Firstly, where am I coming from on this. I dont play any current GW games and I never really liked WAB. I have however looked forward to this game for along time and approached it with an open mind...
The first thing that strikes you about KG Normandy (KGN) is the sheer size and quality of the rulebook. It is a massive large format book, with 346 full colour glossy pages. The book is crammed full of stuff, and illustrated with a host of period and miniature pictures. By looks alone this book is easily up there with the best of the rest. There isnt alot else to say on this score other then it features almost all of Dave Andrews wonderful 20mm collection in alot of the pictures. So on looks, it scores very high.
But what about substance.
The rules themselves take up the first 69 pages. Im sure that will lead to gasps of horror from some Grognards, but to me thats a bonus. The rules and clearly and concisely written, explained in short, easy to read paragraphs and often followed directly by examples. This has to be one of the easiest to follow rulebooks I have read. We were able to play a game simply by running through the QRS and referencing the rules. The index works well, and their is an obvious and natural order to the rules that makes finding things intuitive. From the point of view of comprehension, again these rules score high.
The style of play, is perhaps best described as 'Old Skool' with a few new touches... and it does it very well. The game is set at a nominal 1 to 1 ration, with battles played at 'platoon', 'company' or 'battalion' level, but generally governed by a total points limit. The larger the points value of an army, the larger the table required. To give an example, a 'platoon' action of 250 points is played on a 6 x 4 game. As armies get larger, so does the table. This format is very user friendly and gamers new to the period can play larger games as they increase their armies.
Next we have a command and control phase. Its simply done, a roll of x number of d6 dependant of the size of the army and the number of command elements added. This gives you the number of units you can 'activate' in a turn. Simple and fast. But as always, things can expand on this. German signal units allow a commander to re-roll the dice throw for example. I must say I really enjoyed this mechanism and its a nice middle balance between total control of Rapid Fire, and the lack of control in Blitzkrieg Commander. It works really well. Again its simple, fast and intuitive.
From this we come to the shooting. Everytime you fire you have to spot your target, once again its a simple procedure but well thought out. Then you try and hit your target, followed by penetration if firing at armour. Infantry then get cover saves to avoid becoming a casualty. With armour, its fast and deadly. Penetrating hits almost always lead to a tank being knocked-out from the battle. Its sounds brutal, but it actually isnt and plays out really well. But watch out... Vehicle have a limited supply of ammo, so make sure you bring those supply trucks for long drawn out fights!
There are also some excellent indirect fire rules, where your OPs actually drop in ranging rounds before getting the guns to fire on target. Its very nicely modelled with both players involved in the process, which is a nice touch keeping both involved. I must say that this, and the Suppression rules, are what have impressed me the most.
Suppression allows you to pin down an enemy force by weight of fire into a location. This is unobserved fire, and if successful suppresses a unit until it is 'rallied'.
Morale works in two ways. First the usual rolls when losses reach a certain point, but also the drawing of morale chits due to certain things - destroyed vehicles, lost objectives etc. These chits are numbered, and you score a tally against your armies breakpoint. The nice touch is your opponent doesnt know your score, so you never really know how bad off an enemy is. In with these chits are a number of optional event chits that give mechanical breakdown, out of ammo and aircraft support to throw at your enemy. Again a simple, yet really well thought out system. I really liked this and it plays so well.
Thats the basics to the rules. I must say I really enjoyed playing them. The game is fast and fun, without the player having total control and uncertainty clouds your every move. You have to carefully plan your attacks.
The main body of the rules is taken up with a historiography of the Normandy campaign, army lists, scenarios to play and two campaigns. Each is done from a US and a British viewpoint. Some people have moaned that its 'only Normandy'. Yer, well wake up and look at most WW2 rulebooks - They all generally are! Its a perfect setting to get a maximum amount of late-war data to players for the three most popular armies. All rulebooks tend to focus on this period, so to castigate the rules on that point is a little erroneous. But I couldnt care less anyway - Normandy is my favourite setting for WW2 games.
The background history is well done. Players new to the period will find they have a useful resource with uniform guides and no real need to by anything else on the period. Having spoken to two people new to the period, both agreed this was a massive boon to a new comer. Finally we have a WW2 rulebook that is a complete package... a typical GW style product. That in my view is very worthwhile, and it will encourge new players.
The Army lists are also cleverly done. One cant help but pick a balanced list and the tank lovers will find their all tank armies easily broken due to a lack of morale points. The whole army design process is done to promote combined, balanced armies. You could of course use historical formations (as done in several of the scenarios) but for planning a game down the club, nothing beats having a points system to fall back on for ease of getting a game together. You can play without them, Rapid Fire lists would work perfectly, but I must admit to being rather taken with the army lists.
So overall, is it worth £48? Thats really the question people want answered. I can only give you my view and thats a resounding YES.I will be playing alot more of KGN...
Pictures from last nights game. More indepth analysis after the next game...