Night of Man:
A Xenomorph Is Involved…

It’s been a long time since leisure time and brain power have combined in sufficient quantities for me to get in some game time on the tabletop and then go all bloggy about it. With any luck, it will become more frequent than a once-a-year event…

Since it smacked down on the front porch of The Swamp Bunker about ten days ago, I’ve spent a number of interesting sessions playing Night of Man, the new sci-fi tactical shoot-em-up from Flying Pig Games — in fact, it’s FPG’s first boxed release (although it’s not like chief pig flyer Mark Walker hasn’t been around the wargame industry for a while now). In the interest of full disclosure, from time to time I write up bits of gaming goodness for FPG’s Yaah! Magazine. In return, from time to time, FPG sends me a magazine. They do not, however, send me free boxed games. (Sadly, one does not get rich writing for wargaming magazines.) I got Night of Man fair and square through the game’s Kickstarter campaign.

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If, like me, you enjoy poking around at a large variety of tactical wargames, you’ve probably come across Mark Walker designed games before. In a previous business-y incarnation, he was responsbile for the squad-level Lock N Load system and the platoon level World at War (plus its close relative, Nations at War). Probably other stuff I’ve missed, too. When I first saw the Kickstarter for Night of Man, I had to wonder how many different ways one guy could come up with to “do” a tactical wargame.

Fortunately, it appears the creative Mr. Walker takes his coffee strong because Night of Man is Different with a capital “D”.

For starters, the game box needs a sticker on it (in large print) that reads “Sized for Old Farts”, or something to that effect. The physical presentation is generously scaled and very sturdy. Counters (including markers) are one-inch square — no tweezers required — and the four mounted maps are marked with a one-inch grid. I have in the past fussed a bit about the teeny superscript numbers and congested counter graphics in both Lock N Load and World at War, so it’s only fair that I heap praise on the Night of Man counters for their ease of use. Hell, I don’t even need to wear my reading glasses to play the game. For those of us who are in our squinty-eyed, fumbly-fingered phase, this game’s graphics are good therapy. Continue reading

I Remember My Blog Password

It’s been a while since my last blog-eration (obviously), but that doesn’t mean the Not So Big Anymore Table (NSBAT) here at the swamp bunker hasn’t seen a fair amount of gaming. Heroes of Normandie remained in action for quite a while, although it was sadly back in the closet by the time the Commonwealth Army Box arrived. It’s an entertaining and good-looking game, though, so I’ll probably drag it back out soon enough.

Since HoN went into the closet, the NSBAT has hosted a few ASL scenarios to celebrate the arrival of the system’s re-engineered PTO module, Rising Sun. There was some miniatures building and painting, followed by a couple of large Warhammer 40k games on the (bigger) dining room table while the rest of the family was out of town — a project undertaken to mark the release of 40k’s 7th Edition rules. A few games of X-Wing miniatures, followed by an interlude of (gasp) empty table while I tinkered around with the new 2nd Edition Dark Heresy RPG rules set.

Borderlands 2 - you gotta love a game that gives you Badass Points.

Borderlands 2 – you gotta love a game that gives you Badass Points.

Then — presto — suddenly it was the season for a whole bunch of Kickstarter projects I supported in the wayback to begin arriving at the swamp bunker. Technically, the season … er, kicked off … with the arrival of Heroes of Normandie, but since then there was a bit of a break. All in the space of just a few weeks I received both games in Conquistador’s “War Stories”, Red Storm and Liberty Road; Tiny Epic Kingdoms; and both core game sets from Flying Frog’s “Shadows of Brimstone”, City of the Ancients and Swamp of Death. Also toss in there the new-ish 4th Edition release of GW’s classic Space Hulk, which wasn’t a Kickstarter but arrived in the same time frame. Continue reading

Heroes of Normandie: Observations

Unless I’m writing about a monster game or something similarly complex and time-consuming, it always seems a bad idea to post a gaming AAR based on information gleaned from only a single playing. I thought about this quite a bit since my last blog post, so I’m altering my plan a little bit toward more of an overview approach.

