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A Spoiled Victory: Dunkirk 1940» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Saving the Allied Forces From Destruction rss

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Tim Korchnoi
United States
Richmond
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My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
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A Spoiled Victory is a solitaire operational level game of Operation Dynamo, the British evacuation of Dunkirk in May/June 1940. The goal of the game is to score victory points by evacuating as many units as possible. Each turn the player will have to decide how and when to evacuate units while at the same time holding the line to keep German forces from breaking through and rushing to the beaches along the coast. While doing so, the player will have to deal with random events and Luftwaffe attacks as well as the pressure all along his defensive perimeter. At the conclusion of eighteen turns, the number of victory points scored allow you to register a result that ranges from disaster to the historical Miracle at Dunkirk.

Playing Time: In the games I have played so far I have finished games in roughly 45-60 minutes. Once you get the hang of the rules (which should be easy see below) the only thing is to make sure you do each step each turn. The only thing that might add to the length of playing time is if you are one of those ponder people who agonize over every little decision

Map: The map covers the area from the German front lines on May 27th right up to the coast running from Dunkirk in the west to Nieuport in the east. The map also shows the staging area for evacuees and the routes they will take to get back to jolly ole England. The map layout is a point to point system with various types of terrain in each box. The boxes have information about terrain modifiers printed right on them as well as a letter/numeral code of identification. Finally, the map also has the turn record track across the bottom and the sequence of play as well. Overall, I like the map. It has good color and information you need for battle is printed right on it. The only thing that could be improved would be a slightly bigger map with bigger movement boxes since the counters often cover a space completely so you will need to slide those around when the Germans strike so you do not deny your troops the benefit of terrain such as the canal.

Counters: The Counters are the nice, super thick 5/8 size and depict the forces of the nations involved in the battle. They are two sided with unit identification and a single number for combat purposes. There are also some informational counters and a set of counters for the evacuees. The thickness of the counters makes this an easy game to set up and also keeps the map flat without plexi glass (although I always use plexi glass) but for the wargamer on the go this is good for say hotel room table tops. The counters are easy to read and mostly they are easy to distinguish between the various nationalities. They are also easy to pick up and the game has a low counter count as well.

Cards:
The cards for the game drive the functions of all sides in the battle. The only thing one uses dice for is combat of some type. Each card has a random event at the top followed by a four color coded pieces of information for Luftwaffe Attacks, German Moves, Player Actions, and Evacuations. The cards are nicely done in terms of information and clarity (I have rarely referenced the sheet that explains the random events) and the color scheme is a nice touch as well. However, the cards are super thin so the first thing I did with them was put them in sleeves and I highly recommend you do the same!

Rules: The rules basically focus on a card driven system that is along the lines of that found in D-Day at Omaha Beach. Each card has instructions for the various actions in the game. For example the Player Action section tells you how many player actions you get that turn and you use those actions to execute various player options such as movement, creating evacuees, building beach jetties, etc… The cool thing about the game system is that you draw a new card for EACH phase of the turn which increases replayibility. Plus, event cards are removed from the deck once played which again makes each game a little different than the previous one.
So you use a card for a random event, then draw another for Luftwaffe Attacks and so on. Each card tells us what to do for each enemy phase and after you become familiar with the rules, you will find that you do not often have to look things up in the rulebook. The rules for combat are simple and although the combat system is not what you would typically find in a wargame, it works well with this particular situation. Basically each unit has one combat factor. On the attack that factor equals the number of dice you get to roll, on defense it is the number(or higher) that the attacker is trying to roll to score “wins”. For example if a German 5 unit was attacking a French 3 unit the Germans get to roll 5 dice trying to get as many rolls of 4 or more as possible(you can also tie the defense combat factor as well but it is harder to score “wins” that way). After battling defenders can take hits or retreat and attackers (usually the Germans) can possibly achieve breakthroughs or take losses and/or get disrupted. The rules information is nicely organized on a player aid card for quick reference making the game a breeze to play once you get the hang of the rules. Over all, I think the rules are well laid out and explained with examples mixed in a key points to help you wrap your head around the rules. Key rules are also highlighted in red. While the rulebook itself is fairly simple as regards paper quality, the rules themselves are well organized( and go in order of the phases for each turn) and clear.

Things I like about the game:


1 Topic. Operation Dynamo is one of those events in WWII where average people made a difference in helping to rescue the troops. The game does a good job of recreating the desperation that must have been felt among all involved in trying to get those men out of France to England to live to fight another day.

2 The card system. Ever since I played D-Day at Omaha Beach I have been a fan of this kind of system. The cards keeping you guessing and help to keep the tension nice and high.

3 Ease of play. Of all the solitaire games I have played this is one of the easiest and does so without being too simplistic. Unlike a game such as We Must Tell the Emperor, there are more decisions to be made in A Spoiled Victory and more unpredictability.

4 Tension. In the game I always seem to reach a point where I have to make a huge decision regarding evacuees and when to start pulling my men back towards the beaches and to do so in a way that does not allow the Germans to burst through. I really like games that build that tension and put you in the shoes of the historical individuals who were there.

5 The clear rules and thick counters.

6 Set up and length of play. Since this is a small counter game with a small map and it plays quickly it is ideal for a nice for playing in between longer games or to just set up and play for an evening when you are pressed for time.

