Undaunted: Stalingrad is a deep and expansive standalone sport that strikes the Undaunted collection in an entire new course — an immersive marketing campaign system that performs out like a legacy sport however will be replayed for very totally different experiences.

In Undaunted: Stalingrad, you lead a German or Soviet platoon and battle over a war-torn metropolis in one of the vital consequential battles in historical past. Through the course of the marketing campaign, your troopers will be awarded for his or her acts of valor or they will die preventing valiantly, town round you adjustments based mostly in your actions, and your victories and defeats form the eventualities to return.

Board Game: Undaunted: Stalingrad

In the beginning of Undaunted: Stalingrad, your platoon consists of a platoon sergeant, squad leaders, scouts, riflemen, and machine gunners. Over the course of the marketing campaign, it is possible for you to so as to add many new troops to your platoon, and it is possible for you to to outfit your troopers with new weapons and gear — and your infantry will not be alone. To win within the streets of Stalingrad, you’ll need all of the help you may muster from tanks and extra. As you command your troops in skirmishes, they’ve the chance to be rewarded for his or her feats of bravery, with promotions bringing new roles and duties in addition to outfitting them with new weapons and gear. However although the Battle of Stalingrad provides your troopers an opportunity to reveal their braveness, this can be very harmful and most of the troops that you just start the marketing campaign with is not going to dwell to see the destiny of town.

Your actions and people of your opponent will reshape town of Stalingrad as you make your manner by way of the marketing campaign. Buildings shall be decreased to rubble by the harmful may of the German and Soviet air forces and artillery fireplace. You’ll have to use the atmosphere to your benefit to achieve success in your battles, hiding within the rubble left behind by a destroyed residence constructing, navigating secret tunnels, and forcing your opponent’s tanks into your ambushes.

Through the course of the marketing campaign, you’ll play by way of as much as fifteen branching eventualities, with every path pushed by your successes and failures. With over 35 totally different eventualities within the sport, each marketing campaign expertise shall be totally different than the one earlier than. Every participant in Undaunted: Stalingrad has their very own mission briefings, offering gamers with a narrative tailor-made to their perspective of the battle. The sport consists of over 150 evocative mission briefings for either side written by acclaimed creator Robbie MacNiven, offering gamers with a narrative tailor-made to their perspective of the battle that may assist immerse them within the marketing campaign’s story. And naturally the sport’s wealthy narrative shall be illustrated by Roland MacDonald, with over 300 distinctive items of artwork.

That is the story of how Undaunted: Stalingrad got here to be…

Origin

Board Game: Undaunted: Normandy
Board Game: Undaunted: North Africa

The origin for Undaunted: Stalingrad will be traced all the best way again to February 2018, a year-and-a-half earlier than Undaunted: Normandy (the primary sport within the Undaunted collection) was launched. On the time, Trevor Benjamin (my designer accomplice for the Undaunted collection) and I had accomplished the design for Undaunted: Normandy and had been simply getting began with Undaunted: North Africa.

Writer Osprey Video games believed that Undaunted could be properly obtained and needed us to consider what the following sport within the collection may very well be about. In an electronic mail change I had with Trevor, that is what he stated:

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Thematically, the sport may observe the members of a single Soviet platoon, shifting all through town. Mechanically, we may add…a form of persistent state / pseudo-legacy factor. (The participant)…saves their deck throughout video games. Perhaps?

So even within the earliest discussions about what Stalingrad is perhaps, we envisioned legacy or marketing campaign model mechanisms.

All through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, Trevor and I had been targeted on Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa, however in March 2019 as a part of an electronic mail proposal to Osprey for our thought on Stalingrad, I stated:

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Trevor and I’ve mentioned what Undaunted 3 may appear like. We each actually like the thought of Undaunted: Jap Entrance or Undaunted: Stalingrad. It might introduce the Soviets, and focus on city and shut quarters fight. It might additionally introduce extra automobiles, and so on.

The sport was formally greenlit by Osprey in August 2019 (on the identical time Undaunted: Normandy was releasing) when Filip Hartelius and Anthony Howgego — the lead builders at Osprey — commissioned the sport. Their course was that Undaunted: Stalingrad must be a “harmful legacy” sport, alongside the traces of Danger Legacy or Pandemic Legacy.

Dialogue with Osprey

Board Game Publisher: Osprey Games

A number of months later in October 2019, Filip, Anthony, Trevor, and I met in Essen, Germany throughout SPIEL to debate concepts for Stalingrad. Beneath is a listing of preliminary concepts we mentioned for the sport. For these acquainted with the Undaunted collection, it is value noting that on the time of this assembly, Undaunted: Normandy had solely been launched for just a few months, the design for North Africa was being finalized, and design work for Reinforcements was nonetheless underway.

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Essen 2019 dialogue: What ought to an Undaunted legacy sport have?

