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Barnes on Games- Wings for the Baron/Hunt: The Unknown Quarry in Review, WHQ Adventure Card Game, Heroes of Normandie

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VPG Double Feature

Well, No High Scores is having some kind of issue with the layout or something and these games aren't at Miniature Market so it's an F:AT exclusive. Reviews for VPG's latest, Wings for the Baron and Hunt: The Unknown Quarry follow the regularly scheduled programming here.

Warhammer Quest is the big news for the day. It's really good. How good, I'm not sure yet and I do want to see if it has legs beyond what Pathfinder turned out to have. I think it is probably a better game- both a little simpler and a little more complex at the same time, somehow. I think that those of you that are hoping for a successor to Death Angel or that want something like LOTR LCG but less LCG-ish (and not as punishingly difficult) are going to really get into this one. It's also co-designed by a bona fide F:ATtie (and actual power metal musician, drummer for Lorenguard), Brady Sadler. So do support the home team and check it out. If you can, it looks like it keeps selling out and that's a good thing because it is going to need expansions to keep it current. The full review shouldn't take too long- maybe in two weeks.

I picked up Heroes of Normandie. I was sort of iffy on it because a) I'm tired of WW2 anything and b) it looked like one of those slightly janky European battle games with weird rules that always has a "but" attached to any positive comment. And also c) because there are a TON of extra purchases. The rules weren't weird though, it's sort of a Heroscape activation system with mechanics that are really more miniatures-oriented than wargame-oriented. And then action cards. And virtually zero historicity, which I actually prefer to fussing over if the Germans deployed an SDFkzv.1.4 with the 100mm armor plating or the JU-88 Luftgherkinjager with SS livery in the battle of whatever, whenever. Instead, it's got cartoon "Nazzies" and Americans with giant jaws and probably a lot of earnest patriotism. There's a character named after Lee Marvin and the whole thing feels like WWII is more of a fantasy setting. Which some people will hate, but I love it.

The game is actually pretty easy, but there is a ton of special stuff. Everything is mostly printed on the big counters along with some Euroglyphics, but it's pretty simple to sort out that you flip over the MG42 if you want to deploy the tripod. There's a lot of detail, but it's all "action" detail.

The scenarios are kind of shitty though. They have good setups (I especially like the one where you are trying to catch a dog in the middle of a firefight), but they just don't play out as interestingly as you'd hope. A least the first five, that may change in the back five. And you can make your own, kind of like how you can in Earth Reborn...which also this game also kind of reminds me of.

Definitely interested in more, especially Shadows Over Normandie, which adds horror stuff to it. There's also a small expansion that adds super heroes to it, which sounds really fun.

And I've got a PILE of review stuff on the way. The big one is Blood Rage, so I'll finally get to see what all the hootin' and hollerin' is all about there. I also have the new Pixel Tactics Deluxe inbound, as well as a big assortment of Thames Kosmos products, including Klaus Teuber's new one (Royal Tumult) and the Legends of Andor re-release. Then I've got Dungeon Saga coming from Mantic as well. So that should keep me busy through January.

You can always count on Victory Point Games to turn out unique games. I was a big supporter of their work back in the early days and over the years they’ve gotten bigger and better, at this point their games now have much better graphic design and production quality and they still ship with a stamped paper napkin. My love affair with Darkest Night put me back in mind of VPG so I thought I’d check out some of their latest titles- Wings for the Baron Review and The Hunt Review.

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes

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Editor-in-Chief

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

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Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #216510 03 Dec 2015 18:08
Quick question---is the WHQ engage/combat system like LOTR LCG you either a) take damage b) deliver damage but can't do both in a turn? I can't deal with that.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #216511 03 Dec 2015 18:27
You had to go and compare HoN to Earth Reborn? I don't need another game...
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #216513 03 Dec 2015 18:42

Gary Sax wrote: Quick question---is the WHQ engage/combat system like LOTR LCG you either a) take damage b) deliver damage but can't do both in a turn? I can't deal with that.


NO. Good god no. It's not like that at all. Enemies are either engaged with a hero or "in shadow". If they are engaged, they may interfere with your actions- basically, If you try to do anything they roll dice that damage you. But the action dice have shields on them too, so the combat is still two-sided. When you choose an attack action, you still roll their dice (one per baddie) but you can deal damage. There are items/gear that convert non-attack results into damage, I think.

