The story of Madagascar

Published by Andrew on

Ziplock box art for Madagascar

At the same time as releasing Mare Nostrum, it became quite clear that as a business we had a couple of minor issues – firstly we had forgotten the Slovaks for Blitzkrieg, and secondly we had (given we need to either order vast quantities of counters or order them in blocks of 4 separate sheets) additional space in the print order.

This caused a bit of consternation until we realized we had a possible mini-game (well mini by TSWW standards) since, as part of the research effort, we had identified the forces involved in Operation Ironclad, and then in Operations Stream, Line and Jane which in total were the various operations which resulted in the British occupation of Vichy French Madagascar. 

Operation Ironclad

A quick look at the Island in the map editor showed it was off the current ETO and PTO map projections, so a new projection for the South Atlantic, southern America and Africa, along with Madagascar was rapidly worked out, and mapping undertaken. Simultaneously David Hughes emailed me saying “would you like the IJN/IJA force tapped to counter invade?”… erm YES PLEASE!  So we had not only the basic forces involved but the planned but cancelled Japanese counter strike….

Of course this little known campaign was not massively covered by war correspondents, and as such images of it are rare (the most common being night shots of the pre-invasion bombardment, and these could really be any place a night engagement occurred involving ships!) it then became imperative to reconsider how it might work. 

Fairey Fulmar Mk I landing on aircraft carrier

Mare Nostrum was already fully set up with the art described the last time round.  With Tommy advancing on the box of Mare Nostrum, we needed something different to both hint at the content of the game, and to catch the eye. A long few hours spent trawling for DRM free images turned up a few images, which are hidden on the reverse of the slip cover for the Ziplock bag, but nothing really caught my eye as the cover art. 

On reading a bit more about the operation, something tickled my mind – in effect this was the first amphibious assault during WW2 which was outside of land based air support undertaken by the Allies.  The forces allocated included 1 battleship, various cruisers and destroyers, but more interestingly a pair of RN Fleet Carriers, Illustrious and Indomitable.

It rapidly became clear that one of the most exciting images of RN carrier operations available involved a Fulmar fitted with drop tanks landing onto a carrier during combat operations.  This image was tagged as “off Diego Suarez during Operation Ironclad” which was most interesting – the image was also a “good shape” for the cover art.  After much messing about with British flags on the box it also became very clear that gorgeous though the Union Jack and the RN’s White Ensign may be, they are awful when overlaid on images as a part of box art. 

Time to panic (the game was to go to press the next morning in effect – this being a rapidly developed game rather than a major effort…) so in desperation I dropped the French 3rd Republic tricolour over the image.. and it suddenly popped.  You can see the age old enemies in action again… The Royal Navy attacking the French… a quick sample of the image was sent round the team who all agreed that given the paucity of “exciting” imagery and the need to “get it out the door” the Madagascar art was now complete. 

French 3rd Republic tricolour

Once printed the cover in its striking red white and blue tricolour, the rapidly landing Fulmar, and the strong colours used by us for the game name and system name created a most attractive image, which has proven to be both eye catching and pleasing to our clients. 

With Madagascar running low in terms of stock availability, players wanting to sample what has been variously been described by some clients as the best military jigsaw ever, to the best board game ever released (which I will admit whilst flattering is a bit too much of a claim), take a look on our website and buy a copy today!


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