Category Archives: Capsule Reviews

Brief reviews.

Heroes of Normandie

Heroes of Normandie. Iello, 2014. $70. Designed by Yann & Clem; Graphics & illustrations by Yann, Clem, Alex & Olivier of Devil Pig Games. World War II squad level tactical game with 6 terrain boards, many German and American infantry, heroes, and vehicle counters as well as recruitment tiles, dice, action cards and wooden order tokens for both sides and many, many tokens. 2 players, but there are multiplayer rules for 3-4. 60 minutes. Ages 10+.

This is a World War II tactical game as seen in Hollywood’s Golden Age movies. The very artfully done counters represent squads or individual heroes and vehicles. Game play alternatives initiative each turn while the numbered order tokens allow players to alternate activating units. During their activation, units can either move/assault or fire. After alternating units with orders have finished, units that did not receive orders may move (but not assault nor fire). The game system uses Zones of Control to keep enemies from sliding past. Terrain can slow or prohibit units as well as block (or reduce) Line of Sight.

The game is beautiful! The terrain and units are very good overhead artwork. The rules are brief and direct. There are no charts or tables to have to consult! The game is driven by the graphic icons on every unit and terrain element that tell players at a glance what effects or abilities each piece has. This is a fast game. Combat is quick and often deadly. Most units are reduced (flipped) when hit the first time and then are destroyed if hit again.

The rules are poorly organized and specific rules are open to many interpretations leading to many questions during play. Devil Pig has released a much improved revised rulebook available on their website. The initial scenarios are a bit odd (fighting over plans, rescuing the commander’s dog).

Heroes of Normandie is a beautiful game of fast moving WWII combat. Each unit feels different and adds to the appeal of the game. Their recruitment system is amazing, using tiles with matching counters to control what can be added to supplement specific units. And building your own army to face off against the enemy is where this game shines. And with a very ambitious publication schedule, they are producing a lot of new and varied units and terrain to expand the game. If you’re looking for a World War II game that’s easy, fast, simple, beautiful, and varied, then get this game! Don’t let the rules detour you.

This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards

The Builders: Middle Ages.

The Builders: Middle Ages. Asmodee, 2013. $18. Game designer : Frédéric Henry ; Artwork : Sabrina Miramon. Card game with 42 Worker cards, 42 Building cards, 40 plastic coins. 2-4 players, 30 minutes, ages 10+.

Players start with an Apprentice and use 3 actions per turn to recruit workers, select buildings to build, gain coins, and pay workers to go to the job site and construct their buildings. Each building constructed can bring more coins and victory points. Special buildings called “machines” give no coins but once constructed they bring resources for free to a construction. The first player to 17 victory points triggers the last round and end of game. Player with the most victory points wins.

The artwork is wonderful and evocative, with building cards having construction and finished sides. Worker cards bring different amounts of resources (stone, wood, knowledge, tile) to the site but you have to pay them in coins, varying amounts based on how many resources they bring. Master workers bring many resources but cost more than a lowly apprentice. It is critical to make the right choices about which buildings to try and build, which workers to recruit for your current needs and future buildings, and which order to build in so that you keep an flow of coins to pay your workers.

First player and turn order can be problematic because with the card layout of 5 buildings and 5 workers and players having 3 actions the “best” buildings, especially the “machines” which can be assigned to building sites to provide cheap resources, being taken quickly leaving the dregs for the later players. The randomness of being a card game means sometimes just the right building or worker or machine can become available at just the right (or wrong) moment to sway the game. There is a lot of luck involved in which cards are available on your turn.

The Builders: Middle Ages is a fairly simple, quick playing card game that can be a resource management challenge worthy of a “bigger” game. The small size, it comes in a tin 1.5 x 4.8 x 4.8 inches. At less than 10 ounces, it makes a highly portable travel game. Highly recommended for a fast game that’s both a challenge and a lot of fun.

This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards