When talking about the Second World War to the man in the street, D-Day is often the image which springs to mind, especially if they have watched Saving Private Ryan and the incredible opening scenes on Omaha Beach. Those of us whose interest in all things military stretches beyond the causal will, if we are fortunate, end up in Normandy and find ourselves equally drawn to those landing grounds. Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha, name writ large on the pages of history.
Anyone who has visited these sites will know that, of the five, Omaha is the most physically impressive. The German bunkers stand a colossal monuments to events of June the 6th, 1944. More than any other beach Omaha has a clear beginning and end and the restricted access to the beach allows us to pin point pretty well the sites of all of the actions. The entire beach is a temple where the lover of military history can worship with complete abandon. As this tall, handsome, some would even say athletic, chap is doing at WN60, looking West along the whole stretch of the beach.
But, of course, Omaha beach was just a starting point. Glamorous it is for the film maker and amateur historian alike to focus their interest on this one great day in history, the events actually become even more remarkable when viewed through the prism of the bigger campaign for Normandy. This was the starting point for 29, Let’s Go!, the first Pint-Sized Campaign from TooFatLardies.
Author, Richard Clarke, told Lard Island News “One of the joys of wargaming is the opportunity to do some historical digging, to try to understand what the situation was on the ground and what actually happened to the men at the sharp end. Yes, sure, you can field your standard army and choose from your points list, but that can only ever tell you about the rules you’re playing. It is so much more interesting to actually find out about what really happened and then to transfer that onto the wargaming table.” And that is certainly what he has done with 29, Let’s Go!
Presented as the start of a series of Pint-Sized Campaigns, the one thing 29, Let’s Go! is not, it pint-sized. Thirty-two pages long, it begins with a six page analysis of the military situation faced by the planners on both sides. It goes on to break down the deployment of the German defenders and then to give a summary of their performance on D-Day in the Omaha beach sector. Only then, with the background clearly establish, does the author look to develop the concept of the campaign focused on the events of D-Day+1 to D-Day+3; in particular the push by the 175th Infantry Regiment to break out from the beachhead and to drive West to seize the bridge at Isigny. Richard Clarke again:
“The bridge at Isigny was critical to the success of the landings. It was a D-Day objective which, like most D-Day objectives, was not met. Whereas Gold, Juno and Sword were close enough to each other to offer rapid and effective mutual support, Utah was isolated and divided from Omaha by several major waterways, the Vire, the Aure abnd the Carentan Canal, all of which could have provided the Germans with the basis for fresh defensive lines which could have seen any advance from Omaha blunted and Utah destroyed in detail. Capturing the bridge at Isigny was the key to the link up which would ensure a single, coherent lodgement”.
Using numerous sources and period maps, Richard has traced the path followed by the 175th and presented their progress as a campaign covering five specific actions. But the campaign isn’t as simple as that. For the German player there are several strategic imperatives which will influence the decisions that the player makes about where and when to fight. For the US player, there are certain considerations within the Regiment which, if not addressed, can cause potentially disastrous delays. We asked Richard to tell us more:
“I don’t want to give away too much, but suffice to say that both sides have their own agendas. This isn’t just about playing five games and then whoever wins the most wins the campaign. This is all about getting the players to feel like they are in the shoes of their historical counter-parts. They had “real” pressures on them which, I feel, encourage them to buy in to their role and really live the experience. We all know how immersive a wargame can be; if we can extend that suspension of belief to cover a whole campaign then we are enhancing that enjoyment factor ten fold.”
The campaign itself uses historical maps to provide the terrain for each of the five battlefields. At its shortest the campaign will last five games, at its longest nine games. Whatever the outcome a definite result will be had in that time, making this a very playable campaign for club nights or even over a long weekend at a Convention.
“It’s all about providing the tools for gamers to enjoy a practical campaigning experience” said Richard. “It’s been my experience that keeping things relatively short and sweet means it is a project which can sensibly be carried through to a conclusion in a relatively brief timescale. Campaigns can tend to drag if there is no end in sight, with this campaign the process is finite and that keeps the motivation going, especially when the scenarios can be on a knife edge.”
After the historical background, the supplement provides briefings for both sides as well as force lists and support options. The Germans field a Type 44 infantry platoon, the US field a classic infantry platoon, but in both cases there is ample opportunity to “pimp your force” so suit your playing style with the support options. The five scenarios all stand replaying; if the Americans fail to breakthrough on their first attempt then they come back for more, but with different support options. So even if you replay the same scenario twice you’re sure of variety. Each of the scenarios has its own full colour map for a 6′ by 4′ table as well as instructions for terrain and the likes. Finally, you have the umpire’s notes which really make the campaign hang together. All in all, its a complete package which allows you to run the campaign along side the At the Sharp End Campaign Handbook.
We asked Richard if you could use 29, Let’s Go! with other platoon sized rule sets. “You could indeed. Obviously Chain of Command is ticking the boxes for a huge number of gamers world-wide, but if you fancy playing it with other rules then why not? For all of our Pint-Sized Campaigns you’ll need At the Sharp End to unlock all of the gaming goodness theirin, but that system is simple and eminently transferable to other games if you’ve yet to make the conversion to Chain of Command. On the other hand, this is a great chance to try Chain of Command. You know you want to!”
It sounds great, and it looks great too, but one of the best things about 29, Let’s Go! is the price. When they say “Pint-Sized” that refers to the price as well. At just £3.50 this costs the same as a pint in the Lard Island local pub, making this what must be one of the best value releases in years. I’ll drink to that. Cheers!
With Chain of Command published we thought we would kick off the army list downloads in the most appropriate manner with Poland in 1939. Poland had been a battleground for centuries and in September 1939 it was the unprovoked German invasion which triggered the beginning of the biggest war known to man. Over the coming