notice the 1000 yard stare of the combatants

synonyms: "archrival", "adversary", "foe", "opponent", "arch enemy"
  • a long-standing rival; an archenemy
  • a downfall caused by an inescapable agent
  • a conflict simulation by High Flying Dice on "The battle of Abbey Ardenne", 7 June, 1944

The Game:
Nemesis, The battle of Abbey Ardenne, June 7, 1944 is published by High Flying Dice Games. Designed by Paul Rohrbaugh and with graphics by Bruce Yearian, it came out in 2016.

The game is considered a mini game, but to be honest, this is a misnomer. There is nothing mini about this game, from the quality of the game graphics by Bruce and to the execution of  play as designed by Paul.  It's quality that one has come to expect from HFD. Priced at $7.95, it is a bloody bargain.

Canadian Nemesis
The 12.SS-Panzerdivision was positioned 50 miles behind the coast, had 20,540 men and a full establishment of 150 tanks (including Panthers and Pk IV's). This unit was a fanatical Hitler Youth formation raised to believe in the German master race and the Fuhrer. Two thirds of these soldiers were 17-18 years of age and had received sophisticated battle training starting at the age of 15-16. They were a dangerous combination of patriotism, self-righteousness and youth.  

The idea for this Waffen-SS division was first proposed by Artur Axmann, the leader of the Hitler Youth, to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler in early 1943. The plan for a combat division made up of Hitler Youth members born in 1926 was passed on to Adolf Hitler for his approval. Hitler approved the plan in February and SS-Gruppenführer Gottlob Berger was tasked with recruiting. SS-Oberführer Fritz Witt of 1.SS-Panzerdivision "Leibstandarte-SS-Adolf Hitler" (LSSAH) was appointed divisional commander. Personnel from the LSSAH provided the regimental, battalion and most of the company commanders and upper NCOs for the division, about 2000 personnel was transferred. In September 1943, the division had over 16,000 recruits on its roster, undergoing training in Beverloo Camp, Belgium.

With the cadre (the upper NCOs and Officers) of the 12.SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend" coming from other SS-Divisions, (especially from the LSSAH on the Eastern Front, where fighting between the combatants was kill or be killed), the indoctrination (i.e. Boot Camp) was often brutal for the Hitler Youth. The 12.SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend" after 2 years of training were well trained, and obedient from this brutal training.  

Standartenführer Kurt Meyer commanded the three battalions of the SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 25.  With this regiment, Meyer and the 12.SS would become the nemesis of the Canadian Army in Normandy.

June 6-8
June 7, 1944
SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 25 under the command of Standartenführer (Colonel) Kurt Meyer had moved into the area very early on June 7th, moving at night on June 6th, to avoid the constant Allied air patrols and naval bombardment. Meyer established his headquarters in the Abbaye d'Ardenne (actual name L' Abbey d'Ardenne),  because the Abbaye turrets gave an excellent view of the country side facing the channel. It was from this turret that the discovery was made that the Canadian 9th Brigade was advancing toward Carpiquet Airfield and had an exposed flank.

When the 9th CIB and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers began to advance on 7 June, they were met by the reminding troops of the 716.Infantrydivision and some of the remaining 21. Panzerdivision.  As they pushed thru these units into Buron and Franqueville, and Authie, Standartenführer Meyer's SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 25, composed of two fresh Battalions (actually three, but one was held in reserved), 50 PzKpfw IVs of the SS-Panzerregiment 12 and the 3.Battalion/SS-Panzerartilleriregiment 12, attacked from the north-west into the exposed 9th CIB's flank at aprx 1000. 

SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 25 observers on the Abbey Adrennes

The fighting was vicious hand to hand, close quarter battles. The 9th CIB was forced out of Authie and Buron after suffering heavy losses. The SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 25 also lost aprx 300 men and 15 tanks.

HMS Warspite firing it's 15" guns 6 June 1944
With the help of the big naval guns, and the 12 remaining Sherbrooke Fusiliers tanks and a brief rest, the 9th CIB fought their way back into Buron and Authie, at aprx 1300, forcing the Germans in turn to withdraw. However, the 9th CIB was decimated during this counter attack.

The fighting was so fierce that a street corner in southern Authie was named "Place des 37 Canadiens" in honor of the 37 Canadians killed there that day.

The 9th CIB casualties for June 7 lists for the North Nova Scotia Regiment 84 killed, 30 wounded, and 128 captured and Sherbrookes casualties were 26 killed, 34 wounded along with 28 tanks destroyed or damaged.

The Germans also paid heavy with the Sherbrookes claiming to have destroyed up to 35 German tanks (Pzkw IV's), thus reducing the effectiveness of the SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 25. 

After this late day attack, the 9th CIB was forced to withdraw to its D-Day positions, having suffered more casualties than any unit on Juno the previous day. 

Abbaye d'Ardenne atrocities
The Abbaye d'Ardenne quickly filled with POWs captured during and after the fighting on 7 June. These were soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and the 27th Canadian Armored Regiment (CAR) (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment). Ten of the POWs were randomly picked and dispatched to the chateau adjacent to the Abbaye; the rest were moved to Bretteville-sur-Odon. An 11th POW, Lieutenant Thomas Windsor was brought out to join the group after the first ten men had been selected. That evening, the 11 POWs were taken to the chateau's garden and killed.  

On 8 June, near noon hour, seven more POWs, all of them North Novas who had been fighting around Authie and Buron, were brought to the abbey, interrogated and sent one by one to their deaths. In 10 minutes it was over - they shook hands with their comrades before being escorted to the garden, where they were each shot in the back of the head.

When Abbaye d'Ardenne was liberated by the Regina Rifles shortly before midnight on July 8, their members discovered the body of Lt. Williams. Lt Williams and another man went missing when scouting for wreck armor. It was many months before the rest of the murdered men were found.  

Memorial at Abbaye d'Ardenne
It is possible that as many as 156 Canadian prisoners of war were murdered by the 12.SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend" in the days and weeks following the D-Day landings. In scattered groups, in various pockets of the Normandy countryside, they were taken aside and shot. Many have not been found.  

Note - was it deliberate murder or revenge killings? That's the question that the Canadian War Trials couldn't answer. Meyer's was convicted on a few counts, such as being the commander that he was responsible for the actions of his men (pure bull shite as being in the military, I saw where section, flight, Platoon, Company,and unit commanders got out of this and hung others out to dry to take the blame.) Meyer's conviction was overturned from death by hanging (convicted Dec 1945), to life in prison, to being released after serving 9 years (released in 1954) and passing away about 7 years later from a bad heart. So, was it Meyer who gave the orders or was it his officers, NCOs or men believing they could do what they wanted? We will never know.

And here is where the review of the game begins...
Bloody unboxing the bloody parts of the bloody game: 
Nemesis is composed of one 11"x17" sheet of heavy card-stock (on this sheet are 52 unmounted counters, a player's aid and the game map), a 4 page set of rules and a small addenda to the rules.  1D6 and a deck of cards will need to be provided.
map, counters, players aid

The 11"x17" card stock is cut in half (follow the guide line) separating into two 8.5"x11" sections.

The first section is the actual game map that is aprx 8.5" x 6.5" in size with 1/2" hexes regulating movement. The terrain chart and various tracks are at the top of the game map and is the rest of 2.5" to make 8.5" x11". There is a compass rose showing north (North is at the bottom of the map) and a heavier line showing the limit of the Allied naval gunfire support. The map is just right.

Some might think the map is simplistic. But, if it was showing more terrain, it would be too much. Roads, woods, towns and villages are shown, along with the southern limit of the Canadian (and British) Artillery support and a compass rose. Nice touch on the compass. The area depicted is where the North Nova Scotia Highlanders regiment (Novies), the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment and the 12.SS fought on 7-8 June, the Buron - Authie area.

The other 8.5"x11" section contains the counters and a Players' information card. These do need to be mounted. Of the 52 double sided counters,  37 counters represent the various information markers (such as "pin", "entrenched, etc"). Fifteen counters represent the actual combat units (and one possible reinforcement). Note: the white box is deliberate by me - I don't believe in showing all sides of counters as it is too easy for some to duplicate.

Sample counters
Out of the 15 unit counters, the Canadian player has 7 double-sided counters representing the Novies along with 2 British regiments (from the British 3rd Division on Sword beach), the King's Own and the Royal Ulster Rifles with 4 armor units in Brigades. And the German player has 8 double-sided counters, the SS-Panzergrenidierregments 25, 26, attached arty, and 2 armor Brigades.

