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Posted on Jan 5, 2010 in Boardgames

Destination: Normandy – Board Game Review

By Rick Martin

Destination: Normandy. Board Game. DDHGames. $14.95.

Passed Inspection: Good quality map, counters and rule book. Great introductory game for new players and a challenging game for established gamers.

Failed Basic: One typo and one misplaced rule – but they don’t spoil the fun!

Learning how to use the bocage, towns and hills can be critical to the German defenders

DDH Games’ Destination: Normandy is a rare breed of game anymore – it is an introductory board war game which is also challenging for the established, experienced gamer to play.

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Not trying to sound old, but back in the good old days of war gaming (the 1970s and 1980s), there was a concern amongst gamers that too few younger gamers were entering the hobby. Riding to the rescue, were games such as Steve Jackson’s One Page Bulge and Raid on Iran and Yaquinto Publishing’s various album games such as Attack of the Mutants. These companies put out introductory-level board war games which older games could play without feeling that they were playing Candy Land. Now DDH Games brings this same sensibility to the 21st Century hobby of board war gaming.

Designed and written by Danny Holte, author of The Wargamer’s Reference Guide, Destination: Normandy is, simply put, a blast to play. The plastic-bag packaged game comes with a trim and attractive seven-page rule book, a one-page map of Normandy, a one-page, full-color sheet of terrain, combat results, an order of battle table, a sheet of pre-scored counters, a six-sided die, and baggies to put the counters and die in. There is also an insert detailing the company’s June ’44 game, which is the follow-up to Destination: Normandy. It’s very nice when a publishing company gives the player everything needed to both play the game and store the pieces.

Destination: Normandy recreates the Allied landings in France as well as Operation Cobra’s push through the bocage country during World War II. Each turn appears to be one week or so and each unit represents a Corps of approximately 30,000 to 50,000 men and vehicles.

Game play is based upon the standard board war game turn-order – Allied Movement, Allied Combat, German Movement, German Combat. This establishes a basic system to help draw new players in without making them overly concerned about the mechanics of the game.

Unit counters provide information on nationality, type of unit, combat strength and movement allowance. Since the scale is high-strategic, there is very little terrain effect on movement, but terrain does affect combat by giving defenders bonuses. Learning how to use the bocage, towns and hills can be critical to the German defenders. Combat results include exchange of damage, retreat or unit elimination.

Upon first playing the game, I didn’t see how the German player could win against the Allies, but on the second play-through, I found the German player must fight only on the defensive and use terrain to best advantage. Section 14 of the rules provides design notes and strategies and is well worth the read. In the first game I played the Germans were utterly defeated by the Allies, but in the second game the Germans kept the Allies from achieving their victory objectives by occupying key towns.

Section 13′s Optional Rules in the manual can add fun variants to the game including more Allied air support.

I only found two minor problems with the game. A reference is made in the Set Up section to a Section 18 which can not be found in the rules, and the stacking rules are located in the section on combat results that discusses retreats, rather than in their own section, which would have avoided some confusion on the first play-through.

An average game of Destination: Normandy takes only half an hour to play. All in all, Destination: Normandy is fun to play, challenging and well worth its price. It offers a great time for the new board war gamer and a fun challenge for us old hands. Recommended!

About the author:

A college film instructor and Executive Director of Nouveau Cinema Group, Inc., an organization which rescues old movie theaters, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal profession, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War 1 and 2 gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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  1. June ‘44 – Board Game Review » Armchair General - [...] Holte, author of The Wargamer’s Reference Guide, June ‘44 is, like DDH Games’ Destination: Normandy, a blast to play. …

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