Oh, hi there, I was just grieving for some of my dead soldiers in hit new World War II game
“Undaunted: Normandy” A game that was pitched to me by my friends at the publishers as a group of guys tried to complete missions and they get shot and have names and it’s sad 🙁 How could we say no to a game like that? But I am here to tell you not to get distracted by “Undaunted” seasoning of sadness I think this is also the most entertaining World War II game to come out in 10 years Diving into the cover of my board game collection just weeks before the decade closed for business What we’ve got here is a waltz through Wharton France for any two players with an hour to spare Don’t be put off by the 20 page rulebook it’s only so long because of all these friendly headers and fat pictures In fact, you play “Undaunted” by progressing through a short campaign that starts simple but it’s still fun and then adds rules as confidently as a soldier slipping bullets into a magazine Each scenario gives you a squared slice of countryside to fight over and gives the American and German sides an objective to win the game Often some bridge or town that’s placed between the two of you like the final bun at a deadly buffet And these tokens represent the units that you’ll be bossing around the map ordering them to take objectives, to dash into cover and take shots at the enemy that will cause very real pain because I don’t wanna alarm you sergeant, but these forces are made up of people imperfect, squishy confused people Each soldier in your squad is a card that together form your very own deck and on each turn what you can do Depends on who’s here right now. Do you have to race squad ace Scouts down the left flank to claim an objective? That’s perfect because Joseph Bell is reporting for duty Do you need to lay down some machine-gun fire to pin down that enemy unit? But I hope that Henry Teller… Uh, Bob Benjamin and Paul Miller. What are you two doing here? – Ah, geez! Sorry boss.
– Yes sorry boss – We just didn’t know what to do
– Orders would be lovely
– We wonder did you need us to fire the motor again? – May we please have some orders? So, unlike most war games, “Undaunted” is not about executing some grand plan but instead about drawing cards and executing a plan for right now like bake off contestants you’ve heard of but never actually baked a Plan before and find themselves adding a pinch of ugly risks to 8 cups of Improvisation. Oh, okay. I’ll use this card to advance out of cover should I do that?
It often feel safest just to use a card to take a shot And shooting is as simple as everything else in “Undaunted” you add the protective number on the tile to the number on the token and then add the number of tiles between your token and their’s four, five, six, seven roll that number or higher and Bob is your grieving uncle: someone’s going to die Taking a hit is devastating if your opponent shoots a unit hits and you were holding that unit in your hand it is [Bang] shot out of your hand and back into the game box As if the soldier walked into your command tent:
“Sir!” – and a bullet followed them in and took them out If you’re not holding that soldier you have to search your discard or your deck for a soldier from that unit and it is again: put in the game box.
That soldier is dead forever along with possibly your hopes and dreams I say possibly because a thing in “Undaunted” is you will forget how many soldiers from each unit are in your deck so turn after turn you might sit there waiting for them to show up and they never do because that whole unit is Annihilated
It’s a lot like being ghosted except with actual ghosts involved. But don’t worry. I mean do worry a little bit – you’re incompetent and men are dying but one of the things you can do on your turn with your platoon sergeant or squad leader cards is [Cheery music] Add new boys to your deck from this sort of cruelly finite boy store room perhaps reinforcements to your existing units to get shuffled into the fray or Brand new units. Now your instinct in this deadly firefight is gonna be to call up the biggest guns immediately Carried by strapping lads who don’t give two dry toots about noise complaints But if anything seems like an obvious choice in “Undaunted”, you’ve got to look closer And in this case rule number one of deck building is always that every new card you add to your deck Makes every other card appear less frequently and in “Undaunted” your starting day isn’t junk It’s the key stone that holds this brutal church together You can’t actually move a unit into a square without sending Scout units in first to scout that space however this then gums up your deck with useless fog of war cards as if you were inserting Haribo into a stapler So in fact, let’s get some more Scouts for our deck. Also, the only unit that can control objectives are boring dull rifleman, so lets definitely bulk of our rifleman units with some of those and you do want some big guns Snipers and mortars are villainous things. So what this means is often halfway through a game of “Undaunted” you’ll have “upgraded” this clean simple little deck with all these cards: Scouts, Mortars, Machine gunmen or Riflemen and of course as you drag this army around the board You’re filling it with yet more fog of war until… until you’ve got this stumbling high variance monster where you will never be able to find the soldier who you need to issue orders to The only silver lining is of course that your opponent is helping to shrink your deck again by rem… shooting and killing the single most important cards in the whole thing, which is a bit like trying to lose weight by having somebody cut off your fingers Okay Now let’s pause the review for a second so I can talk about deck building games as a whole Since the release of the original deck-building daddy “Dominion” in 2008 this concept of players building up their own personal deck of cards during a game has spread all through tabletop and even into video games like a cold sore at a kissing convention Incidentally KissCon UK if you’re watching this please revoke my burn To name three Shut Up & Sit Down favorites deck building has been used to represent Japanese railway companies in the superb game of “Trains” Apocalyptic communities in “Arctic Scavengers” or even your characters strengthening psyche in the
“Arkham Horror Living Card Game” I have had a fantastic time with dozens of deck building games But in recent years I have started to get bored of them. Most deck building games have this simplistic additive arc where players start with a small deck of bad cards and then get to enjoy the rewarding behavior of Ooh! Adding a good card!
