R L Moses
China
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This is an excellent game. It is both an accurate simulation and a very much a puzzle for the player, especially if one casts it alongside 'State of Siege' games—very fine products in their own right, but quite different (many are about campaigns not a single confined battle)—and tries to compose an optimal strategy. At Dunkirk, as memoirs and many analyses make clear, everything had to fall into place for the miracle to be made. A good deal of the brilliance of the design is that there is likely no ideal approach so much as a flexible response to events that one hopes will work at the end of the day.

If there is a glitch, it’s in the lack of clarity about which side one is really playing. If this as much an escape game as a war-game, as the designer concedes, it is not always apparent if one is the prisoner trying to dash across the water or the warden trying to prevent the getaway. Despite the fact that the system demands you to make decisions as the British, much of what occurs in the game is aimed at the Germans. The game assumes that the decision has already been made to evacuate; that the Battle for France is over (and as Winston Churchill intoned, “the Battle for Britain is about to begin”); and that victory or defeat is driven by how many people you can get to the shoreline and then off the beaches. There is no allowance for the possibility of making a stand and then a breakout against German forces bearing down: the battle is lost, and continuing the war rests on fleeing instead of fighting. It’s a Management Evacuation game as much as a military simulation.

Because of that focus, the game is a set of decisions that are tradeoffs, and very much dependent on the choices made and reacting to the card draw and distribution. It’s very impressive that the designer provided a set of interesting optional rules; that is, the ability to stiff-arm or even subvert the cards one draws, to make sure that the player, not the cards, bear the vast bulk of responsibility for what happens—something that seems to be rare in many recent solitaire games, where one fastens the seat-belt and rides along instead of being belted across the mouth for roads chosen or not taken. Decisions in this design matter. This is a simulation that feels very much like a scramble, making choices and then making do when events overtake.

At the same time, because so much is about what the Germans do and how you as the Allied player react, there is a curious mix of waiting to see where the German pressure is going to come, and then responding to it. But many memoirs and various analyses depict the British as hell-bent on preparing to get out many days ahead of the actual evacuation. Those accounts make it seem that by the time the simulation starts, it’s the German side that’s reacting, not the Allies. Wermacht commanders and the Luftwaffe are wondering what Hitler is going to do, if the main battle is yet to be fought once the British leave, and what to do about logistical lines that are getting rather long and supplies that are starting to get short. So at points one is really playing both sides--the Germans, waiting for cards, and the Allies, wondering what sort of a situation that the turn produces. It's not at all clear whether that's what was transpiring during the actual campaign. The designer does not claim to depict that level of fidelity, but because so much of the game is constructed to replicate what transpired (and does so well at it), it's uncertain where that leaves players trying to understand the campaign as a whole.

The map, as handsome as it is, is not much help in this larger regard either. If one is truly playing the British, why is the map oriented as if one is the German High Command looking for an opening? Might it have been better to have the map positioned with the player sitting in London, or offshore somewhere, surveying the situation as British commanders would have done?

Then there’s the title, which is also very much from the German perspective—the result of Wermacht commanders after the war endeavoring to show their strategic genius (and lack of culpability) by blaming Hitler and his whims for “spoiling the victory”. The name of the game (as it were) seems to put the onus on the player not to spoil the victory—but for whom? Perhaps the designer’s intent here is to be at least somewhat ironic: that Hitler did not spoil it, the British did—and that’s your objective as the player. There would be brilliance in that, and should not surprise those of us who have played what is very much a brilliant game.

It’s good to see that "A Spoiled Victory" is going to be renamed and offer a two-player option (which if the comments above are accurate may be more straightforward than it might first appear) in the long-promised updated edition to be published by Legion Games. Kudos too to White Dog Games for reprinting the game in the interim, and providing others with the opportunity to see outstanding and detailed design at work. There are some issues, but there is also an enormous amount to be admired in this game—one of the few in solitaire form that works as both an intellectual puzzle and a historical simulation, giving the player ample opportunities to make decisions and celebrate and suffer for them. "A Spoiled Victory" is a simulation to be savoured.
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Florent Leguern Conciergerie Easylife
France
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France
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After all, a murder is only an extroverted suicide.
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Interesting insight on the game

I wonder then how the game - if ever it will be adressed - will change that impression of "lack of side" you mention. I don't recall having seen such mentions in other tests before... I'm quite curious about other's reactions on this.

Not that I particularly mind : if the gameplay doesn't rely on hidden info or asks the player to "forget" about the other opponent when playing either side, then it's fine.
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