Back in November I posted a review of the Heroes of Normadie boardgame which I'd bought just after SELWG (link) but for some reason I hadn't actually managed to get round to playing it.
I managed to remedy that with 3 games in a few days... a practice game with my son and then playing through the first couple of scenarios with Anthony at the club. There are some thoughts on the game itself and the components in the earlier post but it's worth restating the lovely quality of the components. The boards and counters are suitably chunky cardboard with nice illustrations and the wooden blocks used for orders are suitably hefty. There are lots of counters to cover all the eventualities in the scenarios and it feels like a really well made product. There are a few errors in the rules (eg I spent ages looking for a US officer only to discover he doesn't exist and I should have used an alternative officer instead) but there are handy errata lists available including some on Boardgamegeek.
I'd had a concern that the attempts by the designers to put all the necessary info around combat bonuses, movement restrictions, cover bonuses etc on the counters and/or the maps might make them too 'busy' and feel cluttered but actually this worked really well. We both picked up what each meant pretty quickly and soon found we weren't having to refer to the rules much.
The game deliberately takes a Hollywood approach to combat but it still feels quite realistic. The make up of the scenarios drive the plot along well...game 1 was the introductory scenario where 2 matched forces are attempting to retrieve, and escape with, some top secret documents which have been spotted slowly descending by parachute on the corpse of a dead spy. When I played this with my son I was quickly beaten (as usual!), mainly because I failed to think through the victory conditions and allowed him to dominate the possible landing spots for the spy. When I replayed this against Anthony I pushed forward more aggressively and we had a much more even handed tussle for the centre of the board...I still lost though :(
Game 2 was the Saving Private Rex scenario... a US general's dog has escaped and is wandering around no mans land pursued by a hand picked US squad while the Germans attempt to prevent them capturing him. I managed to deploy my Germans in the right spot to keep the US squads away from the doggy for a couple of turns and my MG nest caused some problems for Anthony before he managed to knock it out. Annoyingly he managed to get close enough to Rex to call him over to one of his squads. I took great delight however in then playing one of my cards (you have a hand of 4 which give assorted bonuses etc) which meant the dog-walking squad had stepped onto a mine which, with a lucky dice throw, wiped them out but left the indestructible pooch intact. Spooked by the noise he ran back towards the Germans and it looked as though I was going to get to the final turn in possession of Rex. Anthony's newly arrived Jeep raced across the table however and with a skilful flurry of card playing he was able to zoom back to the table edge as we reached the final turn, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat!
The gameplay is very intuitive and fun and we picked it up really quickly. There are a number of scenarios with the game and more at the Devil Pig Games website but the game also allows players to build their own forces which will need some more investigation. There are also a range of supplements for Commonwealth forces and intriguingly there are some Cthulhu rule variations available on line too!