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Thursday, August 20, 2015

REVIEW: The Carentan Expansion for Heroes of Normandie

By Sean "Throckmorton" Sarah

In a spurt of new releases over the next few months Devil Pig, the makers of the Origins Award Winning game Heroes of Normandie are pumping out a number of products for their flagship game line. In my last article I took a look at the new Sainte-Mere-Eglise expansion which covered night fighting and paradrops.

Today's foray into Heroes land gives us a look at the damnably bloody battle for Carentan where the 101st Airborne squared off against Oberstleutnant Freidrich August Freiherr von der Heydte's 6th Fallschirmjagers (I really just wanted to use his full name, because it's pretty epic as names go) in a struggle for one of the key crossroads leading out of Normandy.

Where Sainte-Mere-Eglise gave us a ton of American Airborne units, Carentan focuses almost entirely on the Fallschirmjagers giving the German players a deadly new option in their defense of the bocage country.

So lets have a look...

Again, we're getting boxes now as opposed to slip cases, huzzah!

Carentan is a little less rules-y than St. Mere but it adds some critical pieces, notably "Urban Combatant" which lets units move in and out of any opening in a building rather than just the doors, or blown open holes. Yep, you've now got units that don't need that pesky "Jump in through the window" card. Why? Because this expansion is all about the urban combat. The rules here also clarify how explosions (grenades and what not) work inside larger buildings. And finally, new rules for the Belgian Gate, which blocks your movement and you must spend an order to activate two adjacent units to get it out of the way.

All in all I'd call these rules additions nice, but not 100% necessary for the player with just the starter box, unlike the Night Fight stuff in Sainte-Mere.

The box contains a series of six linked scenarios taking you from the crossing of the Douve River to the massive final assault on Carentan itself

The back of the rule book provides a pretty cool map showing you your progress as you play along. Notably, the winner of each scenario will get some special help in the next scenario giving a good reason to fight out the games in sequence over a series of play sessions.

The box also includes 6 double sided map tiles

Just a filthy number of new buildings for you to use and play with.

The 1058 Grenadier Regiment

The 101st's Lt. Col Robert Cole as a hero who can make multiple units charge the enemy simultaneously.

III. Battallion of the 6th FJ

Emil Preischkat as a hero who can strike first, for free in an assault. Normally, both players roll simultaneously so Emil here gets an extra free attack before that happens, nasty.

And some Fallschirm specific war gear like the Puppchen.

The II. Battalion 6th FJs.

 Some Osttruppen Volunteers, who have the special rule "Fragile" and thus immediately surrender if they lose an assault, and the handy dandy StuH 42. Which, for some reason, can't hurt tanks in direct fire. I don't know about you but a 105mm round to the Sherman would likely do some damage.

Additionally, the set provides notations on the terrain pieces letting you know which buildings should go with which scenario, a very helpful addition.

The Man, the Myth the Von Der Hydte, who is an Urban Combatant, meaning he can hop into or out of windows without any card play.

I continue to love the work Yann and Clem (the guys who designed the game) put in to Heroes of Normandie. The design, the historical units, the rules refinements all speak to a couple of guys interested in seeing their game survive and thrive.

With Carentan the big selling point is buildings and Fallschirmjagers. If neither of these float your boat it's not a necessary buy but it's a great addition to the line and one I'd recommend once you've fleshed out your collection with the German Army Box.  All in all I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5, losing the .5 points for rules repetition between this and the more expansive rule set in St. Mere-Eglise.

Good hunting!

Promotional support for this product kindly provided by Iello, thanks for the stuff! 

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