Monday, 31 December 2018

Western Desert Battle Report

I have been trying out a few WW2 Western Desert games with the rule modifications to Lock 'n' Load's Tank on Tank boardgame, and here is a game report on one of those games.

The rule variations can be found in a previous post. The only change to the variations made were to allow AT and Artillery units to move 1 hex rather than be static.

If you are not familiar with the Tank on Tank rules. An overview and review of the boardgame can be found on Battlefields and Warriors. It is an excellent read. The rules themselves are free to download from Lock 'n' loads website. I think they are very nicely written rules too. They provide a simple and fast game which fits with my preferred style of wargaming rules.

Some of the photos in this post are not great, I am getting used to photographing 6mm models. The models I completed this month (December) certainly provide the look and feel I wanted for my WW2 Western Desert games. I am now planning phase two of the project in the New Year, which will add some Italian units and one or two extra tanks so I can extend to gaming into the Tunisian campaign.

Anyway, back to the game which starts with the leading elements of the British 4th Armoured and 22nd Guards having recently captured the town of Sidi Balsa. They now need to prepare quickly for the expected counterattack from the 15th Panzer division.

British forces are all setup within 2 hexes of the road and a reserve near the Eastern wadi. They plan to push their armoured units into the Northern hills, while their armoured reserve moves up to fill the vacated space in the centre.

German plans are to grab control of the Northern hills, hold the centre and probe the defences around Sidi Balsa.

British manœuvre their forces to take up their defensive positions as the 15th Panzer units push forward.
A tank battle develops in and around the Northern hills. The British had the better of the battle until the Panzer IVs joined the engagement. 
In the centre a motorcycle reconnaissance unit holds the rough terrain in the centre.  Personnel units in the game perform very well when in cover, with a defence value equivalent to the best armoured tanks.
A view from the German position. The arrival of British reserve tanks has halted their first armoured assault to capture the Northern hills. 
A view of the thinning British defences as the 15th Panzer group starts to reorganise for an assault more in the centre and lower Northern hills.
The probing attacks in the South have secured the Southern wadi. Further to the North, the reorganised German attack moves more towards the centre and the fragmenting British line of defence.
The last British defences collapse in the centre. Only isolated units in the hills and around Sidi Balsa remain.
German air-support arrives and eliminates a troublesome 25 pounder artillery unit.  The combination of forward positioned infantry spotting for artillery is very effective against any opposing personnel units and light armour in the open.
The final positions
The end result was a successful counterattack which forced a hurried British withdrawal. 

In terms of the rules they worked well for me and provided an enjoyable game. While at first glance it seems to be too easy to eliminate units, a player is limited to only a few actions each turn, and any attacks need to be balanced with manoeuvring the rest of your force to gain tactical advantages.

Having AT and artillery units to move 1 hex worked. So I am removing that rule variation and going back to the core rules which does allow movement.


  1. Nice report, immersive and beautiful, lovely terrain and buildings...

    1. Thank you. I just need to make some salt marsh and escarpment features to complete all the terrain required.

  2. Peter, good opening to your new project, that terrain gives a very good desert look, a visual that combined with your narrative gives a very natural and intuative impression. The strength of the scale is shown off well to get a more grand tactical feel.

    As for easy kills, I think with this system, things need to be thought of in terms of groups, so that if one thing moves, there will be one or two other things immediately on hand to protect it from an enemy moving to overwhelm isolated units.

    1. I am pleased I did go with 6mm. I did consider 15mm early on when planning what to do with this project. As you say the rules definitely reward attacking in groups with HQs, manoeuvring for advantage, and attacking weak/isolated units. I am really enjoying these rules.

  3. Peter, your new desert mat looks superb! With the 6mm figures, the scope of the engagement is well-defined and quite handsome. As always, your combination of game photos, battle Situation Maps, and narrative, make for an engaging read.

    More of this, please!

    1. Thank you. The situational maps are more necessary with this scale it is difficult to make out the units on photos of the tabletop. More will be coming interspersed with the ECW campaign posts.

  4. Peter David Green1 January 2019 at 03:41

    Peter, excellent AAR. I agree with the previous correspondent - "...battle situation maps, photographs and narrative" are very good and aid the understanding of the tactical situation as it develops.

    I agree with your sentiment "...a simple and fast game which fits with my preferred style of wargaming rules."

    Regarding the rules:
    1) I agree with your revision to allow artillery and AT units a movement allowance of one hex, otherwise no support in the event of a significant advance on the table by either combatant.
    2) I assume you are using the Action Points rule as per the original rules? Maximum of four units possible in each turn? Or did you increase the allowance?
    3) HQ bonus included?
    4) Infantry and AT bonus included in your rules?
    5) Airstrikes as per the original rules?
    6) Regarding a wadi: What modifiers did you allow for combat? LOS issue? Having worked in the Middle East, I know how difficult it can be to spot vehicles in a wadi. You tend to be right upon the lip of the wadi before vehicles are spotted.

    Carry on with the excellent work.

    Look forward to your Tunisian campaign, as my father fought at Medjez El Bab, Longstop Hill and Tebourba with the 78th "Battleaxe" Division.

    Regards and thanks,

    Peter David Green.

    1. Peter, the game is translating well to my hex gridded tabletop which is 50 percent bigger than the boardgame. In response to your questions:
      1) This is the same approach as the game (not sure why I did it differently)
      2) Action points used are identical to core rules.
      3) Yes, HQ rules apply (I often use 3 HQs because of larger playing area)
      4) Yes, AT bonus used for AT guns including mobile AT (eg 2pdr Portee)
      5) Yes, Airstrike rules remain unchanged
      6) A Wadi is treated as a depression in core rules.
      Thanks, Peter

  5. Neither my era nor scale, but it looks great, and as always I love your hand drawn maps!

    1. Thank you kindly. I am not that proficient at writing blogs and the maps are both interesting to do and help with explaining the flows of a game.

  6. Hi Peter,

    This is looking really good. I'm very tempted to do something similar.

    Cheers and Happy New Year


  7. Hi Jay, Happy New Year to you to, so far the adjustment of the rules to North Africa is working and providing some enjoyable games. Soon I will need to devise a campaign around this. Cheers, Peter