Yeah, HoN does remind me somewhat of Earth Reborn...but it's MUCH simpler, don't go into it expecting crazytown. But it does have that kind of detail/narrative, and it has that "Continental" feeling about it. Once you start putting superheroes and werewolves in it, it may feel even closer.

One thing that is way different, largely because of scale, is that combat is SUPER deadly. It is not hard to wipe out a squad. Terrain, initiative, and cardplay are really important.
stoic's Avatar
stoic replied the topic: #216515 03 Dec 2015 19:22
Heroes of Normandie reminds me of its less than streamlined ancestor, Frontiers.
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #216521 03 Dec 2015 22:57

Michael Barnes wrote: One thing that is way different, largely because of scale, is that combat is SUPER deadly. It is not hard to wipe out a squad. Terrain, initiative, and cardplay are really important.


This is my favorite aspect of Death Angel, and it instantly makes WHQ more interesting to me. I was already pretty excited anyway.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #216524 03 Dec 2015 23:35

San Il Defanso wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: One thing that is way different, largely because of scale, is that combat is SUPER deadly. It is not hard to wipe out a squad. Terrain, initiative, and cardplay are really important.


This is my favorite aspect of Death Angel, and it instantly makes WHQ more interesting to me. I was already pretty excited anyway.


Think he's talking about the other game there, Heroes of Normandy.
Kailes's Avatar
Kailes replied the topic: #216529 04 Dec 2015 04:21
WHQ definitely looks interesting. From what I've read so far, it seems like the heroes have quite a few options to directly assist each other, which was one of the weakest aspects of the Pathfinder Card Game and quite a few other cooperative games. Do you think that the quests are varied enough? There are probably quests that focus on defeating enemies, while others focus on exploration, but do the quests differ in enough ways from one another to feel unique?
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #216533 04 Dec 2015 08:33

Gary Sax wrote:

San Il Defanso wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: One thing that is way different, largely because of scale, is that combat is SUPER deadly. It is not hard to wipe out a squad. Terrain, initiative, and cardplay are really important.


This is my favorite aspect of Death Angel, and it instantly makes WHQ more interesting to me. I was already pretty excited anyway.


Think he's talking about the other game there, Heroes of Normandy.


Look at this guy, letting things like facts and reading comprehension get in the way of what I know is right.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #216535 04 Dec 2015 08:52
Is there a Kelly's Heroes scenario in HoN? I know they have Clint in the game as he's on the box cover or one of the banners or whatever.
mezike's Avatar
mezike replied the topic: #216540 04 Dec 2015 09:59

charlest wrote: Is there a Kelly's Heroes scenario in HoN? I know they have Clint in the game as he's on the box cover or one of the banners or whatever.

Yes there is, but the punchboards for it are only available as an add-on through their Kickstarter campains, currently for 10 Euro. Some of them might end up on eBay but probably with a premium price tag. Otherwise both Clint and Donald Sutherland are in the base game.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #216541 04 Dec 2015 10:11
Bummer. Want to hit Tigers with paint rounds and yell at my opponent while calling him Moriarty.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #216542 04 Dec 2015 10:19
I had long thought about snagging Heroes of Normandie but never did it. I was able to realize that I just wouldn't get it to the table. Still looks like a lot of fun. I might grab it on PC some time.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #216544 04 Dec 2015 10:22

Kailes wrote: WHQ definitely looks interesting. From what I've read so far, it seems like the heroes have quite a few options to directly assist each other, which was one of the weakest aspects of the Pathfinder Card Game and quite a few other cooperative games. Do you think that the quests are varied enough? There are probably quests that focus on defeating enemies, while others focus on exploration, but do the quests differ in enough ways from one another to feel unique?


YES, there is an "Aid" action for each hero, which lets you put an auto-success token on another's action card. These are like charges you can store for when you need them, up to two per card. Ranged attacks (like the Waywatcher's bow) also let you shoot enemies engaged with other players.

I've only done the first quest (twice- won both with two sets of heroes but each game was pretty close), but looking over the materials there is some variety in terms of how the narrative unfolds and the hazards it puts in front of you. In the first one, it's really an exploration quest (the goal is to get to the last card, Grump's Sump, and fully explore it) but at three points Grump shows up and harasses you. If you beat him, you get four travel markers at the current location but he runs off to pop up later.

I actually didn't care that much for Death Angel...so it isn't so much "high praise", it's "this is more like it".

