Recommend
38 
 Thumb up
 Hide
27 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

The Game of France, 1940: German Blitzkrieg in the West» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dunnigan at his worst. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Sandy Petersen
United States
Rockwall
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
I wrote the first-ever Lovecraft game.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One of the most fascinating and productive studies of military history is that of famous defeats. The Roman army was so competent, so professional – the methods used by a pack of raggedy barbarians to trounce the Romans at Teutoburger Wald bears examination. How did the Japanese flush their fleet down the toilet at Midway, despite their numerical and training advantage? What on earth was going through Burnside’s head at Fredericksburg?

In some cases, the answers are comparatively simple. Burnside was an idiot. The Japanese defeat at Midway can be chalked down to a fairly small number of (admittedly humongous) blunders by the Japanese command, combined with some good fortune and aggressive independent action on the part of a handful of USN pilots.

Other defeats, such as Teutoburger Wald, need more explanation, because the answer is more complex.

One of the most complicated and yet comparatively little-analyzed defeats in history is that of the French in May-June 1940. Usually it’s just chalked up to the superior strategy and/or tactics of the Germans and skipped over. It’s one of the shortest chapters in any book about World War II (you can find more about the Falaise pocket!), and yet so much was going on here.

The French weren’t alone – they had the Belgians, Dutch, and a sizable British army by their side, plus massive fortifications. The Maginot Line, whatever its failings, certainly shortened the part of the front the French had to worry about.

The French (plus allies) had more artillery tubes. They had more, and arguably better, tanks. They had the same number of men. The one major element in which they were inferior was aircraft, and even there it was no walkover for the Germans, who lost over 1000 aircraft in the six-week fight. Plus the history of WW2 shows us that air superiority alone doesn’t a blitzkrieg guarantee.

It wasn’t just a matter of German military supremacy either – there were fights in which the ability of the French poilu to inflict and accept loss was proven. The heroic last stand of the French First Army alone proves that. The Germans were no supermen – they panicked during the first part of the attack at Arras, and the botched operation Paula proved the Luftwaffe was far from perfect.

So what was going on here? What were the French (and their allies) doing wrong? Could they have won? Why or why not? What were the Germans doing that was so right?

Dunnigan Blows ItSadly, the answer to NONE of these questions is contained within a play-through of France 1940. Basically, Dunnigan takes the final result (France loses decisively) and makes sure that his counter-mix and rules ensure that this loss happens every time. Hilariously, his designer notes even contain a section in which he opines that the Germans were foolish to attack through the Ardennes because their army was obviously so powerful that they should have gone overland, pushing straight through and thus also killing off the British. But it’s his own stupid rules that make this possible!

He uses a sledgehammer to produce his results. French armored divisions are 4-6s and 3-4s, while the panzers are typically 6-8s. But this is only the beginning.

The Combat Results Table is carefully designed to bushwhack the Allies. Here’s how it works: like most wargames, you need something like 3:1 odds to get a decent result. No surprise here. BUT, a large number of your results are CA, 1CA, or 2CA – i.e., “counterattack” results. Let’s look at the math.

Here I am, the Germans, attacking 1 French corps with 3 of my own, so I have 3:1 odds. If I roll a 1-2, then we get a BR (Both Retreat). This isn’t so bad, except the defender has to retreat first, so if he’s surrounded he dies. But on a roll of 2+, the result is a CA – this means the French corps has to counterattack one of my corps (not all of them, thank heavens). BUT, because the French corps are 6-6s, and the Germans 7-6s, this means that my counter-attack is at 1:2 odds, which is, unsurprisingly, lethal. Contrariwise, if I, as the French, manage to attack a German corps at 3:1 I(which I can only do by using 4 corps), then a German counterattack is at much healthier 1:1 odds.

The end result is that the numbers chosen for the German units and the CRT form a lethal combination for the French which would result in a certain loss for the Allies even if they had significantly greater numbers of counters on the map. Which they don’t.

Many other factors apply to boost the Germans. Here’s a few:

1) The air superiority system is such that the attacker can’t be killed – only the defender. Since the French have fewer airplanes, they are generally the defender, with predictable results.

2) The game uses the classic SPI move-fight-move system which means that the Both Retreat combat results usually means that the Germans can march back into the vacated hex(es) right after combat. The French, with fewer mechanized units, and less opportunities to attack, get screwed.

