Judit Szepessy
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Introduction

My only exposure to wargames has been playing Memoir '44 a few times and 1989 Dawn of Freedom (well, if it considered a wargame). So this is not much, but I have always been open to submerge into these waters – even if I suffer heavy losses. Hence, I was happy and excited when I got the chance to learn and play Viktory II. The game is an abstract wargame with relatively easy rules and attractive components. Because I am far from being an expert in wargames, I am not going to compare Viktory II with other wargames. What I am going to do is to give a short rules explanation and then give my opinion of the game. I can tell you in advance, that I am enthusiastic about this game.

Components

The game is for 2 – 8 players and it comes with lots of attractive plastic pieces: cavalry, artillery and frigate units, towns and cities. Some people dislike plastic pieces, but the components here are functional and do not fall or clutter the board. The board is comprised of Settler like hexes that you have to put in face down between the edges. I would not mind having a proper board, but this kind of set up offers a lot of replayability, as the hexes will likely never be put down in the same order. I have to admit that I prefer the hexes in Memoir '44, but Viktory II is published by a small company, and probably this is the reason for having less attractive looking board hexes. But the innumerable nice plastic pieces make up for the hexes.
The rule book is well written and explained, I only wish it would contain more pictorial illustrations of certain elements, especially about the attack phase.



Gameplay

I appreciate games that come with relatively simple rules but offer challenging decisions, and Viktory II is such a game. At the beginning of the game the tiles are turned faced down. When it is your turn you start exploring the territory you are going to fight in by flipping over three hexes each time you have a turn. The rules come with a starting position for initial hexes flipped over. The size of the modular board is based on the number of players. Players then chose their capital, add a town with infantry and can start moving their troops and discover the battle scene. Players reveal hexes when they build a town, place a frigate or upgrade a town or city. Hexes are also revealed when players move their units on the board. There are certain restriction about building and upgrading towns.



There are four types of land terrain: Plains, Grass, Mountains and Forest. Each type of terrain supports different kind of troops. Towns support 1 Infantry unit. Cities support 1 Infantry unit plus one or two additional units depending upon the type of terrain where they are located. Plains Cities support 3 Infantry; Grassland Cities support 1 Infantry plus 1 Cavalry; Mountain Cities support 1 Infantry plus 1 Artillery, and Forest Cities support 1 Infantry plus 1 Frigate.
You can take three actions on your turn: 1. Move and attack 2. Build or/and upgrade 3. Reserve placement.

Movement: Infantry and Artillery have a Movement Allowance of 2 MPs per turn; Cavalry have a Movement Allowance of 3 MPs per turn.

Attack phase:
Attacks are conducted by rolling the dice. Players score a hit for each roll of ‘3’ or less.
First, for each ‘1’ rolled, the firing player achieves a ‘tactical victory’ and selects the unit the target player loses.
After those losses are applied the target player chooses his own losses for each ‘2’ or ‘3’ rolled. The attack phase is quite abstracted, you render the die depending on the type of troops you have and from how many directions you move your troops to the hex, and then you roll. It is interesting that it does not matter how many of each unit type you have but how many unit types you have amassed on your side at the battle. When resolving the attack, you put the units you lose in your reserve. Your units get eliminated when you lose the city that supports the troops.


attacking

In the Building Phase you place one or two new Towns on the map, or upgrade one of your Towns into a City, and you receive Reserve unit(s). With each upgrade you receive certain troops. This phase can be done quite fast, of course, it also depends on the number of players, and as soon as building and upgrading is done, you can only attack. Attacking will start even earlier. When building, you have to be careful how you position your town and cities: you want to be able to attack from as many directions as possible because you will have a reward of extra dice. You also want to be able to move quickly because if not you the other players will attack. Frigates and artillery are powerful because you can bombard with them before the actual attack, and frigates can transport your troops and have a longer range of movement.




Winning Conditions


Alternate winning conditions
Don't we love when a game gives you various conditions to win. In this game, there are five different scenarios that can lead to winning.
1. Standard Conquest: You win when all the other players are eliminated or concede.
2. Subjugation Conquest: You win when all other players are subjugated or concede.
3. Shorter Conquest: The game ends when the first capital is captured.
4. Race for Dominance: The first player whose empire is worth a certain number of points wins.
5. The Doomsday Clock: Once the first city has been captured in the game, start the Doomsday Clock. From that point, die roll decides who wins the game.

