BREAKOUT & PURSUIT is a divisional level game (based on the Kursk Game System) of World War II combat on the Western Front. BREAKOUT & PURSUIT was designed by James F. Dunnigan and published in 1972 by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI).


BREAKOUT & PURSUIT is an operational level (division/brigade) simulation of the fighting that occurred in the hedgerows and fields of France, between the newly-landed American, British, and Canadian forces and the defending units of the Waffen SS and Wehrmacht. The game begins in late July with the Allies and Germans still slugging it out in a grinding attrition battle at the base of the Normandy Peninsula. The action dramatically changes gears, however, with the summer breakout from the French hedgerows and the subsequent Allied pursuit of the shattered remnants of the Wehrmacht east across France towards the German border. The game ends in early September, 1944, with the Allied armor in front of, in, or east of the German “West Wall”.

BREAKOUT & PURSUIT adds several new wrinkles to the regular features of the KURSK Game System. Independent transport (truck) units, “Mulberries”, supply pipelines, and motorized infantry all contribute to the distinctly western front play and feel of the game. Interestingly, to help impede the initial progress of Allied units immediately after their breakout, the German player has, in addition to his conventional ground forces, the temporary use of phantom “delay” units that act to temporarily slow the advancing Allies. For his own part, the Allied player has the use of powerful paratroop and air-landing units that can drop behind German lines; but the operational impact of these airborne units is limited by the requirement that their target zones be assigned nine days (three turns) ahead of their airdrop.

A particularly interesting aspect of this game’s design is that BREAKOUT & PURSUIT focuses extensively on the challenging Allied supply problems that inevitably resulted from the limitations intrinsic to amphibious operations. What this means is that, as soon as he has broken out of Normandy, the Allied player must decide how best to deal with the very real constraints that his limited post-landing supply capacity places on the speed of his advance and the combat power of the Allied Army. This game is an excellent choice for the Patton-style player who wants to explore the “single dagger thrust” to the heart of the Reich, versus Eisenhower’s steady “ broad front drive” towards the German heartland. The German commander’s task, while no less difficult in execution, is simple in concept: he must salvage a sufficient number of his mechanized units from the inevitable debacle at Normandy to be able to mount a coherent defense of the Fatherland.

BREAKOUT & PURSUIT offers three standard (historical) scenarios: the July 25th to August 20th Allied Breakout Scenario; the August 24th to September 10th Pursuit Scenario; and the July 25th to September 10th Campaign Scenario. In addition to these, the game also offers eight additional “what if?” Breakout Scenarios and five additional “what if?” Pursuit Scenarios. Each of these alternatives incorporates variations in deployment and reinforcement levels to reflect historically plausible alternatives to those in the actual campaign. The players can also modify the Campaign scenario by starting with one of the eight alternatives to the Historical Breakout set-up and reinforcement schedule.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 3 days per game turn
  • Map Scale: 10 kilometers per hex
  • Unit Size: divisions, brigades and battle groups
  • Unit Types: armor, armored infantry, motorized infantry, infantry, paratroop, air-landing, supply, naval supply, supply pipeline, truck, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two
  • Complexity: medium/above average
  • Solitaire Suitability: average
  • Average Playing Time: 2½-3 hours

Game Components:

  • One 22” x 28” hexagonal grid Map Sheet
  • 255 ½” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Set of Rules
  • One 11” x 17” German/Allied OB/Set-up Sheet (separated into two 8½” x 11” OB/Set-up Sheets, one German and one Allied, for ease of play)
  • One 11” x 14” Turn Record/Reinforcement/Phase Record Sheet (with scenarios on other side)
  • One small six-sided Die
  • One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment Plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet
  • One 8½” x 11” Errata Sheet (1974)

Recommended Reading

See my blog post Book Reviews of these titles; both of which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.

THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU


  • Excellent! Recently pulled this one off the shelf at the urging of another long-time friend. I think the draw is re-opening the box after all these year's and remembering the initial excitement when you first saw the layout and the potential for action!

    Your quote "This game is an excellent choice for the Patton-style player who wants to explore the 'single dagger thrust' to the heart of the Reich, versus Eisenhower’s steady 'broad front drive'" really summaries the game!


  • This is the second-best of the old SPI Divisional Series, for all the reasons you list here and in your Analysis blog for the game. I know what put me off the first time I looked at it--I could be wrong, but isn't that a T-34 on the coversheet? I got the game as a Christmas gift and didn't punch and play it for many years. Besides, I was an East Front grognard. But when I finally did take this game out for a spin, I enjoyed the puzzle it offered to both players.

    It wasn't long before there was a fair bit of competition for this game. The first game that comes to mind was GDW's ROAD TO THE RHINE, which was a lot more involved. Then there were the simple games like Victory's FRANCE: 1944 and TSR/SPI's ONSLAUGHT, but I'd say BREAKOUT AND PURSUIT still compared relatively favorably to these two titles. FRANCE: 1944 covered the whole France campaign and ONSLAUGHT seemed to be a bit too generic/vanilla to hold interest after repeated plays. For me, only FORTRESS EUROPA by AH was as attractive; still, this game covered the whole campaign for France.

    Nowadays, of course, we've got LIBERTY ROADS, A MIGHTY ENDEAVOR, and STORMING THE REICH; of these, STORMING THE REICH is more similar regarding scope and scale (LIBERTY ROADS and A MIGHTY ENDEAVOR cover the whole France campaign). But STORMING THE REICH is a two mapper and really should be thought of as a replacement for ROAD TO THE RHINE, not BREAKOUT AND PURSUIT.

    I'd list this game as a primary candidate for Decision Games to spruce up graphically and republish with few--if any--changes.

  • Greetings Again Eric:

    Another plain-jane game that turns out to be far more interesting than either its box art or its graphics might suggest.

    Personally, I found two design elements in this game particularly pleasing both from a historical simulation and from a game problem standpoint: the hopelessness of the position of the German infantry at Normandy, and the Allied supply problems once the German front breaks and the Allied drive for the West Wall begins in to gain momentum.

    Frank Chadwick's ROAD TO THE RHINE is an interesting but, because of the impulse-based game platform, very different simulation, both in terms of the mechanics of play and, more imprtantly from my own perspective, in terms of sheer feel. There was much about Chadwick's design that I admired, but when it came to actually sitting down to play a game, like you, my choice was usually either BREAKOUT & PURSUIT or, if I had a lot of time, FORTRESS EUROPA!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Yes Breakout & Pursuit one of the best of the Kursk Series and on the campaign in general. I still get this out time to time

    Eric-Tank on the coversheet looks like a US M10 Tank Destroyer

  • Greetings Kim:

    I really, really like this game. What makes it particularly enjoyable as how, immediately after the Allied breakout, things look really bleak for the Germans; then, a few turns later, when the Allies hit the wall supply-wise, the German position almost always can be salvaged (with good German play, of course). I can remember some amazing matches, while playing this game years ago.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • I played this game last year for the 75th anniversary of those events. I liked the supply system and the challenges for both sides. The map of course is blahhh, but some artistry could fix that up. Really shows the allied problems in late 1944 and risks they had to take. Enjoyed it very much. Wished I had played years ago in the 70s and 80s.

  • Greetings Unknown:

    Yes, this title -- in spite of all the newer Western Front games that have seen print since 1972 -- still remains a big favorite of mine. In fact, I played this game so much years ago that I published an analysis of play on this blog: Game Analysis: SPIs Breakout & Pursuit.

    By the way, there was discussion, awhile back, that Decision Games might rework and reissue this title, and this led to a spirited debate on the ConSim World forum. Here is the link, if you are interested: http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.ee6fd18/116

    Best Regards, Joe

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