Undaunted: Normandy is the new deck-building game of World War II combat from David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin. On the blog today, David gives a fascinating insight into the development of the game, looking at the decisions they made when modeling the Rifle Platoon.

Undaunted: Normandy is a thematic abstraction of skirmish-level engagements following the Allied invasion of occupied France in WW II. To that end, a core part of the game is modeling gameplay around the rifle platoon. The US rifle platoon model from June 1944 was used as a reference. German rifle platoons follow the same composition as the US model, which was due to three factors: inconsistency in the composition of German rifle platoons during this period, the fact that the German units in Undaunted: Normandy vary widely, and a preference for gameplay over historical accuracy. 

Rifle Platoon

The rifle platoon consists of a command group and three rifle squads, sometimes supplemented with two specialized attachments in the form of a sniper and a mortar team.

Command Group 

The command group consists of the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, platoon guide, and two messengers. 

Note: Undaunted: Normandy does not include representations of the command group's two messengers. That is because the primary role of the messengers is to allow for communication between the platoon leader and his upper echelon commander in the rifle company. Interaction with the rifle company is beyond the scope of action in Undaunted: Normandy.

Rifle Squad 

Each of the rifle platoon's three rifle squads consists of a squad leader, an assistant squad leader, an automatic rifle team (automatic rifleman, assistant automatic rifleman, and ammunition bearer), and seven riflemen, two of whom are designated as scouts. 

Note: Undaunted: Normandy does not include an antitank grenadier with an M1903 and M1 grenade launcher, as antitank combat is outside of the scope of action in Undaunted: Normandy. In addition, the role of the assistant squad leader is integrated into the squad leader.

The Game

Most elements of the Rifle Platoon are modeled in Undaunted: Normandy. The role of platoon leader is taken on by the players themselves directly. The platoon sergeant, the platoon guide and the three squad leaders are represented as Command Cards in the players’ decks. Command Cards are not used in direct combat, but are instead responsible for command, control, and support. The remaining soldiers in the platoon—rifleman, scouts, machine gunners, snipers and mortar teams—are divided into units, each with a counter placed on the board and a set of associated Combat Cards. The Combat Cards are used to move these counters around the board, attack with them, or perform other special actions.

Command Cards

Command Cards represent members of the platoon command group as well as the squad leaders for each of the three squads. Command cards are not used in direct combat. Instead, they are responsible for command, control, communications, and support. Command Cards share many of the same attributes as Combat Cards, but they do not have associated combat counters on the board. 

Each Command Card offers a player a choice of two actions. One of these actions — Bolster Force — allows players to add extra Combat Cards (e.g. Scouts, Machine Gunners, Snipers) to their deck, either supporting existing units or adding new ones. Managing the cards in your deck lies at the heart of Undaunted: Normandy. 

Platoon Leader 
Because you take on the role of the platoon leader, there is no platoon leader card. Rather, the platoon leader's actions are reflected by the gameplay choices you make. 

The platoon leader is the first fighting man of the platoon. He is responsible for the training, discipline, control, and tactical employment of the platoon. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, par. 101a.)

Platoon Sergeant 
The Platoon Sergeant is your second in command, assisting in controlling the direction and rate of advance of the platoon. It is also the most powerful card in the game. The Platoon Sergeant lets you play more cards in your turn or vastly bolster your deck.

The platoon sergeant is second-in-command. He assists the platoon leader in controlling the direction and rate of movement of the advance. During all operations he takes post as directed by the platoon leader so as best to assist in the control of the platoon. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, par. 101b.)

Platoon Guide 
The Platoon Guide is a versatile card, letting you move any combat counter on the board or add any card you might need from the supply. 

The platoon guide prevents straggling and enforces orders concerning cover, concealment, and discipline. His position is usually in rear of the platoon, where he observes the situation on the flanks and the rear. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, par. 101c.)

Squad Leaders 
The Squad Leader amplifies the effectiveness of its squad by allowing you to bolster it or repeat already played cards. 

The squad leader is responsible for the discipline, appearance, training, control, and conduct of his squad. He leads it in combat. The squad leader must train his squad to use and care for its weapons, to move and fight efficiently as individuals, and function effectively as a part of the military team. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, par. 134a.)



Combat Cards

Each Combat Card is associated with a counter on the board, representing an element the platoon. Combat Cards are used to move these counters, attack with them, or perform other special actions.

Riflemen are the core of the platoon. These cards are the only ones in the game that can take control of objectives. As Riflemen are vital to claiming key locations, it is essential to keep these units alive!

Scouts are highly versatile cards, allowing you to scout new tiles to before moving your units, to re-establish communications (removing Fog of War cards from your deck), and to employ deception tactics to confuse the enemy. 

A leading platoon covers its zone of reconnaissance with scouts. They act as a screen to investigate possible danger areas, seek out the enemy, and prevent surprise hostile fire. The distance the scouts precede the platoon is governed by orders of the platoon leader and varies with the ground and with the probable position of the enemy. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, pars. 106f and 142d.)

Machine Gunner 
Machine Gunners excel in attack and defence, with more firepower than Riflemen or Scouts and the ability to lay down suppressive fire to neutralise enemy units.

The automatic rifleman supports the rapid advance of other members of the squad from flank positions. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, pars. 144b.) The assistant automatic rifleman and the ammunition bearer also carry ammunition for the automatic rifle. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, pars. 139a.) 

Sniper are expert riflemen and effective infiltrators. This card has the highest attack and defence value in the game and is able to move through areas not yet scouted, making it an excellent unit for taking out important enemy targets. 

A sniper is an expert rifleman, well qualified in scouting, whose duty is to pick off key enemy personnel who expose themselves. By eliminating enemy leaders and harassing the troops, sniping softens the enemy's resistance and weakens his morale. Snipers may be employed by platoon leaders in either offense or defense. The mobile snipers act alone, moves about frequently, and covers a large but not necessarily fixed area. He may be used to infiltrate enemy lines and seek out and destroy appropriate targets. (FM 21-75, Combat Skills of the Soldier, par. 165.)

Note: Typically one sniper rifle (either the M1903A4 or M1C by mid-1944) was issued per rifle platoon. 

The mortar is one of the most powerful cards in the game. It is slow to set up, requiring a separate action just to target a tile, but once ready it is hugely effective at taking out concentrated enemy forces and avoids any range penalties when firing. 

In the approach march, a 60-mm mortar squad frequently is attached to a leading platoon. This not only provides additional fire power, but enables the platoon leader immediately to engage defiladed targets, or small areas believed to contain the enemy. (FM 7-10, Infantry Field Manual Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment, par. 12d(3).)

Note: The Mortar is the only element included in Undaunted: Normandy that is not organic to a rifle platoon. Instead, Undaunted: Normandy includes the abstraction of a mortar squad from the rifle company's weapons platoon attached to the rifle platoon.