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Subject: Nailbiting landing, mad chase. rss

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Colin Raitt
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D-Day to the Ruhr in 24 turns with a nail-biting invasion and a mad chase across the rolling plains of France. The counters and especially the map are prettiest I have seen.



• Each counter is a division
• 15 mile hexes.
• 10-15 day turns
• UGO-IGO with some exploitation
• CRT (heavy on attrition)
• Supply traced to HQs

Special Features

• Support markers
• Hitler Approval track
• Beach defence & access ratings


The map looks like a satellite picture on a cloudless day with natural colours for pasture and wheat rising to high mountains, subtle blue for minor rivers. The colour of the coast codes the strength of beach defences. I like the insignificant details such as town, mountain and river names.
Hexes are ¾”, normally big enough for the ½” counters. The map is only crowded in the allied sector from the landing till the breakout with stacking allowance of 3 or 4 plus beachheads, HQs, supports, PLUTO. Tweezers or an enlarged photocopy of the COBRA scenario map might be good.


Counters have the division shoulder patch and Nato symbol or vehicle silhouette. The division symbol stands out so boldly I use it rather than number when setting up.


Invasion site. This is freely chosen by the allied player. What a decision to make. A wise invader balances the strength of the beach defences, inland terrain, Hitler’s expectation, proximity to islands, major port, embarkation ports, British airfields and Germany. The success or failure of the whole campaign depends on this.

Too bold a choice could see the 1st wave die in the surf, nowhere for the build up troops to disembark so leaving the airborne isolated. The losses can be replaced but there is very little time after the second invasion to crack the Siegfried line. In contrast a cautious landing on the east of Brittany will breakout earlier, leaving more time to cover the extra distance to Germany.

Each coastal hex is rated for the strength of the defences and the amount of force the allies can bring to bear on it. The Atlantic wall is built higher the closer you get to Germany obviously. Ports are also well defended. Islands like Walcheren & Jersey or separation from embarkation ports reduce the assault force. Fighters from Britain can’t reach out to the Bay of Biscay. Bocage and drained make the advance inland harder. Hitler has a hunch that landings in Normandy, Brittany and Gascony are feints and won’t release most troops from the Pas de Calais and Provence for a couple of months.

Where would I land? The historical landing site but paratroops surround 352nd or 1 or 2 hexes nearer Cherbourg and a para grabs the south edge of the Bocage. I figure beachheads are such good defensive terrain that I don’t need to protect the flanks.


Neiderland. Weak local German reserves. I rule out the east as only 6 divisions can land there. All armies will be available quickly to the Germans. Hard terrain to advance through and a road bottle neck at Utrecht. Close to Antwerp and Germany. The training army is released but its not very scary. I would tend to avoid it.


15th Army. Strong beach defences and defenders but lots of attackers and air support too. If you avoid red beaches you should still get ashore but the build up is perilous. Hitler expects a landing here so you will face 11 panzer divisions very quickly. The Germans have 50 divisions along the North Sea and Atlantic and can march them to the landing faster than the allies can ship in from England.


7th Army. Beach defences and defenders are weaker in Brittany but fewer units can land their, The western coast of Brittany is out of range for air support and shipping costs are higher. Normandy just east of Cherbourg confuses Hitler so you only fight 7th Army.


1st Army. Soft beach defences. Few defenders but few attackers too. Confuses Hitler so you only fight 1st Army. No paratroops and air support in the landing shipping costs are higher. No tactical air till a major city is taken. Close to U-boat bases but further from English ports and Germany.Not recommended.


19th Army. Soft beach defences and weak defenders but few allied divisions in theatre and long difficult route to Germany. Leave till the 2nd invasion.


Landing Supports. Available on both invasion turns. Naval gunfire, tactical air, commandoes, duplex drive tanks, assault and engineering tanks, partisans, flak, bunkers, security troops, mines, beach obstacles, reserves, and fortification are represented. The allies select their supports but the Germans take the luck of the draw. Most feared is a reserve panzer division turning up on the beach but that is rare. The tougher the defences the more supports the Germans get. The closer to Britain the more the allies get. A tough beach can still be successfully taken by narrowing the assault to concentrate the attacker’s supports. A nice system with a lot of tension when the Germans atlantic wall supports are revealed.

