For anyone who has read my latest blog on the evolving board gaming scene, you will know that I am fairly new to board games and that Heroes of Normandie was the first game that I bought.
Why this game you may ask? Well, firstly the look of the game really stood out to me. It reminded me a bit of an old Sega game called General Chaos (see pic). The cartoon-styled pictures mixed with an adult theme gave it more appealing than anything else around the budget I wanted to spend.
First Impressions On Heroes Of Normandie
When the game arrived the first thing I noticed was the artwork on the box... It's very very good. I opened the box (insert box fart sound here) and was amazed at what so little had bought me. Loads and loads of cardboard chits. From tanks to snipers it was all included. The build quality of the pieces was amazing and still some of the best I have seen to date.
After looking at all the pieces I read the instructions or tried to at least, and this is where I got stuck. They were horrible, with grammatical messes worse than chemical warfare. Over the next few days, I tried and tried to get my head around the rules but could not. I looked for YouTube videos and asked in forums and I soon realised this game came from a Kickstarter project and that the rules were translated from French.
I found a group on Facebook called Devil Pigs Game Fanatics that helped with the rules and I built a rapport with some of the members. We learnt the rules at a steady pace and I'm happy that we got over the initial issues because the game is amazing.
The gameplay is a strategic blend of war and troop selection and you play on a modular board made up of terrain tiles. There is the usual Line of Sight rules accustomed to war games, along with a booklet of scenarios based on famous films for you to play out.
The easiest way to start learning this game is to use the Scenario booklet mentioned earlier. You select the troops and terrain tiles as mentioned and follow a set amount of turns to try and achieve the goal of that particular scenario.
Set-up takes minimal time and once you have mastered the basic rules you get to create your own missions and squads of soldiers.
Gameplay is fairly difficult to try and explain in a review and is better being shown or watched on a video, however, I will explain the basics.
Each type of soldier or vehicle has its own set of stats, from movement to attack. You move the set number of squares in order to initiate an attack and then you both roll dice to get the outcome of success or failure.
When a unit has been hit you turn it over to its 'B' side, which has reduced stats (the artwork even shows less soldiers to indicate loss of life). The mix of units and vehicles makes this a tactical affair but the randomness of the dice helps keep it fun regardless of your skill level and knowledge of the mechanics of the game.
Other Game Mechanics
Heroes of Normandie has other mechanics that increase the tactics needed in order to win. You have line of sight going into and out of bushes which adds or takes away from the dice number thrown.
You also have close-quarter combat which requires a different set of rules for combat again. The vehicle also requires a different tactic, grenades or rockets, to do any damage. There are Building tiles to be placed which again cause effects to your cover and can give you the upper hand in battle.
If this game was made by Hasbro or any other well-known board game producers/publishers the instructions would be more complete and it would of sold in its thousands, that's how good it is.
It's a brilliant looking game that has excellent build quality. The game is very, very fun once you get to know the mechanics, however because of the horrid instructions it takes time and I understand this may put some people off.
If you can devote time to this game you will be rewarded, however, if it's a quick learner you are after I would look elsewhere. Deep mechanics are hidden within the poorly translated rules and many will struggle to unlock the hidden glory that's trying to burst out.
A deep strategy game with endless replayability is what you will get if you do spend time learning the rules and mechanics.
The rule book is the only negative to this game and Devil Pig Games are in the process of getting a proper translation sorted. There are Shadows over Normandie, endless expansions and even a card game set in the same universe due out soon. I recommend you give this game a try as it's totally worth it.
This blog was originally published on Feb 20th, 2017. Updated on April 27th, 2022 to improve the information available.