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Subject: Viktory II – bringing the fun back to wargaming rss

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Filip W.
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Over the past month that I've owned Viktory II I've come to the conclusion that I love it. It may be silly, it may lack "realism" and it has serious problems with game ending and player balancing and yet… And yet it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, Science Fiction and Stratego put together, not to mention the ultimate Risk killer.

Yes, that's right. Once you own Viktory II you can toss your copy of Risk as the light, party wargame. You an also get rid of a number of other games, from Settlers to Monopoly, used to lure your non-gaming friends into the demonic folds of sickly craving for tiles and dice.

Viktory II is simply the best beginner's game there is. It shocks, it rocks, it tiles, it dices and if you order now you'll get a complementary set of player mats for FREE! Oh, and it's a good game too…

Statistics:
Players: 2-6
Playtime: 25 minutes to 2+ hours
Type: Light wargame
Designer: Peter Morrison
Publisher: Morrison Games


Overview
If you've never held it in your hands – and if you're reading this chances are you haven't – Viktory II is a tile based, high speed, low intensity, light, semi-random wargame. If that actually told you anything stop reading right now and go buy it. If not, read on.

I've compared Viktory II to Risk and that is, as comparisons go, a rather fair one, assuming you can imagine a Risk on amphetamines and steroids going "Ra-Ra-Rasputin" or whatever 1970's, Boney M'y tune happens to be your favorite right now.

For Viktory II is a step back to the simple days of yore, before Avalon Hill introduced the 11.5.4.7a type rule clauses (in case you're wondering, that's the 11th section, 5th part, 4th rule, 7th paragraph, subpart A detailing the effects of rain and a high bean diet on long range missile fire). Well, not quite but it's definitely a step towards the essence of wargaming, instead of attempted realism by emulating computer wargame rules with pen and paper.

Make no mistake about it, Viktory II is all about feeling, tactics and wild gambling on the 1/4th of 1/12th chance that your single infantry could take out that cavalry army and invade the only available artillery producing town on the board that you desperately need in order to prevent the other player from overrunning your capital and making you his plastic love slave and oh, crap those dice must be fake, well, it was worth a shot and if you don't invade I'll give you a cup-cake. Mwahaha, maniac laugh.

Components
Ah, yes, the components. What to say about them. First off, there's a lot of them. It's a pile, a horde, no a plethora of little plastic pieces, nicely pre-packed in ziplocked bags. There are over 800 (862 to be exact) of them, and that includes over 100 pieces per player and more than 180 hexes (enough to have a few to spare even when playing with the largest type map).

The armies themselves are composed of
infantry (general cannon fodder type guys dressed as Napoleonic guards),
cavalry (19th century light hussars – charging of course),
frigates (ships of the line with loads of sails) and
artillery (exquisitely detailed little canons – there's even a tiny hole for limbering them up to the caissons, can you get more anal retentive than that?).

Each plastic piece is pressure molded, free of flash (those annoying lines around plastic pieces) and ready to play – no dismantling of spruces necessary. They're the good quality hard plastic manufactured in the Western World(tm) and not the cheap, oily, bendable
Chinese kind. Of course, if you step on them Chinese plastic will do its best rubber ball imitation but Viktory II pieces will turn into a fine, colored dust. Think good, old Games Workshop/Citadel plastic miniatures tabletop miniatures if you were alive in the 90's. If not think good quality Monopoly pieces. Which brings us to the next part.

The towns and cities are modeled as Monopoly houses and hotels. That's right. You've got houses marking the spots of prime real estate on your map. When playing in cafés it causes people to stop and ask if this is a new version of Monopoly. Which makes for a great opportunity to drag some unsuspecting schmoe kicking and screaming into board gaming addiction. I suspect those houses are a stroke of marketing genius by designer Peter Morrison.

The board consists of 5cm (2") hexagons and is functional. The cardboard is thick enough to not to wrap but not thick enough to give that almost-wood solid feeling you get from some boards. Measured by high end gaming company standards they're only fair but considering they're printed, glued and die-cut in Peter Morrison's garage they're a marvel.

Gameplay
You've ripped open your priority mail package, drooled over the pieces and disturbed all your friends at work, badgering them into quitting early to come and play. Now it's time to wipe your sweaty palms and set out the board.