Regular Supports. Available on all turns. Many of these supports are artillery and tactical air which give the allies a big advantage in several combats, so much so that they can chew up the German army. Without them an Anzio like stalemate would result. Capturing a major port gives the allies more supports and shipping. Later the 2nd landing and Antwerp increase the flow of supplies even more. German supports are less powerful. Germany can get more supports by keeping Hitler pleased. Includes 88s, Patton, Skorzeny, Red Ball Express, Tigers etc. Supports are also needed for armour replacements, extending PLUTO and German strategic movement. The randomness of supports makes swapping sides during solo play easier.

I have quibbles with 3 of these. Carpet bombing didn’t happen more often because the allies had lots of ports and shouldn’t need to be within 3 hexes of the PLUTO. Those four engined heavies are flying from England. It should be a recurring reinforcement like air drops. Traffic jams for the allies weren’t less common because U-boat bases have fallen. Enigma decrypts also don’t need port capacity in France. Alan Turing is sitting in Bletchley Park. They could be triggered by movement of a German army HQ.

Fuhrer Approval Track. When Hitler is happy he sends extra supports and replacements. When he is unhappy OB West gets sacked. In French they say piste which might make you think it’s all down-hill. Not so, after a turn without support or replacement the new commander gets everything that can be given for a while. Armoured attacks and retaking lost ground please Hitler. Abandoning beach defences, retiring to port fortresses, losing cities, ports, U-boat pens and V1 launch ramps angers him. Even doing nothing is bad. Supports and Hitler track work a lot of detail into the game with only a little extra effort.

Compared to Eisenhower’s continuous employment the German command was in constant turmoil. Runstedt was removed on 3rd July for telling Hitler to make peace. Kluge was arrested and committed suicide on 16th August for saying that he would have backed the coup if Hitler had died. Model handed the job back to Rundstedt on 3 September to concentrate on commanding Army Group B. Rommel had been injured on 17th July and since then OB West had also commanded Army Group B. Rundstedt was removed for a second time on 11th March for letting the allies across the Rhine. Kesselring held the post from then till the end of the war. Hitler is not an understanding boss.

Pursuit to the Siegfried line. A dash across France using strategic movement to bypass strongpoints. Bring in new HQs and push them forward. The net of major roads channels supply and Paris is the biggest hub by far. Stay behind divisions hold the road hubs far enough back that the allies can’t get supports. The Germans want to leave no more than 2 hexes between their units to block strategic movement. Some will die in place but others will survive. Reminds me of the Russian’s retreat in 1941 and the same tactics hold here. A counterattack near the beaches like Mortain will probably be a disaster. Better opportunities will arise east of Paris.

2nd landing. Best used in the Mediterranean as England is almost empty by now. Extra ports and PLUTO marker help with supports.

Abandoning France. This means stripping the beach defences which you get back as an extra replacement each turn. It angers Hitler initially but in his heart he stops caring about all the French cities which are about to be liberated. Wait till the 2nd landing has hit to make the allies' life hard.

Breaking into Germany. The allies will probably come to a halt on the Siegfried line because of supply difficulties, a turn in the weather, the fortifications and the German training army taking to the field.

Bulge. Up to 8 panzers can be cheaply rebuilt if held in reserve for a big counterattack. Railing into reserve doesn't cost rail points which are usually in short supply. They reappear at any HQ in Germany so the allies can’t be sure where they will turn up.

Withdrawals. 6 panzer and 3 panzergrenadiers leave for the eastern front in January 1945. After that, the writing is on the wall.

FFI. French forces of the interior. 8 weak infantry division form as French cities are liberated.

Elite units. Let you exploit more or retreat less but they’ll have to take the first hit. They are divisions with tactical skill and a willingness to carry on when losses mount. The allies have only 3 elites, all experienced infantry. US 1st ( Torch, Tunis & Husky), British 50th infantry (Gazala, El Alamein, Tunis, Husky) and Canadian 2nd (Dieppe raid, volunteers).

