RockyMountainNavy, 16 December 2021
When it comes to World War II armored warfare, the German Eastern Front always seems to come to mind first, but the campaigns in North Africa are often not far behind. In North Africa: Afrika Korps vs Desert Rats, 1940-42, game designer Dean Essig gives us his Standard Combat Series (SCS) version of armored warfare in the desert. Unlike many SCS games, North Africa is not small. As Dean states on the box, “It is, literally, the Award Winning OCS monster game DAK in a tighter, faster playing SCS format.” As we will quickly see, smaller and tighter might best apply to the rules but physically North Africa can be huge.
North Africa ships in a standard MMP 1.5″ deep box. For a game derived from a monster this fortunately isn’t a 3″ deep box that’s going to take up all that space on your gaming shelf! Box contents fill up the box without the need for that dead-space insert either.
There is actually a good deal of printed material in North Africa. In addition to the game materials there are two dice and the obligatory polite note from MMP packers.
Being a Standard Combat Series game, North Africa comes with the latest “standard” 8-page Series Rules, v1.8 and a separate 28-page North Africa game rules book. This is certainly in keeping with the “tighter, smaller” mantra of the game.
There are 560 counters for North Africa on two sheets. These are 1/2″ counters and will very likely demand to be corner rounded. Again, not too many counters but more than many SCS games…
Befitting the large theater and monster game roots, there are four 22″x34″ unmounted map sheets in the box for North Africa. This is where North Africa starts failing to keep to that “tighter, smaller” objective. There are 10 scenarios in North Africa, with two using 1-map, three using 2-maps, and four using all four maps.
All the maps in North Africa are oriented North-South (up-down) along the long axis of the map. For myself this demands a change in gaming real estate as my table is better suited to lay maps out with a long left-right axis. A single map scenario of North Africa can play on a 3’x5′ table easily, but those 2-map scenarios at 44″x34″ barely fit and those full 4-map scenarios need 88″x 34″ – more that most 6′ gaming tables deliver. Now that’s a monster game!
Having never played the OSC DAK I cannot compare North Africa to that title. I am interested in North Africa’s “unique activation system tied to the player’s use of Supply Units (which must be saved up and burned to create large scale offensives).” What I will say is that North Africa is priced less than half that of DAK ($165 retail!) making this game far more approachable for many wargamers. As to how it plays, well, we’ll have to see how that works out later—my larger gaming table is currently in use as the Christmas wrapping station and will be “unavailable” until late in the month!
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