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Subject: Heroes of Normandie Design Notes rss

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Laurent Duclos
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Hi guys this is Laurent from Devil Pig Games speaking. I wrote down some design notes i wanted to share with you about how we designed Heroes of Normandie.

Enjoy & comment.

HoN design notes Chapter One

At ease !

Good morning gentlemen, you may seat.

Todays briefing will deal with D day, H hour or to say it more directly, what you will get in september 2013.

I will articulate this quick operational briefing in two parts.
Part one : what Heroes of Normandie is not.
Part two : what Heroes of Normandie is.

Part one : What Heroes of Normandie is not

Let's get rid of this first and clarify some misunderstandings that may have arisen.

HoN is not ASL.
Those among you who expect some sort of simulationnist catalog of all gears and tanks of WW2 will be very disapointed. We did NOT designed HoN with this model in mind and in fact, we wanted our game to give you exactly the opposite sort of gaming experience.
Make no mistake here, we don't despise ASL. One of my first wargaming experience was Squad leader in the early 80's and i was 11 years old. To say the truth SL/ASL also taught me english better than any teacher. It took me monthes to learn the language and learn the rules (not mentionning understanding them) but i wanted to play it so i did what was necessary to bend those thousands of counters and pages full of special abstract SSR rules to my will.
HoN is not a game that will have you spend your time nose in the rulebooks. HoN will not have you look for the right combat ratio in the right combat chart according to the the exact Table of terrain modifiers. HoN has a quick learning curve, that sort of curve that makes you learn the hard way by being directly sent on the frontline. All you need to play is on the board, like all you need to kill your ennemy is the gun you hold in your delicate hands, ladies.


HoN is not some sort of historical geek candy. Sure this game is about tactical warfare in Normandie and western europe from 1944 and after, but it's also a game inspired by hollywood war movies so don't expect to have something accurate beyond the point of unplayability. In this game, you will find archetypal units and vehicles, some of them did fight against each other, some of them didn't but hey, do you think that your units in HoN will care if the shell that blasted them was shot by a tank they did not actually face in this part of Normandie between the 6th and the 8th of July around Lions-sur-Mer ?
So we decided to tell the story of units representative of the men who fought this slice of history, no matter if they were from the bravest regiment or world class bastards. We also put aside morality and left it to moralists : there were SS units in Normandie so we displayed them. That, is historical.
So in Heroes of Normandie, you will find GIs from the 4th US inf. Division, SS from the Das Reich infamous division, Panzer Lehr soldiers, Airborne troops, Desert Rats, platoons from the French 2e DB, commandos etc. All these men are part of our history wherever they fought, whoever they killed and so they deserve to appear in HoN.
Bearing this in mind we will of course design scenarios inspired by real battle events (Pegasus Bridge for example) but we will twist historicity to bend it according to our hollywood/heroic tropism.

To conclude : this game is intended to be fun AND to give you a hell of a tactical challenge at once.

Part Two : What Heroes of Normandie is

HoN is the wargame you will, at last, be able to teach your kid so he can play against daddy in less than an hour. Even your friends not usually interested in wargame will look at this differently. You will be famous in your neigborhood, women will yell your name and... Well... Don't expect miracles about this even if HoN is, in our minds, the equivalent of viagra. Wargaming wise I mean...

HoN is the game you will not have to paint to have the feeling of 15mm minis. I play Flames of War but I must admit only half of my armies are painted and I am not sure that I will ever have time or patience to finish the second half (and I do not mention the thousands of minis for countless sytems I have in stock, painted, half painted or for the vast majority of them... sadly unpainted). Everyday job, kids, life you know what I am talking about... So Yann, Clem and I decided it was time to play something familiar but different without giving away our common passion for minis.
With this in mind and the experience of Frontiers, we designed something that will fit those prerequesites : Fun, Fast, Furious (yes GW style, no shame on this one !) but also beatifull, nasty, bloody, heroic, quick to learn and quick to play and WITHOUT wasting time endlessly arguing on ranges and lines of sights. That is the reason why we chose to use squares instead of nothing as it was done in Frontiers. So yes, you can consider HoN as some sort of 15mm world war 2 wargame but with prepainted tokens.
Sounds weird ? Please have a look at those magnificent counters Yann has designed for you. Look closer... Yes you are right : he draws them as he would do if he was painting a mini : shades, highlights, all those things a painter does...
And as the more clever among you may have noticed, our scenery elements, like houses for example, are fully compatible with 15mm stands so why not even use them to figure interiors in your favorite world war 2 minis game (did I say FoW ? Oooops...).

