By Matt Kaufman
Welcome to North Africa. A little over forty years ago, this region was the
site of one of the major campaigns of World War II as Allied and German armies
vied for control of the land south of the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that
commanders like Montgomery, Patton, and Rommel, Germany's "Desert Fox," won
their reputations before fighting shifted to the European mainland.
AFRICAN DESERT CAMPAIGN once again pits Allied forces against the German army
in a North African locale. This time, though, there is a more modern objective
for the two armies: control of the Suez canal. The objective of this two-player
strategy game: destroy your opponent's army, then sieze the vital waterway
that connects the Mediterranean with the Dead Sea.
Playing the Game
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If you've never played a computerized war game before, keep this idea in mind
as you read the instructions: DON'T PANIC! Even though the options we describe
might seem complex at first, we're sure that you'll pick up the basics of the
game in no time. Honest.
That said, let's take a look at the program's playing screen. The bottom
portion of the screen is taken up by a map of the North Africa region. At the
top (north) of the map is the Mediterranean Sea. To the west, the green line
of the Nile River snakes north and south. The German army's begining position
is marked by a small blue box west of the Nile.
On the right, or east, side of the screen, the Allied position is marked by a
red square. Other objects to note on the map are fortresses, which look like
three short lines stacked on top of one another, and escarpments, which appear
as small, orange, circular objects. Roads are marked by small white dots.
(We'll see how the terrain affects your strategy in a moment.) And in the
center of the screen is the objective of both players: the green line of the
Think of the map as a chess board and your army's markers (you may split the
original army into a number of separate units) as your chess pieces. You and
your opponent move around the map, taking advantage of the terrain and other
factors that affect your strategies, looking for opportunities to attack. (For
one army to attack another, they must be next to one another on the map.)
The top of the screen is devoted to a menu of available commands and boxes
devoted to displaying prompts or the status of the players' forces.
But before we discuss the commands in detail, let's look at some of the basic
abilities of an army. First of all, an army must be able to move. An army can
split its forces into separate units useful for specialized functions, then
remerge if it needs to. An army, if it has occupied strategic positions (in
this case, fortresses) can receive reinforcements. An army can gather
intelligence and determine its own strengths, the strength of enemy forces, and
the type of terrain that is displayed in a particular section of the map.
Now let's look at the characteristics of an army force. First of all, an army
moves on its stomach -- supplies are vital. If an army unit runs out of
supplies, it is stranded. Secondly, an army force has "attack power" and
"defensive power." Movement, attack power, and defensive power are all
dependent on supplies; if you are unable to reinforce a piece or capture the
supplies of one of your opponent's pieces, your unit is likely to be crippled
early in the game.
The menu is displayed in the "command box" in the upper-left portion of the
screen. The commands are: MOVE, END, FILE, QUIT, VIEW, INFO, SEPARATE, and
REINFORCE. To select a command, press the left or right arrow keys until the
command you want to use is highlighted. When the command is highlighted, press
the "+" key to activate that command. A much quicker method of selecting
commands is to simply type the beginning letter of the command -- "M" for
MOVE, for example. Here is a more detailed look at each command:
When you choose the MOVE command, you are asked to position the cursor that
appears in the map over the piece you want to move. After you press the "+"
key, the information box next to the menu displays the number of moves which
that piece can make during your turn. The cursor keys are then used to move
that piece on the map. If you make a mistake, notice that you can use the
BACKSPACE key to retreat, or the ESCAPE key if you want to start all over
again. When the piece is where you want it, press the "+" key.
Note that as a piece moves its supplies decrease proportional to its attack and
defensive power. Also note that if a piece moves on top of an escarpment, the
Nile River, or the Suez Canal, the number of moves a piece can make
automatically goes to zero. In other words, if you move a piece over this
kind of terrain, you're stuck there until your next turn.
Now, when you are through moving, you must relinquish control to your opponent.
Choose the END option and press the "+" key to transfer control.
You must also be in MOVE mode in order to attack an opponent's unit. If one of
your pieces is next to an enemy piece, type "A" to attack. The computer will
ask you to specify the direction of the attack by pressing one of the cursor
When you determine the direction, the program displays the odds and the results
of the attack. Of course, an attack takes supplies, and the amount of supplies
taken is proportional to your piece's attack power. A large attacking force
consumes a large amount of supplies. If you eliminate your opponent's piece,
however, you can capture its remaining supplies. One thing to note: if you
attack without supplies, the exchange is automatically lost.
Before we discuss more commands, we should see how terrain can affect your
strategy. As we've noted, passing over certain terrains automatically keeps
your piece there for one round. More importantly, your piece can gain defensive
power if it rests on certain terrains. If it occupies an escarpment, for
example, its defensive power is automatically doubled. Occupying a fortress
also doubles the defensive power of a piece. Fortresses are also vital to your
strategy, for you must occupy a fortress for at least two turns before you can
receive additional supplies.
The END command ends your turn and turns the game over to your opponent. The
move indicator on the very top line of the screen changes to show whose turn it
is. (The player controlling the Allied forces always begins the game.)
This command lets you save and restore a game. Keep in mind that only one
game can be saved on a disk; the next save erases the previously saved game.
This command lets you quit the game and displays the final statistics of the
When you choose the VIEW command, you will be prompted use the cursor keys to
move around the map. If the cursor is placed over a piece, the "view line"
below the menu will detail its movement, attack, and defensive abilities. If
the cursor passes over a particular terrain feature, the view line will tell
what kind of terrain it is.
The INFO command displays information concerning your total strength.
The SEPARATE command is used when you want to split one piece on the map into
two new ones. First, you are prompted to choose the piece you want to split
(the same way you did with the MOVE command). Once a piece is chosen, a "form"
appears in the information box that shows the previous piece's attack,
defensive, and movement abilities, as well as the number of supplies the
original piece was allocated. Underneath the previous piece's values is a form
for the new piece. To transfer some of the old piece's supplies and attack,
defensive, and movement abilities to the new piece, type in the new values for
each category, pressing RETURN after each entry. When the new piece is like
you want it, press the "+" key. (To cancel the option, press the ESCAPE key.)
When you have determined the values for the new piece, the program will prompt
you to choose on what side (north, south, east, or west) of the original piece
the new piece is created. When using the SEPARATE command, keep in mind that
the new piece, of course, cannot have larger values than the original piece.
Also take into consideration that the more attack and defense points a piece
has, the slower it will move. Also, more supplies will need to be allotted to
it. One final note: you may have a maximum of 68 pieces on the screen at one
The REINFORCE commands let you add reinforcements (supplies, movement, attack
power, etc.) to any single piece in the field. The amount of reinforcements is
determined randomly, but is proportional to the number of fortresses you
control. If no fortresses are controlled, the flow of reinforcements will
cease. As mentioned earlier, you must occupy a fortress for at least two turns
before receiving reinforcements.
When you have reinforcements available, you can use the cursor to pick the
piece on the map you want to add to. Once this piece is chosen, you must fill
out a form like you saw with the SEPARATE command to allocate supplies and
As you can probably guess from reading these instructions, AFRICAN DESERT
CAMPAIGN is a complex game. It's not surprising, then, that there are a number
of strategies we've not discussed here. To learn more about the subtleties of
this game, refer to the notes on strategy in the following item on the BIG
BLUE DISK menu.
DISK FILES THIS PROGRAM USES:
AFRICA.DOC (these instructions)
STRATEGY.DOC (some strategy tips)