3) You can only attack with a single corps (or up to three smaller units) from a single hexside. The Germans often use this to attack with a pile of tanks to inflict major damage. The French, with fewer and punier divisional-sized units, again get the shaft (seriously, some of their divisional units are 1-6s or 2-2s – actually weaker when piled together than if they had an actual corps-sized unit).

4) the zones of control slow movement by adding +3 to cost. German mechanized units have a movement of 8, which means they can “ooze” up to 2 hexes through gaps in the Allied line each movement phase. Allied mechs, with a movement of only 6 (or 4!) can only seep 1 hex into German lines. That’s a big difference.

The list goes on.

Conclusions
The game is dull, because the Germans win every time. (Yes I know you can use weird different setups to boost the French side. Big deal.) It doesn’t provide the minimum level for a historic wargame for me, because one of my goals in a game is to see how different choices can produce different historical results.

There are lots of ways of showing an army's superiority besides simply giving them an imaginary hammer and tongs to pound the foe with. In Conflict of Heroes, the Soviet disarray in the early war is easily simulated by using CAPs and attack activation factors, rather than emasculating the Red Army. T-34s are portrayed as the monsters they were, but monsters which can be outwitted and defeated by a nimble German player. In Third World War the contrast between the NATO and Pact forces is amply demonstrated by giving the two sides different turn structures. In Hammer of the Scots, the numerical advantage and political weakness of the English is portrayed by forcing them to return to England each winter, abandoning their erstwhile Scottish allies to the mercies of Robert the Bruce.

These games I’ve mentioned are, of course, more recent, and have benefited from literally decades of analysis of older wargames. Probably this would be a more fair review if I took into account the smaller “toolbox” Dunnigan had to work with back in the early 70s. Perhaps I should be praising him for his forethought and accomplishments in putting together a game that had tanks, airborne, forts, counterattacks, etc. clear back before most BGG folks were even born.

But on the other hand, the Battle of France still stands as a campaign which cries out for analysis, particularly wargame analysis. We have so many games about the Russian front (which I don’t begrudge) – can’t we get one single good one trying to explain the catastrophe that afflicted the Third Republic in 1940?
31 
 Thumb up
1.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robb Minneman
United States
Tacoma
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You're right: There's a lot wrong with this game. I played it to death as a kid, mostly solo, and from my adult perspective I think you're right.

So, I'll counter: If you were designing a game on the France '40 campaign, how would you write it, and what would you do with it? And how do you account for the crushing German superiority in the game without making it a dull exercise?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Let me start off by saying that you're entitled to your opinion of the game. There are many other wargamers who dislike this game, so your not alone. I've owned a copy since 1972, and I still think it works well (About ten years ago, Jim Dunnigan autographed my France 1940 rulebook with the inscription "I'll get it right next time", so he apparently wasn't all that happy with it himself).

But allow me to address some of your points.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . So what was going on here? What were the French (and their allies) doing wrong? Could they have won? Why or why not? What were the Germans doing that was so right?


The roots of the French defeat go back to the lessons learned by both sides from the First World War. Not until Germany overran Poland in September 1939 did France realize too late that they had gotten it wrong. They began hastily constructing armored divisions during the Phony War period, but those units were too few and untrained to be effective (DeGaulle's 4th Armored Div had some minor success). The Germans could've gotten some things wrong, but they were a bit lucky, too (I recommend Ernest May's book Strange Victory).

Consequently, the opposing forces were mismatched, and the Germans had what comtemporary military strategist refer to as an asymmetric advantage. The French had more tanks and more planes, and in many cases, their equipment was better. But their doctrine and organization were fatally flawed.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . . Dunnigan Blows ItSadly, the answer to NONE of these questions is contained within a play-through of France 1940. Basically, Dunnigan takes the final result (France loses decisively) and makes sure that his counter-mix and rules ensure that this loss happens every time. Hilariously, his designer notes even contain a section in which he opines that the Germans were foolish to attack through the Ardennes because their army was obviously so powerful that they should have gone overland, pushing straight through and thus also killing off the British. But it’s his own stupid rules that make this possible!


