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Subject: The Normandy Campaign rss

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Bob Holden
United States
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Normandy Campaign is an underrated classic which should stand the test of time. For realism, ease of play, graphics and well-written rules, it has few equals.

This is a hex and counter simulation of the post D-Day landings, where the Allies have established a foothold just beyond the beaches and face a slugging match through the bocage and fierce resistance around Caen.

NC features a remarkable double-blind system which recreates the fog of war. Each player has his own (identical) map of the battlefield. The Allies deploy their units on their map and the Germans do likewise on theirs.

A barrier is then set up between the two maps so that neither side knows the positioning of his opponent's army thereafter. The Allied player has a secure area behind him to the beaches cleared of enemy units. What's in front blocking his advance is the big question.

From here, the Allied player moves one stack at a time, announcing to the German which hexes he is advancing into. If nothing is encountered, the stack may proceed to another hex, and another, until attempted entry into a hex containing an enemy unit occurs (or his movement allowance exhausted). If an enemy unit is met, the movement of the advancing party halts. Anything can be encountered, from a batallion to a full strength armored division. In the latter case, the Allied unit(s) could take serious loss from defensive fire. The German player announces which units are defending the hex and displays them. Following this, the Allied player can attempt to advance other units.

When advancing, the safe approach is to use the probe rule. Here, units which haven't moved announce a probing action to determine what's in an adjacent hex. German units are slowly identified over time along the front, allowing some intelligence to be built up out of the fog of war. The risk of heavy losses is avoided. It is a slow, but necessary approach. As the Allied player gathers strength and acquires some idea where the best German units are, he may eventually find the right spot to start his big offensives.

The German player operates under the same restrictions, but is under no pressure to advance since his mission is to hold.

Airpower is represented by actual units and the mechanics are great. Aircraft can be used to interdict, slowing German reinforcements moving along roads to a crawl, and also to improve ground combat odds. As the Allied player, I generally commit most of my aircraft to interdiction in the early going.

The bocage terrain is difficult, allowing even small German units to make a fight of it.

All units, Allied and German have what I feel are realistic combat strengths and good color schemes. Stacking allows up to one division plus one brigade/regiment per hex. Combat is based on step reduction where many divisions have three steps.

Victory conditions are achieved by holding terrain and eliminating enemy units.

One might not enjoy Normandy Campaign because of the slow pace in the beginning. The Allies must be patient and advance with caution. The German has some strong units, but not enough to safely seize the initiative. He is generally limited to stopping or slowing the Allied advance as best he can. However, nothing prevents the German from attempting a Mortain-style counteroffensive should he wish it. In that case, many of his strong formations would soon be identified and concentrated in one area.

NC rules are virtually air tight. The game is not well-suited for solitaire play.

Grade 10

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