Thursday, 14 May 2020

Breakout Normandy on Vassal - D+6, End of Game One, Start of Game Two to End D+1

Picking up from my Previous Post - BKN on Vassal, D+4  covering Steve M and my playing of Breakout Normandy (BKN) on Vassal, we left things looking rather hard pressed for the Allies to make the required progress in week one demanded of the victory conditions of 9.6 victory points by week end, with just 3VP in the bag and plenty to do.

End of D+5

Well a close inspection of the last two end position maps of our game tell the tale of German success, with a strong cordon of German grey around the Allied landings. plenty of blown bridges in the centre and the Allied divisions on the flanks of the landings under hard pressure, with a blossoming of yellow disrupt one crosses littering the battlefield of units unable to regroup.

The only real Allied success was to push on from Omaha south and west into Trevieres and Isingny respectively as the US beaches fight hard to link up, with the British stalled as the 50th Division on Gold take the two previous days to rebuild.

End D+6 - Game Over

The final map above shows the tale of woe from and Allied perspective with the US Carentan offensive stalled and the US troops from Omaha trying to link up with a drive into Catz that failed to clear the area despite a strong position.

Likewise a breakthrough to St Lo was halted in bitter fighting among the wooded slopes of the Foret de Cerisy as US 2nd Armoured Division joined the battle.

The British and Canadians remain stalled around Caen with the 6th Airborne hard pressed around Merville on the Orne as the American offensives dominated the main play as the Allies tried to salvage some points from the game.

Well played Steve, a masterful application of a solid German defence able to move to the counterattack as opportunity and the weather offered.

The Vassal platform continues to impress as a way to continue our gaming activities during lockdown and so Steve and I picked up where we left off with a second game of BKN with Steve shifting seats to the Allied camp in preparation for another D-Day landing.

Game over and victory to Steve, with my Allied landing struggling to get anywhere significant in the first week and strong German counterattacks around Ponte l'Abbe, Carentan, Bayeux and Merville seriously disrupting Allied attempts to advance as they were pushed on to the defensive as the Germans took full advantage  during periods of bad weather in the first week.

Game Two - D-Day (Steve M. - Allies & JJ - Germans)

So with the beauty of playing the game on Vassal meaning that setting the whole thing up to start another game is simply the pressing of a few mouse clicks away, Steve and I sat down a week later to start Game Two of BKN with the all important first session of seeing what position the Allies could create from their landings.

In the end it was a fairly steady landing with Steve attempting to hold regiments back to use as follow up troops after clearing a beach, whereas my strategy in the first game had been a preference to making sure the beach was cleared with overwhelming force or 'shock and awe' to use a modern piece of lazy news-media jargon.

In the end Omaha was cleared but follow up troops were stymied by well directed German coastal guns that allowed the Germans to hold the landing to just the beach and the loss of the guns in Port-en-Bessin.

Likewise Utah beach was similarly contained with 4th IV Division stalled by German coastal guns as the US paras failed to take out the battery in St Mere Eglise

End of D-Day

A solid landing by 50th Division on Gold Beach was complimented by their capturing of the bridge to Brettville, soon mimicked by the Canadians on Juno but not before they were stalled with two of the 3rd Division brigades becoming spent on landing under coastal gun fire before the beach was finally cleared.

However the strongest resistance was encountered on Sword Beach with both the Coastal battery and the supporting infantry still contesting the landing on the evening of D-Day.

D+1 saw the capture of the bridge in Bretteville pay dividends as British 50th Division and its supporting tanks push on down to Villers Bocage forcing Panzer Lehr to advance earlier than they would have wished, being under constant Allied air attacks as they were rushed forward to try and seal of the threat, managing to get into Caumont, Tilly and Aunay-sur-Odon to prevent any further encroachment around Caen, but leaving elements of the division spent and disrupted from their march.

On the American sector progress was limited to a build up of US troops on both beaches, held up on Omaha by German artillery fire from Trevieres and on Utah by coastal battery fire and the Germans successfully blowing the bridges into St Mere Eglise.

End D+1, one allied VP in the bag, but more importantly it's Villers Bocage which is rather worrying from a German perspective

The British offensive on D+1 has seriously unhinged what was a solid German defence and, with the units around Omaha seriously battered from US naval and artillery fire, the Germans look hard pressed in the centre which is likely to make it difficult to adequately support other key areas going forward - we shall see.

British tankers enjoy a well earned brew and a fry-up parked up among the orchards in Villers Bocage as Steve's 50th Division makes rapid progress off of Gold beach on D+1

Next up on JJ's - Will and I have been messing around on Vassal with the GMT age of sail strategic game 1805 - Sea of Glory covering the fleet movements during that dramatic year that culminated in the Battle of Trafalgar. This is a solid game for the naval grognard and we are enjoying the early play so I will aim to report on that, plus I hope to have some Wars of the Roses Hobilars to show you with the horses done and work progressing on the riders this week.

In addition I will follow up this post with the conclusion of our second game of BKN.

More anon


  1. Looking really good JJ. we have rediscovered a few tactical boardgames as well in recent times. Lots of fun.

  2. Good report mate. I liked the addition of the WW2 photographs. Cheers Greg

  3. Thanks for your comments chaps. The ability to snapshot any game on Vassal makes it very handy to report on a game with pictures detailing the play and the platform is very straightforward to use once you've got the hang of it.

    As far as BKN is concerned, Steve is turning it on in style and I reckon it will be two-nil at then end of our present game!