North Africa

North Africa Design Notes

Our latest book, North Africa, is in a sense also one of our oldest books. Diving Eagles, Old Ironsides, Desert Rats, and Desert Fox were four of the first books we released after the rulebook. Stars and Stripes, For King and Country, and Avanti Savoia soon joined them to complete our Intelligence Handbooks for the fighting in Africa and Italy in 1942 and 1943.

We compiled all of these books into Afrika back in 2006 with small changes to make them compatible with the new version of the rulebook. Along with Ostfront, Afrika has been the bible for mid-war players since then.
North Africa is a revised and improved version of Afrika, which was showing its age. We didn’t want to change things too much or make anyone’s army obsolete, but we needed to bring the company organisations up to date and make the points more consistent across all of the armies.

I’ll talk about this second point first. As the books that made up Afrika were some of our first publications, we were learning a lot as we went along. We discovered that we had over-pointed some things and under-pointed others and tried to correct this in each successive book. While each book was balanced, some had cheaper tanks, and others cheaper infantry or artillery.

In North Africa we took the opportunity of applying everything we have learned in the last six years to recalculate the points values of everything in the book. This didn’t make much difference to the vast majority of units, but does bring some more into line across different armies. A few players will be fortunate and find that their force has gone down in points overall because they had lots of units that were previously over priced. Likewise a few will find that their force costs a bit more as they had managed to pick lots of previously under-priced units. Overall though, the net result for most players will be little or no change in their forces as they gain in some places and lose in others.

For most people the company organisation changes will be much more exciting than minor points changes. We have gone through the whole book and given them up-to-date company organisation diagrams showing their combat, weapons and support choices in the same graphical form as our late war books. This makes it much easier to pick your force and removes many of the restrictions and complexities of the old system. In doing so, we gave every company in the book its own diagram and points. This means that players wanting to field a Marschkompanie or Canadian Rifle Company, for instance, no longer need to fiddle with the points to work out what they can take – it’s all straightforward now.

Commonwealth forces
Axis Forces

To go with this process, we split the German and British sections into theatres to reflect the changes in equipment and organisation as the war progressed. The Germans have two sections, one for the Afrikakorps in the desert, and one for the later forces in Tunisia and Italy. The British have three, one each for the desert, Tunisia and Italy. This will also make it easier for players to pick a force, as they no longer have to filter out all the irrelevant options for the theatre they are playing in.

With this split we were able to introduce some of the specific organisational changes that were used in the desert. The Germans and Italians both have their desert organisations faithfully represented. These combine infantry, anti-tank rifles and guns, mortars and machine-guns in their combat units to create self-contained defensive positions capable of seeing off any type of threat.

Tiger tanks
Alllied Forces

With a desert-style combat platoon on each objective, your panzers or carristi are free to attack the enemy objectives, secure in the knowledge that their own will hold out.

The Italians have another change too. Their infantry are now organised as battalions rather than companies. This may sound radical, but it isn’t as big a change as you might suppose. Italian infantry forces have always had problems getting enough troops to use all of their points.

British Armoured Squadron

Changing them to battalions solves this problem by allowing you to expand your core combat force, and at the same time making more support available.

The commandos and rangers benefited from this change too. We’ve made them into proper battalions rather than collections of companies, allowing us to remove several special rules while making things much clearer for beginners. They certainly look a lot more potent this way!

US tanks

Not content with this, we also added a whole pile of new companies to the book. I can’t remember them all off the top of my head, but some of them are a British Parachute Company, two British Infantry Tank Companies with Matilda, Valentine, and Churchill tanks, and a German Schwere Panzerkompanie with Tiger heavy tanks, oh, and a Squadrone Esplorante for the Italians (now that’s a really nice little force!).

To keep up with the late-war Joneses, we’ve also given everyone their heavy artillery. While there was no question that we would do this, there was lots of debate about the points values for them. Compared to the late-war where they are fairly commonplace, these powerful weapons ended up being quite a bit more expensive in the mid war. I think we got it right, and both those who want to take them, and those who rightly fear them will be very happy.

All-in-all, I think it is a great book that will excite existing mid-war players and tempt many more who haven’t tried this fascinating period to try it.

Phil


Last Updated On Monday, August 24, 2009 by Wayne at Battlefront