In case you didn’t know, David Thompson has been putting out some really good and entertaining wargames over the past couple of years. One of his finest has been the 2019 hit Undaunted: Normandy which is a card based small squad tactical game that uses deckbuilidng and a modular board with scenarios to tell the story of the 30th Infantry Division as they marched across Europe following their landing on D-Day during World War II. Due to that game’s success a new expansion has been designed and released and is simply fantastic. Undaunted: North Africa adds in several new elements, including new abilities, new cards, new terrain and scenarios but most importantly vehicles.
One thing I want to get out of the way early in this series is that this game is not simply the same product with a new setting, new package and more stuff. This game feels very different and has a smaller scale feel from its predecessor Undaunted: Normandy. It feels more intimate and the squad level concept has been shrunk to feel more like a small team of commandos, with the addition of some very cool and interesting vehicles, trying to execute their missions.
In Action Point 1, we looked at the deck building aspect of the game, including the makeup of the deck and how you “build” it. In this Action Point, we will dive into a look at the new units in the game and their new special abilities and also will take a look at the biggest new addition including vehicles and new structure markers.
In Undaunted: North Africa, the scale of the game is smaller and based more on a team of commandos. With that in mind, each card and the resulting counter that is placed on the board is a single soldier as opposed to a squad of soldiers. The system allows the players to provide their teams with the abilities, assets and weapons necessary to capture Objectives and accomplish their assigned mission through deck building. These individual soldiers consist of differing types of soldiers who each bring a unique set of skills to the mission and serve a specific purpose.
In Undaunted: North Africa the player will staff their missions with different types of soldiers available in the form of cards. As mentioned in the first post in this series, the player will have a specific set of soldiers to choose from for the mission and will have to add these soldiers and their cards to their decks in order to improve their chances of success. With the change in scale and focus found in North Africa, as well as the addition of several new unit types and vehicles, this game feels very different from its predecessor while maintaining the same overall system. Let’s take a look at these new units and examine their role. Let’s first take a look at the new leaders who are referred to as Command Cards (there are still the typical Platoon Sergeant and Squad Leader in the Italian deck that we won’t cover here because they are the same as their counterpart cards from Normandy). These units do not have counters to place on the board but are only represented by a card in your deck.
The Lieutenant takes the place occupied by the Platoon Sergeant from Normandy and frankly is the most important and powerful card in your deck. First, he has the very highest Initiative value in the game at a 9, and while I wouldn’t recommend using him in this way often, if you absolutely need to go first in the round, you can reveal this card to almost guarantee that you will go first. His real power though lies in his abilities, including Bolster 3 and Command 2.
Bolster 3 means that you can play this card to take up to X cards from your supply and then add them to your deck. This ability is so important and adding cards of a certain type to your deck is always situational and you should play this card with that in mind and not simply look to just add cards but add those cards that are specifically needed for your situation. His second ability Command allows the player to draw up to 2 cards from the deck and add them to your hand. These cards can be played immediately. This can be very powerful as it simply gives you more cards to use this turn to swing things to your advantage.
The Warrant Officer assists the Lieutenant in managing the orders of the team and has very versatile abilities to add units to the battlefield or to push these units to get more out of them after they have been used. Similar to the Lieutenant he has a very high Initiative value of 8 that can help you go first when needed. But his real strength lies in his ability to Bolster any 2 cards from the supply to your deck and his ability to use the special Inspire ability.
The Inspire ability allows you can pick up cards from your play area that you have already played that turn, and return them to your hand to be played again this round. This can help you get additional cards by picking up an already played Lieutenant to use their Command ability to draw 2 additional cards from your deck hoping to get the unit that you need at that time or to take another shot at your enemy with your Machine Gunner or Rifleman or to Control an Objective with your Sergeant or Staff Sergeant that you just moved onto that tile. Options are always good in these type of card games and the Warrant Officer gives you lots of options for sure.
For all intents and purposes the Tank Commander acts the same as the Warrant Officer having a Bolster 2 and Inspire 1 ability. The difference though is the addition of the letter “T” after those abilities. The “T” refers to Tank and means that the Tank Commander can only Bolster and Inspire Tank cards such as the Tank Driver, Tank Gunner and Tank Crewman. But, being able to get more Tank cards into your deck simply makes your ability to utilize the Medium Tank more often and more effectively. The Tank Commander also has a solid Initiative value and may be tempting to use if you don’t have a need to Bolster any additional Tank cards or don’t have any Tank cards in your hand.
We will now take a look at your new Combat Cards as they are units that have to follow the orders given by the leaders and execute them on the battlefield by taking shots at the enemy, eliminating objectives using your demolitions or moving into position to take control of Objectives to win the battle and the game.
