Game Description

Anzio is a 2-player game of the Italian Campaign of WWII covering the period from the second week of September 1943 to the end of December, 1944.

1st edition Anzio was published by AH in 1969, 2nd edition in 1974, 3rd edition in 19xx and 4th edition in 1977. The cover art varied. 1st and 2nd editions had a landing craft and were white, green and red in colour. 3rd and 4th editions had Rodger MacGowan cover art showing a soldier and some rubble on an orange background.

Units in the game are brigade/division level, one hex is ~7 miles on an elongated 14"x44" mapboard and there are 4 turns per month designated I,II,III,IV. Anzio was one of the first games to feature step losses for units. While there are only about 20 different German units in the Basic Game for example, each unit has 6-8 counters for its various strengths which can change via replacement during the game. Most Allied units have fewer steps but more replacements are available.

Another main feature of the game is in the supply rules. Units that are isolated from their supply source for two friendly player-turns are eliminated.

Details of this PBEM Game

Germans: Eric Pass
Allies: Dwane Aldrich

This is both Dwane's and my first game ever (PBEM or FTF) of Anzio. We are playing the Basic Game which is 15 turns long covering from the Sept II to Dec IV turns, 1943. No Supplementary rules are in play.

To win, the Allies must hold 5 out of the 9 designated victory cities: Salerno, Foggia, Cassino, Napoli, Terracina, Termoli, Pescara, Anzio, Roma at the end of the Dec IV turn.

Events so far

The German setup is basically fixed with only 2 units available for free set-up. I placed one unit in X52 and one in K49.

Sept II
The Allied invasion took place in Mondragone and Dwane activated the ports of Taranto & Messina immediately (off the board to the south, reinforcements arriving in these locations are held back a turn and then appear on the south boardedge.) The Allies got ashore in good form pushing the local Germans back.

The immediate German counterattack on the beachhead was unsuccessful, 2 units were sent to the south to slow the reinforcements from Taranto & Messina by blocking the highways north.

Sept III
The Allies consolidated their beachhead this turn expanding to include the Golfo di Gaeta area. The 1-1-8 Nebelwerfer unit is overrun but sells itself dearly. The German garrison in Salerno is cut off and the 2 German units sent to the south are pocketed off by the Airborne & Special Forces units.

The German units attempt to fight their way out of the pocket, 2 step losses are taken but the 1-1-12 82/505 is eliminated.

Sept IV
The Allies capture Napoli (Naples) solving any potential supply problems. They already hold 3 of the 5 cities they need to win the game. They again surround the pocketed German units intending to isolate them and eliminate them that way.

The Gustav Line is formed behind the Rapido and Sangro Rivers just north of Cassino. The pocketed Germans again strike out, taking another 2 step losses and eliminating the 1-1-12 201Gds unit. A good result as Breakthrough MPs allow them to be unisolated at the end of the turn. Dwane will now have to isolate them again for another 2 consecutive turns to eliminate them.

Oct I
The Allies again surround the southern Germans and take up positions opposite the Gustav Line. These units are brought up to full strength by replacements. Termoli is captured, the Allies need to take and hold one more city to win.

The German garrison unit at Salerno finally surrenders and the other 2 German units again flail at the surrounding troops. The 1-1-12 2SSCdo is eliminated but 2 more step losses leave the Germans greatly weakened. Breaking out of the pocket now does not break the isolation status as there is an Allied line further up the mainland.

Oct II
The Allies feel strong enough to take their first swipe at the Gustav Line at K52, just north of the original beachhead. Attacking at 1-1, they take 2 step losses but do not have to retreat!

I have reformed the Gustav Line as best I can abandoning the river line but remaining in mountainous terrain. The 6-9-12 15th has reluctantly been left hung out to dry and is eliminated before the combat phase because the odds are less than 1:4. There was no point in throwing good units in to help out as the odds wouldn't have changed much and a retreat result was probable (which would have resulted in the loss of the 15th anyway). Dwane can't surround me on the Oct III turn so I may have bought a little time. In the south, there's the last gasp of the pocketed troops who try a 2:1 attack against a couple of the screening 82nd Airborne regiments. These two German units will be eliminated at the end of the phase because of isolation but at least they have a chance to 'take one with them"!

Dwane presses his advantage and moves his troops forward to the attack. He makes three 1:1 attacks on J51, M48 and V42 and is rewarded with dr's of 1 (2/2R) for the first two and a 4 (R/1) on V42. I again take losses and am pushed back. The line is very close to breaking and there is a huge gap on Highway 6 leading to Rome!

I bring on my Oct III reinforcements and accidentally start them in Rome (a major city) as is done with replacements. Dwane correctly points out that German reinforcements appear on the north, northeast or northwest map edges. Looking at the length of road necessary to get them into position, it will take two turns to move them. In the meanwhile, Dwane will be blowing through the unfillable gaps in the Oct IV turn.

With Dwane already holding 5 of the 9 victory cities and with equal reinforcements coming on (preventing me from mounting any kind of counterattack to recapture any of the victory cities, I concede the game and congratulate Dwane on his well-played game.

Summary & Analysis

Anzio is a very finely-tuned game so early mistakes are likely to be fatal in the long run and early successes can be the margin of victory. Each and every die roll is an important one and there is a tremendous variation between rolling a '1' and a '6' even on the same odds column.

My decision to attempt to stem the Allied tide in the south of Italy was a bad one in retrospect and 3 badly-needed German units were pocketed off and eliminated by the Oct II turn. As a result, the Gustav Line just north of Cassino was extremely brittle and Dwane was able to form a breach in it on his first attempt in the Oct II turn (a 50% chance at the time).

Oct III: Dwane already holds 5 of the 9 victory cities, enough to win the game. Looking at the reinforcement schedule, I am not encouraged. Reinforcements look about equal so there's no cavalry to the rescue for me. It strikes me that the Basic Game will be won or lost in the first five turns depending on the survival or elimination of the Allied first invasion beachhead. I concede the game in the German Oct III turn (6th of 15 turns).

Anzio is not a game for novices, it is unforgiving of mistakes. The term that comes to mind is "twitchy". It would be an extremely tense and exciting game between two evenly matched players both familiar with the system. The Supplementary Rules and Advanced Level games give Anzio great depth.

I would not recommend Anzio for PBEM play however, the map coordinates are cumbersome to use and typos are inevitable. In FTF play, this would not be a problem.

Other Links for Anzio information

Some other Games on the Italian Campaign
Wargamer V1#5 Kesselring
S&T #71 The Battle for Cassino
S&T#134 Anzio Beachhead
S&T#150 Salerno
S&T#155 Anzio
S&T#160 MedWar
AH Thunder at Cassino

Books & Magazine Articles
Avalon Hill General articles