Blueprints

Blueprints. Z-Man, 2013. $30. Designed by Yves Tourigny. Dice drafting game with 32 dice, 24 Blueprint cards, 9 Award cards, 12 Prize cards, 4 player screens, 1 cloth bag, scoreboard and markers. 2-4 players. 30-45 minutes. Ages 14+.

In Blueprints, players are given a Blueprint card and then take turns drafting dice to use in building the design on their Blueprint card. After 6 turns the round is over and the dice are scored. The goal is to gain Award cards by making the most points based on how the various colored dice are used and completing your plan as well as gaining Prize cards based on completing specific goals (such as using 5 dice of the same color). Both types of cards are worth victory points which is tallied at the end of 3 rounds to determine the victor.

With only 3 rounds and only 6 dice drafted each round, the game is quick yet engaging. Each player’s turn consists of selecting one die from those available, adding it to their building (the plan for which is hidden behind their screen) and then drawing and rolling a new random die. Every turn players are faced with deciding how to increase their building’s point value by choosing the best die by color or number that can be added while also keeping an eye on the possible Prize cards by achieving specific unrelated goals.

The game consists of random dice rolling and those players who don’t enjoy games in which luck plays a large part may not appreciate this game. And while each Blueprint card is unique, they are not very engaging or different. Few strategic plans will last much more than a turn since players must react to the available dice which can be frustrating. There is little player interaction beyond drafting a die your opponent may want.

If you enjoy games where you must constantly reevaluate and develop your position based on choosing the best path in a fast changing, random environment, then you may well like this game. It is quick, portable, and with the right group who enjoy games with lots of chance, 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

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