"Behind the clouds, if heavy with our blood and with our tears, there is that which will restore the sunlight and our grandeur."
-- General Charles De Gaulle, Leader of the Free French Forces
The difference between horror and suspense, Hitchcock said, is this: In a horror film, two people are having lunch at a table and then a bomb goes off. In a suspense film, the director shows you the bomb before they sit down.
Tactics cards add suspense to the D-Day game. If you know the cards, you'll know certain powerful events are coming, but you won't know exactly when.
The tactics cards are numbered 1 through 16, just like order cards and fortune cards. Each tactics card goes after the correspondingly numbered order card. When you flip over a tactics card, one side decides whether to invoke its effect. If not, move on to the next card. If so, do what the card says, then discard it.
Unlike in the other two decks, the Axis and the Allies have the same number of tactics cards. The effects of the tactics cards are described below. In addition to the text below, all state, "Remove this card from deck after use."
Tactics Card 1: Paratrooper Reinforcements
The text of this Allied card is Roll one die for each Airborne box. On a roll of 3 or less, that many paratroopers land there (choose the next Allies infantry reinforcements). These infantry immediately make a targeted attack against Axis units (except blockhouses) in that zone.
Players often ask, "Can't I get more paratroopers?" Yes you can. These are the next infantry reinforcements you'd otherwise get, so you have to do it before you run out.
Tactics Card 2: V-2 Rocket Strike
The text of this Axis card is Roll one die for each Allies reinforcement chart. On a roll of 4 or less, remove the first available unit from that reinforcement chart.
Late in the game, you may want to use those paratroopers if you know this is coming.
Tactics Card 3: Barnstorming
The text of this Allied card is Choose one fighter. It is immune to antiaircraft fire on the next phase.
This can be a powerful card. Just one invulnerable fighter can do serious damage to a column of armor and artillery moving toward a victory city.
Tactics Card 4: Fireball from Above
The text of this Axis card is Choose one zone in which artillery shot down a fighter this phase. Then choose one Allies land unit in that zone or any adjacent zone and remove it from the game.
This is an "add insult to injury" card. This is a nice effect in the smaller scale of this game, as you can imagine a plane crashing into a friendly tank.
Tactics Card 5: Heavy Bombardment
The text of this Allied card is Roll one additional die for each bomber. A roll of 3 or less is a hit.
This is similar to Heavy Bombers in Axis & Allies, but it can only happen once a game.
Tactics Card 6: Friendly Fire
The text of this Axis card is Choose one zone in which a bomber missed any target this phase. Then choose one Allies land unit in any adjacent zone and remove it from the game.
This is an "add injury to insult" card.
Tactics Card 7: Flooding the Lowlands
The text of this Axis card is Choose a coastal zone that contains no Allies land units. No Allies land units may move into that zone in the next phase.
A coastal zone is any that borders the sea. This can be a great delaying tactic.
Tactics Card 8: Blockhouse Construction
The text of this Axis card is Place one blockhouse on any unoccupied blockhouse silhouette whose zone contains at least one Axis infantry and no Allies land units.
If all of your blockhouses were destroyed, then Order Card 9: Blockhouses Fire to Sea was removed from the orders deck. By putting a blockhouse back on the map, this tactics card lets you get Order Card 9 back in the deck. This simple act can be amazingly disheartening.
Tactics Card 9: Deceptive Landing Arrangement
The text of this Allied card is The Allies may rearrange any or all of the land units in their beachhead boxes, as long as U.S. units stay in U.S. beachheads and U.K. units stay in U.K. beachheads. The number of land units in any beachhead still cannot exceed the maximum allowed.
This is not quite the same as fortune card 10's coordinated landing development, which allows units to land on different beaches. Here, you can move units into different boxes with the express intent of leaving units in the water. This can be impressive if you clear out a beach of infantry and then land nothing but tanks and artillery a turn later.
Tactics Card 10: Combined Assault
The text of this Allied card is During the next phase, for each Allies artillery in a zone, a corresponding Allies infantry in that zone attacks on a 2.
Players of other Axis & Allies games will recognize this as a power of artillery. Here, you only get it once, but you might have quite a bit more artillery than in those other games.
Tactics Card 11: Long-Range Howitzers
The text of this Allied card is Roll one die per Allies artillery against a target Axis land unit in an adjacent zone; a roll of 2 or less is a hit. The targeted unit does not counterattack.
This card started it all. When Larry Harris designed D-Day, he put in this advanced rule. It's the first appearance of battleship-style bombardment from a land unit toward another unit on land. The rest of the tactics cards were designed around it.
Tactics Card 12: French Resistance
The text of this Allied card is The Allies roll one die for each zone containing a victory city (Cherbourg, St. Lô, Caen) still under Axis control. On each roll of 2 or less, remove one Axis land unit of the Allies' choice from that zone.
This won't stop the Axis from keeping units inside a victory city, but it might stop them from keeping only one unit inside a victory city.
Tactics Card 13: Long-Range 88s
The text of this Axis card is Roll one die per Axis artillery against a target Allies land unit in an adjacent zone; a roll of 2 or less is a hit. The targeted unit does not counterattack.
Of course, if the Allies get to bombard, the Axis does too.
Tactics Card 14: Reconnaissance Strafing
The text of this Allied card is Move any number of fighters to a zone containing a German reinforcement marker.
After your fighters pepper moving Axis units, they can move to probable reinforcement zones. If the Axis can only reinforce in one meaningful zone, this can be stunning.
Tactics Card 15: German Convoy
The text of this Axis card is Choose an Axis land unit that can move and move it to any zone. It can pass only through zones containing at least one Axis land unit and no Allies land units.
When this works, you can run a tank from the bottom of the board to a beach.
Tactics Card 16: Volunteers from the Home Front
The text of this Allied card is Roll one die for each victory city (Cherbourg, St. Lô, Caen) under Allies control. Return that many destroyed U.K. infantry to the United Kingdom reinforcement chart.
Getting a half-dozen men back toward the end of the game can be the difference between winning and losing. That last city you need better not be Cherbourg, though.
That's the end of our final D-Day preview column. As the 60th anniversary of D-Day arrives, maybe you'll want to recreate the battle that secured our freedom. I know I intend to.
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.