The Dyle Plan -- rushing the BEF and French forward into Belgium -- doomed those units and only Dunkirk saved the soldiers of the BEF. If the game requires the Alled player to execute the plan, the same thing results. In the game, the Allied player can opt not to execute it, and stall defeat for awhile, but usually not forever.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . Here I am, the Germans, attacking 1 French corps with 3 of my own, so I have 3:1 odds. If I roll a 1-2, then we get a BR (Both Retreat). This isn’t so bad, except the defender has to retreat first, so if he’s surrounded he dies. But on a roll of 2+, the result is a CA – this means the French corps has to counterattack one of my corps (not all of them, thank heavens). BUT, because the French corps are 6-6s, and the Germans 7-6s, this means that my counter-attack is at 1:2 odds, which is, unsurprisingly, lethal. Contrariwise, if I, as the French, manage to attack a German corps at 3:1 I(which I can only do by using 4 corps), then a German counterattack is at much healthier 1:1 odds. The end result is that the numbers chosen for the German units and the CRT form a lethal combination for the French which would result in a certain loss for the Allies even if they had significantly greater numbers of counters on the map. Which they don’t


I would assume these effects were quite intentional and aimed at simulating results in the actual campaign.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
The end result is that the numbers chosen for the German units and the CRT form a lethal combination for the French which would result in a certain loss for the Allies even if they had significantly greater numbers of counters on the map. Which they don’t.The end result is that the numbers chosen for the German units and the CRT form a lethal combination for the French which would result in a certain loss for the Allies even if they had significantly greater numbers of counters on the map. Which they don’t

Many other factors apply to boost the Germans. Here’s a few:

1) The air superiority system is such that the attacker can’t be killed – only the defender. Since the French have fewer airplanes, they are generally the defender, with predictable results.


How does this compare to the historical outcome?

Sandy Petersen wrote:
.2) The game uses the classic SPI move-fight-move system which means that the Both Retreat combat results usually means that the Germans can march back into the vacated hex(es) right after combat. The French, with fewer mechanized units, and less opportunities to attack, get screwed.


The effect simulates the German blitzkrieg doctrine. The French didn't have an equivalent, nor did they have the capability.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . 3) You can only attack with a single corps (or up to three smaller units) from a single hexside. The Germans often use this to attack with a pile of tanks to inflict major damage. The French, with fewer and punier divisional-sized units, again get the shaft (seriously, some of their divisional units are 1-6s or 2-2s – actually weaker when piled together than if they had an actual corps-sized unit).


Again, what was the historical result?

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . 4) the zones of control slow movement by adding +3 to cost. German mechanized units have a movement of 8, which means they can “ooze” up to 2 hexes through gaps in the Allied line each movement phase. Allied mechs, with a movement of only 6 (or 4!) can only seep 1 hex into German lines. That’s a big difference.


And what were the historical results?

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . ConclusionsThe game is dull, because the Germans win every time. (Yes I know you can use weird different setups to boost the French side. Big deal.)


There are variable orders of battle (OOB) to mix and match. The "No Maginot Line" OOBs are interesting. Also the weaker/stronger air forces.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . It doesn’t provide the minimum level for a historic wargame for me, because one of my goals in a game is to see how different choices can produce different historical results.


Since the problems were mainly rooted in pre-war decisions, the variable OOB cards allow the player to do just that. This is the strength of the game IMHO.

Sandy Petersen wrote:
. . . But on the other hand, the Battle of France still stands as a campaign which cries out for analysis, particularly wargame analysis. We have so many games about the Russian front (which I don’t begrudge) – can’t we get one single good one trying to explain the catastrophe that afflicted the Third Republic in 1940?


Sounds like the hobby is still in need of a good 1940 design. Have you thought about designing one?
18 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
flag msg tools
Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In this case, I think you treated Dunnigan like you say he treated the French. The game offers more insight than give credit for. You fob off the alternate OOBs, but those embody his vision of the possibilities inherent in the situation.

It certainly wasn't JFD's best game, but it was a breath of fresh air at the time. He was interested in history as much as in games, and he was willing to take a radically different approach to situations that simply wouldn't have been touched otherwise.

