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Posted on Feb 27, 2006 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Band of Heroes – Boardgame Review

By Bob Skinner

One final note on gameplay is the use of artillery. On-board counters such as mortars can direct fire at targets. Off board artillery must be spotted by a forward observer. The rules handle this action very smoothly, with a dice roll indicating initial placement of the round and number of hexes it is shifted. If the round lands in the observer’s line of sight, it attacks any unit in the impact hex and all six adjacent hexes! Artillery is the great equalizer and well deserving of its nickname –the king of battle. I always felt the artillery process was cumbersome in Squad Leader; not so in Band of Heroes.

Of Heroes and Scenarios:

Hero creation is unique to Band of Heroes. Whenever a one is rolled on a squad or half-squad’s damage check, there is a chance a hero will be created. A subsequent even die roll does just that. Because heroes come with a random skill card, never "shake," and can rally troops the same as leaders, heroes can turn the tide of battle and salvage what appears to be a hopeless situation. They also shift odds on the melee table one column in their side’s favor when attacking. Just when you think you have a sure kill on a stack of broken squads, private Hobbs wins the Medal of Honor by rallying his men and defeating yours in hand-to-hand combat. It’s action like this that makes Band of Heroes such an exciting game.


The skill cards also add a degree of realism to the game and make the cardboard leaders and heroes seem like real life characters. In "Medal of Honor" the American player begins with a single hero counter possessing the "dead eye" skill. This skill doubles the power of his attacks, and if he links up with other units by triggering an event, doubles the range of any unit he is with. The Leader – Hero card bestows a plus one leadership modifier on the hero, granting the hero all the privileges that come with rank. It’s possible a lowly private will turn into an Audie Murphy over the course of the scenario. Some cards bestow benefits that last the entire scenario; others give a trait or advantage that may be used only once.

Each scenario has background, events, a turn track, and of course Orders of Battle.

I also like the variety of the scenarios and how they often tell a story. An introductory paragraph sets the scene, the order of battle is presented, victory conditions stated, and special scenario rules are detailed. In six scenarios event markers are placed on the mapboard at designated locations. When a unit enters one of these locations — and only then — players are instructed to read a description of what event was triggered. The story that unfolds can change the course of the scenario. One scenario I especially enjoyed playing is "Alamo," where American 101st Airborne and 2nd Ranger Battalion troopers are fanatics and are concealed at the beginning of the game. The American player can place his units on board during a friendly impulse or during a German one in order to conduct opportunity fire as the Germans are lured into an ambush. This scenario is a blood bath and will likely run until the Americans are eliminated. Their best hope is to hold out for six turns. I made it five. Much like real battle, the outcome is uncertain.

Players who are creative and have a flair for drama can certainly improvise their own scenarios, although for the less gifted among us, a design a scenario structure in future modules would be most welcome.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoy Band of Heroes. The replay value is excellent and the possibilities for additional scenarios seem endless. A few of the rules, such as opportunity fire restrictions and close assault of vehicles are not very realistic, but Band of Heroes is a game after all, and one in future years that may even become a classic.

Armchair General Score: 94%

37/40 – Gameplay
15/15 – Components
18/20 – Rules/Documentation
14/15 – Replay Value
10/10 – General’s Rating

Band of Heroes at Matrix Games.

Discuss Band of Heroes on the Armchair General forums.

Author’s Information:

Bob Skinner is a retired middle school principal who is a long time wargamer. He participates in several musical groups, does volunteer work, and likes to read military history. He resides with his wife in Columbus, Ohio.

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  1. One thing about Band of Heroes I can’t seem to understand or get the grasp of is this spotting rule.

    When a unit is marked with a move/assault move/fire or Melee marker and also if the unit is in open terrain the unit is automatically spotted?

    When a unit leaves the hex (moving) it loses its spotted marker?

    Unit using Low Crawl is not automatically spotted unless moving in open terrain?

    Stealth units are not automatically spotted?

    This is confusing to me.

  2. hey
    happy new year
    haw can i dawnload this game
    what is the website