WW2

Heroes of Normandie — On Kickstarter

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Heroes of NormandieHeroes of Normandie is a tactical World War Two boardgame now on Kickstarter. It passed its funding goal within just a few days of launch and now only has eight days left. It has also been running through its stretch goals with just a few more to go. The game was designed by a Devil Pig Games, a couple of French designers, and looks very good.  Devil Pig Games has been very good about posting game play videos and responding to backer requests and queries.

The game is certainly designed to be more Hollywood than history but the draft rules look very interesting and the overall visual design is top notch. Keeping with the Hollywood theme Devil Pigs have incorporated a lot of classic movie/tv archetypes into the game. While perhaps not the most accurate game it looks like a lot of fun to play.

While the game is designed as a pure board wargame the scale (both play and physical size) fits perfectly with 15mm miniatures. So players who wish to do so could easily convert the game for miniature play as well.

The Meeples & Miniatures Podcast – Episode 107 has an interview with Devil Pig Games and they discuss Heroes of Normandie.

We look forward to this one. If you have any interest in WW2 check out Heroes of Normandie.

Update: Heroes of Normandie successfully concluded with over £150,000 in funding. It met all of its stretch goals and supporters will be receiving a ton of cardboard soon. If you missed it look for the game in stores in late 2013 or early 2014.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Battle of the Bulge: iPad Edition — First Look

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Battle of the BulgeShenandoah Studio’s released their first iPad game from their Kickstarter campaign. Battle of the Bulge: The Simulation  Game for the iPad is a light operational-level wargame about the Battle of the Bulge designed by John Butterfield.

The good news is the game plays as good as it looks and as good as all of the Kickstarter supporters hoped. It is definitely on the light side for a wargame but offers enough nuance in strategy that it keeps you playing as you try to see how different approaches will work. The game includes two scenarios, a shorter three-day Race to Meuse and the full campaign game. You can play both from either the Allied or Axis side and against two types of AI opponents. The AI is quite good and I lost dozens of games of Race to the Meuse as the Germans until I finally realized I should push in the North. Maybe it isn’t possible to win running down the center or the South but it sure is fun to try. The AI doesn’t seem able to successfully defend against a northern thrust in the Race to the Meuse scenario but does give a good account of itself. The campaign is challenging from either side. You may win an early victory but you probably won’t think it was easy. But if you tire of fighting against the AI you can play a real opponent face-to-face or go online against others.

Bulge iconThe presentation of the game is outstanding and perhaps best of all the game includes all the normal wargame rules and charts that the game uses. It is quite easy to play the game without reference to the rules but if you are curious how things are working this is a very nice, and welcome, addition.

There is also nice historical detail provided on the battle day by day that is there for those who want to read it but does not get in the way of the game.

If you like operational wargames give the Battle of the Bulge a look. It is a great game and great example of how good the iPad can be as a gaming platform.

PocketTactics has a nice review of the game. Three Moves Ahead has an insightful discussion of the game in Episode 200.

[Updated: 12JAN13]

Blenneville or Bust — Now Available

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Blenneville or BustToo Fat Lardies have a new expansion for their I Ain’t Been Shot Mum tactical WW2 miniatures ruleset. Blenneville or Bust is a 300-page PDF campaign pack that covers fictional late-war encounters on the Western front.

Blenneville or Bust! is a collection of fictional late war, western front scenarios set in a valley just south of the Normandy beaches a short time after the D-Day landings. US and British forces are attempting to drive through the German defences in the Ribeaux valley in order to break out into the open country beyond, the Germans are trying to stop them.

The pack contains thirty-one individual scenarios set up in a five-step pyramid campaign i.e. scenario 1 leads to either scenario 2A or 2B; the result of this second game leads to one of scenarios 3A, 3B, 3C or 3D; and so on until scenarios 5A to 5P. Although written as a fictional campaign booklet, no two scenarios are the same: each is unique and is also designed to be played as an individual game.

If you are unfamiliar with I Ain’t Been Shot Mum it is an excellent set of company level rules. It is considerably more streamlined than Flames of War and thus allows players to concentrate more on tactics and maneuver than rules. If you like tactical WW2 gaming check it out.

