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Subject: Playing makes for a Long Day rss

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Michael Taylor
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Released in 1980, The Longest Day was one of Avalon Hill’s most ambitious projects. Spanning the first three months of the Normandy invasion in 1944, on a mapboard that measures about 5 feet on one side, it was also possibly the largest from the gaming company. Land units are primarily battalion sized, with artillery being either battery or battalion sized. Each turn is one day in length, and each hex on the map is two kilometers.

The first thing one must realize is that this is a large game. The full campaign would take many weeks to play, and would require a large investment in free space. There are, however, several scenarios that use fewer mapboards, and quite a bit less time than the full campaign game.

Speaking of the mapboard, it is beautiful. Full color, with lots of towns and cities. It is not a paper map. No, this monster is hard backed, making the box that this game comes in rather heavy. I have only one complaint about the mapboard. There is no coordinate system. No hex numbers, letters, or anything of the sort. That makes tearing the game down and setting it back up later on pretty much impossible. While it would be possible to create your own, it would have been nice if AH had included some sort of grid coordinate system.

Gamers are introduced to the game through the Programmed Instruction method. Only the basic rules are introduced for the first scenario. As you move to other scenarios, new rules are introduced (air support, naval support, supply, amphibious invasion, etc.). This makes the game easy to learn. The first scenario only uses the first three pages of the rulebook. There aren’t a whole lot of rules, the system itself is rather basic, but it flows well, and after a few plays, the rules are known fairly well. Easy to learn, difficult to master.

The full campaign game adds elements such as reinforcement and replacement (damaged units can be rebuilt on the battlefield), weather, ports and mulberries, rail movement and others. In addition, there are numerous suggested variants to play that can make every game literally quite different. What if Rommel’s strategy had been used? What if the Allies had made a second airborne drop before Operation Cobra? These and other questions are all allowed within the scope of the game.

Combat moves along fairly smoothly, but I dislike the CRT. It is very heavily biased towards the defensive (as is the whole game, breakouts are difficult). The CRT requires nearly 5 to 1 odds to have a small chance of losing the attack. In bocage country, with lots of rivers and streams, this can be a difficult task. Unit supply is easily handled with supply counters, but it seems as if you never have enough of them. Prioritization of attacks is very important.

The Longest Day is really an excellent game, and very enjoyable to play. It does not get the number of plays it should due to sheer size. Anyone with an interest in the Normandy invasion should take a hard look at acquiring it. It isn’t common, but it isn’t rare either, and good copies can fetch a hefty price tag.

I rate The Longest Day a 7.5 out of 10.

Mike

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Steve Herron
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Never play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
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The game does not use the standard NATO symbols it used the German ones which takes some getting use to. Good review.
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John Di Ponio
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Good review! I enjoyed this game while I owned it but just didn't get the playes to justify keeping it in my collection. It was going to be sold on ebay...but I had a very close friend that was itching to get a copy....so....a birthday present it became! Which turned out good for me.....i get to play it with him form time to time.
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Michael Taylor
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sherron wrote:
The game does not use the standard NATO symbols it used the German ones which takes some getting use to. Good review.


I was going to mention this fact, but deemed it a minor point, as the designations are well explained in the rulebook.

It does take some getting used to.

Mike
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Derek Gillam
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I believe the games deseigner-Randal Reed, very much wanted to simulate the attritional 'feel' of the Normandy combat,hence the CRT.
He also seemed to have a 'soft spot' for the German side!
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Mac McCaffrey
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Good review. I would point out that the CRT is designed to promote attritional play. I have actually played this game solitaire, and over the course of about two years (yes, two years) the Allies won a victory as defined by the rules. Probably my favorite game. Any one in the Northern Virginia area who wants to play....
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Anders Egneus
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I believe the rules are actually quite simple for a wargamer with some experience (compared to other monster games out there). So I'd recommend anyone trying this to jump right into playing the first days of the campaign game instead of any of the earlier scenarios. And a rehersal will do both Allies and Germans good before the real show.
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Michael Taylor
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You're absolutely correct. The rules aren't that difficult. Certainly a lot fewer rules than one would expect from knowing how large the game is.

There is a purpose to the scenarios, though. They give a good introduction to the strategy needed in the game to try to produce a victory. I think that if you just jump right into the campaign game you would get frustrated.

Mike
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