When I first saw this game advertised here on BGG, I was intrigued. I like wargames a lot and got my start through games like Risk and Tactics II. Many times, games like this have the problem of "turtling" (for those who don't know this term is used for a strategy where you just keep building up and never get to the fight part of the game until the very end). Because the Napoleonic setting to the game isn't really my favorite era of history and that the game is self-published I kept wavering on this one. The pictures of the game enticed me to work a deal to get a copy of this game.
A little bit of background: The game is self-published. My experience with self-published or small company published has been somewhat mixed from the very bad (W.H.A.T.--shame on Inquest for recommending this back when they actually reviewed board games...grr!)to the pretty good (Warangel--neat rules and game, components are ok).
So let's start by looking at what you get for $39.95
What's in the box: The box itself isn't the elaborate beauty of say, any box published recently by FFG but it does the job--effectively holding all the components without difficulty. Inside you find plastic minis and towns for 4 different players. The minis are made from a hard slick plastic similar to Risk:LotR version. They are also about the same scale with, suprisingly, as much detail as Risk:LotR. There are also, in separate bags, towns, cities and ships for each of the 4 colors as well, made of the same style plastic. I was a little disappointed that the towns and cities didn't have much design to them, especially considering the nice quality of the minis, but, that's really just niggling.
Next, you have a bag holding the cardboard hexes that make up the board and there are alot of them...about 130 if I remember correctly. These make up the ever-changing terrain of VIKTORY. They are colorful to look at and of good quality. My only real gripe is that they need to be a little bigger to hold the minis. Having played 4 player solely, the board isn't so big that increasing their size wouldn't make the game too big to play on a table.
You also get 4 red tokens to mark your capital.
Each player gets a double-sided reference card showing production and move/combat values of troops. I'll need to laminate these as they aren't very sturdy stock.
Lastly, the rules: Computer printed rule sheets. Readable and well laid out.
I'd say, of the small/self-published games I've seen so far (Warangel, Phantasy Realm, W.H.A.T., and others...) that the components are near the top of the quality heap for this niche of publishing. Had DoW or FFG produced this, we would have gotten much more luxurious components with a higher price tag. But, for a self-published game they are very impressive.
Rules: It took about 1/2 hr. for me to grasp the rules. It took all of 5 minutes to teach the game. Having played games like TI (all 3 edtions)and others like it, being able to dive right into a game like this really impressed me. They were very intuitive. In short, your game breaks down like this: Build one town or upgrade one town to a city. Take your reinforcements for building/upgrading and set them aside. Move your units and attack. Place reinforcements and any units killed during your attacks. And that's your turn. Very simple. Very intuitive.
Gameplay:Surprisingly deep,quick and VERY aggressive. This isn't a game to play nicey, nicey. If you can hit your opponent, do it and do it often. The game mechanic here that prevents turtling is that THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR ATTACKING! Really, I mean it. When you attack, you will lose units, but they go to your reserve to be placed back on the field of battle at the end of the turn. And, here's where it get's cool: if you take a town or city, you replace it with one of your own AND instantly place reinforcements there equal to what that city would produce AND the loser loses the appropriate units from play permanently until they retake the town/city or build a new one. In one game, I purposely attacked at bad odds in order to sacrifice an artillery unit so I could reposition it to a different area of the map at the end of the turn! Production is unique as well. When you build a town, you get an infantry set in your reserves for placement at the end of the turn. Subsequently, when you upgrade that town to a city, you get another infantry unit plus a bonus unit based on where you built (plains=infantry, fields=cavalry, mountains=artillery, forest=warship). So you will always know how many units you should have in the field at any given moment (4 cities in one of each of the above types=9 infantry, 1 cavalry, 1 cannon, 1 warship).
