Review – Undaunted: North Africa
Bless the rains down in Africa; just watch out for Italian tanks.
|Designer||Trevor Benjamin, David Thompson|
Undaunted: North Africa takes the main mechanics from Undaunted: Normandy and moves the game to the North African theater. Players will assume the side of either the British-led Long-Range Desert Group (LRDG) or the Italian Forces. With a few changes like the asymmetrical gameplay and added vehicles, this version tweaks the rules but ups the strategic options. Read on for our review!
Like Undaunted: Normandy, players will roll dice to see if their attacks are successful. If they are, the opposing player must remove a card corresponding to the attacked unit from the game, denoting a casualty. The artwork shows different soldiers with their weapons, sometimes yelling or moving, but no blood or gore is shown.
Undaunted: North Africa takes the same deck-building system from Undaunted: Normandy and turns it into an asymmetrical game. (If you want to know more about the game system, check out our review of Undaunted: Normandy!) On one side in Undaunted: North Africa are the occupying Italian forces, with superior firepower, vehicles, and numbers on their side. Fighting against them are the members of the Long Range Desert Group, or LRDG. The LRDG was a volunteer unit made up of British, New Zealander, South Rhodesian, and other soldiers who went behind Italian lines for covert operations. The player who uses the LRDG will have the distinction of often being outgunned, resorting to sabotage and hit-and-run guerilla tactics. Going toe-to-toe with the Italian armor and planes won’t work.
Players will still have to manage their decks and balance reconnaissance, which gains them Fog of War cards, with their other actions. More often than not the Italian team will be attempting to capture points on the board or wipe out the LRDG forces, and the LRDG team will be attempting to blow up the same points or escape. Occasionally the objectives will be the same for each side, but most of the time players will be attempting to do the opposite of their opponent. However it’s not entirely one-sided; there are a few missions where the LRDG is tasked with eliminating a specific unit or vehicle or preventing the Italian forces’ escape.
The addition of vehicles and the asymmetry adds a good strategic wrinkle, and I love the “oh no” moment of having a tank roll over some perfectly laid plans. Knowing where the vehicles are and how close to danger your units will be is paramount, unless you like setting up new games in short order. Also new to this version of Undaunted, each card represents a specific person, not a squad. To align with this, if your last card from your deck or discard pile for a certain type is eliminated, that unit is gone for the rest of the encounter – you lose any cards that were still in the supply. In addition, all the cards have the same character and artwork, since they represent the same person.
I knew nothing about the LRDG or the battles they had with the Italian forces prior to playing Undaunted: North Africa. Osprey does a great job of making a war game that is fun to play, without trivializing the conflict or presenting it too dry and boring. While the asymmetry and vehicles are great for more strategy, I will say it made it feel less beginner-friendly. I would easily recommend this game to anyone who loved Undaunted: Normandy and is looking for more, or someone who’s played plenty of deck-building games. For first-time players I would probably suggest they check out the original Normandy, but this is still a great game. Fans of strategy games, deck-builders, and World War II media should definitely check it out.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
The Bottom Line
Undaunted: North Africa takes the formula from Normandy and makes it asymmetrical. This, along with the addition of vehicles, makes for a deeper strategic experience, albeit a slightly less beginner-friendly one.