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Operation Dauntless

DESIGNER: Mark Mokszcki
DEVELOPER: Ralph Shelton
MAP ART: Mark Mahaffey
COUNTER ART: Charles Kibler
PRODUCERS: Andy Lewis, Mark Simonitch, Gene Billingsley, Rodger MacGowan, Tony Curtis
Price: $59.00

  • Three counter sheets of 5/8" counters (roughly 2 sheets of unit counters and 1 sheet of markers; 528 total counters)
  • One 22 x 34" map
  • One 36-page Rule Book, color
  • One 28-page Play Book, color (includes full-color illustrated examples of play, Comparisons to Red Winter, Tips & Strategies, and counter manifest)
  • One 56-page Scenario Book, color (includes 11 tutorials, ~15 scenarios, and optional rules)
  • One 48-page Reference Book, b&w (includes designer's notes and complete Order of Battle)
  • Two Identical Player Aid Cards (foldout, 4-sided)
  • One Player Air Card 2 (Optional rules)(1-sided)
  • One British Reinforcement Card (8.5 x 11", 1-sided)
  • One German Reinforcement Card (11 x 17", 1-sided)
  • One Flowchart card (double-sided with LOS and Armor Reaction Cycle aids)
  • One Campaign Game Setup & Vehicle Identification Card (2-sided)
  • One Turn Track Card (double-sided withTurn Track A: June 16-18 on front, Turn Track B: June 25-27 on back)
  • Information & Turn Phase Track Card (1-sided)
  • One Tutorial Getting Started #1: Infantry Card (2-sided)
  • One Tutorial Getting Started #2: Armor Card (2-sided)
  • Three 6-sided dice
  • Three 10-sided dice
  • Inside the Box


"The barrage was tremendous, distance behind it was kept very well, as was direction. The men stood up to and kept behind the barrage like veterans. Just after the platoons had opened out a cloud of combined mist, smoke and dust started to rise. The fog rose so quickly that runners and platoons were lost. Enemy MGs on either flank opened up." - Maj. H. Macpherson, OC of „B‟ Company, Royal Scots Fusiliers

"My (tank) troop was sitting astride the Fontenay-Juvigny road facing east. The CO of the Hallams asked me to deal with a Panther holding up his advance ... At that moment two more Panthers appeared just south of the road." - Lt. Bob Hart of 'A' Squadron of the 24th Lancers


"The SS showed that they believed that thus far, everybody had been fighting like milkmaids." - Lt. Rudolph Schaaf

Operation Dauntless is a moderately complex wargame that covers the actions of the British 49th Infantry Division a.k.a "The Polar Bears" near Caen during Operation Martlet (called Operation Dauntless by the British at the time of the battle). Opposing these lads are elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" (Hitler Youth) and Panzer Lehr- elite panzergrenadier units. The goal of the British division is to seize the town of Fontenay, then press onward to secure the high ground near Rauray in time for the impending Operation Epsom, to be launched the next morning.

The game by designer Mark Mokszycki uses the same system as Red Winter, his game on the Battle of Tolvajärvi from the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939. The scale and key mechanics of Operation Dauntless are the same as Red Winter. Proposed future games in the series include Red Winter 2: The Battle of Ägläjärvi, Guadalcanal Land Battles, Scottish Corridor: The Battle for Cheux, and the Breaking the Panzers expansion for Operation Dauntless, covering the German counterattack at Point 110 (all are working titles and subject to change).

The scale is grand tactical- 90 minutes per game turn, 425 yards per hex, and mostly company sized infantry units with platoon sized armor units. Gone are the Winter War specific rules such as ski movement and night raids, and in their place we have a more detailed armor/anti-tank subsystem. There are lots of tanks on both sides in this one!

Special rules for Operation Dauntless include: British creeping barrages, hidden German unit setup, the 12th SS Fanatical Defense Table, British sabot ammo, assault guns, combat engineers, troop transport, British air strikes, British "funny" tanks (including the dreaded bunker-busting Churchill AVREs with their 290mm "Spigot" mortars, Sherman Crabs, and the flame-throwing Crocodiles), infantry anti-tank weapons, German ammo shortage, and abstracted effects of the immense British opening barrage by 250 artillery and naval guns.