There's a lot of room for strategy: Most battles take place at towns/cities which add defensive dice. Combined arms is the way to go: having at least one infantry gives you one die, one cavalry=2 die, one artillery=one die+advancing fire before combat. Add to this, warships which can "bombard" attack from 2 hexes away and the attacker can mount a formidable force. But the defender can defend well too: one die for infantry, one for cavalry, one for cannon, one if in a town, two if in a city and one if a warship is adjacent to the attacked city. Having a variety of units is better than the swarm approach. 6 infantry attacking a town defended by one cavalry and one infantry has an uphill battle: rolling one die vs. 3.
Combat is a bit of a dicefest: Roll the dice, each roll of 3 or less is a hit but I think the combined arms helps decrease the luck factor--and, anytime a one is rolled the player rolling it gets to choose which unit is eliminated reducing the luck factor further.
The game can easily be played in 1hr to 1 1/2 hrs lending itself to multiple plays in an evening if so desired.
Theme:ANY theme works with this system:scifi, fantasy, historical etc...
You don't really get the feel of a Napoleonic general from this game, but it does look nice. If anything the gamestyle of play lends itself to lightening style warfare, blitzkrieg! Suprise attacks can abound if not carefully watched for. I pulled a manuever I read about in a game session here: I carefully plotted out an attack on an opponents home base by loading troops into warships and offloading them on his base! He never saw it coming! And, since you cannot produce units or replace destroyed units if your capital is taken, he had to waste valuable resources retaking his capital the next turn, leaving him open to subsequent attacks that led to his demise and my VIKTORY!
Replay value: This is a lighter wargame: if you're looking for TI:3 or Europe Engulfed, you won't find it here. The game's unique battle and supply system are designed for ease and speed of play. Alliances, while necessary, will change at the drop of a hat because of the fluid nature of the game. A player in the lead one turn can find himself dead last the next. Careful plotting along with an aggressive cutthroat strategy win the day here. Often, surprise is the name of the game. My gaming group was very pleased with this game (Very little downtime teaching and setting up or waiting for your turn and lots of time to get to the joy of bashing each other's brains in!)and looks forward to playing this again. I'm uncertain yet how much gameplay this will get. While there is wonderful replayability regarding different maps (constantly changing) the game doesn't have quite the depth or immersion factor that keeps us coming back to monster size games like TI:3, WotR, Doom. I'm a gamer who likes heavy theme in his game. But VIKTORY delivers on its ability for replay because its so quick to play and teach. I have yet to see a wargame that is so slickly boiled down to its combat elements that you jump right into the meat of the game from turn one.
Overall impression: It's easy to say "wow if FFG/DoW had produced this, how beautiful would the game be" but, for self-publishing this is at or near the top of the heap (Right up there with Mr. Porazzi). I can't get over how easy the game was to teach, the intuitiveness of the gameplay and how much I enjoyed the lightening fast play. This really did feel more like Blitzkrieg warfare than anything else and hooked me in on that. The system is unique in its emphasis on aggressive play. Some downsides: In the end, it's all about the combat. It lacks the depth of a TI:3 with multiple paths to victory. Diplomacy only can carry you so far in VIKTORY requiring you to be ruthless and cutthroat in tactics, looking for the leverage which can upend your opponent in one turn and avoiding that yourself. I really liked this game and think it's a great first effort from Mr. Morrison. I give it an 8.5/10. It's not a 10 for me simply because I usually like more depth to my games. I haven't seen a system quite like this before (not saying another isn't out there, but I haven't seen one)and it has the potential to transition over to other themes and added depth. Very big Kudos to Mr. Morrison for creating a new and unique approach to warfare and the war game in general.
Yeah, this is the most aggressive wargame I've ever played.
It feels like you are driving a hungry shark . In fact, in a 2-player game I was stunned by how quickly the game came to a boil and how quickly I was terminated by my opponent. We played again and I was still stunned, though I managed to squirm a bit more before being smashed. We played a pair of 2 player games in under an hour.
(A word to the wise - buying a Frigate might not be too brilliant in 2-player games. I did so twice and was out of position to prevent the invaders from hammering me. Playing with the 3 player sized board in a 2-player game might allow you to have the time to use Frigates effectively.)
I am looking forward to playing with 2 or 3 other players, just so I can set back and enjoy the game for a bit.