Just grabbed the two new releases today at my FLGS, Normandy and Designer Series, and they both look awesome. Just absolutely beautiful.
I remember getting the Expanded rules for AAM a year or so ago, and the Designer Series BOOK is so much better in just the quality alone...it isn't even comparable. And for just $10 more too boot. This is something that you can put your hard earned money into, and it's going to last and last. I mean the Designer's Series is a book, not some half assed attempt at a "booklette", or as was the case with the expanded rules for AAM, a full color cover, and then a 10 cent photo copy inside.
Also, the Designer Series is clearly printed as Volume One. I haven't had a chance to really dig into it or the Normandy expansion yet, but I've never before felt such satisfaction after having laid down my hard earned dollars, especially in todays economic climate. The scenarios seem to have a generous amount of designers notes attched with them, and it really does appear to be 96 pages of wargamers heaven, as advertised. I can't wait to pour through this! I'm going to say that this is a must have for any Tide of Iron fan. Really, if you even remotely enjoy the game, you're going to want this.
As far as the Normandy expansion goes, this game gets better and better with every addition they release. Again, I've just come home from work and have just had a quickie look at the game, but as with the scenario book, I'm immediately struck with a deep satisfaction for what I've spent my money on. When I first got into wargaming as a kid of 9 or 10 years old, I remember going to a local shop and looking at wargames with my father. I was making one of my first ever purchases with my newly earned paper route money, and I recall looking at several Avalon Hill games, and several SPI games. That was when SPI was just exploding on the scene, as it were. I remember asking my Dad for help in picking one of them out. I'll never forget him saying, "When you spend your money, always go with quality. You want something that is going to last." Of course, he pointed out then the heavy boxes that the Avalon Hill games came in and said, "The heavy boxes mean there is a mounted game board inside. Those will last."
I can't help thinking back to that in everything I've purchased for Tide of Iron so far. With AAM, the quality was never quite there for me, and it just seemed to get worse as the game progressed in sets. With Tide of Iron, the quality seems to actually be improving with each new product, which makes me go "Wow". I guess that kinda turns an old phrase upside down... "just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it does!"
The quality is just absolutely, and completely stunning. They have the StuG III G, Panther (I haven't yet looked to see if this is a differnt version than the ones included in DotF yet), Jagdanzer, King Tiger and the M10. All very nice pieces. the British Army comes up to full strength as far as numbers of infantry and bases, as the Germans and Americans previously have. Nine amazing map panels, two packs of cards, three sheets of new tokens and overlays, rules booklette and scenario booklette...top notch quality all the way. For the kind of quality that they are putting into this game, the cost really takes a back seat in my mind. The price here is no more than what I pay for new video games for my kids (which they "beat" or "finish" in a few days).
Again, if you even remotely enjoy Tide of Iron, you can't go wrong with Normandy, you're going to want this. And what makes this all even more compelling is the Volume One on the designer Series book, and the introduction of campaign rules and scenarios with Normandy.
At one point scenarios were the only blemish on this game, now I find myself swimming in somewhere in the ballpark of 50 scenarios to date. What was it, like 6 in the base game, 5 more on the website, 6 or 8 with DotF, 20 designer scenarios, 8 more with Normandy and the 5 "tutorial" scenarios they posted on the website, which I believe are all in the designer book as well. Whats that...hell it's got to be about 50 or so, and we haven't even seen the Eastern Front yet!
Do yourself a favor, grab this as soon as you're able, you'll be glad you did!