Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review of A Spoiled Victory

“A SPOILED VICTORY”, an illustrated review DESIGNERS - ART ARTIST "A spoiled victory" is a game by Paul Fish and Hermann Luttmann. I bought it, after playing Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition) (VPG) which I enjoyed very much. I was looking for another game by Hermann Luttmann. As with books, I consider the designer (or writer) is more important than the subject. First time I play a game by Paul Fish. Tim Allen is the artist. Well known from VPG players, I guess. PRODUCT I didn't find any retailer in France which sells White Dog Games. But, they do offer pnp option on their website. Very nice opportunity for non-US customers to have access to their products for a friendly price. I regret, though, not having the original counters that come with the game ( I saw some pictures). Not only White Dog Games share designers and graphic artist with VPG, they obviously share the same printer and laser cut technology. The new gold banner counters in VPG are fantastic, I assume the same with WDG.... ARTWORK The artwork is very clear and net as usual with Tim Allen. Counters and map are easy to read. You've got all the information you need at first glance. Cards are perfectly readable. Very functional. RULES Clear as crystal. English is not my native language and rules with ambiguities can be a real nightmare for me. Nothing of the kind there. Concise, examples of play and designers' notes throughout the rules. Rules are straightforward with enough explanations, thus it's very logical and easy to remember. I read the rules while playing my first game. After the second game, I was confident enough to leave the rulebook aside. GAME MECHANISM The AI is driven by a very small deck of cards (36 cards). I love the card system since D-Day at Omaha Beach. But I was not sure about such a small deck : Suspense ? Replayability ? The card system is ingenious. You draw a card nearly every step of the sequence (in red thereafter) - and not one card only per turn. You've got 18 turns to play until the end of the game : the deck is reshuffled very often.
Every card played for the event – only - is removed from the deck, thus never reshuffled: you know what will not happen in the following turns. But, you cannot predict what will happen with the cards that remain in the deck. So, you can optimize a strategy, but you cannot be sure of your choices. Very efficient and nicely done. THEME : COURAGE, RUN ! You're are in charge of a retreat. You have to escape from French beaches and sail to England saving the maximum evacuees to score victory points. At first sight, with the same designer(s) and art creator, I thought I was in front of a kind of stage of siege (VPG TM) game. After playing it, I realized I was wrong. As in every challenging solitary game, you get smashed by the enemy before you can do anything (don't worry, you will suffer a lot but not long, the Germans’ phases are handled very fast - combat system is very simple) Combat is resolved with dice roll. This was a very lucky roll. British unit took one hit only... When time to act finally comes, the best option is often to flee. You will sacrifice some of your troops or flood lowlands to delay German inexorable advance, anything that could "give" you some precious time. But your frontline troops are pretty inferior to German troops anyway. Don't expect to fight for long. You will have to retreat. It is not a static game at all. You move your troops and evacuees constantly. There is a major exception to the flee concept, though: you should protect Nieuport city from German occupation (Belgium troops who were in the sector will surrender very early in the game - historically accurate) and stay there as long as possible; otherwise 2 of the 3 channels tracks leading to England will be under German artillery fire and your precious evacuees will have a very hard time surviving... Attack seems rarely the best move. Very new feeling for a wargame. That's the first time I play a retreat subject. Some of you could not like this feeling.... But, once you get used to the idea, it's really fun to play. CONCLUSION "A spoiled Victory" is not a simulation, but the historical facts are nicely used without adding complexity to the game. Then, the rules and events are very logical. The AI is clever and gives a lot of meaningful decisions to make. I don't know if it is the subject or the implementation or both, but I felt the urgency and the lack of time in every game I played so far. It's a very tense game which plays in less than one hour. NB. Forgive my french. That's my first review. It was a hard task for me to write a long text but I wanted to add my small contribution to this game. I think it deserves interest. (Originally posted on BGG.)

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