Misprint? Why is Sierra Leone neutral in 1940?

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    This has come up a few times already. Everything I’ve read suggests that this territory should be a British colony, and was already at war prior to the game’s start date.

    In the boxed map Sierra Leone is true neutral. Is this a misprint?

    If so can we get a faq update? If not, what is the justification?

    It would be simple for players to change with a roundel control marker, so that the 1940 Europe board is accurate to the history. There are also gameplay implications if this territory was made appropriately under British control from the start, which I think would benefit the G40 game.

    Any thoughts? Krieghund?

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Britain’s colonies in West Africa, Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and Nigeria also served as staging posts and military bases during World War Two. Aircraft destined for the ‘Middle East’ and the North African front had to fly via West Africa ,and were serviced there.

    Ships bound for India and the east, unable to use the Suez Canal, had to sail via the Cape, and were serviced and victualled at West African ports. This, of course, necessitated the employment of vast numbers in war work, for example, in building and maintaining airfields and naval bases.


    Sums up the gameplay use in a nutshell. The Sierra Leone territory is relevant as a potential naval base or air base location. It would actually be pretty useful for the British and Americans as an early staging area, if this territory were correctly represented on the game map. Particularly in this sz 87 area, that cannot currently be used for bases unless French West Africa first falls to Axis and is then liberated. Which is why a clarification would be ideal, if it was indeed a map misprint as I suspect.


  • I don’t know if the status given to Sierra Leone on the map was an intentional choice by the designers or just a gaffe, but in any case it’s wrong.  I mentioned the error in my G40 map inventory:


    SECTION 14D:
    “STRICT NEUTRAL” BLOCK: Selective Notes (part 3)

    Disputable map situation:

    • Sierra Leone
        Sierra Leone, incorrectly depicted as a neutral state on the G40/2 map, was actually a British possession from 1792 to 1961.
  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    In the case of Persia, I can imagine there was some gameplay justification or that it was made one kind of neutral instead of another by design.

    Sierra Leone on the other hand strikes me as a straight up printing error.

    I suspect that whoever did the design work for the map simply forgot it. Because it is a small territory and right next to another neutral territory. I’ve worked on enough sample maps over the years to see how this error could easily have been made, and then overlooked by the printers.

    But whatever the reason for the initial mistake, I think it’s definitely a mistake to let this error stand, not least because a correction here would likely have a positive impact on the game’s balance and play potential. If Sierra Leone was British, as it most certainly should be, then the Allies could purchase an airbase there, and have a relatively safe way to transit American fighters from E. US to Cairo in two moves. In later rounds the purchase of a naval base there would allow the Americans to shuttle troops on transports between 101 and 87 in one move rotations.

    I think there are other territories (perhaps Persia is one of them) that could conceivable fall into a gray area. I’m content to accept those. But this one is pretty black and white.

    Sierra Leone was not a true neutral or a pro Allied neutral, or a territory that switched from Neutral to Belligerent during the course of the war. It was a crown colony that declared war on the Axis in 39, just like all the other crown colonies that are shown on the map as British controlled from the outset. Sierra Leone should be treated just like the other British territories in this neighborhood of the map, such as British Guinna, Gold Coast, and Nigeria. Having it incorrectly depicted as true neutral is an error that has always irked me.

    Leaving this space true neutral ignores Sierra Leone’s direct contribution to the allied war effort from the start, and really the whole West African contribution in the process, because Sierra Leone (which can also stand for Gambia, not depicted, but along the sz 87 coast as well) was the first stage along the reinforcement route. Proximity to French West Africa would also allow the player to imagine that a base purchased in Sierra Leone encompasses those that existed historically in the broader West Africa region, which were critical in their own way to winning the larger war.

