I got my first game of Rommel in last Thursday and I have to say that i enjoyed it, as I believe did my friend Adam. I had solo playtested some of the rules last week to get a feeling of the ruleset and by the time game day came along I was feeling relatively comfortable with the rules. I believe Adam had glanced at the scenario but was unacquainted with the ruleset (although I have to say he is always a quick study) so it was really up to me.
For our first go, I took a early Desert War scenario from the Honour Forum, it is available here
as a free download. By April 1941 Rommel had driven the British forces in Libya back across the border into Egypt. Unfortunately for Rommel his forward supply lines to his frontline position in the coastal village of Sollum were threatened by the fact that the Allied forces still held Tobruk a major fortified port to the west. The siege of Tobruk left few DAK forces available to advance into Egypt although Kampfgruppe Herff was able to take the Halfaya Pass
and take Sollum.
Operation Brevity was an attempt by the British Commander General Wavell to retake the Halfaya pass and Sollum as a part of the a larger operation to relieve the siege at Tobruk. Three small British mobile columns under Brigadier Gott were ordered to advance. To the south were elements of the 7th Armoured Brigade with Cruiser tanks and motorized infantry, in the centre were elements of the 22nd Armoured Brigade with Matildas from 4RTR and motorized infantry and finally on the coast a battalion of infantry as well as towed artillery advanced towards Sollum itself.
Defending was KG Herff with elements from 15Pz, including PzII's and III's, with motorized infantry as well as attached Italian Bersaglieri. Also defending were Italian infantry and artillery. Supporting was KG Esebeck with PzIII's and motorized infantry from 5. Leichte-Division (21Pz)
|Rommel uses a gridded terrain system. The triangles represent mountains, the blue tiles are the sea. The town marker of course represents Sollum. The national insignia are objectives and the red and green colour filled grids are the supply centres for each force. Set up and victory conditions below.|
The scenario requires the Germans to set up first. KG Herff can be placed anywhere in row A, while the Italian forces can be placed anywhere in rows A to E. The British then set up anywhere in row H. The game is 16 turns and KG Esebeck arrives at the end of turn 8. To win the Allies have to hold their own objective as well as two German objectives at the end of turn 16, anything else is an Axis victory.
History did repeat itself, as in May 1941 the Axis forces were able to throw back the British, but the British held the Halfaya Pass. I tried to play the game using the same tactics as the British keeping my forces in 3 jock columns
, although I did send the Matildas across the ridge to as a forward defense of Sollum. The Axis forces were maybe a little late to defend their right flank, although they also had to defend the centre objective. The British did lose more armour than the Axis, and were clearly outclassed by the Panzers.
It was nice to focus on the grand tactical aspect of the games and I felt the ruleset does a great job of supporting this. The mechanics of the game are very simple and we seldom referred to the rulebook itself except to elaborate on some of the Tactics and Events. The Ops mechanism is a lot of fun and as we both play a lot of SAGA, the process was familiar to both of us. I was originally somewhat tentative about using a ruleset that has a gridded terrain but to be honest it really made things much easier. We finished the game in around 2 hours (we did play 13 turns out of 16 but at that point an Allied win was obvious), which is really excellent for a first outing with a ruleset.
We did screw up a couple of things, I missed that defending units can chose to withdraw rather then take a second attrition hit on a specific unit. I also think at times we may have missed that an attacking unit has to withdraw after a failed combat to the grid from whence they came. I am pretty sure that we also may of missed that at times some units were isolated. I also wondered at times about the number of units in an enemy ZOC after combat but I can still see no prohibition of this in the rulebook.
A few questions came up during the game but I was able to find answers to all but one on a second read through the rulebook. I still have a question about tactical movement through terrain which I ask on the Honour Forum. All in all though this game is a lot of fun and the work that I put into planning for the game in respect to terrain and units was well worth it. I am really looking forward to my next game.