely disembarks at Tripoli harbor (18A:0121) and later moves to the airfield just south of the port at 18A:0122. Using three Ju 52s, the Axis player airlifts another step of attack supply from mainland Europe to the 3-cap permanent airfield at 18A:0122. Two other Ju 52s airlift one of the It 1-6 air lndg IIIs and one Ger inf RE & one It inf RE from mainland Europe to the Tripoli airfield at 0121. Using the remainder of his 3 RE on-map Cent Med shipping ability, the Axis player then safely coastal ships one Ger arm RE from Bengazi to the Tripoli harbor.

The Ger 0-8 const III Afr at coast hex 19A:0217 moves to Tobruk (18A:4817), where it does another hit of port damage, bringing the port hit total there to three, and ends its movement at adjacent coast road hex 18A:4118 (where there’s also a 3-cap temporary airfield), along with the It 2-3-8 art III 16C, the Ger 2-8 inf III 382, and the It 0-8 lt AA II 83. The It 0-6 const III 10A at Bengazi, having completed the two turn fort there, admin moves southwards to road hex 3427, adjacent to Agedabia. The It 0-6 const III 5A at nearby hex 18A:3228 moves to the 1-cap permanent airfield at El Agheila (2930), where it spends its remaining MP’s, upping it to a 2-cap.

The Afrika Korps continues its westwards strategic retreat and creates a new desert front line shield beginning at Tobruk and going due south to 4818 & 4819, with a short close-in southern flanking defensive line angling SW at 4720 & 4620. The large stony desert hex region south of Tobruk probably aids the Axis front line defense against Allied mobile units, at least for the next Allied turn. Covering the southern flank farther westwards are two It 3-6 inf XXs at 4320 (in an at-start Cauldron fort) & 4021. At Tobruk are 18 defense factors with half ATEC and three flack factors. The Tobruk stack includes two It arm XXs, an It hv AA II, the It aslt eng II 31G, and the Lw 4-8* para X Ramcke. At 4818 are 20 defense factors with full AECD/ATEC, seven flack factors, and the stack includes the 21st pz XX. The stack at 4819 (where there’s also a 3-cap temporary airfield) has the 15th pz XX, 19 defense factors with full AECD/ATEC, and five flack factors. The third It arm XX is at 4720. Nearly every Axis B, D, and F type air unit is in the Derna-El Mechili-Tobruk triangle (a total of 23 Axis air units in this zone) except for the He 111H4 at Tripoli and the G 50bis at Bengazi. In the triangle’s rearward hexes are the Ger 4-3-8 art 221 and the 2-10 mot inf III SV 288, both poised for their Nov I 42 conversions. At Bengazi the It 136 GF HQ and inf III units are stacked for their 2-8 inf XX conversion. To the south in the central Cyrenaica, south of the stony desert region below Tobruk, at hex 18A:4525, is an It mobile force stack of five defense factors acting as a blocking force in case the Allies attempt a large westward sweep-around of the Afrika Korps in their direction. It is comprised of two 2-10 mot inf IIIs (one supported, a breakdown of the 5-8 inf XX 102 Trn) and the 1-8 mot art III 2AC. Although the It mobile force is placed there with the hopeful intention of ultimately surviving, the Allied player certainly might attempt to encircle it with zoc’s in his Nov I exploitation phase with the intention of eventually running it down and eliminating it on his Nov II 42 turn. Of course, in order to help protect the new Axis desert front line shield now only five hexes away from the Allied desert front line, a large amount of Axis harassment will need to be sent out in the initial phase of the upcoming Nov I 42 Allied turn.

Oct I 42

Allied Turn

At the very start of the initial phase both players are probably glad the Allied player rolls a 5 on the weather table, as a 6 would mean desert sand storms. Per Advanced Rule 36D2-Desert Storms and Temporary Airfields, this would require a subsequent die roll on Game Play Chart 6’s Success Table for each temporary airfield in Weather Zone E without a const/eng unit present to see if any of the of the game’s 17 on-map temporary airfields take hits of damage as a result of the storms.

This is an important reinforcement turn for the Allies and they are prepared for it. At the start of the initial phase the Allied player is set up for all three conversions and gets the two Br 2-10 mot inf Xs 131 & 133 and his second Br 2-10 mot lt AA X (AA=4) XXX. With the two mot inf Xs now available he can assemble two more Br Arm XX’s, the 8th and 10th, and will now have a total of four primo arm XX’s in the 8th Army. He also resurrects the Br 7-8 inf XX 50 from the ME replacement pool, which was cut down in one of the battles swirling round the fall of Tobruk earlier in the current WD/Cauldron scenario. The Allied player does no more builds, and so at the end of his initial phase has a remaining inventory of 12 ARPs, 2 ¼ Br inf RP’s, 6 arm RP’s, 4 Aus RP’s, 2 ¾ Ind RP’s, 2 NZ RP’s, ¾ SA RP’s, and 1 ¾ FF RP’s.

