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Subject: June 6: D-Day, 1944 rss

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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Introduction:

With a plethora of WWII Normandy-themed games, both old and new, entering my personal space, and emptying my bank account, I began play of an older, and seemingly neglected, title by Richard Berg called June 6: D-Day, 1944. This was published by GMT in 1999, and the overall look and quality of its components reflects its time. The graphics and the quality of the components are on the edge of the dark side (meaning poor for today’s GMT standards) but heading towards the light (meaning that they are, more or less, pretty good).

Perhaps this title has been neglected because of the lighting rod that is Richard Berg, he who is famous for what seems to be, on occasion, the application of one hundred six modifiers before the die is rolled, and who is infamous for designs like “Nero,” which someone famously compared, on BGG, to sucking a donkey. Friend and foe alike may be surprised, or not, to learn that June 6 is among the most accessible of Berg’s designs. The chrome that is present is solid, sensible, logical, and, perhaps the largest shock of all, not overwhelming when it comes to understanding it.

Though it took me about three good readings of the rulebook—my goal was to minimize the amount of mistakes I always make when playing a new game—and a perusal of the errata before and during my early play, I found the game immediately playable, accessible, interesting, and, perhaps best of all, fun.

Game Scale:

Hexes represent 1.4 miles, the turns are two days in length, except for the June 6th turn, and units represent battalions and regiments. The length of the game is thirteen turns running from D-Day to June 30th.

Component list:

Counters: 560 in two sheets.
Maps: two 22 x 34 inch
Play Aids: two printed on blue paper
Rules and Play Booklets: one each

Some comments are in order:

Having made the mistake of playing L2D’s edition of “Breakout Normandy” prior to June 6, my eyes were in for a shock in making the adjustment to these standard ½ inch counters. The cool aspect of the standard NATO design is Berg’s decision to colour coordinate each division. Knowing where your divisions are located is important for artillery support, and a few other things, and it is visually pleasing. The maps are designed by Mark Simonitch and look it, reflecting his skills the so well mesh accurate topography with art. The map runs from west of Cherbourg to slightly east of Caen. The play aids are less clear than they should be, reflecting the black print against blue background. There is no colour in either of the booklets; a serious, though not fatal, annoyance, and reflective of GMT at that time. The prose is rather clear, but lacking in those pithy or fatally funny comments Berg sometimes inserts in other designs.

Scenarios:

There are five in total: the campaign game, the first week, the drive to Cherbourg, St. Lo and Operation Epsom/the push to Caen.

Victory:

This is decided upon victory point hexes, e.g. Cherbourg, St. Lo, Caen, and how quickly the Allied forces capture them. If not quickly enough, no victory points are scored, but if captured early, you gain more points. The Germans have the option to bring in three sets of reinforcements. Two of these groupings did not arrive until some point in July; one came in late June. If the Germans choose to use any of them, the Allied player gains more victory points, depending on the date these reinforcements enter the map.

Bits & Pieces:

Things are straightforward, and this being a Berg game means that you will have modifiers—I never said there were not any—effecting the CRT roll. Terrain, armoured superiority, unit efficiency, naval, air and/or artillery support (here the Allies have a huge historical advantage, as you might expect), disruption, etc. are among the factors you see at work influencing the roll of that ten-sided die (which I prefer over the traditional six-sider).

The D-Day invasion is done with, at least for me, a minimum of complexity and additional rules. Given the other D-Day games available, some grognards will find Berg’s rendering of the invasion rather droll and dull, but it works here without tying you up in your rulebook, hours on end, one beach at a time, until you feel like you have relived events, which is what some people like to do!

Activation Markers and the Random Chit Draw are two design aspects that work especially well in this game, and help to add uncertainty and enjoyment. Weather and initiative give AM bonuses, Allied air markers subtract them from the Germans, and these, along with a die roll, and a set amount on the turn chart, decide each player’s total for that turn. Neither player can fully activate every corps or divisional headquarters (units are activated by their HQ’s, so when you pull the Panzer Lehr chit, every Lehr unit that can trace a LOC, beginning with its HQ, can move and fight that turn), so each side must make choices. Make the wrong choices and you might find your units being surrounded while you watch helplessly. There is a RE—reduced efficiency—segment which allows your others units to finally move or attack—not both—but this comes late in the turn sequence after all the AM’s have done their duty. Each division has two AM markers, so you can put both in your cup, but remember that your total number of AM’s is always limited.

Reinforcements usually, but not always, come with two free AM markers to add to the cup, but German reinforcements must make an entry roll for each AM marker until they actually enter the map. Allied airpower can help delay the entry of German reinforcements, and any German unit that tries to make rapid progress by use of strategic movement will likely have its socks blown off, and the feet that are attached to them.

Zones of Control mean that a unit has to stop upon entry, including your motorized units, while spending an extra movement point to enter. Combat is optional. Movement out of a zoc cost one extra movement point, and you can never move directly from one zoc to another. Units without a line of communication—LOC—will find themselves out of supply, with combat and movement penalties, and in danger of surrendering.

