General Orders: World War II

General Orders: World War II

RRP: £25.00
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Category Tags , , SKU ZOS-9781472859860 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Quick to play
  • Last minute turnarounds
  • Decision making on Actions to take
  • Abstract strategy quality of Alpine scenario

Might Not Like

  • Concepts tricky to grasp
  • Some rule clarifications necessary
  • Hard to achieve a cast iron defence
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Description

General Orders: World War II pits competing commanders against each other in a tug of war for control over a crucial Second World War battlefield, either in the mountains of Italy or the islands of the Pacific. Players strive to seize crucial strategic assets that unlock special abilities, and prevent their opponents doing the same. Balance the desire to gain these advantages with the need to secure supply lines, ward off aerial assault and artillery barrages, and protect your vulnerable headquarters in this compact and elegant two-player game.

General Orders of World War II is the latest game from the vaunted designer duo of David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin famouus for their outstanding and innovative games in the World War II period: Undaunted. This series brought a quick, simplified card based system to replicate skirmish level action. General Orders of World War II is a small box (but double depth!) 2 player game set in two iconic and idealised WWII locations where competing generals manoeuvre their troops to gain strategic points.

It is not, however, Undaunted lite!

Double Bubble

General Orders of World War II is, however, effectively two games in one. Packed into this small box you get a game board with two completely different sides; a support board with different sides; 88 wooden pieces; 6 bonus tokens; 30 Operations cards; 2 player aid cards and 4 special D6.

The general (no pun intended) play is basically the same for both versions with extra abilities being added for the Island game mode.

The game has been described in their own launch publicity as a worker placement game which, I guess, it is, but only in the way that Risk is a worker placement game with dice based combat as well. Each side has 5 “Commanders” represented (a bit unimaginatively) by the tall, hex-sided cylinders. These provide the 5 actions you can take each turn. Each of the areas on the board, consisting of one or two hexes, also has one or more hexagonal Action symbols. These are: Advance, Barrage and Paradrop in the Alpine mode with Fly and Bomb replacing Paradrop in the Island mode.

You take an action by placing your Commander piece on said Action symbol to conduct that action. Each area has an Advance symbol on it and this is the main focus of the action. You play an advance action on to an area that you don’t already control either empty or containing the enemy and move a number of your troops from adjacent, supplied areas into it. In the latter case you resolve combat.

Combat is fairly brutal and is a combination of some luck and a formal, attritional mechanic. First the defender rolls one D6. The dice are marked with 1 blank, 4 x 1 hits and 1 x 2 hits. Additional dice can be awarded by an Area Bonus, some Cards or in the Island mode air cover. The attacker then loses troops equal to the total number of hits. That’s the chance element. Subsequently the attacker and defender both lose an equal number of troops until one side, or both, has none left. If the attacker still has men left they take control of the area. If there are no troops of either side left the area is not under control of either side.

We’ll Support You Ever More

As well as the main board actions your Commanders can also choose Support Actions on the Support Board. These are Reinforce and Plan. There are two spaces for each but each General can only choose each action once. Reinforce provides more troops from your supply to be placed on the board and Plan gives you Operational cards which all have various buffs either on Attack or Defence. Each of the Generals has the same benefits open to them but the first to choose either option can get a better deal.

Key areas will have from 1 to 3 VP stars on them and may have printed or placed on them various Area Bonuses. Play continues through 4 rounds after which the side that controls the most VP stars wins.

Vive La Difference!

Beyond the basic play how do the two scenarios differ. Well, looking first at the Alpine mode where it is suggested new players start:

The General Orders World War II board has 17 areas and is symmetrical. Each general has 9 troops split into 3 groups of 3 in double hex areas either side and behind a “No Paradrop” lake. They have a further troop in an adjacent 1 hex area that contains the Artillery Barrage symbol. Their rear are, as well as containing the Action Symbol to initiate their Paradrop, is also marked as their HQ. If you lose control of your HQ to the enemy it is automatic defeat. These armies face off on either side of a central town of 7 areas. The middle 5 single hex areas are the main prizes. The very centre is worth 3 VP stars and has a pre-printed defensive area bonus. It is flanked by 4 single hex areas worth 2 VP stars each and containing a space for an area bonus that will be randomly drawn at start of play. There are 6 to choose from on the Apine board providing a degree of variability to the starting set up.

