Play Matt - Undaunted: Normandy Review

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22 Jul 2019 00:00 #299914 by Matt Thrower
And we're off, feeling our way like brave explorers in...

If there's one thing I can't stand in a game, it's faff. And deckbuilders tend to have more than their fair share. But Undaunted: Normandy makes it easy. A few double-sided squares to build a board, a few soldier cards to make your deck and you're done. Between the two of us, it takes moments, seeming too good to be true.

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22 Jul 2019 08:19 #299915 by hotseatgames
Great review! I know several people (some on this site) who have expressed that the military theme is a turn-off. But hey, I don't want to play games about mushrooms or quilting, so to each their own.
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22 Jul 2019 09:00 #299918 by Sagrilarus
A fine review, love the way you weave narrative and gameplay together. But -- a couple of questions. You seem to indicate there is a board of sorts made from cards? A modular thing? How much of the game is position-based and how much is card-play-based please?

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22 Jul 2019 09:09 #299919 by Vysetron
I'm gonna have to check this out. The card play sounds fascinating.
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22 Jul 2019 09:27 - 22 Jul 2019 09:32 #299920 by Matt Thrower

Sagrilarus wrote: A fine review, love the way you weave narrative and gameplay together. But -- a couple of questions. You seem to indicate there is a board of sorts made from cards? A modular thing? How much of the game is position-based and how much is card-play-based please?


You have it right, the board is modular, made up of squares of thick cardboard which are arranged into an asymmetric grid.

EDIT: here's a photo of the board in play, scenario #2:


The bulk of the strategy comes in handling your cards and deck, but positional-based play is not unimportant. There are different approach routes to objectives, for example, and a canny player can exploit different distances and cover values.

If you look at that photo, for example, the objectives are the brown "1" tokens on the bottom left and bottom right. The bottom left is closer for the US forces but has less cover (the numbers in the shield icons). So the US player has a strategic choice of speed over safety.

This is one of the few aspects of the game that I do feel could be better: some very simple terrain, LOS or facing rules would have paid off handsomely in terms of deeper position play.
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Last edit: 22 Jul 2019 09:32 by Matt Thrower.

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22 Jul 2019 09:44 #299922 by Gary Sax
This sounds great, completely off my radar.
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22 Jul 2019 10:54 #299927 by Shellhead
I usually dislike deck builders, because they usual feel like theme-less exercises in shuffling and card combos. But this one looks great, and I think that the modular board makes a big difference.
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23 Jul 2019 20:06 #299978 by Josh Look
I’m very much NOT into WW2 games, but the designers of War Chest certainly grab my attention.
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20 Aug 2019 04:57 #300924 by PYF
Hi, really enjoyed this review and love the narrative style. Many thanks for a great read.

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.

You mention you solo'd a scenario, and I would be extremely grateful if you could let me/the internet know how easy/satisfying it was to do this?

For some context, I have happily solo'd most of my 2+ player games (Mermoir 44, Concordia, Clank etc) so am happy to put in some faff/legwork if the resulting game is worth it! But I saw a note from the developer on BGG saying U:N is not really soloable due to having knowledge of the opponent's hand, which may spoil the game for some.

What are your thoughts on this please?

Hope you can help, and many thanks for your time.
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20 Aug 2019 05:16 #300925 by Matt Thrower

PYF 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.


BGG actually says 2 players, as does the box: it's a "community" vote that says it's for 1-2 players and I don't know how anyone else might be soloing it.

I did it by working the initiative system a turn in advance. Deal the start player a hand. If it contains a "Fog of War" card, that is always chosen for initiative. If not, choose a card for initiative and set it aside. Then play the turn.

For the second player, go through the same system. If their initiative card is higher, then they get to start the next turn.

Does that make sense? It means the player who wins ties will almost always go first, but that's how it plays out the majority of the time in face to face play. You miss the occasional edge case when going first is a critical strategic move, but those are pretty rare anyway.

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20 Aug 2019 05:32 #300926 by PYF
Makes perfect sense, thank you!

So a final quick question if I may: In your opinion, would it be worth buying purely for solo play?
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20 Aug 2019 08:49 #300933 by Matt Thrower

PYF wrote: Makes perfect sense, thank you!

So a final quick question if I may: In your opinion, would it be worth buying purely for solo play?


Of course, you may. And the answer is: no. But there's an important qualifier which is that almost no games are, IMO, worth buying purely for solo play.

However, bear in mind that Undaunted is NOT specifically designed for solitaire play and so soloing it is strictly worse than playing it with two.
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20 Aug 2019 10:21 #300939 by PYF
Thanks. Very grateful for your help!
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