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This is a reference to an Avalon Hill game I played decades ago as "Rommel." My opponent, "Chuck" was one of the best players in our group, I was considered above average, but an underdog compared to Chuck. (This evaluation applied to chess, monopoly and other games, not just AK.)

Playing England, Chuck left a token force in Tobruk, and dared me (Rommel) to capture it. I did so in June, 1941 (basically the first opportunity), using my whole force. He then besieged me in Tobruk, counting on the mountains to double the defense value of his forces. I had two turns to roll for resupply. I would fail only if I rolled a one or two (on a six sided die) BOTH times, one chance in nine. I failed, lost the Afrika Korps, and the game. We had discussed the possible outcomes during the dare so I went in with eyes wide open.

Do you like those (presumed) 8 to 1 odds for Rommel? Did Chuck know what he was doing when he made the dare? Even if this is the case, was my strategy a reasonable do or die strategy that gave me the best chance to win against a better player?

I would give the most weight to answers from people who have actually played the game, but would consider answers based on real life. E.g. "Tobruk was such a major objective historically that it's worth staking everything on it, if the game mirrors real life." Or, "you needed to do something before England receives reinforcements in November."

More tidbits about the game. 1) The British have more combat factors overall. 2) The Germans have more combat factors until November, 1941 when the British receive heavy reinforcements. 3) The Germans have fewer, but more powerful units (e.g. tank divisions with a value of 7, versus a maximum of 4 for British armor, and 3 for British infantry. 4) The British have "automatic" supply, the Germans have to roll for supplies.

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Both actually.

  1. You were unlucky to not roll for a supply in time to avoid supply death;
  2. but the first supply to arrive was only keeping you alive, not allowing you to use the greater mobility of AK to effect.
  3. I have never seen, and have difficulty imagining, a situation where a "token force" in Tobruk would have prevented you from using one or two 2-2-4's to restrict the Brit from bottling you up.
  4. Even if you rolled supply at better than the expected rate, I suspect the loss of time you suffered from this escapade was sufficient for the Brits to land their November '41 reinforcements and wall up Alexandria.

Great game - I played it extensively in High school, and occasionally in the many years since. Have you checked the archive of The General for the many fine articles on this game and its strategy and tactics? The General Archive

Update:

The key advantage that the Axis have early in the game is speed. A successful Axis player must use this to compress the British maneuverability early on to ensure a win. Allowing yourself to be bottled up in Tobruk is an anti- pattern for the Axis player, regardless of the importance of Tobruk.

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Do you have a link to the archive you mention? –  ire_and_curses Apr 14 '13 at 0:33
    
@ire_and_curses: Added link in the answer. –  Pieter Geerkens Apr 14 '13 at 2:38
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I agree with Pieter, you were both unlucky and outplayed. You were outplayed in that Chuck knew he had a chance (no matter how slim) to destroy the entire DAK in one fell swoop early in the war. If you had succeeded in rolling your supply, DAK would have survived and with Tobruk in hand early in the game you had a fair chance of winning the game. However, I presume Chuck still had his 4-4-7 and perhaps his 2-2-6 intact, and he could have still given you a run for the money at Halfaya or in a last stand at Alamein.

I have actually used this same gambit as the Brits with mixed success.

But, like Pieter, how did you let yourself get bottled up in Tobruk without a supply unit? When I play the Germans, I almost always keep at least 2 supply units on the board. The only time to risk being without supply is when you are going for a no kidding game winning option. I probably would not have gone after Tobruk with only one supply unit on the board.

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