this review is based upon 2 plays and previous playing of the sister game - Medwar Sicily.
This is a boxed game with a 25" x 22" heavy cardstock map with large hexes, large counters (thicker than most), quick reference sheets, Opportunity Cards, 3 dice and an 8 page rule booklet with less than 6 pages of rules and being nicely illustrated in colour. There is also an additional full counter sheet provided for use with Medwar Sicily - those counters simply upgrade the Medwar Sicily counters to the new graphic standard (which is a nice touch).
Overall the package and out of the box experience is good and it has been produced at a good price.
The downside to the production as mentioned elsewhere here, is that there is not enough contrast in some of the terrain features, so they can be awkward to see. the type of light appears to influence this. In good daylight things look much better, but at night, under artifical lighting, some features are tough to see. The main problem are the 32 'rough' hexes. I have actually dabbed artists paint (Mars Yellow) onto my rough hexes with a sponge to highlight them. Hexside are rather lightly shown but that does not really effect play and hex-numbers are tough to see, but they are not needed once the set-up is done. So overall a good package, but I wish there had been better QC on that map.
The basic mechanics of the game are that;
The person who wins the initiative die roll can choose who goes first for that turn.
That player blindly draws a chit from a cup that determines how many Resource Points they get that turn. Each player has their own cup and the chits are weighted, so that the Allies get more resources. The resource points allow players to bring on reinforcements, build fortifications, flip reduced units back to full strength and buy draw cards. You cannot bring back eliminated units, so trying to eliminate a flipped unit is worthwhile.
Each player has their own deck of 10 opportunity cards and a player can hold up to 3 cards in their hand at anyone time. The cards add variables to the game such as putting a unit back into supply or reducing the effect of enemy fire etc.
The player then checks supply and that supply status remains with the individual units until the following supply check.
Next... units may then move and can then attack. Play then reverts to the other player.
Only motorised / tank units exert a Zone of Control and this can become quite critical in preventing breakthroughs and blocking supply.
Combat is via the 'buckets of dice' method. Players roll a number of dice equal to the combat factors in play. Supply status and terrain can modify the number of dice rolled. generally combat factors in the game are very low, so dice rolling does not get out of hand. Mech is scoring hits of 5's and 6's, while infantry need the harder to find 6's. In every combat, both sides get to roll, so attacker beware!
Sudden death victory occurs if the Italians capture Mersa Matruh or if the British capture Bardia and Tobruk - both these events seem tough to achieve - end of game victory conditions essentially revolve around the the Britsh have been able to push the Italians out of Egypt or put the Italians out of supply.
At the start of play, the Italians launch their offensive and when looking at the reinforcement schedule, it is easy to get the impression that the Italians will not be in the game for long, but surprisingly, they are quuite resilient and can with some lucky die rolls, tear the British defenses apart. The buying of fortifications adds an additional dimension and can be necessary to keep the British in the game for the first few turns
This seems to be a fairly finely balanced game. Players need to read the rules properly, as there is some subtlety in the rules, Like many games, you really need to get one game under your belt, to properly understand the pace and direction of combat, the influences of the geography and the interplay of the ZOC / supply rules.
Overall, I enjoyed the game. It is a good addition to the series and covers a seldom visited subject. It plays well solitaire (This is NOT a card driven game) and my two games have been completed at around the 2 hour mark.
Thanx for the kind comments, Norm . . . always nice to read when someone enjoys your games.
We have several other games using this system coming out, including EASTWAR (The Russian Front, 41-44) for Worthington and BLOOD & SAND (North Africa, 41-42) for GMT. And several other possibilities . . .