Roman Combat Theme
Designer and Artist: Ben Shulman
Publisher: Game Salute
Vici is a two player combat game, in which players take on the roles of Roman generals leading their troops across the field of battle to conquer their opponent's camp. Turns take place over the course of five phases: Flip encamped pieces, Add build points, Deploy pieces, Move, and Battle. To start, you look at your own camp (the row of spaces closest to you) determine how many build points you have. You have points equal to however many of those "end zone" spaces are empty; five on the first turn. You can spend those points to deploy units. There are four types of units: Footmen for 1 point each, Spearmen for 2, Bowmen for 3, and Horsemen for 4 points. Each one has a special movement pattern and a strength when attacking other units. For example: Horsemen can move 2 spaces (instead of the usual 1 space) and they are strong against footmen. You can chose any combination of units that you can afford and they are deployed on the "encamped" side, they will become active on the next turn. Players then move 1-3 of their "active" units. Encamped pieces cannot move during the movement phase, but they can defend against attacks, though without their strength against certain opposing units. If any movement results in two opposing pieces meeting head to head, there is a battle.
Battles are performed by using the battle dice. Units that are evenly matched roll two dice, highest roll is the victor. The losing unit is removed from the board to a shared stockpile, which either player can purchase from. The winning unit advances forward on the battlefield. If at any point your unit makes it all the way through to the opposing player's camp, you get to place a Vici token there and your unit goes into the opposing player's stockpile. That Vici token will give you an extra build point for the deployment phase and block your opponent from deploying a unit of their own in that place. The goal of the game is simply to gain 3 more Vici tokens than your opponent. You automatically win if you get five Vici tokens or if your opponent cannot make at least one move.
I've been playing Vici as a print and play over the past few days and I am impressed with how engaging such a simple game can be. Here's the good stuff:
I love the vibrant artwork. It's not very often a game designer does the artwork for his own game, but I'm glad this is the case for Vici. The the bright green battlefield board is an eye catcher and the depictions of the soldiers on the unit pieces are excellent. Even my hacked up print and play copy of the game looks enticing! Vici is more of an abstract game, but the artwork really brings out the theme. I'm looking forward to seeing how the full production turns out!
Vici has superb player aids. Both players have an individual stockpile mat, which serves to store their non-deployed units and shows the build cost for each type of unit. This mat also includes a clear outline of the turn order and displays the strength and weakness structure for battles. It's all right there in front of you! You could almost play the game just from reading the stockpile mat. Once you learn how each unit moves, the rule book stays in the box where it belongs!
It's rock, paper, scissors but bloody! I like how each unit has a specific strength against another. Footmen are strong against Spearmen, Spearmen are strong against Horsemen, Horsemen are strong against Footmen, and Bowmen are strong against the three melee classes in ranged combat, but weak against them in melee combat. Strong units get to roll 3 dice against the weak unit's 2 dice in a battle, so it is a significant advantage. Trying to gain this advantage leads to interesting tactical decisions in the deployment phase. You really have to keep an eye on the types of units your opponent puts out! Out-maneuvering them is no good if you are always rolling 2 dice against 3.
Chaining battles is tons of fun! I think the most enjoyment I had while playing Vici came from the way battles can occur one after the other. Because of the way the units move forward after each victory, it can happen often. You defeat one unit and move forward to take down the next. If set up well, using Bowmen behind melee units can result in a chain of 3 or 4 battles. It is a very satisfying moment watching one single Footman smash his way through a whole line of units!
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I am not going to rate the components of Vici, as I am playing on a print and play copy, but I will say I like the design of the different types of units. All of the pieces are the same size, but each different unit has a different shaped "blade end." The direction of the blade indicates which pieces belong to each player, rather than having two player colors. This design makes the shared stockpile possible, since both players' pieces are completely identical. I think it's pretty clever!
