Tim arrived early Friday evening, just in time for the Stanford football game. I had the table set up and ready to go. We agreed to start playing early Saturday morning. Tim took the British (Allies) and I had the Italians (Axis) forces. The plan was an ambitious one. To play the entire scenario, and watch as many of the headline college football games as possible. Oh yes….and consume many Henry’s. This was a job for professionals.
The Italians face some serious operational challenges. They are considered Out of Supply (Status 4) from the beginning of the game. Attack strength is quartered, defense and movement halved, with reduced Zones of Control (ZOC). They have no General Supply sources, and must rely on a limited number of Attack Supply factors to create either General Supply Points, or use for attacks. Italian Colonial troops (which form the bulk of their forces) can have air support only if it involves ten regiments (REs). Air units must role on the Success Table to fly a mission, unless they are in General Supply. If not, they can be aborted, or fail to fly. To top it off, Italian movement is limited until the British enter Italian East Africa.
The British commander has his own problems involving time and space. Time is critical because the Order of Battle (OB) requires two divisions have to be withdrawn by early summer. The distances in the game are significant, and by Spring, the possibility exists that roads and terrain key areas will be reduced to muddy morasses, limiting movement and effecting combat.
Play started at 0830 with Game Day as background ambiance. Here’s a summary of play.
Dec I 1940 – Clear
Allies: South Africans advance from Kenya in the south, with air units destroying a SM-79 I had unwisely deployed at a forward air field. Advances from Khartoum in the north southwards towards Kassala-Bascia-Massaula.
Axis: Consolidate scattered units in the vicinity of Kassala using HQs.
Dec II – Clear
Allies: Continue Kenya advance. Defeat Italian force at Kassala.
Axis: Retreat from Kassala to Bascia.
Jan I 1941 – Clear
Allies: Continue advance from Kenya in the south. Defeat Axis regiments holding vicinity of Bascia in the north, using motorized machine gun battalions to envelope for ZOC kill. Indian 4th Division advances south along coast from Port Saud.
Axis: Counter-attacks and destroys motorized machine gun battalions. Retreats east to mountains near Massaula.
Jan II – Clear
Allies: Advance along coast from Kenya, takes Mogadishu with amphibious assault. In the North, 4th Division continues advance shrugging off (over running) delaying Italian regiments.
Axis: Withdraws southern and eastern forces north towards Addis Ababa. Forms hasty defensive positions around Massaula. Air strike against British airfields unsuccessful.
Feb I – Clear
Allies: Takes Keren (key to breaching mountain defenses outside Massaula) on a half-exchange. Advances towards Addis Ababa.
Axis: Continues to withdraw towards Massaula, but hampered by British ZOCs.
Feb II – Mud
Allies: Consolidate near Keren. South Africans now slog in mud towards Addis Ababa.
Axis: Establish defense around Massaula, continues to move/consolidate units near Addis Ababa.
At this point , VIPs were tallied, with each side having two (2).
March I – Mud
Allies: Launch assaults on Massaula perimeter defenses. Slog in south continues.
Axis: Now defending Massaula proper.
March II – Mud
Allies: Capture Massaula (This will give them one (1) VIP), begin advance southwest towards Addis Abada. South Africans continue slog.
Axis: Forces in Addis Ababa deploy to forward defensive positions awaiting Allied advance.
April I – Mud (At this point Tim became understandably irritated by my uncanny ability to throw sixes. I pointed out to him that this was better for him with a weather role than a combat roll).
Allies and Axis: Same as March II.
At this point play stopped. We were engrossed in the Notre Dame-Texas game, and it appeared that the game would continue for more turns than time remaining to play.
Comments to follow.