(The German player looks like this a lot…)
Anzio Beachhead was the third game SPI came out with in S&T. It depicts the Allied establishment of a beachhead near Rome in 1944 and the German’s subsequent attempts to extinguish it. Supposedly, the game was originally part of Avalon Hill’s simulation of the Italian campaign, Anzio, but was ultimately edited out.
It’s 2-player and 7 turns long. Expect a complete game to take about 6 hours (of course, fast players could probably halve that).
The version I have is DTP. I made the map on four 8.5″ and 11″ pieces of paper, and the counters were construction paper on posterboard. I colored the map with chalk pastels, which turned out very nice.
The whole game takes two pages of rules–with optional rules a most of a page! Ah, the good old days. The impulse system is interesting–each side gets two moves, while the other side gets a half-move inbetween, during which they can’t move into an enemy’s zone of control. ZOCs are really sticky. You can’t move from one to another, and if you move out, you can only move one space. Combat is pretty typical, with good results not really happening until 3-1. 1-1 isn’t generally worth it. There some fiddly rules which allow the Allies to use naval guns and fighters to add strength throughout the game, and if the Germans engage 30 or more units on turns 4 and 5, there is the chance that the Allies will break morale, allowing the Germans to swarm the lines.
The Germans win if they slaughter lots of Allies or if they manage to park units next to Anzio. The Allies win if they avoid that.
It’s all defense for the Allies–they set up a defensive perimeter using rivers and cities as barriers. The Germans are looking for weak points in the line. Both sides have reinforcements come in, but the Allies get most of them earlier. A good Allied player will not let the Germans have more than 2-1 at any point, and this means the Germans have to risk ugly exchanges. A few of those and it’s over. Both the Germans and Allies have an 18-6 (combat strength/movement) and 12-6 unit, and if either of them go, it’s probably the game (unless it’s simultaneous). Allied play is a no-brainer, once you get the hang of it. There are some fiddly reinforcement rules that you have to watch out for, so place your troops accordingly. German strategy is tougher. The real issue with the game is that although you get two move/attack turns, you really try to do your attacking on the first so you can take advantage of it with your second as there is no advance after combat rule. The allies can break their lines to hit bad guys one hex away and then get back in line in phase 2, which is nice.
Not a particularly colorful game and, as with Crete, after a couple of games, the Allied set-up is fairly obvious. A word to the wise German–do *not* attack on turn 1. The Germans will feel as if they have to destabilize the Allied line early on to keep reinforcements from making the front too strong, but the Germans really can’t launch a strong offensive until Turn 3. The morale rule will break the Allied line, but it is possible to recover, if the Allied player makes a fighting withdrawal.
Overall, it’s an interesting challenge, but I’d be sick of it after 4-5 plays. For something out of a magazine, it’s a good diversion, not a classic.
- S&T plays : Crete (meshtime.com)
- 69 years ago: The 99th Fighter Squadron wins and loses over Anzio (obscureco.wordpress.com)
- Cross Of Iron (1977) (moonwolves.wordpress.com)