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1.0 Map
The Road to CHEREN is a two player game about the allied
invasion of Italian East Africa in 1941. This Italian colony
consisted of the two former Italian colonies of Eritrea and
Somaliland, plus the occupied country of Abyssinia (current
Ethiopia) and the occupied colony of British Somaliland. One
player will play the Italian colonial army (Col) with elements
of Blackshirts (Bl-shirt), naval garrison (Marina) and
metropolitan units (Alpini, Bersaglieri and Savoia). The
other player will play the Allies consisting of six Indian
brigades (Ind) and various special units like the Sudan
defense force (Sudan), tank squadrons (Tank and Matilda),
commandos (Comm) and Free French units (French).
The map depicts western Eritrea where the hardest fighting
took place (especially around the town of Cheren). Each hex
is 12.5 km across (7.5 miles) and each game turn is one
week. All names, except Kassala, has the Italian spelling
(do not pronounce "ch" as in "chat". It is hard as in "cat").
1.1 Info: The terrain key at the top of the map shows the
movement costs to enter/cross different terrain (you see
the corresponding terrain beneath the terrain key), by road
or off-road (the hexes beneath the numbers are not
playable). It shows their stacking limits and column shifts
(the clear terrain among hills and mountains are not valleys
but high flat plateaus). See rule 9.1 regarding mountains.
I would like to thank Roger Miller for his playtesting and for
publishing this game through Revolution Games. I also like
to thank Richard Handewith, John Welch, Mikael Norrby,
Anders Västberg, Robert Mårtensson, Stan Hilinski, Dave
Alston, Michael Fostar, Luc Olivier and Philippe Parmentier
for their assistance in the development of this game.
The Combat table is in the lower left corner and the Game
turn track the upper right corner. Each game turn "slot" is
used twice. Return the Game turn marker to the first slot
when you start on game turn 7.
1.2 Towns, Setup letters and Victory Points (VP): Each
town (although some are villages and Asmara is a city) has a
VP value. At the end of the game, total the VPs for all allied
controlled towns (rule 2.1) and see rule 14.0 to determine
the victory level. Most towns have also a letter that shows
that it is a setup/arrival town for units.
Thanks! Kim Kanger
Table of Contents
Map (Info, Towns - Setup letters - Victory Points,
Garrison areas, Supply sources)
Counters (Control markers, Supply markers, Units)
Stacking value (Stacking limits)
Zone of Control
Set up the game (Chits)
Wolkait and Tigre garrisons
Game Turn sequence
Reinforcement and Replacement phase
1.3 Garrison areas: The yellow line shows the former
border between Italian Eritrea and Abyssinia. South of the
line, in former Abyssinia, are two garrison areas; Wolkait
and Tigre (they are separated from each other by a yellow
border as well). Garrison units are marked by a color bar or,
in the case of the native units, by having their garrison
written on the side of the counter (rule 6.0).
(Allied arrival town, Italian arrival town, Allied
replacements, Allied reinforcements, Massaua garrison)
Movement phase (Mountains)
Enemy reaction phase
Combat phase (Terrain column shifts, Artillery,
1.4 Supply sources: The two Allied supply sources are
represented by white/red circles. Af Abed is an allied supply
source only on game turns 5-12. The five Italian supply
sources are represented by white/green circles (rule 12.0).
Air support unit, Support units, Combat table,
Step losses,Retreat, "Push", Advance after combat)
2.0 Counters
Supply check phase (Supply line, Red map edge,
2.1 Control markers are placed on each town
the allied player was the last to occupy or pass
through. Remove it if an Italian unit enters it.
A town with a Control marker is controlled by the Allies. It is
controlled by the Italians if it lacks one.
Native units, Unable to draw supply, Low supply,
No supply, Controlled towns)
Exploitation phase
At the end of the game
Designer's notes
2.2 Supply markers show you a unit's
supply status. See rules 12.4 - 12.6.
Most units have two steps while some have only one.