Heroes of Normandie is all about heroism (and stupid heroism sometimes too). In HoN, with the right combination of guts and cards, you can have a single lonesome Hero rush for a MG nest with a satchel charge and blow the whole block because HoN is hollywood style and everybody knows that in hollywood war movies, TNT explosions are bigger and deadlier. Battles will be fought to the last clip, the last grenade will do wonders, the last wounded unit will have a chance to turn the tide till the very end. You WILL have fun and you will have heroic armchair war stories to tell your kids like a real REMF (Rear Echelon Mother F... if you didn't know what REMF meant).
I Have to be honnest with you gentlemen : Your heroes will also die stupidly sometimes... Shit happens.

HoN is the game you will play, and play, and replay again and again because we designed it with a high focus on replayability. We are fed up of those wargames you don't play twice because when you have played all the scenarios... Well... the pleasure and the surprise are gone. Ah... Routine...

Do you want to play the last sequence of Private Ryan ? Of course we will provide you all what is necessary to do so but why noy... change sides or gears, or traits or whatever... HoN will be your game (after you bought it from Devil Pig Games, we love you but we have taxes to pay and other gaming projects to develop for your greatest enjoyment).

Here comes the end of this first design chapter. If you want something more... objective, I invite you to read this article written by a HoN fan we did not even give a bakshish to : [url]http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/155678/why-you-should-...
[/url]
In the next chapter, Clem will tell you more about gaming mechanics (if he has the time to do so).

You are dismissed.

Laurent.
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Will Borrall
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As the person who didn't get a backshish, I second the motion that this game will be amazing. It's probably some sort of deadly French throwing pastry. Whatever a backshish is, I'm sure it's nasty and painful.
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mr scuffy
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Think tip same as you give a server at a restaurant here in the US.
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Neil Ardron
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For the next installment I would like to hear a little about the rational around the order selection phase; this seems to be an opportunity for “analysis paralysis” which would bog down game play.

Maybe it’s the scale (works ok with a few units, single platoon) but with all the units being offered in this kickstarter I think this may be an issue. I have seen others envisioning larger game play also.

I would have liked to have seen a continuous play mode, perhaps activation by platoon by chit pull, then order a number of units in the platoon based on command rating. Could this be a play mode option without changing the game balance too much; an Epic battle mode?
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Laurent Duclos
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A Bakchich is not exactly a tip as we see it in the western world, it's an arab word meaning both charity, a respectfull gift and the act of corrupting someone to get something (with money). In this case, i swear god we did not corrupt Will to have him wrote this excellent article.
You see Will, nothing painfull here...
But the best is yet to come.cool

DPGL.
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Laurent Duclos
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@Neil : HoN was designed with skirmish tactics in mind. Of course we could imagine rules for larger scale battles on a platoon basis activation but this is not the actual mechanic (or is it mecanic ?) of the game. The sheer amount of units available must be considered as a array of possibilities like when you choose your WH40K army : a lot of choices, but a limited amount of points to spend.
I also think that by doing so, we would loose some of our Hollywood/Hero/Bastard flavour but it's just my own opinion.
By the way, we are thinking about solo rules at the moment. But designing large scale rules would'nt be a hard challenge for us.
Later.
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Jacek Deimer
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I've spend yesterday evening google translating and studying the rulebook.
And I have to say that I'm very impressed.

