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.
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 Action Point 2, we dove into a look at the new units in the game and their new special abilities and also looked at the biggest new addition including vehicles and new structure markers. In Action Point 3, we looked at the major differences between North Africa and Normandy and what has changed in the system other than the new units. In this Action Point, which is the conclusion to this series, we will cover some basic concepts of strategy to keep in mind about how units are best used and how to exploit their special abilities.
Firs point that I wish to make is that I don’t consider myself an amazing tactician. But I do believe that all games can be a bit more enjoyed if you follow some basics of strategy. There are always things that the players should be focused on and remember as they play that will help guide their decisions and give them a greater chance at victory. These points that I am sharing for Undaunted: North Africa are such guiding principles. There are some points of basic strategy that should be kept in mind with the Undaunted Series and you can check out my post from Undaunted: Normandy that covers some of these tips.
Understand Your Enemy
I would say that one of the most important aspects of North Africa is understanding your opponent and their capabilities. Remember, that each side is very different in the way they fight and the abilities that they have. The Italians have Tanks and have greater ability to slug it out with their opponent while the LRDG are lighter, faster and are trying to get to objectives and demolish them. I am not saying that you need to know all of the crunchy details of each unit but you should know which units have the Demolition Special Ability and which units can Control Objectives. I always like to know what my opponent’s objectives are and then I try to attack those units that can help them obtain them. Remember, if they don’t have a unit that can Control an Objective and that is the aim of the scenario for them, they lose!
Faster Game Requires Quicker Action
We discussed this point at length in one of our previous entries in this series but remember that in North Africa, if a combat counter is removed due to a successful attack, then all cards that were remaining in the Supply are also removed and that counter is eliminated and cannot return to the battle. This is a major change from Normandy as if the combat counter was removed it could still be Bolstered and return to the battle at a later time as long as there were cards of its type remaining in the Supply.
This small change really alters the way you have to worry about casualties. In my mind, this makes it harder to make aggressive moves early in the game until you have had a chance to Bolster more cards of the type of soldiers you are using into your deck. This way if you take losses you have cards to remove and will not totally lose the unit from the game. There are also only 4 of each card so this can make you more cautious. As mentioned as a point of strategy above, losing your only way of winning the game is the quickest way to defeat and you want to avoid this at all costs. Don’t beat yourself because you weren’t Bolstering your forces.
Use the Recon Aircraft
One of the most interesting new units in North Africa is the Recon Aircraft. 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….without actually having any forces in those spaces. This ability is one of the most important in the game and can be a game changer as it allows the Italians to get into position to setup a strong attack line.
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. As the Italian player this card is indispensable and helps you get your forces across the board quickly and into position to attack and Control Objectives.
Control is the Key
This point of strategy was a lot more efficacious in Normandy as almost all of the scenarios required the players to Control Objectives to win. In North Africa, the scenarios are more asymmetric in their victory conditions so this one may not apply all of the time. First off, remember that Control is an action that allows you to gain an objective and place your Control Marker on it to meet scenario objectives. This is a very important part of the game and only certain units can perform a Control Action, including the Medium Tank and Rifleman for the Italians and the Staff Sergeant and Sergeant for the LRDG.
Control is a bit different though in North Africa. Not radically different but a change was made to capture the frenetic and furious nature of the combat in this theater of World War II. In North Africa, a player can take Control of a tile that an enemy combat counter is already on if they don’t Control the tile. This is a difference as in Normandy, you would have had to eliminate an enemy counter from a tile before you could take Control. It makes sense. You cannot take Control until you have secured the tile and removed your enemies as they will continue firing on your units as they attempt to gain this Control.
But in North Africa as long as the tile is not Controlled by the enemy, the presence of an enemy unit on the tile doesn’t prevent the player from using a unit with a Control Action to take Control. This change has really placed an emphasis on acting quickly and taking Control before your opponent can. But it also reflects the asymmetry of each side and the fact that Control of objectives is not always a part of a side’s mission objectives.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series of Action Points on Undaunted: North Africa. I have enjoyed writing them and playing the game and discovering how the Undaunted Series is evolving and changing to fit the theater in which the battles take place. The system is expanding and in 2021 you can look forward to the newest entry called Undaunted: Reinforcements.
I’ve read just about everything I can about this game. This is such a unique theme and mechanism that it must be on my BUY LIST. Thanks for illuminating the different angles of the game.
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I really enjoyed this series! I like the smaller scale of North Africa, counters representing a single soldier as opposed to a unit really makes you play carefully and decisively, the tension is fantastic. Though I do love the individual soldiers that make up your unit in Normandy as well, it’s such a great way to marry theme and mechanism.
I agree that the mission composition in North Africa really brings this system to the next level, it was one of the only things I found lacking in Normandy.
One small critique, at the top of each action point you refer to North Africa as an expansion when it is in fact a stand alone game. It’s obvious you know this but, it could be confusing to anybody who is not familiar with the Undaunted series.
Anyways thanks for the great articles!
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Thanks Justin. Good point on the expansion comment. Probably need to change that.