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In the Avalon Hill game, Afrika Korps, the British receive reinforcements in June, 1941, several months after the game begins. These are survivors of a futile campaign to save Greece. I am asking the following two questions in order to try to assess the impact of the Greece campaign on the game (and real life events).

  1. How do the reinforcements from Greece compare to the force sent to Greece? (I'm not claiming that they were sent from Egypt, only that they would have been available for Egypt if not sent to Greece. Was the order of magnitude one-third, one-half, two-thirds, or closer to some other number?

  2. Let's assume that the returning reinforcements were never sent to Greece, but that the British start with those June "Greek reinforcements" at Alexandria at the beginning of the game. How (if at all), would that change the balance of power in the game?

(My sense is that the "sent" force was two to three times the size of the "retrieved" force, but that even allowing the British the "returned" force at the beginning of the game might make it better for them.)

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  • Note that despite being ejected from Crete, British casualties in that battle were relatively light in men (though all heavy equipment was again, as at Dunkirk and Greece, abandoned). Churchill observes that the destruction of German Paratroop capability in that battle, though not immediately recognized by the British, was on it's own a favourable trade-off from the British viewpoint. Oct 10 '15 at 17:42
  • As I remember, the Paratroop Corps lost almost as many men as the British, but were far more "strategic."
    – Tom Au
    Oct 10 '15 at 20:05
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Your base assumption concerning the relationship of the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force to Greece is incorrect. That force comprised three fully (or nearly so) re-equipped units:

  • 6th Australian Division - Fought in Syria after being evacuated from Crete, and then was transferred to the Pacific Theatre in January 1942. Given the supply priority of units sent to Greece, it was probably three 2-2-6 brigade units.

  • New Zealand DIvision (only later re-designated as 2nd New Zealand Division) - after evacuation from Crete was integrated into Eight Army proper, but returns to the game in November 1941 as part of the Crusader reinforcements. This may be un-historical, as I could find no record of a rebuilding of the division required before it returned to combat duties. In game terms this division comprises three 1-1-6 brigade units.

  • 1st British Armoured Brigade This unit returns to the game in November 1941 as a 2-2-7 armoured unit, but in April 1941 was similarly equipped to other British armoured brigades, so likely a 4-4-7 armoured brigade and 1-1-12 reconnaissance battalion. If not sent to Greece it would likely have been available at El Alamein I April 1941, having just been re-equipped with new tanks to replace those lost during, or unserviceable after, Beda Fomm.

From all research I could find the order of Battle of the June and July replacements listed in the game would be unchanged. It is possible that they would have been better equipped however, so perhaps a couple or three of the 1-1-6 units would have appeared as 2-2-6 units instead.

It is worth noting that the game designation of British infantry brigades as 1-1-6 or 2-2-6 units clearly is not intended to represent an accurate reflection of some such units being either twice as effective as others, but rather as a means of expressing an average combat value of about 1.5, while still providing the British with the ability to allocate weaker or stronger forces to specific locations. Certainly some units arrived in the theatre better trained or better equipped, or achieved greater renown while there, but the difference was never so great as 2 to 1.

Thus making these troops available almost doubles starting British forces, though they would have been scattered from Alexandria to perhaps Tobruk rather than being available in Western Cyrenaica. The British were well aware of Rommel's reinforcements of earlier that spring, but badly under estimated the speed with which he was able to prepare and assemble them for an offensive out of El Agheila - they estimated that such an offensive would not be possible until May or June.

As the game is finely tuned match and readily balanced in tournaments by the simple expedient of adjusting Supply rolls (see Side Determination and Bidding for Supplies), any change in the starting British forces would require a severe adjustment to the victory criteria. In essence, you are building a new game based on an unhistorical assumption.

Churchill in The Grand Alliance notes that the deciding factors in sending an expeditionary force to Greece were:

  • The belief that Rommel could not launch an offensive in Cyrenaica until May or June; and more importantly
  • That not doing so, after having granted public assurances to Greece and being seen to have available forces in Egypt, would have had possibly dire effects on the neutrality of both Spain and Turkey.

Summary of Bidding with supplies:

  • German player gets ability to nullify a number of Sunk results on Supply Table (after the die roll), and/or start with additional Supply units, a number of times equal to the British player's winning bid.

  • British player gets ability to nullify a number of Arrived results on Supply Table (after the die roll) equal to German player's winning bid.

  • If both players bid for separate sides no auction occurs.

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  • OK, added a disclaimer in parentheses to clarify the question. Based on your answer, there would have been (practically) "no game" if all of those forces had been sent to Egypt initially.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 10 '15 at 17:13

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