Identical core gameplay as different Undaunted titles
Unlock new capabilities
Troopers get higher (upgrades)
Perma-death
Perma-board state adjustments
Normandy (moderately than North Africa) scale
Cannot change fight rolls (must be the identical fundamental cube rolling system)
Cannot change deck-building (although we mentioned that very same eventualities may use constructed decks)
Core idea is provide manipulation over time
Secret targets
Secret provide
Obfuscate finish of marketing campaign scoring

Spoiler (click on to disclose)

Sappers
Artillery
Bombers
Flamethrowers

Timeline:
UKGE 2020: preliminary design idea full
March/April 2021: design work full

Whereas a few of these preliminary ideas did not precisely make it into the ultimate sport, it supplied us with a place to begin.

Design

Board Game: Undaunted: Reinforcements

Between our assembly with Osprey in October 2019 and early 2020, Trevor and I had been targeted on finishing the design work for Undaunted: Reinforcements. It was in April 2020 after we had our first substantive design dialogue for Stalingrad, which revolved across the composition of the German and Soviet models, the place they’d be comparable and the place they’d be totally different. We knew from participant suggestions for Undaunted: Normandy that asymmetry was an vital — maybe crucial — aspect of the sport. The 2 sides wanted to really feel distinctive. And along with the final variations between the 2 sides, we additionally wanted to develop a system of upgrades.

Listed below are the preliminary notes Trevor and I made relating to soldier overviews:

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• Soldier playing cards are double-sided. The entrance reveals the soldier as a “recruit” — fundamental skills and stats — and the reverse reveals them as a “veteran” — further skills, improved stats, and so on. The additional skills fluctuate each throughout models (Scouts have totally different choices than Rifleman) and inside models (one Rifleman inside Squad A could have a sub-machine gun, whereas the opposite will get anti-tank gun).
• Between eventualities, you get to “promote” a few of the troopers in your deck, flipping them from their recruit to their veteran aspect.
• It will possible be performed at a set charge (e.g., three playing cards per participant per situation), however it may very well be tweaked based mostly on what occurred within the situation (e.g. hidden targets, who received, and so on.).
• For now a minimum of, we expect that is performed randomly from the playing cards in your deck when the sport ends (i.e., these which have taken half on this struggle) (cf. Casualties, which can also be random)
• Command playing cards are double-sided and will be flipped, too, however this solely occurs by way of situation/narrative.

Aside from flipping playing cards for upgrades (which might have required sleeves), most of this preliminary sketch of an thought lived by way of to the ultimate model of Stalingrad.

By July 2020, Trevor and I had been properly underway with conceptualizing the “damage” system (which might later flip into Reserve troopers), upgrades, situation designs, and so on. Here’s a screenshot of our notes and duties doc from 28 July 2020:

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

By August 2020, we had labored by way of the primary few eventualities and drafted an preliminary ruleset. Whereas not one of the guidelines adjustments in Stalingrad are drastic, we did take the chance to make what we felt had been enhancements to the core Undaunted system.

We modified the best way models spawned. As an alternative of requiring further tokens on the board throughout set-up to designate spawn places, we simplified issues by ruling that models spawned at Riflemen places, which additionally had the additional advantage of including some fascinating in-game tactical selections. As well as, we added a brand new finish situation for routed Riflemen. This meant that we may take away the “Past All Hope” rule within the sport, which was undoubtedly probably the most complicated and least satisfying rule in Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa.

We additionally had a superb sense of how the overarching marketing campaign would work. It might be set round 9 January Sq. within the southern a part of Stalingrad, an space that was comparatively minimize off from the remainder of the battle. That made for an ideal location to set a chronic battle between the 2 sides. As a result of the tiles in Undaunted: Stalingrad map to precise places (moderately than the modular nature of the tiles in Normandy and North Africa), we had been in a position to make use of a full-sized map of the tiles for our testing. This display seize from July 2020 reveals the earliest model of the marketing campaign board. On the time we had been utilizing playing cards from Undaunted: Normandy to proxy the models.

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

Between August and December 2020, Trevor and I targeted all of our consideration on Undaunted: Stalingrad. Often we juggle a number of initiatives — different collaborations we’re engaged on, and initiatives with different designers — however throughout this time, virtually all of our design time was spent on Stalingrad. We met a minimum of 3 times per week, often for 3 or 4 hours per session. And between these design classes we every had our personal duties: Trevor specializing in the foundations and unit upgrades, and me specializing in the situation designs and total marketing campaign construction.

Within the early phases, we had a number of, typically competing, design objectives: creating and testing new eventualities, creating and testing new models (with upgrades), selecting which new models we might want so as to add to the marketing campaign (and after they could be added), figuring out what affect every situation would have on the general marketing campaign, and so on. By September we had locked down the core guidelines adjustments, however had been nonetheless working by way of precisely how accidents would work. That is one thing that was difficult for us. The accidents (which might later grow to be the Reserve unit replacements) wanted to concurrently really feel impactful, whereas additionally not feeling “un-fun”. In the long run, we’re completely satisfied the place we landed, however it was one of the vital tough components of the design expertise for us.

By December we had been closing in on finishing the design work for the sport. We had settled on all the foundations, finalized which models could be within the sport, settled on a system for Reserve and Upgraded models, designed the system for damaging constructions, and so on. It was additionally at this level that we had accomplished the construction for the overarching marketing campaign. In the long run we needed to create over 35 totally different eventualities to help all of the totally different permutations for the marketing campaign, and there have been many, many alternative endings, relying on the results of every situation.

Here’s a visible of the situation pathing throughout everything of the marketing campaign:

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

In January 2021, Trevor and I met with Osprey to temporary them on our progress. We had been near finishing the preliminary design work and able to flip every part over to Osprey for playtesting and the start of improvement.

Improvement and Playtesting

Throughout the subsequent few months, improvement was properly underway at Osprey, with Anthony and Filip placing the sport by way of its paces. On the identical time, Osprey was working a big organized playtest effort. We wanted numerous info from the testers: had been there degenerate methods we hadn’t foreseen through the design part, what was the general response to the persistent results, and so on.

By mid-2021, the playtest was largely full, and Trevor and I had been assembly ceaselessly with Anthony and Filip to make minor changes to models, situation design, and the best way particular actions labored.

I am unable to stress sufficient how essential this era of playtesting and improvement was for the sport. It is what actually gave it that deep look, guaranteeing that we — as an entire workforce — did every part attainable to ensure the gameplay was the perfect it may presumably be.

The Change from Legacy to Resettable Marketing campaign

From the very starting of discussions about Undaunted: Stalingrad, Trevor and I had been in lock-step with Osprey (that’s, Filip and Anthony) about every part besides one VERY vital challenge: the subject of harmful legacy versus a marketing campaign system. Trevor and I most well-liked a marketing campaign system, whereas Osprey was in favor of a harmful legacy sport.

As early as Might 2020, even earlier than Trevor and I had accomplished the preliminary draft of the foundations, we had developed a proposal for a resettable marketing campaign system and despatched it to Filip and Anthony for overview. Trevor wrote:

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A core (if not the core) change is that results can persist all through the marketing campaign. If troopers are killed, they’re completely eliminated out of your provide. If troopers are promoted/upgraded, they completely acquire new skills. If a constructing is destroyed, it completely drops in protection worth and blocks automobile motion. That form of factor.

In Essen we mentioned utilizing customized stickers and/or pens to deal with this persistence. So Stalingrad could be a correct one-shot Legacy sport. We surprise, although, if that is essential. We have give you a mannequin which, we consider, permits us to keep up the persistence however keep away from the permanence, making the sport completely re-playable. See connected. We really feel this can be a rather more engaging proposition for gamers. They’ll have their cake and eat it too — or moderately, eat it many times!

Filip and Anthony pushed again in opposition to this proposal, feeling that harmful legacy was the best option to go for a wide range of causes. In order that’s the best way Trevor and I moved ahead. And finally I really feel the design was a lot better for it. Trevor and I designed the sport to be a harmful legacy sport, which meant that we may actually lean closely right into a high-stakes affair.

In the long run, it was not till after Trevor and I had delivered the design for Undaunted: Stalingrad that the choice was made to transition from harmful legacy to a resettable marketing campaign. There have been two main causes that Osprey made the choice to make this modification. First, the sport would have truly value extra to supply as a harmful legacy product moderately than a resettable sport. We could not ask gamers to pay extra for a harmful sport than a resettable sport. Second, playtesters strongly most well-liked a replayable sport. This was particularly vital for Undaunted, by which you usually wish to expertise taking part in on each side of an uneven situation.

Filip was the strongest proponent for the harmful legacy strategy. That is what he needed to say about making the transition to a resettable marketing campaign:

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I argued probably the most vehemently for legacy, and I believe it was largely based mostly on ensuring that every part felt weighty and stuffed with consequence. We actually needed dropping troopers to have an emotional dimension.

Nevertheless, the explanations we modified had been (a) sufficient folks, together with playtesters, had been asking for a replayable choice, and we got here up with the choice of swapping out tiles and playing cards, and that was actually cheaper to supply than legacy, additionally (b) the richest legacy features of Stalingrad aren’t the large, dramatic adjustments of, say, Pandemic Legacy, the place there’s one large rule change or dramatic betrayal, however numerous small, incremental adjustments. Stickering a card is enjoyable — stickering half a deck is a chore; ripping up a card is dramatic — ripping up tens of playing cards feels wasteful.

In the long run, this transition from harmful legacy to a resettable marketing campaign after the design was full was an enormous profit to the general design, for my part. It meant that Trevor and I had been designing the sport with these high-stakes eventualities, crafting a posh net of situation development by way of the marketing campaign — after which on the finish, we had been in a position to take that design strategy and switch it right into a sport that may very well be performed many times, with very, very totally different outcomes.

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

An instance of the evolution of 1 tile: a totally intact constructing, broken, and destroyed

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

An instance of an upgraded soldier (my favourite within the sport, as an apart!)

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

An instance of a Reserve soldier

The Setting

Undaunted: Stalingrad is about in what was often called the northern portion of town middle of Stalingrad. This part of the battle of Stalingrad, centered round 9 January Sq., was comparatively minimize off from the bigger portion of the battle, which was located farther to the north. The motion within the sport begins in late September 1942, simply after the Germans had captured a lot of the realm round 9 January Sq.. The sport represents the actions of platoon-sized models (bolstered by supporting parts) over the course of two months (culminating across the time of Operation Uranus, when the Soviets launched a significant encirclement of the German forces round Stalingrad). This location and time interval is the right setting for Undaunted: Stalingrad because it represents a comparatively remoted portion of the battle the place the 2 forces fought for months over only a small neighborhood-sized space of town.

I had researched this identical space of Stalingrad for a special sport I designed (Pavlov’s Home), so I used to be intimately acquainted with the exercise within the space throughout this time. I additionally simply so occurred to have fairly just a few books to attract on for extra analysis.

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

Artwork

A dialogue of the artwork for Undaunted: Stalingrad ought to actually come from Roland MacDonald, the artist of the Undaunted collection, however I am completely satisfied to debate it briefly from my perspective. First off, a lot of Undaunted‘s success is owed to Roland, who developed a unbelievable search for the collection that in some way manages to enchantment to a broad viewers, whereas additionally evoking the sport’s warfare theme. (Earlier in 2022, he did a unbelievable interview with Neil Bunker of Diagonal Transfer discussing his creative course of.)

Trevor and I supplied an summary of the battlefield space the place Undaunted: Stalingrad takes place to Roland, who remodeled our poor high quality idea into the attractive tiles within the ultimate model of the sport.

Here is a comparability of what we gave to Roland, and the ultimate model of an identical space:

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics
From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

When Trevor and I had been designing the sport, we used placeholder playing cards from Undaunted: Normandy for the primary couple of classes, however then used artless playing cards generated utilizing a script that drew from a spreadsheet for the overwhelming majority of the design work.

When it was time for Roland to start out engaged on the playing cards, we did not present detailed artwork descriptions for the models. We simply supplied a really temporary idea and Roland drew from his expertise with prior Undaunted titles and his personal historic analysis to develop the artwork.

Here is a comparability of what Trevor and I used whereas designing the sport, a row of textual content for the cardboard (to incorporate what Roland used as the premise for the artwork) and ultimate card from Roland. On this case, we’re speaking that this can be a rifleman from squad A that has been promoted to the next rank and “evokes” different troopers from his squad.

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

And here is a take a look at the assorted variations of the Soviet riflemen from Squad A:

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

Story

For the primary time for an Undaunted title, Osprey employed an acclaimed creator, Robbie MacNiven, to offer a story for the sport. Somewhat than simply present a fast background passage for every situation, as had been performed in prior titles, Undaunted: Stalingrad follows the motion with a story tailor-made for either side within the battle, focusing the story on the commanders: the platoon sergeants and squad leaders. Over the course of the marketing campaign, successes and failures are mirrored within the narrative, and the personalities of the leaders for either side will emerge.

The choice to incorporate the evocative story is likely one of the many causes that I really like collaborating with Osprey. They selected to go the additional step in hiring an acclaimed creator to breathe life into the sport that – when mixed with Roland’s artwork – actually helps set the sport over others within the style, for my part. Here is a sampling of the German situation guide.

From gallery of Skirmish_Tactics

A peek contained in the Soviet marketing campaign guide

Launch

When Undaunted: Stalingrad is launched on 24 November 2022 within the UK and elsewhere exterior the U.S. (and in December 2022 within the U.S.), it can mark the tip of an virtually five-year course of to make the sport a actuality. From the very first electronic mail the place Trevor and I mentioned the thought of persistence to the revealed model of the sport that mixes Robbie’s wealthy narratives and Roland’s evocative artwork, the inventive course of for Undaunted: Stalingrad has been probably the most engrossing and rewarding sport design expertise for me. I believe I can safely converse for Trevor, Anthony, Filip, Roland, Robbie, Filip, Anthony, and everybody else at Osprey once I say that we really hope that folk take pleasure in taking part in Undaunted: Stalingrad as a lot as we loved making it.

David Thompson

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