Friday, March 23, 2012

The First, First Alamein

January, 1941.  In the far distance, the lure of Alexandria.  Standing in the way of the invader is the battered remnants of 7th Armoured, 4th Indian Division and the scrapings of an army.  Seeking passage is the typically victorious Italian Army.  "What's that?" you say?  As part of a loosely structured campaign the Italians have not only NOT been run back to Tunisia, but are contemplating final victory in Egypt.  When I say loosely structured I mean by that the results of a tabletop battle are considered and each side given options.  They make their decisions and in this case, the Commonwealth troops decided to make a stand along the ridge at el Alamein.  The Italians could opt to assault the hastily prepared position at slightly better than 1:1 odds or wait for the first division of the Afrika Korps to come up in a month.  During that time the 6th Australian division would be coming onto line for the Allies.  It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass, so with 8000 points vs. 5900 points for the Allies, the Italians attacked.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II (BKCII), with 15mm figures and centimeter distances increased by 50%, plus some other house rules.  O.B.s were generated using the online "Battlegroup" resource.  Players were nine in number and the game was played to a conclusion in spite of the large numbers in five hours which included a lunch break.  BKCII is an "IGO-UGO" game where your activity is determined by successfully rolling your command rating or less.  Multiple attempts lower your chance each turn.  Unlike Black Powder where you only roll once, in BKCII you roll for each activity w/o knowing whether there will be a second.  Under certain conditions if you fail your activation roll you have some options.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves with only minimal comments till the end.  The table is 12x6' with back tables for both sides that ARE in play.  Click the pictures to enlarge.

Italian left

Italian right

Italian center.  Where is the enemy?

Air strike!  And successful too.

The right advances, seeking the enemy.

The left rushes forward, with only observers in front of them.

Recon probes the center.
The right continues... enemy sighted!

The sees mostly dust from light tanks driving back and forth.

A large engagement begins on the right.

Results.  Dice represent hits, reversed models are suppressed.

The center finally starts moving.  What is waiting for us?

Closing on the thinly manned trenches.  What does the dust cover?

Italian infantry over-running the center.

More air support, and annoyingly effective too!

But we roll on.  There seems little to oppose us.

Combined arms take out an emplaced anti-tank gun

The right is a shambles, but their sacrifice will guarantee victory.
And then it all fell apart.  The right-hand battlegroup failed their break-point test and headed for the rear.  In the center suppression kept the infantry heads down.  On the left the opposing British had already passed one break-point test and we would push them even harder in this turn.  But nothing happened.  Ennui seized the Italians (multiple command failures) and the dust settled to reveal a line of cruiser tanks in gun emplacements.  One, two, three rounds of shooting later and the Italian tank force was no more.  Of our 2000 point loss for the day around 900 occurred in that one turn.  No photos were taken to record the horror and scope of the disaster.  Time to throw in the towel and wait for the DAK.  We made some important mistakes with the rules, but that is to be expected since no one regularly plays BKCII except for these campaign games.

I think most everyone felt the Italians, against all expectations, were going to carry the day.  It seemed like nothing could stop the armored juggernaut rolling towards Alexandria.  But.... that's why we use dice.  And for the second week in a row I am left to conclude that God really is an Englishman.


  1. Avanti Michael,
    and thank you for the report and images. I appreciate the record of events.

  2. 12 x 6' table? Wow! Good to see the early war Italians. You don't get to see them on the field of battle every day!