A short list of some of the best articles on 'AFRIKA KORPS' to appear, over the years, in the General

Avalon Hill’s AFRIKA KORPS turns forty-five this year; in human terms, this birthday heralds the incontrovertible arrival of true “middle-age.” But for a wargame to remain popular in face-to-face, postal, PBeM, and tournament play for almost half a century — particularly when most titles pass out of favor within a decade or less — what does that mean? How much time is forty-five years in “game years?” Are “game years” like “dog years?” I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that they are. And despite the fact that those of us who played this game when it first came out are now stumbling with melancholy resignation into our dotage, AFRIKA KORPS is still going strong; I can’t be sure, but I have a pretty good idea that it will outlast me. So it goes.

In the very early days of Avalon Hill — before personal computers, cell phones, Lasers, digital TVs, and “Recycling” — the arrival of a new game title was a BIG deal. Players would grab up their new shrink-wrapped copies and dash home. Once they had reached the safety of their game table, they would hunker down over their pristine map boards and freshly-punched counters, and they would play and replay the brand-new title. And they would plot, in secret and often in solitude, the humiliation and defeat of their opponents. Inevitably, articles and tips on the new game would begin to appear between the covers of the General (in those days, there wasn’t much to the magazine but covers!) within a matter of a few months. This was still the era of the “perfect plan,” and many of these first articles were, to be charitable, not very illuminating. Some were, in fact, so bad that they hinted at some type of deep-seated, but harmless psychosis on the part of their authors. Still, as time passed and the General got thicker, the quality of the articles improved, and their contribution to the reader’s understanding of the game increased. As the print analysis of the game became more insightful, the overall quality of play improved, particularly at the tournament level. Ultimately, so much discussion and thoughtful analysis was lavished on these early games that their play began to take on a chess-like quality. Such is the case with AFRIKA KORPS. Interestingly, many of these nearly-forgotten articles are just as thoughtful and informative today as when they first appeared in the pages of the General many years ago.

So, for those readers who have a collection of Generals gathering dust somewhere in their closet, or who have a friend who still has his lifetime’s stash of old gaming magazines stacked up in his game room, I offer this partial list of what I consider to be excellent articles on AFRIKA KORPS. Even if you read them a long time ago, I strongly recommend that you go back and give them another look. This list by no means is complete, but it does, in my opinion include some of the “best of the best” when it comes to AFRIKA KORPS analysis. For no particular reason, the list of articles has been arranged in chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent.

• Robert Garbisch’s article “Operation Crusader: The Winter Battle,” the General, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Nov-Dec 1973) which offers a short scenario for AFRIKA KORPS, complete with historical OoB’s and starting positions, that simulates the British Offensive from November 1941-January 1942

• Omar L. DeWitt’s funny but insightful article “A Decade with DAS AFRIKA KORPS,” the General, Vol. 11, No. 5 (Jan-Feb 1975) which presents tips on play and several tactical problems for the reader to solve

• Jon Lockwood’s interesting and challenging article “The Paleveda Gambit,” the General, Vol. 12, No. 5 (Jan-Feb 1976) which offers an interesting alternative opening for the aggressive British player in AFRIKA KORPS

• A “Series Replay: AFRIKA KORPS,” featuring R. J. Beyma (Axis) and D. S. Burdick (Allies) with neutral commentary provided by Thomas Hazlett, in the General, Vol. 13, No. 5 (Jan-Feb 1977) which, besides being an excellent example of AFRIKA KORPS play, also shows how dramatically the game can change if a player miscalculates

• Jonathon Lockwood’s excellent and detailed article “Afrika Korps Theory: A Tournament Player’s View of AFRIKA KORPS,” in the General, Vol. 17, no. 3 (Sept-Oct 1980) which discusses the most common openings, and the play of the middle and end games in AFRIKA KORPS.

Besides these articles, there are many more that didn’t make this list, not because they weren’t worth reading, but mainly because I wanted to provide a representative cross-section of essays, and really didn’t want to publish pages of article citations in the same post.

And by the way, if you don’t have any old Generals lying around, there are always copies surfacing on eBay, so you might still be able to track some of these gems down.


  • Joe -
    Thank you for the reminder on these great articles! I pulled out Volume 11, and it was like the world as it was then came alive for me again. Volume 11 of the General seemed like a 'special' year - the articles became much more engaging, and the magazine seemed to have matured in some ways. (Vol. 11/1 has ALWAYS been a favorite. It changed my gaming, since I built both the gaming trays and the game cabinet, and started PBM from that moment. That was a BIG change for me, since I lived in a town of 900 people where there were far more cows than people within a 50 mile radius!)

    As to DeWitt's article, and the following ones, your comment on 'chess-like' aspect of these early games was one of the draws to me of these AH games. Both sides learned the best possible opening moves - there were no TKO's, no 'blast it - you tricked me' fool's mate games. Both sides followed the optimum path to the best launching point for offensive activities, and THEN you could truly 'enjoy' a REAL game of tough choices.

    It was as if the preliminary rounds were over, now a battle of 'equals' could begin. Your fate would be decided by whose nerves could withstand the onslaught of the opponent's (hopefully) brilliant moves!

    And to comment on the Series Replays, long after the fact: I know they were the hardest articles to write, and the most difficult to read, since they required all of us to do a lot of work to replay them. And most of them took up a significant amount of precious magazine space. BUT I THINK OF ALL THE GAMES I LEARNED TO PLAY SO MUCH BETTER because of those replays! AK, thanks to Don and Rob's game; TRC, with Mr. Jarvalin (sp?), all the way to ASL, thanks to the TWO series replays!

    Glad you reminded me of this one. I think I'll set it up just to see it again!

    Thanks again!


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