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France 1944 The Allied Crusade in Europe The Designer Signature edition by Compass Games This game was firs...

France 1944: The Allied Crusade In Europe: The Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games France 1944: The Allied Crusade In Europe: The Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games

France 1944: The Allied Crusade In Europe: The Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games

France 1944: The Allied Crusade In Europe: The Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games

France 1944

The Allied Crusade in Europe

The Designer Signature edition


Compass Games

This game was first released by Victory Games (let us have a moment of silence for the departed). Mark Herman was/is the designer of this game and a lot of others that are on your shelf. The first thing you will notice about the game is that it commits a grievous sin. Please sit down for this; the game does not include D-Day in it. I will let that sink in: a European Crusade game that does not include at least a D-Day scenario. There is also another shocker when it comes to scenarios, there is technically no Bulge scenario. This one, while being surprising, shouldn't really be too shocking. von Rundstedt, and even Model the ardent Nazi, thought it was foolhardy. von Rundstedt said of the Bulge, "Old Moltke would roll in his grave". So, we have a European Crusade game that starts after D-Day has been accomplished, and does not have a Bulge scenario either. What exactly do we get with this odd game:

• One mounted game map 
• One close-up Normandy game map • Two sheets of 0.65” rounded counters 
• Rules booklet • Playbook with example of play and designer’s notes • Two Player Tracks Aid Cards (identical) • One Turn Procedure Card • Allied Setup and Reinforcement Displays • German Setup and Reinforcement Displays 
• Two double-sided player aid cards (identical) 
• Four 6-sided dice (includes two custom combat dice) 

Product Information:

Complexity: 6 out of 10
Solitaire Suitability: 9 out of 10 (no hidden information)
Time Scale: Monthly turns
Map Scale: 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hex
Unit Scale: army-level HQs, infantry corps, armored divisions
Players: one to two, best with two
Playing Time: two to seven hours

 The designer has a very pertinent and somewhat funny story about the physical weight of boardgames, and how we judge them on that instead on what is actually in them. I confess that I too have been a weight checker on my boardgames. It might go back to Christmas presents; who knows? He does say that this edition has been graced with a very heavy mounted map to help offset any weight issues. The Mounted Map has been extremely well made and I believe it will put up with years of use. It is also very tastefully colored and tries, and succeeds, to hit the midpoint between art and usability. There is also the smaller Normandy Map that is used in the beginning of the Campaign Scenario. This has very large hexes to deal with the congestion of the bridgehead. The two sheets of counters match the map as far as looks. They are easy to read and pop out of the cardboard effortlessly. The one thing you will notice about them is that they are based on infantry corps and armored divisions, so there will not be that many on the board at all. This is the actual breakdown:

260 Playing Pieces
15 Headquarter Pieces (7 Allied, 8 German)
100 are Combat Units (54 Allied, 46 German)
145 Informational Markers

 The Rules Booklet is in full color and is very sturdy. It is twenty-four pages in length. The type is large and easy to read, and the booklet is full of illustrations. The Playbook is twenty pages long and is filled with examples of play and the scenario setups. The last page and a half are Designer's Notes and 'Reflections'. Like my other games from Compass Games that I have bought, the production values are very high. Let us now look at the scenarios included:

Falaise Gap: This is the training scenario
Market Garden: This scenario is not exactly the Market Garden Operation. In actuality it is much larger and includes the fight for all of France. This scenario is 4 turns long.
West Wall: This is the fight to get through the Ardennes and Hurtgen forests and ends after 9 turns. The Allies need at least 8 bridgeheads across the Rhine to win.
Scenario 4: VE Day: This is the Campaign Scenario. It is 11 turns long. The Allies need to capture 2 hexes along with Pilsen.

