Hearts of Iron III Desert Fox Italian AAR

Today I will be playing the Desert Fox standalone scenario in the grand strategy epic title Hearts of Iron III by Paradox Development Studio. The settings chosen for this effort are hard difficulty and normal game mode. The selections for diplomacy, production, technology, politics and intelligence are actually irrelevant as the scenario designer disabled them.

The Allies Victory Conditions are to control Tarabulus before and after 1/10/42 and to control Tunis after the same date. The Axis Victory Conditions are to control Alexandria and to cross the Suez Canal and capture Romani. I will be commanding Commando Superiore Africa, led by RodolfoGraziani*. This force is comprised of several combat elements, the most notable being Erwin Rommel leading Panzergruppe Afrika starting in the Agedabia province.

Unlike the previous scenario “Battle of the Bulge” where the Germans started out already in control of one of the Victory Conditions, in this outing the Axis forces must fight their way across the coast line through a gauntlet of United Kingdom forces to reach the first objective, Alexandria. Unfortunately for those of us not savvy enough to know that the map designers labeled this province “El Iskandariya”, a great deal of searching for “Alexandria” was wasted game time.

This will not be a walk in the park.

The four objectives assigned to Commando Superiore Africa: El Iskandariya (Alexandria) at 5 Victory Points, Al Qahira (2 VP), Bur Sa’id (5 VP) and Romani (5 VP).

During the first month of the operation the Germans successfully invade the island of Crete.

Battle of the Month – April 1941

The Allies lost 1,923 troops and the Axis lost 756 in the Battle of Ra’s at Tin. The bleed through in the image is the result of stacked battle result messages and their semi-transparent backgrounds.

Battle of the Month – May 1941

The Allies lost 311 troops and the Axis lost 238 in the Battle of Khalij as Sallum.

Battle of the Month – June 1941

The Allies lost 351 troops and the Axis lost 860 in the Battle of Abu Haggag.

During the month a significant contingent of Syrian forces appear in the east on the opposite side of the Suez Canal. I assign Allied (Axis forces) Objectives to Germany and Syria to focus on the Romani province.

Battle of the Month – July 1941

The Allies lost 242 troops and the Axis lost 269 in the Battle of El Hammam.

Battles of the Month – August 1941

The Allies lost 304 troops in the Battle of Kafr el Sheikh.

The Axis lost 554 troops in the Battle of Ezbet Abu Keifu.

So close yet so far away: little did I know at this point that the Syrians would basically say you are on your own and the operation would drag on for another six months.

Battles of the Month – September 1941

The Allies lost 164 troops in the Battle of Kafr el Sheikh.

The Axis lost 292 troops in the Battle of El Iskandariya (Alexandria).

That pocket of resistance at El Iskandariya (Alexandria) is a primary factor in the battle being prolonged.

Battles of the Month – October 1941

The Allies lost 225 troops in the Battle of Rashid.

The Axis lost 607 troops in the Battle of El Mansura.

Between those two battles El Iskandariya (Alexandria) fell and the objective is checked off on the list.

Battles of the Month – November 1941

The Allies lost 220 troops in the Battle of Bur Said.

The Axis lost 1,276 troops in the Battle of Romani.

The battle resolution statistics have always been questionable in this game (almost no engagement in the history of warfare ended with each side taking zero casualties; however in HOI3 it happens almost 50% of the time).

On the flip side of that, perhaps the bloodiest day of the operation for Italy was on November 30th: four battles took place resulting in 2,946 soldiers killed compared to only 134 for the United Kingdom.

Bullshit I say…

The sprites available in this game are not my cup of tea, but they are there.

Battles of the Month – December 1941

The Allies lost 241 troops in the Battle of Bur Said.

The Axis lost 736 troops in the Battle of Romani.

Battles of the Month – January 1942

The Allies lost 192 troops in the Battle of Ismailiya.

The Axis lost 558 troops in the Battle of Bir Gifgafa.

Battle of the Month – February 1942

The Allies lost 828 troops and the Axis lost 273 in the Battle of Bir Gifgafa.

This is the last screen shot available before the scenario was one. Unlike some other war games, in HOI3 once the victory or defeat message posts, there is no opportunity to close it and stay in the scenario to review the final situation (that I am aware of).

After-action Reports

Post Mortem

When I first played through this scenario taking screen shots with FRAPS for this post, the game crashed around mid-May 1941. When I went to Steam properties to verify the cache, it reported that five files could not be verified and would be recovered.

*As mentioned in the previous installment of this series, there seems to be some issue with the data in the game and certain leaders of various groups may not be accurate. I am simply going by the name in the game OOB as constructed by the scenario designer.

Although Hearts of Iron IV has been announced, I plan on picking up the Darkest Hour and Their Finest Hour expansion packs for HOI3 as they expand the game by several improvements.


  1. So do the improvements you mention for Darkest hour and finest hour fix some of these data issues? I like the idea of a simulated game of North Africa but I wonder if this was enjoyable? Did you feel like the outcome was outside of your control to a degree?

  2. I don't have those two expansion packs yet. My plan is to work through the stock scentios (there are only five of them) before picking those two packs up.


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