Billy Riley, 21 January 2021
Another of my favourite companies. This is one of their Designer Signature Editions where an old favourite gets an upgrade.
I admit to not having much in the way of any real desire for the African campaign. I don’t know why…I think I understand the importance of the theatre – but it’s just something I’ve never really gotten into. Perhaps it’s the “perceived” blandness of the landscape not offering much in the way of tactics…which I think many people reading this would understandably say was codswallop.
Anyway – this hit the radar – and also Bawb teased me. I didn’t have a North Africa game, so I picked it up at a fairly reasonable price.
Let’s see what’s inside.
click images to enlarge
A picture of the man himself inspecting a map – presumably not of the Russian Front!
Box – Rear
The rear has information on the components, the game details, some example counters and details of the complexity, solitaire suitability etc
The rule book is a 40 pager. It’s thick paper and not glossy. Some people like glossy, some prefer paper. I have no preference…though paper is easier to read if direct light is around.
The actual rules for play are 27 pages. That’s followed by a comprehensive example of play, scenarios and a designer’s section and to top it off, there’s an Expanded Sequence of Play at the back
The rules state that they provide 2 types of counters for armoured units…however, I think there may be a print problem…more on that later
I have to say – I’m not a fan of how the manual is laid out. For example, the Sequence of Play inside the manual is listed as 4.3.1 and underneath are A) Strategic Segment, B) Axis Operations Segment etc and each of these has items underneath…so Strategic Segment has 1) Weather Phase, 2) Supply Status Phase, 3) Reinforcement Phase and 4) Joint Air Phase
But here’s my beef.
If the Sequence of Play is 4.3.1, why is Strategic Segment listed under A) in that list but is 5.0 further along in the manual. On top of that, where Axis Operations Segment is listed as B), there is no other reference to it in the manual.
Going back to A) Strategic Segment, I mentioned 1) Weather Phase, 2) Supply Status Phase, 3) Reinforcement Phase and 4) Joint Air Phase…well guess what?
Under 5.0) Strategic Segment, there’s 5.1 Weather Phase – check. There’s 5.2 Reinforcement Phase…wait…hold on…what happened to 2) Supply Phase? Oh…that’s under Section 6 on the following pages and AFTER Reinforcement Phase and Joint Air Phase?
I don’t know what the manual holds for me going forward – but little reference issues like that really irritate the hell out of me. Manuals are difficult enough for a lot of people to get through – but making them non-sensical just makes the task harder.
Also – whilst none of those “indented” identifiers are listed in the manual, neither are the pages. So if I can’t find 3. Reinforcement Phase, then I have to go a-hunting – because the page that that section is on is not listed in the Sequence of play.
In my option this
4.3.1 Sequence of Play
A) Strategic Segment
1. Weather Phase
2. Supply Phase
3. Reinforcement Phase
4. Joint Air Phase
4.3.1 Sequence of Play
A) Strategic Segment (p9)
A.1 Weather Phase (p9)
A.2 Supply Phase (p9)
A.3 Reinforcement Phase (p10)
A.4 Joint Air Phase (p11)
B) Axis Operations Segment (p11)
B.1 Axis Movement Phase (p11)
And those numbers should be referenced through the manual – and actual segments you can go to.
Many of you will have seen me rave about RAF Battle of Britain 1940…and a lot of that game’s simplicity is how the manual is laid you. You simply do not have to do any reading – simply open the manual and follow the sequence of play and you’re golden. That’s what a manual should be like.
Now – I hold my hands up – this is an unboxing and I haven’t read through the rules. They may completely surprise me – in fact I hope they do – and make complete sense – but I’m very sceptical having seen the Sequence of Play laid out.
I would like to point out that the Expanded Sequence of Play on the back page does have the section numbers laid out…so there is hope. The first thing I’ll be doing is photo copying that and laminating it.
6 Sided Dice
There are 2 6 sided dice with the game
Player Aid Cards
There are 2 double sided Player Aid Cards.
There is one other Player Aid Card – a saving grace – that is the Expanded Sequence of Play which will come in very handy
There are 3 double sided setup cards
There are 3 counters sheets – and I’m afraid this report is not 100% positive. I don’t know the scale of the issue – it doesn’t seem huge – but there appears to be a misprint (let me know if you don’t see it or I’ve just got mixed up)
But on Sheet 1 (front) the armour units are listed as 2(-)/1/CCC, D/1/CCC, G/1/CCA, H/1/CCA and I/1/CCA
but on Sheet 2 (front) where the replacement counters have armour shapes, the counters are listed as 2(-)/1/CCC, D/1/CCC, G/1/CCC, H/1/CCC and I/1/CCC
Someone has pointed out that it’s covered in the errata which you can get from ConsimWorld…but BGG nor Compass Games has an errata. The fact Compass Games doesn’t have it is rather…shocking actually.
Also it’s mentioned at ConsimWorld that they knew about the print in play testing and apparently didn’t correct it. Pretty poor.
I’ll include the Errata at the end
So here are the counter sheets in order (front then back)
Here are the maps laid out. There are 2x 22” wide and 34” tall. There’s a slight overlap where the join is but overall, the map surface area is 44” wide by 34” tall. Quite a size and actually the map is very decent. It seems to be made of decent heavy paper stock and the different colours used really to bring what was always thought to be – in my opinion – a rather bland a flat terrain to life and shows it for what it actually was – anything but bland and flat.
Well…the manual seems messy but the Expanded Sequence of Play will pull it through. The misprinted counters, for me, are not a massive deal – disappointing as it is – because I’ll use the NATO ones which do not have an issue (bar a single French unit and the errata suggests using the armour printed counter).
In my honest opinion – it’s a bit of a let down given it’s a Designer Signature Edition. I find it hard to let a company off when they’re making a “special edition” of a game. That special edition should be a cut above the rest. No mistakes – especially known ones.
I have to say I was quite scathing about the manual – but I do find manuals hard to take in and absorb – so the more help a manual can be in making things stick, the better. And a well laid out manual is critical for that. I mentioned RAF Battle of Britain 1940 earlier – that honestly for me was the single, best laid out manual I ever had the pleasure to read…and as I said, you could just play from the sequence of play because it was laid out in mirror format.
In the end though, the true testament of a great game is how it plays – and that has yet to be tested.
Addendum / Errata
DECISION AT KASSERINE errata (8 June 2020)
Counter errata is organized by counter style.
NATO style counters
- The formation colors in the unit type boxes are all correct. US 2(-)/1/CCC and D/1/CCC armor should reference CCA instead, but this has no impact on play (no formation rules in the game, colors have no meaning; they are cosmetic). German 19/90/10 self-propelled artillery id should read 13/90/10 (no impact on play).
- (NATO style) French 2/3 RCA recon unit is missing ‘5’ evasion rating
When playing with style NATO units, replace the French 2/3 RCA recon unit with its silhouette version
Silhouette style counters
- Three British units (G/1, H/1, and I/1) should reference CCA, not CCC (no impact on play)
- British recon A/1 DY, B/1 DY, and C1/DY are missing ‘5’ evasion rating
- British 47+60cn halftrack should have a No-ZOC band
- Italian 1/557 and 2/557 armored artillery/assault gun should have a No-ZOC band
- German 1/90PzJg/10 self-propelled artillery Defense strength is 3, not 4.
Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
The regiment also occasionally musters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and occasionally at a convention near you, once we’re allowed to hold them again.