It looks like very fun wargame with fast action and easy entry point. Basic rules looks very simple and elegant. Mowing, shooting and assaulting rules are straightforward and streamlined, very easy to understand.

But after that you get an abundance of extra rules and options that comes from special abilities present on units, heroes, recruitment options and command options and special equipment. There is a lot of them and they seem to provide tredemous amount of strategic choice. All of this modified by terrain and building characteristic.

Over the top of this there are action cards that we haven't seen many of them yet, but I think it's safe to asume that they will provide a lot of choices and options.

Some things where a bit unclear to me, like medium and big vehicles movement, "template weapons", but well, google translate isn't perfect and it looks like rules are still in tuning phase. Nonetheless, first impressions are very good and extremely promising!

@Neil:
I don't think that order system will be a problem for big battles.
Orders are absolutely necessary if you want to attack with your units, but you can move all of your units in reserve phase.

And I don't think you will need to attack that much in big battles because:

1. To deploy huge army you will need huge battlefield. Most of units will propably be infantry and with average speed of 3 and effective range of 7 you will propably spend most time moving them forward from one cover position to another. Before they get into they effective shooting range, half of them will be dead from artillery, mortar and HMG fire. At the same time some of your heavier units will also be dead.

2. At the beggining of battle you will propably wan't to shoot only long range artillery and heaviest machine guns mounted on tanks and other vehicles. In the meantime moving rest of army into the heat of battle.

3. Some units have limited range of fire, like bazookas, commanders and some heroes. So they are propably fighting only in later phases in battle. As in point 1, in those phases armies should be smaller because of cassualities.

4. Unless you are fighting on on baren field, you will want to move your units a lot into better positions to get LOS, cover, capture objectives etc. It can be done in reserve phase.

5. Only few units can shoot and move in the same activation. So if you want to just move them, you don't need an order.

6. There are ways to get some extra activations of units by use of cards, terrain features and special abilities of heroes.
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Neil Ardron
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Thanks for the reply.

I saw in the graphics the field command template which has a Captain, so I assume that gets us to company sized forces, with each platoon composed of 6-8 units and approximately 200 points then a “large battle” would be 3 platoons and around 20 units with 10 commands per side; I would love you folks at DPG to consider a streamlined play mode. I love the graphics and how the game looks, but being a little selfish I’m looking for more game play. Right now I am waiting for the English version of the rules to be shown
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Talarius Dunedain
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You can get the English version of the rules in PDF from the Devil Pig website. No google translation needed.

http://devil-pig-games.com/

[clarification: the demonstration rules, that is]
 
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Laurent Duclos
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@Neil : what do you mean by "streamlined play mod" ? English not being my mother tongue, i am sure i am missing something here.
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JR Wr
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DPGLaurent wrote:
@Neil : what do you mean by "streamlined play mod" ? English not being my mother tongue, i am sure i am missing something here.


Think he is meaning I Go U GO unit by unit setup?
Instead of Warhammer style, my army goes, then yours.
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Laurent Duclos
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Ok Thx JR.
If streamlined means "IGOUGO", then i must be honnest with you : this is not the kind of game-timing I prefer. I am fed up with games where you have to wait while your opponent do his stuff. It's a bit like hotseatplay by net. (If you haven't yet, play Battle Accademy from Slitherine, it's a must have as a video wargame). I personnaly prefer intricated action phases or at least games where you have the possibility to react "dynamicaly" (not sure on this one word...). After all battle is all about movement...
Anyway, I must admit that sometimes, IGOUGO is the best for certain games.
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Neil Ardron
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@Laurent, lets see if I can articulate this (although I am a native English speaker English is an imprecise language)

By “streamlined” I mean, more continuous, with non-stop action, right now it looks like it is stop-and-go, alternating between a thinking phase and an execution phase with the downtime of non-action exponentially increasing with more units. I understand that the orders are trying to add tactical choices and uncertainty, but I was thinking that the game design direction was towards fast and furious game play.

