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Posted on Mar 12, 2023 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“In few military endeavors has so little been risked to achieve so much.” Vincent P. O’Hara and Enrico Cernuschi – Depths of Courage Attack on Alexandria Harbor Board Game Review

“In few military endeavors has so little been risked to achieve so much.” Vincent P. O’Hara and Enrico Cernuschi – Depths of Courage Attack on Alexandria Harbor Board Game Review

Rick Martin

Depths of Courage Attack on Alexandria Harbor  Publisher: High Flying Dice Games  Designer:  Paul Rohrbaugh  Price $9.95 non mounted counters or $17.95 with mounted counters

Passed Inspection:  Great looking game, tense game play, tons of replayability, small footprint, great value for the price, extremely challenging, solo game, can be played in less than 60 minutes, easy to learn

Failed Basic: a few typos  

“In March 1939 Italy’s Regia Marina established a specialized and secret naval

warfare unit called Decima Flottiglia MAS (Motoscafo Anti Sommergibili),

generally known as the 10th Light Flotilla or X MAS. This unit was innovative,

in that it employed selected, highly trained personnel using special weapons and


delivery systems to conduct sneak attacks. On the night of 18 December 1941,

six members of this unit penetrated the main British naval base in the eastern

Mediterranean at Alexandria, Egypt, and disabled the Mediterranean Fleet’s two

battleships, a tanker, and a destroyer. In few military endeavors has so little been risked

to achieve so much.”

Vincent P. O’Hara and Enrico Cernuschi – Naval War College Review Vol. 68, Issue 3 Summer

Depths of Courage Attack on Alexandria Harbor is the 9th game in High Flying Dice Games’ Depths of Courage series which focuses on daring navel actions going back to the American Civil War.  In this case, Attack on Alexandria Harbor examines the operation to destroy British battleships on the night of 18th and early morning of 19th December 1941 (not December 29th as the game indicates). 4 mini subs (also known as “human torpedoes” or “Pigs”) were shuttled by the Italian submarine Scire to outside the harbor.  One sub broke down but three others, each crewed by two scuba divers  penetrated the harbor defenses and the divers planted charges on multiple ships.  Your mission in this game is to try and achieve the historical outcome of the mission and then try and get your divers back to the Scire before being captured or killed.  Just like the real life mission, luck plays a major factor in how well you do.


Attack on Alexandria Harbor comes in a zip lock bag which includes the following components:

 An 11” x 17” playing map with point to point movement areas.

20 double sided counters (mounted if you pay the extra $8)

4 page rule book

You’ll need a deck of playing cards and a 6 sided die (d6) to play as well as a cup or bag to draw ship counters from.


To set up the game, remove 8 to 10 and one joker and all queen and king cards from the deck.  Set the British Alert Level (BAL) to 1 and the Harbor Defense Level (HDL) to 1.  Put all the ships but HMS Illustrious in a cup, bowl or bag to draw from.  Set mini subs 1 to 3 in the Scire’s space on the map.  You can play variants using the fourth mini sub or adding the carrier Illustrious in to the game.

Each turn you decide to move a mini sub or attack with the crew of one if there is a target in your area. You roll the d6 modifying the roll if the mini sub you are moving has been detected.  If the number you roll is greater than the HDL, increase the BAL by 1.

Then you draw a card. If the value of the card is greater than the BAL, increase the HDL by 1. If you draw a face card, you check to see if the sub is detected or, if already detected, draw another card to see if it is sunk.

Then you draw another card to see if you detect a ship in the harbor which can be anything from the Norwegian ship Sagona to a battleship or the dreaded patrol boats which make your life miserable.

The more patrol boats active in the harbor, the greater the chance that your subs will be sunk and your commandos captured or killed.

Patrol Boats on Alert

If you draw a joker card, you reshuffle the cards and advance to the next turn.  If you are on turn 5 and draw a joker, the game ends as you are out of time to complete the mission.

Combat is also based on the card draw system.  You must have a mini sub in an area with a target ship and then draw a card.  The lower you get the better and there are modifiers for things like number of patrol boats in play and whether the sub is detected.  Each sub crew only has one charge to place on the hull of the ship and the charge may go off and sink the ship or damage the ship or it may not go off at all.  You get points for any ships destroyed or damaged and whether the Scire can retrieve the crew before it sets sail.  The game is very challenging.  Out of five games played I only won one game with a minor victory and one game with a major victory. In the other 3 games, all my Pigs were sunk rather dramatically.

Battleship Damaged

The previously mentioned optional rules give good replayability.  The game is never boring.  It may depend too much on chance as the joker could end turns after only a few minutes.

There was a typo on Reaction Step 2’s description where a die roll was indicated instead of a card draw.

The key to winning this game is only attacking high value targets while slowly moving your mini subs from zone to zone.  If you rush and attack a lower value ship early, it will only alert the harbor patrols to your presence.

Action is Getting Close to the Scire

All in all, Attack on Alexandria Harbor is a wonderful game with a very small footprint so it could easily be taken on trips and played on a small table.  But don’t let its size fool you, it’s a great game!

For additional reading on this fascinating operation of World War 2, check out Vincent P. O’Hara and Enrico Cernuschi’s Naval War College Review Article in Vol. 68, Issue 3 Summer entitled “Frogmen Against A Fleet” which can be found on-line at:

Armchair General Rating:  96% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 5

(1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG and has designed the solo system for Forsage Games’ Age of Dogfights.  Currently Rick is designing T34 Leader for DVG.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!