The Campaign for North Africa
The Campaign for North Africa (generally referred to as CNA by wargamers), was an unprecedentedly detailed military simulation game of the North African Campaign of World War II. It was designed by Richard Berg and published by Simulations Publications, Inc. in 1978.
Though some fans of war simulation games appreciate detail, The Campaign for North Africa offered more detail than any board wargame before or since, leading to the ambivalent reaction with which the game is regarded. Even gamers who were initially fascinated with the idea of an extremely detailed war game might have been chagrined when they opened the box to discover 1,800 counters, maps large enough to cover several tables, and a three-volume rulebook of considerable weight and density. The rules cover logistics in extreme detail, far more so than the combat simulation. It is recommended that each side be played by a five-person team, including a Commander-In-Chief and four subordinate commanders, making a total of ten players needed for a game, although it can be played with the usual two. According to SPI, a complete game can run over 1,500 hours. However, the logistics of keeping a ten-person group together for fifteen hundred hours of gaming was a feat beyond even most hardcore wargamers, and completed full games of The Campaign for North Africa are rare.
Although The Campaign for North Africa is playable only with great difficulty in terms of time, the game is prized by collectors and has even been praised by some gamers, who consider it something of the ultimate paper war game. A commonly cited example of its level of detail (and one noted in SPI's advertising) is the fact that the game's Italian troops required additional water supplies so that they could prepare pasta. [Designer's Note: This was included as a humor item which seemed to be taken somewhat seriously by the hobbyists.] The game represents a brief evolutionary step between the relative simplicity of most paper wargames of its time, and the dawn of the era of computer wargames, where complexity and depth need not come at the expense of playability because they are handled by the computer program.
Due to the game's collectability and legendary status, it has long been considered a candidate for possible reissue. Recently, Decision Games expressed a desire to do so, promising "the unplayable monster made playable", which suggests that the game would be considerably revamped instead of simply reprinted. The December 2007 flyer allows a prospective purchaser to commit to buying the game if and when it is published.
The original game has received an extensive rules review, which nevertheless retains the unique and detailed game systems. Apart from a variety of minor fixes, a series of deeper changes have been made to "fix" the oft-criticised air game rules. An extensive spreadsheet system, backed by custom programming has been developed in association with the update. This "playable" version is hosted at the CNA Play Group.