Desert Rats is the second entry in R. T. Smith's World War II trilogy, including Arnhem and Vulcan. It simulates the North Africa Campaign in 1941-42 commencing with the arrival of Rommel in Tripoli and ends with the Battle of El Alamein. The bitter campaign includes Operations Battleaxe and Crusader and the Battle of Gazala. The game is named after the men of the 7th Armoured Division who were known as the Desert Rats after adopting a 'gerbil' as their insignia. Several versions like DOS and ZX Spectrum 128K includes two additional scenarios: Operation Compass and the Battle of Beda Fomm (December 1940-February 1941).
The gameplay is shown on a scrolling map by turns. Players select the units and give them orders to hold position, move to, fortify, or assault. Units move on the grid of rectangular cells. The balance of battles may be adjusted by Malta Status (Historical, Operation Hercules, Not used as base) as well. Historically, Montgomery defeated Rommel at El Alamein, and it is player's opportunity to alter the history making it sooner or vice versa.
The game is accompanied by a detailed instruction booklet including historical background notes of the campaign with maps and photographs. Two players representing Allied and Axis may be computer or human.
R.T. Smith, the creator and programmer for the fabulous game Encyclopedia of War: Ancient Battles, created a trio of World War Two games a few year earlier for the Spectrum computer that were later converted to the PC: Arnhem, Vulcan, and Desert Rats.
Right away with these three games, you'd wish there was mouse support, but alas, the mouse had not yet arrived on the pc scene. Otherwise, for using the arrows keys and the enter key often, you'll find the game interface easy and intuitive. Arnhem deals with the Allied Campaign into the Netherlands to seize strategic bridges from the Nazis. This included the famous failure to seize the bridge at Arnhem (the bridge too far). Desert Rats deals with the Italian Invasion of Egypt from Libya in WW2, the arrival of Rommel and the German Forces, and the entire North African war before the United States entered the scene. Vulcan concludes the North African campaign with the invasion of the American forces to the final expulsion of the Nazis from the continent.
The Three games are all based on the exact same playing system, but the games themselves are not equal in enjoyment, simply due to the military events they cover. For example, Arnhem and Vulcan are both significantly easier for one side vs the other. In Arnhem, it is much easier to play the Axis side, while in Vulcan, it is much easier to be the Allies. This makes for many imbalanced scenarios within the game. However, Desert Rats is a very balanced game as the North African War after the arrival of Rommel was very closely contested.
In conclusion, Fans of World War Two must give Desert Rats a try. It is an excellent game. The other two are for those fans of the War who want to play campaigns that are not usually found in most wargames. So download Desert Rats today!
How to run this game on modern Windows PC?
People who downloaded Desert Rats have also downloaded:
Vulcan, Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps, Decisive Battles of American Civil War Vol. 1, Decisive Battles of American Civil War Vol. 3, D-Day: America Invades, Decision in the Desert, Decisive Battles of American Civil War Vol. 2, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000)
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