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Mark Turner
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Farnham
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Victory or Death is the second game in the Quartermaster General series and it shows.

Four players rather than six means this is more likely to come to the table, and offers all factions varied but equally interesting gameplay.

In the WW2 game, playing Italy and Japan often felt like a lesser experience. In Victory or Death, there is no dud deck.

While at first blush the Delian League appears to be the lesser endowed faction, in practice it's full of trickery, and offers a distinct but equally fun experience when compared to Sparta's hoplites machine, Athens' navy, and Corinth's chains of preparations.

Secondly, the supply rules have been loosened, a welcome change allowing for rapid overseas expansion, and greater synergies between factions.

Third, the card play is more flexible. From the 'emergency provision' rule, to the optional preparation step, players are less hidebound by the luck of the draw, and freer to play out their own strategy.

Finally, the bribery mechanic offers more leeway in setting up creative moves, while feeling deeply thematic.

All in all, VOD felt like a more free flowing game than the first QMG, and I hope we see the system develop further in this direction.

I look forward to more plays!
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Steve Lang
Canada
Victoria
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Having played QG dozens (hundreds?) of times I enjoyed the card play aspect and variation of strategies, which is why I was very keen to try VoD. After a couple of plays, it seems VoD is a worthwhile addition as a true 4 player. Plays a bit slower than QG as more planning is needed to set up your preparation card actions and bribery. Only played it three times so far but hopefully get to enjoy more of it again.
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Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
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MrMT wrote:
Victory or Death is the second game in the Quartermaster General series and it shows.
Its the first game in the VoD series and that shows too.

Quote:
Four players rather than six means this is more likely to come to the table, and offers all factions varied but equally interesting gameplay.
QG is probably better played 4-player now, as UK-USA & Germany-Italy have to co-operate.

Quote:
In the WW2 game, playing Italy and Japan often felt like a lesser experience. In Victory or Death, there is no dud deck.
In our games they have the biggest point-scoring potential, the biggest scope for expansion, thus the largest number of units on-board, the most interesting cards to use with those units, the strongest defences...

Quote:
While at first blush the Delian League appears to be the lesser endowed faction, in practice it's full of trickery, and offers a distinct but equally fun experience when compared to Sparta's hoplites machine, Athens' navy, and Corinth's chains of preparations.
Corinth doesn't seem to do much. I note that whereas Corinth's Power profile suggests using Emergency Provision, a bottom-feeding design technique that usually denotes a card game that works poorly when its cards are drawn face-down from a deck -- a bit sad -- here it recommends the 'advanced' version of the rule as standard! This is reminiscent of the not particularly well-written QG rulebooks.

Quote:
Secondly, the supply rules have been loosened, a welcome change allowing for rapid overseas expansion, and greater synergies between factions.
They haven't been loosened quite so much as does the SHAEF card of Alternate Histories. A slight problemette in VoD is that the system allows no movement as such, but there was rather a lot in the real Plop war.

Quote:
Third, the card play is more flexible. From the 'emergency provision' rule, to the optional preparation step, players are less hidebound by the luck of the draw, and freer to play out their own strategy.[/qA very great deal depends on which side gets which of the powerful cards down first. Athens and Sparta have only one destination each, and defending agianst these drives is paramount. Sides can certainly run out of a vital card type, and 'emergency provision' can hasten this.

[q]Finally, the bribery mechanic offers more leeway in setting up creative moves, while feeling deeply thematic.
Continuous bribery, with its baleful efect on decks, may be necessary to keep some pieces on-board until a more conventional supply route can be set up.

Quote:
All in all, VOD felt like a more free flowing game than the first QMG, and I hope we see the system develop further in this direction.
Does more free-flowing mean that you are compelled to keep units in certain spaces throughout games? An Athenian fleet in the Saronic Gulf, for example, or you lose Athens. The minor powers seemed even more hidebound. I had a feeling that there must be a 2017 expansion for this game, as the Aegean coastline seemed curiously quiet, along with the Persians. Amphipolis seemed to be the equivalnt of QG's South America/Atlantic, in that you can send units there but there's not much point.

