Saturday, November 24, 2007

Featured game: Afrika Korps

Although my young wargaming group played Afrika Korps some back while we were teens around 1970 it wasn't one of our main games. We tended to spend more time with Stalingrad, Waterloo and Midway, so we missed out on developing the intense, chess-like style of heavily analyzed play of the true devotees.Because of that we tended to regard AK as lighter fare, and while I've dabbled with it over the years, there's little doubt an experienced would-be Rommel would easily dispatch me in a face-to-face game. I do a little better in PBeM where there's more time to analyze things, but I'm still not tournament-ready nor ever expect to be so.From my perspective, I consider it a game that's aged reasonably well, probably the only one of the original AH classics still worth playing.On the other hand, it's not a game that I'd introduce a new wargamer to. I can really only see playing it with another veteran wargamer who already liked Afika Korps, so maybe it hasn't aged well after all.Afrika Korps' problems as a game are well known, and basically revolve around luck. The luck problem comes from two things.First, and foremost, a string of bad luck in the supply rolls can really hamper the Germans. One cardinal rule for Rommel is to never expend his last supply unit, because if he has two consecutive bad supply rolls his whole army surrenders for lack of supply.Secondly, there's the 2-1 attack on Tobruk. Even if otherwise stymied, and on the way to losing the game, Rommel can almost always try a 2-1 attack on Tobruk. Success is basically a 50/50 shot. A bad roll can mean disaster for the Germans, but if they are losing anyway then there's little to lose. A success, on the other hand, can transform defeat into a good shot at victory. It's much harder for the British to recapture Tobruk because the Germans have some strong units they can put in the port and the British units tend to be weak, meaning the British don't usually have a 2-1 option.These problems would never be accepted in a new game.

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