Ooh! Adding a better card! bulking up this thing like livestock for the slaughter. That floods our brain with dopamine, but it doesn’t always make for a very interesting game. Often, it actually feels quite shallow to me “Undaunted”? Aha! Oh my god! The deck building in this game It’s like seeing in color for the first time Instead of being drip fed rewards like a lab rat Playing “Undaunted” feels more like you’re some Doomsday Accountant set at a shifting abacus of pain, probabilities and predicting your enemy Okay, Yes, rifle squad B might have just gotten shot to ribbons off of an unlucky roll But think about it that now means every other unit in your deck is going to show up more frequently meaning they act faster. In fact when you draw cards in “Undaunted”, instead of issuing orders to that card, you can instead hunker it down voluntarily Removing it from the game And if you are cunning enough You might just end up with a deck thin and sharp enough to slip into your opponent like a cardboard shiv Also, those few high ranking cards in your deck that you can order to add more soldiers to your deck can instead be used to grab extra soldiers from your deck or your discards so that you can have a giant turn, where you issue loads of orders and this mechanic throws up a fascinating question over every game of “Undaunted”, like dirt from a grenade It asks “Should you go shopping and buy extra soldiers or should you push for that cover, that objective?” A single match of undaunted might have players,
you know, building up building up and then pushing, and then both of you might stop sit back and then build up some more and then one player might push while the other player sits back and keeps building praying their opponent runs out of steam And this vulnerability of both your plans and your deck makes “Undaunted” terrifically tense. When your opponent announces that they’re gonna shoot at a unit that’s in your hand it puts your heart in your mouth and your guts underwater
The odds are often very long, you know 1 in 10
or just 1 in 5 But players are often on the receiving end of dice rolls that threaten to blow up their whole turn [Intense music] Which is maybe a good time to mention, not a criticism exactly: I honestly don’t have any criticisms of this game. It is so entertaining, so simple, so clever and so cheap However, it is quite easy to get Daunted by “Undaunted” And what I mean by that is that this is one of those two-player games, that is particularly personal. Dice and dismay are the core of “Undaunted” but there’s a lot of dice and a lot of dismay and a lot of death You will have so many turns where you use a Machine gunner and the Scout to roll a whole bunch of dice And they all miss.
And it’s fascinating, really, the sensation of feeling your whole turn turn to dust And when your opponent returns fire with some solitary Rifleman called Alf who brains your star machine gunner from about 800 meters You can and will get grumpy. I would say for about four minutes of every hour I spent playing “Undaunted” I was the mayor of Grumpyville, a single-issue candidate running on the platform that this game was bull**** But, as I say, that is not a criticism and not just because “Undaunted” theme is as bleak and sharp as a box full of bayonets
After all, this is not a war game where you order your men to push forward It’s a war game where you order your men to kill that man in the barn. What’s his name? Steven! His name is Steven, and he needs to die now! Rather it’s not a criticism because “Undaunted” is a quick two-player game which means that one person being criminally sour will probably be a source of great joy to their opponent and usually it only lasts for a little bit of time anyway. Lasts until you get a good dice roll yourself But even if it doesn’t even if you end a game upset that’s fine because it’s so easy to just swap sides and try again or move on to the next scenario This game is, after all, very fast So that is “Undaunted” A superb and evocative strategy game tucked into the tightest of rulesets Also, i have got to give publishers Osprey Games kudos for having a scenario book that in no way teases out the games content
Like all these legacy games, we’ve been getting in recent years, where you play it and you get, like 75% of a game and the game goes
“What could be coming neeeext?” No! Instead Osprey goes
“New toys! New toys! New toys!”
