HISTORICAL BACKGROUNDStarting at 2300 hours on 5 June 1944, thousands of Allied paratroops began to drop into occupied France. Their mission was to seal the approaches to the nearby Normandy beaches and to secure safe landing zones for the glider-borne infantry that was scheduled to come in behind them. Within a few hours, the follow-up glider infantry along with heavy equipment and artillery began to plow into the fields of Normandy. At about the same time that the glider troops were landing, waves of Allied planes were starting to appear over the French coast.It was now 0300 on 6 June, and flights of Allied bombers set about raining thousands of tons of bombs down on the German coastal defenses that bristled along the beaches of the Normandy Peninsula. At 0500 hours, the vast naval armada that had escorted the 150,000 American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish troops who would shortly be conducting the landing against the fortified beaches began to shell the hardened German defenses directly behind the beach landing zones. All along a northern stretch of French coast, the same drama began to play out. In the deeper Channel waters just off one of the five beaches chosen for the main Allied effort, final preparations for the amphibious assault were getting under way. At 0620 hours, thirty-man American assault teams all selected from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Division began loading, one team each, into one of the twenty Higgins boats bobbing next to the transport that had carried them from England; at 0630 hours, the ramped-front, open boats began their run through the surf towards their designated landing area, code-named Utah Beach. The offensive to breach Hitler's Atlantic Wall was finally under way; the Allied D-Day landings had begun.
BREAKOUT: NORMANDY is a regiment/brigade level simulation of the first week of fighting, in June 1944, between the invading Allies and the defending Germans for control of the Allied beachheads on the Normandy Peninsula in France. The game begins with the Allied landings on 6 June and continues for seven daily turns until the end of the last Allied impulse on 12 June. To simulate the unusual nature of the fighting in Normandy, BREAKOUT: NORMANDY uses the popularSTORM OVER ARNHEM Game System. This well-tested game design makes use of area movement and alternating player mini-turns to produce the excitement and enhanced realism of simultaneous movement without requiring the players to do any tedious record-keeping.
Each game turn in BREAKOUT: NORMANDY is of indeterminate length and is composed of mini-turns called impulses during which the phasing player can perform one of three actions: assault, bombardment, or pass. The German player always conducts the first impulse, and the Allied player the last, in any given game turn. In the case of the assault impulse, the phasing player activates units in one area: these units may then move together or individually into one or more adjacent areas for the purpose of initiating combat (if enemy units are present) or of taking control (if they are not). Units may also take advantage of this impulse to attempt to destroy or repair any bridges bordering the area activated at the beginning of the assault impulse. The bombardment impulse differs from the assault impulse in that the phasing player activates a target area that he can then attack using the Le Havre Batteries (in the case of the German), field artillery, or (in the case of the Allied player) naval and air bombardment markers. If the phasing player chooses the pass impulse, no action other than the sunset die roll (if it is the Allied player.s impulse) is taken. The first Allied die roll (for any purpose) is used to determine whether the turn impulse marker advances on the Impulse Track, the weather changes, or the game turn (day) comes to an end. The Allies win by amassing victory points through the control of map areas at the end of the 7th game turn, or by breaking out (entering an off-map zone) at any point in the game. The Germans win simply by preventing an Allied victory.
BREAKOUT: NORMANDY offers little in the way of optional rules: those that are included are mainly directed at player bidding for preferred sides, and/or die roll averaging. The designers do make it possible to extend the Normandy campaign beyond the first week, however, with additional rules for an extended game. The advantage marker deserves special mention because it adds an interesting twist to an already tension-filled game: the player who possesses the advantage may re-roll an unsatisfactory combat result, or (even better) use his advantage to declare a double impulse. However, once a player has used his advantage, it then passes to his opponent.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATIONBREAKOUT: NORMANDY is an exciting, challenging game that never seems to play the same way twice. Both players always seem to have more actions to perform than impulses, so a significant element in both players' planning is prioritizing their actions so as to accomplish as much as possible before the sunset die roll brings an end to the game turn. Luck can certainly be important, but victory will usually go to the player that sets realistic, attainable objectives and then does not allow the unexpected to divert him from them. Considering the game as a whole, Stahler and Greenwood's design delivers an unpredictable and surprisingly good simulation of the fighting in Normandy; and it has the additional advantage that it can be set up on a regular table, and played to conclusion in an afternoon.
- Time Scale: daily turns (broken into variable impulses)
- Map Scale: area movement (1 = 2.7 miles)
- Unit Size: battalion/regiment/brigade/division/corps
- Unit Types: armor/panzer, panzergrenadier, infantry,parachute, glider, ranger/commando, field artillery, FLAK (anti-aircraft), PAK (anti-tank), Nebelwerfer, coastal artillery, air bombardment, naval bombardment, and information markers
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: above average
- Average Playing Time: 4-12 + hours (depending on whether players select the basic or the extended game)
- One (two section) 16” x 44” area movement Map Board (with Turn Record Track, Daily Impulse Track, Victory Point Chart, Victory Point Track, Bridge Possession Table, Bridge Demolition/Repair Die Roll Modifiers, Bombardment Defensive Value Table, Supply Track, and Attrition Points Table incorporated)
- 264 back-printed cardboard Counters
- 130 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
- One 8” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Examples of Play and Historical Commentary incorporated)
- One 8” x 11” back-printed German Set-Up/Reinforcement Card (with Sequence of Play, Movement Costs Chart, Defender Retreat Limits, Retreat Priorities, and Air Supply Table incorporated)
- One 8” x 11” back-printed German Basic Game Record Card/Unit Organization Chart/German Order of Battle Chart
- One 8” x 11” back-printed D-Day Sequence of Play/Allied Setup Card (with Movement Costs Chart, Allied Air Interdiction Table, Attack Value AV Table, Defense Value DV Table, Weather Effects Table, Defender Retreat Limits, Retreat Priorities, Bombardment DV Table, Attrition Points AP Table, Air Supply Table, Bridge Demolition/Repair DRMs, and Bridge Possession Table incorporated)
- One 8” x 11” back-printed Allied Reinforcement Chart (with same charts & tables as Allied Setup Card)
- Four six-sided Dice
- One Avalon Hill Catalog
- One Customer Response Card
- One 8½” x 11½” x 2” bookcase-style cardboard Game Box