|Designer Notes: D-Day|
Mons Johnson, one of the developers of Axis and Allies Miniatures, shares some of the thought processes that were behind some of the miniatures in the new D-Day expansion.
The heroes were the figures that elicited the most discussion among the development team. The original design only included the Resourceful Hero, but quickly the team realized that each of the major powers should have a hero. We tried to give heroes abilities that were both unique and evocative.
War brings out both the best and the worst in men, the heroes represent those times when a man rose above the normal limitations of humanity and had a powerful effect on the battlefield. There are many examples of this in the WW2 histories, so there was no lack of inspiration for the designers. Both in terms of what they can physically do and the positive effect on friendly troops. One stirring example of heroism could inspire a whole company of men to great deeds in face of hostile fire.
There was a lot of discussion over the deployment ability and possible limitations for the heroes. Various suggestions for a more restricted deployment were discussed and a limit of 1 hero per army was offered, but eventually it was decided to use the more fun, less restrictive rules. The name of the game is Axis & Allies, which has always emphasized the game over the simulation.
It was very important that a new map and scenario was available for D-Day. Wizard's Organized Play program has just started receiving these last week, so hopefully it will be available at a store new you very soon.
For a couple years the Germans slowly built up the defenses along the French coast in preparation for an Allied invasion. With many miles and miles of coastline to defend, the massive German effort couldn’t make the beaches impregnable, but did make an invasion significantly more challenging. A lot of effort on both sides was devoted towards building obstacles and devising ways to circumvent them.
The obstacles in D-Day represent man made barriers that weren’t too extensive. The Tank Obstacle is welded I-beams, reinforced concrete ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ or other point barriers that could be overcome with a sufficiently determined or fortunate opponent. The obstacles don’t represent impregnable barriers, those were typically only seen at the major fortifications.
In addition to including obstacles, we made an effort to include some of the special vehicles and things developed by the Allies to defeat the various difficulties presented by the German defenders.
The Higgins Boat was bit of a problem for us. Being a boat, it can’t travel about the typical battlefield. So it can’t really be part of the average Axis & Allies army. At least one person suggested to cut it from the set and replace it with another more land friendly figure. On the other hand it was a very important and iconic piece of equipment being the vehicle for delivering the troops to the beach. Once we were told the hatch could drop, we were sold.
I think these internal comments about Veteran Tiger illustrate our thoughts on that mini:
MD 5/27: Crackshot means this guy does more damage than anyone else...
NH 11/2: This unit is the best unit in the game probably.
MJ 11/12: If so, I am content.
The SU-76M was produced in enormous numbers during WW2. We were happy to make the miniature, feeling that it was a bit overdue. This Soviet vehicle was a little small for its time, it was usually outmatched by its German opponents. In addition to being a little outgunned it didn’t have an armored top so the gun crew wasn’t very well protected from small arms fire. Particularly from infantry attacking it from behind.
88mm Flak 36
The 88mm Flak 36 also was a challenge. It was originally designed as an anti-air gun, but for high altitude aircraft. It was used to some effectiveness against enemy infantry, but the ‘88’ was most feared by the allied tankers. Since the gun had a large crew, trained to fight aircraft, it was reasonable to give it the anti-air ability. However, it wasn’t very well equipped to deal with low flying fighters and fighter-bombers, the type of aircraft featured in Axis & Allies. Neither was it specifically designed to fight enemy infantry, so giving it relatively low anti-soldier values left it in a reasonable place. It was also a surprisingly large gun, larger than the half-tracks and 3 ton trucks towing it, so it picked up the ‘Large Silhouette’ and ‘Heavy Gun’ limitation.
‘Heavy Gun’ didn’t interact well with the Gun Transport ability. In order to fix this, we made a slight change to Transport, so when a unit disembarks from something with Transport the owner, not the opponent, chooses the hex the overstacked unit is placed in. The overstacked unit cannot be placed in a hex with enemy units and it must be able to enter the hex (so you can’t unload an ‘88’ into a swamp hex). This is also very important for the Higgins Boat, so your infantry can exit the water hex and end up on land!
It was a lot of fun working on the D-Day Axis & Allies set. We hope that you enjoy the set as much as we enjoyed working on it.
Editor's note: You can find out more about the change in the Transport ability on our message boards.