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  Operation Theseus Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. ...

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations

 Operation Theseus

Gazala 1942


Vuca Simulations

 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. The fact that he was forced to take poison and end his life, because he knew about the plots against Hitler's life and said nothing, has given him a bit of a martyr status to some historians. The German generals after World War II had some harsh things to say about him. Did they say these things out of jealousy, or did they really not think that much of him? He was, after all, a darling of Hitler from the beginning of the war. His seesaw battles for control of North Africa even had Winston Churchill praising him. British historians rate his generalship very high; other nationalities go either way. On a tactical level he was a very good commander. It is possible that he was in his element on a more tactical level than in higher commands. Leading from the front while commanding an army in the 20th century is a pretty hard trick to pull off. To many, the Battle of Gazala was Rommel's greatest victory in WWII. The stage is set. The Germans and Italians have overrun Cyrenaica once again and are looking to defeat the British and Commonwealth forces and take Tobruk. The British and Commonwealth forces have dug themselves in. They have sown the desert with mines and have constructed 'boxes' to surround each of their forces. The desperate battle around the southern box and its Free French defenders at Bir Hakeim is the stuff of legends. Rommel looked defeated and was about to be destroyed when he pulled a rabbit out of his hat and defeated the Allies and actually took Tobruk (which had withheld a months long siege the year before). This is the background of the battle. Let us see what is in the box:

One rulebook.

One mounted map.

383 counters.

2 double-sided player aids.

1 double-sided setup display.

1 Solitaire play display

Two 10-sided dice, referred to as "d10".

A hex represents 3.5 kms (2.2 miles) of terrain from side to side.

Each turn represents a period of one to six days.

Combat units are mostly infantry-type regiments/brigades, and armoured-type battalions/regiments.

The Map

  This is a blurb from Vuca Simulations:

"Operation Theseus - Gazala 1942 is an operational level simulation of the Gazala battles of 1942, which took place during May and June 1942.

The game is intended for two players but is also suitable for solitaire and team play. The goal for the Axis player is to hit the Commonwealth forces hard and to seize specific victory locations, thereby opening the door to Egypt. The Commonwealth player wants to prevent this from happening, thereby eliminating the Axis potential for further offensives. The game is played in a semi-interactive way and keeps both players involved all the time..."

 This is the third game in their Operational Level games about World War II. The series does not have a name, but you can see in the rules that they are related to one another. It appears that Vuca Simulations have listened to grognards and also revisited the rules to make an even better game. The other two games are:

 Crossing the Line: Aachen 1944

Across the Bug River: Volodymyr-Volynskyi 1941

  Vuca Simulations has always had very high production standards in their games and this one is no exception. The mounted map board looks very good for a map of what is usually shown as a mostly featureless desert terrain. The detail of the map close up is pretty incredible. The Maps hexes are large ones. The Game Turn Track etc. that are on the sides of the map are large enough to easily read. There are four full page Player Aids. They are made of hard cardboard, almost as thick as the map. Three of them are double-sided:

Player Aid A has the Combat Results Table, Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Sequence, and Combat DRM.

Player Aid B has the Sequence of Play, Action Points, Stacking Limits, Minefield Check, and Command and Supply information.

Then comes the Scenario Setup Aid: one side has the Axis and the other the Allied Setups.

Next, there is one with the Game Turn Track, and Formation Assignment Boxes.

 Another excellent addition by Vuca Simulations is a hard 'ruler' that is used to help the player see the correct row on the combat Results Table. The counters are 15mm in size and come pre-rounded. They are very colorful and have both NATO symbols and small pictures to see what each unit is made up of. Some of the writing on them is a bit small. The information and their respective units use color identification, so this makes reading them easier. The counters are a bit on the thin side, but they feel sturdy enough. The Rulebook is made of glossy paper and seems large because the writing is so big, thank you Vuca Simulations. The rules themselves are twenty-four pages and then come the three scenarios. Then comes two pages of Combat Examples, followed by the Designer and Player's Notes. Next up, is a small Historical Context, and then a two-page Index. The Rules are also filled with full color examples that follow the text. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Admin Phase
  A. Recovery
  B. Organization
  C. Replacement
  D. Reinforcement

2. Ops Phase: consisting of variable number of Ops Cycles
  A. Initiative Determination 
  B. Formation Activation or Independent Unit Action

3. End of Turn Phase

 As mentioned, the game is at the operational level. So, it comes with all of the flavor of a game done at that scale. Headquarters are incredibly important in the game. They are the font from which springs control and supply of the units under them. To be out of command, unless you are an independent unit or isolated, is a capital sin in these game rules. Gazala was a bit of a strange battle. You always read about minefields being used in World War II, but here they were used extensively. As the Axis you must find a way through them to attack the Allies. Historically, after Rommel's first attack was stopped, he laagered up in the middle of some Allied minefields. These are some of the items that the game has rules about:


Stacking and Limited Intelligence

Zones of Control

Effectiveness Check

Formation Reaction


Breach Minefield Action

Improved Defense Action

Schwerpunkt Marker - One Axis formation gets bonuses for that turn.

 The game comes with three scenarios. These are:

Scenario One: Assault on Bir Hacheim - A solitaire scenario where you are in command of the Ariete Italian Division. It is just to show game mechanics. 

Scenario Two: The Opening Phase - This is four turns long.

Scenario Three: The Gazala Battles - This is eight game turns long.

 The designer D. Blennemann, has taken on a large challenge by bringing us the Battle of Gazala. It is a mixture of a WWII and a WWI battlefield. I think that he and Vuca Simulations have done a great job in bringing this battle to life. Do not think that history or the game gives the Axis an easy victory. To win the battle and take Tobruk is not an easy task at all. Playing as the Allies, your job is to not repeat the historic Allied response which was piecemeal. The Axis forces are always dangerous, so plan ahead and hit them with a good-sized force and not dribs and drabs.  

 Thank you Vuca Simulations for allowing me to review this, more simulation than game, newest effort of yours. I have enjoyed playing this as much as your other two operational level games. They have two new games coming up. These are:

1914 Nach Paris:

The Chase of the Bismarck (Jack Greene had his hand in this, so I am expecting very good things):


Vuca Simulation:

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 Rulebook: