Being quite tied since the dawn of gamer life to RTS in my life I have gone through numerous more or less famous games. There was Starcraft (abandoned almost immediately), Age of Mythology, Age of Empires and of course Company of Heroes 1 and 2. The last chapter in particular pushed me, in 2019, to support the Kickstarter campaign of the board game of the same name.
Today, three years after the campaign ended, I'm here to tell you about one of the hardest kickstarter projects I've ever come across and one of the least simple games I've ever bought. Despite the years of pain of seeing a project struggling with countless problems, once in your hands Company of Heroes is a fairly simple game.
The definitive Kickstarter campaign
The Company of Heroes board game project saw the light in June 2019. The game was immediately presented as full of miniatures, counters, dice and buildings; the components were therefore vast and, to the eye, it did not seem like a simple game. Accustomed to Risiko, Carcassone or to a more complicated and intuitive Seasons, I said to myself “here is a game that I, myself and myself will play”.
The goals, achieved in a very short time, really added a lot of material and consequently raised the price. To the base set, for four players, one could add an additional two-person set, one more faction, new commanders, new units, solid buildings and variable structures. All this, for the deepest pockets, could arrive painted and in a convenient briefcase, rather than in a more modest and classic cardboard box.
Supported the project quite heavily (at the time, if I remember correctly, I had already supported Coriolis and Lex Arcana) I waited for the first developments. The first sign, not exactly pleasant, came from the change of Chinese manufacturing from one city to another due to a flood. The project would therefore have slipped forward. Shortly thereafter, our beloved COVID arrived and stalled everything. The project, after a short stop, got underway and the first deliveries were made, passed by two different logistics companies based in Poland.
The project was then moved to another platform and, while the first shipments arrived in Europe, there were missing pieces, factory errors and a structural fragility of the cardboard box and the pieces themselves, which forced many people to wait further time. . In the meantime, hoping I wasn't one of the unfortunate few to get a bad game, I got mine. Fortunately it was perfect and, after the first attentions, I put my mind in peace. After three long years.
The game: much better than I expected
Company of Heroes is a fairly complex game, both on the table and on the PC. While on the second all the computational part (damage, retreat, paths, any accidental damage and so on) are left to the computer, on the table the workload is quite high. This was my first concern: finding myself in front of a game that was too woody and unintuitive that would have precluded the fun.
The game opens with a demonstration section and an easily retrievable video tutorial. The basic rules given in the tutorial serve as the backbone of the entire game. Once familiar with these, an advanced rules manual adds depth and makes the game complete. In themselves the rules are not too complex even if, wanting to emulate the game of strategy, they require constant effort.
We are therefore not faced with a Diceforge in which it is enough to roll dice and draw what remains on the map. Each unit must be well positioned, each turn fruitful and never lose sight of the game. Like the video game, the Company of Heroes board game is also exhausting.
Nonetheless, playing it with another person the turns remain fast and the fights fairly immediate, and the game is enjoyable. If, on the other hand, you start to be 4 or, worse, 6, the game gets longer. The amount of forces in the field, the possibility of these to attack multiple targets and in general the relationship between the various pieces is enormous. Obviously this makes the game much more tiring and long.