The allied brigades have four steps. Each allied brigade has a
replacement counter, identified by a white dot. It replaces
the original counter when the brigade has lost two steps
(rule 11.6). Units belonging to the phasing player are called
"friendly units".
2.3 Units
3.0 Stacking value
All units have a stacking value of 1, unless it says differently
on the counter.
Allied chits are red and the units red and blue. Italian units
and chits are green. Native units are black and have a green
(Italian) or red (allied) bar showing their allegiance. Units
have different sizes. There are brigades (x), regiments (III),
battalions (II) and tank squadrons (I). There are several
types of units in the game and some have certain
capabilities and limitations:
3.1 Stacking limit is determined by terrain type (see
terrain key) and is enforced for both sides at the end of
every phase, except the Reinforcement and Replacement
phase. Total the stacking values of all units in a stack.
The total may not exceed the limit for the terrain type in the
hex the units are in (if more than one terrain in the hex, pick
the least favorable). Eliminate steps, if necessary, until you
no longer exceed the limit.
a) Units that may not enter mountain, due to their
unit types, are listed in italic below (rule 9.1).
b) Support units are listed below with an underline
(rule 11.4).
4.0 Zone of Control (ZoC)
c) Units that can move during the Exploitation phase
are listed below with an asterisk. They also have
black unit type symbols on the counters (rule 13.0).
A ZoC covers the six hexes surrounding a unit. All units
project a ZoC except...
a) The air support unit.
b) A unit with a No supply marker.
Mountain troops
You have two kinds of ZoC:
Naval garrison
Hard ZoC: A unit or a stack of units which total a stacking
value of 3 or more.
Soft ZoC:
A unit or stack of units which total a stacking
value of 2 or less.
Motorized infantry*
No ZoC ever extends into or out of a mountain hex.
Motorized artillery
ZoC (both hard and soft) has the following effects:
Air support
1) It costs +1 movement point to enter an enemy ZoC,
regardless if it's occupied by a friendly unit or not. Never
pay more than +1, even if there are several ZoC in a hex.
Unit designations are mentioned in the introduction.
2) You must stop when you enter a hard ZoC.
(you don't have to when entering a soft ZoC)
A set up letter shows which town it will set up in or arrive at
as reinforcement. If there is a number with a letter, then
that is the game turn when the unit will arrive at that town.
3) Regarding retreat into ZoC, see rule 11.7.
The stacking value is explained in rule 3.0.
You may move from ZoC to ZoC as long as you heed to the
rules above.
The movement point value is explained in rule 9.0.
The strength point value is explained in rule 11.0.
Italian units that don't belong to a garrison may move
through a garrison area as they wish, whether the garrison
is released or not.
5.0 Set up the game
Place the allied brigade replacement units and the Low/No
supply markers off map. Place one Control marker on
Kassala and the rest off map. Set the Game turn marker on
game turn 1 on the Game turn track. Place the units that
arrive as reinforcements off map, and those units that begin
the game at the towns corresponding with the letters
written on the counters. Native units start on their Italian
side (green bar). They have their garrison and native village
written on the counters showing where they shall be placed.
If a garrison is released, then the Italian player immediately
rolls a die for each native unit in that garrison. On a roll of
1-3 it stays Italian. On a roll of 4-6 it defects and flips to its
allied side (red bar). It becomes an allied unit. If the
defecting unit is stacked with an Italian unit, then the native
unit is placed 1 hex away by the Italian player, but not on
another Italian unit. If that is not possible, it is eliminated.
The Italian player puts all green chits in a cup and draws
four chits randomly from it, looks at them and places them
face down on the table. The allied player does the same
with the red chits. Do not reveal your chits to the opponent.
All remaining chits from both sides are then placed into a
single chit cup.
(If the allies wish to take the town Om Ager without
releasing the Wolkait garrison, they can stop north of the
town, eliminate the unit in combat and not advance
afterwards. Then they can pass through and control the
town during their exploitation without ending their
movement there next to the native unit).
