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Subject: France '40: The fall doesn't kill you ... rss

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Mike Willner
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... it's the sudden stop at the end!

And so it goes for almost every simulation of the stunning German blitzkrieg against France in 1940. Things don't look so bad at the start, the French having a bigger army, plenty of armor, an Allied army hanging around. Then ... splat ... the German armor punches through the French defenses and rapidly there is a mass relocation to North Africa.

So, why am about to write a glowing review of GMT's France '40 from Mark Simonitch ( http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125993/france-40 ) if it's just another drop-splat for the French? Well...

A related anecdote: I had the opportunity to play Normandy '44, several times in fact and even face to face twice. This game system was SO enjoyable, chock full of fascinating mechanics, well balanced, and overlayed with historical rules that really communicated the feel and flow of the campaign.

I lamented that this wonderful system would only appear in this game ... it being common practice for wargame designers to re-invent systems for every game. It seemed wasteful to me.

Never was I so happy to be wrong: the game system in Normandy '44 was redeployed with tweaks and customizations in Ardennes '44, and again in France '40. A game system that really scratched my itch and now being used again and again. Hallelujah.

Let me tell you some of the things that appeal to me about this system:

- Hex Bonds: An interesting twist on ZOCs, where friendly units separated by one empty hex create a Hex Bond. The double ZOC is impassable to enemy units. So, defensive screens and encirclements take on a new dimension.

- Wildly effective advance after combat: Rather than a second impulse of movement, the advance after combat phase is much more sophisticated than I've seen in most games. Leg, mech, and tank units get different strides and there are several category of advance after combat depending on the combat result. Units can go in any direction, bounce back and forth from ZOC to ZOC.

And ... over-run combat takes place in this phase too. Also, there is a reserve rule where you place a unit under a reserve marker, only use 2 MP. Then it will automatically get the biggest, baddest advance after combat even though it didn't attack anything. So there you go, without extra game phases or a ton of rules you have breakouts, encirclements, over-runs, tactical redeployments ... very cool.

- Determined and Desperate Defense: as it sounds, you can opt to stick in, at the cost of a step, and maybe not have to retreat and disrupt.

- Just-right counter density: Mark did this in N'44 and again in F'40. Somehow he finds just the right number of counters so that you have plenty to play with and keep you interested, but not so many that you grow weary and simply can't "care" about every unit (counter-weariness ... it's a terrible affliction, won't you help?).

There is more, and best of all it all comes in about 14 pages of rules with plenty of examples of play.

Also, France '40 takes a very interesting look at the campaign. Rather than the usual scenario of the German hordes poised to pour through the Ardennes and sucker punch the Low Countries, F'40 goes another way.

There are two separate battles, with two maps. Mark selected the Sickle Cut and Dynamo, interesting and unusual choices.

Sickle Cut starts with the Germans at the Meuse facing the Dyle Line in the north and the tail end of the Maginot Line in the south. And in the middle ... well, we all know how that went. The objective is to slice through the French defenses and cut of the rail lines from the north to the south of the board. This challenges the Germans to build a head of steam and cover lots of ground without letting the not-inconsiderable French army cut it off from supply.

Dynamo is the entire operation associated with the Dunkirk evacuation. Turns out, Dunkirk wasn't just every eccentric Englishman with a dingy or rowboat. There was an extensive operation to keep the perimeter around Dunkirk in tact, a heavy air battle to prevent bombing of said eccentric Brits as the rowed back to Dover, etc. A lot of riveting action and many key choices for the Brits and the Germans alike. I learned a lot from this game from a historical and military perspective.

And, of course, there is the high level of GMT quality in the box, great play aids, lovely map, nice sized counter, color coding that clearly was selected with color blind people in mind.

So, here we have a real gem of a wargame, and I encourage you to check out the Geek videos, maybe even pick up a copy. And, if you're a Metro Wargamers, let's try a game some time.

I posted a few pictures on Consimworld (don't know how to embed them ere) if you want to take a peek:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dd63b2a/128!enclosur...

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dd63b2a/128!enclosur...

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dd63b2a/128!enclosur...

That's it for now, thanks for reading, see if you can't get a chance to enjoy this game.
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Roger Hobden
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Great review !

I need to play this !
 
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davide pessach
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Bought it today. Actually I needed Normandy to go with my present research but couldn't find it. Oh well, I have to play something till I find it right? :)

Punched and clipped...now the fun starts...
 
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Nathan Leavitt
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Awesome.. Just got it in the mail. I also just received N'44 in trade. What game would you suggest I start with? Is there any desire to play N'44 after France 40?
 
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Michael McCalpin
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klaytonix wrote:
Awesome.. Just got it in the mail. I also just received N'44 in trade. What game would you suggest I start with? Is there any desire to play N'44 after France 40?

While rules are pretty similar, the feel and pace of the two games are very different: France 40 is a lancing blitzkrieg, while Normandy 44 is a knife-fight in the bocage. They are both a pleasure to play, but they will each suit a different mood and amount of available playing time.
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davide pessach
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Nathan! Where did you find Normandy?!?!? I need it desperately but I can't seem to find it at a reasonable price...
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Nathan Leavitt
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patgarret77 wrote:
Nathan! Where did you find Normandy?!?!? I need it desperately but I can't seem to find it at a reasonable price...


I actually just got it in a trade
 
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Marty Sample
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BrooklynMike wrote:

I lamented that this wonderful system would only appear in this game ... it being common practice for wargame designers to re-invent systems for every game. It seemed wasteful to me.

Never was I so happy to be wrong: the game system in Normandy '44 was redeployed with tweaks and customizations in Ardennes '44, and again in France '40. A game system that really scratched my itch and now being used again and again. Hallelujah.




A44 came well before N44 actually.
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Aaron Cinzori
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Does Ukraine '43 use the same system?
 
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Michael McCalpin
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I understand that Ukraine '43 uses many of the same rules and concepts as A44, N44, and France 40. Every one of them has its differences though.
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Sean McNeely
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Don't forget The Caucasus Campaign which is the same basic system as the others. I have only played Normandy 44 and Caucasus Campaign but they are both excellent. I have Ukraine on preorder and I just snatched a copy of France 40. Ardennes sold out so fast I never got my hands on one
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