The game seemed to play very well up until the end, whereupon it & its winners became entirely predictable [eg. Athens isn't going to fall] and noticeably less interesting.
 
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Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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aforandy wrote:
The game seemed to play very well up until the end, whereupon it & its winners became entirely predictable [eg. Athens isn't going to fall] and noticeably less interesting.


I'm not arguing against this, as I've only played one game so far
(Although it seems you have as well) and it ended in a sudden death Demos victory on turn 9.. But just taking a look at the PBF#2 here tells me the game isn't always entirely predictable. That was a one point game that was ultimately decided on turn 12.
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Mike Smith
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Aforandy - I have played this 3 times now. Your overall accusation of predictability I do not find to be true. Of course there is a script of sorts provided by the cards. But the random nature of their coming out works against the script, as does the lack of knowledge of your partner's hand, and the facedown nature of ready Prepare cards. This means there is plenty of scope for risky moves and surprise. The narrowness of the sudden death victory margin at 10 points produces the same effect.

There are areas of the map that see little action, and the Peloponnese, Boeotia and Attica may well be the focus - but the strong chances of a stand-off there encourages expeditions elsewhere, as in the real war. What is the point of wasting your Land Battles fruitlessly before the walls of Athens if they have the key Prepares down (but what if they are bluffing? What if you could actually take Athens?)

At the same time the Emergency Provisions rule and the Bribery tokens give you more control over the situation. I have not played the "Advanced" EP rule yet, where you can grab Prepare cards as well as the four basic cards, and suspect that might give you too much control over the situation....

Above all, remember that this is a very simple game with a low rules load (though the Supply/Muster/Place rules need careful reading, and careful explanation to your fellow players). Given that, I find it thematically true, variable enough, and exciting to play. I may not want to play it 50 times, but in the meanwhile there is a great deal to enjoy.

Finally, remember that Athens lost the war even though Athens did not actually fall. Athens surrendered - it was not captured - this is interpretable as a points defeat after the final turn.
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John McD
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I think Andy's point wasn't that the game is scripted or had a bias to Athens, but that at a point in the game it becomes clear which player will win - but the game doesn't stop for a while. That means it's not interesting for the last while.
 
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Mark Turner
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Farnham
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BlackSpy wrote:
I think Andy's point wasn't that the game is scripted or had a bias to Athens, but that at a point in the game it becomes clear which player will win - but the game doesn't stop for a while. That means it's not interesting for the last while.


It's perfectly feasible for Athens not to fall and for the Oligarchs to win anyway.
 
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Ian Brody
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Woodstock
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Andy

I hate to say it but I feel like you're trolling. What I don't like to do is have debates about design decisions, because they inevitably wind up with someone invested in their viewpoint and without any fun added. Suffice to say, I think you're just dead wrong on some of your conclusions.

If you want to buy me a drink some time (Hendricks on the rocks will do nicely), I'll debate design decisions, but you have to keep buying the drinks, or I stop debating.

I'm a natural game tinkerer. Once you buy the game, you own it and you should play it how you like. The best thing is to come up with the modifications you prefer, then post them in the house rules. That to me increases the fun.

thanks
Ian

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Richard Dewsbery
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Sutton Coldfield
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FWVLIW, I agree with many of Andy's comments. Although it has the clear advantage over QMG in needing only four players, I'm not very sure that my copy will get many more plays. I've played twice so far, and each time it's felt flat compared to QMG. Perhaps that's in part due to our familiarity with WW2 (as compared to near-total ignorance of the Peloponesian Wars). But the game seemed to be over too quickly, with very low scoring, but at the same time without very much action. Last game, Athens was out after just over half of the turns, yet the Demos faction still managed to win by four points.

Perhaps some of our dissatisfaction with VoD is down to the cards - they're just not as bright, not as thematic, as the QMG cards. Perhaps we aren't playing very well (inevitable, I suppose). But we've struggled a bit with the new rules, and particularly what point bribery tokens really serve (especially given how they don't count as units for the purpose of mustering hoplites). The game just hasn't grabbed us in the same way that QMG does.

I never felt that there was a "dud" deck in QMG; I'm sure that there isn't in VoD. I dare say that effectively combining Reactions and Bolsters into Prepares, and making supply chains more interesting, ought to provide a better game, but so far I'm really not feeling the love. QMG is a gem that sparkles much more brightly in my eyes.
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Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
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RDewsbery wrote:
Last game, Athens was out after just over half of the turns, yet the Demos faction still managed to win by four points.


That sounds super exciting to me.

RDewsbery wrote:
Perhaps some of our dissatisfaction with VoD is down to the cards - they're just not as bright, not as thematic, as the QMG cards. Perhaps we aren't playing very well (inevitable, I suppose). But we've struggled a bit with the new rules, and particularly what point bribery tokens really serve (especially given how they don't count as units for the purpose of mustering hoplites). The game just hasn't grabbed us in the same way that QMG does.


I agree partially. The cards are definitely not as bright. The fact that all the cards of the same time use the same background seemed more obvious to me this time around, maybe because everything also had the same tonality. And I love the wood bits more than the plastic units. Also, I hate the crazy long card names. Makes me not want to PBF, which I think the QG series is so perfect for. I think, all in all this is my #1 complaint.

Also the Peloponesian Wars were just basically a huge standstill and that is reflected with more little moves and less epic moves than QMG. This is despite the more complex supply puzzle in VOD.

But, I'm definitely more enthused than you are. So far, I definitely feel like playing VOD now. I don't know if that will be true after I've played it as much as I've played QMG, but its true now.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Sutton Coldfield
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Kaelistus wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
Last game, Athens was out after just over half of the turns, yet the Demos faction still managed to win by four points.


That sounds super exciting to me.


That's the weird thing. It wasn't remotely. Athens' game was pretty much over after turn 8 or 9. He carried on playing cards, chiefly scoring ones. But played no real role.

But then nobody else did much either. The League built a new city. Corinth sat there. Even Sparta found itself with little to do once Athens was gone, apart from clearing out the Peloponesian peninsula.

Even final scoring - with the Oligarchs picking up so many bonuses - felt anticlimactic, somehow. It was clear to me that the good guys had enough of a lead.
 
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Mark Turner
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RDewsbery wrote:
Kaelistus wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
Last game, Athens was out after just over half of the turns, yet the Demos faction still managed to win by four points.


That sounds super exciting to me.


That's the weird thing. It wasn't remotely. Athens' game was pretty much over after turn 8 or 9. He carried on playing cards, chiefly scoring ones. But played no real role.

But then nobody else did much either. The League built a new city. Corinth sat there. Even Sparta found itself with little to do once Athens was gone, apart from clearing out the Peloponesian peninsula.

Even final scoring - with the Oligarchs picking up so many bonuses - felt anticlimactic, somehow. It was clear to me that the good guys had enough of a lead.


I've played three times now. It does seem that Athens is perhaps the most constrained in terms of gameplay, but overall, it seems clear there is broadly a script for all factions underlying this game, and that after that script becomes familiar, it's about pushing at the boundaries of that script to gain marginal advantages here and there.
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Mike Smith
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Wigton
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I prefer it to QMG. The Peloponnesian War is no turn-off for me. You can do some dramatic things with combos of Prepare cards if you get the timing right. Far from being worthless the Bribery tokens also allow some dramatic moves, particularly with cards that allow placing rather than mustering. They allow you to supply your own or allied forces in some far-off places, at the cost of a discard. You can force the pace more in VoD: by taking a normal play plus a prepare; by using Emergency Provisions to get a card you need from the deck for a discard of 2 not 4; by placing bribery tokens; but forcing the pace puts you at grave risk of running out of cards. I feel you have more decisions to make not less.
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