The creative pair behind the celebrated and award-winning Undaunted series have returned with upcoming board game General Orders: World War II, which pits two players into a war of worker placement and area control.
Designed by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson with illustration by Alex Green, General Orders: World War II advertises itself as a worker placement wargame that’s easy to learn and plays in about half an hour. Its light warfare theming and focus on a back-and-forth style of interaction evokes a chess-like complexity to an otherwise simple set of actions, but if the duo’s past work is any indication this title will be surprisingly chewy.
Both players will take turns placing military general-styled workers from their pool to the main board or a small sideboard, allowing them to seize control of areas and deploy orders. Play alternates in this fashion until both pass or run out of workers, at which point a new round begins. Endgame is triggered after four rounds or when one player’s headquarters is seized by their opponent, and whoever scored the most victory points - or stole that HQ - wins.
Gameplay rotates around a core axle of maintaining and disrupting supply lines with troop combat and strategic strikes. Generals and armies can control spaces on the hex-grid board and connect them back to the main headquarters, thus supplying them for more actions on subsequent turns. Both players will be looking for weak points to break that line while simultaneously protecting their own. Like other wargames, some hexes will bestow unique bonuses, victory points or strategic advantages for whomever controls it.
The pool of actions feels deceptively simple: advancing lets generals and troops move into new hexes, and barrage shells an area up to three hexes away in an attempt to whittle down an enemy’s troops. A side board grants access to two additional moves: reinforce brings troops from the reserve onto already-controlled spaces, while the plan action either draws two operation cards from the deck or a single card along with gaining control of the initiative - a critical element in worker placement board games.
Speaking of operation cards, they add what Candace Harris at BoardGameGeek referred to as “spice” to the whole affair. Players can activate these cards from their hand to produce a variety of effects, such as deploying a few more troops to active areas or gunning paratroopers out of the sky with an anti-air strike. It’s a little bit of hidden information in an otherwise strategic wargame that will likely have opponents sweating every engagement.
General Orders: World War II will be published by Osprey Games, the same company responsible for handling Undaunted as well as Frostgrave, Cryptid and the Imperium series. The actual wartime theming seems fairly abstract despite the marketing copy, as both sides are referred to by colour and the double-sided map evokes an Italian Alpine region or islands from somewhere broadly in the Pacific.
Osprey says General Order will be first playable by the public as a demo during Gen Con 2023. A full retail release is currently planned for October of this year.