"I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!"
--General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Headquarters
Combat is the heart of any Axis & Allies game, and D-Day is no different. As with most parts of the game, though, it's a bit different from the core game.
Combat centers around these two order cards, which are never removed from the game. Both have an active player and a reactive player, meaning both players have something to do on each order.
Order Card 11: Allies Attack, Axis Defends
The text for this Allied order is Conduct one cycle of combat in each zone having both Allies and Axis land units.
Order Card 13: Axis Attacks, Allies Defend
The text for this Allied order is Conduct one cycle of combat in each zone having both Axis and Allies land units.
These two cards are fundamentally the same, though they switch who has the role of the attacker. Note that the Axis moves in between these two cards, which may mean a very different set of circumstances in these two orders.
Each of these cards calls for one cycle of combat. As Axis & Allies players know, a cycle is one pass through the combat sequence.
The D-Day Combat Sequence
The combat sequence in D-Day has fewer steps than in the core game. Here is the combat sequence, using Abigail Fein's battle board design.
- 1. Place units on battle board
- 2. Attacking units fire
- 3. Defending units fire
- 4. Remove casualties
- 5. Determine control
For those not familiar with the Axis & Allies combat system, that means the following:
- Put the units on the appropriate side of the battle board;
- The attacker rolls dice for his attacking units, needing to roll their attack values or lower on the die;
- The defender puts in his or her casualty zone a number of units equal to the number of hits;
- The defender then rolls for all of the defending units (even those in the casualty zone), trying to roll their defense values or less;
- The attacker designates as casualties a number of attacking units equal to the number of defensive hits;
- Then both casualty zones are cleared of their units, which cannot return to the game.
In the final step, you control a zone if you have the only land units in that zone. A zone that does not contain land units does not count as controlled by either side. As I mentioned in my debut column, there are no control markers in this game because you need to stay in zones you want to control.
The most important difference between this game and the core game's combat sequence is that there's no "Press attack or retreat" step. If you get into combat, you're stuck there until it's settled. Since you only do one cycle of combat per card (that is, a maximum of two such cycles per turn), major clashes will not be resolved in a single turn. This allows, for the first time in Axis & Allies, the ability to reinforce a battle while it is raging.
Each unit has an attack and defense value. Infantry attack on a 1 and defend on a 1 or 2. Artillery attack and defend on 2 or less.
Tanks, on the other hand, are different for the Axis and the Allies. The German Panthers attack and defend on a 3 or less. The Shermans are not as strong on defense as those Panthers. They also attack on a 3, but defend on a 2.
Some longtime Axis & Allies players are scratching their heads right now. Why, after the controversial decision to change tanks' defense in the core game from 2 to 3, are there two different tanks in D-Day? The answer is that you don't have to buy them. The lack of an economic component allowed the design team to have different units for different sides, and we took advantage of that.
The game play effect is significant. Allied tanks are just as good at crashing into a city and clearing it out as the German ones are. In the long battles that take place over multiple turns, however, the Germans have a better chance of holding their cities with tanks. That's why tanks tend to be the primary targets of Allied bombing. (Well, that and the fact that sending your planes after Axis artillery can get them out of the sky.)
The other land unit, the blockhouse, attacks on a 3 and defends on a 1. This last number might surprise a few folks, as blockhouses were great defensive fortifications. This ability is reflected in their firing out to sea on order card 9 and their solid attack score. Once the Allies can maneuver around them and even come at them from behind, the blockhouses can be sitting ducks.
Here is the example of combat from Brian Dumas's rulebook.
Example of Combat
Germany attacks the United Kingdom forces in the victory city of Caen.
Step 1: Place Units on Battle Board. The Axis is the attacker. Its player places the infantry, artillery, and tanks in the appropriate columns on the attacker's side of the battle board (1, 2, and 3, respectively). The United Kingdom's tank, infantry, and artillery are placed in the appropriate columns on the defender's side (in this case, all defend on a 2).
Step 2: Attacking Units Fire. Germany's player rolls three dice for the infantry and gets a 4, a 2, and a 5, all misses. Rolling one die for the artillery produces a 2, which is a hit, and rolling three dice for the tanks give two 2s and a 5, for two more hits. The UK player chooses two infantry and one artillery as casualties and moves them to the defender's casualty zone.
Step 3: Defending Units Fire. The UK player rolls seven dice, needing a 2 or less to hit on each: one for the tank, two for the infantry, and four for the artillery (even though two infantry and one artillery are in the casualty zone). The UK player rolls a 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, for a total of two hits. The Axis player chooses two infantry as casualties and moves them to the defender's casualty zone.
Step 4: Remove Casualties. The UK's two infantry and one artillery and the two Axis infantry are destroyed.
Step 5: Determine Control. The United Kingdom and the Axis Both have land units remaining in the zone, so neither side controls it, and a combat situation still exists. The next time an order card directs an attack, a new cycle of combat will begin.
Why Attacking is Mandatory
Any time you can attack, you must. Of course, sometimes you won't want to throw your forces up against the opposing troops in your zone. The game has a simple response to this reasonable request: Cowboy up, soldier.
We mandated attacking to render unworkable the tactic we dubbed the "scrub stall." This maneuver was to send one infantry into a zone with eight hostile units, decline to attack, and stop the enemy from moving on their next movement order. With mandatory attacking right after movement, the scrub stall is suicide. The stalling unit will be gunned down in a hail of ammo, and the surviving units will be able to move freely.
Speaking of losing units, at some point you'll want more than what you started with. Next column, I'll discuss the process of reinforcing and unveil the nifty reinforcement charts. Don't miss that.
Catch up on any previews you missed!
Mike Selinker has been playing, designing, developing, and just plain loving games of every variety for many, many years. He is a gamer in the very best sense of the word. Mike lives in Seattle.