Thick clouds of dust and columns of black smoke obscured the desert sky during the Flames of War simulation for the Second Battle of El Alamein at Gen Con 2007.
Burning hulks were a common sight on the battlefield at El Alamein. Commanders can use the thick black smoke to screen their advance.
The Indianapolis-based Game Korps group hosted the event. I had planned to play both El Alamein and Operation Bragation, but I discovered the terrain mats for Bragation had been damaged during the trip home from Origins in July! So, I decided to play El Alamein twice - once as an Axis tank commander, and again later in the day as an Allied infantry officer.
Three similar El Alamein scenarios (each four hours long) were actually played back-to-back each day. The morning session included rules to limit line-of-sight and speed until dawn broke. The afternoon session included no such limits, but the evening session included similar provisions once the sun set.
A strong British force of Crusaders, Stuarts and Valentine tanks, along with entrenched infantry and artillery, were set up along a high ridge in front of the Axis advance. A mixed force of Pz III and Pz IV tanks, along with Italian M13/40s and Semovente 75/18 assault guns, were given the task of seizing the objective.
I commanded one Pz IV and one Pz III platoon, along with an Italian M13 platoon and assault gun detachment. My forces were located on the extreme left flank and also included two motorized flak guns, which saw little action.
A few medium-sized hills lay in front of me, as did three platoons of Crusader II tanks. A squadron of M3 tanks covered the center of the map, and a platoon of heavy Valentine II tanks guarded the slopes of the ridge, which dominated the right flank.
Several companies of British infantry were dug in on the ridge, along with two Bofors guns and a battalion of 25lb field-guns. More Pz IV tanks and a reconnaissance platoon were in position to immediately attack the ridge.
Both armies could call in air support, but a die roll randomly determined the number of planes and their target.
As veterans of the Afrika Corps campaign, my men were confident veterans, receiving +1 defense and +1 morale. No reinforcements were available, so I needed to knock out the enemy and minimize casualties.