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June Hwang Wah
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This is a hex-and-counter wargame from the early 1970s by famed wargame designer James Dunnigan. It was first published by SPI, and republished by Avalon Hill in boxed format. My copy is the latter.

First Impressions
Components. The map is printed on thick (3mm?) cardboard, depicting the area of operations, from El Agheila to Alexandria. Counters are standard AH fare, Nato symbols, and two numbers representing combat strength and movement allowance. I have one small peeve on the colour scheme: British units are coloured in bright red. Although it does serve to distinguish the opposing forces, it doesn't really fit into the desert warfare theme. Overall, components are basic, but functional.

Counters. The first thing that should catch the eye of a seasoned wargamer will be the large number of movement points each unit has. However, this is actually due to the scaling up of the movement costs. The lowest movement cost is along road at 1MP, and the costs of other terrain is higher.

German Counters. The second thing that appears strange is that the most powerful units in the game are German infantry regiments. Yes, not the panzers (which admittedly are in battalion strength), but infantrie! But I guess this takes into consideration the 88mm PAK guns that are organic to these units, in addition to their larger size.

Game Features
Supply. Supply featured prominently in the North African campaign, and it takes its rightful place in the game. In a way, it is a simplified precursor of the supply rules found in Gamers OCS.

Supply in the game is represented by supply units, a network of which is needed to keep units in supply. Supply units cannot move by themselves,and need to be transported by Truck units. Therefore even if supply units are available at the base area, they may not be able to deploy quickly to keep up with the attacks. And in an unplanned retreat, supply units may be captured by the enemy.

In addition to "normal" supply, a player may consume a supply unit to double the combat strength of nearby attacking units.

Combat System. Combat between opposing stacks are optional. Instead of odds-based CRT, PAA uses a unique combat sequence. The Attacker rolls on the CRT based solely on the difference in combat strength between attacker and defender. The result indicates the number of strength points the defender loses. Surviving units then "fire back", with a multiplier based on their nationality (e.g. Germans get a whopping x4 to their counterattack strength, while British and Italians are only doubled).

When losses are called for by the CRT, the owning player chooses which units are lost. He must lose as many strength points as called for by the CRT, but never more. So if the CRT calls for the loss of 3 SP and the only unit available is a 4-point unit, no losses are inflicted!

Forts. The forts of Bardia and Tobruk gives the defender additional advantage in defence. First, it gives defenders a multiplier in combat strength, reducing casualties. Furthermore, it forces all units in adjacent "fort controlled hexes" to attack any defending units within.

British Units. British units start the game weak, but can be built up at certain points of the game into stronger units. This should be done if possible, as two 3SP units are stronger than three 2SP units, because of how the combat system works. In the earlier example, a 2SP loss will have no effect on the first stack, but will cause elimination in the second.

Italian Morale. As their losses mount, Italian infantry units lose their combat effectiveness. Although they are the weakest units in the game, they form a substantial portion of the German OOB. This forces the German player to balance the urge to use these units as cannon fodder, with the need to keep them to act as screens against enemy

"Scotch" Earth Strategy
One strategy that works for the British is to get enough forces to the front on the first turn to provide an "overrun-proof" block. These units will probably all die, but on the second turn, the British burns all the supply that he cannot get transport back to Tobruk. The Germans get 1 supply unit a turn. They have strong units, but without an adequate supply line, they cannot make it to Tobruk for a few turns. By then, the British will have built a strong defence around Tobruk to meet him. I think this strategy breaks the game right from the start, and avoid using it when playing this game.


Final Comments
The game seems to play well. The rules are relatively simple, but contains sufficient chrome to capture the flavour of the North African campaign. The Germans start with a superiority in strength and concentration. He spends the first turn overruning overextended British forces and capturing supplies. If he does this well, he should be threatening Tobruk by turn 3. The British starts in a weaker position, but has depth in reinforcements and supplies. He must initially trade space for time, and build up his supplies and reinforcements. At the same time, he must fight small battles to to force the Germans to spread out and defend his supply line. The resulting small skirmishes will gradually sap the strength of the German units. Eventually, he will be able to build up his units to be on par with the Germans.
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Lewis Goldberg
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Thanks for the nice review. This is one of my all-time favorites. Though I have only played the original SPI version, not the AH one.
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Steve Carter
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grognard wrote:

"Scotch" Earth Strategy
One strategy that works for the British is to get enough forces to the front on the first turn to provide an "overrun-proof" block. These units will probably all die, but on the second turn, the British burns all the supply that he cannot get transport back to Tobruk. The Germans get 1 supply unit a turn. They have strong units, but without an adequate supply line, they cannot make it to Tobruk for a few turns. By then, the British will have built a strong defence around Tobruk to meet him. I think this strategy breaks the game right from the start, and avoid using it when playing this game.