I got rid of my copy long ago, but was thinking recently I wouldn't mind trading for one and checking it out for old times' sake.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Heath
Australia
Brisbane
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This was my first wargame way back when. I still have it but have not played for years. The counters are a bit battered but the game's still intact apart from that. One to look at again someday.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
steve mizuno
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After reading the initial posting, I knew that there would be Dunnigan advocates coming out with contradictory opinions. What I will say (and I've said it before) is that Dunnigan developed certain mechanisms, and then tried to import them into many of his designs. Mech movement phases introduced in France 40, I think. Subsequently implemented in WITE, PGG, and darn near every other operational level wargame produced during the rest of the decade. When they were a "hit", you saw them in most operational level titles that SPI produced. SIMOV introduced in Kampfpanzer - subsequently implemented in many, many other games, some with force pools too large for its use. Command Control rules introduced in ACW, I think. Subsequently exported to many other games, in just about the same form. Roll a die, anybody on the last digits of the randomized hexes is paralyzed for the turn.

Dunnigan was a genius - he was thinking out of the box long before anyone else, and produced design tools that are still with us. However, I believe that, due to his many roles at SPI, and the grueling bimonthly publishing schedule, that many of his ideas were rolled out and grafted onto games, regardless of whether or not the chosen design tools meshed well with the games being released.

France 1940 as a game left me completely unimpressed. Nice counters, and I appreciated the historical alternatives, but as a game, it just didn't deliver. There was no excitement, nothing that made me feel as if I was really gaming out the invasion of France in 1940. Perhaps it was the fact that the infantry corps are all the same. Perhaps it was the pathetically weak French armored divisions. Perhaps it was the implementation of air combat, which seemed entirely too standardized. I just couldn't understand how every French and German corps was rated the same.

Some of it, probably, was that France 40 was initially a magazine game. I ended up picking it up in the AH iteration, which gave me a nice mounted board, but with the previously noted uninspiring game play issues. Research into specific unit strengths and capabilities has also become a lot easier over the years, so I have to acknowledge that this also probably played into the flaws of F40.

All that considered, however, I think I have to agree with the OP, and that this was one of Dunnigan's more lukewarm attempts. Sometimes, he hit the ball out of the park, but many other times, it was a dribbler out of the batters box. For me, this game exemplifies the vanilla flavor of some of the S&T titles produced at this point in history. There were a few (maybe more) of these titles which all used the same basic mechanics, and I don't think I liked any of them. War in the East also used the same basic mechanics, which is one reason I never had that much of an interest in the title. I used to watch two guys in my group go at it on the requisite pool table, and although I was invited to participate, always spit the bit.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
soltan gris wrote:
After reading the initial posting, I knew that there would be Dunnigan advocates coming out with contradictory opinions. What I will say (and I've said it before) is that Dunnigan developed certain mechanisms, and then tried to import them into many of his designs. Mech movement phases introduced in France 40, I think. Subsequently implemented in WITE, PGG, and darn near every other operational level wargame produced during the rest of the decade.


Well, to that degree, he was neither the first to do so, not the last. The early Avalon Hill games all used the same move-shoot mechanics developed by Charles S. Roberts. Dunnigan introduced some fresh innovations to design, and can certainly be 'blamed' for applying some of them across many different games. We still see this in today's designers -- just look at the proliferation of CDGs.

soltan gris wrote:
Dunnigan was a genius - he was thinking out of the box long before anyone else, and produced design tools that are still with us. However, I believe that, due to his many roles at SPI, and the grueling bimonthly publishing schedule, that many of his ideas were rolled out and grafted onto games, regardless of whether or not the chosen design tools meshed well with the games being released.


Probably so. This was certainly the problem with the folio games.

soltan gris wrote:
France 1940 as a game left me completely unimpressed. Nice counters, and I appreciated the historical alternatives, but as a game, it just didn't deliver. There was no excitement, nothing that made me feel as if I was really gaming out the invasion of France in 1940.


Could it also be that historically, France folded so quickly and unexpectedly that almost any game result seems dull? I believe Dunnigan himself states that any competent German player should beat any French player using the historical OBs.

soltan gris wrote:
Perhaps it was the fact that the infantry corps are all the same. Perhaps it was the pathetically weak French armored divisions. Perhaps it was the implementation of air combat, which seemed entirely too standardized. I just couldn't understand how every French and German corps was rated the same.


