WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario: Prologue

It was AH’s Afrika Korps that got me interested in board war gaming as a young teenager. It was further stimulated by adolescent readings of some of the early WWII histories and memoirs (eg., 1950s and early ‘60s) available in the town’s public and school libraries, along with those heard reminisces of the world war done by veterans in various living rooms.  And like the questing 21st century person compelled to go up into his attic and connect anew with the old 20th century toys and fixations, once again I’ve set up the old war maps in order to study and relive the strange twists and turns of the previous world war campaigns done in these still troubled ancient regions.

One problem with the original WitD game and the WW update module is that they begin their basic Western Desert Scenario campaigns at the very early Operation Compass epoch Dec I 40 Allied turn.  Then both games continue for quite a long time until at least the Jan II 43 turn, which might be considered the historical end of the Western Desert campaign.  While this is fine with those players who might wish to study the entire Western Desert campaign period and/or else try more efficient strategies instigated at an early stage and thereby acquire better positions later on the game maps, others might wish to begin the study analysis and efficiency exercises at a more classic Western Desert campaign start date, such as the “Enter Rommel” epoch Mar II 41 Axis turn. Well, in wargaming one thing often leads to another, and so if one begins the WW Western Desert campaign on the historically rather late Enter Rommel Mar II 41 Axis turn, why not also “embed” the Iraqi coup on its subsequent historical Apr I 41 Axis turn, and thereby attempt to recreate those dramatic original world war problems and opportunities revealed in the broader 1941 Middle East campaigns, at least in one particular Europa desert Scenario?

With these two concepts in mind, I began the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario project. The Western Desert campaign basis was made easy by the existence of Frank Watson’s outstanding Enter Rommel-II (ER-II) Europa battle scenario, found in TEM#71. But I must confess to some minor tweaking of Watson’s Mar II 41 Axis turn at-start set-up.  This is by no means due to any perceived flaws or deficiencies of his battle scenario on my part. The reason for the couple of minor tweaks is due to my wanting to substitute the historical (but little used in wargaming) 8-7-10* Pz XX 5 Le (Leicthe) for the generic (but more often used) 9-10 Pz XX 21, typically found in the conventional WitD and WW Desert scenarios.  But preliminary analysis of the ER-II Scenario seemed to indicate to me that the use of the 8-7-10* Pz XX 5 Le in the ER-II Scenario as written causes the Axis player some first turn discomfiture when used in conjunction with one of ER-II Scenario’s Special Rules. And so in the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario the original ER-II Mar II 41 Axis turn at-start set-up was tweaked a very little bit for both the Axis and Allied sides. Also, the Axis Command Problems proviso of the ER-II Scenario’s Special Rules was removed. However, the British Surprise provision was kept, and so the Allied player cannot conveniently convert vulnerable steps of attack supply into 12 general supply points in the Mar II 41 Axis Initial Phase in order to be sure they (probably only one step of attack supply in our situation, it appears to me) will not be captured in the course of the initial Axis turn.

In addition to grafting the ER-II Scenario’s start date and essential set-up onto the local Western Desert Scenario war game format, I also wanted to definitely include in the projected WW 1941 ME Scenario project the historical Iraqi and Vichy French campaigns as such. And so the new Scenario title includes “ME” (for the WW “Middle East” Scenario’s Western Desert, Iraq and Syrian campaign components) and “ER-II” (for the Mar II 41 start date). “1941” indicates the time frame of the projected scenario, but I confess to not yet determining the projected Scenario’s exact end date. Right now tonight the best end turn date might be the end of the Nov I 41 game turn, historically the very eve of the big Allied Operation Crusader campaign. But the end of the Jan II 42 game turn would be another good end date, which would include the Crusader campaign as an organic part of what might correctly be called the classic, or first unified historical period of the 1941 German/Axis Afrika Korps saga. For the EA game report, the end of the admittedly not yet completed 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario might well be the end of the Syrian campaign in the summer of 1941, if I can successfully get that far.

The addition of the Crete campaign is essentially a tacking on of WW’s “Assault on Crete” Scenario. This is admittedly a deliberate short-cut diversion from attempting now some kind of crafted incorporation of essentially the WW Marita-Merkur Scenario into a 1941 ME/ER-II Scenario project. However, if there is any “adding on” to be done of just the Crete campaign to existing related Europa Scenarios, in my opinion it should be in conjunction with specifically the WW ME Scenario war game. By the “ME Scenario” I mean along with the Western Desert campaign and the Iraqi and Syrian campaigns. In so doing I believe Europa war gaming can better show the probably important interrelationship of the Crete campaign with the other three campaigns.

