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Posted on Mar 27, 2008 in Boardgames, Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Axis & Allies Miniatures: North Africa 1940-1943 – Day 4

By Paul Glasser

Avalon Hill is scheduled to release the latest booster pack North Africa 1940-1943 for the Axis & Allies Miniatures game on March 28. All this week, leading up to the release day, Armchair General is giving grognards interested in this collectible miniatures combat game an inside preview! We sent our own Paul Glasser under the wire to scope out the new reinforcements to the game, and his reports detail valuable information regarding the new units and maps that are incoming. Read on for his full debriefing, and be sure to report back tomorrow for further details!

Axis & Allies Miniatures: North Africa 1940-1943 – Day 4

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If they’re lucky enough, players can get their hands on a special promotional version of the new Matilda II tank.

The Matilda II is featured in the upcoming North Africa 1940-1943 set for Axis and Allies Miniatures and is available in this month’s Combat Zone promotional kit. Game stores can purchase Combat Zone kits, which include a miniature and stat card.

The promotional version includes a special "dazzle" paint job on the mini. Dazzle camouflage was introduced in World War One and used complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors to help break up the outline of a ship or tank so that it was harder to spot.

Although the Matilda II was quickly outclassed by new heavy German tanks after 1942, it performed well in the early stages of the North Africa campaign. It will also be a good addition to any early-war attack force, and British commanders should consider deploying at least one or two!

With up 78mm of frontal armor, the Matilda is almost impervious to direct enemy fire. The only units that can really threaten it are the elite PzIV and the deadly 88mm antitank gun.

With a maximum cross-country speed of just nine mph, the Matilda can only move two hexes. This lack of mobility is its most serious weakness.

Equipped with only one machine gun and a 2-lb main gun, it also suffers from a lack of offensive fire power. However, at a cost of only 13 points, the Matilda is a real bargain.

Other units in the set will include the SU-122 self-propelled assault gun (SPA).  More than 1,100 of these assault guns were built between 1942 and 1943 using the T34 chassis.

Armed with a 122mm howitzer and enclosed in 45mm of armor, the SU-122 offers the Red Army some cheap and reliable artillery support.

However, this SPA unit suffers from an inexplicable lack of firepower. With only eight attack dice against infantry at short and medium range, and seven at long range, the SU-122 will be less effective than similar units such as the Sherman 105 or sIG 33. In terms of gameplay, the SU-122 has as much firepower as the Stug III D, which is only armed with a low-velocity 75 mm StuK 37 L/24 gun.

I would have gladly paid a few more points to have a unit with firepower parity.

Despite these drawbacks, the SU-122 has two important skills, "Blast" and "Bombard." To maximize those skills, players should target enemy infantry that has already received one hit marker.

Unfortunately, the Semovente 90/53 tank destroyer will be a disappointment to Italian commanders. Although it sports a hard-hitting 90mm main gun, the Semovente is a pricey and fragile tank destroyer.

With an open turret, the gun crew will be vulnerable to flank attacks from Allied scout cars and strafing attacks from fighter-bombers.

However, it offers the Italians their best and only chance to hold off medium or heavy tanks.

The designers made a few highly questionable omissions when they published this unit, as well. In gameplay terms, the Semovente is limited to engagements of 800m or less, even though its effective range is actually up to 2,000m. Other units such as the SU-152 have received the skill "Limited Ammo," but the Semovente, which carried only six rounds, suffers no such restriction.

Only a handful of these tank destroyers were produced. A few saw combat during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.

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ACG Intel:

Avalon Hill

Axis & Allies Miniatures

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