LnL’s “Noville: Bastogne’s Outpost” is an expansion to its WW2 squad-based tactical combat wargame, “Band of Heroes”. Noville is a real charm to play and expands the game in a number of important ways. Focusing on the battle for a key town to the north of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, the Noville expansion gives us new vehicles, support weapons and a huge freakin’ map that is actually historically accurate. There’s a campaign option that lets you link together the scenarios and even create your own hero and follow him through the entire battle. It’s hard to not sound like I’m advertising the game but it’s such a solid offering.
|Germans and Americans slug it out on the snowy outskirts of Noville.|
I’ve had Noville for about a year now and I haven’t played it much until now. One of the reasons for this is that the sheer size of the map is somewhat intimidating and some of the module rules feel a bit like work for anyone who hasn’t yet mastered the LnL system. I would have to recommend the game for those players who feel comfortable with and enjoy Band of Heroes. The spotting rules involving fog, the roadblocks, and night fighting rules take some getting used to but they all work very well and help to recreate actual elements that affected the battle for the town. It’s a very nice step up for those who have played all the scenarios from BoH and are ready for something different.
For the player on the side of the Americans, the lowered morale of the US units is a big change up from Band of Heroes. Whereas the US player in BoH was fighting with the very elite of the American forces, Noville’s American forces are regular soldiers who are disoriented, cold, and surprised by the sudden German offensive in December of 1944. Luckily for them, however, new support weapons like Sticky Bombs and the M1919A6 light machine gun are there to help the Americans fend off the Germans. On the other hand, the Wehrmacht also gets a handful of new tanks to play with, such as the Panzer IV H, which is an extremely deadly counterpart to the Tiger tank.
Many of the scenarios have a feeling of “ignorant armies clashing in the dark” where the spotting rules reduce line of sight so that both sides must deal with limited visibility, coordination issues, and lots of uncertainty. The first scenario, “Roadblock!” is a perfect example here. The German player secretly divides up his forces before play begins and conducts separate battles for each attacking force around the map. The dense fog reduces visibility and realistic hitting range to about three hexes so all the fighting happens at very close range.
Before I end this thing, I need to talk about the components because they’re quite impressive. The whole game comes in a box that is an exact fit to the game components (except the cut counters, which you’ll need to keep in a tray outside the box), and that’s pretty nice for people like myself who contend with limited shelf space. The counters are just a bit thinner than BoH but the art is really first rate. The map is huge and mounted on thick cardboard stock and again, the art is excellent and you really get a sense of a town in the dead of winter surrounded by snow and muddy fields. Module rules are included on a single sheet and a simple turn and spotting track are provided as well. For Band of Heroes fans or even people who enjoy other LnL games set in different conflicts, I cannot recommend Noville enough.