From: My Mother, although my Father had some small part.
For a "historical" scenario, Italy shouldn't be able to attack Malta as soon as the hostilities start. When Italy declared war, there was a 7-10 days window during which Malta was defenseless. Nothing could have stopped an invasion. Both Britain and the Maltese considered a given that this would have been Mussolini's first move.
A game based on this insight would always see Italy invading Malta on the first turn, thus removing at once one of the most interesting problems (and motivators) of the campaign.
1) Did the Italians know, for a fact, that Malta was defenceless?
2) And could Italy scramble together an effective enough invasion force, and launch the invasion, before the Maltese defences were to strong?
3) Couldn't Malta have created an impromptu defence force that could have contested a minor invasion long enough for aid to arrive?
4) And wouldn't Italy have had to be sure that there would be no interference from the Royal Navy before launching such an invasion?
This is a "what they knew" vs. "what the player knows" situation - something that I don't think will ever get a definite in answer in the art of wargame design.
My source, unfortunately, is only in Italian. "La Marina Italiana tra Vittoria e Sconfitta, 1940-1943" by Giorgio Giorgerini. Anyway, when Italy declared war on Jun, 10th 1940 the door to Malta was open. They were resigned to be invaded that night and were only able to offer a token resistance. When nothing happened, on the island they thought that maybe the invasion was programmed for the second night. At the end the British were baffled by the Italian no-show: who, after all, declares war without an attack plan in the pocket ready to be executed (sometimes even before declaring war)?! Especially against an obvious and undefended target... The above comes from British sources.
It turned out that Italy did. Nothing was researched. Nothing was ready. Invading Malta was never in the cards. The answer to "what about the interference from the Royal Navy"? very possibly was "Who cares? We are not going to do anything anyway."
Just consider how, even on the only front where Italy started military operations (the French front) there wasn't a plan and intelligence about the enemy was limited to token recon flights. The attack was launched from the barracks: "Cross the border and... do something!" That's how Italy entered the War.
(Not that things changed when this "already won war" revealed itself to be anything but. Months later, Greece was attacked with the same level of preparation - and the results we all know).
Returning to Malta, thus the problem becomes: how should I treat the idea of Italy invading Malta? IMHO, there are three answers, with no correct one:
- I'm Mussolini! We allow the idea that Italy readied herself before entering the War; the Italian player should thus be able to assault Malta and occupy it on the first turn. We accept that the Italians did their homework and acted in a sane way.
- Mussolini leads! Italy cannot invade Malta until conditions XY have been met. Until then, we must assume that the Italian planners are uninterested in Malta "because the Duce isn't", and the rule reflects this.
- Strange contortions: the game presents an unrealistic situation where Malta is, somehow, already an impregnable fortress at the beginning of the game, and both Italian and German forces - along with blood, toil and sweat - are needed to topple it. This to ensure "historicity". For other examples of "Strange contortions" see France 1939-40.
Each game designer will then pick his own, according to his idea for his own game.
Italian units start at their garrison locations, peacetime TO&E, peacetime ammunition stocks, unknown enemy locations and strengths, . . .
Seek peace but keep your gun handy.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!
“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child