What I like about the game

1. Easy rules:
for me it always takes some time to internalize the rules and do a solo demonstration so that I teach it to other people. With Viktory II, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast I could comprehend the possible actions you can take, how your army can move, what happens with the casualties and the end game conditions. The challenging part was the attack phase with the die roll and how you resolve the attack. However, by getting one or two online games in, I soon learned this phase too.

2. Relatively fast gameplay:
with two players the game can easily be finished within an hour or even less, and you leave the table feeling you have had a tense, challenging and entertaining mental exercise, one fighting in a battle. Of course, the more people play the game, the longer it will take to clock a game in, but with more players you get a more interactive and challenging gameplay.

3. Interactive: you are constantly interacting with other players right from the beginning when you have to decide where you are going to place your capital and troops. Good positioning depends on what answer you give to other players’ decision. Later on, building and developing your strength and attacking ensures constant interaction. I really enjoy this side of the game.

4. Decision making: Viktory II challenges you with having to make complex and well thought out decisions. You have to be able to analyze the possible next steps your opponents might be planning to make, and to build up your position and strength in light of this. This game requires abstract thinking as you move and attack on a geographically varied board with troops of various strength. You also constantly have to respond to your opponent(s) moves

5. Fun components: the troops look attractive and help you get the feeling that you are in a war somewhere around in the eighteen hundreds. The shape and the realization of the plastic miniatures are realistic and makes the gameplay more enjoyable.

6. Having your own reserve: I like how you can place your casualties in your reserve and can put them back on the board any time in the game.

7. Excellent first step towards wargames with more complex rules. I already mentioned the relatively easy rules, and with this, you get a game where you constantly have to attack and defend and adjust your strategy to the current position of the board. So if you are interested to embrace the wargame genre, getting to know and playing this game can be a suitable first step!

What I do not like about the game

1. Somewhat fiddly combat rules:
I still have to get used to battles with a die roll (although the use of die is really simple in this game), and how you resolve the battles. This aspect of wargames I still find challenging, having to remember the number of dice you get depending on the type of army you have. Having said that, I know that this aspect of the game is streamlined compared to some other wargames.

2. Aggressive gameplay: to play the game well requires and rewards aggressive gameplay. You have to grab every opportunity to attack and summon your troops. You also have to be on your toes all the time and be aware of other players’ moves and plans. This is something I have to get used to in Viktory II, and this element will not appeal to everyone.

Recommendation

Viktory II is not build around scenarios and is not a card driven wargame either, so wargamers who prefer to play such games might not fall for this one. In this sense, the game is abstract, but it also means players are not constrained in any given scenarios but the gameplay offers lots of space for imagination.
The game blends abstract and wargame elements in a challenging and fun way. You constantly fight and build up defense, there is not dull moment in the game. It serves very well as an entry level to the wargame genre. Easy approach to the rules, but challenging enough gameplay. The game plays well with various player counts, and the replayability is very high. The hexes will always come up in different order, you will place your capital on various hexes depending on the tiles, and you will always have to adjust your strategy to the current gameplay, set up and style of the players.
Viktory II is often compared to Nexus Ops as a more favourable game, so if you like Nexus Ops, check out Viktory II.
You can play the game online:http://www.viktorygame.com/. It is a good way to become familiar with the rules, and you can also watch video tutorials of the gameplay there.

[Image courtsey of edjohns and f-p-p-m]
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Bill Paradise
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Thanks for the great review. I've been interested in this game for a long time. I just might have to pull the plug and get a copy soon.
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David Bohnenberger
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Great review of a great game. I have to say that your #2 "Dislike" "Aggressive gameplay" is at the top of my "likes" of this game. No turtling in this game! It's also nice that the player losing the battle will lose two units at most, so it does provide a chance for them to recover.

My only complaint about the game is the victory conditions. As you point out, there are a number of options, but they are all problematic in one way or another IMO. But it will not stop me from playing the game!
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Daniel
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Nexus Ops is better.
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Jonathan Harrison
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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dandechino wrote:
Nexus Ops is better.

