Bolt Action

The Western Desert: A Bolt Action Campaign Book

The British 8th Army, including Commonwealth troops from many nations, fought to stave off overwhelming German and Italian Axis forces

The Western Desert: A Bolt Action Campaign Book
no comments

This Bolt Action campaign book focusses on the conflict in the area most commonly referred to as the Western Desert – a campaign theatre reaching from the Libyan city of Tripoli to Cairo, and the Egyptian Nile valley, a distance of some 1300 miles, a featuring some of the most hostile terrains on Earth.

When compared to the enormous campaigns waged on the Eastern Front and in Western Europe during World War II, the struggle in North Africa between the British Commonwealth and the Axis might seem an unimportant sideshow. However, its influence and impact were far-reaching and dictated many strategic decisions that influenced the course of the war.

The book covers a period of time from September 1940 when Mussolini’s Italian Army invaded British-held Egypt to the final retreat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps from Egypt during October 1942. During that period the conflict witnessed much hard fighting resulting in spectacular victories and the capture of territory, equipment and prisoners for both sides whilst also subjecting them to a series of demoralising retreats where final and irrevocable defeat seemed assured.

This campaign, like many others, saw examples of cruelty and inhumanity perpetrated by both sides, but they were relatively rare and the war in the Western Desert has often been referred to as the ‘War without Hate’. Perhaps the biggest reason for this was that the soldiers of Germany, Italy, and the British Commonwealth faced a much greater common enemy – the harsh unforgiving terrain and climate of the Western Desert.


Operation Compass: The Fighting Begins
Scenario 1: Frontier Battle
Scenario 2: Fort Nibeiwa, 9 December 1940
Scenario 3: The Battle for Bardia, 4 January 1941
Scenario 4: Tank Clash at Mechili, 24 January 1941
Scenario 5: Fox killed in the Open, 5 February 1941

Operation Sonnenblume
Scenario 6: Mersa Brega, 31 March 1941
Scenario 7: Ras El Madauur, 13 April 1941

Operation Brevity and Battleaxe
Scenario 8: Hellfire Pass, 15 June 1941

Operation Crusader
Scenario 9: Bir El Gubi, 19 November 1941
Scenario 10: Gabr Saleh, 19 November 1941
Scenario 11: Point 175, 29 November 1941

Gazala: Rommel’s Greatest Victory
Scenario 12: The Cauldron, 1 June 1942
Scenario 13: Bir Hakeim, 27 May 1942
Scenario 14: Bir-El Harmat 2 June 1942

El Alamein: The End of the Beginning
Scenario 15: Alam Halfa, 31 August 1942
Scenario 16: Outpost Snipe, 27 October 1942
Scenario 17: The Charge of the 9th Armoured, Tel El Aqqaqir, 2 November 1942

Raid Scenarios
Scenario 18: Dawn Raid
Scenario 19: The Via Balbia Raid, 27 May 1942

As with all our Bolt Action Campaign books, order the Western Desert from our webstore and receive a free special edition miniature. The highly detailed metal model that comes with The Western Desert is none other than the Desert Fox himself, Erwin Rommel! Offer ends 31/01/2021.

New Units and Army lists

In addition to new rules, units and theatre selectors for British and Commonwealth, Italian and German armies, you’ll also find rules for free French Forces in the Western desert as well as special forces that operated in the theatre.

France’s defeat and occupation did not mean the end of the fight for all Frenchmen. Many units not in France when it fell took refuge in Great Britain. Under Charles De Gaulle, they formed the Free French Brigade. In early June 1942, the 1st Free French Brigade found itself on the extreme southern flank of the fortified Gazala line in Libya. For 15 days, they stubbornly defended the fortress of Bir Hakeim against constant German and Italian assaults. You can field this brigade using the rules in this campaign book in conjunction with Armies of France & the Allies and Armies of Great Britain books.

Whilst the Special Forces operating in the Western desert are atypical of the composition of most Bolt Action armies, a theatre selector and rules have been included for purposes of historical accuracy. That is not to say that such armies cannot be used in Bolt Action open play, but they are ideal for use with the specially designed raid scenarios in Campaign Western Desert.

Special Rules

The enemy was not the only thing to contend with in the theatres of the Western Desert, with the environment itself a constant thorn to all parties. As such, many of the special rules found in the campaign book are concerned with the environment and climate. This ranges from the detailing of specific terrain features (sand dunes, boulder fields etc), to the effects of the environment itself – for example, dust clouds kicked up by vehicles and the effect of overwhelmingly clear skies on the fortunes of ground attack aircraft operating in the theatre.

You’ll also find new traits for troops ideally suited for desert combat and a wealth of new possibilities for desert-themed games of Tank War with the optional special rule going ‘hull down’, which dismisses the myth of flat, level desert battlefields – enabling crews to manoeuvre in such a way as to enable optimal firing positions whilst concealing the bulk of their armour to the enemy.

Get Started

Dip your toe into this fascinating theatre.

This starter set gives you everything you need to play a Bolt Action game based within the Western Desert, you’re able to make two forces from this set, representing the Allies and the Axis efforts of attempting to control the deserts of Africa!

It has two armies to use, templates and pin markers, order dice and regular dice, terrain, an A5 rulebook which is only found in its sister set, the Band of Brothers! Also, it also comes with the latest Bolt Action supplement for free, the Western Desert book which contains everything you need to know about both of the British 8th army and the German DAK forces, and more importantly, how to fight in desert warfare!

This set contains:

  • 1 x German Afrika Korps Plastic Box Set
  • 1 x British 8th Army Plastic Box Set
  • 1 x Western Desert Book and Special Miniature
  • 1 x Bolt Action Mini Rulebook (A5)
  • 1 x Sarissa Precision MDF Small Destroyed House
  • 1 x Yellow D6 Dice Pack (Which contains 10 10mm dice)
  • 1 x Small Order Dice pack – Olive Drab (Which contains 4 order dice)
  • 1 x Small Order Dice pack – Brown (Which contains 4 order dice)
  • 1 x Pin Markers set (Which contains 12 pin markers)
  • 1 x Templates and Tokens set

This starter set is based around the first battle of El Alamein. A conflict fought in the western desert campaign. It took place between 1–27 July 1942 in Egypt. The combined Axis forces of the Panzer Army Afrika and Italian army led by Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Erwin Rommel attempted to enter into Egypt and was staved off by the British and the Commonwealth 8th army who was led by General Claude Auchinleck.

Whilst it ultimately ended in a stalemate, the British did succeed of holding the Axis combined arms at bay.

You’re able to field two Bolt Action forces from this set, each serving as an excellent basis to expand your forces even further in any manner!

Alternatively, try our handpicked Get Started with Bolt Action bundles for either the 8th Army and Deutsches Afrika Korps. These provide a selection of miniatures to get your collection started – with the options available within providing players with a wide array of weapons and different tactics to employ as they get to grips with their new army.

As well as setting you well on the way to a fantastic collection of miniatures, they include everything you need to play the game. Full rules are provided in the form of a free A5 Bolt Action rulebook and the ‘Armies of’ supplement, as well as gaming aids in the form of order dice and plastic pin markers.


Dan Hewitson
Dan can often be found contemplating the mound of unpainted minis building up under his desk. He has a tendency to roll lots of ones. He also has a tendency to complain about rolling lots of ones.