1 6 Variety of play. Depending on how the events fall (and quite frankly everything else) each play will have its own challenges to deal with which makes each play feel fresh and exciting. cool

2 6 The examples in the rules. There are plenty and they are clear thumbsup

3 6 Customer service. While it was annoying to be missing some items when I received the game, the response I got to my request was swift. The items that were missing were ones that could easily be taken care of via email so I was able to still play the game within 24 hours of explaining my situation.

Things that can be annoying: angry

1 Those doggone Belgians! Maybe it’s just my die rolling skills but every game I have played so far the Belgians have given it up in turn 3 or less leaving me scrambling to plug holes on the right side! gulp

2 The cards are really flimsy. yuk This is my biggest disappointment about the game. You will need card sleeves especially as the cards are the heart of the system. Since the cards are so essential it would’ve been nice to have a good, sturdy stock for them.

3 Size of the map. The map could have been bigger making it easier to deploy and play with those thick counters especially as there is key combat information on the spaces of the map.

4 Perhaps more attacks by the Germans. This could’ve increased the pressure on the Allies and raised the tension significantly. While I understand that there was conflict between the German High Command and Hitler about what to do at Dunkirk, it may make game play a little more challenging.

5 Attacks are minimal. In my plays so far I have rarely attacked the German units. They are quite strong and I feel that my actions need to be spent on moving troops to safety and holding the line as well as plugging gaps where they appear (I’m looking at you Belgium! angry ) But I have only attacked once in all my plays. Maybe that is just a reflection of my play but I honestly do not see how Allied attacks really help improve their situation.

Over all evaluation: d10-1 = I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month! yuk d10-9 = wargamer heaven

Map= d10-7 The map is good and functional it just could be bigger.
Counters= d10-9 Love the thickness and size! Who could ask for anything more?
Cards= d10-3 They are way too flimsy for how much you will use them in the game. While they will only take one pack of sleeves to get them protected (there are 36 cards) that is an extra hidden cost. shake However, I give them a d10-8 for look and functionality.

Rules= d10-8 I thought the rules were well laid out and explained. The examples were placed in timely spots and they followed the sequence of play which is, IMO, the best way to lay out a rule book.

Playing Time= d10-8 This game plays very quickly and is ideal for an evening where you have an hour or so of time and want to get your wargamer fix
Deployment of forces= d10-7 This is actually quite quick and setting up troops can be done easily. The reason I give it a d10-7 is for historical deployment which will take a few more moments than if you just randomly get those men down and get going!

Over all= d10-8 This is a good solitaire game. First, there is plenty of tension and decisions to be made so the player stays engaged at all times. German attacks, Luftwaffe strikes and the number of actions/evacuations you get each turn will keep you on your toes! Second, the system is nice and clean with an easy to follow sequence of play so you get the feeling of trying to save all those troops without getting bogged down in a plethora of rules that can sometimes plague solitaire games. Third, the mechanism of drawing a new card for each phase keeps the game fresh and tense. Removal of events also helps in this regard. Finally, the size of the game is ideal for a quick session or taking on the road. Bottom line: this game has the same feel of D-Day at Omaha Beach but in the reverse. In Omaha, you are trying to get your boys up the beach and reacting to German actions as well as opportunities when you disrupt German positions. In A Spoiled Victory you are trying to hold the line at all costs while moving troops off the beach as quickly and safely as possible. So while one could argue that the game comes down to how do you manage your player actions and evacuations, isn’t that the essence of a withdrawal? This is not a game that is just role play with you reacting to dice, you really do have to plan ahead and deal with sudden strokes of luck, both good and bad. In the end, A Spoiled Victory is a little gem of a game that makes the most difficult of military maneuvers (a retreat in the face of enemy assaults)a tense and exciting experience. This is the kind of game that gives great playability while at the same time keeping the time commitment low. It is a keeper thumbsup thumbsup
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Wow! Thanks so much for this wonderful review. You don't mind if we steal some quotes for the game page, do you?
I'm very glad you enjoyed the game.
Hermann
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David Oldster
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Great review. What size sleeves do you need?
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Tim Korchnoi
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My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
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I use the 66 by 91 mm sleeves. But don't get the Pro-matte ones. I love Pro-matte for all my Legendary cards, but that little silver circle they have on their cards ends up right over top one of the evacuation numbers gulp
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David Oldster
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Thanks!
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Paul Fish
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Tim, Thanks for the detailed review. I'm glad that you liked the game. Hermann and I worked on it for 10 months until we felt it was right. It went through many changes. the final product is not at all like the first game that we started with. We felt that random events on the cards gave the game replayablity and introduce many of the historic events. cool
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Christopher
Belgium
De Panne
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Thanks for this great review! It pulled me over, I will order this game as soon as I have some gaming budget freed up! As a plus this game takes place in my backyard (I live in De Panne), and on the beach where I go land sailing!

And I'm sure the Belgian's actions in your games were historically accurate...
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks Chris! I hope you enjoy it. That must be wonderful living among all that history.
As far as the brave Belgians are concerned, as you know this was the end of the line for them. But I have done well in this game on those occasions when the Belgians held out longer.
Hermann
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