To Mersa or not? In Supply Yes or No?
“Here’s a little bit of a different take on the situation. “First, look at rule 3.1k. The coastal road from Sollum to Sidi Barrini doesn’t become a primary road until December 1. (And the Italians, unlike the Commonwealth, can only trace off primary roads until March 1, 1941. See rule 3.7b. ” Right, after that they may use any road. But also can use rail prior to that date also.
This is a huge handicap for them, confining their units to within their HQ throw range of a primary road, which are all along the coast. The CW can trace off regular roads right from the get-go.)
So the Italians cannot stay in trace south of the escarpment on the 37 Row. (See attached and the “X’s” that show the limits of trace supply for the Italians.) The Italians simply cannot take Mersa Matruh in this time period. No chance.
“And I wouldn’t recommend attacking with the Italians in the September – December time period. They don’t have the supply and, especially, the ARs to do any damage to the CW. I recommend they hunker down and get themselves into position for the storm that will hit them when Compass starts.”
Says one player “This is incorrect — the coast road west of Sidi Barrani is still Primary (1/3 MP per hex), so the HQ can throw all the way to 37.01. A second HQ near Bir Enba can draw from Sollum and throw to 31.06/35.06. Not quite enough to reach the gap at Mingar Qaim, but they can be in trace south of the escarpment.
So while its true they are not going to take Mersa, they can do some damage (step losses) to the British. The key is knowing when to call off the offensive and how to fall back effectively.”
Our first writer then says “Well, yes, technically incorrect. But to reach the 37.01 hex they are going to have to breach the escarpments* at 37.05 and 38.05 and that just isn’t going to happen against any experienced CW player. There is no way the Italians, without taking horrific losses and expending supply they don’t have, are going to inflict any step losses on the Brits. ”
*[escarpments are impassable and unable to be attacked thru any hexside possessing one]
Here’s some hints on how the Commonwealth needs to defend Mersa Matruh.” It is impregnable to the Italians in this time period. (And why some don’t start campaign games in September anymore.)
First, in the CW setup, don’t place your optional setup units anywhere near the Egyptian frontier. The 7th Armor is a fantastic division with splendid ARs. But, many of them are not rebuildable (and you don’t have the EQ to do so even if you could rebuild them). So preserve them. This can be done by placing them as far East as allowed and then get them back beyond the Mersa escarpment. Later, when they “come out to play,” don’t put them in situations where there is any kind of reasonable chance they’d lose a step.
They should be used only for punishing overrruns/regular attacks against the Italians, who will vaporize quickly when you’re hitting them on the 9-1 or higher columns. ”
The first photo shows the marvelous supply situation for the CW when they’re this close to Alexandria. Read rule 3.7b. The key sentence is “The British Player can have all the SPs he wants buy using available trucks.” This rule is similar to those used in TBL and some CB scenarios I believe.
Now, in this case (up to December of ’40) the Brits have 3 1-token trucks. Use them to shuttle back-and-forth between Alexandria and a dump (you’ll need a unit there) in D36.08.
Once you get three trucks, you can put at least 9 tokens per turn into the dump. Place your Western Desert HQ in Ghazai Station, 35.21.
He can draw from that dump and throw to any units along the Mersa defense. In addition, you have the organic trucks of 4th Indian and 7th Armor that can shuttle to-and-from Alexandria. Plus 2T worth or rail per turn and 1T shipping into Mersa….” this is nice, imagine the stockpile the Allies are able to build up!.
“It’s plenty of supply to hammer the Italians constantly with artillery, of which the CW has quite a lot.”
The defence of the Mersa area:
“Build the hedgehogs at the escarpment crossings. Spread your defense roughly as shown. Note that at the two key hexes, 37.05 and 38.05, the escarpment configuration means the Italians can only attack from a single hex.
Attackers….they’ll be halved. So they have to make huge stacks, costing a lot in supply.”
Then the CW has their artillery in Reserve in the rear to fire devastating barrages that will almost surely DG the attackers. And if it looks dicey, the large and excellent 7th Armor in Reserve releases some or all of it’s units to fortify further the defenders.
Don’t forget to use the Leaders to give you additional mobility and versatility.
“Well, against this defense, the Italians can easily make a 25-40 pt barrage for 1SP with an 83% chance of DG-ing either of the hog hexes. Then they can release their reserves (or use Maletti) to attack in the exploit phase (no opportunity for a defensive barrage to DG the attackers) and for 2.5SPs attack at 5:1 led by a 3AR motorcycle company or MG battalion (net even AR, -1 for the hog) giving an 89% chance of an AL1o1/Do1 or better result, which will likely kill a 4AR step. That attack even has a 40% chance of getting a DL1o1 or better result (killing two steps), though the second step is likely to be a weak one. “….
“They can do this roughly every other turn from late September to the end of October (need a turn to pull back a re-setup the exploit phase attack, as well as build up more supply), probably killing 5-6 steps over that time period. Not enough to be a game winner, certainly, but well worth doing. By mid November, they’ll need to pull back to try to set up a defense against the British attack, but by then the damage is done. ”
Note that units attacking DOWN a slope are not halved…
To defend against this, the best bet for the Brits is to defend the hogs as you’ve done, but move the 7th armored south of the escarpment. That way they threaten to raid west of xx.15 and cut the coast road, putting the forward Italian units OOS.
Which will in turn forces the Italians to keep forces back and waste supply moving their mobile units.
Well, against this defense, the Italians can easily make a 25-40 pt barrage for 1SP with an 83% chance of DG-ing either of the hog hexes. Then they can release their reserves (or use Maletti) to attack in the exploit phase (no opportunity for a defensive barrage to DG the attackers) and for 2.5SPs attack at 5:1 led by a 3AR motorcycle company or MG battalion (net even AR, -1 for the hog) giving an 89% chance of an AL1o1/Do1 or better result, which will likely kill a 4AR step. That attack even has a 40% chance of getting a DL1o1 or better result (killing two steps), though the second step is likely to be a weak one.
“From Tobruk eastward the Italians start with 10 SP. At the rate you describe, above, they would not even get 3 turns worth of attacks on that amount. And that doesn’t take into account fueling mech and motorized units, refitting airbases. The supply further west takes forever to transport up to Sollum. Plus, the CW won’t/shouldn’t sit passively by and allow the Italians to marshall at will. They can fire their artillery in their Reaction Phase. Then do it again in their Combat. Then in their Exploit. Wear those tubes out! (Use those Leaders and the plentiful supply.) Those assembling Italian stacks, no more than one hex back, are going to be large, negating any unspotted effect. 7th Armor can move into the threatened hexes. The small British air can even launch attacks out of Mersa, getting a bump for within 10. ”
Note that units attacking DOWN a slope are not halved…
No slopes involved here.
Probably killing 5-6 steps over that time period. Not enough to be a game winner, certainly, but well worth doing.
Note in one players extensive experience. “The Italians just need to position themselves the best they can so that when Compass comes they can at least slow down the whirlwind.” So have some supply. Circle the wagons. Etc. Make the CW advance a lot harder than it was historically.