Desert Fighting

Here’s more proof of my love for tactical combat wargames, especially those set in World War 2. On my table now is the first ATS (Advanced Tobruk System) game, first released around 2002. In scale and looks, it’s very close to ASL, but has enough differences to make it attractive as an alternative gaming experience.

By way of full disclosure, when this first came out I invested a lot of time in trying to improve the rules as that, in my view, was the weakest aspect. A summary of the position is that some of my ideas were taken onboard and some weren’t. I supported the system (translation: I bought other ATS modules) but didn’t play it much after the initial surge of activity.

Over the years I have tried to get back into ATS using various of their Basic Game products, but none worked. What’s changed? Some of the fans of the system have put in a ton of effort and started an independent support operation consisting of a blog with already a couple of outstanding articles, podcasts, and other excellent support material. So, I dusted off my copy of Tobruk and started to immerse myself in ATS again.

So far, I have finished playing two scenarios (solitaire) using the rules in the box.

First up was Clash of Armor which allowed me to get to grips with most of the armor rules. The Germans won rather easily and I need to go back and see how to improve the defense.

Grant tanks on the prowl

The setup calls for the British to start with six dummy counters and six Grant tanks for a total of twelve counters. So, I picked twelve likely locations and drew a counter from the supply each time a possible location had its first chance at a shot. Basic, but it worked.

Then I tried Goschen’s House to tackle the infantry rules. The Germans have a 75mm howitzer and it is a killer if it hits. It took the British too long to deal with the gun and so the Germans won again.

For sure I got rules wrong and could have played better, but these sessions clarified what parts of the rules I need to work on. Besides, it was fun.

The latest rules are on their way to me. (I have the electronic version but prefer to read the physical version. I’ll use the electronic version for reference.) Once the real version is here, I’m hoping to do some more rules learning and playing.