4Ground 28mm Buildings — Review

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4GroundWe got sucked into Bolt Action in a big way. But because we had sworn off all 28mm games (pay no attention to our Saga and Dust Warfare gaming…) we didn’t have any buildings for the scale (especially WW2). Thankfully along comes 4Ground with their new line of pre-painted 28mm buildings. They have a WW2 line as well as a few buildings suitable for Saga and much more. They also have undamaged and damaged versions to add some variety to your gaming table.

The 4Ground buildings are all laser cut MDF or, in other words, wood. They come ‘pre-painted’ but this could be considered slightly optimistic. They are painted but in just four colors: off-white/cream, red, blue, gray (and perhaps a brown as a fifth color but it is very close to the natural MDF color so it’s hard to say for sure). The colors are a very simple basic application to the top of each wood frame. Because the edges are not painted once the buildings are assembled there are certainly some un-painted areas showing. But overall they still look pretty good and you could certainly touch-up the exposed bits with paint for a more polished look on the table. The laser cutting process scorches the paint a bit and that then gives the buildings a nice weathered look. Overall they look good but not stunning.

Assembly is very easy. Each building does consist of dozens of pieces, many quite small, but the included instructions are very thorough with both text and photos. Note that some of the assembly photos are actually split showing multiple views of the same piece. This is not immediately evident and can cause a bit of confusion. You assemble the buildings using white glue (we used wood glue and that worked just fine as well). Once you build your first one others will be easy. The destroyed buildings take a good hour and the non-destroyed buildings maybe 30-45 minutes. The construction of the buildings is quite interesting and basically consists of outer walls and inner walls. Each floor assembly is also separate and thus removable during play for placement of and access to figures. The laser cutting is very precise and clean and the parts will drop right out of their frames or just need a good tap. The only downside to this is that each part is labeled on the frame not the part itself so you will need to exercise care during first assembly so as not to get confused over what piece is what. Only the slightest filing or sanding will be needed on each part if anything at all.

Once assembled the buildings are very sturdy and durable and should hold up to even the hardest play. The scale of the buildings is also very good and fit in great with the Warlord 28mm Bolt Action figures and even look fine with the larger 30mm Dust Warfare figures [Note: Depending on your figure poses and basing 28mm figures will fit fine inside or may be too tall to fit and still be able to place the above floor on top. Larger armored figures will certainly have this problem.]. Also the doors and other bits can be assembled open/closed or left off etc adding more variety to each building. Considering the cost, pre-paint and durability of these buildings any gamer should give them a serious look. Recommended.

Also see: Café Gondrée

[Updated: 28FEB14]

Dust Warfare Resources — September 2012

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Dust Warfare[Note: See our new updated post that reflects the distribution change from FFG to Battlefront.] FFG’s sci-fi miniatures game Dust Warfare is really picking up steam. The game is not only gaining in popularity but FFG and the DW community are really putting some quality effort behind it. Below are some useful resources for Dust Warfare fans.

  • Dust Warfare Force Cards — The cards that come with the miniatures are actually for Dust Tactics. While one could modify those cards easily enough it seems a shame not to keep them for games of Dust Tactics. Plus there are some unique DW attributes that are difficult to add. Well Rodney Smith and others to the rescue. Rodney has created a great set of Dust Warfare specific cards you can print out and use. So far there are two sets: The Core Set and the SSU Set. Also see post 449.
  • Dust Warfare Force Builder — So far there is no official Army Builder app or anything for Dust Warfare. Luckily C. Jackobson decided to just build his own. It is a website that gets the job done and produces basic text output for your army.
  • Paolo Parente’s Dust Site — The man who started it all. Here you can see the Premium Models as well as the unique Dust 48 line. There is also Dust Terrain and of course Dust publications. If you can’t find these things at your local retailers or favorite online store you can order from Paolo and he will ship out quickly.
  • Dust Warfare PDF Rulebooks — You can get the PDF versions of the rules from Wargame Vault.
  • Dust Chronicles — There is a new fanzine devoted to Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics. Only one issue so far but very well done.
  • Fantasy Flight Games’ Dust Warfare Forum — FFG’s Dust Warfare forum is a great source for news and questions.
  • FFG’s Official Sites — It can be a bit confusing because FFG generally covers the miniatures under their Dust Tactics section but then covers Dust Warfare book releases under their Dust Warfare section.
  • BattleTactics TV — BTTV has some excellent videos that cover the Premium Models as well as other aspects of the game.
  • Beasts of War Dust Warfare Coverage — The blokes over at The Beasts of War occasionally have some good DW bits including video unboxings of new units. Also see their YouTube Channel.
  • BoLS Dust Warfare Coverage — The Bell of Lost Souls occasionally pulls itself away from 40K and covers Dust Warfare.
  • Unit Forward — Unit Forward is a Dust Warfare fan site with nice coverage. Great photos and lots of AARs.
  • Dust-War — Another fan site with solid Dust Warfare coverage.
  • Watch It Played — A series of videos on how to play Dust Warfare.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Dust Warfare — August 2012 Update

