|"Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, 25th October 1415", painted by Sir John Gilbert|
If you follow the excellent website, BoardGameGeek, you may have come across the French Wargames magazine Vae Victis. I have often seen it at Brookhurst Hobby but I had never purchased it, fearing my French not good enough to deal with this all-French publication. However as a string of interesting titles has been published recently, I couldn't help but notice and finally investigate the magazine itself and thence the wargames hobby as it it is experienced in France.
The fact is, there is a very strong wargaming hobby in France, with board games well represented. Vae Victis is published by Histoire & Collections. This book publisher has released many interesting titles in French and in English on uniforms, campaigns and battles. I already owned many of their books. Vae Victis magazine has reached its 119th edition as of November 2014. Issue 98 and all issues starting with issue 100 are sold with games with professional, die-cut, counters. The earlier counter sheets have always been beautiful, but have required some work to turn the printed sheets into double-sided counters.
You will quickly find that one designer dominates the "space": Frédéric Bey. A listing of his personal credits follows:
Not only is he prolific, Fred also caters very well to his English speaking customers, providing on his website articles, counters and most importantly, English translations of the rules of all of his games. His website is found at:
When I realized I could download the English language rules for his Au Fil de L'Epee series of games, some published by Canons et Carton, some by Ludifolie Editions and many contained in issues of Vae Victis, I knew I had to get many of them for my own collection. Likewise Fred has many interesting Classical Greek titles to his credit.
So far, from Fred alone I have purchased all of the highlighted titles above. I have also ordered other editions of Vae Victis with games covering the French Wars of Religion, using the same game system as GMT Games's Musket & Pike series.
I will write reviews on the games as I play them. However Marcogamer has already reviewed several of them on YouTube and through BoardGameGeek, most very favorably.
Bottom line: French board wargaming is alive and vibrant with many unique titles. The Rules and Scenarios are available in perfect English translation. Designers like Frédéric Bey have professionalized the game business with well-founded Rules and interesting topics not covered by the English/American publishers. Fred and others provide a high level of service and make the games very approachable. Agincourt will always captivate the Anglo audience and Richard Berg has covered the subject along with much of the middle ages very well in GMT's Men of Iron and Blood and Roses series.
However, if you are interested in what happened at Patay, Formigny or Castillon, then take a look at the work of Frédéric Bey. Highly recommended!