For instance you do not have fire groups (where you would have to activate multiple units) but do have stacking suppression markers, I think this does a great job of having the same effect (over a couple of activations) without having to combine unit fire powers
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Neil Ardron
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Yes! Exactly, that’s what I mean. Not a one side goes, then the other but alternating units. What about if you picked the order that platoons go in for larger battles, it might have the added advantage of forcing a player to keep units from the same platoon close together (more realistic?); then each side alternates units within a platoon?
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Laurent Duclos
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@Neil : yes, this is an idea we were thinking of : activation by platoons in larger battles.
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JR Wr
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Quick question.

How big is the usual battlefield?
2x2? 2x3, 3x3, 3x4? etc etc

Does the size of the battlefield relate to the point count of the battle?

Ie, One tile per 100 points as an example?

I ask because I have a 3x4 playing area right now and am already picturing massive battles.

How big of a point battle per side could realistically be played on 3x4?

When I move, and I can bring out my marble table, ill have a 4x7 area.
Buts that a story for another day...
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clem seurat
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2X2 is a small to medium battle with 200 - 400 pts
3X3 is a medium to large battle with 500 - 800 pts
over 3X3 is big to huge battle with 800+ pts... We never tried more than 800 pts. But we'll do it and let you know.
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JR Wr
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picoloclem wrote:
2X2 is a small to medium battle with 200 - 400 pts
3X3 is a medium to large battle with 500 - 800 pts
over 3X3 is big to huge battle with 800+ pts... We never tried more than 800 pts. But we'll do it and let you know.


Thanks, that helps.
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Angelus Seniores
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@Neil
I do believe its safe to say the action is fast-paced.
Placing the orders in the orders phase can be done fast enough and then its on to the activation phase, where units execute their actions alternating between sides (unless an action card or some special ability interrupts the flow).
given the elegant design with all info on the counters; the actions themselves are fast, moving a unit or shooting: rolling a die and determining modifiers (no charts/tables to check). and then you have the action cards adding that extra bit of uncertainty and interaction.

Of course its also dependent on players, as some take a long time before deciding their moves, but it should be minimal as decision-taking is easier with the info being readily available.
You could call it a "what you see is what you get" system

in the end you need less time to ponder on how to play (rules-wise), thus have more time to ponder which tactics/strategy to use and apply them.
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Neil Ardron
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@Angelus, I agree with most of what you say; the clear icons on the units and the map make the need for rules lookup minimal; but I think you are agreeing with me when you say

“Of course its also dependent on players, as some take a long time before deciding their moves, but it should be minimal as decision-taking is easier with the info being readily available”

The order phase has collected all this decision making into one lump, before placing an orders chit you will have to decide what you want that unit to do, and also make a guess as to what your opponent has in mind. Now don’t get me wrong I think this would work fine for a small number of units but I can see problems as it scales up for more units and orders; and with this kickstarter there are going to be a lot of lovely units and lots of map tiles to play on.

I think a simplified order phase of selecting by platoon would be a great compromise.
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Angelus Seniores
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I would add, though, that given its more easier to see the options the opponent has available that it should be easier to decide which units you want to order. and as the orders are not fixed (ie you dont need to decide what action it will do right away) you can always have it act differently the moment you activate it. I'm not sure what causes you to think you need to decide what the unit needs to do in the orders phase? you only choose whether it will act or not, but not which action it will perform.

The downtime in most games comes from the sheer amount of possible choices, which makes choosing the 'right' one a headbreaking excercise.

at a larger scale, you could perhaps assign orders to platoons, then as it acts 'use' one of the assigned orders by giving it to any attached unit.
That can be done by a house rule.

The only thing I would do to streamline the orders phase is to make it mandatory for the players to alternate placing orders (with the player who lost initiative going first). this way players get some clue as to what to expect, and things dont get chaotic nor strange (players waiting as long as possible to place their orders to see the opponent's choices).
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Angelus Seniores
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to really speed up the game, you can use a time limit for placing orders, if he takes too long to choose, he loses that order (lack of decision is a sure way to lose in real battles as well whistle )
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