It should be noted that the Tobruch Bypass rule is in effect in the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario, but the provisions found in WW Advanced Rule 14A1g-Road Construction are used instead of the slightly different Tobruch Bypass Optional Rule found in the ER-II Scenario. Also, in the Special Conditions heading of the Western Desert Campaign scenario-specific instructions at WW Rule 41-Preparing for Play (found in the WW Scenarios & Appendices booklet), under Gibraltar Convoys, I have allowed the Allied players in the Allied Initial Phases they find appropriate to “place up to [four] GSPs {rather than just two, per the WW rule as written} on one [W Med] NTP in any all-sea hex on the west edge of map 18A.” Finally, once again in my Western Desert campaign game reporting to the EA I have managed to smuggle in a home brew rule making Bengasi a major port. At the game’s start it is not an Allied supply terminal, just a busted up and unused fragile port with 12 hits of damage. But Advanced Rule 12C1d-Axis Standard Supply Terminal Restrictions is used in the Scenario, making the shattered major port of Bengasi likely hardly noticeable in the EA reported edition of the projected WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario, not to mention the fact of the Scenario’s relatively early end date. Surely the Tobruch bypass road construction labors and the need for close-in airfields and forts in the Tobruch zone will give the Italian construction IIIs higher priority things to do, anyway, than attempting to fix Bengasi’s fragile harbor port.

I am again indebted to F. Watson for his excellent “Iraq-Rashid Ali and the Golden Square” and the “Syria-Operation Exporter” Europa battle scenarios, both published in TEM#81. Both these fine Europa battle scenarios were used as bases and reference sources for the projected WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario, and have made the scenario development much easier. In addition, I have utilized Jean Guy Rathe’s article “Troupes Francaises du Levant, June 1941,” also published in TEM#81, as a guide and primer to attempt to update somewhat the Vichy French Levant OB for the new 1941 Scenario. To some, this campaign may be yet another sometimes included in a list of “annoying” campaigns of the Second World War; it certainly was for Wavell, as was also for him the Iraqi campaign. But the Syrian campaign is perhaps a key component of the 1941 Middle East WWII historical period, and this new Scenario labor presented in the EA game reports in 2015 may be as good a place as any in the Europa project’s history to attempt to give the Syrian campaign a hard look again, using at least the available published Europa materials. I have done some minor tweaking to Rathe’s apparently preliminary Europa Vichy Levant OB changes. These tweakings of mine here in the unfinished WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario are preliminary and provisional, and hope they do not offend him; and I remind him of my earnest use of his fine, valuable, and very interesting ground breaking Europa article, which I am indebted to for any ultimate betterment of the Syrian campaign in Europa war gaming I might actually accomplish here.

Mention must be made in this introduction of the use and deletion of the enormous array of WW Advanced and Optional Rules. Leaving out those that are East Africa, BF, or Torch campaign-specific, here are some WW Advanced and Optional Rules lists for the 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario EA game report:

WW Advanced and Optional Rules Required/Recommended in the 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario EA game reports:

Advanced.Rule 3E7-Central Med Reduction/Eastern Med Expansion. [strongly recommended]

Advanced Rule 5B3-Ownership of Cities, Ports, and Airbases.

Advanced Rule 5B4-[Hex Control Using] Half RE Units.

Optional Rule 5B5-Ownership of Territory.

Optional Rule 7A5b-Temporary [Rail] Capacity Increase. [applicable in the Vichy French Levant, by the Axis player]

Optional Rule 7E-Bridges.

Optional Rule 12B3-Reduced Overland [Supply Line] Element.

Optional Rule 12C4c-Special GSP Expenditure.

Advanced Rule 12D3-Minimal Attack Supply.  [strongly recommended; applicable in both the Western Desert and Near East map groups]

Optional Rule 12E3-Elimination from Lack of General Supply. [strongly recommended; Near East map group related; possibly also at Cyprus]

Optional Rule 12H5-[GSP and Resource Point] Cartage by Ground Units.

Advanced Rule 13C-Retreats and Overruns.