Optional rules include: minefields, mine removal, Luftwaffe nuisance raids (night bombings), inaccurate German rocket artillery (the infamous Nebelwerfers), German signal platoons, and rules for linking chronological scenarios into a single "mega-campaign."

Terrain is a mixture of corn and wheat fields, orchards, woods, hedgerows, and small stone farm houses and villages. The map covers the area from le Haut d‟Audrieu and Cristot in the north, to Monts, Noyers and Missy in the south, extending west to Tilly sur Seulles and beyond, and east to Le Haut du Bosq and the outskirts of Cheux. The Germans begin the game dug in, and they may place a limited number of strongpoint markers during setup. A handful of strongpoint hexes are printed on the map; these represent walled farms, châteaus, and manors which are key to the German defense.

The Germans are on the defensive overall, but they are armed to the teeth with many powerful panzer formations- including Panzer IVs, Panthers, and Tigers- and will find themselves able to counterattack frequently and effectively. Some of the shorter scenarios feature the Germans on the offensive to recapture lost ground.

In general, the German infantry companies start with better Combat Strength and Ranged Attack values, relative to their British counterparts. The terrain heavily favors the Germans as well. But the British enjoy superior numbers, a more lenient recovery mechanic, and extensive offensive support from airstrikes and artillery. Furthermore, the German infantry companies are, on their reduced sides, inferior to the reduced British infantry. This simulates a key dilemma for the German combatants: excellent weapons and technology, but a desperate lack of manpower and supplies.

Operation Dauntless was designed for 2 players, but works very well solitaire.



The key mechanics of Operation Dauntless are the same as those in Red Winter. Central to play is the Action Phase, wherein each unit may choose only one from several possible actions: move/assault, attempt recovery, dig in, or take replacement steps. This makes for some very tense decisions for both players. It also conveniently moves the game along at a brisk pace.

Both games feature the same uniquely simple unit recovery system. Reduced infantry units may opt to attempt to recover during their turn in lieu of other actions. This requires rolling a "6" on a single 6-sided die. However, units gain a +1 bonus to the die roll for maintaining their distance from enemy units. This provides a simple yet realistic incentive for players to withdraw their reduced units to the rear and move forward fresh units. The Germans receive a -1 penalty to recovery rolls, simulating a lack of replacement troops. The result, in game terms, is a gradual but noticeable "wearing down" of German units on the map.

Another deceptively simple mechanic is used for ranged support. Ranged fire from weapons such as artillery, mortars and machine guns provides a "use it or lose it" benefit to combats against the targeted hex. Thus the attacker will need to follow up his artillery strikes during the very same Combat Phase in order to exploit their benefit, or the suppressed hex will return to normal. No markers or "resets" of any kind are necessary for this mechanic.

Combat is fast and well integrated. Units may voluntarily perform combats against adjacent enemies (two-way firefights, which utilize a CRT), conduct assaults as part of movement, or make ranged attacks at a distance of two or more hexes. The "grand tactical" scale of 425 yards per hex yields ranges of 2 hexes for light machineguns, 3 hexes for heavy machineguns, and 6 hexes for medium mortars. British artillery is abstracted, being handled as off-map batteries which can strike any hex on the map. The German player has several self-propelled artillery pieces, including the 105mm Wespe, (Wasp) and 150mm Hummel (Bumble Bee). The British player may allocate artillery barrages without the need to track ammo, while the German player will need to keep a close eye on his ammunition.

Anti-tank (AT) fire is handled simply using a pair of 10-sided dice. These are added together and modified by a small number of possible factors: range to target (an easy to remember -1 DRM per hex), penetration (the firing unit's AT rating minus the target unit's Armor), and elevation. While somewhat abstract, the system generates believable results given the unit and time scales involved.

