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Kevin Garnica
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VIKTORY II

2-8 Players
30 Minutes-2hours…ish.
By Peter Morrison


Welcome to another installment of Kevin's Fun-Fulled, Five-Point Reviews.

Introduction:

I honestly was drawn to this game by the box cover alone. It just looked so dang cool, and I had never even heard of this game before. But without a picture on the back of the box, I had to do some research. It quickly went on my wish list…and stayed there for many, many months. Other games came and went, bought them, but this one stayed right there on my list for a very long, long time. I finally bit the financial bullet and took the plunge (it’s not an inexpensive game). And that’s because it is individually published, and boy can you instantly smell the degree of care and quality poured into each and every copy of this wonderful game. Mr. Morrison is to be commended for his labor of love.

1. Out of the Box:

Hundreds, and I do mean – HUNDREDS – of pieces are literally stuffed inside the box, all in prepackaged plastic baggies. How considerate. Oh sure, you can repackage the bits any way you want, but the fact that it came prepackaged is very thoughtful. For each player (and remember, there are 8!), there comes an entire army of toy soldiers comprised of your standard infantry, cavalry, artillery, and frigates (ships). Also, each player gets approx. 24 monopoly-style houses in 2 sizes that represent towns and cities. The plastic seems very sturdy, not easily bendable by normal gaming handlings.

Then there are the hexes. They are a good size relative to the plastic figures. There are hexes representing forests, mountains, plains, grasslands, and water. They are made of nice cardboard and all pre-punched. Along with the aforementioned tiles, there are also a number of “border” tiles, which are also water. And, there are large reference cards for each player. I’m a sucker for player aid thingies, so this easily impresses me, but it doesn’t hurt when the cards are actually very helpful to boot.

For a privately published game, I am tickled at the superb quality of the components.

- Some of the best bits for a privately published game
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

2. Rules:


The rules are written in perfect “wargame” format – you know – the “outline” decimal system. Everything is very clearly written and clearly organized. It was very easy to find rules, as they are written with a wonderful table of contents and more cross-references throughout than a New King James Life Application Study bible. If I had to gripe about anything about the rules, it would be the following: they are SO well written and perfectly organized, that it feels a bit like legalise when you’re reading. And because of that, I had a hard time trying to keep in my head, the bigger, overall picture of how to play the game. This doesn’t mean the game is complicated or complex, it isn’t. It just means that the wording and layout of the rules is a bit like reading a deposition; it’s very dry and matter of fact, few illustrations. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think the rules are very well written, just know that you need to put on your “reading comprehension” hat when slugging through the (brief?) 12 pages.

- If you appreciate the way they’re written (Fun-o-meter): 5/5
- If you don’t appreciate the way they’re written (Fun-o-meter): 3.9/5

3. Ease of Play:


Because the actual rules layout is not exactly congruent to the actual game play, my first couple of games were not without a few rules played incorrectly, or not at all. After clarifying things as we went along, it became increasingly fun, and I could definitely see the very real and high potential this game has for repeated play.

Basically, you flip tiles by exploring with your little soldier dudes, and try to go around building towns as quickly as you can, earning you more little soldier dudes. After that, you want to upgrade your towns to full-on cities, because that earns you even better soldier dudes – i.e. cavalry, artillery and frigates (I love saying that word.) But none of these little soldier dudes can be placed until the end of your turn, during the Reserve Placement Phase. After that, you want to move your troops around and try to kill off everything else that isn’t your color, and no, that’s not being racist. First player to dominate wins.

There are a few more subtleties to the game, but that’s basically the flavor of it. And let me tell you, it tastes good.

- Really easy, intuitive game play
Fun-o-meter: 4.7/5

4. Weight/Length Ratio:


The real beauty in this game is not only in the production value, but it’s in the way the units are essentially “married” to terrain type. You can only acquire an artillery unit through upgrading to a city on a mountain hex, specifically, or a cavalry unit through upgrading to a city on a grassland hex, etc. Oh sure, they can move around onto other terrain types, but you can only produce them through their specific terrain type, and they must enter game play through their respective terrain type. A player can also move farther between hexes if he has his town/cities a couple of hexes apart from each other, enabling a quicker, more “efficient” route.

Combat is also very clever, in that it doesn’t matter how many units are present in the battle, but how many different types. Viktory II rewards diversification in battle. You get one die for having a certain type of unit fighting. Rolling ones are “tactical hits,” which means the attacker chooses the unit lost. Twos and threes are hits, but the defender chooses the loss. And four through six are misses. Simple and genius, not overly complicated, but well thought-out. The game encourages combat, not turtling. But the defense is not without a fighting chance, as they can fire back and use defensive terrain to aid them.

The game takes a variable amount of time, depending on the number of players. The most current edition of the game supports eight players, so I’m thinking not more than a couple or few hours, max. A two-player game can theoretically be completed in about a half hour, maybe an hour. Any way you slice it, a light, tactical wargame that plays in a relatively much shorter amount of time is always welcome, and never a bad thing. What’s even more amazing is that this game is actually quite good!

- Pleasantly surprising amount of strategy for a short wargame
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

5. The “F” Factor:


Replayability is high, especially since the modular board is never the same twice. You can also vary the size of the board within any number of players, really, thus creating an “eight-player board” for a two-player game. Plus, with the new set of “expansion” rules, there are many subtle, little ways in which you can tweak the game, creating a slightly different approach/agenda/strategy every time. Downtime is minimal, since turns go by pretty quickly. And analysis paralysis shouldn’t be a problem, unless you have someone who wants to be a commanding general in their next life and takes 10 minutes to play their turn. The choices aren’t necessarily obvious, but they are few enough not to be overwhelming.

While the board may be a tad abstracted with the terrains and the look and feel of them and whatnot, the plastic minis make up for it. I rather like the “early America” feel to the units. The only thing missing is actual historicity, but then again, this game could be any number of wars, battles, or locations from that era. And that’s the beauty of it. It leaves it open-ended enough, and yet has a very distinct feel to it because of the figures.

To me, this is the little wargame that could (which, incidentally, doesn’t feel so little), without the time commitment. I didn’t know that combination was possible. This game is everything Risk wishes it was, and not everything Axis and Allies ought to be ashamed of espousing. In other words, it’s a good blend of the best parts of both, right in the middle between the two. If the idea of a semi-abstract, light (and fast-playing), tactical wargame sounds like something that might interest you, Viktory II is definitely worth supporting. Don’t be a skeptic like me. My only regret was waiting so long to make what turned out to be such a sound gaming investment.

- Definitely fun
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

Overall: Highly recommended.

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Christopher Donovan
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Thanks for the review, I have this one but haven't tried it yet. Maybe I should move it up the playlist.
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Kevin Garnica
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I think you'll be pleased. Once the subtleties are mastered, the game really does shine, imho.
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Dan Rivera
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A great game and the designer/publisher has some very good tutorials on his site. My only complaint about this game is that a 2 player game is decided by the first battle so I wouldnt recomend it for 2. Play with 3 or more and its one of or possible the best beer and pretzels wargames out there. I couldnt reccomend it enough.
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Brandon Pennington
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If your orange juice doesn't burn on the way down, then you need more vodka!
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yup, what Dan said.
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Andrew Tullsen
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Yup, what Brandon said.
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Darren Dew
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Thanks for the input, all of you. You've made my decision!
 
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Jon Grey
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How long do you guys think a typical 8 player game would take?
 
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Mark Buetow
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Move! Advance! Fire! Rout! Recover! Artillery Denied! Artillery Request! Command Confusion...say what?!
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SPARTAN VI wrote:
How long do you guys think a typical 8 player game would take?


Depends on the Viktory Conditions. You might play til the Fall of the second capital, for instance.

Eight is pretty crazy but fun. You might want to let players "mulligan" a bit if they get bad initial draws. We had a guy who was tight the whole game on a little island. With eight, it wasn't happenin' for him.
 
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