The size of the board varies from 61 hexagons for a 2-player board to a whopping 169 for a 5-6 player board. In general, once you've gotten a game or two under your belt, playing on a 1 step larger board than the amount of players makes for a better (if longer) game.

The board is set up covertly and part of the fun of Viktory II is discovering the world at the beginning of the game. Will you be stuck on an island with nothing but plains (highly unlikely but something to dread anyhow) or will you get the opportunity to develop a balanced army before reaching the enemy?

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. If only plastic pieces could quote Shakespeare before throwing their expendable little lives into the fray to save their glorious ruler… Failing that Viktory II can be summed up with the words "attack, attack, drink tea and attack some more".

It is a game adapted to fast attacks. You don't produce any troops. Instead your cities support up to two units of troops and if those guys are wasted by your deplorable tactics (sorry, you're right, poor dice rolls) they return, hale and hearty, at the end of your turn. This means that it's often advisable to attempt futile attacks. Who knows, your lone inf might storm the mountain, kill of the cavalry, capture the guns and take the city all by itself (yeah, right). Or if not it might cause the enemy some losses that he won't be able to use during his turn (remember, troops get spawned at the end of the turn).

While this sounds like you'd just throw all your troops away each turn and get them all back at the end it's balanced by two ingenious mechanics: you can't pop more troops in a city in a single turn that it can support and you can't pop troops into a beleaguered city (one that has enemy troops adjacent). In reality if you botch your assault your troops will be spread out over half your empire and it will take time before you can assemble them for a new attack – time that your enemies will use to spank you. Knowing when and where to charge is the key to winning – that and having luck with the dice.

For there is a significant amount of dicing luck, although not nearly as significant as in Risk. You might loose a battle purely on bad dice rolls but it won't happen twice in the same game (all right, maybe twice, but no more). If you don't like that there are rules for "low variability combat", but hey, half the fun of light wargames lie in heroic determination in the face of a horde of plastic.

Planning your battles overrules luck for there's another good idea in Viktory II: combined arms. You don't get dice based on the amount of troops you have in a battle but on the different type of troops you have. So ten infantry would only give you a single dice to roll but one infantry and one canon would give you two. And each troop type (except inf) has some desperately needed special abilities. So plan where you build your cities for each city will generate only one inf and a single other troop type, based on where the city is built, and you need all those different troops.

This combined arms strategy also hinders the feared Axis and Allies turtle sickness where each player does nothing but build huge armies only to throw them into a single battle that decides everything. In Viktory II each city you take means something, and each battle is critical – but not so critical that you can't regroup and re-conquer if you lose.

That is also Viktory II's greatest hindrance. When playing with conquering rules the game is potentially endless. At the same time a long game of Viktory II is, in my experience, shorter than 2 hours. The longest game I've played lasted 2,5 hours (although it wasn't finished, the coffee house closed – that's the risk you run when you try to play another round late in the evening).

Conclusions
Buy it, buy it, buy it. If Peter Morrison sells all his stock he'll to a second print run and maybe a 10th year anniversary edition with 3D hexes!

Viktory II is good for light and quick, almost filler level, fun. A two player game can be played in 25 minutes and in that time you've discovered a brand new world, built an empire and watched it crumble into plastic dust.
I've heard newbie player commenting that they'd like to put up all those plastic troops and play war with them like children (you won't hear me say that – I'm a serious gamer). I've heard jazzed players ask where one could buy Viktory II after looking at a game for ten minutes. I've heard people saying that they'd introduce their grandparents to the game. I've even heard a waiter asking whether we wanted something to drink – but I don't remember what I answered, my troops were about to storm Tomas's capital and make him my vassal.

On a serious note, Viktory II is a very good game, with great game mechanics but it does suffer from flaws. One of them is the aforementioned feeling of endlessness. Another is the risk, especially when playing with 3 players, of leader bashing. This exacerbates the endlessness as all the losers invade anyone who's ahead. Fortunately there are rules that provide for set victory conditions to end the game faster but face it, it's way more fun to conquer the world than play until "20 Victory Points".