Interestingly, AT and Armor ratings represent actual average penetration and armor thickness, respectively, in ten millimeter increments. Thus, a Sherman duplex drive tank with an AT rating of 10 and an Armor rating of 7 can penetrate (roughly) a maximum of 100mm of armor and has an average armor thickness of 70mm. Average armor thickness ratings have been calculated using a simple algorithm which gives somewhat greater weight to frontal armor thickness than side thickness, and somewhat greater weight to turret than hull. Again, this is an abstract approach which generates believable results for platoon-sized armored units.

As any tread head knows, not all tank crews and weapons systems are created equal! Simple rules for Fire Control (representing an amalgam of diverse factors including: crew training, experience and morale, targeting systems, optics, stabilizers, rate of fire) lend a further nuance to the armor battles, and show that the penetration numbers aren‟t everything. Armored units are classified as FC class Poor, Standard, Good or Superior. Sherman tanks are treated as the standard, and have no special FC rules which apply. Non-standard units may roll additional dice, or reroll a die, according to their FC level. For example, a Panther (classified as Superior) rolls three 10-sided dice instead of two, and then discard the lowest die roll. In this manner, players will quickly come to realize that some units are much better (or worse) than their ratings would otherwise suggest!

The game scenarios include the Campaign Game, which covers a three day period from June 25th-27th, plus many shorter scenarios covering various actions from June 16th through June 30th.

Note that the fighting for Cheux, as well as the German armored counterattack at Point 110 on July 1st, are beyond the scope of this game- although both battles might be covered in future games or expansions, if interest exists.

TIME SCALE Each turn = 90 minutes
MAP SCALE 425 yards per hex
UNIT SCALE Companies and Platoons

Customer Reviews
# of Ratings: 8
1. on 8/14/2016, said:
One of the most accurate simulations recreating combat in Normandy. The simulations was designed right from the narratives and books describing the battle itself. Hopefully the designer will build on this superb game system and move the action a few kilometers to the east onto the Epsom battlefield.
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2. on 6/4/2016, said:
* fast playing, intuitive system despite quite a bit of chrome and, above all, very interesting systems for modern combined arms warfare at company level * if one's not familiar with the system, a few rules & procedures needs some time to digest, but the best way to learn is to play and then things make sense very quickly * when I've taught the game to others play have been very smooth * great production values with heaps of historical background & designer notes. * awesome support by the designer whose passion online and throughout the product really shines through
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3. on 6/1/2016, said:
Good game but the map is too green. I prefer the previous version of the map.
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(4 people found this comment helpful, 7 did not)
4. on 5/9/2016, said:
Very nice artwork on the board. Hope to see Mounted Mapboard version in future.
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5. on 3/21/2014, said:
Please print a number in each hex.
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6. on 3/16/2011, said:
Rules look excellent and the level of research of the units involved, and thought into how best to represent them, is very impressive. Simply seperating out 3 different attack values, and then adding the dimension of troop quality represented by: number of die rolled, and re-rolls, allows for a lot of flexibility is representing the vehicle types, numbers and unit experience. The 2D6 Combat Resolution Table is a small but huge improvement on many older games. Going back to the 70's PANZER LEADER game, where the CRT uses 1D6, the supposedly unlikely events, represented by a 1 i 6 chance, were necessarily far too common in the game. Components: The map is superb and really does give the impression of the battlefield as seen from a couple of thousand feet above it. Armour counters: The original armour counters shown on this page are superb: black and white, side-on technical drawings, showing the individual armour plates and aerials (even better than the plain profile drawings in ROADS TO LENINGRAD). The apparent, 2nd generation counters on Consimworld: British Sextons - side-on colour graphics, are OK, but they lose the detail of the technical drawings. What appears to be the 3rd generation colour drawings on Consinworld - colour, side-on then rotated 45 degrees so the viewer is staring down one edge of the tank, is two big backward steps from the first design. The detail is lost, and in addition there is no pleasant profile of the tank. I can also recognise the tanks instantly from the profile drawings, but there is no such flash of recognition from these graphics. Hopefully the final armour design will be the first or even second designs, otherwise the 3rd design will somewhat undermine the superb looking map they will be placed on. So currently 4* with the current likely armour counters, but 5* with the original designs.
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