Monday, October 30, 2006

Breakout Normandy (or not!)

I've been very busy lately, and so I was planning to have a quiet weekend on my own, enjoying my flat and the nearby countryside, and recharging my batteries.

By Saturday evening, being alone all weekend didn't seem such an attractive proposition, and I was also feeling seriously in need of some wargaming action. Something inside me snapped, and I called Dave....

By 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon we were setting up Breakout Normandy in my living room. Dave was in high spirits - we used to play this a lot back in the nineties, and it was exciting to come back to it. The rules, however, were presenting quite an obstacle, and we got off to a slow start, constantly referencing the rule-book to make sure we had got the procedures more or less correct. The first turn of course is particularly complex as you have the D-day landings to work through with several special rules for the amphibious assault to worry about.

I was playing the Allies, and it went badly for me from the start. One naval bombardment and two air attacks on the coastal batteries around Omaha beach produced precisely nothing, and the inderdiction rolls knocked out about half of my units assaulting Omaha. And the assault rolls went really badly as well, and I forgot to use my Advantage for a mulligan. The end result - a pile of spent and disrupted units cowering on the shoreline at Omaha beach under intact German fortifications.

The other landings went a little better, but it took me 3 days to sort out the mess at Omaha, with a rescue mission from the Brits at Gold beach next-door valuable diverting resources from the fighting around Caen. So halfway through the game I was way behind any realistic timetable for getting the 10VP needed for victory, and I actually ended the game (at 11pm) with only 4VP (which was better than I had thought I would manage!)

One tactical highlight for me was clobbering a bunch of spent SS units in Bretteville with naval fire - in his haste to get them to the front Dave had forgotten how vulnerable a concentration of spent units can be to bombardment.

There is much to love about this game. Unlike many wargames, elimination of units is fairly unusual - the real struggle is against exhaustion and disruption. A D1 is a good result against a powerful unit - it means it won't be troubling you again until the day after tomorrow. And you are constantly struggling against the friction of bad assault results and enemy bombardments which can quickly leave you with an army which is largely unable to move or fight for the rest of the day or perhaps even longer. Even though my chances were largely ruined in the first turn through a combination of bad planning and bad luck, I enjoyed the rest of the game immensely - attempting to rescue the situation and get an effective offensive organised was fascinating and enjoyable, even though I had no real chance of winning. A classic wargame, and well worth dusting-off. Even if it does mean that I am not as rested this morning as I might have been.


Iain said...

When we finally meet up, I'll lend you my copy of Monty's Gamble, which uses the same system, if you like.

Peter said...

Thanks Iain! Nice Essen report on your blog, BTW. Very jealous. But did you play Space Dealer?

Iain said...

Essen was a laugh! You should come along next year...

No Space Dealer. I glanced at it and it looked really weird. We tried to get to a demo table, but they were all taken up. :(