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"The Notorious Board Game That Takes 1,500 Hours" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2023 8:46 p.m. PST

… To Complete

"The thick, black-and-white rulebook packaged with every copy of the 1979 war-game The Campaign For North Africa is full of obtuse decrees, but the tabletop community always had a special appreciation for entry 52.6 – affectionately known as the "macaroni rule." The Italian troops in World War II were outfitted with noodle rations, and in the name of historical dogma, the player responsible for the Italians is required to distribute an extra water ration to their forces, so that their pasta may be boiled. Soldiers that do not receive their "pasta point" may immediately become "disorganized," rendering them useless in the field. It's a fact of life really: if the Italians can't boil their pasta, the Italians may desert.

It was a joke, by the way. Richard Berg, the legendary game designer and author of The Campaign For North Africa, says so himself. He'll happily admit that this was an unreasonable game for unreasonable people, but still, a pasta point? There's attention to detail, and then there's taking the piss. As Berg explains, the rule wasn't even entirely factually accurate. "The reality is that the Italians cooked their pasta with the tomato sauce that came with the cans," he says. "But I didn't want to do a rule on that." Yes, at the pinnacle of North Africa's ridiculous excess, even Berg couldn't help but poke a little fun at the obsessives in his wake…"

Main page



HMS Exeter19 Aug 2023 9:13 p.m. PST

I got one when it first came out for the oob. I had to sell it when I fell on hard times. When things eased up I bought another one.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Aug 2023 4:53 a.m. PST

I have a copy. Never even tried to play it.

Murvihill20 Aug 2023 4:53 a.m. PST

A boasting point. Like the S&W 500: The largest caliber gun you can buy in the US without going through the destructive device paperwork (including an expensive tax stamp and background check) is .50. So when the Desert Eagle came out everyone snapped it up as the biggest handgun. It is iconic in action films now. BUT someone at Smith and Wesson said they could make one bigger and produced the 500, a revolver whose bullets are bigger than the Desert Eagle's (longer but not wider). Reports I've heard are that it is uncomfortable to shoot at best, others have either dropped the gun or had it hit them in the head from recoil. But it's the biggest and baddest and people had to have it.
There's a 15,000 piece jigsaw out there, same idea: some people have to have the biggest of everything.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2023 6:16 a.m. PST

Bought a copy when it first came out. Other than some light foxing on the box it is still in mint condition. To be admired not played. When I was stationed in Germany we had one guy who was trying to spin up some interest in playing this. He was ultra organized to include a multitude of 3 X 5 cards used for things like logistics and such. He had copies of the rules in ring binders. Just looking at all the administrivia he had put together to make the game playable we passed on attempting it.

Was a joke on Big Bang Theory with a number of funny out takes online like:
YouTube link

oldjarhead20 Aug 2023 7:07 a.m. PST

A friend owned a copy, we spent hours setting up, ot through less than one turn before everyone got tired. Never played it again.

Andrew Walters20 Aug 2023 9:57 a.m. PST

I read this article years ago, and I have a problem with this part:

Berg has never completed a playthrough of The Campaign For North Africa. The game never received any of the compulsive testing required to iron-out inconsistencies and balance issues that are usually present in a freshly inked rulebook. Berg didn't care. He never saw the point. "When I said ‘let's publish this thing' they said ‘but we're still playtesting it! We don't know if it's balanced or not. It's gonna take seven years to play!' And I said ‘you know what, if someone tells you it's unbalanced, tell them ‘we think it's your fault, play it again.'"

I think this is directly disrespectful. If you want to do a parody or an art piece, do that. But to charge your best customers top dollar for a shoddy product on the basis that they won't be able to tell the difference is pretty close to outright dishonesty. This was essentially placed as a premium product, and got a lot of attention.

People went to SPI for professionally produced, highly researched war-games. They were excellent, and then they weren't, and then they were business-stupid, and then they were gone. I am sorry, they're gone, but the truth about TCFNA is really disappointing.

Still, at the right price I'd pick it up and read the rules. Then use it to scare people.

stephen116220 Aug 2023 3:38 p.m. PST

I was recently watching a rerun of Big Bang Theory and Sheldon showed up with a copy of Campaign for North Africa. It meant nothing to my wife, but I was LMAO.

The Youtube snippet is funny (link above), but the entire episode is better.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2023 3:43 p.m. PST



jfleisher20 Aug 2023 3:43 p.m. PST

Actually my Smith and Wesson 500 shoots softer than some of my .44 Magnums.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2023 5:21 a.m. PST

Bought it but never managed to play it

UshCha22 Aug 2023 3:32 a.m. PST

Yup sounds like the author was a miserable peasant, ripping off clients is the sort of thing Games Workshop does, not what a supposed a respectable author does to promote the hobby.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP22 Aug 2023 9:23 a.m. PST

Well that makes up 62.5 days of 24 hour playing. Which no-one could attempt. Sleep, food and bodily functions must intervene. Let's say 4 hours a day (until insanity kicks in)

Let's compare that with the duration of the whole North Africa Campaign, up to Tunis, and remember that real fighting tended to die down at night also. Plus it was not non-stop offensive. A rough calculation tells me this game would take longer than the real thing……..

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Aug 2023 3:10 p.m. PST



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