Elaborate!
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Hunter Shelburne
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dandechino wrote:
Nexus Ops is better.


What a useless response without context.
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JB
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Weapon wrote:
[What a useless response without context.


Chill dude
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David
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JBTheChamp wrote:
Weapon wrote:
[What a useless response without context.


Chill dude


I thought it was a useless comment as well. snore
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Weapon wrote:
dandechino wrote:
Nexus Ops is better.


What a useless response without context.

He would have done better to give his rationale, but I tend to agree with him. Other threads detailing why some aren't thrilled with Viktory II aren't hard to find; this one for example:

After four hours, we ended where we began
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Glenn Martin
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comparatively speaking, Nexus ops is.
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Tim Royal
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Quote:
You can play the game online:http://www.viktorygame.com/


There doesn't seem to be any information on the link to where to play online. Unless I'm completely blind, which has happened before...

I bought this game several years ago but couldn't get the right group of players together to ever give it a fair shot. If it's online now, I could finally get some good playing time with it.
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Michael Novak
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Excellent review.

I first played this at BROGfest, and it was a gas. We had a tense, fun 5-player bash going. I have played Nexus Ops a few times, and almost bought it, but reconsidered as it seemed blander and more predictable to me - certainly more so than VII. I would play either, but probably VII more.

Another drawback for VII is the price. Not a cheap game.
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Judit Szepessy
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Quote:
There doesn't seem to be any information on the link to where to play online
.
Here is the link: http://gamesbyemail.com/Games/Viktory2#Join
You can start a game or join one. PBEM is an excellent way to play Viktory II. It also reinforces the rules, and does not let you make mistakes. Have fun!
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Daniel
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Elaboration: My experience with Viktory is that the board is too small for what it is. In 2 player games whoever goes first has the better position and will usually win the first big skirmish and it's all down hill from there. With more players perhaps there is more give and take but in my online play I have't ever got much enjoyment out of the game. I equate it to standard risk with the objective to just conquer the world. Once someone is big enough, he's unstoppable, and that person usually got that big because he/she went first.

While Nexus Ops is similarly a small board, it has secret objective cards that provide multiple pathways to victory. It's not just a simplistic wipe out your enemy game (which as I described early if you go first you usually can easily win in a small confined map with aggressive play). Nexus Ops attempts at least to balance for the huge advantage of going first by giving more units to later players and by making position not as important as is finishing objectives (even revised Risk attempts to balance for this go-first advantage). The game becomes more strategic as you are trying to play your cards and guess what your opponent is attempting to go for and the units are more unique and adaptable to what objective cards you're attempting to go after. The theme is also a bit bland for Viktory while Nexus Ops is obviously drenched in it.

I'm not saying Viktory is a horrible game and you'll never have fun playing it. No one should take my statement as a personal attack. I simply made the statement that "Nexus Ops is better" because the OP, without justification, made the sweeping statement that "Viktory II is often compared to Nexus Ops as a more favourable game, so if you like Nexus Ops, check out Viktory II."

Edit to add: Found this in the rulebook- "To add balance, in a 2-6 player game, the first player skips this step [initial troop placement] and only builds their Capital on their first turn." I don't think the online version of the game forced this.
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Tim Royal
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judoka wrote:
Quote:
There doesn't seem to be any information on the link to where to play online
.
Here is the link: http://gamesbyemail.com/Games/Viktory2#Join
You can start a game or join one. PBEM is an excellent way to play Viktory II. It also reinforces the rules, and does not let you make mistakes. Have fun!


Awesome! Thank you!!!!
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Tim K
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Great review of an excellent game, which is at the top of our favorites list by the entire family. We also highly recommend it.
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Mont A.
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Lovely pictorial additions to the review. Please accept a gold tip.
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Laurentiu Cristofor
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dandechino wrote:
In 2 player games whoever goes first has the better position and will usually win the first big skirmish and it's all down hill from there.


I wonder whether this was the case with earlier versions of the rules. As of 2.1, the first player only lays one town and the second lays two, so that seems to level the playing field.
 
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