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France 1944
The Allied Crusade in Europe



Two-player Military Simulation of the French Campaign, 1944
Designed by Mark Herman
Published by Victory Games (1986)



Pound for Pound, FR44 Is An Unimposing Game
FR44 comes in your standard Avalon Hill style bookcase game box. I am stunned that they didn’t opt for the slimmer style of box as the contents of FR44 take up virtually no space. There is a single map-sheet, a 20 page rule-book and a mere 130 counters. The map sheet (32” by 22”) is smaller than you would expect – only a third of map is used for the hex-based play area. Two-thirds of the map contain charts, tables, orders of battle and reinforcement schedules.

The map/charts are colourful and attractively done. The counters are glossy and contain information in a clearly set out manner. I found it surprising that all allied counters are the same green colour – the nationality is shown by a different coloured centre. I also found it strange that the German counters were almost a tan colour rather than the traditional grey that I have come to expect with German WWII counters.



Pound for Pound, FR44 Appears to be a Fairly Simple Wargame
It can’t be helped, but people make judgements about games based on their appearance before they have actually played the game. FR44 appears to be a fairly straight-forward design but I feel that this is deceptive. I think that there is a lot of subtle play involved in this game and it deserves more planning and on-the-spot decision making than you would expect, based upon the size of the map and the number of counters involved.



Pound for Pound, FR44 Has One of the Most Unique Systems Around
FR44 is a corps-sized game that has military units and HQ units. The military units do the fighting but without the effective use of HQ’s to direct the war you are not going to achieve success. In the game the Allies have 7 HQs and 48 military units – the Germans have 8 HQs and 37 military units.

There is some variation in the quality of the different HQ units. HQs are rated for the number of infantry units they may activate and the number of armour units that they may activate. The US First and Third armies have the best ratings on the Allied side, with both being able to activate 5 infantry and 5 armour units each impulse. Other HQ activate fewer units – the Canadian HQ can only activate 3 infantry and 3 armour units. The best German HQ can activate 8 infantry and 5 armour while the least efficient German HQ can only activate 1 infantry and 2 armour. In game terms this means that it is quite important where you place your HQs. The flow of battle will certainly change depending on which HQs square off against each other.



The way that the game is played is as follows –
1. Advance the turn marker – each turn represents a month of real time and there are 9 turns to the game (July ’44 – March ’45)
2. Reaction Point Markers are reset to zero – Reaction points allow you to do just that, react to the other guys actions – use ‘em or lose ‘em – they don’t accumulate from turn to turn
3. Air Power Availability – roll a die and see if the Allies have air power – they probably will but it is not certain and the likelihood varies from month to month
4. Add Supply Points – check the current turn details and see how many supplies you get – these do accumulate from turn to turn – you spend supply points to active units and HQs during the activation phase of the game
5. Add New Reaction Points to the Reaction Point Track
6. Put Chits in the Cup – each turn you spend supply for activation chits you will place in the cup DURING THE NEXT TURN. This is a really important aspect of the game and involves forward-planning – you need to decide this turn (before units are moved on the map) how many supplies to spend for activations in the next turn. Each chit you have in the cup will allow you to activate an HQ.
7. Place the Administrative Phase Chit in the Cup – this is also important. The cup will have a variable number of activation chits for the Allies and the Germans. It will also have the Admin. Chit. As these are drawn randomly you don’t know for sure when, in the sequence of play, you will be able to activate your units. The Admin. Chit, when it is drawn, interrupts the game as players organise replacements and reinforcements.
8. Commit Supply Points for the Next Turn’s Activation Chits
9. Initiative & Reaction Phase – this is the meat of the game – chits are drawn and units are activated – devastation is bound to ensue.
10. Both Players are given a final reaction phase.



So, the game play is rather fluid. Each HQ can only be activated a maximum of twice each turn and the same HQ may not be activated twice in a row. Military units may be activated as long as there is an HQ capable of giving them orders.


But Wait, There’s More – Initiative & Reaction Phase
During the I&R Phase chits are drawn. When your chit is drawn you may either activate an HQ OR pass. Regardless of whether or not you activate an HQ, at the end of your activation your opponent has the opportunity to spend Reaction Points to activate an HQ OR a single military unit (an HQ costs 3RP while a unit costs only 1RP). If the opponent does not react then you will have the opportunity to spend RPs if you want to.