    By correcting this error, it would provide us with a mini reset of the Global game on balance, as the West African Reinforcement Route (“WARR”) strategy out of sz 87 might give the Allies another viable option for the Altantic crossing that the current board in error does not allow. Right now the Allies cannot purchase bases for sz 87 use, unless French West Africa is invaded by the Axis and then liberated, which never happens for obvious reasons. Sierra Leone would fix this, it would actually put West Africa “in play”, by activating sz 87 for a naval base, or for airbase scrambling + movement, which could conceivably alter the balance by sides somewhat, in favor of the Allies, which definitely couldn’t hurt. In my view it would be expedient to correct this error, both from an historical and from a gameplay perspective.

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    If such was the case they could simply have drawn the sea zone border of sz 87 differently so it did not include Sierra Leone but stopped at French West Africa. Surely that would have been more sensible than intentionally misrepresenting an Allied territory (which was a belligerent at the very start of the war in Europe and remained so throughout) as a true neutral territory.

    I just find it really hard to believe that this was done by design. If so, I fail to see the rationale. Which is why I’ve asked for a clarification.

    I appreciate that there may be other details around the map that do not accord 100% with the history, but this one is fairly glaring. As far as I know, there is no other territory on the map, which was at war from 1939, but which the game depicts as true neutral. Personally I think the gameplay would be better served by having the territory under starting British Control,  so if all it takes to correct is an Errata update, I can’t see why this shouldn’t be pursued?

    It would also be really simple to address, because the territory has no starting units and no ipc value, so the only thing that needs changing would be a single line added to the FAQ/Errata. Something like…

    ‘Map: Sierra Leone should be a starting British territory, place a UK control marker here during set up.’

  • '17 '16

    Do you have any hope this change be made into Balance Mode?

  • One thing that I’ve wanted to see is the incorporation of Pro-axis neutrals in South America. I first thought that it really might not be very historically accurate and that it would tip the balance in favor of allies too much, but seeing as the allies are under powered in this game it may help a little.

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Well ideally the Sierra Leone change would be official, so that everyone could benefit from a more accurate map, at least in this one instance.

    To me there is a difference here that distinguishes Sierra Leone from other potential pro-side neutrals, or true neutrals, or decisions about which nation should control a given territory that entered into the conflict (or might have done so) at some point after the 1940 start date. There are a lot of different ideas one might explore there, as far as neutrality or pro-side neutrality goes. But Sierra Leone is a special case.

    All the other territories that comprised the British Empire at this time are given proper representation. I’m referring here to named territories that are actually drawn on the map as distinct territory tiles. Cyprus, Malta, British Somaliland, British Guianna, Ceylon etc. All are shown as starting possession of the British. Even Eire, which actually was true neutral for the duration of the war (though nominally still part of the British Empire), is shown as Pro-Allied in this game. Presumably this last is to acknowledge the ‘what if’ aspect built into this game. Other territories which were occupied by the British prior to 1940 are given to UK control as matter of course, such as Iceland.  Sierra Leone is the lone exception.

    Having it True Neutral just doesn’t make sense. It stands out as bizarre, because Sierra Leone wasn’t neutral. It had skin in the game since the German invasion of Poland.

    It was an outright ally and belligerent from the get-go, automatically committed to war just like all the other British crown colonies were, and it remained at war until the curtain was drawn when Japan finally surrendered.

    You know with actual troops, and planes, and ships, and bases. Especially at Freetown. Check it out…

    Also, just to be clear, the reason I’m pressing the issue is not so much because I’m a huge stickler for historical accuracy, (although the history certainly strengthens the argument) rather it is because I think Sierra Leone could potentially be a game changer.

    Right now, as far as the Atlantic crossing goes, it’s basically Gibraltar or bust, (with a few more complicated options, if you decide to go north instead) but Sierra Leone would provide an alternative southern route that the Allies could explore.

    Bases are among the most powerful units in the 1940 game, and the ability to build them in this particular territory could open up possibilities that would be interesting for the gameplay. It’s a quick correction, relatively simple to make, and might breathe a bit of new life into the boxed game.

