Okay… here’s what chatGPT generated when I asked for an ode to Undaunted: North Africa:

Undaunted North Africa, oh how you evoke
The windswept dunes of a land bespoke
With each card played and each move made
A new adventure in the desert is laid

Like the desert rose, your gameplay blooms
Uncertain outcomes with each decision we assume
Yet we march on, through sweltering heat
Our minds aflame, our spirits upbeat

In your game, we find a desert’s strife
And the grit and will to fight for life
Like the saharan flower that blooms with pride
We persevere, until our battles subside

Your pieces and board, a mirage in the sand
A land of strategy, at our command
In this desert of cards, we learn to survive
Our intellect and strength tested, until we thrive

Undaunted North Africa, your beauty revealed
In the way that each victory is hard-won and sealed
For in the vast expanse of the desert we see
Our ability to rise, to fight, to be free

So here’s to you, game of the North African sands
May your allure and majesty forever stand
For in your gameplay, we find a battle worth fighting
And in the end, a victory worth delighting.

Not bad… for a machine. I’m a big fan of the Undaunted series of games from Osprey Games. They’re definitely games and not simulations, but they evoke a strong sense of the action in their respective theatres. They’re a blend of card-driven boardgame and a wargame. The cards represent the control and focus command is exerting/placing on the activity that is unfolding. The turns are broken down into an initiative bidding phase and then controlling the on board assets with cards left in hand. The turns are quite rapid, so there is little downtime for players.

Paul and I played through the first five scenarios in the game, each proving to be straightforward to complete in about 45 minutes, making it feasible to play each scenario from both sides (though Paul and I decided to focus on a single side). The nice thing about Undaunted: North Africa relative to its Normandy predecessor are the diverse range of objectives in the scenarios. It has a man-level focus, i.e. each token represents one man, rather than the squad-level focus of Normandy and Stalingrad. This means the vehicle mechanics in North Africa, which also differentiate it instantly from its sibling games, are quite fine-grained with the specific seat in which a soldier is sitting impacting what he can achieve with the vehicle.

In the games we played the honours were shared between Paul and I. The games also have a strong narrative side, with each game telling the story of a squad-level action. For example, in our last game (using Scenario 5: Desperate Escape) saw the LRDG being crowded out by Italian pursuers, who restricted the exit points available to the raiders. The Italian firepower was brought to bear on both the allied soldiers and vehicles, stopping most of them from getting away.

I look forward to playing more games of Undaunted: North Africa in the future… and to unwrapping Undaunted: Stalingrad, which will offer a completely different scale for the game system!

Until next time,