Germans are light grey, while the Canadians are *either red or green. There is also a number on the German counters and probably the Canadian counters as well. This number I know is red, as Paul uses "red" to signify that a unit is capable of firing up to 2 hexes away.  *She who must be obeyed, told me the counters are green. 

sample card set
And of course there is a HFDG card set that is available that replaces the regular card set. If you want to complete the entire experience, the grab these cards. They sure are pretty and interesting. To either look at them or purchase, all you have to do is click on the card to see them on the HFDG web site.

Now that is all out of the way, onto the setup and play of the game.

Preparing for play
Before starting the game, here is the latest addenda for the game and some of my own.

Nemesis - Addenda, August 24, 2018. New one - Sept 2018

There are a few places in the rules where “Disrupted” units are referenced. These should read "Pinned" instead:
  • case 3.2 Movement, page 2, line 1, word 3 "to an "undisrupted" enemy unit."?  Should read: "to a "pinned" enemy unit". 
  • case 4.0 Assault, Page 2, line 8 (under modify the DR as follows) "+1 Red AF unit firing on "Disrupted" armor unit." should read: "+1 Red AF unit firing on "Pinned" armor unit.".
  • case 8.0 Rally, Page 3, line 1 "both sides can attempt to Rally a "Disrupted" unit." should read:  "both sides can attempt to Rally a "Pinned" unit".
i.e. these are the 3 sentences with the word "disrupted". Just change the word to "pinned")
8.0 Rally (addition). 5 is the highest level either player’s Morale Level can be increased.

click on me
this also applies to Rule 9.0 Changing Morale Levels. 

What I did to my game was to mark the map Morale Level/Support Track from 1 to 5 with a little "ML"  to show at a glance what the Morale Level Track is. :)  ) or you can download a new Morale Level Chart, I made for myself but if you want to use it click to the right on the box. Not needed, but what the heck.

And it goes from 0 to 5 with the starting positions marked. And yes, no Support Level Track is on this player aid. 

1st, this fix...
8.0 Rally, seventh line (correction). This should read "if the DR is > the ML" (not less than).

2nd, and this fix...
8.0 Rally,  Lines 6, 7, 8 (correction).  A unit rallies if the DR check is < (less than or equal to) the player’s ML and fails if it is > (greater than) the ML.
The easiest way to fix in the rules is to switch the" <  " (less than or equal to) and the " > " (greater than) with each other. WOW, what a change, makes it easier to rally as all my games up to this point have been rough.  :D

2.0 Setup, line 6 (correction),  Place the Turn Marker on the 1000 Space of the Turn Record Track.
It's been pointed out to me that the correct times are correct on the game map game turn track. However, the rules are not correct then, (2.0 Setup, line 6, just change the time "1000" to "1300").
click me
And no there is no flaws on the game record tracks, I just re-did all the game record tracks for me and making available if you would like to use. 

Can be downloaded by clicking to the right. Free to copy, not for re-sale. Enjoy.

And here is a .jpg of the math symbols used - free to copy.
 MAth Symbols for Nemesis

2.0 Game Setup
Setup is pretty straight forward and easy.

2.0 Remove all the face cards (Ace is not a face card) from a deck of cards if you are not using the HFDG card deck and divided them into a black deck and red deck with 1 joker each. The German receives the black deck and the Canadian receives the red deck. Cards are shuffled and play begins with both players turning over the top card.

2.1 The German player sets up first with 6 counters that are set up on or south of Cussy (0603). South on the map is towards all the tracks for game, morale and support, etc, at the top of the game map. The Flak unit is placed on GT2 and will enter the game with any ACT starting on GT2. Stapeln ist verboten und nur ein zähler zu einem sechseck!

2.2 The Canadian player sets up 6 units on any north map edge. The 2nd Armor Brigade sets up on turn 4 of the game turn track as a possible reinforcement (this requires 2 6D roll (or 1D6 rolled twice) to see if the unit to is able to enter the game). Stacking is forbidden and only one counter to a hex. 

2.1/2.2 There is also arty (both sides) and air support (Canadian only) that needs to be rolled for and place the markers on the correct number on the Morale Level/Support Track.

3.0 Game Play
The game has 8 turns with many rounds, only stopping when both jokers have been turned over for a new turn or if an automatic victory has been scored by either player, ending the game. 

