Thursday, 11 June 2020

Breakout Normandy on Vassal - End Game Two

Steve M and I concluded our game of Breakout Normandy a few weeks ago following my last report on how things were going, last month.

Apologies for a delayed update on the final result, but a combination of time taken to put together the series of Napoleonic ship rigging tutorials and what I gather is known as the Windows 'Blue Screen of Death' that caused me to need a new hard drive on my laptop combined to set my schedule back somewhat.

My laptop, about a week ago, looking rather sick and forlorn

The good news was that my local computer repair man had things back up and running very quickly and I managed to salvage my hard drive content thanks to a regular backup on my external drive and being able to salvage the few files that weren't backed up, that were on the old drive, which included some game save screen shots that I wanted for this post.

The Normandy Front at the end of D+3 with St Lo and Caen under severe pressure and the centre of the German front only just holding, and 5 Allied VP on the scoreboard

So having left things looking rather worrying for the Wehrmacht in Normandy three days after the landing, Steve and I picked up with the Allies looking forward to a sunny June 10th to press their advantage and close out the game in Week One with 5 of the 9.6 points required already on the board.

The US front end D+4, with St Lo in US hands and Carentan looking set to fall the next day

Well suffice to say, things went from bad to worse for the Germans, despite bitter resistance in Caen and Carentan, that saw the defenders battered but grimly contesting those key areas, but St Lo falling to 2nd US Infantry Division and tanks from CCA 2nd Armoured Division, before 3rd Falschirmjager Division could make it into the area, suffering air attacks along the route as they resorted to sealing off the city to the south.

The British/Canadian front end D+4 with the defenders of Caen grimly holding on, but for how much longer

Only the arrival of strong German artillery assets set up around the southern outskirts of Caen prevented the city falling into Allied hands, but by the end of the day the Allies had added another 3 VP to their tally and looking likely to only need one more day to finish a very successful week a day early, despite the weather set to turn next day, the only slight hope for German plans.

The US Front on D+5 and Carentan has fallen along with Foret de Cerisy, which with those 3VP make it game, set and match for the Allies with one day to spare in Week One.

Well needless to say Steve 'was not at home to Mr Cock Up!' to quote Captain Blackadder, and the US forces finished off the German defenders in Carentan, followed up by a drive in from the Omaha beachhead by CCB US 2nd Armoured Division to clear the German defences in the Forest de Cerisy to grab another 3 VP and end our game a day early with little hope for the battered German defences to salvage the situation.

The British/Canadian front end D+5 with little change due to the shorter overcast day and Allied efforts put into securing the required VP on the American sectors. However despite German reinforcements the fall of Caen seems imminent.

With maximum effort put into the US front, the Anglo'Canadian sectors remained fairly quiet with both sides resorting to artillery barrages that left the Germans in and around Caen the worse off and ripe for heavy attacks going forward to reset the lines here.

Well played Steve, in both our games, in which he played as equally well running the Allies in game one and demonstrating that Breakout Normandy is a game that offers both sides opportunities to alter the course of the historical campaign; providing a game system that from our experience never seems to produce a predictable outcome and with games differing remarkably one to another but always staying within the historical narrative.

The Normandy Front on D+5 with 11 Allied VP in the bag together with a lot of German POW's

As the German player on the end of a torrid four days following D-Day, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of resisting the Allied onslaught as best as I could with the resources to hand, and the rushing forward of arriving reinforcements under air attack because of Allied breakthroughs and the constant need to spend activations on blowing bridges and getting artillery strikes in before the inevitable Allied counter-strikes prevented them firing really seemed to capture the German experience of fighting in Normandy recounted in the surviving German accounts of the historical campaign.

One love affair with a favourite game rekindled, Steve and I decided to let Vassal entertain us with the playing of another favourite, 'We the People', soon upgraded to 'Washington's War', the GMT update, that would allow us to explore how the system handles card play, a favourite game engine mechanism in a lot of games today, but pioneered first in Mark Herman's excellent game recreating the American War of Independence published originally by Avalon Hill, a report on this game to follow.

Next up: Rigging Tutorial Part Three, looking at French/Spanish running rigging, before I start work on the Spanish collection of ships for my All at Sea collection, and a report of our first game of Washington's War using Vassal.

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