When you activate units, either individually or by the use of an HQ, we have another interesting facet of the game. Movement/Combat is done by increments. When you activate units they all either move or fight. The chart shown below shows that if you activate units and go for the option in box ‘1’ every unit fights or moves their full allotment (e.g. units with a movement allowance of 6 can move six and units with a movement of 2 can move two).



If you went with the option in box ‘5’ in the first increment all units could have 1 movement point or some could fight – AND THEN – in the second increment most units could have 2 MPs or some units could fight – AND THEN – you have three different movement/combat optioins for the third increment. Again, this is fairly subtle, fairly sophisticated and certainly elevates the game above your simple ‘beer and pretzels’ style game.


But Wait, There’s More – Combat Resolution

There is a high level of sophistication in the combat resolution of FR44. Combat is resolved on either the mobile CRT or the Set-piece CRT, depending on the circumstances. On the attack the infantry suffer the first loss while on the defence armour take the first loss. Units are rated for morale as well as being given a strength for mobile combat and a different strength for a set-piece battle. It is quite important to have the right sort of units at the right place and the right time. Ad hoc organisation isn’t going to win this campaign.

The CRT itself is not your usual style of CRT. Morale as well as numerical advantage are both important. In some ways, putting more units into a battle will only increase the attacker’s losses – the premise is that once you have too many attacking units all they do is get in their own way and cause extra losses for no real benefit.


The Bottom Line
France 1944 has a lot more to it than meets the eye. It is subtle and sophisticated and different to any other game I have played. It takes a lot of forethought to play it well. As with most games on this campaign it is a mismatch between two very different armies and the German player has to be willing to withdraw and try to save his army. The Allied player probably will win more often than the German but this may just be because I am not very good at handling the subtle subsystems skilfully set into this game. The game is highly interactive and there is a lot of variety in what can happen so the game has a high replay value.



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John Brady
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
thumbed...the review is great, and you get extra marks for the fiendishly frantic alliteration in the title
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
madDdog67 wrote:
thumbed...the review is great, and you get extra marks for the fiendishly frantic alliteration in the title


Your appreciation is almost absolutely awesome.

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
GROGnads wrote:
EDIT the "correct"
for that and I'll DELETE this afterward. whistle


merci

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June Hwang Wah
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
Dammit. I find myself straying into eBay once again.
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Jim F
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Where the heck did this interest in WW1 come from?
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
Agreed. Some people should be banned from posting reviews.
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stephen
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
I wish you had done this review a year ago, I sold my copy of this after I read the rules and could make no sense of it at all, I`m not a wargamer by habit so that may explain it, but I was really excited by the subject matter, but like I said could make no sense of how to play it at all.
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Bart de Groot
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
I've taken my copy out on occasion to look it over. Now after your review I might take it out again soon, maybe even attempt to play it.
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Tom Grant
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
Is it just me, or do HQ units seem like a good sign that a wargame is going to be worth playing? Often, HQs indicate that the designer is putting some emphasis on command and control, supply, or other important considerations.
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Colin Hunter
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
I almost didn't read the review because of the Illiteration, happy I did.
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Peach Pie
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
ibn_ul_khattab wrote:
I almost didn't read the review because of the Illiteration, happy I did.


Alliteration should never scare you off but drive you forward. It's usually a sign of good writing (this was a little over the top, however).
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Eric Lai
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
Thumbs up for a review of one of my favorite VG games. thumbsup

You're right about the box being empty... when I first bought it, I thought there must be something missing! Its the most empty of all my Avalon Hill and Victory Game boxes.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
Commanus wrote:
Your review is excellent, I am glad to see this game and its system get some attention. Thanks, Brian.