5.1 Chits: You can reveal and play a chit on certain
occasions, defined in the Chit chart. You can only play from
those chits in front of you. If played, immediately draw a
new one from the chit cup and place it face down in front of
you, if it is yours. If it is one of your opponent's, look at it
and remove it from play without revealing it, and don't
draw a new chit to replace it.
7.0 Game Turn sequence
Each game turn represents one week and consists of two
player turns; an allied turn followed by an Italian turn. Both
turns are played through a sequence of phases. Starting
with the allied turn:
1) Reinforcement and replacement
At the end of the phase (or later, if so specified), return the
chit you played back into the chit cup, or remove it from
play if it is a one-time chit (they have a star at the top).
2) Movement
There are some duplicate chits. You may only play one of
them during a single phase. Some chits are drawn "too late"
to be of any use. You are stuck with them (and that is just
tough luck). See the Chit chart for description of the chits.
5) Supply check and attrition
3) Enemy reaction (opponent plays this phase)
4) Combat
6) Exploitation
The allied player is the phasing player during the allied turn
and the Italian player during the Italian turn.
6.0 Wolkait and Tigre garrisons
8.0 Reinforcement and
Replacement phase
Italian garrison units (see rule 1.3) may not move, but they
still project a ZoC. A garrison is released if an allied unit,
at the end of any phase, is within that garrison area or next
to one of its garrison units. A released garrison will allow its
units to move freely and also to leave the garrison area.
It will also test the allegiance of its native units (see below).
The phasing player places any friendly reinforcement at the
town that has the same letter as the unit.
8.1 If the allied arrival town is occupied by Italians, the
allied player will remove a step from their reinforcement, as
the Italian player will remove a step from the Italian
occupants (both remove one per stack, not per unit). The
Italians will then retreat one hex according to rule 11.7.
A released Wolkait garrison will not automatically release
the Tigre garrison (and vice versa). The allied player must
enter both garrisons to release them both. The Eritrea
native unit is not a garrison. It is just an Italian unit.
Place the allied reinforcement in the town (do this in game
turn 6 as well, when there is a sole artillery unit arriving,
even though one must assume it has "attacked" on its own).
Pay for river when you cross a hexside with a river. The sum
of all hexes, with their respective costs, may not exceed a
unit's movement point value. A unit may not enter a hex if it
does not have sufficient movement points to do so.
If the town is controlled by the Italians but not occupied by
them, then just place your reinforcement and a Control
marker there.
Movement along a road has its own movement cost. You
don't pay for other terrain in the hex, including rivers, when
moving along road. You have to follow a road from hex to
hex, or from track (see below) onto road, to be allowed to
pay the road cost only. Roads that are "dotted" are tracks
and do not exist for road movement (pay the terrain
movement cost instead when you enter track), but do exist
supply wise (rule 12.0). Tracks were either tracks, literally,
or serpentine roads in hills so rough that the route became
at least three times as long.
8.2 If the Italian arrival town is occupied by the allies, the
Italian reinforcement is placed at any town in the Tigre
garrison not occupied by an allied unit. If that is not possible,
the reinforcement is delayed until it is possible to be placed
in a Tigre town during this phase.
If the town is controlled by the allies but not occupied by
them, simply place your reinforcement there and remove
the Control marker.
9.1 Mountains: Tank and motorized units (rule 2.3) may
never enter, attack or retreat into mountain hexes.
8.3 Allied replacements. One allied unit on the map,
without a Low/No supply marker, may replace one step loss
during the allied Reinforcement and Replacement phase at
game turns 3, 6, 9 and 12 (the game turns are marked with
a circle on the Game turn track). If this is not possible, then
the replacement is forfeited (don't confuse this with brigade
replacement counters).
10.0 Enemy reaction phase
The non-phasing player may now move his/her units, up to
a total stacking value of 3. But you may not move a unit that:
1) Is adjacent (regardless of ZoC) to an enemy unit.
