Playing Undaunted Normandy with… young adepts of wargaming! Part 1 – The Boardgames Chronicle

We all know how great game Undaunted Normandy is. It already got 2 expansions and recently we were presented with thrilling news of Stalingrad, a stand-alone title in this system. But are you aware that this position is a fantastic way of introducing new, young adepts into the world of wargaming? And this is exactly what I will write about today and in the Part 2.

This winter vacations the plan was for our cousin (Milosz) – who is 11 years old – to spend a week with our family. My boys are 8 and 7 (Natan and Jacob) so it was only obvious that we will be playing a lot in various types of boardgames. We used this occasion also to make a small gift for Milosz. He is probably the most ardent fan of that hobby in our extended family and we knew he would appreciate an interesting wargame. But which would be appealing to boys in that age (I also took into account my younger boys)? Well, I did not hesitated even for a moment and went for Undaunted: Normandy! I do not need to add that Milosz was simply thrilled with such a surprise! Let us see how it went!

The Game

But first things first – a couple of words about game itself. Undaunted: Normandy is a deck-building game that places you and your opponent in command of American or German forces, fighting through a series of missions critical to the outcome of World War II. It is set-up mainly during the Normandy invasion, in June 1944. You use your cards to seize the initiative, bolster your forces, or control your troops on the battlefield. The game mechanics quickly and effectively resolves move, scout or battle aspects. And each battle plays completely differently. What is more, the game is pretty open for modding and fan-made scenarios so we are getting an endless number of possible set-ups

Scenario 1: La Raye

Assault to the Vire-et-Taute Canal; La Raye — 15 June 1944; The 30th Infantry Division’s first action was on the morning of 15 June. While over half the division was still afloat or moving through the assembly areas on Omaha Beach, an initial attack was made by an improvised combat team. Difficult opposition was encountered as soon as the leading squads crept past the railway track leading east from Carentan. By midafternoon the US forces had worked their way through intermittent artillery fire and swung to the south-east to threaten German forces grouped around houses in the hamlet of La Raye.

Scenario book

Victory Conditions:

  • Whoever controls 5 objective points first.

As there was four of us, we planned to play in a teams – Milosz (11) & Jakub (7) vs me & Natan (8). That way everybody could share the fun. Of course, I planned to have limited influence on the game strategies, and my main goal was to make sure boys know the rules properly. A hint or two from Daddy was probably also something which would help.

You can click on each image to enlarge it.

Initial set-up of the first scenario – most Undaunted fans probably know it by heart. Asymmetry in victory points and positions which requires Americans to play pretty aggressively.
That was a very successful debut for Natan. He dashed forward in two directions, having 3 VPs from the game onset. Milosz and Kuba tried to stop him by occupying 2 VP hex, but Germans outsmarted that move pushing farther. That was definitely a training game but as everybody loved it, we immediately started the second one.

Scenario 2: Montmartin-en-Graigne

Assault to the Vire-et-Taute Canal; L’Enauderie to Montmartin-en-Graignes – 15 June 1944; As the 30th Infantry Division moved south of the railway, it encountered German machine-gun nests in the tiny settlement of L’Enauderie. After a forty-minute battle, they cleared the area. By the end of the morning, the US forces had inched forwards another quarter mile to the outskirts of Montmartin-en-Graignes, a larger hamlet, which boasted a steeple church projecting above the old mud-colored farm buildings. After another hour of hard fighting, they were in possession of the hamlet.

Scenario book

Victory Conditions:

  • US: Control 1 objective point.
  • GER: Pin the US forces (no US Riflemen on the board).

After some discussion boys decided not to change the teams assignments: Milosz was still with Kuba and Natan playing with me. What we did was to switch the sides of conflict. This time asymmetry was even more vivid and the victory conditions – pretty interesting.

Here it is – Scenario 2. Only daring run by Allied Player, under the fire of Machine Guns, can give him a victory here. In order to do it they would need to cross the open ground.
Still, Natan tried a fast approach leading US forces and was pretty successful, especially on his right flank. Unfortunately, precise fire from Germans suppressed all attackers and the things started to look grim for Allies.
Despite re-spawning some Riflemen couple of times, in the end Allies were stopped as all units of this type were removed from map by concentrated enemy fire. Which meant German victory. Congrats to Milosz & Jacob!

Summary

That was the first two scenarios we played and of course, it did not end here (the Part 2 of article is already in works). I love that this game does not over-complicate the rules and is pretty approachable even by younger players – like 7-years old Kuba. Boys loved vying for initiative, planning the moves and especially commanding special units like Snipers or Gunners. They were competing but because we played in teams of two that was much easier for them to cope with defeat – something, which kids have to learn and can be quickly put-off.

I cannot recommend Undaunted more for introducing younger adepts into the wonderful world of conflict boardgames. Rules, components, gameplay – it all makes it perfect for this task.

And an anecdote to close the article: this past weekend, my younger son asked me just out of the blue: “Daddy, can we play tonight Undaunted?” Well, I think I did a good job of bringing future wargamers to the hobby!

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