Game Spotlights

Published: June 5, 2021

Jess C.

Undaunted: Normandy – Deckbuilding in the D-Day Aftermath

Undaunted: Normandy

by Osprey

When many of us think of War Games, we might think of the classic tiny square cardboard chits being pushed about a paper map. Or perhaps squads of painted soldiers, with range finders and tape measures and rule grids, marching across diorama hills and fields for gaming sessions lasting hours and hours. And we love those things!

Despite plenty of popular war games currently bucking those traditions, what we less often think of when imagining a hit war game, is play based on modular tiles and deck building mechanics with fast missions that can be completed in an hour. Undaunted: Normandy shares more DNA with modern board games in that respect than with the classic war game styles we’ve come to love. Yet, this doesn’t detract from the pure, wild enjoyment of this war game for those who can’t get enough WWII action.

Game basics & review

Undaunted: Normandy is a two-player game placing you in command of the American or German forces in the aftermath of the D-Day landings.  The rules are  light and easy to learn, the gameplay is clever and engaging, and all around fun. You’ll fight through a series of missions critical to the outcome of the war, on fields created by using the clever map tiles to enact the various campaign scenarios. Build your platoon full of soldiers by adding cards to your deck as you play, spending your resources to obtain better cards and varied options. Each soldier card is an individual, complete with a name and portrait image. Just… don’t get too attached to young Johnny.

Be sure to watch the review by always entertaining Shut Up and Sit Down for a fantastic look at this surprising game. Stick around to the end of the video, as Quinn has some very valid and factually interesting criticism of the D-Day setting to share in addition to the hearty recommendation of this game. As WWII game fans, the statistics probably won’t surprise you much, but it is a sobering piece food for thought which war game publishers may wish to chew on. Plus fascinating and heart-wrenching stories about the often unsung heroes of WWII from India.

A War Game twist on Deck Builders

One interesting thing about this game compared to other deck builders, is that its, well, basically the opposite of how most of them play out. In a typical deck builder, your starting hand of cards is pretty close to trash. Your general goal then is to add better and stronger cards, and get rid of the original deck’s garbage cards.  But in Undaunted, you’ll start with a nice, fresh, well organized and disciplined team of leaders and core units. As you play and the war grinds your forces into the mud, the cards you will add have more to do with necessity than actual upgrade.

So as you play Undaunted and use your purchased cards to seize the initiative, bolster your forces, scout the land, or control your troops on the battlefield, your deck will generally actually get worse. War’s rough! Strong leadership can turn the tide of battle in your favor, but reckless decisions could prove catastrophic, as every casualty you take removes a card from your deck, and certain actions can force you to add useless cards to your deck, further diluting each hand you draw.

This game melds battlefield tactics, deck-building strategies, and the unforgettable historic WWII setting beloved by war gamers the world over. The varied missions and tile configurations mean that while individual games don’t need days to complete, the campaigns will keep game play fresh and continuous.

If you love Undaunted: Normandy

If you love Undaunted: Normandy, last year also saw the release of it’s very own sequel! Undaunted – North Africa places you in control of the British Army’s Long Range Desert Group operating behind enemy lines, or as the command the formidable Italian forces opposing them. Finally, a Campaign for North Africa game that isn’t quite the undertaking and commitment of the SPI classic. But heck, why not try both!

Shut Up and Sit Down also recommend another of our favorite board game style war games, Memoir ’44. This sleek and entertaining best seller takes you from the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc to the hedgerow battles in the Corentin Peninsula and beyond. The game airdrops you into the key battles that turned the tide in Western Europe during the summer of 1944: Omaha Beach, Pegasus Bridge, Operation Cobra.

Are impactful and surprisingly emotional war themed board and card games your cup of tea? We also highly recommend you check out The Grizzled. This fast paced, fully cooperative card game takes place in the trenches of World War I. The Grizzled is an elegant game of avoiding threats and leading a team, and is regarded as one of the finest cooperative games ever made.