Scenario Review – Battle of Bir Temrad

The Battle of Bir Temrad is part of jdrommel’s epic Desert War series, which is well worth playing in its entirety.  There is none of the lopsided, first-turn-knockout BS that plagues far too many North African scenarios, yet they still feel distinctive and thematically appropriate.  This scenario is tough for the Germans, as the Allies have a distinct force advantage, but the right moves at the right time by German Armor can easily turn the tide.

From 8th of November 1941, general Rommel began the withdrawal of Axis troops on Aïn El Gazala. The British forces involved in Operation Crusader pursued them at a distance. This allowed XXIst Italian army corps to set up a new defense line to protect the withdrawal of the main Axis forces. From 11th to 16th of December 1941, the Polish Rifle Brigade and the 4th Indian Division assaulted the Italian lines while tanks of the Guards Brigade outflanked the defenses by the south to reach Bir Temrad on the rear of Italian troops. But the intervention of XXth Italian army corps (Celere) and a kampfgruppe from Afrikakorps warded off the threat and made 800 prisoners. On the 16th of December, the XXIst Italian corps could withdraw at its turn to Tmimi and Derna.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.

Bir Temrad

Given how wide open the map is, it’s hard to predict with any certainty where the main engagement will take place.  The Italian infantry on the hill line are a tempting target for the Allied armor.  A foolhardy British player will move up with everything in a solid attack, blasting away at the Italian forces and advancing to the line of hills.  Then the Germans will swoop in from the flanks, eliminate the Allied armor, and carry the day.  At least, that is one possibility.  Desert maps being wide open and all, this whole map will be determined by where the Allies attack first, and whether or not the Germans have a good card in their hand to counter.

My playthrough of this map was incredibly silly.  As Allies, I had some of the worst dice I’ve seen, comically bad, and could not hit anything – despite having an incredible hand.  The German player, however, had no cards on his right flank at all, and was only able to activate his German armor by countering my general advance.  The resulting tank battle initially swung in his favor, as my bad dice continued, but was ultimately decided by his hand, which did not allow him to fire back.  I cleaned up from that point on.

General Evaluation – 4/5 – There are lots of decisions to make on both sides, and neither side has an overwhelming advantage in force or position.

Balance Evaluation – British favored.  DoW has it at 69/31 Allies, which sounds about right.

First Turn Win Possibility – None.  Any major engagement requires movement and commitment from both sides on this map.

Plink-Fest Danger – Mild.  A cautious Allied player can sit near his baseline, and blast away at the Italian infantry with artillery and tanks.  However, this strategy could be largely negated by pulling back behind the hill line.  Further, the strong Axis armor contingent can quickly advance on the Allied forces – if the Allied tanks are caught near the baseline, it’s not likely to go well for them.

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