  • Have you had a chance to play a game or two with the proposed change to see if it makes a real impact?

  • Official Q&A

    I’ve been talking with Larry about this issue, and it’s under review.  We’d be very interested in knowing how changing Sierra Leone to an original UK territory would impact game balance, so any feedback from games played that you fine folks can provide will be appreciated.

  • Sponsor


    I’ve been talking with Larry about this issue, and it’s under review.�  We’d be very interested in knowing how changing Sierra Leone to an original UK territory would impact game balance, so any feedback from games played that you fine folks can provide will be appreciated.

    Sounds like you and Larry are designing a stand alone 1940 Global 3rd edition!!

    Whooaa!! Tell us more…  :evil:

  • hey maybe this was the secret ingredient that would have balanced the game all along…

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    I’ll admit to just doing a fist pump and spinning around in the computer chair hehe.

    All the late night ramblings sessions with my A&A buddies perhaps bearing fruit.

    Honestly I can’t say for sure what the exact impact of this change might be in isolation. The only time I’ve tried this change was with my friend Tony in a face to face game, and we were playing with a couple other house rules in effect that would probably have distorted the outcome as compared to trying the change all by itself.

    My gut tells me that an airbase for sz 87 coverage and the Cairo fighter transit could be fairly potent, even under otherwise OOB conditions, but this is still a tough expenditure for the Brits in the opening rounds, because usually you want to keep London in mind, or build with a view to smacking down Il Duce. That said, once America is at war, and the Brits have a clearer sense of what the Axis are up to, Sierra Leone provides some nice base options for a US expeditionary force. An AB would offer scrambling coverage for an Allied fleet against German bombers (which in any event would have to fly a space further to make a strike against it. Also a fleet stationed here early on would face less risk from German fighter repositioning than one based at Gibraltar might, so that’s another plus. And of course an NB in Sierra Leone, opens up the potential for a sub-Saharan push by fast moving American units like Mech or Armor towards the critical endgame VC of Cairo. Ground units transported to Dakar in French West Africa, could begin to set this up pretty quickly after the US joins the fray, and, after the transports finish unloading, they can race back to E. US in short order, to build out the repeating drop in subsequent rounds. Whether this alone, would be enough to turn the tide in favor of the Allies remains to be seen, but it at least gives the Americans a way to get some of their ground units on the move. Infantry could be staged in French West Africa, and threaten territories up to three spaces away from sz 87 (with the addition of an NB) so it gives the Allies another way to set up for Torch, or make some preliminary D-Day preparations.

    Perhaps less significant, although still potentially interesting from a production expansion standpoint… the ability to build bases in Sierra Leone makes Brazil a bit more viable as a minor factory location. In my view this still isn’t a particularly great use of American resources, but at least the ability to cover 87 with an AB might make a shuck-shuck between there and Brazil slightly more attractive.

    But basically, I think any bases dropped by the UK in the West Africa sz 87 area, have to be assessed in terms of US mobility. 30 ipcs spent to fully activate Sierra Leone with bases, is still a pretty hefty chunk of change. For that same price you could have 3 additional fighters, so if you do go the WARR route with UK and buy bases, it’s important to coordinate this with American player.

    Fortunately, in the case of a fighter transit the UK doesn’t have to actually make the Airbase purchase until after the US has sent fighters to Sierra Leone. And they don’t have to make the NB purchase until after the US has sent ships to sz 87. Because UK goes before the USA, and after Germany in the turn order, the Americans can still gain the movement advantage before their turn comes up again, provided the UK makes the initial investment in the base.

    Really interested to see what ideas people come up with, and whether any of them can perhaps reshape the overall Allied strategy in new ways. I know I’ve already been on the phone this morning trying to schedule my next game with the usual suspects haha.

    Catch you in a few guys!

