A Wargamers Guide to The Desert War 1940-1943...


...new from Pen and Sword


Title: A Wargamers Guide to The Desert War 1940-1943

Author: Daniel Mersey

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47385-108-5

This new paperback book from Pen and Sword is a neat little guide for the wargamer, or someone perhaps thinking of expanding their interests or considering going back to wargaming after a break.  While I am not a wargamer myself these days I do have a special interest in the Desert War.  From a modelling point of view that is due largely to the models of John Sanders which featured in Airfix Magazine many years ago but also thanks to memories of my late father, who served in North Africa with the 8th Army throughout this period.  Despite the privations of living in the desert and the fact he was at war, he retained what I can only describe as a 'fondness' for his time in North Africa, a feeling he didn't retain from his later service in Italy and North West Europe.

The book is split into 6 chapters, plus an appendix which suggests a selection of further reading.  It opens up with an introduction to the history of the Desert War from the start in 1940 through to the final defeat of Axis forces in Tunisia in 1943.  The next step considers the Armies, Organisation and Equipment of various phases of the battle as these changed through the years of the battles in North Africa.  I do like the way the author manages to suggest what to consider with these elements but without being too prescriptive.  A number of data tables in this section are particularly helpful I felt.  Daniel even includes some comments on painting your armies, again suggestions rather than anything prescriptive plus some helpful colour charts to help you find some appropriate paint colours for various things.  Chapter three goes on to Wargaming the Campaign, and this considers the particular specifics of the Desert War and how to use these to get the right 'feel' to your game.  This includes sub-topics such as Terrain and Climate, Tank and Infantry tactics, Minefields and Air Support just to pick out a few.

Chapter 4 is about Choosing Your Rules and this looks at the pros and cons of a variety of rule sets for you to choose from, depending on what sort of gaming experience you are looking for.  With this done chapter 5 moves on to Choosing Your Models.  This opens with the question of scale and goes on to list a wide variety of manufacturers who make models in the different scales, from 28mm (1/56) through others down to the small 6mm (1/285 and 1/300 scales).  To help prod you into getting started, the final chapter 6 suggest 4 basic scenarios to get you going.  The other element of the book to mention is an 8-page section in the middle with some lovely colour photos of some wargame models on the gaming table.  From various modellers and in various scales this give a good idea of how good these can look when ready for use on the gaming table, and some inspiration to get some modelling done in readiness for gaming.  A neat guide.