Near the end of the Allied initial phase the Axis sends out no less then twelve B and D type air units on a massive harassment air mission to hexes 0719, 0720, 0721, 0619, 0620, 0621, 0521, 0522, 0421, and 0422. All are out of Allied interception range; the closest Allied airfield is a 2-cap at hex 1418. If the Axis player has counted his hexes right, this leaves only the Halfaya Pass stack vulnerable to attack from its east side facing coast road hex 0519. Sending out all this harassment is somewhat risky as it in effect leaves available for DAS only a Ju88A4, the Re 2001CB, and the Me 110E. Three MC 202s and four Me 109s are available for needed interception at the Axis desert front line zone at the Halfaya Pass- Libya/Egyptian border vicinity.

In the naval movement segment of his movement phase the Allied player ships gsp’s to Malta, and an East Med ntp is sunk by the Axis Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls. At the first opportunity the Axis player does his usual non-phasing air transfer of the three Ju 52s (this Allied turn at 18A:0122, one hex south of Tripoli) in Libya back to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box, but for the time being keeps his other two operative Ju 52s based at adjacent Tripoli. Early in the movement phase the Allied player gets to work and builds as many new forward temporary airfields as he can. The Br 1-2-8 eng 8 moves to the Matruh hex (1218) and constructs a 3-cap airfield. The 0-1-4 const X 66 RPC at coast road hex 1519 (also the easternmost busted up rail line hex of the Alexandria to Tobruk rail line) evidently postpones fixing the rail hit and instead builds a 2-cap airfield there. The 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC, also beginning the movement phase at hex 1519, moves one hex to 1418, ups the 2-cap airfield there to a 3-cap, and ends its movement at coast road/rail hex 1319. As usual a variety of 8th Army mobile/arm units fan out and regain Allied hex control of the road and rail lines between the two opposing sides westwards up to 0618 and 0620, and also regain hex control of the interior road down to the Siwa Oasis. However, the Allies find out they can only make physical contact with the Afrika Korps at its powerful desert front line forward hex stack at Halfaya Pass (0419) from adjacent Egyptian coast road hex 0519 and unfortunately not also from the SE hex side from adjacent overlooking ridge hex 0520. Nor can the Allies muster a significant number of fighters (either CAP or interceptors or escorts) above the Pass hex to force by bluff or genuine attack threat a big overhead air battle there, which the Allies can certainly now afford possessing 12 ARPs two turns before the new air cycle. Instead of boldly advancing forward and pressing close to the Axis front line with his strongest stacks thus far in the game, the Allied player perhaps somewhat cautiously advances his front line to 1019 and 1020, leaving a 5 hex gap between the two opposing desert armies. At 1019 are 33 defense factors, including two arm XX’s, the 1st & 8th, half AECD/ATEC, and 7 flack factors. At 1020 are 34 defense factors, including two arm XX’s, the 7th & 10th, half AECD/ATEC, and 7 flack factors. Protecting the Allied southern flank at 1221 is a 15 defense factor stack, 1/10 AECD/ATEC, and two flack factors. The Ind 1-2-10* anti-tnk X 3 is at 1422. At Matruh are 7 defense factors, 1/10 ATEC, and two flack factors. Finally, near the end of the Allied exploitation phase, back at Tripoli, the Axis player does his non-phasing transfer of the two Ju 52s based there to Bengazi, where he wishes during his next turn to air lift westwards some of the Axis inf RP’s stored there.

So what is the current WD/Cauldron scenario war game situation and what are the implications? The fact is that the Axis has not lost any ground units by combat since the scenario’s May II 42 Desert Cauldron start date and has so far recently avoided heavy air losses. The past several turns the Axis has been able to gradually but steadily withdraw westwards from its earlier Sidi Barani desert front line away from the strengthened British 8th Army, apparently successfully doing so by covering its desert front line shield with a protective harassment muffler and maintaining over the desert front line zone a fighter umbrella and some potential DAS air reserves. This tactic can be maintained as long as there is a sufficient quantity of existing airfields to base the rather large Axis Western Desert air fleet in its current essentially defensive mode for the desert front line. In the existing war game reality of an impending Allied Torch invasion of French NW Africa and an advancing strengthened 8th Army, the Axis can perhaps maintain the current situation, assuming no mistakes and/or perhaps no sudden Allied lunges right up against the Axis desert front line, until backing up to Bengazi. Then a decision will have to be made to either take a stand at Bengazi and risk splitting the Afrika Korps into two fractions: a Bengazi defensive enclave and a Tripoli blocking force continuing to retreat westwards as best it can, beginning perhaps in the Agedabia vicinity, or else abandoning Bengazi and continuing to retreat en masse towards Tripoli with essentially the entire Afrika Korps force. The Axis player currently believes that not hotly pursuing the retreating Allied forces up to its original El Alamein vicinity “stop line” at 1818-1819-1820, and thus not ever outrunning the Axis air force’s fighter and DAS umbrella, is one of the key reasons the Afrika Korps is currently basically intact and not yet shattered and decimated.

