Into the Desert

I finally received Combat Mission: Afrika Korps (CMAK) and the companion book The Battery Commander, His Batman, and A Cook.  Woohoo!  While the game was installing, I checked out the book.  Excellent!

The battle where the book's title came from was that of Combeforce, a hastily formed group of 2,000 British anti-tank and artillery crews along with riflemen to protec them, trying to block retreating Italian 10th Army.  That's right.  2,000 men facing an army without even a single tank.  But then armies usually retreat in a line so they had to face only the forward elements and most of the armies were on road-bound vehicles (stretching for miles and miles).  As the story went, the last Italian tank was knocked out by a gun manned by the commander of 106th Battery, his batman, and a cook.

And that was just one chapter in the book.  While I enjoy reading calm accounts of battles like Rommel's classic Infantry Attack, stories like this really evoke the smell of the battle through quiet understatements and dry humor.  Only bad part about the book was that only 12 of the battles in the book had CMAK scenarios.  Darn.  I am going to browse through SMAK scenarios repositories to see if the missing scenarios have been created by other CMAK enthusiasts.  I doubt it though because you need more than just stories to create battle scenarios.  At the minimum, you need order of battle (OOB) which lists the number and types of units involved in a battle.

Firing up CMAK briefly, I remembered why I stopped playing CMBO (Combat Mission Beyond Overlord), the first volume of the series.  It was the damn artillery spotters and 88.  A well-positioned gun can stop significantly larger forces dead on its track and sometimes the only way to knock them out is with artillery or aerial bombardments.  But whenever I moved a spotter into position where he can see the gun, he gets fired on by the gun.  How can they someone far away hiding behind a bush?  Binocular reflection?  Rubbish.  Add to that the devastating power of 88 made me so fruistrated with a Bocage campaign that I stopped playing for a month and then forgot about the game.

With CMAK, unrealistic spotting ability of gunners will make some sense since there won't be many bushes to hide behind in.  One can hide behind sand dunes or bury one self in like commandos do but it's just not the same as hiding in treelines or bushes.  Anyway, I am looking forward to my desert battles for many evenings to come.

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