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  St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins by War Drum Games & Quarterdeck International  Once again with a wargame, I find my history s...

St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins by War Drum Games & Quarterdeck International St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins by War Drum Games & Quarterdeck International

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St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins





 St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins


by


War Drum Games & Quarterdeck International





 Once again with a wargame, I find my history synapses at a loss. I was always more interested in the fighting for Caen during the Normandy Campaign. Oh, I have played many tactical battles about the American Hedgerow Campaign, but I have to admit I only know the history of the actual American breakout and and end run at a cursory level. This is, however, a very good thing. I would be very surprised if many grognards are not like me in this aspect. We acquire or get ready to play a game about a period or campaign that our knowledge is not up to snuff on. Then we grab every resource we can get our hands on to read up on it. This does not mean that we watch certain TV channels about it. One of them is a fanciful landing spot for aliens. The other should change its name to the Nazi memorabilia channel, but I digress. This is one of the salient points about wargames, even if we do not play them. They give us a chance to see exactly what the forces of both sides were faced with at the moment. In truth though, a wargame is a game/simulation and was meant to be played. So let us see how St. Lo measures up on both the game and historical levels. This is what comes with the game:

One 22" x 34" Mounted Map
400 die-cut playing pieces
One US Division Display Sheet
One US Artillery Display Sheet
One German Division Display Sheet
One German Artillery Display Sheet
Rules Book
Charts and Tables
One six-sided die





 The first thing we have to describe is the map. It is mounted, but that just tells half the story. It seems to be twice the thickness of other mounted maps. It will be able to deal with years of gaming. The terrain on the map is mostly the same. This is not the map's fault. This is hedgerow hell. There are a few villages throughout the map, but the most important features are the higher terrain. The higher terrain allows either side to use its artillery. The colors of the map fit the area nicely. The counters are large at 9/16" and come pre-rounded. So, you counter clippers can have a break with these. The Rule Book is twenty-eight pages long. All of the headings for the rules 1.0 or 5.0 etc. have excellent little historical reports and information at the start of them. For the history lover these little blurbs are worth the cost of the game alone. The Rule Book is in full color. It also comes with examples of play. The six Player Aid sheets are laminated. This is a great touch. I do not let food or anything near my games, but some people like to live life dangerously. The information on the sheets are pretty much self-explanatory. All of the Player Aid sheets are in English. The game pieces have been manufactured to the highest standard. 


The English version of the game is in full English




 The Sequence of Play is:

Weather Phase
Reinforcement Phase
Initiative Phase
Asset Phase (Does not take place on Turn 1)
Operations Phase
Recovery Phase
Artillery Rally Phase
Headquarters Phase




 The Player Notes and Historical notes are both well worth the read. The Player Notes start out as this for both sides:

German

 "You must except that the Americans assault will push you back. But remember, the American victory objectives are far behind your initial line., and the victory conditions require only that you hold those objectives for eight days. So you must plan to trade space for time. Back up and build strongholds. and cause the Americans as much frustration as you can. The game system offers you a number of subtle ways to do so."

American

"Tactically, try to drive deep and fragment the German Line. Your artillery, if it has good observation can be a shocking deadly weapon against retreating German units. Beware of letting small German units slip behind your lines. Usually, the best attack procedure is first to pin or disrupt the defender with barrage fire, and then to hit him with a deliberate or intensive attack. If you have achieved a high combat ratio, you can save time and also surprise the German player by omitting the barrage."

 The game is full of tactical flavor and rules representing:

Barrage Fire
Hasty attack
Engineers
Headquarters
Pin
Rally
Recon (US)
Entrenching
Zones of Control

 The game is different than most other wargames on this scale, especially in the way that it handles Assets.



 
 The game play for both sides is as historic as it comes. The high ground on the map (which there isn't much of), becomes the main area of fighting between the Germans and the Americans. The high ground in this game, like reality, means that you can see the enemy and use your artillery and other assets against the enemy. Historically the American artillery was its premier force in WWII. It was able to rain death and destruction upon the Axis forces whenever given the chance. The Germans in the game are as usual for 1944-45 goal is to hang on longer than they did in reality. Playing as the Germans, you will be ground down turn after turn. You will need to play the game like you are playing Poker and know when to cut and run. The American forces will grind you down. Playing as the Americans, do exactly as was done in 1944 in this battle. Use your artillery to smash the Germans into a pulp, instead of charging headlong and losing your infantry in a blood bath. Playing as the Americans, you only have eight turns to win the game. There are no German Victory Points. Victory is determined by how many Victory Points the American player can amass. The American player gets eight points for having a unit with a line of supply in one of the St-Lo hexes. He must also try to capture as many German Depot hexes on the East side of the map as he can. Three of the Depot hexes are on the map edge one or two hexes from St-Lo, and are worth two points apiece. The others are spread out over the map, and are worth one point  apiece. In the games that I have played, victory has come down to the wire. Twenty-one or higher points means a Decisive US victory. Eight to ten points gives you a marginal German victory. The German player has to fight like Jersey Joe Walcott. Always retreat, but make the other player pay for each hex, and hit back hard when the opportunity arises.


 In summary, this is an absolutely great game that plays very historically, and the components are first rate. Thank you very much Quarterdeck International for letting me review this game. Apparently, Compass Games is now selling St-Lo instead of Quarterdeck International. Please check out the other many fine products on QI's site. They carry a great assortment of hard to find European and Asian wargames. Also look at the great line of games that Compass Games is now selling.

Robert

Quarterdeck International:

Compass Games:

St-Lo: Normandy 1944 The Breakout Begins:

 
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