Thursday 24 May 2018

Op Compass - Game 3 T'Egypt Bound

"Perkins ! You drove it in here, you get it out"
Our early WW2 North Africa Campaign continued again recently with the 3rd game in our series of linked scenarios covering that interesting time when tanks aren't quite tanks.

If you want more information on the Campaign I have set up a seperate page which is updated regularly with updates on rules along with links to all the previous games,

The games are based on an excellent book by Robert Avery which is avaliable from The Toofatlardies, there is a direct link to purchase the book on the Resource Page.

We use 28mm figures on a 12 x 6 table using a home brew set of rules.

Italian HQ and MG take cover in a rocky outcrop
Historical Background

It's the 14th September 1940 and after a few months of active patrolling on the Egypt border the Italian Forces, under direct orders from Mussolini were preparing to invade the country, the Commander in the area wasn't convinced his troops were ready, short on transport the speed of advance was often dictated by the speed of the slowest Infantryman.

The British on the other hand were preparing for a series of hit and run attacks on the advancing Italians, causing maximum damage before the enemy Artillery came into action, then withdrawing to the next position and starting over again.

Our game covers one of these actions.

Set Up and Terrain

The game is played on our standard 12 x 6 table fighting length ways down the table, a very simple set up, a single road runs down the middle of the table, which is covered with low hills and scrub ground.

The Difficult Going Rule is in force for any vehicle which moves off road, see the Resource Page for full details.

The Dry and Dusty Rule is in force, any unit moving is easier to spot, again full details on the Resource Page.

Table Set Up, Italian entry at bottom of the photo
British Briefing

You have been giving the Italian Forces a bloody nose as they advance into Egypt, once again the ground is suitable for defence and you have set up your forces to blunt the attack once more.

Set up your units in the 2/3rds of the table away from the Italian entry point, all units are hidden, if you have an Umpire give them a rough sketch of your dispositions. Normal spotting rules are in force, any unit firing is placed on table. Any hidden unit which moves needs to be declared and a general area given, with Dry and Dusty in force there is a big chance that moving units will be seen.

Your objective is simple destroy as many Italian Units as you can whilst minimising your own losses.

British Support weapons lie in wait
You have the following troops,

2 x Companies of Infantry EACH with,

HQ - 3 Figs plus 1 Lt Mortar with 2 crew and 1 Boyes Anti Tank Rifle with 2 crew
3 x 10 Fig units of 1 Sgt with SMG, 2 man LMG team and 7 Rifles.
1 attached MMG and 3 crew.

The Infantry is Coldstream Guards so Morale is Basic 6, Corp 8, Sgt 9, Officer 11.

1 Troop of 2 x A9 Cruiser Tanks, Morale 7

1 x 25pdr gun and crew. Morale 7

2 Ground Attack flights (max)

A Desert Game isn't a Desert Game without a palm tree !
Italian Briefing 

Despite your reservations, Il Duce has ordered the Invasion of Egypt. You command a taskforce from one of the Blackshirt Divisions, all available transports have been centralised so that no one has to walk (unless they want to !).

Your orders are straight forward, break through the British lines and get as many troops as you can off the far side of the table.

Italian Forces are as follows,

HQ - 2 Figs in Staff Car with 2 men attached Recon units each with 10 men (1 Sgt with SMG, 2 man LMG team and 7 Rifles).

3 Blackshirt Companies each with

HQ - 2 Figs with either a 2 man Lt Mortar or a 2 man Anti Tank Rifle team
3 x 10 Fig units as above.

Morale is Basic 5, Corp 6, Sgt 8, Officer 9.

1 unit of 3 x 47mm AT guns with crew.

1 unit of 3 x MMG and crew.

1 unit of 4 L3 Tankettes (can split 2 and 2)

1 unit of 2 x 75/27 Artillery and crew.

All support units are morale grade 6, the Artillery is grade 8, all units have access to transport when they need it.

Italian Units may enter the table at any point on their edge of the table on the first draw of their activation card.

Italian Artillery busy doing nothing.
Umpire Notes

You will need to keep a running tally of points scored in the game,

British score points for the following,

Each Italian soldier or crewmember killed: +1 points
Each Italian lorry, truck or gun destroyed:  +3 points
Each Italian tank destroyed:  +6 points
Each British soldier or crewmember killed: -2 point
Each British lorry, truck or gun destroyed:  -3 points
Each British tank destroyed:  -10 points

The Italian objective is to exit as many of their men off the table to the east as possible.

Each Italian soldier or crewmember successfully exited: +1 point
Each Italian lorry, truck or gun successfully exited:  +3 points
Each Italian tank successfully exited:  +6 points

The game is designed to last for one full days gaming (10.30 to 16.00 with an obligatory break for Fish and chips!) or 15 turns. Add up the totals at the end of the day to determine a winner.

A draw if the points total are within 5 points of each other.
Winning Draw if points total is 6 to 25 points higher.
Major Victory if points total is 26 pointsor more higher.

How did we get on.

There is an old blues song which has the words "If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" and for the Italian Forces in this game that was the tag line for the day, things started badly and then got worse !

Not what you want at the start of a turn !
The biggest problem for the Italians was the lack of support from their "support" units. The initial units on the table dashed forward to be shot up, as expected by the hidden British troops, however once sighted it was the job of the Heavy Weapons to soften up the defenders.

Advance ! Or not, as the case may be
But nothing went right, the Italian Artillery effectively went on strike, taking ages to get on table and set up, when it did it spent ages mucking about in between barrages. The MMG teams had clearly been training with Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars as, try as they might, they hit bugger all, all day. It was if the area where the Italian dice were being thrown had shifted into another dimension where the laws of statistics did not apply !

And to make things worse one if the Italian tankettes insisted on breaking down at every opportunity before it got on the table.

A very frustrating day for the Italians, but that's the joy (or not) of Scenario play, it would have been interesting to see how the Italians would do with a more co ordinated attack and a bit of luck !

The attackers didn't even dent the front line of the British and in the end it was an easy Victory for the Brits, who only lost 2 figures all day.

Losses, Italian at the bottom.
Italian losses, 1 tank, 3 trucks and 56 men = 71 points
British losses, 2 men = 4 points

A 67 point win.

Air Attack
Campaign Progress

A convincing win for the British who grab the full 4 points for this game. So that's a 9 to 3 lead after 3 games.

We are on with our Naval Campaign at the moment as well as a big SYW game before we return to the Desert for game 4 when the roles will be reversed and the British will be attacking an Italian Fort.

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