Advanced Rule 14A1e-Other Railroad Construction. [possibly superfluous; except possibly in rare situations where the Axis capture the Allied standard supply terminals at Alexandria and Suez]

Advanced Rule 14A1f-Renovation of Iranian Rail Net. [does not appear to particularly apply to the new Scenario, due to its Nov I 41 end date]

Advanced Rule 14A1h-Port Construction. [possibly superfluous if, as in the new Scenario, Bengazi is considered a major port; but it might be applicable for the Allied player in the rare situations where the Axis capture the Allied standard supply terminals at Alexandria and Suez.  Definitely use it if playing the game with Bengazi as a standard port.]

Advanced Rule 14A1i-Incremental Construction of Temporary Airfields. [strongly recommended; both sides benefit in the new Scenario]

Advanced Rule 14A1j-Low-Maintenance Temporary Airfields. [strongly recommended; affects temporary airfields in the Western Desert arid E Weather Zone]

Optional Rule 14A1k-Variable Demolition Costs.

Optional Rule 14A1l-Axis Airbase Repair on Islands. [I don’t like it; but there is no substitute without Axis construction units on these “Islands.”]

Optional Rule 14A1m-Bridge Repair.

Optional Rule 14A1n-Dismantling [of Forts and Permanent Airfields]. [I rarely ever use this rule, but other players may get into it.]

Optional Rule 14F3-[Commando] Movement/Retreat through ZOCs. [strongly recommended]

Optional Rule 14F4-[Commando] Bridge seizure.

Optional Rule 14H2b-[Transport Counters] Optional Mechanics.

Optional Rule 14J2-Cavalry in the Desert. [strongly recommended]

Optional Rule 14M2-Heavy AA Units [Attacking Fortifications]. [strongly recommended; Tobruch related]

Advanced Rule 15C5-Commonwealth Breakdowns.

Optional Rule 15D2-[5th and 8th] Panzer Regiment Breakdowns.

Optional Rule 15D3-[Allied] Infantry Breakdowns.

Optional Rule 20G2j-[Bombing] Bridges.

Advanced Rule 20G3-Minimal Air Suppport.

Optional Rule 20G4-Air Support Limits.

Advanced Rule 22C-Harassment Abatement.

Optional Rule 23E3-Bombers as Transports. [strongly recommended]

Optional Rule 24B7-Direct [Airborne] Drops. [affects the Assault on Crete segment; also Axis para-ops at Malta]

Optional Rule 24B8-Special Axis Airborne Capture of Airfields. [possibly affects the Assault on Crete segment; also possibly Axis para-ops at Malta]

Advanced Rule25C6-ARP Spending Limits.

Advanced Rule 25C7-ARP Accumulation.

Advanced Rule 25C8-Special ARP Transfer Range.  [strongly recommended; affects Malta and the Near East considerations]

Advanced Rule 25E-[Air Unit] Deactivations. [I rarely use this rule, but an instance may come up where it might be applicable.]

Optional Rule 33F6-Additional Allied Minor Amphibious Special Operations Using Marines. [strongly recommended; apparently related to the Allied invasion of the Vichy French Levant]

Optional Rule 34D-Emergency Evacuation. [recommended; but doesn’t seem practically applicable in the new Scenario]

Optional Rule 34E-Allied Carriers as Transports. [related to ARP & air unit transport to Malta]

Advanced Rule 37E4-Forming/Replacement Pool Units in Allied Garrisons.

Advanced Rule 37K-Inter-Allied Cooperation Limits.

Advanced Rule 38B3-Australian Preservation [strongly recommended; but tricky and requires VP analysis & work-up]

Advanced Rule 38B4-Special [British] Breakdown/Assembly Combinations.

Optional Rule 38F5-[German] 5th Leichte Division. [included in the new Scenario Axis OB as a unit variant; but its use is optional]

Optional Rule 38J5-[Iraqi] Variable Coup Collapse/Surrender. [required; essential Rule in the new Scenario]

Optional Rule 38J6-Axis Intervention in Iraq. [substantial revision/rewrite, per the new Scenario Rules & Axis OB; required in this new Scenario-specific format, at least as a game alternative on the Apr II 41 Axis turn of the new Scenario.]