The initiative for who goes first is decided randomly and will remain with one side until the general from the other side takes the second plan option and takes one less Operation Card but gains the Initiative. Note you can chose this option even if you are the first to plan that turn.

With the identical forces facing off across a symmetrical board with the same limited number of actions they can take, this mode has an almost chess-like feel to it. I felt in this mode there was a definite advantage in going first and seizing the middle ground. However, games swing dramatically and often changed on the last move of the match.

Death In Paradise

The other board recreates the feel of an island assault in the Pacific with the Yellow forces defending against an amphibous assault from the Blues. There are many significant differences in both the board and the gameplay. First the board is asymmetric, as are the players powers and abilities. The yellow player has fewer troops 8 to the blue’s 11 and they are spread thinly across the 8 VP stars they control in the high ground with 2 more VP stars uncontrolled at start but behind their front line. Their Artillery symbol is at the back with their HQ. They can Barrage the central high ground but not the beaches.

The Blues have their 11 as 3 x 3 across the double-hex beach zones with the remaining 2 in the HQ twin-hex beach area that also contains the Artillery Action symbol meaning they, too, can Barrage the centre but no further. They only control 3 VP stars and must punch their way inland to secure more.

The significant Game Play change is the use of Air Power and Air Zones. There can be up to 10 plane counters in play on either side and they live in 5 Air sections around the board. The Yellow player starts with 4 planes controlling 2 of these sections with 2 planes in each. The Blue has 3 planes in one section, the aircraft carrier. Each of these Sections is linked to an Air Zone on the board. These are multi-area Zones bordered by the same colour as their matching Air Section. Planes can Bomb troops in their Zone and will add a defence die to troops attacked in their Zone.

Planes take over other Air Sections by using the Fly Action to move planes from their section into another section that has its linked Zone adjacent to their take off linked Zone. Clear? Maybe not, but it is important because it does mean planes can attack other sections from one side of the island to the other. To back up this Air power there is a new Support Action – Take Off – where planes are added to your Sections. The Yellow player will always get less units supplied in both Take Off and Reinforce.

All this asymmetry is said to balance itself out and in my experience I’m inclined to agree as you get a very close game.

Final Thoughts

As, maybe I should have mentioned earlier, you can only end an action with a maximum of 5 units, troops or aircraft, in an area. Also there’s a maximum of 25 Troops and 10 planes per side in total. This means you can’t build impregnable towers of troops and you also might make some less than favourable attacks to recycle some troops. Given that 5 units might be lost by the throw of 3 dice (which can be re-thrown by cashing in an operation card!) positions can be lost quite quickly.

It took me a while to grasp some of the concepts (I recommend watching the How To Play video) particularly with the Air Sections and it felt frustrating not to be able to do some of the things I’d intuitively expect to do like move troops from one area I control to another. The fact that, with the exception of the Advance Action you can only do each Action once in a turn leads to a bit of a Rock, Paper, Scissors situation where I might wait for my opponent to use the Reinforce Action then my Barrage can clear a position for my Advance or Paradrop.

General Orders World War II is a game that benefits a lot of replaying. There are enough factors that change to keep it interesting and you can develop powerful strategies and Action and Card combos.

If you enjoyed this blog on General Orders World War II you can buy it today here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Quick to play
  • Last minute turnarounds
  • Decision making on Actions to take
  • Abstract strategy quality of Alpine scenario

Might not like

  • Concepts tricky to grasp
  • Some rule clarifications necessary
  • Hard to achieve a cast iron defence