I have worked out an Axis move against this (assuming three Allied infantry units are put on hex 0705. (This move by the Allies blocks both the coast road and the southern track AND is "overrun-proof.") It relies on a couple of Italian infantry circling south around the Allied units to occupy the two road squares in the Allied ZOC. This opens the coast road for supply to allow the German 3-60 armor and two Italian infantry to get an overrun on hex 1406 (assuming the Allies put an infantry unit there) with a shot at the supply in that hex. The Italians will have to stay put at that point, but the German armor is available to move further up the coast road to the supply unit at 2111. The supply on hex 1511 will be unguarded (the Allies can only move four units forward from their positions in Libya; the reinforcements in Alexandria can't make it far enough forward to cover that hex) so three Italian infantry can take out (or capture) that supply unit. (Actually, only one unit can, but if the supply is captured, why make it attractive to attack with only one Italian infantry on it?) With both of the these Allied supply units captured or destroyed, the three forward Allied units are unsupplied, so they get the big "U" marker and can be dispatched of on the subsequent turn. The remaining units (the German 4-60 infantry, the Italian 3-40 and 2-40 units) can join the overruning German 3-60 armor in a move up the coast road to hit the supply unit on hex 2111 and attack whatever Allied units might be there. It turns out that even with all these units taking a southern route around the Allied units on hex 0705, the Italian infantry has just enough MPs to get at those two southern supply units, and the Italian 3-40 and 2-40 units have just enough to hit the supply unit on 2111. And hex 2110 is 20 MP along the road from the supply unit on hex 0703 so the Italians are still in supply even if the supply unit on hex 1406 is not captured. So this gives the Axis the ability to attempt to pick off three supply units on the first move, even with those three pesky Allied infantry units blocking the road. So while I agree that this Allied first move is fairly unrealistic given the Allied situation at this point in the North African campaign (their focus was elsewhere and they didn't know how well Rommel would adapt to the desert from his previous march through France), at least with this response, the Axis still have an opportunity to pick up some supply (maybe two of the three) for his move towards Tobruk. However, I really struggle with this game after the first Axis move...
grognard wrote:
In addition to "normal" supply, a player may consume a supply unit to double the combat strength of nearby attacking units.

This one drives me nuts. It seems that once the Allies settle into the Tobruk defense, they have an extra supply unit EVERY TURN with which to launch one of these brazen attacks. If they get two hexes, they can usually amass at least 24 attack factors (six infantry units doubled) against one Axis hex. So even a stack of three German 4-60 infantry is highly exposed. Italians don't help as blocking units since they can be overrun easily and can't really slow down these killer attacks. With Tobruk as an Allied supply source, and their ability to bring into Tobruk and expendable supply unit EVERY TURN, the Axis can't really stay close enough to Tobruk to deal with it. And any attempt by the Axis to sally further east makes it easy for those amassed Allied units to sever the Axis supply line. So I am stumped. Does anyone have any ideas as to how to deal with this issue? At first this game was fun, but once it "evolved" into an Allied "maximum attack supply" every turn, the games doesn't seem balanced or fun anymore.
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June Hwang Wah
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Since the largest AF the Germans can muster in a hex is 10, a hex with 4DF doubled on defence is overrun-proof. My choke defence, if all units are available to move are:

2x 2-50 at hex 0704
2x 2-50 at hex 0404
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Steve Carter
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June,

Thanks for the reply. I had not seen Allied units on hex 0404 before. Nice. In that case, the supply units on hexes 2111 and 1511 will be open for the two German units to capture or destroy by motoring south of those pesky units on 0404. Hopefully capturing one of them will put the Germans back in supply and the four Allied units will definitely be out of supply, which will make them easier to finish off at the Axis leisure. This does still delay the Axis buildup, but at least it still gives them a chance at some supply units.
I suppose that the only way to prevent this is to have a pre-game agreement that the Axis can set up their incoming units PRIOR to the Allied setup, which would allow them to occupy hex 0703 as a part of the Axis home base, keeping swamp hex 0704 out of reach.

