D-Day at Peleliu

Decision Games is the publisher of many wargames. Their games have had a spotty track record as far as I am concerned. They publish a great many of them, most of them in three different magazines. As such the games are often under developed or have odd graphics choices or both.

They do publish boxed games as well and are known for republishing many of the old SPI era games, often with updated designs. My experience has been that the remakes look nicer than the old ones but are not better games.

A notable exception to this has been a series of new designs that all start with "D-Day at" in the title. To date there have been 3 titles; D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Tarawa and D-Day at Peleliu. Each game is a solitaire game where the player is the invader against a very tenacious system controlled opponent. The system is very clever and I would even say it is brilliant.

A single deck of 55 cards drives the action of the game. These cards have 3 or 4 different uses depending on the individual game.

They determine the success of the landings, whether units drift from their intended landing hex or whether they take step losses along the way. There is a even a simple but effective method of determining whether landing craft are damaged or destroyed and whether units make it to the beach with dry feet or whether they have to wade in under fire. All of this is done with one line of graphic symbols and key words.

The cards in conjunction with printed symbols on the map determine which Japanese or German positions fire on which Allied units. The map can be confusing at first. There are a lot of colored dots and triangles but once the system is learned these become as much of the landscape as the terrain symbology depicted on the map. There are no dice in the game. So to determine the fire effects, simple numerical values are compared to the symbols on the map and on the card and a matric determines the result. It sound very random, but the symbols have been cleverly arranged to portray areas that historically provided more fire intensity than others.

The player's attacks are similarly resolved with the added twist that each enemy unit is rated for certain weapons types and tactics needed to defeat it. So for example, a particular Japanese unit may require flame thrower and machine gun equipped units to defeat it and also the attack must come from two sides. Depending on the position, these facts may not be known to the player when the attack ensues. This is accomplished through a second combat marker attached to the actual unit called a depth marker. This represents the hard or soft factors that the unit may be equipped with such weaponry or fortifications. It creates a pretty tense situation for the player as often you find an attack in underway only to learn that the nut is much tougher to crack. There is no counting of factors to get that perfect 3-1 odds as in many other games. This is much more realistic.

The cards also provide random events both for the player and the enemy side.

I cannot speak highly enough about this game system.. John Butterfield is the designer. He was also the designer of classic wargames such as RAF and Ambush, also solitaire games as well as quite a few others. What he has created here is nothing short of remarkable. It is a relatively simple game that produces historical results and a completely immersive gaming and learning experience.

These sorts of games are certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but to anyone with an interest in learning (as first hand as one can) about the events at Omaha Beach, Tarawa and Peleliu, these games are the ticket.


  • I gave D-Day at Tarawa a whirl. To boil it down to one word: Diabolical. I have lost a full 1/3 of my Marine invasion force in the first few turns. That is remarkably historical as the Marines lost about 1/3 of their first day forces. While a casual player would not necessarily need both the Peleliu and Tarawa games, there are some significant differences between the situations to one studying the history would find value in both. I cannot speak about the D-Day at Omaha Beach entry to the system as I do not have this one, but I hope to acquire a copy soon. I have read great things about that one as well. I am greatly enjoying the history and gaming experience with D-Day at Tarawa. I cannot speak highly enough about these games.

    Decision Games is planning two more games in the system - one on Iwo Jima and the other on a larger non-invasion topic - Stalingrad. I am somewhat suspicious of the latter as the system has heretofore simulated division level invasion combats that took place over the course of a day or two. Even Iwo Jima stretches this a bit as there were multiple divisions over a much longer period. The scope of the Stalingrad game however is a full army level campaign that ook place over several months. Neither of the new games will be designed by John Butterfield, so it will be interesting to see how these games are received.

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