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DW minisFantasy Flight Games is busy churning out Dust Warfare goodness. GenCon 2012 provided us all with some nice peeks at new upcoming products. Thanks to Russ from The D6 Generation and BattleTactics.TV for their great coverage. For a great look at the upcoming DW minis see BattleTactics.TV’s excellent video. FFG also now has a post with more information. Below is a recap of the recent news:

  • First up is the release of the Campaign Book: Zverograd that introduces the SSU and a few additional Allied and German units. You can also get the book as a PDF on Wargame Vault. (Note: For some odd reason the book still does not show up in search on Wargame Vault but if you follow the link you will be fine.)
  • FFG also announced Campaign Book Hades. It will include the first Soldier 4 unit in the game, the SSU Hero ‘Winter Child’.
  • The various SSU helicopters have started to hit the stores.
  • As you can see in the BTTV video  there is a huge amount of upcoming goodness for all factions. This is what you’ll see:
    • Allied: British Commandos and French Foreign Legion Kill Squad. Both are three-man Solider 3 squads. They are in the Allied suit armor but with bare arms. They come in the same package and you just swap heads to make one unit or the other.
    • German: Two new vehicles shown. They are large walkers based off the Vehicle 7 walker chassis. Shown were the Prinzeluther and Sturmprinz that both are sort of a mix of the WW2 SdKfz 251/D and SdKfz 232. They both have small turrets and open topped transport compartments. For infantry there are the new Jagdgrenadiere and Laser-Jagdgrenadiere. What is unique about those is that they are both three-man squads all based together on a single base (similar to GW IG heavy weapons). Perhaps the biggest surprise was the new German aircraft model prototypes. Also see BTTV’s aircraft video. FFG has now officially announced these with the upcoming Operation Icarus expansion for Dust Tactics. Also the P-38-eque aircraft in the page art is rumored to be the Allied fighter.
    • SSU: The SSU get the most love with all sorts of new goodies:
      • Hero Winter Child
      • IS-48 Karl Marx – Heavy Tesla gun-armed heavy tank
      • IS-5 Vladamir Lenin – KV2-like heavy tank
      • IS-5 Mao Zedong – AA tank. Both IS-5s also carry troops.
      • IS-48 Lavrentiy Beria Tank w/155mm main gun – Looks like an IS-3 tank
      • KV-3 Matrioshka – Walker with two main guns
      • KV-3 Babushka – Walker with Gatling guns
      • Red Guards Assault Squad
      • Red Guards Antitank Squad – With 2 Bazookas

Dust Warfare FFLAll in all life is looking very good for Dust Warfare fans. FFG is providing strong support for the game. Now if we only knew what the fourth faction will be!

[Updated: 12OCT12]

Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue — Now Available

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Case BlueDecisive Campaigns: Case Blue is now available. Case Blue is a WW2 operational level computer wargame on the German’s 1942 drive towards Stalingrad in Russia. It is a follow-on to the well done Decisive Campaigns: Blitzkrieg Warsaw to Paris. The game manual is available to download.

It is the summer of 1942 on the Eastern Front, and Case Blue is about to begin. The German Wehrmacht must continue their drive to Stalingrad and into the Caucasus in order to secure victory against the Soviet Army. As time passes and the battles rage on, winter arrives and with it the Soviet winter counter-offensive dashes hopes of a speedy victory for the Wehrmacht.

Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue features an easy-to-learn interface and a challenging AI for all levels of players. Among the many new features for the Decisive Campaigns series is the optional high command order system, which puts you in the position of the historical commander, with often difficult and unrealistic goals assigned by your superiors. Succeed and you may be able to guide the future strategy of the campaign – fail and you may find yourself removed from command or facing a firing squad!Case Blue Screenshot

The new full campaign scenarios cover a remarkable sweep of history, including the full Case Blue campaign with all of its many historical options.  The order of battle may change based on your performance and the entire direction of the campaign is even within your reach if you do well enough.  Whether you start in the summer of 1942 or take control as Operation Uranus begins, there are virtually endless “what ifs” in each of these remarkably detailed campaigns.