Steve
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June Hwang Wah
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In my games, I refrain from advancing the British on the first turn. Seems to work well.
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dmcamp
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Supplies: consuming supply unit to double attack
Just been reading Desmond Young's "The Desert Fox," and thinking about the supply rules as they relate to Operation "Crusader." Maybe a simple house rule modification to consuming a supply unit to double attack would be a supply unit could be stacked on top of an already placed supply unit and that could be consumed to double attack. Because obviously the supply unit represents all the logistic personnel etc besides just the actual supplies. A single supply unit by itself can't be consumed this way.

And maybe going further that only one unit can be so supplied and doubled per supply unit consumed.
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Tim Benjamin
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grognard wrote:
Since the largest AF the Germans can muster in a hex is 10, a hex with 4DF doubled on defence is overrun-proof. My choke defence, if all units are available to move are:

2x 2-50 at hex 0704
2x 2-50 at hex 0404


Allied units are NOT doubled in swamps......
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Steve Carter
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RaffertyA wrote:
grognard wrote:
Since the largest AF the Germans can muster in a hex is 10, a hex with 4DF doubled on defence is overrun-proof. My choke defence, if all units are available to move are:

2x 2-50 at hex 0704
2x 2-50 at hex 0404


Allied units are NOT doubled in swamps......

The problem I have with most of these "choke point" gambits by the British are that they are completely a-historical.

Frankly, I don't understand why, in this game, the British get the first move anyway. In the actual conflict, they were set up in defensive positions due to the drawdown of troops there to support British efforts elsewhere.

It was the Axis forces that made the first move, and there was no "choke" position: on April 2nd they captured Agedabia (note: beyond the "chokepoint"); on April 9th they captured Bardia! That happened in seven days.

I just sent an email to Jim Dunnigan (the designer) to see what he has to say about this. He is registered in BGG but I don't know how often he checks for messages.
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Lewis Goldberg
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tallracer333 wrote:
It was the Axis forces that made the first move


I think Afrika Korps got that part right. IIRC, the Germans move first in that game.
 
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Steve Carter
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lgoldberg wrote:
tallracer333 wrote:
It was the Axis forces that made the first move


I think Afrika Korps got that part right. IIRC, the Germans move first in that game.

They did for sure.

However, I received a very prompt reply from James Dunnigan, the game designer. He said that the idea was to provide the British player the opportunity to make adjustments to the historical deployment.

An good example of different setup philosophies would be two games that simulate the Allied campaign in France in 1944. D-Day allows the German player full freedom of deployment. Fortress Europa requires the German player to deploy strictly within Army Group boundaries.

The designer did make an adjustment to make a "blocking" strategy more difficult by adding the rule that Allied units are not doubled on defense factors in swamps, so that two stacked infantry units cannot prevent an overrun attack.

For those who want to maintain a historical element of surprise to make it impossible for the Axis player to accomplish what actually happened a "house rule" could be developed to simulate this, by limiting what the British player can do. That is against the aim of the designer, but it can be tried if players want to experiment. For example, in Air Assault on Crete, the element of surprise is simulated by restricting the movement factor of the Allied units to one hex during the first turn (which is 25% of what most units can do in a normal turn). A similar rule in Panzer Armee Afrika might be a movement factor of 15-20 on the first turn rather than their full movement factor. Just a thought.

Like any game, gambits can be developed and responses to the gambits can be tested. That's what makes war games so interesting.

And hats off to Jim Dunnigan for responding so quickly to the question!


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Tim Benjamin
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Also note that Tobruk in Allied hands can only do Maximum Attack every other turn: Turn A, move Supply in; Turn B Max Attack; Turn C, move Supply in.....

This is because there can be only 1 Supply unit in a hex, movement occurs before combat, and Supply units that move cannot function in either form of Attack Supply.
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Tim Benjamin
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The Allies have NEVER been doubled in Swamps, look at the TEC on the 1973 map.
 
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Michael Sommers
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tallracer333 wrote:
grognard wrote:
In addition to "normal" supply, a player may consume a supply unit to double the combat strength of nearby attacking units.

This one drives me nuts. It seems that once the Allies settle into the Tobruk defense, they have an extra supply unit EVERY TURN with which to launch one of these brazen attacks.

Each side gets a single new supply unit every turn; the British do not get one in Alexandria and one in Tobruk.
 
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Michael Sommers
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tms2 wrote:
tallracer333 wrote:
grognard wrote:
In addition to "normal" supply, a player may consume a supply unit to double the combat strength of nearby attacking units.

This one drives me nuts. It seems that once the Allies settle into the Tobruk defense, they have an extra supply unit EVERY TURN with which to launch one of these brazen attacks.

Each side gets a single new supply unit every turn; the British do not get one in Alexandria and one in Tobruk.

