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Subject: OCS Tunisia: Good Move or Gamey Tactic? rss

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Gregory Smith
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I have a question relating to the Tunisia campaign being played by TornadoChaser and me. You can see the first in a series of detailed session reports that have been posted by TornadoChaser chronicling our adventure at: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/461685/new-campaign-star....

We are at the point in the campaign where the 8th Army enters. Montgomery arrived early which was good for me because TornadoChaser was kicking my butt. The situation is that Rommel has counter attacked and was nearing a major breakthrough north of Kasserine.

I need to generate some pressure elsewhere fast to inhibit the German attacks. To do this I would like to go around the well fortified Mareth line. The HQ throw and draw range is too short to make it through the 53.05 pass around the desert side of the coastal range. It is possible to clear the first row of fortified positions near the 49.10 pass, but that will take a lot of time. Maybe that is what happened historically since it took a while, but Montgomery did eventually go around.

My solution is what prompted this post. I only have 4 non-organic trucks with the 8th army. So I drove a truck from near Tebessa all they way across southern Tunisia to the 8th Army. The roads were clear through Tozur and El Hamma, then a short jaunt across the desert on the back side of the coastal range to where 8th army units waited. It took just one turn. Now I have 5 trucks to create an extender I am able to flank the Axis fortifications.

Tornadochaser has not said he thinks this is gamey, rather he thinks it is clever. However, he also points out that it may break the game as the Mareth line is not very defensible once you can outflank it, and this allows the British to do so very early. If this warps the game, I question whether my move should be allowed.

I suppose the unescorted truck drive is unsuual, but the British have experience with SAS units that could do it. The area driven through wasn't controlled by either side. This plan costs a truck from the west front which will be missed but is not essential, and ties up a lot of trucks in Montgomery's army. The units still attacking the Mareth Line (I have to threaten there too) have an HQ than can direct draw from the supply dump at the edge of the map that is replenished each turn and throw supplies forward, so they won't feel the truck shortage. The outflanking forces will have to rely on just 2 organic truck units, but that still gives them mobility and offensive capability sufficient for the end around, and I moved additional supplies out that way in advance in anticipation of this anyway.

To counter this the Axis player either needs to pull a significant number of units from somewhere (weakening that front) to block the flanking force, or alternatively withdraw the southern units to a more defensible location. Either option is good for the Allies and bad for the Axis.

So, here is my question, was this outside the box good generalship, or a gamey tactic. Is it legal, or did we miss something? Has anyone else done this? Does it warp the game such that it should not be allowed, or are there easy counter moves to avoid this?

In retrospect, the roads could have been blocked easily by one or two units so that two turns of extensive truck driving across deep desert would be required (although, neither of us thought of that until it dawned on me I could make a run for it). If this was the situation instead of the situation above, does that change the answer?
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Philip Vogt
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I would like to add that I believed I was following the OCS Mantra of "Guard your rear, guard your rear, guard your rear" very well, but completely failed to anticipate a truck making an end run like that. I had units to interfere with ground combat units with much lower movement rates, and in positions to protect my front lines rear, not the very bare south end of the map. IE my rear guard was in position to prevent a unit from swinging south like the truck did, but to be blocked from swing back north, which the truck did not.

Looking at the map it is very evident that the southern portion is very porous and one is unlikely to completely block an end run, particularly if the truck runs all the way along the very southern edge of the map. The truck doesn't need to worry about supply, while the effort to get a supplied combat unit down there to chase it down is essentially prohibitive.

I see that the only way to prevent this end around truck is to block the mountain passes south of the Mareth line with combat units. I would have done this if I thought about it, and I would recommend it for future players!!!

This would mean less units for the brief counter attack period, but forcing the 8th army to fight through either the hedgehog line, or units in the passes to the south is worth it.

My defensive strategy was based on the throw range of the 8th army HQs, which as JaggedTech mentions, doesn't quite reach the Mareth line from the south. I figured JaggedTEch would do a combination of attacks on the Mareth line while sending some of those real good infantry battalions to stretch my defenses using on map supply for trace supply. I believe I could delay a few of such units long enough to bloody the eight army and to by time.

At least I know I defended the historical area correctly as the book I borrowed from JaggedTech shows that Mareth line was garrisoned, but not points south. Historically, Monty sent units around but whether you can interpret this maneuver in game sense that he used 'extenders' or 'on map trace supply' is anybody's guess.

It is clear I am about to be yanked back to Berlin for a short walk in front of a firing squad for this strategic blunder on my part! Our battle will likely now break down to one of maneuver, rather than combat, and that one I will surely lose. Particularly since the Allies may cut off my entire Mareth line defenders with some lucky combat results in a double move. I wish my replacement Field Marshall all the best!
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Dean Essig
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Good move in my book. You transfered a truck to extend the logistical network under Monty. Probably a scary ride for the truckers, not a lot the Germans can do to make it impossible.

Hope you got a receipt from the Brits, or you are likely to never see those trucks again, ol' boy.
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Gregory Smith
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Thank you for a diffinitive answer Dean. And also, thank you for designing this game and for OCS in general. It has been a LOT of fun to play.
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Dean Essig
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You are most welcome. I'm glad so many players find them enjoyable.
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Stu Hendrickson
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I've seen worse... this is yet ANOTHER example of why OCS (and all games for that matter) need to adopt that Jack Radey rule 'you cannot use road movement rate unless you are behind friendly lines'.
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