RockyMountainNavy, 16 November 2023 ~ #UnboxingDay
The biggest duo in wargame design right now has to be David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin. Their gaming ludology for the past few years is full of hits; War Chest (AEG, 2018), Undaunted: Normandy (Osprey Games, 2019), Undaunted: North Africa (Osprey Games, 2020), and Undaunted: Stalingrad (Osprey Games, 2022). In 2023 this dynamic design duo has released two new games—Undaunted: Battle of Britain (Osprey Games) and now General Orders: World War II (Osprey Games…yet again).
I’m going to put this right out there and say General Orders: World War II is a war game. Yes, thematically this is a military conflict game against an opponent, but above all else it is a worker placement game.1 More directly, I can tell this is not your usual wargame if for no other reason than the small, oddly sized box. How small? How about ~6.25″ x ~4.25″ x ~3.25″…smaller than even the Undaunted: Normandy box.
click images to enlarge
Opening the box for General Orders: World War II one quickly discovers it is full to the top.
Unlike many GMT Games box inserts, it is also immediately obvious that the box insert for General Orders: World War II forms an acceptable—and usable—storage solution.
Surprisingly, for such a small box General Orders: World War II packs plenty of content including a mounted map, wooden bits, cards, a small amount of chitboard, dice, and a rulebook.
The mounted map board in General Orders: World War II is double sided with the Italian Alpine on one side and a Pacific Beachhead on the other. Beware though; the split-fold board compacts down to a small size factor but it doesn’t lay flat out of the box. It’s not only my copy—I have seen other photos/videos where the board doesn’t lay flat and “bounces” when touched.
Given General Orders: World War II is a two-sided game, the color tokens are different enough from each other but don’t necessarily look like any particular military uniform. Custom dice are also included.
It took me a hot moment but I finally realized the maps in General Orders: World War II are done in portrait orientation; i.e. the players sit along the short edge of the maps, which aren’t all that big to begin with.
General Orders: World War II is a war game with cards. Fortunately, I don’t think the artwork is AI here (though it is nicely abstracted). Alex Green is given credit for the illustrations.
The rulebook for General Orders: World War II is a short 24 pages and nicely illustrated.
The real test of General Orders: World War II will, of course, be how well it plays on the table. This “Worker Placement Wargame – Historical” title is rated at 30 minutes playing time. In my book that firmly makes General Orders: World War II a lite, family war game—with the emphasis in this small-box game on light components and rules.
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In gaming halls where grognards debate,
They argue about what’s deemed first-rate.
“True wargame!” they declare,
With a passionate glare,
Their opinions, they’ll never abate.
Some seek hexes and counters galore,
Claiming purism, nothing they’ll ignore.
Yet the heart of the matter,
Is the fun we all gather,
So let’s play and enjoy, let’s explore!
- Per BGG: n. A term used to describe the game mechanic which involves a “token-based, turn-limited, locking action selection menu.” Players, in turn order, place tokens (aka workers) to select various actions presented on a board, cards, tiles, etc. Once an action is selected, it usually cannot be selected again on that round. Often players may think of this as a supervisor deploying workers on various jobs. A very popular game mechanic used in many recent games such as: Agricola, Caylus, Stone Age, Pillars of the Earth, etc.