Optional Rule 38J7-Iraqi Armor. [very strongly recommended; you are liable for regret for not using it, I think]

Optional Rule 38J8-The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. [included here, but technically not feasibly applicable in the new Scenario due to the Mar II 41 at-start date & the automatic Iraqi Coup on the Apr I 41 Axis turn; but it could be tweaked in the new Scdenario]

Optional Rule 38V3f-Variable Levant Surrender to Allies. [required; essential Rule in the new Scenario]

Optional Rule 38V3g-Levant Replacements. [essentially required; but it appears to be integrated into the new Scenario Neutrals OB]

Optional Rule 39-Guerrillas.  [specifically at Opt. Rule 39E4-Fawzi al Qawukji, for the Fawzi guerrilla unit (Bandit)]

Optional Rule 40B4-Special Replacements. [strongly recommended]

Optional Rule 40B5-Fractional RP Accumulation. [strongly recommended]

Here are five Advanced and Optional Rules that I’m not specifically objecting to, but for some reason did not include in the above list:

Optional Rule 12E4-Intrinsic AA and General Supply Effects. [This Optional Rule is completely Malta-specific in the case of the new Scenario.  In other WW scenarios, such as the Marita-Merkur Scenario, it can, in certain situations, apply to an Axis assault on Beograd, in Yugoslavia, if Yugoslav supply is a factor there in determining the Yugoslav AA in the hex.  I didn’t want to expressly recommend this in the initial postings regarding the new Scenario; but am certainly willing to experiment with it, if I ever get around to it.  Certainly use it, if you want to.]

Advanced Rule 12H3-SMP Losses and Gains. [A curious rule, in my opinion; but for now I am willing to utilize it.  F. Watson may have in effect used it in his ER-II Allied OB in calculating the unusual Allied at-start ME Command SMP total.]

Optional Rule 12H4-SMP Capture. [A curious rule, in my opinion; but for now I am willing to utilize it.]

Optional Rule 20F3-Dedicated Transport. [I think this Opt. Rule is for the Axis para-drop experts.  Use it if both sides clearly understand it before the game starts.  In the initial postings of the new Scenario I didn’t want to get too complex with the already complex issues of the Axis para-drops at both Crete and Malta.]

Optional Rule 20F4-Special Air Drop Capability. [I think this Opt. Rule is for the Axis para-drop experts.  Use it if both sides clearly understand it before the game starts.  In the initial postings of the new Scenario I didn’t want to get too complex with the already complex issues of the Axis para-drops at both Crete and Malta.]

Leaving out completely those WW Advanced & Optional Rules that appear to be entirely East Africa, BF, or Torch campaign-specific, here is a list of those definitely not recommended in the 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario EA game report:

Advanced Rule 31A6-Concealed Cargo [I personally don’t like it.  Both sides get to see the enemy cargoes; so what’s the issue?  But someone else may get lots of fun out of using it.]

Advanced Rule 36D2-Desert Storms and Temporary Airfields [I personally don’t like it.  Back when I did the WW WD/Caulron Scenario some bad desert storm die rolls devastated the Allied player’s position, as the Allies have very few construction/engineer assets in 1942.]

Optional Rule 20G1b-Ports; Catastrophic Port Hits [Personally I don’t like it for the new Scenario; but it might be more applicable in WW games involving the Balkans.]

Optional Rule 354G-Allied Blockships [Personally I don’t like it; but maybe someone else does.]

Optional Rule 37I2b-[Malta] Progressive Damage. [completely Malta specific.  I personally don’t like it.  In my opinion it requires more  careful attention and book-keeping than I care to keep on the issue.]

Otherwise the WW rules used in the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario game report are pretty much the WW Rules as written; I think, insofar as my own interpretation of them.  I have good intentions of ultimately “focusing” somewhat better (read: revising) WW Optional Rule 38J6-Axis Intervention in Iraq along the lines already discussed in the earlier EA postings done for the WW ME/”Iraq Campaign” demonstration game reports, but this might be hardly noticeable in the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario reporting, depending on things.  The few other minor tweakings of the official WW OBs and rules as written done for the admittedly unfinished 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario will be revealed at the appropriate times in the EA game reports, and are not expected to be controversial, annoying, or ruinous for any who might ultimately closely follow the game.

Once again I’ve taken the harder road and opted for a detailed reporting of the individual game turns. This just might be possible in the case of the WW 1941 ME/ER-II/Crete Scenario, for although the map area is somewhat large, there is a corresponding lack of counter density which makes things a bit easier for detailed game reporting, as if it were a postal game. I am guessing there are some EA members who want very much this kind of detailed Europa game reporting, if possible, and I will attempt the challenging labor for awhile at least, and see what happens. All errors and deficiencies of any type are of my own making, as this demonstration is a solo game, myself only, without an opponent or help. Of course constructive criticisms and needed correction indications are encouraged and hoped for. Only in this way can better Europa war gaming be achieved and the product popularized and hopefully resurrected.

Greg Bartels

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