German Turn

In the initial phase the Axis rebuilds the aborted Ger He 111H4 bomber and an eliminated It MC 200 and an aborted CR 42AS. The two outdated It fighters are retrieved because there is not much else available in the Italian air replacement boxes. These ARP builds leave the Ger three and the It with four ARPs left. At Bengazi the It 0-6 const III 10A begins its second turn building the fort there. Near the end of the initial phase the Allied player sends out harassment missions to 0918, 0922, and 0923, evidently to cover his desert front line stacks at Matruh, 1019, 1020, and 1221. None are within interception range of Axis fighters.

At the Axis turn’s start the Malta Status is 5. First thing in his movement phase the Axis player sends the rebuilt He 111H4 based at Tripoli on a Malta Status strat bombing night air mission against the Valletta hex and scores a hit. The Heinkel bomber successfully returns to base at Tripoli. Then two Ju 88A4s at Bengazi stage westward to the 3-cap permanent air field at coast road hex 1527 and from there also fly a Malta Status strat bombing night air mission, but both miss the Valletta bombing target. One of the Ju 88A4s is aborted when it crash lands upon returning to base at 1527. During the sea movement segment of his movement phase the Axis gets the It arm XX HQ unit 131 and the 2-10 mot inf III 5B across the Cent Med to Tobruk harbor, but the It air lndg HQ unit 80 LS is forced to return to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box by the Allied Cent Med anti-shipping forces die rolls. However, the Axis player gets lucky die rolls and successfully sea transports the turn’s It and Ger arm RP’s across the Cent Med to the Tripoli harbor at hex 18A:0121. Using his three RE Cent Med sea transport ability, the Axis player transports 1 ½ Ger arm RE’s stored at Bengazi to the Tripoli port hex using coastal shipping to evade the Allied Cent Med anti-shipping sea transport die rolls. Using all his available Ju 52s, the Axis air transports a step of attack supply from Mainland Europe to the 3-cap air field one hex south of Tripoli at 81A:0122 and also air transports three more Ger inf RP’s from Bengazi to the Tripoli hex air field. Back at the Mainland Europe off-map holding box are two Ger inf RP’s, an It inf RP, the broken down It air lndg XX 80 LS, and a step of attack supply. In Libya are eight steps of attack supply and two resource points. Meanwhile the Ger 0-8 const III Afr moves one hex into Bardia, spends 6 MP’s there to inflict 2 port damage hits, and spends its remaining MP to move to 19A:0217, where it ends the turn stacked there with the It 2-3-8 art III 16C and the Ger 2-8 inf III 382. The It const III 5A, beginning the movement phase at Agedabia, ups the 1-cap permanent airfield there to a 3-cap and ends the movement phase at road hex 3228.

After regaining hex control of the transportation lines eastwards up to 0918 and 0819, and also the interior road to Siwa Oasis between it and 1022, the Afrika Korps bids adieu to Egypt for likely the last time in the current game and by the end of the exploitation phase continues its slow but steady westwards retreat completely back into Libya. The 3-cap temporary airfield at 0419 is destroyed by MP’s and removed from the map. A new defense line is created with the strongest AK stacks at Bardia, 19A:0218 and 18A:5119. At Bardia are the three It arm XX’s: the 131st Centauro, the 132nd Ariete, and the 133rd Littorio. At 0218 the AK XXX marker stack contains the 21st Pz XX with 22 full AECD/ATEC defense factors and seven flack factors. At 5119 is the 15th Pz XX, 19 full AECD/ATEC defense factors, and five flack factors. A presumably nonoverrunable southern flanking defensive line goes from 5019-4920-4921 and 4822. The entire AK ground force between the Egyptian-Libyan border and the Tobruk vicinity is under a large Axis fighter interception umbrella and there are plenty of Stukas and bombers available in the zone. Most of the non-fighter air units will certainly be used for Axis harassment air missions during the upcoming Oct II 42 Allied turn.

Although there has admittedly been no significant ground or big air battles in the current Western Desert war game for some time, both players feel that at least one more big desert clash could occur before the game’s end. Starting on the Nov I game turns there may be off-and-on mud weather in the Djebel Akhdar region in the Cyrenaican “bulge” region, which could make desert strategy and tactics tricky. The important fork in the Libyan coast road at hex 4417 and the E weather zone inland route to Agedabia throw a complex transportation factor into the combat plans of both sides as they maneuver in the Cyrenaica. The desert war game isn’t over yet; Death and Mars perhaps still linger by the board wanting to roll the die and play.

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