1941 Tobruk (Breakthrough scenario)

1941 Operation Crusader: Tobruk. Germans/Italians v British

(Or: ‘’Can I play a Breakthrough scenario without the Breakthrough expansion?!’’)

Set up: slow
Game time: medium
Solo play: suitable (if you are patient!)

Historical Background:
The Marmaric Desert, November 19, 1941. General Auchinleck orders General Cunningham to launch the British Eighth Army into a massive offensive into Libya in a bid to destroy the Italo-German armoured divisions and free up the garrison in Tobruk. Over the next three weeks, over 700 British tanks face off against 240 German Panzers and 150 Italian tanks in desert battles around Sidi Rezegh and its airfield. The garrison in Tobruk even attempts to break out to connect with the Eighth Army. After many engagements with varied outcomes, Rommel is forced to order the remnants of Panzergruppe Afrika to retreat towards Gazala, beaten not by his opponents strategy, but rather its overwhelming material superiority. Tobruk is free!

Axis 6 Command cards. Allied 6 Command cards; move first.

Conditions of Victory:
12 Medals. The British Medal in Tobruk is a Permanent Medal Objective for British units starting on the Allied player side of the board only. Only a single medal can be won that way, regardless of how many British units reach Tobruk.
German Medal in the Campaign Headquarters on the Allied baseline is a Permanent Medal Objective for the Axis player.

Special Rules:
North African Desert rules (Actions 9).
British Commonwealth Forces (Nation 5)
Italian Royal Army command rules (Nation 6)
Oasis Recovery rules are in effect at Bir el Chleta, Bir el Gobi. and Gabr Saleh (Actions 10 - Oasis Recovery). Those rules also apply to each of the camp’s Campaign HQ.
Place a badge on the elite German infantry near Gambut (Troops 2).
Place a badge on the German heavy artillery in Gambut and the British Heavy artillery near Gabr Saleh. Both are Big Guns (Troops 3).
Place a badge on the mobile German artillery unit near Gambut (Troops 14).
Place a badge on the two Afrika Korps units of Panzers with 4 tanks each (Troops 2).
Axis artillery unit with a Battle Star is a Flak 88mm gun: it may move 0-1 or battle at 2, 2, 2, 2. Stars rolled score a hit on Armour.
Allied player lays the minefields around Tobruk and the Axis player those around Sidi Omar/Halfaya and Bir el Gobi (Terrain 29).

Scenario link


Set up: 40 minutes. I knew it would take time, especially on my own, but I actually enjoyed it because I was thinking about the rules, the units, etc.

Playing time: 70 minutes (quicker than I expected).

This is part of one the great battles of WWII, and one which had a profound impact on the course of the War in North Africa. I am mentioning this because, for me, this is a fundamental reason why these scenarios are so great – the actual history of what took place, not just a game.

The Brits got off to a flying start with a Barrage that destroyed the dangerous German 88s. The Allies own Big Guns and a Behind Enemy Lines created a good early lead. But then the inevitable tank battle took place, with both sides scoring good hits. The Germans suddenly destroyed a lot of British armour, and it was 6-5 to the Allies halfway through the game.

But then the Allied weight of numbers started to count, and steadily the score grew in their favour. The Germans were limited by not being able to counter all the Allied moves. Six cards is perhaps not enough for such a scenario…?

The Allies won 12-6, and that didn’t involve moving very far up the board.

Despite a long set up, this is a great scenario and well worth the effort.

Solo play: I did play this solo, but this time I decided that, as it is a Breakthrough scenario and both sides only have 6 cards, I would play with the full set-up for both sides (rather than any of the possible solo methods which are available). I didn’t find this a problem, I guess because I now have had plenty of experience with the game.

Photos (sorry, not so clear…)


Did you use the breakthrough cards? I’ve only dabbled with some of the printed breakthrough scenarios, but I think the extra movement options on the cards makes a big difference in the gameplay speed. Well done for keeping your concentration over 70 mins. When I fully play both sides solitaire I get to a certain point where I become muddled and play the wrong side’s units and then I don’t know where I am. I’ve abandoned so many solitaire games because I no longer knew what I was doing!

Knowing what you now know about how the scenarios plays out, would your overall strategy differ in a replay?

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I did actually deal out the Breakthrough cards, but as soon as I looked at the first one I realised it would be an extra burden because I have not used them before and would get confused. I only recently got Winter Wars, so I will try a few normal scenarios with Breakthrough cards before using them on the real thing.

From my albeit limited experience, I can tell you that they work fine with normal scenarios but the extra option to move units quickens the game up perhaps too much. As you know, there is a bit of a sliding scale, so it depends on the terrain of a particular scenario. Otherwise, they are pretty much the same cards as the normal deck. They come into their own by allowing you to move groups of units that may eventually be used in a compound attack. They are much simpler than the various other types of cards, which are rather too complicated for use in solitaire games.

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