Following on from the successful Somme series of card games I’m wondering whether the next game project will be Western Desert. On a personal note my Grandfather, after surviving Dunkirk, was sent to the Desert, fought his way across to Tunisia, then Sicily, then the landing at Salerno, worked his way up Italy, Anzio and finally ended his war in Venice.

I wonder how to go about representing the war in North Africa:

Firstly there will be some constraints –

  • It will be a card run game
  • With either a board or card terrain cards.
  • It will be historical but allow non-historical results (i.e the Axis have to be able to win).
  • It will be operational level at least.

Other factors which need to be taken into account:

Events (or potential events) geographically outside the actual campaign area will need to be taken into account for the effect they make on the battle. Events such as:

  • The British moving troops from the Desert to Greece
  • The Axis capturing Malta
  • The Allies holding Crete
  • The French fleet not being destroyed at Oran
  • The Italian fleet not being badly damaged at Taranto
  • The effect of Barbarossa on reinforcements for the Axis
  • Vichy defending Algeria and Morocco against the Allies
  • The (proposed) German Operation Felix capturing Gibralter
  • The Axis coup in Iran
  • The Allies attack of French Syria
  • Italian East Africa holding out

I’m sure there are more….

Another key element of the North African campaign is its length – June 1940 until May 43 – almost three years with the Germans only becoming involved from February 41. This has two interesting effects:

  • The technical progression of the tanks – the British went from Matilda 1’s through, A9’s, A13’s to Honeys to Grants and then finally Shermans and Churchills. The British Anti tanks guns went from 2pdrs to 25pdrs in the course of the Terrain. The Germans and Italians also likewise upgraded.
  • The change of leadership – especially with the Allies, although the friction of Italian and German adds some different issues.
  • The progression of tactics – the British started the campaign charging tanks as though they were cavalry against the German anti tank lines, they finally learnt more effective tactics which were to wear the Africa Corps down.
  • The difference in the sweeping movements of the Desert war, the almost WW1 style battle of El-Alamain and then the slow wet, hilly advance up Tunsia against dug in troops.
  • The addition of the Americans

These and I expect more are all issues that will need to be addressed in any game based on the North Africa game. I’ll deal with these as I develop the game.