[Updated: 23JUL12]

WWPD Interview with John-Paul from Battlefront

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WWPD PodcastWell the boys over at the What Would Patton Do podcast score a big one with a great interview with John-Paul of Battlefront, makers of Flames of War. The boys must have had his family tied up at some undisclosed location because they got him to spill the beans on just about everything! You won’t want to miss the interview for yourself but here are the highlights of what John-Paul mentions (forward the show to 51:00 to get right to it) :

  • Nuts book at printer now. Next Battle of the Bulge release.
  • The new European building range shown in Wargames Illustrated 296 will include about 12 total buildings.
  • Mid-war remake (probably starting 2013?) will see campaign books on topics such as Tobruk, El Alamein and Kursk.
  • Market-Garden compilation will be ready for Christmas 2012. It will be two ~80+ page books.
  • Next early-war release will be winter war (Barbarossa?) in 2013.
  • Sea Lion will be done as a campaign book(s).
  • Vietnam gets proper campaign/rules book in February 2013 with lots of ‘new things to come’.

John-Paul gives some nice details on their efforts in plastic production where he mentions:

  • Battlefront makes over 640 vehicles, over 400 of which are armored vehicles.
  • Battlefront wants the plastics to look like BF game miniatures not scale models.
  • An Open Fire! boxed game will be released in October 2012 that will include ~11 tanks/guns, ~150figs and a V1 Rocket on launcher all in plastic.
  • Battlefront ships 70-80,000 packs (of miniatures?) a month.
  • Battlefront produces 1,500-1,700 pages of Flames of War material a year.

[Updated: 31AUG12]

Combat Mission: Fortress Italy — Available Soon

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CM:FIBattlefront.com will be releasing the latest game in their WW2 Combat Mission line of tactical computer games soon. The next installment is Combat Mission: Fortress Italy featuring battles in Sicily and Italy. CM:FI is a standalone game and uses the new CMx2 engine. Combat Mission: Fortress Italy is available now. The game features:

“The combat forces immediately available to players include the full range of historically available American, Italian, and German forces which fought in Sicily. In addition to the completely new Italian forces, both the American and German organizations differ significantly from those familiar to Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy players. Some of the highlights are elite formations such as:

  •     Italian Bersaglieri
  •     American Rangers
  •     German Herman Göring Division

CM:FI T30Of course, the time frame and units involved require equipment new to the Combat Mission series. A full list is available on the new Fortress Italy website, however here are some particularly fun gadgets to play with:

  •     R-35 Light Tank
  •     Semovente 90/53
  •     Panzer Mk III
  •     Grille
  •     M3 GMC Halftrack
  •     T30 HMC Halftrack

Players get to dive in and try these forces out in three (!!!) campaigns, one from the perspective of each national force (USA, Germany, Italy), a host of new stand alone battles, and of course the automatically generated QuickBattles. It won’t take long for Normandy players to feel how different this time period and setting is from what they are used to. And the Italian forces are very interesting indeed! Squads the size of Platoons, almost no radios at all, few antitank weapons, proportionally few support weapons, and relatively light armored vehicles present even the best CM player with a lot of new challenges.

But wait, we didn’t come to the best part yet… Fortress Italy features more than just a new setting and new units. It is also the first Combat Mission game to be upgraded with our CMx2 engine Version 2.0 features! If you haven’t heard about the new Upgrade path for Combat Mission. For those who have, here’s just a few of the new features you’ll experience:

  •     Moveable Waypoints
  •     Target Armor Arc Command
  •     Expanded Floating Icon Categories
  •     “Fog of War” Floating Icons
  •     2D Editor Map Overlay
  •     Auto-Assemble Road/Wall/Hedge Tool
  •     Camera Jump to Groups
  •     Target Briefly Command
  •     New Rendering Shaders
  •     Bump and Normal Mapping
  •     Improved Framerates
  •     Pausable Realtime TCP/IP Mode
  •     …and more!”

[Updated: 3AUG12]

Dust Warfare — Revisited

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Dust Warfare

It’s your choice but I warn you not to underestimate my powers.

Ok, well maybe we underestimated Russ just a bit! Just a few weeks after our first look at Dust Warfare we’ve had something of an about face. We liked the rules from the start but had said we had sworn off 28mm gaming. Well, ok, maybe not. After actually playing a game and seeing the Premium Edition of the models we got sucked in.

