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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > August 2019 (#33) > Hand of Brothers

Hand of Brothers

Undaunted: Normandy brings together deckbuilding, wargaming and the reallife story of a legendary World War II unit. Its five-year journey also forged a close bond between its creators, David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin

Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson first met at a gathering of game designers in Cambridge, after the latter had moved to the UK from the US in the summer of 2014. The weekly playtest group also included tabletop luminaries such as Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan; Benjamin had stumbled upon the hub of game creators after moving to the city the year before. For Benjamin and Thompson, their meeting was a chance encounter that would lead to a close friendship and their collaboration on a number of inventive, accomplished games.

The group of Cambridge designers travelled to German game fair Essen Spiel in October 2014. On the journey home, Thompson mentioned a design he had been working on before leaving the US, Platoon Command. After visiting Normandy during his time in the UK, Thompson had redoubled his efforts on the project and wanted Benjamin’s help to turn the core system into a campaign-driven experience.

“The core idea probably was most influenced by A Few Acres of Snow [Martin Wallace’s deckbuilder set during the French and British conflict in North America], because it’s a deckbuilder with the sort of spatial board element,” Thompson explains. “That’s where I got the idea of, ‘Hey, could you have a deckbuilding game with this platoon-level World War II combat, but you’re driving all of the action on the board through deckbuilding the deck itself?’”

“That’s typically how it works: one of us will have an idea and then that person will bring some form of it to the other and then we’ll work through it,” Benjamin says, calling Platoon Command Thompson’s “baby”. “I love A Few Acres of Snow as well and I’d always wanted to do something like that. So I was really excited to get working on something like that.”

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About Tabletop Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons: Descent into Avernus: Ahead of the fantasy RPG’s momentous journey into the depths of the Nine Hells in this year’s Descent into Avernus adventure, principal story designer Chris Perkins tells us about returning to Baldur’s Gate, surviving the Blood War and taking inspiration from Mad Max: Fury Road. Pathfinder: Second Edition: A fantasy roleplaying giant in its own right, Pathfinder’s second edition brings over a decade of changes and stories to the RPG for players new and old. Director of game design Jason Bulmahn runs us through everything you need to know. Chris Spivey: The roleplaying designer speaks to us about confronting racism in his acclaimed Lovecraftian RPG Harlem Unbound and upcoming western Haunted West. Die: Kieron Gillen tells us about his ‘goth Jumanji’ comic book for roleplaying fans – and the real RPG it spawned. Undaunted: Normandy: David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin follow up their acclaimed War Chest with an innovative blend of deckbuilding and tactical wargaming set during World War II. Games for kids: As the summer holidays begin, we run through the perfect games to enjoy with younger players – and older players, too. How We Made: Viticulture: Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone pop open the cork on their winemaking strategy hit. Reviews: Villainous: Wicked to the Core Proving Grounds The Expanse RPG Roll for Adventure Patchwork Doodle Blackout: Hong Kong Slide Quest + more!