Furthermore, if I may add to my previous post, the supply unit used for maximum attack supply may not have moved in the current turn, and only one supply unit can be in a hex at one time, so even if supply units are sent to Tobruk as quickly as possible, they can only be used once every other turn for maximum attack supply.
 
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Steve Carter
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tms2 wrote:
... the supply unit used for maximum attack supply may not have moved in the current turn, and only one supply unit can be in a hex at one time, so even if supply units are sent to Tobruk as quickly as possible, they can only be used once every other turn for maximum attack supply.

Hmmm... since the supply units "arrive" at the END of a turn, it seems to me that the Allies can mount a maximum attack supply situation every turn:
- A supply unit is in Tobruk at the beginning of Turn A.
- That supply unit is used to support a Maximum Attack Supply and is eliminated.
- At the end of Turn A, a new supply unit arrives at Tobruk.
- At the beginning of Turn B, that supply unit, not having moved in Turn B, can be used to provide another Maximum Attack supply.

So, it seems to me that the Allies can launch a Maximum Attack supply EACH turn, not every other turn.
 
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Michael Sommers
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tallracer333 wrote:
tms2 wrote:
... the supply unit used for maximum attack supply may not have moved in the current turn, and only one supply unit can be in a hex at one time, so even if supply units are sent to Tobruk as quickly as possible, they can only be used once every other turn for maximum attack supply.

Hmmm... since the supply units "arrive" at the END of a turn, it seems to me that the Allies can mount a maximum attack supply situation every turn:
- A supply unit is in Tobruk at the beginning of Turn A.
- That supply unit is used to support a Maximum Attack Supply and is eliminated.
- At the end of Turn A, a new supply unit arrives at Tobruk.

There's the trouble. It arrives in Alexandria, and must be moved to Tobruk the next turn.
 
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Steve Carter
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tms2 wrote:
There's the trouble. It arrives in Alexandria, and must be moved to Tobruk the next turn.

OK, help me out here. I am struggling with the rules of this game. Where ist the rule that states where, when, and how many supply units arrive? I have read the rules several times, and I am struggling to make sense of this.
 
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Michael Sommers
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The errata from Moves 14 say: "Players should note that both the Axis and Allies receive one Supply Unit per turn in addition to the reinforcements listed on the track."

Rule 17.12 says, "All Allied units arrive at Alexandria." There is no reason to suppose that "units" does not include supply units.

Note that while 17.14 allows the Axis to land reinforcements at Tobruk in some circumstances, there is no such exception for the Allies.
 
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Steve Carter
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tms2 wrote:
The errata from Moves 14 say: "Players should note that both the Axis and Allies receive one Supply Unit per turn in addition to the reinforcements listed on the track."

Rule 17.12 says, "All Allied units arrive at Alexandria." There is no reason to suppose that "units" does not include supply units.

Note that while 17.14 allows the Axis to land reinforcements at Tobruk in some circumstances, there is no such exception for the Allies.

Thanks for the response!

First question: What is "Moves 14"?
Second question: If there is no reason to suppose that "units" in Rule 17.12 does not include supply units, why does Rule 17.14 read: "Axis may land Reinforcements and Supply units..."

So that fueled my confusion as well as not seeing anything definitive in the rules about supply unit arrivals.

Kind of typical for AH games, huh?
 
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Michael Sommers
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tallracer333 wrote:
tms2 wrote:
The errata from Moves 14 say: "Players should note that both the Axis and Allies receive one Supply Unit per turn in addition to the reinforcements listed on the track."

Rule 17.12 says, "All Allied units arrive at Alexandria." There is no reason to suppose that "units" does not include supply units.

Note that while 17.14 allows the Axis to land reinforcements at Tobruk in some circumstances, there is no such exception for the Allies.

Thanks for the response!

No problem. I just happened to be playing the game right now.

Quote:
First question: What is "Moves 14"?

Issue 14 of Moves magazine, which was put out by SPI. The errata can be found here: http://grognard.com/errata/st/s&t40.txt

Quote:
Second question: If there is no reason to suppose that "units" in Rule 17.12 does not include supply units, why does Rule 17.14 read: "Axis may land Reinforcements and Supply units..."

It seems to me that supply units are units by definition. As for the quote, why shouldn't it say that? It's in the reinforcement rules, so it is natural to mention them. That it also explicitly mentions supply units does not mean that supply units can land at Tobruk.

Quote:
Kind of typical for AH games, huh?

I'm actually using the SPI version, but I don't think there are many differences.
 
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