"The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem.”
--Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In this column I'll guide you through the first few order cards. This is fairly easy to do because the first seven cards all have the same theme: death raining down from the sky. The Allies begin each turn by aiming their considerable air and sea forces at the occupied countryside.
As I stated last time, the order cards are followed in sequence. To start the first turn, put the turn marker on Turn 1 on the left side of the map. Order card 1 is dealt off the deck, and its instructions are followed. Then order card 2, then 3, and so on. Each card has one player acting while the other reacts.
In these orders, you will see that units do not follow the same rules as they do in Axis & Allies or its sequels. All the units have been customized for this game.
Order Card 1: Airborne Assault
The text of this Allied order is Roll one die for each infantry in the Airborne boxes. A roll of 1 is a hit. (Blockhouses cannot be chosen as casualties.) Remove this card from deck after use.
Paratroopers -- the US 101st, the US 82nd, and the British 6th airborne divisions -- are essentially normal Allied infantry pieces, but they have a special attack as they drop from the sky. Each paratrooper gets a free shot if there are German land units (not blockhouses) in the zone surrounding the airborne box. The Germans do not get to fire back, so anything hit dies without retaliating. (The Axis still chooses its own casualties.)
After the paratroopers' free attack, order card 1 is removed from the deck. This turns the paratroopers into regular infantry from that point on. Here's a key paradigm to understanding this game: Acting on one order does not prevent a unit from acting on another. When the Allied units attack later on, these paratroopers can join in even if they attacked on order card 1. They're just normal soldiers at that point.
Order Card 2: Naval Bombardment
The text of this Allied order is Roll six dice, targeting blockhouses only. A roll of 2 or less is a hit.
The navy that gathered at Piccadilly Circus -- the nautical marshalling point for the Allied invasion -- unloads on the Atlantic Wall in this order, attempting to clear the beaches for the landing units. The Allied players choose their targets one at a time, rolling a die for each bombardment. Each hit removes a blockhouse from the game.
This is the first occasion of "targeted" attacks in this game line. A targeted attack is one that specifies a single unit as its target. The blockhouses start on most of the coastline spaces, and cannot be moved out of the way of this targeted bombardment. The hit blockhouses do not get to fire back before they are destroyed.
When all the blockhouses are destroyed, this card is removed from the game.
Order Card 3: Fighters Patrol
The text of this Allied order is Place fighters in selected zones.
The United States and United Kingdom start with four fighters each which they can move to any land territories they choose. Up to four total fighters may be placed in any given zone.
Fighters do not attack at this point. In fact, at no time does an Allied player say, "I'll attack with my fighter now." That's because fighters have a special role in D-Day: They exist to punish the Germans for moving their forces. I'll discuss this more in the next column, which covers unit movement.
Order Card 4: Antiaircraft Fire vs. Fighters
The text of this Axis order is Roll one die for each artillery in a zone containing fighters. A roll of 1 is a hit.
The first Axis order targets those fighters just placed by the Allies. As there are no antiaircraft guns per se in this game, the multitude of German artillery -- the massive 88s -- in the same zones as Allied fighters can fire one shot apiece, with each 1 knocking a fighter of the Axis's choice out of the sky. Hit fighters do not get to fire back. A single fighter can be shot at by multiple guns in the same territory, which doesn't happen in Axis & Allies.
The surest way to avoid this effect is to place fighters in zones without artillery. Unfortunately for the Allies, following this advice means the Germans might be able to move with impunity.
If all the fighters are destroyed, this card and order card 3 are removed from the game.
Order Card 5: Bombers Strike
The text of this Allied order is Place bombers on selected zones that do not contain Allies land units. Roll one die for each bomber against a target Axis unit. A roll of 3 or less is a hit.
The US and UK each have one bomber at the start of the game. These planes can be placed anywhere that Allied land units are not; otherwise, the bombers would hit friendly forces. This restriction exists because of the small size of the territories and the imprecision of bombing. Unfortunately for the Allies, for much of the game this excludes the beaches from the list of viable targets.
Note that the bombers' strikes are targeted against a land unit of the Allies' choice, and they hit on a 3 or less (not the 4 or less from other Axis & Allies games). Also, unlike in the core game, these strikes happen before antiaircraft fire against the bombers. (There is no strategic bombing in this game because there is no economic component.)
Order Card 6: Antiaircraft Fire: Bombers
The text of this Axis order is Roll one die for each artillery in a zone containing bombers. A roll of 1 is a hit.
Now the 88s get to open up on the bombers, if the Allies have put them in harm's way. Even if they fired on fighters before, these artillery get a shot at the bombers now. Multiple artillery in the same zone can target the same plane, but each artillery only gets one shot even if it has more than one target.
If a bomber or fighter is destroyed by antiaircraft fire, it isn't returned to the airbase. In fact, there is no way to get destroyed planes back, so be careful where you put your bombers!
Order Card 7: Bombers Return
The text of this Allied order is Place bombers on airfield.
The surviving bombers return to base, where they are safely out of the rest of the turn's hostilities. The bombers can be redeployed on the next turn.
If all the bombers are destroyed, order cards 5, 6, and 7 are removed from the deck now.
That's the first seven of the sixteen order cards. Next, I'll cover unit movement, fighter strafing, and something some Axis & Allies players have been requesting for years: stacking limits.
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.