Take this card and shove it... 
Each player turns over a card and the highest card wins that round:
  • If the card is odd, then the player gets 1 ACT. 
  • If it is even, the player can do 2 ACTS. 
  • If the cards are even then the player who had not preform an ACT in the previous  round can perform 1 ACT.  
  • If a joker is turned over then the player who drew it, rolls 1D6 for a random event. 
  • If a joker is turned over a 2nd time then the game ends. 
  • If not the last turn, then the cards are re-shuffled, and game turn marker is moved up to next turn and play starts again.
3.1 Activations are the heart of this game...
Each Activation (ACT) allows a player to do one of the following, in this order, in their turn (highest card or in case of a tie, the one who did no acts in the previous turn  gets a turn- see above 2.0):
  • Arty support combat
  • Air Support Combat
  • Move
  • Assault
  • Entrench
  • Rally.
Really, using cards is great. as I have said in previous reviews and future ones too, the use of drawing a card to see who goes, at least to me indicates battle much more realistic than ugo-igo games. 

3.2 Moving
A non-pinned unit can perform the movement ACT. From hex to hex up to the movement allowance. Each type of hex costs mps, such as moving on a road is 1/2mp, into a woods is 2mp, entering a town is 2mp, etc.

A unit must stop moving when it enters a hex next to a non-pinned unit. Remember, no stacking and no entering hexes containing enemy units. 

4.0, (and 4.1, 4.2) Did ya hear about the peanut that was attacked" It was assaulted!
A non-pinned unit can preform the assault ACT (aka attack).  If it is an armor unit, flak unit, or anti-tank unit, it can attack armor units up to 2 hexes (of course there is a penalty of -1 if not adjacent). And there are other +'s and -'s as well to the DR.  BTW, these units have a "RED AF".

If the attacker isn't any of the above, then a non-pinned unit that is attacking has to be next to the unit the player wants to attack.

And the player gets to choose which unit attacks and which unit is being attacked.   Attacks are resolved by adding up all the pluses and minuses (see rules: Case 4.0, Case 5.0 and Case 6.0) and adding to the DR (i.e. modifying the die roll).

  • Roll a 1D6, and with the modifiers, compare this Modified Die Roll (MDR) to the defending unit's defense factor (DF). 
    • If the MDR is < (less than or equal to) the DF, nothing happens. 
    • If the MDR is < (less than or equal to) 0 then the attacking unit is pinned. 
    • If the MDR is > (greater than) the defending units DF, then the defending unit gets a pin marker. 
      • If already pinned, then the unit must either immediately retreat (can retreat if needed (see rules) up to the units MF) or take a step loss (flipped over). 
      • If unable to retreat then the unit must take a step loss. 
      • If already flipped (step loss) and receives another pin result and can't retreat then the unit is eliminated. 
You may be wondering what's this "pinned" and "unpinned"?  Simple - a unit without a "pinned" marker is known as an "unpinned" unit. And can move, attack (assault), and entrenched. A "pinned" unit cannot move (unless forced to retreat), cannot attack, and cannot entrench (but if entrenched when it receives a "pinned" marker, the entrenchment stays. See rules 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 and 7.0). However it can rally. And though I never asked, if a unit is pinned, does it still have the effects of being entrenched? I say yes, but hell, been wrong before.

5.0 "really, I didn't see that VW dropping on me"
At the beginning of each turn (starting with turn 2), both players roll a 1D6 to determine how many artillery strikes are available for the turn (Canadians add 3), See Case 5.0 Artillery Support in the rules. One important rule in this section is "If target was pinned, it takes a step loss, No retreat option".

This is an interesting variation on having arty support, instead of having a set amount each turn as in a many games one gets a variable for the amount available. Remember this is for the whole turn, not for each round!

6.0 Typhoons out of the sun 
Canadian player also has air support. At the beginning of each turn starting with gt2, the Canadian player performs a DR for the amount of air support for the turn. One important rule in this section is "If target was pinned, it takes a step loss, No retreat option".

Don't forget to place the Air Support marker on the ML/Support Track. And remember this is for the whole turn, not for each round!

7.0 Entrenching
An "unpinned" unit can perform an Entrenchment ACT and a unit can only entrench out in the open or a village.  While entrenched, the unit can't attack or move. But it does get a -1 to the DR. And if entrenched in a village hex, the the max is -2 to the die roll.
Note: if a unit receives a pin marker and is entrench, it stays entrenched until it is forced to retreat. 
8.0 Rally the troops
Pinned troops can be rallied.  See the rules and the new addenda above.

9.0 Morale (ML) can be changed...
Both sides ML can go up for capturing towns or the Abbey and go down or up for each unit eliminated from the game. There is even an Automatic Win if one side's morale goes to 0. See the rules.

