Night Withdrawal is a very odd scenario from the “Taking Caen” campaign from the First Campaign Book, for Memoir ’44. It uses a variant of the night rule wherein die rolls decrease visibility, leading eventually to full night, and it provides the Germans with an exit point along their own baseline. It’s certainly original.
Charnwood was the operational codename given to the mission of taking Caen, the elusive D-Day objective that the Germans still held on July 7.
The Allied plan progressed at a slower pace than expected, but was forcing the German command to rethink their hold on the city. Rommel, the commander of Army Group B, ordered that all equipment be withdrawn across the Orne River to make a stand in Caen on the south bank of the river and allowing Allied troops to occupy all of Caen on the north bank. On the night of July 8-9, Axis forces began the withdrawal. They left behind rearguards to prevent the Allies from advancing too fast and managed to establish new defensive positions on the far side of the Orne.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
Here’s a photo of the map.
The German exit point on their baseline is the defining feature of this game. It allows the German player to quickly and simply withdraw from the map, and build a nearly insurmountable lead with little effort. Furthermore, every retreat rolled against the Axis player pushes them closer to this goal.
One can imagine a situation in which the Allied player might open up with an infantry assault on their right flank, and attempt to close off the bridge approach. The Axis player has sufficient firepower to make this a very risky strategy. Then again, it’s hard to imagine anything else that can stop an Axis player from pulling everything back, and winning by retreat – other than an Axis hand devoid of center cards.
This map is trying to do something different, and for that, I must give the author, regular contributor Brumbarr44, a fair amount of credit. But it is bizarre and imbalanced in a strange way.
Overall Evaluation – 2/5 – A reasonable Axis hand can turn this into an incredibly boring scenario in which the Axis win without firing. However, at least it’s original.
Balance Evaluation – Axis Favored – Even if the Axis player can’t win by pure retreat due to a center-poor hand, the Axis defensive position is not all that bad – and it gets better and better the worse the visibility. DoW puts this at 52/48 Axis, but reading through the battle reports I see a fair number of campaign players, or games in which barrages were played illegally.
First Turn Win Possibility – None – This is a slow-drip sort of map.
Plink-Fest Danger – None – Only the dumbest Axis player will end up in a tit for tat plink-fest, when withdrawal is a vastly preferable option.