While World War II games might not be my particular favourite flavour, for Undaunted I’m happy to make an exception.
Undaunted is a war game series with two different entry points, Normandy, which pitches the Americans against the Germans and North Africa which sees the British take on the Italians. And while it is a war game in the sense that that is the theme and the game does see you moving cardboard chits across a map of terrain, the game is very different from a traditional wargame.
For a start the play time much shorter, with games of Undaunted coming in at less than an hour for the most part. However the biggest difference are the mechanics. Undaunted uses a deck construction mechanism, players begin the game with a certain number of cards in their deck and each turn they use these cards to take actions. During the game they can bolster their decks by reinforcing units they already have or possibly bring new units into play.
It is this deck construction system that I find fascinating about the game and in particular the way it relates to the theme. Each time a card is drawn from your deck is an opportunity for that unit to activate. As your opponent wounds your units they discard matching cards from your deck, making that unit less effective or even removing them from the board entirely.
Meanwhile your company commanders can bolster your units, which feels thematically appropriate, or even inspire them, taking a unit that is devastated by attacks and encouraging them to greatness.
As well as being used to activate units, cards are also used to determine initiative, which is hugely important. But if you give up a good card to act first you can’t also use it during your turn. Your company commander will almost always allow you to go first, but if you save him for later you can bolster three units or draw two more cards during your turn.
Undaunted offers a tense tactical puzzle, with, admittedly, some luck in the dice rolls that determine the outcomes of combat and of course the order in which you draw your cards. But with a dozen scenarios to try and lots of different ways to construct your decks this game offers tons of replayability for two players who love the theme to really get their teeth into.
On the eighth day of Christmas, Santa gave to me 8 contested objective points...