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Posted on Oct 3, 2006 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Airborne – Boardgame Review

By Mark Brownell

Any number of action segments may make up the Action Phase. The number of action segments a player has in a turn depends on the number of units and leaders that a player has, their morale status, and whether or not he is able to “activate” them. There are three morale levels in Airborne; good order, disrupted, and demoralized. A unit that is demoralized is very limited in what actions it may perform, while a disrupted unit can’t attack, and a unit in good order may operate, for the most part, normally. Here is where leadership comes in. Airborne, and the whole Panzer Grenadier series for that matter, is all about leadership. Very simply stated – the better a leader’s morale, combat modifier, and morale modifier, the more units that leader will be able to influence. The more leaders you have, and the closer they are to each other, is also a key tactic. For example; A captain, in good order, in one hex may not only help the units in his hex but in the adjacent six hexes. If there happens to be a lieutenant or sergeant in any of those adjacent hexes with their own stack of units, they would be helped by the captain. In turn, the lieutenant’s influence would effect the hexes adjacent to him, rippling outward into a large group of units that could all move or fire in one particular action segment all because of the influence of one, good ordered, leader. Leaders are also necessary in helping units recover from the effects of combat by helping them improve their morale status.


Once activated, units may move or conduct fire combat. There are four types of combat: bombardment or indirect fire which also includes off board artillery factors that are available in certain scenarios, direct fire, anti-tank fire, and assault (hand to hand combat between units in the same hex).

Any number of action segments may make up a turn. Each of the twenty scenarios in Airborne have a specific number of turns varying from as few as ten up to fifty-five. This way you may choose to have a short fire fight, or a full fledge battle. All twenty scenarios focus on actions between the night of June 5th to June 14th, 1944. I did find a few problems in the scenario booklet. For example, in Scenario Eighteen the U.S. player receives armor reinforcements from the 70th Tank Battalion on turn 54. However, the scenario ends on turn 53. Reverse the numbers and send the armor in on turn 45. No big deal.

Whether you purchase Airborne because you just like paratroopers fighting in Normandy, or to introduce you to the Panzer Grenadier system, you won’t be disappointed. For twenty dollars you get twenty scenarios, each of which provides hours of enjoyment and replayability. If you like the system, then there are presently at least ten more games and modules ranging from the steppes of Russia to North Africa to the Pacific islands to downtown Berlin. Once you become comfortable with the rules, there are close to five hundred scenarios waiting for you to take command. Check it all out at Avalanche Press. Be forewarned, Panzer Grenadier can be very addictive.

I would like to make a couple of closing comments for those gamers who might already own the 2001 version of Airborne. The map is the same except the ’01 version is hard-mounted and the ’06 is cardstock. The counters are the same. For the most part the charts are the same. Although you only get one copy of each in the newer version, instead of two. The turn marker chart is easier to use in the ’06 version. There are a couple of changes in increased movement allowances for all units going into hill hexes. (This is not important in just the Airborne game since there are no hills.) The other notable changes have just made it a little easier to find things on the charts.

The major change between the two versions of Airborne is in the Scenario Booklet. The original, ’01, version had fifteen of its twenty scenarios using the map included in the game and five that used maps from the two previous East Front games in the series. Those five are gone in the ’06 version. They have been replaced by five new scenarios using only the Airborne map. The original fifteen scenarios are still there, they have just been renamed and renumbered. A few minor changes then, essentially same map, same counters, but five new scenarios. So, if you own the original ’01 version, do you really need the ’06? Well, OF COURSE, then you could have two different Airborne scenarios set up at the same time. Besides, if you are into designing your own scenarios, you now can have two Brigadier Generals, one commanding the troops of the 82nd and one commanding the troops of the 101st. What gamer doesn’t want two generals instead of one? Enjoy Airborne.

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