Get off the Beach

Fast Play Rules for the Normandy Invasion

Written by: Matt Fritz

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< Introduction | The Sides | The Board | The Rules | How To | Options >

Introduction: These rules were written for 8th grade students studying WWII. The American players land their squads on the beach and attempt to make it to the Sea Wall. The German players attempt to prevent this by firing from fortified Bunkers and with artillery strikes. American players that lose their squad will have to start over by landing a new squad in the following turn. To win the Americans must clear the obstacles and destroy the German bunkers, opening the exits to the beach. Because the American are allowed to replace their losses they will eventually succeed, but at a high cost. In playtesting the Americans are generally able to breakthrough in at least one place after about 45 minutes of play, and are able to win decisively in about an hour.

The Sides: Each player on the German side will control 2 bunkers containing 4 German soldiers. Each player on the American side will command a landing craft containing a squad of 12 men. There should be 3 American players for every German player.

The Board: 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 a line at the edge of the water. The water should be divided into 8" wide landing zone sections. Each American player will be assigned to one of these landing zones. Paint a 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. Roll a D6 to determine how many obstacles are present in each section: 1 - no obstacles, 2-5 one obstacle, 6 - two obstacles. The obstacles can be represented by a piece of picture wire wound in a spiral and glued to cardboard. This will resemble barbed wire. The German bunker area should be divided into 8" wide sections. Each German player will be in charge of defending three of these sections. He may place one bunker into whichever section he chooses (leaving one empty).

The Rules

Sequence of Play:

1. Beach Landings

2. Americans Act

3. Germans Act

4. Morale

Beach Landings: Roll D6 for each landing craft to determine how far from the water line its squad is disembarked. Place all the figures from the landing craft in a group at the correct distance from the water line.

Americans Act: American players may choose ONE action for each figure in their command:

  1. Move: Figures move 6" per when on the beach, but only 3" when they are in the water. To move the squad move measure the distance and move one figure, then place the rest of the figures in a group around that figure. Figures must stop at the sea wall. The may only move past the sea wall in later turns if any obstacles in the way have been cleared.
  2. Clear Obstacles: Any American figures 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.
  3. Assault: American figures that are 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 and remove all German figures in the position. This represents attacking German positions with flamethrowers, demolitions, grenades, and small arms.

Germans Act: Every surviving German bunker may fire at an American squad. The German player will roll 4 D6 and an American figure will be removed for every 5 or 6 rolled. The bunker may not fire if it has been destroyed. Every German player may attempt to hit one American squad with artillery. German players may NOT target squads that have moved past the Sea Wall. The German player must roll a D6 to see if the artillery strike is successful. If the roll is a 5 or 6 the attack has been successful. The player then rolls 4 D6 and removes one American figure for every 4, 5, or 6 rolled.

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 then the squad has been eliminated as a fighting force. The American player should place all the figures 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.

Strategy Notes:

German: German players will be most successful if they concentrate their attacks each turn on a single squad. This will increase the chances of the squad failing morale. Pick on the squads that are closest to the Sea Wall.

American: American players should get to the Sea Wall as quickly as possible, clear the Obstacles and assault the Bunkers. Remember that the artillery can't hit you if you clear the obstacles and move past the sea wall. American players should work together and follow up on each other's successes. Most important of all: don't get discouraged. When you lose a squad and have to start over the Germans will probably ignore you for a while, giving you a chance to get back across the beach.

How To:

The Board: We used large sections of cardboard. Blue spray paint was used for the water and the rest was painted with American Accents "Stone Creations" spray paint to create the look of a beach. The Water Line, Sea Wall, and other markings were drawn using paint markers. We created five sections of board totaling twelve feet. This is enough room for 18 American players and 6 German players.

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.

Obstacles: We created obstacles by winding picture wire around a thick marker. These rolls were glued down to strips of card stock using Elmer's glue. The bases were painted yellow using a mix of Folk Art acrylic paint and Elmer's glue. The bases were then dipped in beach sand while wet to create a sandy look that blends in well with the board. Here are some paper barbed wire sections you can print and use.

Landing Craft: We took some plastic hardware trays and spray painted them gray. Here are some paper Landing Craft you can print and use.

Figures: The German and American figures mostly came from boxes of 20 mm plastic Revell and Airfix figures. The figures were washed in the dishwasher then sprayed with black Rustoleum primer. They were then painted using Folk Art Acrylics, covered with a spray on coat of clear gloss, followed by a spray of Testor's Matte Finish to remove the gloss. The kids are hard on figures so you may want to just use the figures unpainted. Here are some paper soldiers you can print and use.

Measuring Sticks: We cut 1/4" wooden dowels into 6" lengths and marked the sticks at 3". These are easier to use than rulers.

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1. When artillery lands successfully mark the spot with a bottle cap spray painted black to represent an impact crater.

2. When a squad fails morale or is completely eliminated mark the spot with a penny that's been painted red. After the game this will create a vivid visual indicator of how many casualties were inflicted.

3. Don't lay out the obstacles ahead of time. When a squad arrives at the sea wall let them roll to find out what's in front of them.

4. Get some match sticks and cut them into 3" sections. Glue three of them together at right angles to form a hedgehog. Spray paint them black, then swipe them with some rust colored acrylic paint. Sprinkle them along the Water Line to represent the many beach obstacles.

5. Set a limit on how many times an American player can bring in a fresh squad (3-5 would be a good range). When his last squad is eliminated he's out of the game, or he can join the Germans and take over control of a bunker.

6. Have the students read excerpts from Stephen Ambrose's D-Day book.

7. Show the students the beach landing scenes from the film "The Longest Day", or, if they are old enough, show them the beach landing scences from "Saving Private Ryan".

8. Invite a small group to a practice game and teach them how to play before running it with a large group. Then your student experts can help the others with the rules.

9. Find some local WWII vets to come in and tell the students about their experiences in the war.

10. Mark destroyed Bunkers with cotton puffs.