Osprey Games | Undaunted: Normandy | Board Game | Ages 14+ | 2 Players | 45 to 60 Minutes Playing Time
About this deal
So every scenario is inspired by a real scenario, but we are not trying to recreate that scenario accurately. And similarly, if you know about the structure of a platoon, and you’re playing the game like ‘Wow, there’s the correct number of riflemen in the squad’, you should be able to see those things. But you certainly shouldn’t need to know those things to play it. We will always err on the side of making it a good game before anything else.
The main draw of this box has to be the solo content it offers. I play a lot of games solo and was delighted to try out the first few scenarios of both Normandy and North Africa to see how they matched up against their two player counterparts and I was delighted at how much of a challenge they presented. Half of me it so absorbed by this that I want to try again and see if it works, see if there's a German counterpoint to work against it. The other half wants to try the other eleven scenarios in the book. That part wins. So I take it to a friend's house to play the third scenario. This involves a river, and for the first time, the sheer simplicity of Undaunted: Normandy disappoints. There are no special terrain effects for the water: it's mere decoration and it feels wrong. Undaunted: Reinforcements is a modular expansion that introduces a range of new rules, scenarios, and units. Unleash the might of the German and American tanks and see how your new squad options fare against them in Undaunted: Normandy, or make use of mines, assault aircraft, and other new units as you attempt to outfox your opponent in Undaunted: North Africa. Whether you have one Undaunted game or the other, with Reinforcements you can play for the first time in a four-player mode, or test your mettle in a solo mode by Dávid Turczi and David Digby. It’s a system that forces you into endless awkward compromises. Riflemen, for example, are the only cards that can control tiles. But unless you have multiple matching cards you can’t both move and take control in the same turn. Instead, you have to risk them creeping forward, closing range and making them an easier target while allowing the enemy the chance to move up and contest the tile themselves. Most units have special actions, like engineers launching smoke or machine gunners laying suppressing fire, that you’ll have to balance with the need to move, shoot, and complete objectives. It’s an ongoing, fraught series of tough trade-offs.
So on the Reinforcements Normandy side, each tank is a single unit on the board, and each card is one of the crewmen. It’s abstract, but essentially each of the cards can perform all of the actions of the tank. We haven’t specialised the crewmen cards. Fail to find one and that unit is removed from the game. Interestingly, given the nature of scenarios, we had several missions in our playthrough with no casualties, where both sides focussed on the objectives and this seems counter to other war games I’ve played but thematically fit perfectly. So, Is This Expansion For You? Pre-pub link is up, and the game is getting great numbers to start. https://www.gmtgames.com/p-1083-wings-for-the-baron-deluxe-gmt-edition.aspx
I think if you know what’s happened in Wargaming in the last 15 to 20 years – with the transition to card-driven games and COIN games that have euro inspirations – that sort of paved the way for a wargaming community that would be accepting of a light crossover game like this. And just from the general trend of games, it’s very difficult to categorise many games at this point as a eurogame, or an ameritrash game, or wargame. The hybridization of games has absolutely helped us. It straddles all the camps; the communities on both sides are primed for this kind of game already. DT: Team play, for sure. My favourite part in any game, ever, is team play. Like Birth of America: 1775, or Quartermaster General – any sort of light wargame that supports team play – that’s my jam. Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson’s 2018 breakthrough War Chest was wargaming boiled down to its basics: the chess like tradition of carefully manoeuvring units and planning moves to take your opponent’s pieces combined with modern additions of asymmetrical player armies and bag-building to determine the actions available each turn. The 10 Things you Need to Know about D-Day: https://www. iwm. org. uk/ history/ the-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-d-dayD-Day: Facts on the Epic 1944 Invasion That Changed the Course of WWII: https://www. history. com/ news/ d-day-normandy-wwii-facts But once you have those out, it’s relatively straightforward: if the AI plays a scout, do this thing. If you can’t do /this/ thing, do /that/ thing. If you’ve ever seen a Dávid Turczi decision tree design, it’s very familiar. The Undaunted series of games are asymmetric World War 2 games, which up until this expansion was a two player affair based on historical battles from both Normandy and North Africa and have been praised for their mechanics and gameplay. Reinforcements is a modular expansion that requires one (or both) of those two games to play, offers additional scenarios and units for both games, a four player variant and solo rules to play every scenario from both games plus the new ones. Wait, that’s not all! It also contains a handy size storage box which accommodates both original games plus the expansion.
The other big thing, of course, in Normandy is we’ve added tanks on both sides. This was interesting because there’s obviously a tank in the North Africa base game, but they work quite differently here because of the scale. Inspire”, which allows players to replay a card in their hand. This latter action can lead to devastating combos that are tough for your opponent to predict, often swinging the tide of battle! Each turn, players draw four cards, one of which must be bid for initiative. The remaining three will be played during a player’s turn. Once both turns are done, players draw four cards again and repeat until one is victorious. Anyone can learn to play Undaunted in five minutes, but the fact that my wife and I were still trying new techniques into the final scenario speaks volumes for the longevity of the system. It’s a near flawless combination of sub systems. We must never forget the atrocities committed during and just before WWII by the Nazi apparatus. The Game There are very few war games that really bring the brutality of war to life. In most war games, players are distanced from the death and suffering of people and Undaunted: Normandy is no different. Removing cards from play or taking tokens off the board doesn’t convey any sense of someone losing their life. Fog of WarPYF wrote: I have a question though: how easy is it to solo the game? I bought it yesterday after seeing it listed on BGG as 1-2 players (I have nobody up for playing it with me, sadly), but then discovered there's no official solo variant. While the different unit types all share the same overall art, each has a different face and unique name. Once Otto Zimmerman is killed, that’s it, no more Otto. I like the way that the rules expand to include the full array of units gradually as you play through scenarios. machine gun units appear first in scenarios two and three and sniper units appear in scenario four, for example. Consequently, you are not overwhelmed with too many unit specific rules while still trying to get a grip of the basic mechanics and how they play.
Every scenario takes about an hour to play and in that relatively short amount of time, you will have a satisfying experience. The large number of scenarios also slowly introduce you to new mechanisms, so you can really learn the game as you play. As everyone knows, WWII saw an unbelievable amount of death, suffering and atrocities. The victory of the Allied Forces over Germany put an end to the Nazis’ Final Solution and lead to the formation of the United Nations 4. The war saw tens of millions of people being killed, many of whom were civilians who died at the hands of Nazis who persecuted not only Jews, but also many others.DT: One thing that also helped us, I think, is that Duncan Malloy [who signed the game to Osprey Games] actually commissioned Undaunted: North Africa before Normandy was ever even released. So Trevor and I have worked on Undaunted games two years out. We were done with the design for North Africa before Undaunted: Normandy released. Having that prepped and ready to within a year of Normandy being well received and released, I think that helped, too. Trevor and I aren’t that familiar with this. My general stance on solo design is if I’m working on a solo game, I like it to be solo from the start. And if it’s a multiplayer game that we worked on, then I feel way more comfortable with somebody that has the skills of turning a multiplayer game into a solitaire game, which is a skill set I don’t have. Everything you loved about Undaunted: Normandy is here, with polish, and a sprinkle of novel new features. There are few war games that are accessible while remaining ‘truly’ a war game. This one is nearly perfect, and with enough community scenarios in the future, might be the only one you need. PLAY IT? MUST-PLAY