The modesty of a french man not to include any of his nation's is commendable. British 7th armour and 51st infantry were also very experienced and illustrious but had become shy of casualties. Many allied divisions had experience from North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France 1940, or even Norway and fought hard. 3rd, 36th & 45th US infantry, 82nd, 1st airborne, UK 3rd, 49th infantry Canadian 1st infantry, 5th armoured, French 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 9th infantry all miss out on elite.

The allied airborne divisions miss out on elite as the designer wanted players to pull them out for later drops. I disagree with this as historically they were repeatedly used as gutsy infantry. The support point cost to rebuild stops you using them willy-nilly anyway. The Germans have 16 elites, most vastly experienced panzer, panzer grenadier and fallschirmjaegers. 9th, 10th, 12th & 17th SS are green but well equipped & trained, had a leavening of veterans and fought hard. The designer contrasts the attitude amongst the allies that the war was already won after Normandy compared to the Germans feeling of backs to the wall. Summary execution for desertion was common for Germans.

Armour divisons. Strong in attack and easy to exploit with but little use in bocage, marsh or mountains.

Zones of control. There are none which annoys me when I catch a German infantry division on its own. 2 units cut supply but I need 6 to block retreat. No retreat through vacant hexes adjacent to an enemy would be my rule.

1944 covers the same area and time. It had bloodier elites and allowed the Germans a free set up. 1944 also had brigade sized units which have been painlessly cut out from Liberty Roads.

Problems.
Map. I think Frankfurt should be a little more to the east of the Rhine. The Italian border isn’t a supply source. There was certainly a railway along the coast to Nice and maybe Lyon-Turin as well.
Order of battle. Flak Divisions 20 and 21 didn’t have infantry so don’t deserve counters. 617th infantry division is absent, admittedly it only was cobbled together from army troops in April 1945. These just about even out. I think naval gun support should be available in non-invasion attacks. HMS Rodney was firing around Caen into July. Battleships helped take Cherbourg, Brest and Le Havre. Cross channel guns helped at Boulogne and Calais. You might argue they contribute to never having to retreat results on beachheads.

Rules contradiction. 10.3.6 exception allows airborne to be rebuilt in England for a replacement point but the table on the player aid card requires a support marker as well.

Summing up. The map, landing, supports and Fuhrer systems are real winners for me. “Jodl calling” sends chills down my spine when I’m playing Germany. A cracking good game.

Thanks to fortyone for his copy of the game, wifwindell for his review and tof39 for a picture.

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Gary Barr
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Great write-up of a game I am tempted by

Ha e you played Storming The Reich by Compass Games ?

Wondering how the two games compare

Cheers
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Doug Creek
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
What game are you refering to..when you said "1944" towards the end of review?
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Michael Stephan
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
I think he is referring to France 1944: The Allied Crusade in Europe.
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Colin Raitt
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
1944 Second Front From D-Day to victory in the West by 3W1944: Second Front
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Jay Sheely
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Very interesting.

I've had this and Roundhammer for a year now and am finally getting around to playing it. I also intend to play Storming the Reich right after LR.

And I just got done with a full campaign of The Battle for Normandy *which ended early in a sudden death win for the Allies.

My favorite wargame theatre!

Were the rules to LR difficult to understand?
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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Man or Astroman wrote:


Were the rules to LR difficult to understand?


I thought they were pretty easy to understand.
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Damo
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
wifwendell wrote:
Man or Astroman wrote:


Were the rules to LR difficult to understand?


I thought they were pretty easy to understand.


For me as well. I'm using Liberty Roads as an introduction to bigger and grander/more complex games in the theatre.
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Forty One
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Good review. Glad to see my loaned liberty roads is being put to good use. The two games I played went historical and used Normandy as the first landing and the south of france as the second. In the first game, as the Germans, I stood with the pz divisions for one turn too many, containing the beachhead and got smashed by the artillery/air power. A very rapid run to the German border followed. In the second game the pz divisions fell back in good order, presenting the allies with a difficult /hesitant expansion of the beachhead for fear of vicious pz division counterattack.
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Captain Nemo
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Damjon wrote:
I'm using Liberty Roads as an introduction to bigger and grander/more complex games in the theatre.


Which games would those be?
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Craig Ambler
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Re: Nailbiting landing and a mad chase.
Great review. I am playing this solo at present and very good it is too.

Thanks for sharing.

Craig
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