Strange Defeat: The Fall of France 1940 – The German defeat of the Allied nations in 1940 was unexpected. France was known to have the strongest army in Europe at that time. The British promised help and the Dutch and Belgians were neutral. The French thought that the Maginot Line would keep the German hordes out of France. After the defeat of Poland, the French knew they would be next, but with the help of the British they would prevail. If the Germans followed the First World War plan they would march through the Low Countries, thereby strengthening the Allied armies even further. The Allies were not really prepared for the onslaught of mechanized warfare.
The game is played on a map of France and the Low Countries with a hexagonal overlay to facilitate movement. Each hex is some 15 miles across, the time turn is one week, so the game lasts only seven turns. The units on the map represent the force of France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The units are Corps and Division level for the Allies and Corps, Division and regiment level for the Germans.
Each counter has two numbers on the unit, one is the combat strength and the other is the movement factor. Each turn is broken into five sections. They are Organization, Movement, Combat, Exploitation movement and Exploitation combat. The organizational phase of the turn is concerned with supply, replacements and reinforcements. The exploitation phases are concerned with only the German mechanized units and the British units on the Allied side.
Stacking limits are dependent upon the size of the units, any number of leaders and regiments may occupy a hex, but only three of the other size units may occupy a hex, with no more than two of those being corps. Stacking limits are applied only at the end of a phase, so that any number of units may pass through a particular hex during movement, advances or retreats. Any units in excess of the stacking limits are eliminated, opponents choice.
Movement is in accordance with the number of movement points a unit has and the effects of various terrains. Zones of Control also influence movement. Any unit entering an enemy ZOC must immediately cease movement and engage that unit in combat in the ensuing phase. Units may move strategically during the movement phase, which is via rapid road movement or rail, thus doubling their movement allowance. During strategic movement a unit may not move into an enemy ZOC.
Combat is conducted by rolling the number of dice for the total of the strength points in a unit, scoring a hit on the roll of a six. The exception to this is Germen Armor units, which can score a hit with a roll of a five or a six. A two-step reduction process assesses casualties. First hit causes the unit to be flipped over to its weaker side, next step is elimination. Retreat may be substituted for the units in a hex absorbing all the hits rolled against it.
Replacements are available for the restoration of reduced units to full strength and to bring previously eliminated units back into play. These replacements are available to the German player after turn 3 and to the Allied player only on turns 3 and 5.
Victory is assessed by the amassing of “Political Points” which result from various events that take place during the course of the game. This game is very intriguing and as a strategic simulation of those six weeks in the spring of 1940 is very engaging.