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Paul Koenig's D-Day: The Canadian Beach» Forums » General

Subject: First Impressions rss

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United States
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Smooth seas make the voyage more pleasant.
A ship in port is safe, and that's just what ports are for.
I won't call this a review, since I'm not approaching it in such a formal way. I just thought I'd pass along some first impressions of this innovative miniseries of games after having played a few times solo.

Components-wise, the game is nice enough. It comes in a small ziplock bag, and the mapsheet, unit-counters, and rules seem of pretty standard quality to me. No especially good or bad surprises.

Game play is very unusual, however--different in some ways than any other wargame I've played.

First off, there's a chit-pull mechanic. Nothing especially new about that these days. Players take turns drawing a chit from a cup, and the chit determines which group of units is activated (available to fire, move, and/or close assault). That mixes actions up each turn, adding variety and a touch of uncertainty. Some people like this for solitaire especially.

When your units are activated, you have a choice to make for each of them: full fire, full move, or combined move (at half speed) and fire (at half strength). A unit which moves can (by paying the 2 movement-point cost) enter an enemy hex and close assault (melee)--but only if there is just one enemy unit in the hex. Stacking limit is two units; and by stacking two units in a hex, you prevent the enemy from immediately moving in for a close assault. (You also block your own movement through that hex, as units can't overstack even during movement.)

There are no zones of control in this game, so any gap in the line (and there will be gaps, since there are few units on the board, can mean a breakthrough into the rear. This is limited, however, by the sometimes dense terrain (including cliffs, bocage, and swamp).

Combat involves comparing a die roll to your modified combat strength, hoping to score a hit against an enemy unit. There's a step-reduction system; three hits and you're out. Periodically, units have a chance to recover steps. An optional rule even allows units to be reconstituted (brought back from the dead) under certain conditions.

Victory conditions are based mainly on occupation of towns and cities at the end of the game. The Allies can also gain points for exiting units off the map at certain points; and attrition plays a role as well. Though the map is small, there are few units available; so I find the Germans have to do what they can to knock out or stop Allied units on the beach and then, failing in that, fall back into towns and cities and hold them to the end (while also keeping the main roads blocked). Allies have to get off the beaches and move inland ASAP--but they may still have some tough nuts to crack when they approach German-held towns and cities.

The Allies start off-board and spend the first few turns landing in waves. As they land, they'll suffer by rolling a die on the landing table (abstractly representing much of the beach fighting which is not explicitly covered in the game).

Artillery, air, and naval support are represented by chits that players roll for at the start of each turn. Deciding when and where to commit the support is a big part of the game, and it can involve a short bidding contest at times (about the only thing that hurts the solitaire suitability of this game).

I've played the Canadian beach (Juno) about three times and the American beaches (Omaha and Utah) once each--all solitaire. I find the game to be small, easy to learn, and fast moving. For a game of this size and complexity level, I think it does manage to capture some of the look and feel of the historical events it's based on. Beyond that, it can be a very challenging game--especially for the Allies, IMO. I think the Germans won every game I played (and absolutely obliterated the Americans at Omaha). I can't say there's a play-balance issue, though, as my experience is far too limited to know for sure. Could be I just still need to learn the ropes.

If you're in the market for a small, short, fast-moving wargame with some dicey variety and a novel game system, this series might be well worth a try. I'm reserving judgment on it myself until I've given it a bit more time.

PS: For a more thorough and detailed review of this game series, see this thread:
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Adam Jones
United States
Fort Wayne
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Good observations. I've played through Canadian Beaches twice now, using none of the options rules, and my record is 1-1.

I thought I was doing very well my first game, having obliterated many of the German units, but ended up losing 11-3.

My second game almost ended the same way, seeing as I was on my final turn and there were single German units holed up in 3 of the5 cities/towns. I just didn't have enough turns left to conduct successful attacks and stil, have units in reserve to move in an occupy the cities/towns in order to claim the Victory Points.

Then it occurred to me that I had not yet attempted Close Combat. I had failed to grasp fully the process earlier, and just skipped it altogether. However, with one turn remaining and not enough time to eliminate the Germans and claim the cities, decided to give it a try.

I was able to successfully force the Germans out of the cities with Close Combat while simultaneously occupying the cities and grabbing the VP's for the Canadians. It turned a 3-5 loss into a 6-3 victory in a single turn.

From my very limited experience so far, I think Close Combat is the key to ending the siege's that inevitably develop around each town/city.
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