Get off the Beach

Fast Play Rules for the Normandy Invasion

Written by: Matt Fritz

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Version 2: This is a revised version of my original D-Day rules. The original rules can be found here. This new version is simpler, and the format is the same as the other scenarios on this web site.

Historical Background: On June 6, 1944, the liberation of France began. Americans, and their allies, launched a massive amphibious assault on the beaches of Normandy. The attack took the Germans by surprise. In some places the Allies faced light resistance. But on Omaha Beach the Americans faced a fearsome German defense consisting of concrete bunkers, mine, barbed wire, machine guns, and artillery. Despite the many obstacles in their path the Americans succeeded in breaching the defenses and forcing their way off the beach. The victory on "Bloody Omaha: was a big step towards winning the war in Europe.

Battle 1: The landing craft dropped their ramps and the Americans waded onto the beach, right into the teeth of the German defenses. It was hard going for the Americans, and most of the first wave were wiped out. As the second wave began landing a few small, disorganized groups of Americans crossed the sea wall and breached the wire and mines. Their attempts to assault the bunkers up on the bluffs were stopped by a tight concentration of artillery and merciless machine gun fire. The first break for the Americans came when a determined young lieutenant managed to lead nearly his entire assault crew across the beach. His men destroyed the bunker anchoring the end of the German line before his men were pinned down while attempting to attack the next bunker. Elsewhere on the beach other American commanders were taking the fight to the enemy. As "The Longest Day" ended the Americans destroyed a second bunker, securing the foothold on the beaches of Normandy they desperately needed. This battle was a narrow American victory.

Battle 2: This assault went very well. The Americans were able to make it across the beach with their formations mostly intact thanks to a miserable performance by the German artillery. The Americans quickly created several large breaches in the belt of mines and wire and went to work attacking the bunkers. The Germans counterattacked ferociously, but the Americans couldn't be stopped. Three German bunkers were destroyed in rapid succession. This battle was a decisive American victory.

Victory Conditions: The Americans must destroy at least two German bunkers to win a victory.

The Board: I made my beach out of sections of painted cardboard (blue paint for the water, textured paint - American Accents "Stone Creations" for the beach). The number of sections used depends on how many students are participating (the longest beach used so far was twelve feet). The board should consist of 6 or more inches of water, two feet of beach, a 4 inch section of obstacles, and at least four inches of ground for the German bunkers. Paint or use a marker to draw a line at the edge of the water and another line at the end of the 2 feet of beach directly in front of the Obstacles area to represent the Sea Wall. The Obstacles area should be divided into 6" wide segments. The Obstacles can be represented by a piece of picture wire wound in a spiral and glued to cardboard. Here are some paper barbed wire sections you can print and use. Each 6" segment of obstacles should have one or two lines of wire in it.

Building the Armies: There are many companies that produce 1/72 plastic figures for World War II (most of mine are Revell and Airfix. American figures should be based individually Here are some paper soldiers you can print and use:  ddayfigs.pdf. The black & white soldiers can be reproduced on a copying machine (print opposing armies on different colored paper) or given to the kids to color. We took some plastic hardware trays and spray painted them gray to represent landing craft. Here are some paper landing craft you can print and use:  ddayfigs.pdf. You don't need any German figures to play this scenario, the Germans are represented by bunkers. Bunkers were created using cardboard topped with thin card stock. They were glued together with Elmer's Glue and a firing slit was cut using a razor utility blade. The insides were spray painted black. The outsides were sprayed using white spray paint and American Accents "Stone Creations" spray paint to add texture. A good alternative would be to spray paint the outside with grey. A door was painted on the back using Folk Art acrylic paints. The door is purely decorative and has no effect on game play. You can also use these paper bunkers:  ddayfigs.pdf.

Order of Battle: The Americans are grouped into assault squads of twelve men. The Germans have concrete machine gun bunkers. I use 3 American squads and two German bunkers per two foot section of beach. The German bunkers should be placed behind the obstacles and should be at least 8" apart.

Turn Sequence:
1. Beach Landings
2. Americans Move, Clear Obstacles, or Assault Bunkers
3. Germans Shoot
4. German Artillery
5. American Morale Tests

Beach Landings: American landing craft are placed at the water line and the figures in the landing craft are placed on the beach in front of the craft. On turn one all the American squads will arrive in this manner, after that squads will land only as replacements for a squad that has been destroyed (failed a morale test last turn). In my battles there is usually no limit to how many replacements can land. If you want to give the Germans a chance to win you can limit the number of replacements. If you have a limit you can place a red penny or other marker down whenever a squad is eliminated to help you keep track of how many squads have landed on the beach. The landing craft have no effect on play (they can't be shot at or hit by artillery), they serve only as holding trays for American casualties.

Americans Move, Clear Obstacles, or Assault Bunkers American players may choose ONE action for each figure in their command:

Americans Move: Figures move up to 6". Figures must stop at the sea wall. They may only move past the sea wall in later turns if any obstacles in the way have been cleared.

Clear Obstacles: Any American figures that start the turn at the sea wall may attempt to clear the obstacles in their way. Roll 1 D6 for each figure attempting this. Every 6 rolled will clear one obstacle. This represents using wire cutters, and Bangalore torpedoes to clear barbed wire, and mine detectors to find a path through mine fields. Figures may not move through a gap created in the obstacles on the same turn the gap is created.

Assault: American figures that start the turn in contact with a German bunker may attempt to assault it. Roll a D6 for each figure attempting to assault. A roll of 6 on any die will destroy the bunker. This represents attacking German positions with flamethrowers, demolitions, grenades, and small arms.

Germans Shoot: Every surviving German bunker may fire at an American squad. The German player will roll 4 D6 for each bunker and an American figure will be hit for every 5 or 6 rolled. The casualties should be tipped over, not removed, until the morale tests are done.

German Artillery: The German players get to throw two cotton balls for each bunker (including destroyed bunkers). Each represents a mortar or artillery shell. The players must stand an arm's length away from their table edge, then they throw the balls onto the battlefield. Continue throwing the balls until all of them have been used. It doesn't matter if they bounce or roll, their final resting place is all that counts. If some of the balls end up off the table that's too bad, those shells went astray. When all the balls have been thrown the damage is assessed. Any cotton balls that end up on the German side of the sea wall are considered misses, they should be removed. Any figure that is touching a cotton ball, or whose base is under a ball is removed. When in doubt remove the figure.

Morale: American squads that have taken casualties this turn must check morale. Roll a D6 for every figure lost THIS turn. If the total is 12 or more the squad has been eliminated as a fighting force. The American player should place all the figures (including casualties) back in the landing craft and land them as a fresh squad during the Beach Landings phase of the next turn. If the total is less than 12 there is no effect on the squad. Remove the figures that were eliminated this turn, the remainder of the squad can fight on next turn.

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 Resources: Here are some useful resources for wargaming Omaha Beach: