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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Massive map of Stalingrad
  • Quality and quantity of components
  • Evolution of combatants and terrain
  • Well-designed card sorting component insert trays

Might Not Like

  • Plans thwarted by lack of cards
  • Possible stalemates
  • Action can get bogged down
  • Weight of box!

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Undaunted Stalingrad Review

Undaunted Starlingrad Review

“The growl of the bombers passing overhead echoed up and down the street, vibrating through Max Schroder’s body. He stared up at them, a phalanx of cruciform shapes crossing the leaden vault overhead, heading east towards the Volga.”

Thus opens the German Briefing for the first scenario of Undaunted: Stalingrad introducing us to Platoon Sergeant Max Schroder who will lead his two squads of troops through the strife-torn streets of Stalingrad. His Soviet counterpart, Uri Mikhailov, will get a different briefing reflecting the same scene because Undaunted: Stalingrad brings story-driven RPG elements and Legacy-style changes to the tried and tested Undaunted system.

An Unexpected Legacy

Undaunted: Stalingrad takes everything Osprey Games have done with the series so far and turns it up to the max (no offence, Herr Schroder). We have a compelling branching storyline that will take us across 15 scenarios to a final, climactic battle for control of the Volga hub that gave access to the Caucasian oilfields. There are 375 soldier cards to not only represent the Platoons that face each other and all their support specialists and weaponry but also the Reserves that will replace casualties and the Upgraded versions of the soldiers as they gain experience.

Similarly the 129 map tiles not only represent a massive 72 tile depiction of the streets centred on Pavlov’s house on the edge of 9 January Square but also how those same streets are changed by being fortified or by being reduced to rubble.

They form a detailed graphical representation of an area South of central Stalingrad accurately depicting all the key landmarks as evidenced in the aerial photograph taken at the time. The artwork here and on the hundreds of individual soldier representations by Roland MacDonald is exemplary.

Undaunted: Stalingrad’s gameplay builds on the basic Undaunted card-based system. You have a Supply of all the units available to you in the scenario plus Fog of War cards which represent lost actions. In this campaign the basic supply for both sides is two squads each of 11 men : 5 Riflemen, 3 Machine Gunners and 3 Scouts led by a Squad Leader under the overall command of the Platoon Sergeants Max and Uri. The Supply is bulked out with 10 fog of War cards. From this supply, you make a Starting deck of the Platoon Sergeant and a Squad leader, Rifleman, Scout and Gunner from both Squad A and Squad B plus 2 Fog of War cards. You may also get additional specialist and support troops added to the deck.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The cards in your deck relate to the combat counters on the battlefield which are multi-man units. Thus your Rifleman A counter represents all 5 Rifleman A cards. When a casualty is taken one of these cards is lost but the combat counter remains. If there are no more cards in your deck the unit is routed.

Undaunted: Stalingrad is played in a number of player turns. Each turn both players draw 4 cards. They use one to determine who goes first. Then play their remaining 3 cards as actions for their combat counters. Officers who are not represented on the playing area provide Support actions. Note with 3 commanders out of a total of 11 cards in your Starting Deck you’ve got a better than 1 in 4 chance of getting one. So roughly a Support action from one of them each turn. Some of these Support actions let you add further cards into your playing deck or remove them back to Supply for safety.

The fighting men (or in some Soviet cases women) area move from tile to tile and conduct operations specific to their class. No troops can move into a tile until it has been scouted by a Scout even if they’re moving into a tile containing the enemy. The Scout can also remove Fog of War cards from your deck or add them to the opponents. Only a Rifleman can take Control of a tile – important for victory purposes and Gunners have increased fire-power for Attack and only they can Suppress units. As the campaign develops other units are fed into the mix with their own unique skills. Snipers “reach out and touch” from a distance. Engineers blow things up and can lay mines.

In addition a whole range of heavy support units are introduced. The Soviets have Artillery, AAA and Anti-tank guns whilst the Germans have Stukas and Stugs (Assault Guns). Both sides will have tanks: Panzer III  and IV for the Germans and T34, T34-76 and KV I for the Soviets. Tanks are handled differently to how they were when they were introduced in Undaunted: North Africa and are treated as they were in Undaunted: Reinforcements - like other units only with an Armoured Defence value and can only be attacked by Anti-tank and Demolitions.

There are also a number of specials: Romanians, Sharpshooters, Partisans and the Night Witch adding variety to later scenarios.

Turns continue until one side has met its victory conditions and then we move on through the Campaign steps.

Counting The Cost

Each commander notes the victor in their own Scenario book. They may also have to log on the small map picture that one side has control of a key area. Then note the next scenario and their briefing paragraph to set the scene. The numbers are the same for both but the text is specific to them.

The consequences of the previous combat are then resolved. Depending on casualties taken up to 3 randomly-selected soldier cards will be removed. These are permamently removed from the campaign but do NOT rip them up! This is not a classic Legacy game but one that can be reset for further play. The cards have individual (fictitious) soldier names and these combatants are now gone. They are replaced, however, by Reserves. These new blood have their own identities but will have lesser abilities.

On the other side of the coin, two surviving squad members will have their abilities upgraded. These fighters are replaced by better versions of themselves. An Upgrade deck contains Upgrades for every soldier. You find the Upgrade card with the same code number on it (Yes, there is a code number on each of the cards. It’s just written in a very tiny light grey font! Yes it is. Look it’s there on the bottom right hand corner. Got it now? Good!) and swap it for the standard one. This will be the same named soldier – only better.

The very elegantly designed storage trays in the box allows you to keep all the decks separate and maintain your one Supply Deck that will last you through the campaign.

Similarly board tiles can be swapped to show destruction or fortification.

Volga Factions

You then roll on to the next scenario. A new area will be depicted, usually adjacent to the previous action, with the starting locations of the Combat counters shown. Often the side that lost the previous scenario will get new troops or support to help with this one with the other side getting them later. This balancing effect helps the pendulum swing back and forth and key areas will be fought and re-fought over many times.

It's here where the quality of the scene-setting briefings by Robbie MacNiven prove their worth as you get drawn into the lives of Max and Uri and their squads as their struggle evolves. The early missions introduce new units and actions and I found myself pushing on to see what comes next. After a couple of successful scenarios for the Germans, the Soviets brought up artillery that absolutely obliterated both Pavlov’s house and Zabolotny’s House, the two so-called “lighthouses”, reducing them to piles of rubble yet still the Germans clung on. So then the German Engineers arrive to attempt the destruction of the NKVD HQ in the Waterworks and on it goes until a final climactic battle that decides their fate and that of Stalingrad itself.

To The Last Man And Bullet

Undaunted: Stalingrad is a masterwork. With its peak production values, well-crafted storylines, historically accurate artwork, efficient storage solutions and clever combat system it presents a perfect blend of form and substance to represent this epic battle. Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of the entire Second World War. The Undaunted system gives you an easy-to-grasp-and-play system that gives you the chance to get the feel of the events that unfolded in the Autumn/Winter of 1942/3 without getting bogged down in horrendous detail.

If you’ve tried Undaunted games before and have not been keen, this one might just change your mind. On the other hand, if you already are an Undaunted fan then entrench yourself on the banks of the Volga in Undaunted: Stalingrad.

“ ‘Prepare yourselves, comrades,’ the lieutenant said, as the crump of exploding shells began to filter down to them. ‘The time for battle is upon us’"

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Massive map of Stalingrad
  • Quality and quantity of components
  • Evolution of combatants and terrain
  • Well-designed card sorting component insert trays

Might not like

  • Plans thwarted by lack of cards
  • Possible stalemates
  • Action can get bogged down
  • Weight of box!

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