June ’44 – Board Game Review
June ’44. Board game. DDH Games. $24.95.
Passed Inspection: Excellent quality map, counters and rule book. Great replay value through random-event cards and random weather rules. Challenging strategies. May be played in 3 or 4 hours.
Failed Basic: Nothing.
The Allied player must try to rendezvous paratroopers to form more powerful units.
DDH Games’ June ’44 is an intermediate-level war game, which upon first glance seems to follow in the tried-and-true footsteps of many other classic board war games. But after one play-through the genius in its streamlined design is obvious. It looks like a beer and pretzels but plays like filet mignon!
Designed and written by Danny Holte, author of The Wargamer’s Reference Guide, June ’44 is, like DDH Games’ Destination: Normandy, a blast to play. But while Destination: Normandy was targeted at novice board war gamers, June ’44 is targeted at experienced players yearning for a representation of the Normandy landings and initial thrust towards hedgerow country that is complete and detailed but fast and playable in an evening. Packaged in a resealable plastic bag, the game features an attractive and well-illustrated rule book, a map of the Normandy area from the beachheads to bockage country, a one-page, full-color terrain sheet, combat results, an order of battle table, a sheet of pre-scored, double-sided counters, a ten sided die, and baggies to put the counters and die in.
June ’44 is a strategic-level game. Each turn except the first represents two days, and each unit represents either a division or a regiment. There are options for air missions for the Allies and counter-air-missions for the Germans, as well as airdrops and ship bombardments. The first turn represents D-Day (June 6th) and the weather is set to Lousy. After the first turn, the weather is randomly rolled for but can be affected by random cards that the players pick. The weather affects air activity – on a bright, sunny day, the German units will find themselves losing movement as they are attacked by fighter bombers, but when those storm clouds gather, the Allies will see panzer divisions charging full speed to drive the Allies back into the sea. Players also roll for supplies and replenishment points, which help bring damaged units back to full strength.
Paratroop drops are well thought-out and happen previous to the D-Day landings on turn one. The paratroopers are scattered and the Allied player must try and rendezvous paratroopers to form more powerful units. This is very tough to do as the German player is busily trying to destroy the paratroopers before they re-form. This is the first time I have seen this level of detail in a strategic-level war game and it really added to the tension of the first few turns.
As with everything else in this game, the supply rules are brief, logical and elegant. The Allies must trace their supply lines back to the beaches, and the Germans have to watch their lines of supply as well. The number of offensive actions is limited by the amount of supply the players have – four units of supply give the player four attacks. When defending against an attack, a player does not have to worry about supply.
During combat, each side rolls on the combat results table and applies the effects to the opponent. As with Destination: Normandy, the player will want to have overpowering force against the defenders, but sometimes one defending division can get lucky and hold out even while outnumbered.
Game cards are drawn each turn, and each player may have up to two cards in his hand at any one time. These may be played to control the weather, influence re-enforcements, give the Germans tactical air support, etc. Players may use the cards against each other to negate the opponent’s tactics.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find one thing to criticize on this well-designed and thoroughly thought-out game. DDH has promised a game based upon Operation Cobra – the breakout through hedgerow country. This reviewer can hardly wait!
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)!