Fitting that the boys and I played the Memoir ’44 Battle of Sainte-Mere-Eglise on the anniversary of the battle. The scenario map and setup can be found on the Days of Wonder site. I played the Germans who are trying to hold the town against the paratroopers of the 505th Parachute Regiment.
Per the special rules, the boys called for a random paradrop of four additional American paratrooper units. Luckily for the boys, three units landed on the map, all in the center area, with one actually in the town adjacent to my defending infantry unit. The boys were able to rapidly destroy this defending unit and occupy every part of the town.
My counterattack began to the south (Fouvile) where the infantry tried to move out and clear the way for the Panzers behind. At the same time, a weak advance (low Command Cards) pushed the units to the north (Neuville-au-Plain) towards the lone American infantry unit holding the only hill on the map.
Lady Luck did not shine on me for this battle.
At several points the game, my command cards (4) consisted of two or three cards ordering units in the center – where I had been pushed out. The few command cards I did have seemingly favored the Fouvile side of the board, but never in sufficient numbers. My units were forced to move up piecemeal and slowly while getting ground down by the Americans holding Sainte-Mere-Eglise. An attempt to use the Panzers to sweep around the town and cut off retreat routes was left unsupported by the infantry (to few units ordered by Command Cards). The Americans in town dug in (sandbag fortifications) which made digging them out even harder. The (very) few Command Cards drawn for the Neuville-Au-Plain side of the battle only succeeded in slowly pushing units towards the hill but again never in sufficient numbers for a useful attack. Neither could the few units even try to slide by – command on this flank appeared paralyzed.
In the end, the Americans won (4 Victory Medals to 2 Victory Medals) by destroying three units (including the Panzer) on the one flank and one at the base of the hill.
Like the historical battle, the American troopers on the high ground fought the Germans to a standstill. The real defeat came in the south where the Germans were committed – and destroyed – piecemeal.
Tactically, the game seemed to capture the realities of warfare in WWII; armor needs infantry support, a well-timed airstrike slowed progress, and command & control paralysis can upset your plans.