Normandy ’44 reflections

Result

At the end of the seven turn scenario the Allies need 14 VPs. My Allies got 13… The German retention of Caumont and Villers-Bocage won them the game. It was close.

The thought that is uppermost in my mind after the replay, is that I waited too long to play the game. I did benefit from a tightened up set of rules, some clarifications and changes, so perhaps I shouldn’t really complain.

[Check the end of this post for links if you have missed the replay.]

Thoughts

Overall, I liked the game. I liked the scale, the complexity level, and the atmosphere the whole package delivers. The physical components are excellent, no doubt benefiting from having Mark Simonitch involved in producing one of his own games.  It’s playable, has depth, and enough scope for trying different strategies – as the Allies. The Germans are on the defense most of the time, though it may be that a more adventurous German defense would be more aggressive than I was.

Of the games on the topic, this is my favorite. Joe Balkoski‘s Against the Reich is probably the closest contender. I am not a Breakout: Normandy fan. I thought Richard Berg‘s June 6 was very interesting, but just did not hit the sweet spot.

So far as playing performance is concerned, looking back I know I could have done better with both sides. My incompetence, in other words, probably balanced out!

Improvements?

It may be a bit cheeky, but I have one criticism and one wild suggestion.

The criticism is about the rules. It took me longer than I would have liked to get the details right. Mark is a good rules writer, but it appears to me that he needs an editor with a good eye for the realities of boardgaming. For example, in rule 13.6 we are told that a retreating unit becomes disrupted. However, the explanation of the combat results table doesn’t universally mention disruption when retreating is a possibility. And I don’t like disruption being at the end of the trick retreat rules. It would have been better to have a separate (main) rules section.

As another example, the Allied player may have to withdraw certain units. It’s a minor detail, and easy to miss. It would have been good to add a reminder at the relevant part of the Sequence of Play.

One more example. The rate of movement for German mechanized forces on a main (primary) road is given as 1/3rd of an MP. But that only applies in Storm weather. So, it would have been better to have the default 1/2 an MP (which is for Overcast and Clear) with the note giving the improved rate for the rarer Storm weather.

Nothing material, but a wee bit annoying.

Now, here’s a thought I had about how to improve the gaming experience: play the game as a double-blind encounter. If the Allies do not know where the German reinforcements are massing, the tension will rise substantially. Similarly, if the Germans do not know where the Allied forces are being assembled once they breakout from the beaches… Such an approach would necessitate reserves, probes, and a bit more caution – though conversely rewarding the bold stroke. Perhaps Ultra might give the Allies some idea of what is on the other side of the hill.

Yes, that’s another retirement project!

Closing

So, belatedly, thanks to Mark Simonitch and the GMT chappies for producing this game. It was fun to play.

Replay Links

Turn 1Turn 2 – Turn 3 – Turn 4Turn 5Turn 6Turn 7Reflections

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