18 August 2017

5 Men in Normandy

Encouraged by our recent forays into smaller Bolt Action games, some of the lads wanted to go further and play some squad level skirmish gaming - 10 figs a side or so. We decided to start with "5 men in Normandy" by indie game designer Ivan of Nordic Weasel games (here). Ivan produces a range of rules and this is the basic WW2 version.

Bottom Line up front - really liked them and will be trying the more expansive "5 Men at Kursk" next week. For this intro game, we dropped 5 figs per side on the table and played with the rules (yes, Brit Paras and Brit infantry- we waved it way as a Pre D-Day training exercise :-) Here are our observations of the game system.

  • There is a random generator for force design, with a different one for each Nation. Could be a little unbalancing but adds a lot more variety to a '5 men with rifles' concept.
  • All die rolls are a d6 - 1s and 6s have outcomes while 2-5 have no effect. Very simple but effective.
  • There are no Turns per se and Activation is alternating - roll a die. on a 1 all your guys can move (but not fire) and on a 6 they all fire (but not move).  Anything else and you activate 2 guys only. You can activate the same chaps over and over again if you wish, there are no restrictions (other than the enemy that is!)
  • In terms of weapons, everything has unlimited range except pistols and SMGs which are restricted to 12".
  • I really liked the innovative firing mechanic. Two types of d6s are rolled - shock and kill. Shock dice deliver 'flinch' and 'bail' morale type effects on while damage results from 1 and 6 on the Kill dice ("Knocked down" and "ineffective" respectively). So the morale and the physical impacts of shooting are split, and different weapon types have throw different dice during a firing - eg a Rifle is 1 of each, while a magazine fed LMG (eg Bren) has 2 shock and 1 kill
  • Here is the neat bit - with some weapons you can choose to reduce kill dice for shock dice, usually disproportionately -so I can instead decide that my Bren gun will supress an area with fire and use 4 shock dice instead. Excess hits are spread to targets in the immediate vicinity. So I can use my LMG realistically to keep the bad guys' heads down as my assault team closes in from the flank. Very neat.
  • Unless they just fired in your immediate turn, all figs can reaction fire against movement in their front arc.  No need for "overwatch" or "ambush" orders and no watching chaps run right at you firing without doing anything.  BUT, they fire only the shock dice, not the kill dice, so its less effective. This reflects the hail of bullets everywhere concept.

Putting it all together, we had a fun and action packed game. In fact, my newly painted and Dux controlled Highland Division Sergeant Bruce McAndrews was a stellar performer in the best traditions of Commando Comics. While the Squad's Bren was used as described above, McAndrews closed in from the flank, unleashed a grenade attack, closed in to eliminate the now cowering opponent, survived a subsequent enemy close assault in return, shot the blighter that tried to stab him dead, then to top it all off he ran around the corner and bayoneted the last enemy in the position. Top stuff! A Mention in Dispatches for that man...or would have been if it wasn't just a training exercise in Surrey :-)
Sgt McAndrews gets a bee in his Tan-o-shanter and gets busy!
Overall 5MiN is a basic but enjoyable game. 5 Men at Kursk adds more meat on the bones in terms of troop quality and basic vehicles etc. It is a measure of our enjoyment of the system that we are planning to play it next week.


  1. That looks like a really good skirmish game with some intriguing elements. Might have to take a look at that and see if it can be adopted for WW1 Trench Raids.

    1. I had exactly the same though, with my long desired intent to game No Man's Land patrols and trench raids. Funnily enough, the author Ivan had the same idea and a WW1 variant "Trench Storm" appears to be in development:


  2. Good to see a nice small scale skirmish.