2) Has a Low/No supply marker (rules 12.5 -6).
8.4 Allied reinforcements arriving at K7-F8. These will
arrive at Kassala on game turn 7. You may, if you wish,
postpone and let them arrive at Af Abed on game turn 8
instead. Both units must arrive together.
11.0 Combat phase
The phasing player's units may attack adjacent enemy units.
Combat is not mandatory. Only non-motorized units with a
movement value of 6 may attack mountain hexes (exception:
Rule 11.2). Separate units in a stack may attack separate
enemy hexes and not all units in a stack must attack.
8.5 Massaua naval garrison. The Italian unit that sets up at
Massaua may not move, advance after combat or retreat
(it must take a step loss instead).
When attacking an enemy hex, total the strength points of
all participating attacking units (that may be in separate
hexes). Then total the strength points of all defending units
in the defending hex. Compare the total attack and defense
strengths to create a combat odds ratio, and round down
(attack strength of 17 and a defense strength of 5 will create
an odds ratio of 3-1).
9.0 Movement phase
The phasing player may move none, some or all friendly
units. Move a unit from hex to hex. In each hex, pay the
movement cost of the terrain that costs the most (see the
terrain key).
For example: If you enter the town of Cheru you pay the
cost of rough terrain, although there is some clear in it also,
unless of course, you enter the town along the road in
which case you pay the road cost only.
11.1 Terrain in defender's hex may give a column shift
in the defender's favor (use the most beneficial one if there
is more than one terrain). For example: 5-1 becomes a 3-1.
A column shift for river only applies if all units are attacking
across a river.
11.2 Artillery may not attack an adjacent enemy unless
there is another non-artillery unit (in the same hex or in a
separate hex) participating in the attack. They may defend
alone, though. Artillery may attack an enemy unit in a
mountain hex if a non-artillery unit, eligible to attack a
mountain hex, participates (rule 11.0).
Losses are applied like this:
1) An allied brigade flips the "8-5" unit
after the first loss. The flipped unit is
replaced by its brigade "4-5" replacement
counter (it has a white dot to the left) when it takes its
second loss. Flip the replacement counter after the third
loss and remove it after the fourth loss.
11.3 The air support unit is a "flying artillery",
arriving on game turn 3. The allied player may add
its 1 strength point to single attack every allied
Combat phase (it is never added to any defense) by placing
it on the defending Italian units. The air support unit has no
ZoC; may not attack by itself; may not satisfy any step losses
and is always in supply (rule 12.0). Keep it off map when not
in combat.
2) All other units are flipped when they take the
first loss (shown by a grey color bar across) and
removed when taking the second loss. If they have
a blank backside, then they are removed after the first loss
(including native units. Their backside is the enemy version)
Artillery steps may only be taken as losses if:
1) You retreat, or...
2) There is no other unit that can take the step loss.
11.4 Support units (artillery, air, tanks, see rule 2.3), add
their strength points in combat. But they might also give
you a column shift. Total the strength points of each
player's support units. The player with the highest total will
get a column shift in its favor.
11.7 Retreat: An "r" result means that all defending units
retreat 1 hex or they all stay and take an extra loss instead
(one extra loss per stack, not per unit). Only units that may
enter mountain may retreat into it.
For example: The allies are attacking at an odds ratio of 2-1.
Of their attacking strength they have 5 strength points from
support units. The Italians have only 3 support strength
points, so the allied player wins this comparison and gets a
column shift. 2-1 becomes 3-1.
If you exceed the stacking limit in the hex you retreat to,
then immediately, before any other attacks take place,
remove the exceeding steps. Units that have retreated into
a hex that also will be attacked are included in the defense
there. Therefore, the attacker should be aware in which
order the attacks are made. You must retreat or take a step
loss even if the attacker is eliminated. If you can't retreat,
then you must take the step loss instead.
11.5 The combat table does not have all odds ratios. If the
odds ratio is not there, round it down (4-1 becomes 3-1 etc).
