The Ludoquist
United Kingdom
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've been dying to get Victory or Death to the table for a while, but for one reason or another haven't manged to until this week at Croydon Board Gamer's.

Now, I love Quartemaster General: WW2. Anything that enables me to cover the whole of WW2 in 2 hours with 5 of my mates was going to be a win for me. I'll talk a little about the WW2 version, and shared mechanics first; if you've played that already, feel free to skip below the picture.

In QMG, you have two teams (of three - Axis vs Allies - in WW2; of two in VoD). You have assymetric card decks of differing sizes, and play just one card each turn. Four of these are 'basic' and indentical - Muster Army and Navy, and Land and Sea Batles, and then there are a variety of unique event cards (Such as 'Pearl Harbor'), unique to each deck.

In addition, there are reaction cards that you have to play face-down ahead of time, which can trigger off actions by other players or yourself, springing nasty surprises. Then there are status cards, which you play face up and effectively change the rules from that point in. Finally, and importantly, there are Economic Warfare cards. These force opponents to discard cards from their deck.

Your team wins by either getting 30 points ahead at any point, or having most points at the end of the game - you get points at the end of each turn by controlling supply points - important cities. If neither side canters away, whoever has the most points at endgame wins. This can be critically affected as decks deplete, at which point you start losing points when you should be drawing cards.

While you can typically only play one card, you can discard some to trigger special effects, or to find a critical card in yourdeck - so curating the deck against end game is a really important part of strategy.


Hugh, Jon, and Jason - who all liked the mechanics of QMG:World War 2, but not the actual game, joined me. I was Corinth, allied to Jon's Sparta as the Oligarchs (Cheer), while Jason and Hugh were the Demos of the Delian League and Athens (Boo).

The first major rule change is that you can put down a Prepare card in the Planning stage, in addition to your normal card play. This makes for much greater flexibility, and means that you can both defend Athens with a special card, and build a Trireme in the same turn, getting away from one of the frustrations of QMG:WW2, where you can get Land Battle, Build army, Land Battle the same area cycles.

Secondly, supply is much more flexible. In QMG:WW2, island-hopping was difficult, and required significant turns to get an army in place so you can build a fleet. It took us a bit of work to get our heads round the supply rules, but once 'got' they are intuitive, and made the game much more flexible. This was also greatly helped by the inclusion of Bribery tokens, essentially portable single-shot supply drops, that require a little forward planning, and give you one more thing t do in your turn. It makes attacking strategies much more flexible, and the game feels more fluid; WW2 could sometimes feel a little trench-warfarery.

Thirdly, the game starts with very few cities/supply point on the board. Special cards enable you to 'build' cities - thematically, persuade them to ally with you. This gives a feeling of the ancient world expanding out from central Greece, but also means that it's unlikely there will be many 'tried and true' strategies as you kind of have a fresh map. In QMG:WW2, Germany pretty much has to take Western Europe then attack Soviets; it feels like this is less predetermined.

Scoring is done every three rounds rather than after every turn as it was in WW2. One of the issues with WW2 was that it was very easy to forget, or think you might perhaps have forgotten, a particular country's scoring. That issue has gone away entirely, and the every three turn scoring means that there is something of a cyclical crescendo to the game; Prepare, Prepare, Surprise and Crush the Enemy. It feels epic.

Finally, there are only 4 players. QMG:WW2 really needed 6 - there were rules for fewer, but it was unsatisfactory, at best. With 4, this is more likely to get to the table, Also, you are only engaging with one ally, there shouldn't be any 2 on 1 bashing that characterized the best strategies in WW2, and you have less down time.

Additionally, you can use the Emergency Provision rule that came with the WW2 expansions, to find a critical card when you need it; this will make the game less swingy and dependent on initial draws.

Component-wise, the map is lovely, a great overview of Greece, and without some of the little "Is area X next area Y" ambiguities that spoiled WW2. The plastic pieces are adequate - I like the triremes and cities, the hoplites less so; but be clear, this is not a Cool Mini or Not production. The score markers are nice and chunky, and the player aids are *really* useful and very clear. The Kickstarter version (Available on our website) comes with slightly enhanced components, but...probably best to ignore their existence, I'm afraid.

Overall, my three friends were overwhelmingly positive, in contrast to their more ambiguous view on QMG:WW2. The game flowed quickly, felt thematic, and victories felt epic - Athens warding off attack after attack from the Spartan land machine, while spreading it's naval might was just great. Everyone was involved all the time - US and Japan can feel like (important) sideshows in WW2, but there's none of that here.
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Summary; if you liked QMG:WW2 you will love this, assuming you're comfortable with the change of era. Griggling Games have refined their ruleset, and smoothed out the rough edges of WW2. If you were ambguous about WW2, your are likely to really like VoD, based on our experience. If you hated QMG:WW2, then QMG:VoD is a similar game - if your concerns are among those addressed by the changes, it may be worth picking up, but if not whatever you disliked about the original may still apply here.

Original review at http://www.theludoquist.com/blog/post/3126/Victory-or-Death-...
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Kenneth Stein
United States
Toledo
Ohio
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Nice review. You've said a lot in a few paragraphs that hits home about the original.
 
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Gary Wilson
United Kingdom
Blandford
Dorset
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Interesting review and a different perspective to my own.

Love WW2 QMG am a bit cooler towards VorD although prefer the VorD theme.

To me the sheer joy of QMG was getting six players who may not even have played the game before and are quickly up and running with fast play and real team rivalry. The beauty of the mechanics (play a card, score, next player) are their simplicity and fast flow.

I feel VorD has more of an expansion feel - it takes a simple game mechanic and makes it a bit more complex. I was hoping for the WW2 QMG feel but in a different setting and for four players. I Still enjoyed it but felt QMG is at the simpler end of the spectrum and VorD has some fiddly rules.

Still like both and will still happily play either but WW2 QMG is lighter and more accessible and so will see more game play especially with the expansions that have come out for that.

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The Ludoquist
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Gary,
Fair points, and it may well be that it depends on your group. I met Ian at the UK Games Expo and he said that, in particular the supply rules were meant to make it more wargamey.

The three I played with are pretty hardcore gamers; possibly their dislike of WW2 was based on similar thoughts to you - that it was *too* simple for these particular players.

I'll report back after trying with some less 'heavyweight' players.

Nick
 
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HANJEL T
Spain
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Thanks for the review!
 
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Mattias Elfström
Sweden
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Very nice review. Of particular interest is your description of why you like or dislike the various elements of the game. Thankyou!
 
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Steven Hall
United States
Ft. Mill
South Carolina
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Outstanding review. I agree completely. VoD is a 10 out of 10 in my book!
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