That wasn't unusual in its day. Look at AH's D-Day, for example; every Allied infantry division is 4-4-4 and every armored divisions is 5-5-4. He might've come up with better air rules, but I don't know how much information was available at the time. We know now that the French air campaign was planned and executed independent of the army's oeprations, whereas the Luftwaffe was organized and trained to provide CAS to ground units.

soltan gris wrote:
Some of it, probably, was that France 40 was initially a magazine game. I ended up picking it up in the AH iteration, which gave me a nice mounted board, but with the previously noted uninspiring game play issues. Research into specific unit strengths and capabilities has also become a lot easier over the years, so I have to acknowledge that this also probably played into the flaws of F40.


I think that's fair enough.

soltan gris wrote:
All that considered, however, I think I have to agree with the OP, and that this was one of Dunnigan's more lukewarm attempts. Sometimes, he hit the ball out of the park, but many other times, it was a dribbler out of the batters box.


Fair enough. Like I posted in my reply, there are many wargamers who don't like it, and even Dunnigan wasn't all that high on it 30 years later. But I think he did a good job of tackling the challenge of simulating a terribly lopsided campaign and offering history buffs a chance to play around with alternatives.

Given all the innovations that came in later SPI titles and the hobby as a whole since the game's release, it could certainly use a facelift. For example, in addition to the variable OBs, perhaps the victory conditions could be changed, or add more chrome like untried French units (ala PGG), improved air rules (though I can't imagine this helping the Allies), leader counters, French national morale, pre-emptive French offensive in Fall '39 options, etc.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Benjamin
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I got in 'real' wargaming in 1976. At the time JFD was considered a genius, a guru of wargaming. His audience was largely young males salivating over the next incarnation of the JFD 'major factor of historical significance' game. I now believe he did a lot of 'off the top of his head' designing to get product out the door. Some games were very good, many not-so-much.

As for F40, I've thought about trying decimal dice for combat odds. That makes the typical 6-6 French unit 83% as effective as the 7-6 German unit, not the factor-of-two described in the above comments. Can I overcome ennui about this game to try, not so sure.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lewis Goldberg
United States
Bonnots Mill
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As a teenager playing this game, we gave little thought to questioning the OOB or the validity of the factors assigned the units. We played the heck out of F40, and occasionally the French won, especially if I was playing the Germans cry
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Berg
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"I now believe he did a lot of 'off the top of his head' designing to get product out the door."

Having worked with Jim for many years, I can say, definitively, that is not how he worked . . . he actually worked long days (14 hours), 6-7 days a week . . . often overseeing many games.

His designs, like all designers' games, are done to what the designer feels he/she would want to play . . . and focus on a variety of play reasons. I don't think FRANCE '40 is a great game . . . but, then again, it was not a subject that greatly interested me.

Often what one thinks of a game is totally dependent on what one wanted to see in the game . . . not what it was. Like ordering steak and getting pot roast; regardless of how good the latter was it wasn't what you wanted.

And Jim was always an energetic, assiduous and involved designer. A truly hard worker.

What people believe is not always what is true . . . . like much of what is going on these days.

RHB
20 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sandy Petersen
United States
Rockwall
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
I wrote the first-ever Lovecraft game.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Frankly, it's my respect for Dunnigan that makes me pan this game so hard. He could, and usually did, do much better.

Insomuch as a good version of France, 1940 still IMO cries out to be made, I agree. I have spent a lot of time trying to study this catastrophe, probably more than most folks in the industry. The tools today might be available to reproduce the loss.

But, frankly, there are a lot of historical campaigns in which the original results are difficult to reproduce. Napoleon was so outnumbered at Austerlitz that most games on the subject require special rules to give him a chance. But of course that's WHY Austerlitz is a famous victory - because it was so amazing.

Maybe France 1940 is such a campaign. The French tactics were certainly overall inferior to the German, but my reading on the topic indicates that other factors were vital. The French communications were much slower and more fragile, for instance. I would argue that a major cause of their defeat was the fact that as the blitzkrieg progressed, the French commanders simply lost command of their units, who were therefore forced to battle in a vacuum - what orders they did manage to receive from the rear had no bearing on reality. The fight was simply too fast for the French. If you sent a command for an attack which took 6 hours to get to the units involved, the tactical situation had changed so much that the attack made no sense.