The reasons for our change of heart came about from a variety of factors. First of all, while we liked the rules after first looking at them, we really like them after playing a game. We won’t go quite as far as Russ by saying they are ‘the best army-scale rules ever’ but they are very elegant, fast playing, and provide just that right amount of tactical flavor and decision making to produce a fun and challenging game. You will pick up the basics of play very quickly and after just a game or two will be focused on tactics not trying to remember rules.

Hammer and Reaper Compare
On the left is the stock, out-of-the-box Assault Squad figure and on the right is a quick-painted Attack Squad figure. The entire Attack Squad was painted in just a couple hours.

The second reason is the models themselves combined with the units needed for the game. Like most sci-fi miniature games Dust Warfare uses a points system for force building. A small game is under 200 APs and a medium game is around 300 APs. A small game will have one or two platoons and a medium game probably at least two platoons. What is nice about Dust Warfare is that a small game is still a lot of fun and has a low model count. A squad is generally only 3-5 figures not 10-20 like other games. A 150-200 AP force will only have about four infantry squads and one or two walkers. Thus at most you are probably looking at twenty figures or so and one or two vehicles to get started. This is extremely manageable both from a painting and a cost perspective. It is then an easy task to build up from there over time. Combine this with the pre-assembled and pre-primed nature of the miniatures and you can be playing faster than almost any other miniatures game out there. This fact combined with the great rules is a real winner.

Officer Reaper Compare
On the left is the stock Premium Edition Allied Heavy Ranger Officer figure (with base painted by myself) next to a quick-painted Grim Reaper figure.

Another reason, related to the above issue with the miniatures, is also the fact that you can get the Premium Edition models or simply quick-paint your figures. The Premium Edition figures are very well done. They are not cheap but they are about the same cost as a unit of 40K infantry that come un-assembled and un-painted. Thus with a combination of a couple of Premium units and some quick painting you can get your basic starting force on the table, fully-painted, in literally a weekend or two. Included here are some examples of the basic miniatures, the Premium models, and our quick painted models. We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do Russ’ 10 minute paint job but with just a few hours of attention the Dust minis look great.

Dust Heavy Infantry
In the front are our own quick painted Reapers with the Premium Edition Heavy Command Squad units in the back. We did texture and paint the Premium bases but that was all.
Jagdluther and Mickey
These two walkers are from the Dust Premium line. Both are stock out of the box with the exception that I textured and painted the bases. But nothing was done to the walkers themselves.

In the accompanying photos you will see comparisons of the stock miniatures with ones we quick painted and the Premium Edition units. In all cases we did texture and paint the bases. We will do another article covering how we did the paint job on the infantry. It is also worth noting that the markings on both the stock infantry and walkers do not appear to be decals. To us they seem to be painted on. This makes them durable and also easy to paint over if you wish. [Note: On the Premium models they are decals for sure.]

Axis Zombies
Dust Axis Zombies as they come out of the box. These are the most ‘bendy’ of the figures we have seen so far. But they are durable.

All is not perfect. In the D6 Generation review Romeo remarked he thought the infantry were ‘gumbies’. For the most part we do not agree with this sentiment but there are a few figures were this is an accurate statement. As you can see by the photo of the Axis Zombies a couple of the figures are in rather gravity defying poses. These figures are very flexible but this also makes them durable. Unlike many of the 40K Tyranid models these won’t snap in play. Of course whether or not they will shed paint with regular use remains to be seen but we really don’t think so unless you really tend to mush them. Some of the other infantry figures are a touch bendy at the ankles as well but none to the extent of the Zombies (that we have seen anyway).

Last, but certainly not least, the community support for Dust Warfare has been outstanding. The FFG Dust Warfare forum is a useful and civil place to get help and support for Dust Warfare. And the work by both Rodney and Craig has really been outstanding. The new Unit Forward site is looking very nice. The Beasts of War and BattleTactics.tv are ramping up their coverage as well. It is always helpful to get into a game when there is an active community behind it.

So, overall, while we would still have preferred the game in 15mm scale we will take it as it is. The combination of the great rules and the miniatures were enough to pull us back into 28mm once again. And the journey has been a whole lot of fun!

Also see the Dust Warfare — August 2012 Update.

[Updated: 10JUL12]