Single scenarios from a ‘system’ game, learning scenarios and other small set-pieces seldom provide all of the experience and understanding I like to have when I sit down to write. Such is the case here with Heroes of Normandie. The focus of my previous written examples was the first offering in the game’s scenario book (which I think was also included in the print-n-play version), but I have played several other scenarios in the box before firing up my keyboard again.

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Heroes of Normandie: The Setup

I think the best way to provide an overview of how Heroes of Normandie works is to just dive right into some scenario setup and game play. I’ve never been big on trying to provide Reader’s Digest versions of rules anyway. On top of that, for the really curious, v1.1 of the HoN rules is available for download from the Devil Pig Games website.

For my example, we’re diving into the first scenario in the scenario booklet. The US and German players have evenly matched forces in a sort of modified capture-the-flag setting. There are five possible “objective” locations on the two-board setup; the actual objective — which a friendly unit must reach (ostensibly to recover some valuable documents), then exit the board safely — is selected by die-roll at the beginning of Turn 2.

Setup for the first scenario, "Godsend".

Setup for the first scenario, “Godsend”.

Each side receives the basic units on a standard rifle/panzergrenadier platoon template. No attachments or assets are available in this brief learning game. Note that “platoons” in HoN aren’t really platoons. They’re closer to reinforced squads or, at best, half-platoons. Each template includes a Recon team (three little guys drawn on the counter), a ‘Fire’ team (with five little dudes), an Officer and a sort of ‘heavy’ team. Continue reading

Hedgerow Heroes

About 15 months ago I lost my mind for a while and plunked down a significant chunk of change (in adjusted game budget dollars) as a Kickstarter campaign pledge for a game titled “Heroes of Normandie”. Offered up by Devil Pig Games (essentially a French design and art team), I was impressed by the game’s potential to become a colorful addition to my array of tactical-scale wargames. The game system was based on a game I was already familiar with — “Frontiers”, designed by the same team and published by Asmodee Editions — so I figured the chances of a good result were fairly high.

Heroes of Normandie content

Inside Heroes of Normandie Base Set box.

Thanks to general wargame design craziness and the vagaries of gentlemen in France trying to superintend manufacturers in China, the project neatly spiraled away from its original production schedule (“Estimated Delivery Sep 2013″). That said, the whole oversized Kickstarter package landed at the Swamp Bunker — finally — at the end of May 2014. Continue reading

First Take on Last Chance

Way back in late June of last year, right about the time I was taking a little break from blogging (I’ve done a lot of break-taking this past year), the folks at MultiMan Publishing opened pre-orders on “Last Chance for Victory” (or “LCV”) — Dean Essig’s fresh take on the Battle of Gettysburg using the Line of Battle rules system. Ooo. Just in time for the 150th anniversary of the battle, no less. How could I resist “special 150th anniversary pricing”? Especially considering that I liked the first Line of Battle game, “None But Heroes” (or “NBH”, on Antietam), much better than the older Regimental Sub-System (RSS) games.

So much for flashbacks… elegant dissolve to the present. A big box of Gettysburg, wargame style, plopped onto my doorstep the other day, which means Last Chance for Victory is now taking its turn on the virtual table (via VASSAL, mainly because the Not So Big Anymore Table is not so big anymore and strains under the stress of even a 2-map scenario). Why, I’m so excited by this game’s arrival at the swamp bunker that I’m moved to writing a brand-new blog post. After several months of moderately “meh” games on the table, what we have here ladies and gentlemen is something worth getting worked up about.

VASSAL screen shot of the Confederate player's initial deployment.

VASSAL screen shot of the Confederate player’s initial deployment.

First of all, this is a huge — HUGE — box of old-fashioned wargaming goodness. I’m not the sort to judge a game on the price per pound metric, but it’s gratifying to see such a level of physical effort put into an old-school hex-and-counter game. Six maps, eight sheets of counters and more pages of bookage than a single “out of the box” photo can accommodate. And while bookage alone doesn’t predict quality, a slow scan through all of the information soon reveals the impressive amount of research and organization that’s gone into LCV. There’s none of that trendy, post-Ameritrash game bling in the box. No cards, no plastic miniatures, no standup doodads nor any wooden Killer Meeples. Just lots of well-done wargame stuff. Continue reading