Axis and Allies D-Day is the newest release of the acclaimed series originated by Master Game Designer Larry Harris. This time, unlike the other games in the series, this Addition spans not continents but 75 Miles of beaches and hedgerows representing the combat that took place from June 6, 1944 and beyond. This addition of small scale war was a welcoming site from all types of gamers who wanted a fast-paced, well designed, quick-to-teach, and re-playable war-game that was not chance driven. D-Day was the answer that Larry Harris (Harris Game Design) with developer input from Mike Selinker (Wizards of the Coast) formulated.
The art department at Avalon Hill applied their skills well to D-Day building a plain but striking Artwork for the game. The Board is all Drab colors; Territories are a Light Tan and the Ocean a Light murky Blue. The board is well constructed and holds up to general wear and tear. The New reinforcement Charts and Battle Board are fiery colors well laid out with descriptions on the Reinforcement Charts of historical units that the forces fielded represent. The Cards look as if they were typed out from high command having the distinct type font of the time, and backed by field maps and attack diagrams. All in all the artwork is well thought out detailing even coffee stains and targeting devices etched into the map.
Game play is changed dramatically from what most Axis and Allies (I will refer to it as AaA from now on for Brevity) Gamers would expect. The object of the game for the allies is to seize 3 cities in Normandy by turn 10 or the Axis obtains Victory. Another big change is now the Allied and Axis Forces are moved through their different phases by order cards which allow one side or another to complete a particular action, like move or roll for Reinforcements. These 2 elements cut down on Game time considerably giving it a well round 2-3 hours to complete. The downside that D-Day possesses is a set objective with not a lot of variations to acquire them. Every game usually has the same cities lost, in the same order if the Allies win and with your objectives set and Reinforcements coming in the same order, it is the starter for “Same Old Strategy” play. The designers allowed for some new parts to remove that from game play.
The first thing that makes for more strategic play is the newly developed combat cycle. It last for only 1 cycle and units cannot move out of a zone until cleared. Since the goal of the Allies is to take all cities “completely,” The Germans can just shove all their units into the “final” city and win if they prevent the Allies from taking it completely. The Allies might now want to go through the countryside “driving out” pockets of resistance those which might haunt them later instead of trying to claim cities.
It is Aircraft are now limited to the Allies only. Bombers are useful in destroying fortified positions while fighters have the unique ability to strafing land units. It is only countered by German Artillery which needs to be in the â€œoffendedâ€ zone in order to shoot down an Aircraft, forcing the Germans to think ahead of how they are going to stop the Allied Air threat. Cities and Reinforcement zones now fall prey to the firepower of the Allied Fighters, and they can target their casualties making it hard for the Germans to get their â€œheaviesâ€ to advance.
Units are now changed slightly: German Armor is slightly better on Defense then the Allies; German Artillery have the Already mentioned advantage in knocking out planes; And Blockhouses now become an early game opponent with their powerful targeted rolls against Beachheads. With better equipment the Germans have the advantage on the field; but it is balanced by how well the Allies can field their Air force.
The final elements are additions that represent the unseen events that changed the course of the Normandy Campaign: Fortune and Tactics Cards. These cards are added to your order deck with the Fortunes before their corresponding Order Card and the Tactics after the Order. Fortune Cards can either help the side playing an order card by giving an advantage to them or it can be damaging limiting your abilities or reducing the die roll of units. In game play fortuneâ€™s results, even if they give you an Advantage, still forces you to consider your moves. Tactics give an advantage usable only by the Player that played the previous Order. They are a one-time-use and usually pack a powerful punch like allowing Artillery to roll in support of Troops (something not included in D-Day) or French Resistance giving you a targeted attack against German occupied Cities. The flavor added is an enormous pickup benefit that was not in any other Axis and Allies game.
The final product was a wonderful production to add to a gamers shelf but not any gamer. Light Gamers and gamers who enjoy strategic conflict will appreciate the simplicity of turn motion, but heavy Grog nards may find the miss curacy in the historical aspects and the lack of deeper objectives may find it boring, turning it into a shelf dust collector. The game does have redeeming qualities when trying to teach kids about the conflict or just getting a war game in. The rule set is simple to teach and wants you pick up the order card concept you are good to go. So with that in mind here is my D-Day Rating Compilation (based on a scale of 1-10):
Playability (Overall): 7
Complexity (1 is Simple 10 is Overly Complex; 5 is ideal): 6
Popularity (How popular it is with different age and people groups): 7
Overall (Suggested Buy or not): 8
So with that said I leave the rest to your decision in buying or forming an opinion about the game. I hope this was a review that was thoughtful, informative, and was enjoyable read. Until I catch up with you at a gathering of Dice Rollers, Tile placers, or army movers Happy Gaming!