Finally, we can unleash this beast!!
It’s been 2 years and 11 months since our last Panzer Battles title (Normandy) was released. Before you castigate us, keep in mind we have setup Wargame Design Studio, provided this web site and its (irregular) blog posts, released the Panzer Battles Demo, updated eleven of the Panzer Campaigns titles to Gold, released the new Civil War Battles; Campaign Petersburg as well as updated three other Civil War titles AND updated both Panzer Battles Kursk and Normandy to the standard released in the Demo. And that’s just the stuff done to date, we have a lot of work ongoing – some announced and some not…
Battles of North Africa 1941 was probably as challenging as Normandy to complete. We ended up including a lot more detail than originally planned (we wanted to do a new game every 18 months – yeah right!) and was a subject that most of us only had a passing knowledge and interest in.
Once the research was started though, it was obvious that this was a fascinating series of operations and would translate very well into the game system. We tested it out on all of you with the Mersa Brega scenarios in the demo and saw that that style of scenario resonated well. As a small aside, the demo version of Mersa Brega is not the same as the one in this release. We found some much better research and have happily adjusted the original scenario. That may be updated in the demo at the next refresh.
Building a game like this is very much a team effort, Mike Avanzini was researching and building the various order of battles even before Normandy was finished. I started the mapping process and had great assistance from Mike, Rick Bancroft and David Michas. Mapping took somewhere from six months to a year and is done before any scenarios are laid out. After looking over the recently created planning maps, I have realised how little of the master maps we have used. That’s the risk when starting a project, you must do some steps like mapping early on as it is so time intensive and will hold up the rest of the process if not completed. Result is there are some big maps included and all are available to create new scenarios using them.
The actual scenarios included, also went through a couple of distinct phases. Mike had created eight order of battles covering Compass, Sonnenblume, Corinth Canal, Tobruk, Brevity, Crete, Battleaxe and Crusader. Mike then recommended potential scenarios and situations the designers should look at when we got started. Rick Bancroft took responsibility for Crusader and I chipped away at first Crete and then Sonnenblume, followed by the rest. It was evident early on that the order of battles were very complete. For example, Sonnenblume includes all the forces that Rommel used to pursue the Allies back to Egypt. There was four distinct columns that went all the way from Agheila to Sollum on the Egyptian frontier – essentially crossing all of Cyrenaica. That said, creating a map to cover that area with the sporadic fighting that occurred was just not practical – so guess what, you have the full OOB available for any of you that may want to model some of the other engagements during this operation. There are similar ‘extras’ in all the order of battles.
The second big impact on the scenarios was the inclusion of the new variable objective victory points. This enhancement was only coded this year (2018) and meant all new scenarios could potentially use this new feature. This was the case for all the Compass scenarios that were created in the last six months. Older scenarios such as in Crete and Brevity have a second set of scenarios duplicated using variable objective points. We have left the original version there as an option for players who like the older methods of scoring. Though we call out 115 playable scenarios, this does include in some cases the aforementioned duplicate scenarios.
All of this, plus the need to create brand new graphics as there was little to no crossover from Normandy and Kursk added to the time for completion.
So, what do you get for your money?
- 115 playable scenarios and a further 24 reference scenarios covering the maps and units in each operation
- 3 variable scenarios (with some linked sub-scenarios)
- Lots of maps – 8 master and 55 sub maps and the capability to create further sub-maps. The very large North Africa map is over 1.23m hexes. You can download all the planning maps for free from the Battles of North Africa 1941 page at the JTS site.
- 8 orders of battle. The smallest (Corinth Canal) only has 131 units (a unit is usually a platoon equivalent). The largest (Compass) has 5,412 with duplicates. Crusader is probably close to Compass for unique units at 4,210 units.
- A heap of documentation, that is free, even if you don’t buy the game. This includes our Player, Design & Scenario notes (159 pages), Mike Avanzini’s Visual Order of Battle covering several of the units that we have modeled (85 pages) as well as the Getting Started guide (70 pages). Additionally, the previously mentioned planning maps are an optional download (527 MB). The other manuals (User and Program) have also been reviewed and adjusted where necessary.
We’re hopeful that you will enjoy the game. I can say that the new variable objective victory points really create dynamic games and we have not fully explored their capabilities. We plan to share more on how to both design and play these scenarios in future blog posts.
The following images can all be clicked for full size and are the same images as shown on the Tiller site;
Australian attempt to capture Tobruk from the Italians;
What was hidden from the German tankers at the beginning of the Easter Monday battle;
The New Zealanders attempt to dislodge the German forces at Maleme, Crete;
The British breakout from Tobruk, during Operation Crusader;
The various game icons/counters, compared;
A 200% size image of the first British attempt to take Halfaya Pass during Operation Brevity;
A sample of the Operation Crusader, Order of Battle;
Half a page of the Visual Order of Battle;
Some example shots from the campaign engine;
NATO symbols, anyone?;
Using the scenario editor to create another Crusader scenario. This is soft ground conditions with pooling water;
Another look at Crete;
Thanks again for your patience and it’s a great day to support poor, struggling game designers!!
Link to the Battles of North Africa 1941 product page; Link to Product Page
Not certain about this game? Download the Panzer Battles Demo for free from here; Link to Panzer Battles Demo