  • Official Q&A

    I should probably also mention that game results are only useful to us if you play strictly with box rules (with the Sierra Leone change, of course) - no house rules, setup modifications, or custom maps.  Bids are a more grey area.  Obviously, it’s better to not have them, but I can also see where proving that a reduction of bids is occurring can be helpful.

  • I don’t think anyone could possibly give a meaningful conclusion even with 1,000 game results with no house rules or modifications.
    However, with my considerable experience from playing A&A, and G40, I am confident in saying that the effects on game balance from changing Sierra Leone to British control at game start would be negligible.  Like less effect than taking away 1 infantry from the UK at Egypt.

    So it sounds like Sierra Leone SHOULD be British controlled at game start, and given that you guys are already actually talking about it seriously, I would strongly encourage you to make the correction.
    I would say negligible effect on game balance, while giving the Allies another (probably usually poor) option, which makes the game that much more rich.

    In the face of Black Elk’s passion, I assert that building a base in Sierra Leone would very rarely be a smart move for the Allies.  It is not valuable as a landing space because you have FWA and 3 territories in South America that are 2 spaces from 91.  It is RARELY a good idea for the Allies to EVER send any transport south of Z91 in this game.  And if you are actually trying to get units to Egypt in the end game, FWA is already a space closer.

    It WOULD make a difference if this territory was given an IPC value!!!  I’m assuming zero though (for my comments above).

    Balance would have actually been a bit better if the infantry in Egypt hadn’t been taken away.

  • 2024 '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Nice points Gamerman. Perhaps I tried to oversell it a bit, if for no other reason than to start the conversation. I don’t  really anticipate that 87 could surpass 91 in strategic significance for the majority of games. The basic point I was trying to make is that I can imagine some situations (dark skies type situations) where the Americans find themselves rather stuck, unable to stack 91 effectively with enough carrier support to deter an airstrike against it from Germany. In such an instance, rather than simply waiting another round (or usually several rounds) to build up the fleet, the Allies might instead opt to move on 87, and start stacking ground units at French West Africa in relative safety. In such a case, having bases in Sierra Leone could make that play more effective. Transports unloading in FWA, could use the movement bonus of an NB in Sierra Leone to return to home waters at 101 in one move. Then in subsequent rounds, when the transports actually move from 101 to 91 directly they would have a ground force already in position at FWA for an immediate shuck-shuck from FWA to 91. This strikes me as slightly more effective than doing the same thing out of South America, if for no other reason than should that fleet at 91 be destroyed by the Germans at least the units staged in FWA could just start pushing across Africa, rather than waiting for more transports to pick then up.

    As for fighters, if the goal is simply to transit them to Egypt, Sierra Leone is no closer to this tile than landing at FWA. The only difference is if you wanted those fighters to have a scramble option during the transit, or to get the movement bonus of 1 extra space out of 87 (for locations other than Egypt) because FWA itself can’t support an AB purchase under normal circumstances.

    Now how often this type of situation actually comes up (or comes up in expert play) is of course probably pretty slim. But if it did come up, Sierra Leone might prove useful. Or in any case more useful as a starting British tile than a true neutral one.

    I think the relevance of Sierra Leone might be a slightly more pronounced in Europe 1940 than in Global 1940, if only because there are less total spaces in play, and because people who are playing the single Europe theater board are often less experienced than those playing the combined Global board, so they might be less aware of standard plays, or more likely to attempt base purchases here, which an expert might forego altogether.

    Again, it’s not the be-all end-all by any stretch, granted. But still the option for a base in 87 is better than no option. Or that was my thinking when I called it a potential game changer.

  • @Black_Elk:

    Again, it’s not the be-all end-all by any stretch, granted. But still the option for a base in 87 is better than no option. Or that was my thinking when I called it a potential game changer.

    Absolutely, and I agree -
    I know the game would be improved and not diminished in any way if Sierra Leone were made to be a British territory at game start

  • PantherP Panther referenced this topic

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