Undaunted in Normandy

Undaunted in Normandy

I indulged in a few solo scenarii with Undaunted: Normandy. It describes itself as

a deck-building game that places you and your opponent in command of American or German forces, fighting through a series of missions critical to the outcome of World War II. Use your cards to seize the initiative, bolster your forces, or control your troops on the battlefield.

A deck-building game? The photo above looks more like a wargame with poor man's hexagons. Yes, it is a deck-building game. You have a deck, you draw four cards out of it, and then each player chooses a card for its top-right initiative value, that card is sacrified for this turn, but it might win you the priority.

The remaining three cards may then be played. Move, Attack, Scout, Bolster, Inspire, Command, ... each card has a different set of actions.

There are three types of cards: officers, soldiers, and, well, fog of war. Those last cards act like dead weight. The scouts as they explore the map move fog of war cards from the supply to the deck (well at first to the discard pile). Playing a fog of war card for initiative won't get you far, it's valued at 1, while the platoon sergeant card ranks at 9.

The rules are light, and easy to learn (and to teach!). There is a one page helper at the end of the booklet, I was trying to use it but it was so summarized that I ended up completing it with my sharpie as it didn't mention for most actions where from and where to a card is transiting.

I was happy with my completed rule summary for 3 seconds. I was making a mess with my cards (especially since playing solo). I wanted a "track" for my deck, with all the transitions illustrated.

Inkscape to the rescue. I devised a track on an A4 page, its goal is to prevent me from referring to the booklet each time I'm considering an action.

The game with this track went well. But I noticed I was still referring to the booklet for casualties. When a counter scores a hit against another counter, it removes a card. For example, if the "Scout A" counter takes a hit, a "Scout A" card has to be removed from the game. I could never remember the search order: Hand, then Discard Pile, then Deck itself. If no card can be found, the counter is removed from the map (but not from the game).

Since I could never remember the order of card removal in case of hit, I added something about it on my track page.

There is a Supply of cards, it's in open view from the other player. Hits don't affect it. If, through a Bolster action, you pick (not draw) a card from the Supply, you can actually bring back a counter to the square with the "spawn" marker on it.

Cards have names on them, for each counter there are three to five cards. Provided a rifleman counter has all its five cards moved from the Supply to the Deck, that counter can take five hits. With those names on the card, hit casualties are not anonymous.

My track for Undaunted is available in its own GitHub project.

Conflict of Heroes was my previous favourite platoon-level wargame, but I think, although, more abstract, Undaunted: Normandy (and North Africa, and Stalingrad) will dethrone it. It is faster to play. Or Undaunted might bring me back to Conflict of Heroes... Cards vs Activation Points...