Joe also did the SPI monster game Atlantic Wall covering the Allied invasion of Normandy in full. Omaha Beachhead and St-Lô zoom in on the advance of US XIX Corps through the bocage.
A new version of St-Lô was published in 2020 and sold briefly by Quarterdeck International. In 2021 the remaining inventory was acquired by Compass Games, which has developed a line of classic wargame reprints. It is being marketed as having "much-improved" graphics. Well...that's a matter of opinion of course. If the reprint has a four-digit number in every hex, that is a negative to this writer.
I'd been planning for some time to make a vassal module for St-Lô, and decided that the original West End game is fit for purpose.
- The module uses a scan of the original map.
- Units are VASSAL Game-piece images.
- You will need your own copy of the rules and the tables, which are not included in the module.
Some reviewers have noted inaccuracies in place names and exact locations. There is a replacement map on BGG that makes corrections. But these errors do not detract from the operational situation depicted, and the US still has a hard fight on its hands.
Hex numbers have been removed in the module because the map looks much better without them (in our opinion). And they are not needed in VASSAL since they can be displayed in the mouse-over stack viewer. Elevation level numbers have been added to the even-numbered elevation levels to allow players to calculate level differences without having to scroll over to the terrain legend on the right side of the map.
The map window includes a line-of-sight thread that also counts the range between two hexes.
Headquarters Morale levels are not tracked in the module. Instead, roster sheets have been created to track these figures with pencil and paper. (Geekmail me if interested.)
Rosters eliminate the need for a separate HQ counter for every battalion in the game. Like Observation Posts, the module has one generic HQ per divison. Each battalion activation is declared verbally. If successful, the generic HQ of the proper division is placed in the hex with the active unit. The HQ is removed from the map when activation is done.
Players of Joe Balkoski's US Civil War games will notice the similarity in function between St-Lô headquarters morale and GCACW leader fatigue.
An artillery roster to track Fire Missions eliminates the need to have artillery game-pieces in the module.
Combat factors are in two colors:
- black combat factors = two-step unit
- red combat factores = one-step unit
Company breakdown units are handled as in the printed game. Battalions that start the game broken down have their specific company units. SUB companies are available in the Pieces window. The SUB company marker for each division has a Dynamic Property (named "Parent") that can be changed by the player to display the unit's current battalion affiliation while on the map.
Armor and anti-tank values are shown in parentheses on the game-pieces, as in the printed game. Asset units bear NATO symbols instead of silhouette icons.
Two excellent books detail the action depicted in St-Lô:
- Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy (1999 Joseph Balkoski)
- The Clay Pigeons of St-Lô (1958 Glover Johns, commander of 1st battalion, 115th regiment, 29th division)