And in response to one of the points, yes the game is unrealistic in only causing losses during attacks on a defender's airdrome. The Germans lost 1200 planes during the campaign, and hardly any were destroyed because of being bombed on their fields.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Benjamin
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm pleased to be informed that it is likely that many hours of diligent effort went into the simplistic depiction of the relative capabilities of the opposing armies in F40. Thank you.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
June Hwang Wah
Singapore
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
An off-tangent, but related discussion can be found at:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/133369/wargames-as-a-sim...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sandy Petersen
United States
Rockwall
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
I wrote the first-ever Lovecraft game.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The problem with France '40 is that it does not represent the battle the way it was. It just gives the Germans a bigger hammer than the French. If you look at my review, I give three examples of other ways to represent a non-symmetrical battle (Hammer of the Scots, Conflict of Heroes, and Chadwick's Third World War). Panzerblitz and France '40 both try to simulate superiority solely by bigger combat factors. In the case of Panzerblitz, it sort of works. Sure the game's not realistic overall, but it's fun, and parts of it work great.

For me, France '40 not only is ahistorical, but the combat and strategy is dull and straightforward. The Germans really are better off in the game just attacking the French in a bunch of big assaults and overwhelming them. It's like Titan, rather than a wargame.

While I complained about the Germans being able to ooze 2 hexes past the French ZOCs, that's actually a game feature that works towards making the Germans more skilled, as opposed to just being thugs. So I take back my complaint. Again, Dunnigan could do better and certainly some modern gamer could improve on it.

Look at it this way - in May-June 1940, an army at least equal to the Germans, and superior in some ways, was completely wiped out except for a few waterlogged British who had to abandon all their tanks & artillery. The German victory was clearly not because their guns, tanks, men, or planes were better - it was because of tactics, strategy, communications, and training. THAT's what I want to see in a fall of France game.

In 1944, the Wallies did the same thing in reverse in the same area (the Germans took 400,000 casualties and basically lost all their tanks they had in France). The Germans were better off than the French, because they were able to retreat towards Germany (imagine if Bradley and Montgomery had been coming out of Germany towards the German army in France - the Germans would all have had to surrender by the end of September, probably.) So that's part of it. But not all.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Wesley
Nepal
Aberdeen
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mb
"ipsum factum SUCHUM!" "one sunny May in Flanders" surprise
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Nell

Illinois
msg tools
This was the first game I played. I got it when I was nine years old. It was a lot of fun and made me think about history and how it might have been different.

Sandy has a lot of good points about the games short comings, but I think like history you have to evaluate it based on games in the early 1970s,

Then there is the classic game design problem. Are units rated on their potential or actual historical performance?

I've done a fair bit of reading about the Battle of France. The French were not too fond of radios and relied on couriers. Belgian neutrality and the Dyle Plan took this handicap and made the allies dysfunctional. Allied recon was almost non-existant. The German break through near Sedan. To account for this I've toyed with making non-BEF units (they did have air recon) roll for a comand and control check.

I've also toyed with a non-neutral militarized Belgium scenerio where the French Commander Maurice Gamelin gets his "manicured battlefield with a few extra points for pillboxes, etc. like a 1/4 strenght Maginot Line. Add to this a properly defended Fort Eben Emil with functional guns and you do have a different war.

Dunningan made a fun game, but 40 years have passed, It is time for a better game about this important battle.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Hoyt

Durango
Colorado
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Any thoughts on this more recent take? Strange Defeat: The Fall of France, 1940
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wmartin just4fun
msg tools
After reading a few books on the subject I took a renewed interest in this game. One thing I enjoy is tha one can make design tweeks to try to improve enjoyment of the game.

I change the french OOB to give them what I think are forces closer to the to thee record. 1) I add one 6-6 INF for the set up as well as created another 1-6 Lt CAV, and deploy the 4th 3-4 all in turn 1 to represent the 3rd army being deployed further north. The 3-4 represents the french reorganizing more of their armor sooner.
2) I created two more 3-4 DCRs to represent more brigade armor reorganized into divisions. One enters the game on turn 4 and the other enters on turn 7

3) I give the french two more air and ground support counter to represent the french making more use of planes that were available but not used due to there lack of preparedness. One enters the game on turn 4 and the other on turn 8.

4 I increase the french 6-6 INF to 23 (an increase of 3) overall and add one 2-2 as well. These enter the game on turns 4 and 6.