10. "Fortunes of War"
This is a neat little rule.  The German starts out with the "Fortunes Of War" marker. They may use it or not.  It can be used for a variety of things, such as a re-roll of any DR, return a unit, etc, but once used then must be passed over to the other player.  See the rules.
I like this little rule. It has been said, the "fortunes of men and mice go out the window when the fickle paw of a cat is around". That would be a bloody bastard German player if they decide to keep it and use it on the very last round of gt8. OUCH.

11. "How to win friends and influence enemies"
An automatic victory is possible by reducing the opponents morale level to 0. The ML is changed while playing not at the end of a round or game turn and as a result, the game can be won or lost at anytime. 

However, if the game goes all the way to end of GT 8, then VPs are awarded for eliminated enemy units, town hexes controlled, exiting armor units via the players side (German south edge, Canadian north edge). 

ab sez: Oi Vey, See the rules. This is where the "Fortunes of War" rule (case 10) can come into play. 

12. Variant Facing
Using this rule is optional. Basically, armor has a facing rule. The hex to the top of the counter and each side hex to that top hex is considered the frontal aspect and the rear aspect is consider to be the hex on the bottom and each hex to it's side. The rules explain this much better, than I could (plus I don't want to do a rules reprint here).

ab sez: this is one rule that I believe should not be a variant but one that should be used. I have seen this in other games and believe it should always be used as it is the chocolate to the peanut butter.  It adds that certain flavor that is missing from soup, sort of like adding Vegemite to one's soup. 

I thought I had seen the cover photo before :D

cover of game
Normandie 1944, 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend“, SS-Sturmmann Otto Funk und rechts im Bild, SS-Schütze Klaus Schuh.

Time for the buns ratings:
  • Complexity of the game: LOW
  • Solitaire: HIGH (not much work is needed)
  • Enjoyment Level: HIGH (imho)
  • Nail biting: 7 fingers worth. 
  • Historical Level: Medium - this game has a good historical background, even with the two British regiments included. :D
  • Length of typical full game: About 1 to 2 hours, in the beginning, but after a few games, 30mins to an hour.

After Thoughts Part One...
Now this is all of my own thinking - could be wrong or be right, Murdering the English language is my forte. Leave a comment if you can make this review better. And it is my soapbox....

The game, imho, is a great beginners and a low-intermediate level game with just a tad of hardness if the variant rule is  used. The game uses a tried and true movement/combat system using a deck of playing cards as the random generator. It has a wonderful simple map and counter design work by Bruce.  And the counter mix is just right, under ten counters for each side. Also, any mistakes are mine, and mine alone. Mea Culpa

At aprx 0800 hrs, before the 12.SS first attack at 1000 hrs, the Canadians were in Buron and Authie and only aprx 1 mile away from Abbey Ardennes.  The 12.SS observers saw this and gave word that the Novies were in both towns and had an exposed flank, just ripe for attack.

The game is very well executed. I found myself angry when I lost a unit of our laddies, glad when I destroyed a 12.SS unit and tired when I finished a game. It's a heck of a game. 

Playing this game is making me want to dig out Squad Leader  or Panzer Leader and set up a scenario on this battle.

If you don't have this little gem, you owe to yourself to purchase it. The price won't break your wallet and it fills a hole where other game publishers fear to tread - Canadian's versus  the 12.SS.

Maybe, instead of another Stalingrad or Battle of the Bulge or another Russian Front battle, game designers should look to make 6 different beach landing games based on Operation Overlord's landing beaches and Operation Dragoon (Anvil) and have them able to be joined up if need be or played individually. An old SPI Quad type game design would be nice with design - Compass Games would be a candidate for publishing. And from 6 June 1944 to 15 Sept 1944 looks good. Yes, this would NOT include Operation Market Garden.  

I got my wish. ATO brought out "Five for Fighting" pocket battle games, 5 beach landings on D-Day!. Reviewed on this blog at this link:

Now, that would be wonderful....

LOL, update - as I was finishing this review, I got an email from Compass Games. They are bringing back out Mark Herman's  France 1944: The Allied Crusade in Europe, as a Designer Signature Edition. I do have the original from Victory Games and had forgotten about it.

Also I need to add, this blog is considered to be a living blog. Changes will be made to it as needed to clarify, correct errors or update with new information.

Enjoy the game!