The Battle for Normandy
Game Designer Dan Holte
June 6th, 1944 is a day that has a deep and profound meaning to historians and historical gamers alike. This was D-Day which was the allied invasion of Europe and began the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. The landings were conducted in two phases the first of which was an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armored divisions on the coast of France starting at 6:30 am.
The Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces was General Dwight D. Eisenhower while overall command of ground forces (21st Army Group) was given to General Bernard Montgomery. The operation, planned by a team under Lieutenant-General Frederick Morgan, was the largest amphibious invasion in world history and was executed by land, sea and air elements under direct Anglo-American command with over 160,000 soldiers landing on 6 June 1944: 73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians. 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were also involved. The Battle for Normandy and the Battle for Normandy Expansion allows players to recreate these wonderful battles trying to either recreate the Allies successful landing and subsequent breakout, or the German staunch defense as they try and push the beach heads back into the sea. The Battle for Normandy from GMT Games covers the period from June 1944 through August 1944. This was the time when some of the most crucial battles were fought as the Allies pushed inland and consolidated their positions.
The original review of The Battle for Normandy was written and published on Mataka.ORG on April 18th 2010. Here is the link to read the in depth review of the Battle for Normandy which is an excellent game. However, let me state right from the start, that the changes and modifications made with this expansion strengthen this game system while adding additional playability with new rules and by tremendously increasing its replay value with the 6 new scenarios.
This is not a standalone game. Players must own the original Battle for Normandy which is a monster game in its own right. So what does this expansion give you? It provides the gamer with;
- 1 – Rule Book with version the 2.0 rules
- 1 – Scenario Book with 6 New Scenarios
- 2 – Double sided map sheets
- 2 – Counter Sheets
- 1 Turn Record Track
Each “Day Turn” of the game is equivalent to approximately 6 hours with Night Turns being a bit more abstract as they include night and early morning. Each hex is equivalent to approximately 1270 yards from side to side. Most units in the game represent battalion sized units of between 800 and 1000 men for infantry and an armored battalion is between 50 and 80 tanks. While there are companies used in the game, these are mostly units that are broken down due to combat during a turn.
Each major section of the rules is numbered 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and etc. Clarifications to each major rules section are further numbered to the right of the decimal place. To add further clarification to “The Battle for Normandy” rules, all of the Optional Rules are highlighted in Blue and examples are highlighted in Yellow. Finally, a circled A notes specific rules that have been selected by the games designer as Advanced Rules. The rules are printed in full color with all of the examples nicely detailed and explained. You can tell that a lot of thought and care have gone into the Version 2.0 rules and this quality work shows in the printed outcome.
There are a few new wrinkles added to the game as the Version 2 rules add some new rules specifically for the Expansion Game. There is the addition of some US and CW (Commonwealth) Reconnaissance Units. There is also towed artillery units added and there are specific rules added for the treatment of the new map sections. Finally there are a few new Solitaire tables added to the game to control the weather, air interdiction and Air Loss Modifiers. With all the changes in the rules and minor additions you have a game that is more mature than its predecessor and more of a joy to play. The last thing I want to mention regarding the version 2 rules are the excellent Examples of Play. These Examples are all in full color which makes following the examples explanation so much easier. I know that to say the rules booklet is 40 pages in length may seem like it might be a chore to read but let me say that it’s an enjoyable 2 evening read and then off to play the vassal or table version of “The Battle for Normandy”.
The Battle for Normandy Scenario Book is a total of 64 pages from cover to cover. Aside from providing the gamer with the detailed Scenario Set Up information there are a number of other useful areas of reading in the booklet. However, first we will look at the Scenarios presented for the game. The Scenarios list is;
- Bloody Omaha
- The Battle for Cherbourg
- Operation Epsom
- Operations Cobra and Goodwood
- The Battle for Normandy (The Campaign Game)
- Gold – Juno – Sword
- Into the Bocage
- Operations Lüttich – Mortain
- Falaise Pocket
- Operation Totalize
With each of the scenarios provided you also receive the following information which is critical to the play of the game. This information is;
- a short historical background
- the game length
- Maps to use with this scenario
- what type of weather players should encounter
- Air Points and Interdiction
- Game Start Conditions
- Victory Conditions
- Special Rules if any
Once you have read over this information regarding the Scenario that you have chosen to play, ox are now given the units setup position so you can prepare your units for battle.
The final 10 pages of the Scenario Book provide the reader with miscellaneous information. First we are provided with the Designer Notes and Play Notes from the first edition of the game. The very next section provides the reader with the Designers’ Notes and Play tips for the Second Edition of the Battle for Normandy. Both of these sections are excellent and provide the gamer with some enjoyable reading.
After this, we are provided with a list of changes in the Expansion Game Rule Book. Here again the reader benefits by having all of this knowledge in a single area. The next 4 pages provides the reader with a very detailed Example of Play of the Assault Landings. Here you learn exactly how the landing rules operate and receive a good lesson for when you are ready to employ your own strategy.
The next 2 pages deal with the many abbreviations that were used in the game and the reference sources that were referenced for the historical background for The Battle for Normandy. Finally, page 64, the back page of the Scenario Book, provides the reader with the games Victory Point Schedule. At a glance, players can see how well along they are moving towards either a German or Allied Victory and can adjust their strategy to improve their chances of pulling off a victory.
The Battle for Normandy Expansion makes just enough changes, adds just enough new items, and provides enough new challenges to offer gamers a real value for their money. With the additional new units and maps that expand the battlefield for the new scenarios, you have an incredible replay value added to a game that already had a tremendous replay value in its own right. The Battle for Normandy Expansion takes an already excellent game to new heights and will provide those gamers with new insights into the subtleties of these campaigns that occurred almost 70 years ago. Learn the game, see the strategy, and understand the history.