And fun is what Viktory II is all about – the best fun being had the more players there are, and I've got a nagging suspicion that it would be even better if I bought another 6-player set and played 8 players on a 331 hexagon board. But that's for another time.
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Kurt La Botz
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Filip you don't give Viktory II enough credit it's the chess and checkers game we always wish we had and know we do. Thanks to Peter.
I had the V1 and know I have a V2 if there is a V3 it will be the atom bomb.
 
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Filip W.
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I love V2, and I hope that comes out in the review, but I do think there are some things that it's not great at. And it is a lot better than checkers
 
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Kurt La Botz
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You are right it is not perfect but no game is and it is the best game to come out in a long time. It's biggest draw back is also it's biggest draw it is not based on any one battle or world take over (the bad for a "wargamer") yet it is based on 1800's type military fighting and the complete destruction of every other player (the good for those of us who want to lead armies in a decisive military battle, Patton would have been proud)

GREAT REVIEW by the way.
 
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Raindog
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I saw the Viktory II banner on the BGG frontpage a couple of months ago. After checking out Peter`s homepage I realized that this was going to be one of my favourite games. I`ve played it a lot since I bought it, and it remains as one of my favourite games. What fascinates me the most with the game, is how quick the tables can turn. One round you`re the leader, and the next round you might be fourth or fifth.
Another thing I love about the game is how quickly alliances change. It is very difficult to make good alliances last for many rounds, because your allied always has a city close to your border that is just too tempting. It many ways the diplomacy part of the game reminds me of Wallenstein (another favourite game).

Don`t get too emotional when it comes to backstabbing, though, it will happen to you, and you will do it yourself. And remember: in Viktory II there is always a time for sweet revenge.

Peter has done a fantastic job. I will buy Viktory III if it ever comes out. Maybe Viktory III will have a bit more "historical" theme, to give it even more atmosphere (without ruining the fantastic gameplay).
 
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Barry Kendall
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Good thorough review, Filip, and your enthusiasm for the game does indeed come out. The "gang up on the leader" feature is almost unavoidable in such games but the good far outweighs this slight negative.

The "exploration and expansion" phase is always suspenseful and the game defies "perfect plans." Its variability and unpredictability are major strengths, the combat system is entertaining, quick and violent, and the naval aspect makes strategy much richer than it would otherwise be.

It's a wonderful game both to introduce new players (I'd be afraid to take mine to the cafe for fear of dropping pieces and hearing a CRUNCH under the feet of a passer-by) and for refreshing the brain between heavier games. Lovely bits, too.

I hope if Peter comes out with a VIKTORY III, he moves the time frame forward and includes the potential for armor, airborne, and strategic air and missile forces--imagine multiplying strategic and tactical considerations with long-range bombers, air defense, and even nuclear missile and anti-missile tech, aircraft carriers and submarines as well as surface combatants.

Thinking about it, this would make both an excellent alternative complete game and a fine expansion for present owners of VIKTORY II. Peter, are you listening? And can I have some player mats too?
 
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Filip W.
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Barry Kendall wrote:
It's a wonderful game both to introduce new players (I'd be afraid to take mine to the cafe for fear of dropping pieces and hearing a CRUNCH under the feet of a passer-by) and for refreshing the brain between heavier games. Lovely bits, too.


Very true. I've played V2 with 30+ people now and while some of them have talked house rules no one have said that they didn't want to play the game again. And that's amazing!
 
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Kurt La Botz
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Tanks, Bombers, helicopters, missles, Peter may need help play testing I'm there for ya!!!!!
 
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Kurt La Botz
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I forgot fighter aircraft for ground support and air defence speaking of which Air defence oh the lovley bits we could have, and what a game.
 
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Charlesq
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If thats what will happen to it, I will stick with V2.

1)Its the simplicity of it that makes it great. Not every game has to be A&A. If I were going to add anything to the game, I would add something that actually added to gameplay, like forts or impassable terrain, or stronger capitals or even a scenario booklet, but not unnecessary chrome. Remember, every time you add a historical detail, you add to the complexity.

2)If there is a theme, I HATE ww2 themes. : )

 
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Kurt La Botz
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I'm not talking about changing this game it already has a theme 1800's and this game ROCKS. I'm talking about creating a whole new game updated 1900-2000 with the same type of simplicity but adding different type of units. Scenarios would not be good it would take away from this game with senarios you would be making it more A&A and restricting it. If you were to have a more updated game you would have to have the chrome, but then this game has the chrome but it is quality chrome and that is what Peter has given us a game that has good (great) play great replayability and great looks, it also allows house rules to be added with out taking away from the game. If you were to add terrain restrictions city restrictions then you are going to take away from the thing that makes this a great game it's simplicity.