5) I allow the british to attack with a strength of 8 INF, using all three 8-8 counters. The third 8-8 is created on or after turn 4 if the allies have another 4-8 to put with it.

6) I allow the allies t stack three 1-6 DLCs with two other divisional armor counters and treat it (5 counters) as a corp equivalent.

So I'm having fun witth it trying to figure out some reasonable rules and strategies (such as avoiding attacks, and not protecting paris,) to see if I can keep the army together for ten turns
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Crosby
Belgium
Bruxelles
flag msg tools
A big thank you to all who contributed to this thread. I am a 'returning' gamer, having played a bit when younger and now re-discovering the hobby.

I have just got a copy of F1940 and am immersing myself in the rules.

To those who are expert, a quirky, geeky question from a newbie:

1. Assuming the Allied player's Ground Support Element (GSE) is in range of the German's Air units at Turn 1
2. Assume the Allied GSE has no Allied unit adjacent to it (through which to trace a supply line)

Then what is to stop the Germans interdicting that GSE, thereby cutting its supply, thereby rendering the Allied airforce incapable? It appears that the Germans could at a stroke incapacitate the Allied airforce for the whole game. Since the GSE are out of supply, the Allies cannot then launch interception...

Anyway, I am ploughing on with the learning...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wmartin just4fun
msg tools
It is my understanding that interdiction affects movement but does not prevent one from tracing supply through the hex.

In any case one could move a unit adjacent to the GSE if the unit has enough movement points and that would definitely supply the GSE since the presence of a friendly unit overrides enemy ZOC for tracing supply.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm also a returned gamer, having bought F40 when it was new (probably my first boxed war game). Haven't seen it since I lost it decades ago after leaving college.

It's so easy to blame the French for their quick defeat, but the Russians got trashed out of the gate, and the American Army got humiliated in the Philippines, and did not fight again for almost a year.

I remember at the time thinking F40's greatest failing was not being able to show how having the enemy get behind your lines in force causes a collapse. Basically, the Germans unhinged the Allies, and cut their lines of communications. Even though still supplied, and dangerous, the effect was that the allied divisions folded. This was perhaps the greatest weapon of the Blitzkrieg. Whole armies surrender, instead of the panzers having to destroy them one by one. The panzers in France and Russia were most effective NOT fighting the enemy, but cutting across his rear instead.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sandy Petersen
United States
Rockwall
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
I wrote the first-ever Lovecraft game.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Only Hollywood thinks tanks are used like assault machines. Not the Germans, nor Soviets, nor Americans were trained to use them in that manner. The French probably came closest to trying to use tanks for breakthroughs, if only because so many tank brigades were scattered amongst their infantry. The British persisted in trying tank assaults too, with mixed results (as witness Caen). Their best armored successes were, as with other nations, exploitation after infantry assaults (as at El Alamein).

Look it's obvious the French had lots of things wrong with their military. It's also true that things were wrong with the British and the Soviets in the early war. I'm not trying to single out the French. I just am complaining about the simplistic way in which the Germany superiority is portrayed in this game, to repeat my whining. If, for example, there had been a rule something like, "Germans can intercept French attacks, but not the reverse, because the French relied on couriers while the wehrmacht used radios" I would be happier. But simply giving French armored divisions half the stats of the Germans? Pfui.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Raitt
United Kingdom
Boston
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The key was equipment, radios in each tank, 1/2 track infantry and 75mm tank guns. With these blitz tactics work much better.

Sticking out the top of a tank turret you can't hear the man in the next tank when your engine is running. Imagine 1 tank platoon meets an enemy tank platoon, 1 man on each side spots the enemy and their tank starts firing. The whole platoon with radios joins in quickly and win the firefight.

1/2 track infantry get into action quicker than lorried infantry because they have a shorter foot march.

Having some tanks with 75mm tank guns lets them support your infantry attack much more effectively with HE fire compared to 2 pounders.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Middleton
United States
Laramie
Wyoming
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What about GDWs The Fall of France, part of the Europa series?

Anybody tried that game out to possibly compare to this one?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoffrey Noble
United Kingdom
Belfast
Northern Ireland
flag msg tools
mbmb
Victory in the West - GMT is the best wargame on France 1940.

Wmartin thanks for your variant - well worth a try.

I have just located a cheap unpunched copy - happy days
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.