Your experiences mirror mine. I initially was unimpressed with the game and considered that there was little to the game to recommend it. With maturity I have a much better appreciation of the game and am in awe of Mark Herman and his ability to translate the reality of the battle into totally amazing subsystems in a game format.
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Adam Cirone
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Re: Fast Ferocious Freedom Fighters Force Frenzied Foes To Flee From France…Forthwith
This was a really nice review... short and to the point, it got me interested in this game by helping me understand what is special about the game. Thank you, and thumbs up.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Garfink wrote:
Thumbs up for a review of one of my favorite VG games. thumbsup

You're right about the box being empty... when I first bought it, I thought there must be something missing! Its the most empty of all my Avalon Hill and Victory Game boxes.


Nice avatar. Friend of yours?

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Eric Lai
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da pyrate wrote:
Garfink wrote:
Thumbs up for a review of one of my favorite VG games. thumbsup

You're right about the box being empty... when I first bought it, I thought there must be something missing! Its the most empty of all my Avalon Hill and Victory Game boxes.


Nice avatar. Friend of yours?



Acquaintance. Also the avatar helps me separate regular geeks and real geeks. Regular geeks notice the nice rack and real geeks notice the Commodore logo.
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c m
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Excellent review. I remember there being some gnashing of teeth on CSW about the CRT. I appreciate Herman's attempt to model some of the non-linearities of combat. The decreasing, or even increasingly poor returns from massing seems to accurately reflect some of the history. It could be off-putting if you expect a traditional CRT, though.
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laurent Closier
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da pyrate wrote:
Each HQ can only be activated a maximum of twice each turn and the same HQ may not be activated twice in a row.

Hi David,

Where are these points in the rulebook ? I cannot find them ; in addition the detailed example shows the 1st US Army HQ activated twice in a row, contradicting your comment. So ?

Thanks for your answer.

Laurent Closier.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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laurent closier wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
Each HQ can only be activated a maximum of twice each turn and the same HQ may not be activated twice in a row.

Hi David,

Where are these points in the rulebook ? I cannot find them ; in addition the detailed example shows the 1st US Army HQ activated twice in a row, contradicting your comment. So ?

Thanks for your answer.

Laurent Closier.


Hello Laurent,

They may not actually be in the rules. They are based on errata supplied by Mark Herman in January 1990.

If you go to www.grognard.com and look up France 1944 you can find the errata.

Da Pyrate




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David Chauvel
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Hi,

I played this game last week with Laurent. The allies, in spite of their powerful armies, have to search for a schwerpunkt in the german lines. Axis forces muts retreat step by step by defending each zone.

Good game with turn with hight tension. Nethertheless, i was surprized that french major ports localized on the Atlantic ocean (Brest, etc..) doesnt constitute allies objectives.They were an objective for 1944 as an supply sources and were U boat bases too. These ports are on the map but not very useful for supply if you capture Le Havre.

These fortress could be an hex victory by discharging the allies by capturing less hexes victory on the Rhine.

 
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Janez Kosel
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Hi

The explanation of increments is not accurate and is wrong.

White spaces dont allow units to attack!!!

YOU need to see this chart in colour mode!!!

Othervise thank you for the review. Nicely done!!!
 
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John Smales
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Just picked this up based on this review and on airjudden's opinion that France 44 is a great solitaire game. The Mark Herman DNA "don't hurt none neither." It will be interesting to pop the hood on this one to see how it relates to some of his later designs.
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This is one of the best "unknown" games I ever played. As an avid wargamer in my youth, I owned dozens of AH and VG titles. Usually, someone I knew overlapped my titles, or was familiar with one enough to play.

Not France 1944, and so I played solitaire more often than not. Glad to see the title getting a proper review that mirrors my own thoughts.

The opening is pretty similar, most times. The static set up means the US/Allied Player has certain best options. But after the initial breakout, the game really and truly shines as the fluid operation requires each player to do what he does best.

Highly recommended title.
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da pyrate wrote:
Commanus wrote:
Your review is excellent, I am glad to see this game and its system get some attention. Thanks, Brian.


Your experiences mirror mine. I initially was unimpressed with the game and considered that there was little to the game to recommend it. With maturity I have a much better appreciation of the game and am in awe of Mark Herman and his ability to translate the reality of the battle into totally amazing subsystems in a game format.


You are a tough grader, I noticed that you gave the game a 5, what do you rate a game you do not like?

Anyway, thanks for the well considered review.

Mark

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Grading adjusted to reflect a more mature appreciation.
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