The Sergeant is a Non-Commissioned Officer whose role is to lead soldiers on the ground as they carry out missions. This card is not a Command Card, although it has rank, but acts as a Combat Card that can be Bolstered into your deck. The card has 4 different Actions available including Move 1, Attack 1, Control and Demolition 2(2). I don’t need to explain Move, Attack or Control other than it is really great to have this card in the deck as it provides a lot of flexibility in the place of the Rifleman that simply could Move, Attack and Control. The added Demolition is a new ability for North Africa and provides a way for soldiers to destroy vehicles or structures which might be an objective in a specific scenario.
For a Demolition action, the player simply chooses a vehicle combat counter or a structure marker located on the same tile as the soldier taking the action. You will notice that there are two numbers listed next to the ability. The first number is the number of combat dice the player will roll for a Demolition action on a Structure while the second number is the number of dice to roll for an action against a Vehicle. The player must roll equal to or higher than the Structure Defense or Armored Defense Value of the target. The only bad thing about this attack is that it is up close and personal and exposes the unit taking the action to great risk from enemy fire. Demolition attacks also ignore the Terrain Defense Value and only uses the vehicle Defense Value.
The Sergeant also has a solid Initiative value of 7 so you may be tempted to use this card to win an important Initiative for a round that you may be able to move a unit into a space with a vehicle or structure and then make a Demolition attack because you have the cards in hand or move in and Control an objective all in the same round.
The Staff Sergeant is also a Non-Commissioned Officer that has a counter to represent it on the battlefield and directs the teams towards their objectives. This card is also not a Command Card, although it has rank, but acts as a Combat Card that can be Bolstered into your deck. The card has 4 different Actions available including Scout 1, Attack 1, Control and Recon. The Scout ability is really nice when paired with Control and Attack as this unit can move on Objectives and actually threaten them which will cause your opponent to react. The Recon ability is also nice to have on another card other than the Scout as this one allows the player to remove a Fog of War card from in hand from the game and draw another card in its place. High Initiative is also a good thing to win the right to go first when you have the correct cards in your hand to accomplish something big. This card is pretty flexible and its addition has created some new opportunities.
Now we get into the new troops and begin with the Engineer. This unit is versatile and has four different abilities listed on the card including Move 1, Attack 1, Repair and Demolition 3(3). The Engineer has several roles in the squad including attack support and performing several technical aspects such as Repair of damaged vehicles and the demolition of objectives through the use of their very good Demolition ability. The Repair ability allows the unit to remove a damage marker from a vehicle located in their current space. This action does not require the rolling of any dice and is simply automatic. If you happen to have a Command Card with the Inspire ability in the same space, this can be used to remove multiple damage markers and get that vehicle back into the fight.
Typically Combat Cards do not have good Initiative values and that is definitely the case with the Engineer and his 2. This card is more valuable for moving on the enemy and performing Repairs and should not be used for winning Initiative, unless of course you absolutely need to. But then you will only beat a Fog of War card and its 1 Initiative value.
The Saboteur is the sneaky infiltration type unit that all good commando teams need to rely on to get to Objectives and then to eliminate them. The Saboteur has just 3 abilities on their card including Stalk 1, Attack 1 and Demolition 2. Stalk 1 allows them to move onto tiles that have not yet been scouted by your Scout units so they have free reign to move around the board from high defensive value terrain to high defensive value terrain all in an attempt to approach their target without needing other units to destroy Objectives. The Saboteur also has a very good Defensive Value of 6 so it is a unit that is more difficult to hit and makes it easier to take chances with it as you approach your targets.
The Anti-Tank Rifleman is your only reliable way of dealing with enemy vehicles. The Anti-Tank Rifle is designed to penetrate the armor of armored fighting vehicles, most commonly tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles. While medium and heavy tank armor became too thick to be penetrated by rigid projectiles from rifles that could be carried by a single soldier, Anti-Tank Rifles continued to be used against other “soft” targets. The Anti-Tank Rifleman is a slower moving unit though and doesn’t offer great protection as their Defense Value is only a 4. You will have to move them cautiously and utilize the benefits of terrain to be able to get into range to use their Antitank 2 ability which is better than their normal Attack 1. This Antitank attack can damage or destroy vehicles but also injure crew which are in the vehicle at the time of the attack. This is a hard unit to use well but is very important as the LRDG fights the Italian Medium Tank on the battlefield. Without it, there is no other reliable way to damage a vehicle from distance and you will have to rely on up close and personal Demolition.