Odds ratio less than 1-3 is rolled on the 1-3 column. Odds
above 13-1 is rolled on 13-1. Find your final odds ratio and
roll a six sided die, Cross reference the die roll value row
with the final odds ratio column to get a combat result. The
combat result applies to both players; the left one is the
attacker's result and the right one is the defender's.
When a unit retreats, you must retreat in this order (if you
cannot retreat as in option 1, then you must retreat as in
option 2, and so forth):
1) First to a hex not in enemy ZoC.
2) Second to a hex in a soft ZoC
3) Third to a hex in a hard ZoC, occupied by a friendly
The number is the number of steps that side has to take as
step losses (in total, not per unit. 2 step losses can be spread
to separate units). The "r" means the defender has to
retreat after any eventual losses (rule 11.7). The defender
applies any results first, then the attacker.
(You may never retreat onto an enemy unit; into mountain if
you are not allowed to go there; into a hard ZoC without a
friendly unit there)
11.8 "Push": If the combat die roll is a "5" or "6" and the
defender does not retreat (takes the step loss instead), then
the attacker may declare a "Push". If so, the attacker will
take one extra step loss and the defender will receive a new
retreat result (retreat or step loss).
12.2 Allied units adjacent to the red map edges are also
in supply. But the red edge close to Af Abed offers supply to
adjacent allied units only on game turns 5-12.
12.3 A native unit, Italian or allied, is also in supply if it is
in its own native village hex.
11.9 Advance after combat: If the defender retreats or is
eliminated, then the attacking units may advance into the
vacated hex. If the attacker advances, then:
12.4 A unit, unable to draw supply, is marked with a Low
supply marker. If it already has one, the marker is flipped
into its "No supply" side. Remove all Low/No supply markers
from units that are able to draw supply during this phase.
1) All units that have taken step losses in that attack,
(if still alive) must advance before any other unit
from that attack may advance.
12.5 A unit with a Low supply marker may not move
during the Enemy reaction phase or during the Exploitation
phase (rules 10.0 and 13.0) or be the object of some of the
chits (see the Chit chart).
2) It may not include any artillery units.
12.0 Supply check phase
The phasing player now tries to draw supply for all friendly
units. A unit has to draw a supply line to a friendly supply
source (rule 1.4) or to a road/track that leads to one.
A supply line does not include the hex where the unit is, but
it includes the hex where you reach the supply source/
road/track. It may not enter a mountain hex (but the unit
itself may be in one). The supply line may be no longer than:
12.6 Units with No supply marker suffer the same effects
as those with Low supply marker with the addition that:
1) Tank and motorized units may not move at all.
2) They may not participate in an attack (they may defend
and they may retreat, even if a tank or motorized unit).
3) They have no ZoC.
3 hexes or...
4) Each unit will take a step loss as attrition.
2 hexes, if it enters a hill hex or an enemy ZoC, or...
12.7 Italian controlled towns that are unoccupied and
can't draw Italian supply (like if they were units) will become
allied controlled during this phase, if able to draw allied
supply. An empty allied controlled town will also change
control if it can only draw Italian supply. Check this before
you check units.
1 hex, if it enters a hill hex and an enemy ZoC.
12.1 The supply line and the road/track may not enter
enemy units nor enemy controlled towns (native villages
don't matter). They may not enter an enemy ZoC unless it is
occupied by a friendly unit.
Example: The allied 8-5
in Arressa is in supply
along the track since the
Italian 3-6 in the
mountains have no ZoC
(rule 4.0). The allied 3-6
is out of supply. A supply
line that enters both hill
and enemy ZoC is only
1 hex long (rule 12.0)
13.0 Exploitation
The phasing player may move none, some or all friendly
units with black unit type symbols (motorized infantry,
cavalry, tanks, see rule 2.3) plus any friendly unit with an
Exploit chit. You may not move a unit that has a Low/No
supply marker on it (rules 12.5 - 6). When the Exploitation
phase in the Italian turn has been played, move the Game
turn marker to the next game turn (next slot) and start again
with the first phase in the allied turn. If you have played
game turn 12, then check for victory instead (rule 14.0).
