Western Desert Force:
Publisher’s Preview

By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
December 2015

This is a great game.

It’s so good that we decided it deserved a few extras. This is one of the few games we’ve made with full-color play aids. There’s a great box and a fine Guy Riessen map.

So what’s so special about Western Desert Force?

First, there’s the game system. Designer William Sariego used the same engine that powers his very popular game Defiant Russia, with some alterations to suit it to the 1940 – 1942 campaign in North Africa. Combat is based on rolling sixes (and sometimes, fives and sixes) to get hits; enough hits will reduce or destroy enemy units. But you can’t attack very well without supplies, and supplies are hard to come by. So that depot waddling along in the wake of your advancing armor is the most crucial piece on the map.

It’s easy to play; just like Defiant Russia, it’s the sort of game you can play with your 12-year-old son. Smooth game play fits nicely with the situation, one well-known to wargamers. The game opens with the Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940, and continues for 23 turns. The Allies are trying to kick the Italians (and later their German friends) out of North Africa. The Axis are hoping to take Alexandria and with it, the Suez Canal.

The fighting takes place across one of the finest maps we’ve ever produced. Guy Riessen has turned in a beautiful rendition of the Western Desert at 15 miles across each hex. Of all the maps we’ve made – a number that has to top 100, though I really have no idea – this one is my favorite to date.

And then there are the play aids: full-color cards for Axis and Allied set-up, reinforcements and other important game information. Some of our earlier deluxe games had such components – the long out-of-print Granada and Tears of the Dragon – and Gazala has a small one as well. When we acquired our own in-house printing equipment, it could only make black-and-white items. That giant worthless hulk finally died a couple of years back and the supplier finally hauled off its rotting carcass, freeing us to use the latest in printing technology.

All of that fun is packaged in our usual black silk box, with another great cover, this time showing the game’s designer and his playtest crew in action. He’s given us another great game, one that’s going to bring a lot of fun to a lot of people.

You know you want it. Order Western Desert Force right now.

Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.