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Normandy '44» Forums » General

Subject: Is this one worth the trouble? rss

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Brad Swinson
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Georgia
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I bought this game off of P500 with much anticipation. I setup the 7- turn mini game. After the initial invasion turn, which was quick and enjoyable, I became bogged down in the combat phase. Calculating the shifts, terrain, troop quality, armor and others. I found myself looking back and forth over the charts just to resolve one combat result. After spending what seemed hours trying to get through one turn, I finally packed it up and cleared it off my table during turn 2. Question, is this one worth the effort?

Thank you in advance for your input.

Brad
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Chris Friend
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Sierra Vista
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Brad - just one guy's humble opinion, but I think you answered your own question.
Chris
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Robert Fox
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Chandler
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I think it is. It's a rather smooth playing Normandy game compared to other larger games.

The 18 factor limit keeps factor counting down as once a defender has 10 factors there is no real need to count the attackers.

The game is less focused on piling the maximum factors into an attack and more on bringing column shifts to bear.

After a few combats, the column shifts become rather obvious. The vast majority of units have a +0 troop quality, with a few elite units getting a +1, and a few unprepared units getting a -1. Unopposed armor brings another +1 (armor that isn't opposed by other equal armor or AT units). Spending artillery gives another column shift, and finally spending an air unit gives a shift.

Beyond that, the hardest rules to remember involve advance/retreat through bocage, remembering the JABOS table if the Germans attack during the day, and understanding how hex bonds alter what a unit can do.

Another nice streamlining rule involves tactical movement. Every unit basically gets to move two spaces without having to count movement points. Only if a unit is going to move further do you have to worry about MP expenditure.

Once you get used to what causes a column shift, you'll find that there are a lot of things in place to streamline the game to make it go much quicker than most other similar wargames.

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Tom Stearns
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Houston
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Brad, Have you played many war games? Although this is a small footprint game, it is not a beginners war game. What it is though is a very well designed, clean system and game. As previous responder stated, after a couple of combats become easily resolved. You won't even use the chart listing the modifiers because you will have them memorized.

If you are a beginner or a casual war gamer, then this is probably not the game to start with. Sounds like you waded in a bit deep. Is it worth the effort? Hell yes. Mark Simonitch's system for this and his other games is one of the best out there. There are not many single map Normandy games that do the campaign justice and in all honesty this is one of my favorite games. Biased I know.

I suggest you start with easier games and come back to this one down the road. Or, sit down with another war gamer to learn it. Or, try and get on Vassal with someone who knows the game to learn it. I'm happy to do so if we can arrange a time.
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Dan Keeler
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Mittelbrunn
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yes
Short answer up front: yes it is worth the trouble.

I hear you though on the complexity of combat. Combat in this game takes three things: 1) patience/peace of mind that each combat is like a mini-turn in itself, 2) understanding that the reason behind the complexity is to keep the game from being just a factor smash-up (organizing your force and bringing the right weapons to the right fights are very important), and 3) a slight re-ordering of the combat sequence from the way the rules describe it (not a deviation from the rules…just a little different sequence from the sequence that rules are written in. If you apply this slightly different sequence and get a few fights under your belt, it all makes sense….but still requires patience and peace of mind. Here is my sequence for combat:

1) Compute the total defense factors in the hex you intend to attack including the Defensive Combat Bonus (DCB). Once you make this calculation, the number is not going to change no matter what you are doing with your attackers. That's why I compute defense factors first. Actually, you probably want to compute and note the total defense factors for defensive hexes "of interest" before you start the movement phase as it will inform your movement decisions.
2) Determine a Main Attack Force (MAF) and additional units participating and calculate the total offensive factors taking into account halving for terrain, MAF/non-MAF, regrouping, replacement, etc. status of attackers.
3) Compute the initial odds. Don't expect to get big odds at this point. Lucky to get 2-1. It's the column shifts in the next step that will help your odds.
4) Look at column shifts that change the final odds (terrain, armor, TQ, artillery supporting the attack--remember that the defense can only use artillery in Determined Defense after the initial combat resolution--defender artillery does not shift the initial combat odds). Compute final odds after column shifts. You usually need to evaluate the merits of at least a couple of different combinations for MAF composition and additional units and the resulting attack strength and column shifts. In other words, it usually takes a couple of cycles through steps 2-4 to come to a decision on the composition of your attack. Use a written note system to keep track of your options. This is the part that slows down combat in this game.
5) Roll die.
6) Apply step losses from combat results (watch who gets to choose which units step losses come from)
7) Defender chooses whether to execute a Determined Defense (which may result in additional step losses and cancellation of retreat results) or retreat.
8) Defender executes retreats (if required) and sometimes has to take additional step losses or can be eliminated in retreat.
9) Attacker executes advance after combat.

Still sounds complicated reading it, but follow that sequence step-by-step ensuring you know how each step works and it will become easy to understand and execute. Better yet, you'll start to see the merits of different options such as whether or not to include units in an attack (just because a unit can attack doesn't mean they should participate in an attack….especially when you can't do better than 1-1 on initial odds anyway no matter how many units you throw in there), the importance of armor and anti-armor units (in some cases/places they are critical…in others they contribute nothing but a couple of extra combat factors) and putting units in reserve. That's when the tactical richness of the game starts to show itself.

I really enjoy the depth of the game. I don't think the games adds complexity just for the sake of complexity. There seems to be solid reasoning behind it all and it forces some very tough decisions to be made that don't necessarily have a right answer. But you have to enjoy that level of detail in the combat phase.
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Brad Swinson
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Chris, Robert, Tom and Dan,

Thank you guys for all your input, it gives me a lot to think about. Tom thank you for your kind offer to Vassal. Right now I am play testing a new game for Multi-Man Publishing and assisting on the gazetteer, maybe we can do it later. Dan, thank you for your efforts in the combat sequence, I saved and printed it out so I will give it a try. All of you are great, and indeed a testament to the of quality people here and those who wish to help a fellow gamer when in doubt.

In all sincerity,

Brad
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Dan Keeler
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I would add one more thing to what I said above about the combat sequence. In step 1 where you are calculating the defensive strength of a hex including DCB, you probably want to do that for defensive hexes "of interest" before you start the movement phase. Two reasons for this:
1) as I said, the defensive strength of a hex is not going to change no matter what you do with attack options and 2) it will affect movement decisions (i.e. do I move that unit up to join in an attack, move it elsewhere, or put the unit in reserve). In other words, the defensive strength you are facing in a hex will impact your movement decisions ahead of the combat phase. Therefore, calculate defensive strengths before you start movement.
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Chris Clarke
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Hoboken
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After a couple of combats it seems I keep asking myself over and over...
3-1...hmmmm...should I roll that...here? Or here? Or here...?
 
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Brian Crawford
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If you think this is troublesome then I would say no, sell it and move on. Find a game that you don't feel negative about. Not being rude here just honest, life is short play what you enjoy playing.
 
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Mark
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I think this one is well worth the trouble, especially if you like the theme of the game. It can be confusing at first but after a few play-throughs it starts to make sense.

Nothing wrong with playing a few practice games/turns to get movement and combat down (which is really easy once defensive hex has 10+ factors). Ignore Strategic movement, IP building, Reserve, for the time being. Just play the American or British side (and Green/Orange German reinforcements) until the mechanics make sense. Keep it simple. Then you can add the Strat move, etc. and stretch it out to the full map as you get more comfortable.

I'm writing this as new wargamer. Normandy '44 was the first true hex and counter game I've ever bought and played and I've had a blast figuring this one out. I am really looking forward to Holland '44 now.
 
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