Tank Crewman, Tank Driver and Tank Gunner
These three new cards are all vital in the operation of the Italian Medium Tank and when they are inside the tank will use the abilities listed on the vehicle card to take actions such as Drive, Control, Antitank, Attack and Suppress. You will notice that each of these cards has a special symbol located under their Initiative value that corresponds with the seats in the Medium Tank. The Tank Crewman has the wrench symbol which means he should ride in the back where he can Repair the tank as it takes damage or Repair a vehicle that they are located in the same space as so this unit can be key as it might move around the board getting equipment up and running again after taking combat damage, the Tank Gunner has the target symbol which means he sits in the middle of the tank and shoots while the Tank Driver has the steering wheel and will sit at the front and control the movement of the tank. Each of these three units has the Move 1 and Attack 1 ability for when they happen to be outside of a vehicle as they can still advance and take shots at enemy units, although they are not good shots as they will only roll 1 die. The Tank Crewman also has the ability to
As mentioned above, the Tank Commander will have to Bolster these units into your deck and because his ability is a Bolster 2T, you can only get a few of these units in your deck each turn. Because of this, you will find that it takes several turns to amass the number of cards needed in your deck to have consistent actions with your best assets, your vehicles. I always try to get these units into my deck as soon as possible and my priority is always Tank Crewman and Tank Driver as without both of these units, the tank will simply sit there and be a nice juicy target for a fast advancing enemy Sergeant, Engineer or Saboteur.
This card is not representative of a unit that is located on the game board but one that flies above it interacting with the battle. The Recon Aircraft is based on the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli, which was used extensively by the Italians to monitor the vast expanses of the North African desert. These aircraft were the bane of the LRDG. In the game they can fire at soldiers on the ground using their Strafe 1 ability and also surveil the area using their Surveil 2. This Surveil ability is really handy as this acts as a Scout ability and allows the player to place scouted markers in spaces on the board to allow for units to enter them. This allows them to scout any location on the battlefield. The Recon ability is just a bonus as you can get rid of a Fog of War card from your hand and draw a new card to replace it if you have no other good options for the use of the main abilities.
The high Initiative value of 8 can also be a boon as this can help you go first without using a higher and more important card for bidding for initiative.
Vehicle cards are used to track the position of soldiers within vehicles, the additional actions available to those soldiers, and the damage vehicles have taken. Unlike other cards, vehicle cards are never placed in your deck or supply. Instead, they are placed face up in front of players during setup. The LRDG has access to Patrol, Pilot, and Gun Trucks, while the Italians have an M13/40 Medium Tank, a Scout Car, and a Light Truck.
Patrol Truck, Pilot Truck and Gun Truck
These are the vehicles available to the LRDG player and their main function is to get soldiers close to Objectives without putting them in danger of direct attack by enemy soldiers and vehicles. The interesting part of these vehicles that they have a Navigate ability that acts like Scout that places a scouted token on the tile and allows other units to enter that tile. The Patrol Truck and Gun Truck can attack other units, which is very nice. The Patrol Truck uses a mounted machine gun to Suppress targets and the Gun Truck has an anti-tank weapon that can do damage to the Italian Medium Tank.
Medium Tank, Scout Car and Light Truck
These are the vehicles available to the Italian player and they have a bit more firepower than the LRDG player. The Medium Tank is the main focus as this vehicle can take lots of damage and Attack 2 and Suppress 4. This weapon is simply devastating and needs to be protected by the Italian player but also needs to get into the action. The Scout Car and Light Truck both have the same Navigate ability and can also Suppress their targets as they approach the enemy.
In North Africa, the game has added in various Structures that are typically used as Objectives and placed on the board. Structure markers represent many different things such as buildings, assets, and infrastructure of tactical significance. Each scenario will tell you which structure markers
to use and which board tiles to place them on. There are six of these Structure markers and they include a fuel dump, lorrie, airplane, aircraft shelter and two roadblocks.
There are some key points regarding each of the different Structures that you will need to know about. Structure Defense, which is located in the shield is the value you must roll to destroy the structure with a Demolition action. Objective Points are the strategic value of the structure. The marker is worth this many points to the Italian player if they control the tile that the structure is on and worth this many points to the LRDG player if they blow up the structure.
I hope that you can see that this game has put a lot of thought and effort into its design and has attempted to replicate the makeup of these World War II squads. The actions and abilities of each card feel very thematic and provide you with a lot of tactical choices and strategies about how you should use the members of your teams to efficiently and effectively attack your enemy.
In Action Point 3, we will take a look at the major differences between North Africa and Normandy and what has changed and talk about how these changes have really created a much more intimate and different playing game.