The first Sandstorm scenario is Libya, March 1941. The British captured almost all of Libya from the Italians. Germany sends Rommel to Africa with limited troops. This AAR comes from completing the entire Sandstorm campaign multiple times on the Lieutenant level and once on the Captain level. I’ve played the first scenario: Libya, March 1941 at least a dozen times testing different strategies and army configurations.
A huge decision throughout Sandstorm and critical to the first scenario is how to best use the Italians. Germany has significantly better men and equipment in almost every category excepting artillery. But Italians are fifty percent or more of your army. Players should carefully decide where to spend precious German command points.
Libya 1941 opens with preplaced troops of one German and one Italian artillery unit, one German Armor (Panzer III), one truck motorized German engineer and one truck motorized Italian infantry. You must purchase the remainder. Starting command points (limiting maximum land, air and naval units fielded) are Italy 19 land and 3 air points; German 10 land and 10 air points. There are 460 Italian and 600 German resource points to purchase units. Unit costs vary considerably with armor and air units much more costly in resource points than foot infantry.
Choosing air units is easy and ground units devilishly hard.
Germany has a superb tactical bomber unmatched by Italy. Italian fighters are pretty good. Tactical bombers are devastating on ground units but mincemeat for fighters. Your air force needs enough fighters for at least parity in the air. Tactical bombers are excellent ground support units. I bought the best available Italian Fighter (MC200 Saetta), two Bf 100 F German fighters and a Ju 87 B tactical bomber. My last German air command point purchased a recon plane completing my air force.
With only ten command points, German land purchases are limited. Germany has vastly superior medium tanks, much better infantry, somewhat better scout cars, and roughly equal artillery. In 1941 Germany has two types of armor: one designed for anti-tank superiority and the other more focused on infantry support. My strongest need is knocking out other tanks so 6 command points are spent on a Panzer IIIJ with the remaining 4 points purchasing a halftrack motorized infantry. Halftracks are more expensive than trucks but have some mounted offensive capability and much better mounted defense. Halftracks also have better off-road movement.
The Italians have limited resource points after purchasing the MC200 Saetta. The Order of Battle series AI excels in outflanking and isolating your units. Libya has a lot of open space and I need Italian Infantry to hold my flanks. I buy 3 inexpensive, Italian foot infantry, the best Italian armor available (mediocre and expensive compared to German armor) and a recon unit.
The two points spent on the recon unit could have truck-motorized two Italian infantry. I chose the recon unit for several reasons. When mounted in trucks, infantry is highly vulnerable to attack. Trucks are expensive and some Italian resource points are held in reserve to replace casualties. Recon units have several advantages. First, they are fast and can detect mines. Second, they can choose phased movement. Last, they quickly retreat when taking damage making them hard to destroy. The disadvantages of recon units are they cannot take objectives, are relatively expensive, and have minimal offensive punch.
Looking at the map, Libya has a paved coast road connecting all major cities and airfields. Because Libya juts into the Mediterranean Sea, unpaved desert roads give armor and motorized infantry the potential to cut-off many coastal objectives.
Thus, my overall strategy is sending Italian foot infantry and both artillery units along the coast road to capture major cities, ports and airfields before Tobruk. All armor, motorized infantry, and the recon unit will take the desert roads attempting to encircle British and Commonwealth forces. Foot infantry is just too slow away from the coast roads.
I get Rommel! Rommel is the best leader I’ve seen in all Order of Battle games. His command radius is huge, his impact on both his unit and surrounding units is excellent. I attach Rommel to my lead Panzer III to encompass as many opening battles as possible.
I’m not going to discuss the initial objectives since they will quickly change.
Initial Offensive Turn
If you have read my other Order of Battle AARs you will remember that I seldom provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on how I ran a turn. Turn 1 in Libya is highly constrained by limited space. My choreographed sequence gets most out of your first turn.
First, the German engineer advances and attacks the British anti-tank gun. Do not advance into the space. Next, the lead Italian infantry hopefully destroys the damaged unit. If you don’t finish it off, your fighters should be able to follow up, strafe and kill. Italian infantry advances to take the space.
Second, Italian artillery moves two spaces and fires on the British Infantry. Do not advance to where the artillery mounts the trucks and cannot fire. Then fire the German artillery. Last, use your dive bomber to airstrike the British Infantry. This sequence is critical for maximum effectiveness.
Third, German mechanized infantry attacks weakened British infantry and does not advance into the space if successful. Keep the space open for the next attack wave.
Fourth, rearmost Italian infantry attacks flank of British Artillery. Infantry does not advance after the attack. The rearmost German Armor then advances (and hopefully) destroys the British artillery. Armor advances into the space if successful.
Fifth, your lead Italian infantry attacks and destroys the two heavily damaged British units and advances into the open ground. The lead German armor (with Rommel) takes full movement down the road as does the Italian armor. The recon car takes the lead.
If successful, the only visible opponent is a scout car. This strategy works about 80% of the time as shown. Sometimes fighters must mop up the damaged anti-tank gun. Worst case, your final German and Italian armor units destroy the heavily damaged British units and your recon unit is far in advance of the rest of your forces. On higher difficulty levels these initial moves work, but you don’t advance quite as far, and your scout car is far more likely to be exposed far ahead of your other units.