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Rommel in the Desert» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Yet another new-player 1940 report rss

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Andrew Schoonmaker
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Long Beach
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(yes, I realize the subject line does nothing to sell this as a report you'll want to read -- but hopefully this will do *something* to alleviate the boredom of those of you who clicked through anyway :-)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to introduce another friend to Rommel in the Desert. For the sake of introduction, we played the 1940 scenario, because a) I found it much easier to wrap my head around the game with the smaller number of pieces in 1940, and b) I've only played a few times myself and am still not sure how it's possible to win with the Allies against even semisolid Italian play (I've won the other two games I've played as the Allies, but in the first case we were both new and the Italian player allowed me to cut his entire force out of supply on the very last supply card, and the second game he got a little aggressive and my armor gave him a bloody nose).

Addendum: Upon rereading (mostly upon prompting by my opponent from the two previous games blush ), I realize that I should mention that in the first game Italy was otherwise solidly ahead at the end of the game, but got over-generous with his retreats -- and I don't think either of us were entirely sure exactly how devastating supply-cutting could be. In the second, I should clarify that only the very last portion of the aggression was in error -- up to that point he was doing the usual trade of supplies for space. The point being that in both cases (and particularly the first) it felt more that the Italians had lost the game than that the Allies had won.

The Italian player took a couple of turns to get up to speed, but in general the scenario opened as 1940 is wont to do, with the Allies falling back just as in the sample game in the rules (I confess that I haven't managed to come up with another reasonable setup for them). The Italians did get somewhat lucky when assaulting the Allied force just east of Sollum, and managed to take out the CV 2 mech.

After that, it was a hard-fought game. I managed to catch the Italian front line out in the open, and then swing around the escarpments to cut them off and destroy them, and then catch and cut off an overextended Italian force south of Buq Buq or thereabouts. However, I pressed too hard when the infantry withdrew (I shouldn't have bothered with probe combat) and it cost me some of my armor. Meanwhile, while I managed to take out two of the CV 4 infantry blocks, my own infantry was getting ground down to nubbins.

I also ended one month with an infantry, my recon (reduced to CV 1), and the elite armor engaging a CV 3 infantry. Foolishly, I elected to withdraw the infantry for replacements, feeling that I needed it available elsewhere (as mentioned, most of my other available infantry blocks were CV 1). Come the start of the next month, however, I realized that the Italians could potentially launch a counter-offensive against my now-pinned armor, potentially taking out my recon (which seems to be one of the most valuable Allied units in this scenario). I challenged for initiative and won, and then (feeling that it would be silly to challenge for initiative only to pass and withdraw) decided to cram a couple more blocks into the hex. Getting bogged down this way seemed to be a mistake, as I had more infantry whittled down by enemy fire, failed to kill the enemy infantry, and had to spend a couple more supply cards to finally surround and destroy it.

Italy continued to withdraw to Tobruk, ceding Bardia without a fight. The extra supply card from this turned out to be a non-issue, but it was nice to have. About this time, we both considered the victory conditions and figured that if I beseiged Tobruk, I would win, being up on units (barring a catastrophe). Unfortunately, I can't provide a surprise twist ending here -- that's exactly how the game played out. I feinted into the open hex near Tobruk with my recon to break up his clump of units, refused combat, and then piled two or three blocks into that hex (engaging him) and hoped he couldn't evict me. As it turned out, he was out of supply cards, and that was that (the final unit count was something like 7-5). Had I had more supply cards to burn, I was hoping to be able to get all the way around him, but it would've required a very tenuous chain of units to pull that off.

We both enjoyed the game, so perhaps I'll get to try one of the other scenarios one of these days (though looking at the start of the 1941 scenario gives me the willies; it feels like the Allied position must be incredibly fragile)... Also, I am still unsure of the answer to my question about solid Italian play; while both sides made mistakes, I think the ones in this game on the Italian side were the costlier.
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