Monday, October 24, 2011

Kampfgruppe Normandy

Spurred by their present sale and the opportunity I had to look at a copy of the rules a week or so ago, I succumbed to buying a copy of the Warhammer Historical World War Two rules.

Now, had I not had any chance to look at the rules before I would have presumed them to simply be another reworking of the Warhammer 40k game engine, as used for The Great War rules.  I've dabbled with Warhammer World War two in the past, and whilst they worked adequately, they were not especially distinct or innovative.  I would have passed on a £24 version of them (never mind a £48 version!)

But I can happily report that these rules are nothing of the sort. Although based on a purely D6 system, it is far more thought out than Warhammer and contains a number of features to reflect the fog of war and the reality of battle at a relatively small scale.

The rules are for combined actions in the Normandy theatre specifically, dealing typically with engagements of platoon to company scales, though for those with the time and space, Battalion scaled battles can be accommodated.  It is early, and I haven't yet read the rules in full, or played them, but items I like based on first reviewing include:

  • Although the rules are IgoUgo, a player can set up his units to interrupt the opponent's turn.
  • You can only activate as many elements of your force per turn as you get randomised command points for, plus the value of command assets you've purchased for your order of battle.
  • You can always fire for suppression at a target, but aimed fire requires observation.
  • Hitting a target is much the same for any firer at a given range, it is down to the concealment of an enemy as to how effective those hits are.  Units running around under the enemies guns, in the open, will get slaughtered by fire.
  • Similarly anti tank fire is effected very clearly by armour.  If a tank's armour is too thick and the firers gun too weak, there is no chance of destroying the target, though on a double six you do get lucky and immobilise it.
  • Suppression stops units acting until the commander uses morale chips to remove them.
  • Artillery cover can be dedicated or limited, so there is no guarantee of getting it when you need it.
  • Air cover is even less certain.
  • Several actions require the use of morale chips, and when you use a morale chip it reduces your overall morale by a random value.  Your force morale is based on mainline units in your order of battle.  Run out of morale points and your force is broken and the game ends.
In short I like a lot of the core mechanics and they are nothing like 40k!

Also they are only the first quarter of a 360 page, full colour rule book.  Also included are 8 army lists (4  German and two each for the Americans and British), 2 campaigns, a tonne of background and no end of scenarios.  Given the production values, one can see why the book was priced originally at the astronomical price of nigh on fifty quid; but at half that it represents a veritable bargain!

The rules talk throughout about 20mm scale gaming, my first love, and lean towards, but don't depend on single based miniatures.  I think those with flames of war armies would have no difficulty using these rules instead, though I feel the game will be slower and more realistic by comparison.  Additionally small games with 28mm models will probably work well enough.

Given the apparent situation at Warhammer Historical/Forgeworld*, I wonder what future these rules really have, but if they play as well as they look I'm sure internet support will develop for them.  Hopefully other theatres will be covered in the event of such success.

I certainly look forward to giving them a try, and if nothing else they are a rich seam of material to mine for any WW2 gamer.

*Incidentally, indicative of FW's mindset, and part of the problem with my copy of a historical set of rules, I received catalogues for their ranges of resin models for GW's premier fantasy and Sci-Fi gaming systems.  No use to me, or many other of the buyers of these rules I think, and straight into the recycling.  FW does not seem to understand its new subsidiaries audience and so is wasting money marketing wrongly at them.  Yes, they have nothing to offer that audience, making no historical models; better to say nothing at all therefore than to annoy your customers with 'junk mail'.


  1. I too, purchased this book recently, probably due to the fact that it was under my nose a half the original price. But besides that, I still have a wardrobe of 20mm plastics, from years gone by, in my garage.
    The rules dont look to bad at first glance, reminding me of similar past rules we used to game with.
    Like yourself, Im yet to try them out, but it may be the incentive to dust down the old 'Airfix" & 'Matchbox' kits again and forge ahead through those dreaded Norman hedgerows.
    Cheers, Guido.

  2. I also jumped at the chance to get these at a huge discount. I knew nothing about the system and was very surprised at the 'originality' of the mechanism. The only thing I am critical of are the army lists which seem to be not very historical. My plan is to use these with my extensive 28mm collection and I think they will work well.