Take this game update it instead of cavalry add a tank maybe the tank can move one more hex and have a better attack value and maybe move after combat something like that. Vikroty Rules
 
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John Di Ponio
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This has been one of the new gems in my collection! Peter did and EXCELLENT job in designing this game. It is quick to learn and easy to play...but fools you with the strategy and thinking ahead you have to do!
 
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Will
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Barry Kendall wrote:
I'd be afraid to take mine to the cafe for fear of dropping pieces and hearing a CRUNCH under the feet of a passer-by

There looks to be more than enough pieces to lose some that way, also you can order game components here if you need replacements:
http://www.viktorygame.com/components.htm

I'm seriously thinking of ordering this game. Everything I hear about it is good, and I love the designers webpage where he talks about the whole design process.
 
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Mike Betzel
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Great review, your love for the game clearly shows I'm a big fan of Viktory II as well and will never turn a game down. It feels very "old school" many ways but the excellent exploration concept, simple enconomy and innovative combat system make it stand out from anything else out there. I can't stress enough how much fun it is to explore the map and how well the rules keeps the game moving along quickly. Most of the time if you aren't attacking you are probably doing something wrong! I do agree that the game usually plays best one map size larger than recommended for the number of players you have.

One possible strike against the game is player elimination and that's really just a matter of taste. There are optional rules to avoid player elimination but I don't think they work very well; in a war game like this I think you just have to accept that people will get taken out of the game. I find it just as much fun to watch as play, though, so I don't mind.

I'd like to see a scenario book as well. It'd be interesting to have a pseudo-random map... have a few defined geographic features with the rest of the map random. For example, maybe have a mountain range that splits the map in half or divide the map into a few islands, but have the actual terrain of the islands be set out randomly.
 
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Kurt La Botz
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I haven't tried it with VII but when I first started to play VI I set the board up rectangular and created two long islands with one hex row of water on the back of each island and along the sides but i limited the hexs for frigit building to 2 on the back side for each island, the rest were evenly distributed along each front. One house rule I made is you had to have placed one infantry unit and held one land hex on the other island for one turn before you could build, this made for some very interesting D Days. First game I made one mistake I built tooo close to one of my back hexes and I could not develope two frigits on the back side of my island I finnaly lost but I didn't go easy.

I still use VI with VII for a very large board, and we will play 2 player with both boards you don't get into the attacking as fast but the building stratagy becomes very important. If I didn't have VI I would have ordered another game when this came out just for the board. I have a 8X5 pool table and I wounder what this game would be like if the playing field was nothing but Viktory hexes with six player one at each pocket.
 
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Peter Morrison
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Filip - Thanks for the great review. You're an excellent writer.

Quote:
Thinking about it, this would make both an excellent alternative complete game and a fine expansion for present owners of VIKTORY II. Peter, are you listening? And can I have some player mats too?


I'm listening and certainly have tentative ideas for future games. The problem is there is a lot of work between having the idea and bringing it to life!

That said, I am actively working on an expansion for VIKTORY II (which would still use the Napoleonic era units), but it is all still in the playtesting stage. If anyone is interested in helping out with the playtesting, please contact me via GeekMail.

If you're interested in the player mats, go to:

http://www.viktorygame.com/owners.htm

and go down to Reference Chart. The reference chart doubles as a player mat.
 
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Dylan Kirk
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Well this is my first post ever on BGG (though I've lurked a looooong time) and I just have to say that I'm whetting my appetite by reading reviews while waiting for my copy of V.II in the mail. Great review, and this game is clearly what I need to break the ice here in my rather non game-friendly environment. I think the deepest people here have gone is Cranium, and this is a perfect gateway drug... err, I mean game... to get people into something a little more complex. Peter, I said in an email to you: I loved reading your website, I respect your (rather courageous) choice to self-publish, admire your singleminded gusto to finish not one but two versions of your game, and I CAN'T WAIT TILL MY COPY ARRIVES!

Support self-publishers! Buy this game!
 
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