It's been a while, May 2020 to be precise, since I last posted on our Op Compass Campaign, the enforced Covid break and a concentration of Italian Wars has seen a long delay between our early war desert adventures, but its time to get back to the sands of North Africa.
We use 28mm figures and a set of our own rules based very loosely on Disposable Hero's.
The history of the Campaign and additional rules specific to Scenarios can be found on the link below,
It's the 14th December 1940 and the Italian strongpoints in Egypt have been taken and they are falling back towards Bardia. The last remnants of the Italian forces at Fort Capuzzo are heading towards the new lines and the local commander has sent out some of his armoured forces to escort the Capuzzo troops and supplies into the relative safety of his zone of control.
The British on the other hand have sent their lighter, faster Cruiser and MkVI tanks in a wide arc round the flank of the Italians in an attempt to cut the road and capture the last troops from Capuzzo before they reach safety.
Set Up and Terrain
Our full 12 x 6 table was used and shown in the picture above, as viewed North is to the right. The retreating Italian forces from Capuzzo will be travelling towards the camera the escorting forces from Bardia away from the Camera. British forces appear to the left of the camera.
The terrain consists of a rough track which winds around an Oasis and some low hills. The whole table is scattered with light scrub which offers the lowest level of cover interspersed with small areas of rocky outcrops.
Breakdown rule in play, all vehicles moving off the track roll 2d6 before moving, double 1 and the vehicle will need to roll again on the Breakdown table.
Moonlight Night - the action happens at night, it is a full moon with high winds, which is pushing patches of sparse cloud across the sky causing variation in visibility.
Standard visibility is 36 inches. Each turn roll 2d20, one plus, one minus and apply that roll to the visibility distance each turn. So a roll of + 16 and -7 will give a visibility of 45 inches that turn.
British Briefing - You have swung round the Italian lines, you need to capture and secure the road preventing as many Italian Units from escaping Fort Capuzzo as you can.
Your forces are as follows
Hq - 1 x A9 Cruiser Tank
A Coy 3 x A9 Cruiser Tanks
B Coy 3 x A10 Cruiser Tanks
C Coy 3 x MkVI Light Tanks
Italian Briefing - Your last remaining support troops are retreating back towards the new front line and Bardia. You need to hold the road open for as long as you can and get as many of the supply and rear echelon units to safety.
From Fort Capuzzo
Hq - 1 x Staff Car with Commander and driver with 1 Truck ccontaining luxury items and 2 motorcycles
Convoy 1 - 3 x Trucks containing Chef and his kitchen staff
Convoy 2 - 3 x Trucks containing various items of Food and Drink
Hq - 1 x M11/39 Tank
A Coy - 3 x M11/39 Tanks
B Coy - 3 x M11/39 Tanks
C Coy - 3 x M11/39 Tanks
D Coy - 3 x Tankettes
The game doesn't necessarily need to be run by an Umpire as the activation deck and reinforcement rules will give all the randomness required. But this section will explain how the game should progress.
If you don't use card Activation in your games already this game uses them. Each unit above (Coy or Convoy) needs a card, in addition to that a British Reinforcement Card is required as well as an Italian Reinforcement Card. For regular players this game has no Tea Break or Event Cards.
Start the game with just three cards in the game deck, Italian HQ, Italian Reinforcement and British Reinforcement.
The Italian HQ will move on table from Fort Capuzzo on the track at the "sky" end of the table. When a Reinforcement card first comes out of the deck, that player rolls a 1d4, give a number of counters equal to the number rolled to that player.
When a player has counters in their hand, when their Reinforcement card comes out they hand in a counter, if they have no counters they randomly select a card from their available reinforcementsand add it to the game deck, re roll the d4 and the process starts again.
Italian Reinforcements will arrive at their designated entry point (see Italian Briefing). When the Italian HQ from Fort Capuzzo exits the table or is destroyed that card turns into the HQ from Bardia and a M11/39 HQ Tank arrives from Bardia.
British Reinforcements will arrive on the left of the table (as viewed in the photo) at a random location. Our table is 12 ft long so we simply roll a d12 to determine where a unit enters the table.
The game ends when the last vehicle from Fort Capuzzo exits the table at the Bardia end of the table or is destroyed.
The Convoy is merely a game timer (the players shouldn't know this). The goal of the game is to control the road whilst the Convoy is in play.
How did we get on
The game started with the Italian HQ setting off from Fort Capuzzo (see above) and a bit of good luck saw it get 4 turns on the table before the first British forces arrived and then it was the single A9 HQ Tank which arrived at the Bardia end of the table.
The A9 set up in a Hull Down position to wait for the Convoy to arrive, when your in an A9 hiding behind a hill is a good idea !
But just as the Convoy came into sight three M11/39s turned up on the Bardia Road giving the A9 a perfect flank shot. One shot, one kill. But the Chef managed to slip off table in the excitement.
The Chef leaving the table brought on the Italian HQ Tank on the table which joined in the slug fest between the A9 and the surviving 2 M11/39s. Or at least it tried to, the tank immediately broke down with an oil leak, caught fire and had to be abandoned. Oh how we laughed !
Eventually the A9 got damaged and its 2pdr was put out of action so it had to retreat from its Hull Down location, luckily for the British their next Reinforcement had arrived the 3 A10s, which in Dec 1940, in the desert is a damn fine Tank.
All this gave me a great excuse to drive the damaged A9 down my lovely new Dry Wadi beds courtesy of The Last Valley.
The Tankettes had very wisely got out of the shooting zone very quickly and advanced to (my new Last Valley) Oasis to escort the Convoys across the Middle of the table.
The damaged A9 managed to get in the middle of the table and took out 3 trucks with its machine guns.
But the remaining M11/39s arrived on the table and despite a number of losses they managed to hold the road open and let the remaining Convoy vehicles exit the table.
And the winner is,
The British lost an A10 and had an A9 badly damaged, the MkVI tanks didn't make it on the table. The Italians lost 4 M11/39s (one to break down) and 3 Trucks. With the Italians holding the road I gave them the win and a big four points in our Campaign.
So after 10 games the score is British 20 Italians 20, only 13 more games to go !
Hopefully it won't be nearly 2 years before we do the next one.