The set-up is the largest hurdle to playing this game. It takes a LONG time. There are no unit set-up hexes marked on the map (terrain colours might mean you could not see them anyway), nor even on the Allied invasion beaches (where you could see them) because Berg does not like them on the map. The play book guides you, but in a dull and dreary and less than helpful way, as you squint—okay, as I squint—at the tiny hex numbers. The play aids available on BGG are helpful and I recommend them, especially for helping each side to line up its reinforcements, and for helping the German side to see the entry roll and locations for reinforcements. If the most difficult aspect to a wargame is its set-up time—and it is certainly manageable here—then the future should look positive.

The play of the game:

June 6, one you get going through those first couple of turns as you learn its particular set of ropes, is straightforward and relatively smooth. You come to a point where you can focus on your operational strategy, and the tactics by which you might achieve it, rather than on constantly referring to the rulebook. Superior Allied numbers can be flummoxed by rather low-quality German forces that have terrain benefits, but when the Allies breakthrough in the centre, west or east, the Germans are in danger of hearing an ominous sucking sound reflective of their chances.

Conclusion:

June 6, by Richard Berg, is what one could call the “Old School” approach to a wargame. It is “traditional” in the best meaning of that elusive description. There are no bells and whistles, just a good game based on a solid design. I wish that there was an expansion set of maps, counters, and rules, to carry it to July and August. Though I like “Breakout Normandy,” and though this will be anathema to some, I find June 6 to be the more enjoyable—note I did not dare to gasp the word “better”--game (the rulebook to BN makes one want to slit one’s wrists).

I picked mine up used and at a good price, and even found the C3i bonus stuff in the box. If you can find a good copy at a good deal, get it. It will be worth your time if you have a passion for the Normandy campaign in a non-monster game.

goo






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I get a kick out of the Berg love/hate. He has so many designs out there, yet people continue to bash him. I agree his stuff is complex, and at times fiddly, but the hobby is better because of him! I just picked up two more of his ACW titles, and need a copy of SPQR.

Thanks for the review! The Berg part made me laugh
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Michael Lavoie
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Nashua
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Nice review. This is a pretty good one. My copy of this game was destroyed some years ago in a basement flood. One of these days I should replace it.
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Severus Snape
Canada
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Quote:
I just picked up two more of his ACW titles, and need a copy of SPQR.


Berg's SPQR designs have some of his best material, stuff about things like flaming bacon--apparently the Romans shot greased porkers at their enemies--and the rest is too funny. Besides, I love bacon.

goo
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Severus Snape
Canada
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Though June 6 is not exactly the hottest new release, unless you count anything from the turn of the century as new, I was hoping for more comments from people who own and play the game.

What say ye?

goo

 
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Philippe Bruneau
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The review is on the money. It is a good design, definitely one of Berg's better efforts. I find there are a lot of activation markers for play..egts a bit tedious.
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Severus Snape
Canada
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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pajlb77 wrote:
The review is on the money. It is a good design, definitely one of Berg's better efforts. I find there are a lot of activation markers for play..egts a bit tedious.


I agree that, short of an Allied breakthrough or blunder, it is a slow slogging through Normandy for much of the game; but I find this reflective of the campaign itself.

goo

 
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Jeff Staff
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I enjoy June 6. I have played the full campaign many times. I LOVE the chit activation of the units. What a great mechanic. It truly gives a great feel for the chaos that is trying to wage war on this scale.
You failed to mention a key aspect of the game - unit cohesion. For those unfamiliar with it, unit cohesion often is the determining factor of the line holding or the line collapsing. Certain units cohesion is high as these are your best, most driven troops while others are conscripts or draftees best for garrison duties. The highly cohesive units usually do a lot better against units even if they have a higher combat value. They are best utilized on the front lines.
Units in this game are not supermen fighting the whole game without penalty. Disorder markers are added when a unit doesn't do so hot in combat and accumulate. They need removed in order to be at full fighting capacity so you don't want to use your best troops for days on end as they will finally grind down.
I have many great memories of this game. Cutting off the Cherbourg peninsula and sending the "elite" 90th Infantry division to subdue Cherbourg...The Brits/Canadians desperately trying to encircle and consolidate Caen against determined German resistance...Slowing down the Panzer Lehr division with never ending air attacks...taking point loss and bringing in the various SS panzer divisions early...
It is a long game but I wouldn't call it a monster. It felt like you WERE the generals determining the fate of the Western front. I'm getting the itch to bring it out again...
I recommend a large piece of plexi over the map and setting units up on the calendar to the day they arrive.
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Thank you, Jeff, for your additional details as to why this is a good game. But I failed to do nothing; I included what I wanted to include in the review, and what I did not include was by design, not by failure.

goo
 
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Jeff Staff
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It sounds like my remark rubbed you the wrong way somehow. I meant no disrespect.
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Waldon
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Diabolik771 wrote:
It sounds like my remark rubbed you the wrong way somehow. I meant no disrespect.


Thanks Jeff! Severus sounds a little butt hurt, but that is the way it goes.
 
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