So, actually, before the halfway mark in the campaign you’ve actually seen all the content and cards and mechanics that “Undaunted” has to offer and instead you just keep playing because it’s fun and not because the game has locked anything away with artificial scarcity
Don’t worry as well that they’re only being twelve scenarios because by the time I finished the campaign I would have happily swapped sides with my opponent and gone right back to the start but also the final missions are so rich and nuanced and fascinating that I would happily play any of these as standalone matches. Ah, it’s all so good There’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this website will be awarding The “Shut Up & Sit Down Recommends” medal
for distinguished service to “Undaunted: Normandy” If you’re looking for board games like this one, but maybe a little more playful and light-hearted “Memoir 44” is just as easy to learn and has at this point a crates worth of expansions for you to explore Including the legendary Overlord expansion that turns “Memoir 44” into an epic eight player team game that has to be experienced to be believed On the flip side if “Undaunted” wets your World War Two whistle for shifting tactics and the whims of cruel cruel fates You might be better suited with “Combat Commander”
A game a million times more complicated than “Undaunted” but with a lot of the same DNA. The late Chad Jensen’s tactical opus has similar unpredictable card draw to simulate miscommunication, but it brings a baffling amount of depth and weirdness with a host of unique events that can trigger at any time Personally, I find combat commander to be too fiddly and simulationist for my taste but I am outnumbered and probably drastically outgunned by the number of people on the internet you think combat commander is fab I’ll just close the review by saying I could not be more excited for “Undaunted: North Africa”, which is coming out later
this year. I know it’s gonna add vehicles.
I have no idea how they’re gonna work but I cannot wait to issue direct orders to a tank to go and kill a man named Alvin But now my review is over I do have something to add, right? It is so important that we continue to tell stories about World War II that remind us this cataclysmic event was made up of human beings like you and me But I’ve got to say:
It is Maddening to me how games seem to default always to Americans versus Germans in France Americans watching this:
This might blow your mind but for every 50 soldiers who died in World War II Only one of them was an American
If we include civilians in global war dead only one in 200 was American, a number so high I couldn’t even be bothered to draw it Our storytelling within games right now has become this stuck record where we just go back to Normandy and the D-Day landings over and over and over again and this is an act of incredible unfairness Because it limits not just who gets to be a hero and who gets to be thanked for their sacrifices but how we perceive our own history? I think the storytellers and designers that work in games need to do better and then I thought Hey, If I’m gonna sit here telling people to tell different stories Why not put my money where my mouth is?
I’ll start. I’ll tell you a story I will tell you a story about the largest volunteer army, not just in World War two, but in all of human history which was the millions of Indians who signed up to fight for the Allies So just behind me, you can see Brighton’s India Gate, a gift from India to thank doctor Brighton, because Prince Albert’s palatial seafront getaway was actually used as a hospital for sick and wounded Indian soldiers in World War I.
But India’s involvement in World War II was on a completely different scale By the end of the war 2.5 million Indians had signed up to fight and British Commander say without their help
we would have lost the war You can read online about all the Victoria Crosses – Britain’s highest military honour – that were awarded to those Indian soldiers There’s Premindra Singh Bhagat who was awarded the cross for clearing 15 minefields in a marathon
96 hour stretch or Naik Fazal Din who while clearing a series of Japanese bunkers in Burma was stabbed with a samurai sword,
took the samurai sword,
killed multiple soldiers with it and still crawled home to make his report Or there is my personal favourite Rifleman Ganju Lama, who when his unit came under attack from Japanese tanks crawled up to within 30 yards of the tanks with a
PIAT gun Which looks like this and was so difficult to reload that some soldiers couldn’t do it Anyway, Lama with three injuries to his hands uses the gun to destroy both tanks WAIT takes out the tank crews as well when they try and escape and only then goes to get his hands treated for the multiple injuries that he had But one of the reasons we don’t talk very much about what India did for the Allies is that England prefers not to think about how it treated India I was actually moved to tears when I visited the pavilion by a photo of a hastily Erected funeral pyre so that some of these Indian soldiers who died Thousands of miles from their home in a war that they didn’t start could at least be cremated in the way they would have wanted But perhaps most of all we don’t like to think about India’s involvement in world war two because it is strictly incompatible with England’s role in the Bengal famine As a result of World War II there was a drastic shortage of food in Bengal and Winston Churchill Refused to stop the exporting of food from India to feed the rest of the world In fact, it’s actually worse than that:
Winston Churchill refused to allow America and Canada to send aid shipments to India saying quote “If the famine was so bad. Why was Gandhi still alive?” Gandhi, of course would survive World War two and go on to fight for Indian independence however, perhaps some 3 million Bengalis died during the famine. Many of them almost certainly as a result of British policy Incidentally, would you like to guess how many Allied soldiers died during the D-Day landings? Four and a half thousand Which coincidentally is the exact number of D-Day board games there have been Churchill was right about one thing though. He also said “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Thank you very much for watching this board game review in which I talked about some people who died and it was sad! Is Shut Up and Sit Down always sad?
No. A lot of the time we tell jokes and talk about fun games that are fun I’m told it is fun. I do really like it. I’m just like I want all of that energy towards Remembrance to go just to some other people for once. Anyway, you’ve got other fun videos. Look they’re here if you haven’t subscribed Ooh baby now make my day Thank you very much everybody I’m gonna leave before Park security tell me I can’t film for commercial purposes. Bye!