 The original game was apparently Mr. Herman's first time using supply to activate the player's HQ's. Each turn the players place Initiative Chits equal to the value of the Supply Points Committed  Marker. You also place the Administrative Chit into your chosen receptacle along with the Initiative Chits. If the player pulls an Initiative Chit he can then activate one HQ with it. After the player with Initiative makes his choices, the other player can choose to use his Reaction Points (these are accumulated each turn like the Supply Points). After all of the chits have been pulled there is a German and then an Allied Final Reaction Phase. The players determine if either side has won, and if neither side has the next turn is played.

 Combat, along with movement, are very different from the strict IGO-UGO using a sequence of play. The easiest way to show this is by the Rules Booklet itself:

"Movement and combat in France 1944 do not follow the system used in many wargames in which units move in a movement phase and then fire in a combat phase.
Instead, both movement and combat are captured in a system where time is broken down into increments, so that a unit may intermix both tasks. Faster units will be able to attack more frequently. Slower units will not have the luxury of moving and then combining their attack factors into combat."

 One key idea to embrace is that you can cannot switch between actions once you have chosen your 'Increment Type', meaning if you have chosen to pick Movement, you cannot attack with some units and just move with others.

 We will use the Rule booklet to illustrate this further:

"The actual Movement Point Expenditure Track is displayed below. At the beginning of your Initiative or Reaction Phase, after designating which of your units are under command and after placing Administration Movement markers, place your Movement Point Expenditure marker in any top row Increment of the Movement Point Expenditure Track (Increments #1-5 in the previous example). The numbers in the space you select specify precisely what you can do in the current Increment. If the tan increment box is clear (no number), your units may ONLY move: combat is not allowed in that increment. When the Movement Point Expenditure marker is in a clear tan box (no number), flip it to the “M” side. If the tan increment box contains a number (2+, 3+, 4+, 6), you have the choice of declaring a movement increment OR an attack increment. If you declare a movement increment, the Movement Point Expenditure marker should be on the “M” side. If you declare an attack increment, flip the Movement Point Expenditure marker to the “A” side.

 This is the concise explanation on the increment system:

"The purpose of the increment is to simulate a certain amount of simultaneity on the battlefield. The Increment system essentially prohibits you from spending the entire Movement Point Allowance of a single unit without spending at least a portion of the Movement Point Allowance for every other commanded unit, even if those other units do nothing.
 Time has passed while one of your armored divisions moved up the road, and that passage of time is being applied to each of your units."

 The whole process seems much harder then it is in actuality. One of the things it forces the player to do is to really think through what he wants to do. The Rules Booklet gives an extra piece of advice "Acquaint yourself with this track!" I wholeheartedly agree. It is the cornerstone of the game. The litmus test of any rule in any rulebook is "does it work" and secondly, does it make the player play historically, or for want of a better term, correctly. Yes, the increment system does work. You can see that in the fact that this game has been rereleased after first seeing the light of day in 1986! The designer is Mark Herman; need we say more? The game was originally released by Victory Games, who to my knowledge and memory never released a bad or even mediocre game. 

 Combat is equally different than in other games. You do not deal with a straight CRT to determine victory or defeat. In this game you use a 'Combat Matrix'. This again looks to be tricky, but is pretty straight forward in its use.

 Apparently the designer changed the combat results from a normal CRT in the original game to what you see here. The game's original CRT caused a lot of gnashing of teeth on the internet. Mr. Herman does believe they worked correctly, but mainly wanted to streamline the combat results and incorporate his new ideas on the Combat Matrix. Once again, Compass Games has taken an older game and recast it into their mold, meaning that they have given the game the red carpet treatment. The game map and pieces etc. all reflect the normal Compass Games manufacturing of these items. The game was an excellent choice to bring back to the wargaming community in this great fashion. The image below is an early design of the map for the complimentary game Russia 1944. This will hook up with France 1944 and is scheduled for 2021.

This is the link for Compass Games:

This is the link to France 1944:

 This errata was added to the box:
Since Mobile Combat is only possible in Clear Terrain, or a fortress or city on clear terrain when at least one of the units in that hex retreated into that hex, there is no terrain modifier for Mobile Combat. Terrain modifier applies only to Set-piece Combat. This clarification takes precedence over the rules.