Crowbar! retraces the U.S. Army Rangers’ famous clifftop mission, with twists along the way.
The Game: Crowbar! The Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, June 6th 1944
The Maker: Flying Pig Games, $80.
The Basics: Crowbar! is a solitaire board game in which the player commands the U.S. Army Rangers who assaulted Pointe du Hoc on D-Day, directing platoons from landing craft through battle until relief forces arrive.
The Objective: Destroy the German guns. But as was the case on June 6, 1944, you must first find them—plus, the guns are randomly placed in different locations at the beginning of each game. Crowbar! awards points based on how fast the guns are found and on the number of German units destroyed, roadblocks established, and Rangers left standing at the battle’s end.
Historical Accuracy: Crowbar! accurately reflects challenges the Rangers faced, not limited to scaling cliffs, cutting through barbed wire, and crossing minefields while combatting an ever-increasing number of Germans in defensive positions. One minor fault (presumably made for ease of play) is that the game’s map, while visually appealing, technically has no “point” on its representation of Pointe du Hoc.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Each game is a bit different, as outcomes are determined with dice. Certain rolls require you to pull a chit (a type of wargame counter), which yields a random event that is either good or bad; for example, you could luck out with naval gunfire support or German units might gain an opportunity to fire at you. While these mechanics make for fluid solitaire play, the Germans are ultimately a static opponent that can only be attacked or overrun.
Playability: Crowbar! is both easy and fun to play. But even with variations like the random chits, it gets repetitive after just a few rounds, as the enemy does not maneuver. Plus, having to roll dice while attempting to do something as mundane as crossing barbed wire evokes wartime’s unknowns yet quickly grows monotonous.
The Bottom Line: Crowbar! instills players with a healthy appreciation of the challenges faced at Pointe du Hoc and the decisions Rangers made to overcome them. But after having given it a few whirls, you might find yourself shelving the game until enough time passes that it seems new again.
World War II rating: 3.5/5 stars
—Chris Ketcherside is a retired Marine, a lifelong wargamer, and a PhD candidate in American history. ✯
This article was published in the June 2020 issue of World War II.