The artwork for Vici is very attractive and bold. The clean and clear graphics match with the simple elegance of the game play. There is a touch of theme here. Though Vici is relatively abstract, the artwork does help you feel like a general commanding the battle field. Your opponent's army can look pretty intimidating as they advance down the battle field; especially in you don't have many units available to defend your camp! You definitely experience victory and feel like you have conquered your enemy when you make it into your opponent's camp and get to place a Vici token.
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The rule book is very well laid out. It goes through the rule set in the exact order you would teach the game, which is perfect for me! I love how easily and quickly the game can be taught! The rule book also has plenty of examples and pop outs to highlight unusual cases or easily overlooked details. It's only eleven pages long, but it references the pages you might need to go back to throughout. I didn't find myself needing to go back to the rules very often, but it was easy to find the answers to my questions when I did. That's all I can really ask of a rule book!
Game play flows very easily after the first couple of turns. Each type of unit can move in a different way, so that takes a little getting used to. It's the only aspect of the game the player has to commit to memory, but it's pretty simple: Any unit can move forward or forward-diagonal one space on their turn, Footmen can move straight forward an extra space only when leaving your camp, Spearmen can move one space to the side if it puts them into a battle, Bowmen don't advance after winning a ranged battle, and Horsemen can always move two spaces. Once you have that down, the game is a piece of cake!
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The game seems to be well balanced. Not only do both players start with the same pieces and build points, but there doesn't appear to be a significant advantage to being the start player. I actually preferred playing second because it gave me an opportunity to react to my opponent's movements.
Vici is a great game for when you can't get together a full group, but still want to engage in tactical head to head conflict. It scratches that dice-driven combat itch in an elegant, chess-like way! Most of my six games came in under the 45 minute play time, but this might vary based on you and your opponent's analysis paralysis factor. I could see two evenly matched players taking a little bit longer, but overall the play time feels right. It's a good lunchtime game; lighter and more accessible than The Duke, but similarly strategic. This would probably be an easy sell to your chess playing friends, if you are looking to introduce them to "hobby games."
As for replayability, I have enjoyed every play of Vici thus far and look forward to figuring out better strategies each time. I have noticed that getting Horsemen out in the first round seems to be beneficial, but doing this doesn't necessarily win the game for you. In fact, I have not uncovered any dominant strategy that will always win (so far). So much of the play is based on reacting appropriately to your opponent's decisions, the game can change every time if the players are willing to let that happen. This is definitely the kind of game that one could lock in an optimized plan after multiple plays, but for the time being, I am enjoying experimenting and playing with as many different people as I can find!
Vici is an 8/10 for me, but it very well might go higher depending on the final components. I highly recommend it and look forward to playing it some more!
Submitted by The Socially Inept Gamer, Tiffany
- Last edited Tue Aug 6, 2013 3:20 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Aug 5, 2013 9:40 pm
I am struggling to understand why I would go for Vici over The Duke.
The only advantage, if it really is one, that Vici has is that you specifically choose which new tiles to play, as opposed to the blind draw The Duke has. I like the unknown draw myself, but I could see why some would rather have more control over what hits the battlefield.
The Duke has better components, a better battle design more in line with the simplicity of chess and best yet, no dice. I don't like comparative dice rolling when there is really no way to beef up your rolls, as in Mage Wars. In Vici, it is two dice against two, unless one is "stronger" than another...then it is three versus two. That is the best way to do combat in this game?
I hear rumblings of adding new classes in future expansions, but The Duke already has accomplished this. ...and their abilities are far more sophisticated than what I imagine Vici would have simply from this dice-reliant way of battling. The Duke is about capturing, therefore, movement is crucial. In Vici it seems to be more about moving forward and rolling better than your opponent. The game needs variables, it seems... maybe terrain differences or a complete overhaul of the "strong" advantage to something a little more interesting.
The game has five days left on its Kickstarter run and I would not be surprised if it falls short. It is missing a hook that would pull in people who aren't already smitten by The Duke.