Getting Started: This is a quick and easy game to get into and to play. The rulebook is short - eight pages total: five plages of actual rules, one page of set-up instructions - and it has a nice look to it. The rules were clearly presented and referencing them during play was easy. I have only played through the game once (in two after-work sessions) and I am looking forward to trying it again.

What Happened: I took my eye off the prize. I let my British and South African forces get tied up by the Italians and didn't press forward to reach the pass (hexes K8-K10) quickly enough. This allowed the Germans to pour through the gap and engage and stall my units when they did finally leave the Italians behind and press on toward Tobruk. The Germans positioned themselves to block any further forward movement, leaving my units to either try to disengage and skirt around (wasting time going backwards when I had already wasted too much time) OR stand and try to duke it out. Neither option was going to win me the game at this point as I had delayed too long in getting moving.

On the right flank, my British were again slow off the mark. The Germans raced forward to engage them and keep them from making progress. I slogged slowly onward, pressing toward Gasr el Ared to try to make sure the New Zealanders would be able to enter the conflict on schedule. Two things that helped me on this flank - my opponent couldn't roll dice to save his life (both evenings!) and I think he forgot my reinforcements were coming in from that edge and left his units arrayed so that the first of the New Zealanders were able to enter without delay and move into a decent position.

Honestly, his die rolling was abysmal. He had a killstack of three Panzer III units against my British in the open desert. It should have been three dice, three hits. Instead, he was lucky to get one hit out of the entire engagement EVERY time he tried it. Realistically, my forces should have been wiped clean off the map due to my poor deployment and slow movement. Fortunately, his bad die rolls let the game continue so I could see where I was going wrong. Unfortunately, I continued to let my British units get pounded without relief and failed to note that I lost 2 VPs when I let my 7th Armoured Division get shattered.

Lessons Learned: For the most part, bypass the Italians. Leave enough forces behind the shatter them, but don't tie up your whole left flank for them. They aren't worth it. They are there to distract you and slow you down.

Drive for the gap - onward to Tobruk! The Allies really need to get behind the ridge and quickly. Most of your VPs come from behind the escarpment and across the rough terrain. The Allies need to press forward right from the get-go so as not to allow the Germans to block the gap. If the Germans can get out in front of the gap in force and engage the Allies, it will take a lot of luck and manoeuvering to get around them.

Keep your eye on where your VPs come from. This is a common failing for me. I get caught up in the excitement of manoeuvering my forces, calculating combat odds, looking for openings to exploit... and I lose sight of my overall objective. Try to keep in mind every time you move, "Where do I need to be to win?" When deciding whether or not to engage the enemy, "Will this get me VPs?" (Sometimes the answer is "Yes", but more often than not I was senselessly tying up my units in combat when they should have been moving forward.)

Overrun is your friend: As the Germans, overrun is your best friend. Disengaging from ZOC, driving through uncontested area then re-engaging the enemy in overrun is a great way to make headway, while wiping out your opponent's forces. Yes, this works for the Allies too, but unless it involves FORWARD movement, I think the Allies are better served to disengage and move forward. (See paragraph above.)

Overall: I like this game. I am looking forward to trying it again. I would like to play the Allies a second time as I can now see where I went wrong. I would like to improve my performance before moving on. That said, however, the Germans look to be fun to play. Rumbling across the desert floor, dust rising up behind my Panzers and recon units.... picking off my enemy at will and overrunning their positions. Sounds like a good time... as long as I can keep my eye on what makes the Germans win.

I have only been playing wargames for a few years now, so if I am way off base someone - please - let me know. These are just my observations based on a single game. Any thoughts?

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Comment by Tad Ishihara on March 16, 2008 at 1:10am
Excellent, thorough synopsis, Kai. Lock n' Load is putting some fine games out in the market. In many ways I enjoy playing Mark Walker's Forgotten Heroes and Band of Heroes more than ASL. Over the years I really got tired of referencing and cross referencing rules just to resolve a simple tactical problem.

I purchased Totensonntag a while back, but have not played yet. Thank you for your feedback. It will spur me to play it soon. Right now I am working on Tide of Iron.
Comment by Kai Jensen on March 15, 2008 at 4:09pm
Thanks, John. I was a little hesitant to post this where everyone could read it, but I decided the only way to learn and grow was to push myself places I'm not entirely comfortable being.

I don't have the decades of experience in wargaming that most of you seem to have. I hear comments like "I found Game X in my uncle's garage when I was 12 and have been hooked ever since." I started into wargaming when Chad told me [paraphrasing] "Miniatures are a thing of your past, my dear. Here's a game called 'Totaler Krieg' and here's how you play it." That was about 7-8 years ago. So I still feel like a relative noob compared to the rest of you.

As for the game, I hope you enjoy it when you get time to play it! And thanks for your encouraging words.
Comment by John Kranz on March 15, 2008 at 10:05am
Great write-up, Kai. I was hoping to play this game during my business trip in Orlando, but my free time after conference hours got eaten up for other duties. I quickly glanced through the rules and the game looks attractive to play, which you've confirmed here. Thanks again for sharing your play experience.
Comment by Olivier Revenu on March 14, 2008 at 10:29am
Great post :)
After several game, I think the game is easier for the Germans. But still fun to play with the allies

Still now I found only 2 strategies to (maybe) win with the allies.
- First one : Rushing against the Italians and shattering the Ariete as soon as possible. You need to sacrifice some Stuarts and infantry to slow down the Germans oming from theSidi Rezegh pass. At this point, you should probably have drawn the main german forces, but also the brits will surely be shattered. Avoid to commit to much the south Africans, as you don’t want to have them shattered. Then attack Gambut with the kiwis. 2Vps -1 = 1 VP
- Second one : advancing carefully to the Sidi rezegh pass to attract and pin the most of German units you can while avoiding to be flanked. Conquer the escarpments if possible. And rush to Gambut as soon as the NZ arrive. The Germans should have enough difficulties to resist in Gambut AND near Sidi-Rezegh
I almost successed to relieve Tobruk once, but I was lucky.

There are surely other opportunities. This game is all about timing, manœuvers, and taking the good opportunities. That's why it's tense and fun.

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