Saturday, February 22, 2020

Initiative Bidding in Undaunted Normandy

Undaunted: Normandy (UN) is a new card, counter, and tile game about combat during WWII in Normandy 1944. I purchased this recently and just played a game solo.

UN has two game mechanics that make solo play generally harder. I wrote this blog post to discuss how I overcome these obstacles.

The first obstacle is card hand management. Actually UN makes this almost a non-issue as you do not manage a hand of cards from turn-to-turn; each hand is played out each turn. You only manage the hand in terms of determining which of the four cards drawn will be used to bid for initiative, with the remainder being used for determining which of your units get to act.

In general, I play one side of UN normally, while the other is semi-programmed. Ultimately what that means is that the side I play makes their hand management decision first. More on that in a second.

The second obstacle is a blind bidding system for initiative. As shown in the image below. the number in the upper-left corner of each card is a number.
The player who bids using a higher numbered card wins initiative and plays first.

So the questions are:

  • How do I determine which card to play for the non-player side?
  • How do I keep the player from knowing the other cards in the hand of the non-player?
I solved this pretty readily by altering the Draw Phase of the turn sequence slightly:

  1. The player side draws their four cards as normally done.
  2. The player decides which of the four cards will be used for the initiative bid.
  3. The player draws the top card of the non-player deck. That card will be used for the non-player initiative bid.
  4. The higher card value wins the bid, as normal. However, if the values are tied the non-player always wins the tie.
  5. The non-player's hand of three cards will be drawn face down. The hand will only be revealed when it is time to play the non-player's hand.
In general, this change will usually result in the non-player winning the bid more often than not. If the non-player acts first, you will be playing with the slight knowledge at what the player is capable of (if you remember the rest of the hand), again giving a slight advantage to the non-player. If, however, the non-player acts second, the player will play their hand with no knowledge of what the non-player is capable of.

In general I find UN very solo-friendly, which is unusual for a game with hidden information mechanics. This is largely due to the card draws defining the limitations of what you can do and which specific units and act and which cannot, along with there being no hand management that carries over from turn-to-turn.