Sunday, 22 March 2020

WW2 Western Desert Campaign - Game 1

The context for this first game of my WW2 Western Desert campaign has the Axis forces directing their supplies to take the offensive and Allied forces taking a defensive stance directing their supplies into defences.
Game in progress
The first step was to set up the tabletop terrain. I am using the terrain cards I made last week with a desert theme to determine the layout. Once the cards are shuffled and laid out the defending player gets to choose the side they wish to defend.

Terrain cards laid out and the defender (red arrow) selects the side to defend.
The defender is allowed to swap two adjacent cards up or down to improve their position.

The defender is allowed to swap two adjacent cards vertically.
The attacking player takes the opposing side and is allowed to swap to adjacent cards sideways to improve their attacking options.

The attacker can swap two adjacent cards horizontally.
Once all the swaps are complete the terrain is setup on the tabletop. As a general rule I have three features, of the type depicted on card, placed on the tabletop area they are depicting. I finally add some scrub across all areas which only benefits infantry and AT gun units with cover.

Final card setup after each side has swapped. (Swapping is optional for a player.)
The layout is transferred to the tabletop and a scrub is added.
To determine the forces involved and type of game I had originally thought about having a number of scenarios. I have subsequently opted to use some of scenario rule mechanisms from Neil Thomas' "Wargaming: Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878" where the scenarios is determined with dice. In my next post I will write up the rule adaptations I am using.

For this game the Allied forces have had some supply difficulties and must remove 20% of their units. Axis forces had a better dice roll and can attack on one of the flanks with 30% of their forces. However, 30% of the Allied forces can be deployed well in advance of their baseline edge.

Order of battle...

Allied Forces

  • 3 x HQ
  • 2 x Reconnoissance (Stuart tank and Carrier)
  • 7 x Tanks (3 x Crusaders, 1 x Stuarts, and 3 x Grants)
  • 3 x Infantry
  • 2 x AT (1 x Portee and 1 x 6 Pounder)
  • 1 Artillery (1 x 25 Pounder)
Allied forces are able to dig in their infantry and AT guns. However, I forgot to add the minefields they are allowed for taking defensive approach with their supplies. I will need to make an adjustment in the next game for this oversight.

Axis (German)

  • 2 x HQ
  • 2 x Reconnaissance (1 x AC, 1 x Armoured Infantry)
  • 5 x Tank (2 x Pz II 2 x Pz III, 1 x PzIV)
  • 2 x Infantry
  • 2 x AT Guns (one SPG)
  • 1 x Artillery (SPG)
  • 1 x 88mm Gun

Flanking force

  • 1 x HQ
  • 3 x Tank (Pz III)
  • 1 x AC
  • 1 x Armoured Infantry

Game Report

The Allied forces placed 70 percent of their defending units first. Then after the Axis deployment placed their remaining 30 percent in advance of their defensive line. Axis forces had 30 percent of their units in reserve ready to appear later in the game on either flank. A dice roll would determine the flank.

Allied forces setup defences around the town.

Allied defences setup

Morning Attack

The attack began at 8am in the morning with all German units advancing. Taking advantage of their advanced position Allied tanks moved forward and quickly repulsed German reconnaissance elements and blocked the German tank advance.

Initial deployments and opening moves.
Very quickly a tank battle ensued. Allied air support was called upon to help stem the advancing German tanks.
Allied tanks block initial German advances. 
Advancing German tanks suffer damage from Allied air support.

Tank battle and flanking force arrives

As morning progressed to noon, the tank battle swung in favour of the attacking forces and the remaining Allied tank units retired back to their defensive line. Additional tank units and armoured cars units arrived on the German left flank. Their attack was initially stalled by small tank and reconnaissance force positioned in the hills.

Flanking forces arrive and Allied units retire to their defensive line.
Allied tanks retire to their defensive line.
Flanking units arrive.
German air support arrives to soften up defensives.

Afternoon assault on defensives

The assault on Allied defences was paused briefly for air support and to bring up supporting artillery. The primary attack would be led by the recently arrived flanking force. After some initial opposition the attackers numbers started to tell and defences began to crumble.

Final actions
Attacking forces concentrate their fire to overcome the defences.
Attacking units
Last ditch defence of the town.
The defence collapses.
A victory to Axis forces. My oversight forgetting to add minefields made it easier for attacking forces.

The lost units will be recorded for future campaigning and both forces can reorganise and divisional workshops can repair equipment.


  1. Nice looking game, interesting mix of maps/miniatures moves and fights...

    1. Thank you, glad you like the mix of maps and photos.

  2. A lovely looking game and very well told and presented. I have never really been a fan of the desert campaign, but you are making it compellingly interesting. Thanks for all the work that has gone into this post.

    1. Thanks Norm. The first few posts of a new campaign do take a bit of time to write up, just when you are eager start on the next game.

  3. Great start to the Campaign Peter.

    1. Thank you. It will be interesting to see how the games go once forces start to become depleted.

  4. A great start to your campaign and the table looks great. As always the hand drawn maps look superb (I love the German style unit symbols) and help me to follow the action. Looking forward to reading what rules you are using etc.

    1. The maps are a useful support as it is difficult to follow the action with 1/300 scale models in the photographs. The rules used are a variant of Lock n Loads Tank on Tank game which can be downloaded free. I will be posting about them later in the campaign.

  5. Hi Peter- I can appreciate the work you have put in- both on the Game itself and your splendid Report- well done! Regards. KEV.

    1. Thanks KEV. It is surprising how long it takes.

  6. Outstanding presentation, Peter! As others have pointed out, this effort is a lot of work and appreciated by many. As always, great maps.

    So many interesting pieces to take in but I especially liked the photo of German air support harassing the allies.

    1. I am still coming to grips with how to best photograph 1/300th scale. So the maps are even more useful when writing up the game report. Thanks.

  7. A good game, I thought the Germans were going to be held at one point.
    A question: in the terrain set up, can the attackers swapped cards include either of those the defenders have already swapped?

    1. Yes, the attacker can swap any cards horizontally, including those on the defenders baseline. The Allied tank attack was almost a success, and with a couple of good dice rolls could have made thing very uncomfortable for the attackers.

    2. I forgot to add the maps are beautiful! You have a real knack for them.

  8. Looks great, and a great start, Peter, looking forward to more.


    1. Thanks. I have just completed the second game.

  9. Great stuff all around, Peter!

    1. Thanks. It is always fun starting a new campaign.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post, I always appreciate topics like this being discussed to us. Information very nice. I will follow post Thanks for sharing.
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    1. Pleased you found the post interesting. Thanks.

  11. I like the planes :P The terrain cards are cool too! ^_^

    1. Thanks. The terrain cards are working out well.

  12. Excellent! Like the use of cards to generate terrain.

    Regards, Chris.

    1. Thanks. You can stack the cards with more of one type of terrain to suit the predominant terrain features on the campaign map.

  13. Peter - this is inspiring stuff.
    From the campaign setup rules - which seem realistic without being complex, through your lovely maps and the exciting gameplay.
    Your blog leads the way in campaign rules and narrative sir.

    1. Thank you kindly. I do enjoy simple campaigns to give more context to games.

  14. Peter,

    Is there a list of types of terrain card you use and the quantity of each?



    1. Hi Dave, this link shows a photo of all the terrain cards
      Prior to shuffling and drawing the cards I do remove cards which do not apply, eg marsh terrain.
      Regards, Peter