Wednesday 24 July 2013

Battleground General: El Alamein 1942

I've just been playing an intriguing game book from the new Battleground General series by Pen and Sword. Written by Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell these books will be very familiar in format to a certain generation of gamers who grew up with the Fighting Fantasy books of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson back in the 80's and 90's. The Battleground General books however require no record keeping , no dice or the need to record hit points like their old fantasy cousins. Instead this series is focused purely on the tactical decisions of the reader in conducting the course of the battle concerned.

The idea is that these books put the reader "in command of the forces engaged in some of history's most famous battles. Your tactical skill and ability to make the right command decision will be tested at every turn of the page." The reader can play as either Montgomery or Rommel with the book divided into two halves which are dedicated to the tactical situation faced by each side. Each decision made by the commander usually presents two or three new options which must be weighed and considered and which in turn lead to further options. Each command decision decides the course of the battle based either on actual historical events or logical extrapolations based on what might have happened. 

This is an intriguing concept and one that I think would appeal to many wargamers but I felt that more detail could have been built into the book to make the key decision points more detailed. I played both Montgomery and Rommel twice each with each 'game' lasting about 20-25 minutes. I felt that this could have been easily expanded to provide more tactical choices for the player. As it was I felt that there were only two outcomes to each game - victory or defeat - with no shades in between. I still enjoyed this book, and fellow Reject David has lent me the Arnhem 1944 book in this series, but this is definitely a concept that needs a little more work to bring out the full potential of the game.


  1. As I remember the "Fighting Fantasy" books from my teenage years I am very interested in this book idea. Perhaps with more variations and outcomes this could be a great way to look at historical battles. Thank you pointing this book out.

    1. I too remember the Steve Jackson books, I must "borrow" this off you Lee!

    2. I have David's Arnhem book as well, so I'll bring them both to the next game.

  2. Sounds interesting - like an adult fighting fantasy!


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