(Italian ZoC are made lighter, to make it easier to see them)
14.0 At the end of the game
At the end of game turn 12, total the VPs of all allied
controlled towns and see below for victory level.
next to them. Be aware of if your units project a soft or a
hard ZoC, and where enemy units might end up in after
their move and exploitation are done.
17 VP or less = Italian major victory
Italy must trade space to save units early in the game and
vice versa later on. The trick is to know when to change
strategy. The closer the heartland the front approaches the
shorter the distance the Italian units will have to move
between enemy approaches. Italian units will act as fire
brigades rushing to where the situation is most severe.
18 - 19 VP = Italian fair victory
20 VP = Italian minor victory
21 VP = Draw
22 - 23 VP = Allied minor victory
24 - 25 VP = Allied fair victory
The allies must push, not by bleeding to death but by daring
moves and by killing as many Italian units as possible early
in the game. Those three motorized battalions are fast and
wicked. Not only do they move far but they also move
during exploitation. Indeed a concern for the Italians. The
allies will have three possible routes to advance along. It will
later increase to five routes between which the allied played
must divide the troops. How many and where to go is a
decision that has to be made.
26 VP or more = Allied major victory
15.0 Designer's notes
In September 2012 Roger Miller asked me whether I was
interested in doing a game for Revolution Games. Although
deep in the middle of another game project I was tempted
by the idea of creating a game that was small but still
elegant. I had no more than six months to do it which was
an extra challenge. I chose a topic inspired by an old favorite
of mine: Bloody Keren, made by Vance van Borries.
This allied invasion was a campaign that culminated in long
battle outside the town of Cheren (Keren, if spelled by nonItalians) which I believe is viewed by many Italians as their
finest hour in the war. Eritrea was Italy's oldest colony that
supplied Italy with almost all their colonial soldiers. Italy had
certainly no intention of giving this one up.
Both sides have a few and equally good units that are
capable to move into mountains. These can be a nuisance to
the enemy. They are difficult to push away from these
mountains since only mountain capable units may attack
them (with the help of artillery, though). Even though no
ZoC extends out of (and into) a mountain hex, a unit up
there can still step down upon your supply route that is
passing by along those narrow valleys.
The allies invaded with six Indian brigades supported by
commandos, the Free French and units from Anglo-Egyptian
Sudan. After the initial push into the hot Eritrean lowlands
the allied command soon realised that there was only one
real road leading up to the highlands and that its point of
entry to the highlands was a narrow creek leading up to a
town called...Cheren.
The chits can be a powerful tool as well as when they are
used as when they are not. For example, the Italian player
must always assume that the allied player has the Infiltrate
chit and must therefore position his units in depth instead
of perhaps in strength up front. The allied played must
assume that the Italian player has the Roadblock chit and
can therefore never trust a certain route of advancement.
This is a tough game for both sides to win. Neither side has
abundant troops and both must save units for the last two
game turns when victory is decided. Keep an eye on those
flanks. With such slow terrain and short supply lines there is
not much room for correcting mistakes by rushing
backwards dealing with enemy intrusion. A very powerful
weapon is the enemy reaction. Remember that an enemy
unit does not have to check supply during the turn it reacts,
so it will not suffer immediate attrition if it moves behind
your units. A way of preventing units to react is to move up
If an enemy one-step unit rushes off during its movement
into your hinterland, then you are more or less safe since it
will die through attrition before you do. If it is a two-step
unit, then you are in much more trouble. But beware if an
enemy unit (even a one-step unit) cuts your supply during
its exploitation, or worse, during reaction movement, then
you must take great care because you will check supply first,
and will also die first. Stay calm and enjoy the game.
Best wishes, Kim Kanger
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