Yeah, there is a Kelly's Heroes scenario but like Mezike said....punchboards. There are a shitload of punchboard add-ons. Some of them are literally just one. I think most of the singletons do things like a specific recruitment group or very specialized units. I'd class them all as very optional, from what I've seen so far.

I ran the "Slaughterhouse" scenario solo last night. US starts with a Recon squad hunkered down in a country house. Nazis move in from the north (and let's be clear about it, these are Nazis, not Germans). They are bringing three squads with MG42s. From the southwest, a US Rifle platoon with a .30 cal squad attachment and an M5 Stuart approaches down a road to relieve the Recon. I ran the platoon leader (Lt. Parks) and his squad down the bottom of the map, ducking under the bocage. The other US group went up the west side of the map to try to capture tactical positions (which give you things like extra cards/orders). The Stuart headed up the road, looking to get into a big central clearing. Nazis moved down and put the three MG squads in the hedgerows, deploying their tripods and just waiting. Obfr. Hauser and a fire squad went through the forest north of the house. By turn three, it got live when the US squads were in the house and the Germans were throwing potato mashers to flush them out. They hit one squad, suppressed another, and Hauser busted in through a window and assaulted the support team in there. They would have been killed, but I had a card that just pushed/suppressed them. The M5 moved in and I planned on playing an order that lets it run over infantry, but the Nazis played a communication failure so it lost its order for the turn. They moved in and just POUNDED it with Panzerfausts, destroying the main weapon and immobilizing it. Lt. Parks and another fire squad got into an insane CQB firefight in the farmhouse- nobody was hitting shit even blowing through ammo tokens (+1 to rolls doesn't help on ones and twos) and Hauser blazing away while he had two units closing in on the windows. So it wound up with just Drake and Hauser in the house on turn 6- which means the US wins if they have a unit there. So I guess Hauser just finally ran out of ammo or whatever and threw his hands up. Awesome game.
mezike's Avatar
mezike replied the topic: #216548 04 Dec 2015 11:08

Michael Barnes wrote: There are a shitload of punchboard add-ons. Some of them are literally just one. I think most of the singletons do things like a specific recruitment group or very specialized units. I'd class them all as very optional, from what I've seen so far.


I've had just about every bit of cardboard for this game at one time or another, some of it I've kept and some I've let go. I would say that the boxed scenario packs are nice if you like pre-made scenarios and different terrain (towns, bridges, beaches, and so on), and the Army Boxes are good if you like the idea of free-play (build you own) scenarios as they have tons of units and interesting stuff like commanders, tanks and heavy weapons. There are punchboards for Saving Private Ryan and Cross of Iron that are fun to have as the whole point of the game is this war movie angle, most of the other small packs I'd agree are completionist stuff. Oh yeah, there is this 'Gazette' that they do as well, a quarterly issue of a themed punchboard with some scenarios and a write-up. One of those is Easy Company which is pretty cool to have, the others are all advanced/unique stuff like minefields and rules for morale so of varying interest depending on what you want out of it. This definitely isn't a game you need to go all-in on.
One neat thing about this game is that you can trade out the units in the scenarios with anything else of equal points value, so you can swap in the more interesting units without having to create your own scenarios from scratch, plus you can use the scenarios available online even if you don't have all the things listed in them.

I haven't actually played this for a while, so thank you for writing up about it as it's made me want to go and set up a couple of games for this weekend!
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #216554 04 Dec 2015 12:01
No, thank you for posting that- I'm trying to sort out "what's next" and that actually helped a lot more than some of the other "what to buy" posts I've seen. Especially the insight about swapping out equal points units. That makes the army boxes and punchboards more sensible.

Still sorting it out though...I'm thinking D-Day and St. Elise would be a good start. Maybe the army boxes. I really would prefer pre-made scenarios, not as interested at this stage in making my own.
metalface13's Avatar
metalface13 replied the topic: #216566 04 Dec 2015 14:19
I was surprised by the lack of chatter around the fort about the WHQ card game. I've been kind of curious about it as I really like the WHQ iPad game and always wanted to play the board game back in the day. I already have Pathfinder, but have never gotten past the introductory scenarios. What's setup like in WHQ vs. Pathfinder? Pathfinder seems so unwieldily, but perhaps that's just the ginormous box. I also liked the Space Hulk card game the two times I played it, for whatever that's worth.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #216609 04 Dec 2015 18:00
Let me make it easy for you Casey. WHQ is better than Pathfinder on pretty much every level EXCEPT that the character development is less extensive. But it is also tighter, smaller and more direct