Saturday, 25 July 2020

WW2 Western Desert Campaign Rule Modifications

For my WW2 Western Desert campaign I am going to be adjusting the campaign game set up after finishing this current campaign turn. As a quick reminder the old approach had all divisions lined up in a row with the defending division counters flipped, and the attacking army made up to three attacks with the best of three games determining the campaign turn's winner. If the attacking force won two games they advance one zone on the campaign map, and if the defending force won two games they would be attacking in the next campaign turn.

An example of the current campaign approach

The changes to the original approach came due to various suggestions and questions from previous posts about the campaign (thank you - comments and questions are always welcome). This got me thinking about modifying how the opposing forces line up and capture of supply dumps.

So here are the modifications I am going to give a try in the next campaign turn. Instead of one row, the divisional counters are lined up in two rows: a front line of three divisions and a secondary reserve line of two divisions.

Example setup where Axis forces are attacking

The idea with this approach is if the attacking army has a victory in attacking the first line of defence. They then can use a mobile reserve (armoured divisions only and not infantry divisions) to launch attacks on the second reserve line of defence. Should both attacks on the second line be successful, then this constitutes a breakthrough and major victory allowing the successful attacking army to move forward two zones rather than one zone.

The risk trade-off is it is necessary to have two armoured divisions held in reserve. Should a first armoured  attack fail to get a breakthrough, then you are reliant to achieve a second successful battle with the two infantry divisions in the first line. Not an easy task, unless the opposition are understrength.

An examples below...

The first attack is on the first line of defence.

If the attack on the first line of defence is successful, a breakthrough is achieved, which allows the mobile reserve divisions to attack the second line of defence. In the example, below Axis forces are trying for a major victory, both battles will be fought and if won by the attacker the major victory is achieved.

If there was only one armoured division in reserve then only one attack could be made. In which case a major victory is not achievable, but capture of supplies is possible. More about supplies later.

The reserve armoured divisions attack the reserve defensive line. Both battles will be fought to see if a there is a major victory.

If the initial armoured thrust is defeated and no breakthrough is achieved, then another first line attack must be made, in the case where the remaining armour is being held in reserve it will fall to the infantry divisions to make the next attack.

The first armoured attack is repulsed and the second attack involves an infantry attack.

In this case the infantry attack is successfully (presumably against a weakened armoured division in the above example) and the mobile armoured reserve can make an attack on the second defensive line.

What about supply capture? This a broad term covering supply dumps captured and the recovery of equipment from the secured battlefield. Before the end of the campaign turn after all the battles have been fought. The attacker rolls one D6 dice for each second line defending unit beaten, and on a 4+ they will get one additional supply point in the next turn.

Having now written up the changes, I hope this weekend to play the second game of the current campaign turn.


  1. I like it. If I may offer a few suggestions:
    1). A formation in reserve should be penalised in some way if attacked as a result of breakthrough, i.e. surprised or not in good defensive position as they expect to move forward from the reserve to fight.
    2). If the first attempt to breakthrough fails the reserve should be allowed, if desired, to re-attack the same enemy formation and breakthrough, albeit a major victory cannot be achieved as there is only time for one more battle.
    Have you thought any more about length of LoCs restricting re-supply?

    1. Thanks for these and previous suggestions. In terms of suggestion (1) and penalising reserve formations due to surprise, I think a penalty of not allowing improved positions would be useful.
      With suggestion (2) allowing a re-attack, I am in two minds, as it could reduce the risk in the risk/reward balance where a player is forced to choose a higher risk strategy which has the rewards should the first attack be successful. Versus the lower risk of having two armoured formations in the front line.
      The length of supply lines may yet get introduced after I test out the recent changes over a couple of turns.

    2. To me this represents the concentration of force at a Schwehrpunkt - perhaps only allowed to the Axis as the Allies never seemed to do it to the same extent. The risk is that the same unit making the breakthrough will be the one that has to exploit it and be degraded as a consequence. if the breakthrough is too costly then abandoning the push would seem sensible and settling for a draw (or perhaps one counter-attack by the defender?).

    3. A idea I may well introduce if the current modifications don't work. Thanks.

  2. Hi Peter
    I came up with a similar solution for a Cold War campaign, where reserve armoured divisions could exploit a victory. The idea was to get players to use their formations correctly. I never got the chance to try it out, so will watch this with interest!

    1. I am looking forward to trying these amendments and just need to complete the current campaign turn. As you say holding back formations to either exploit a breakthrough, or to provide defence in depth, does add a bit of interest.

  3. The rule mods sound good Peter and look forward to seeing how they play out.

  4. Replies
    1. Hopefully the amended rules add to the campaign decisions. Thanks.

  5. Sounds good. Looking forward to it

    1. Thank you, I am looking forward to see how it progresses.