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Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games      This is another game where I am entering uncharted t...

Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games Victory: World War II Second Edition by Columbia Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Tom Dalgliesh

Victory: World War II Second Edition

by

Columbia Games



  




 This is another game where I am entering uncharted territory. I was a dedicated hex and counter gamer for many years. Within the last two years I have been shown the errors of my ways as far as block and area wargames. Now Columbia Games has sent me a huge bundle of the game and add-ons for their game Victory. Victory is not a historical wargame. I know I shuddered too when I realized it. Victory allows you to fight a sandbox World War II, and what a sandbox! Especially with the add on maps, you can create pretty much any type of map configuration you want. I haven't seen anything with this randomness except in computer games. Of course, I have to add that until this game I held my nose up over non-historical wargames. Guess what, once more I have had to adjust my thinking about wargames. Let us see what comes with the base game:

4 Geomorphic Maps
100 Wooden Blocks
Logistic markers
Game Rules
4 Dice

Add-ons I was sent:

Victory Blockset Orange
Victory Blockset WW2 German (Black)
Victory Blockset WW2 USA (Green)
Victory Blockset WW2 Soviet (Red)
Victory Dirty Dozen 12 Map Bundle (3-4, 7-16)

There are too many other add-ons to list that can be purchased to enhance the game. Here is the webpage:





 Like the rest of Columbia Games, it is a deceptively easy game to begin playing. The rules are only nine pages long, and that includes a page of Advanced Rules. Let us look at the sequence of play:


[1] INITIATIVE: Each player rolls 2d6. Highest total becomes Player Turn 1 for this Game Turn. Roll again to break ties for highest roll. 
 [2] MOVE PHASE: All players move, starting with Player-1, then clockwise in sequence.In turn, a player may move any/all unpinned units, but must make Strategic Moves (5.9) first. Hex control changes immediately
 [3] COMBAT PHASE: Each battle where Player-1 is the Attacker is fought to a conclusion in any sequence chosen by Player-1. Then resolve all battles where Player-2 is the Attacker, and so on. Reveal blocks only when a battle is fought. Aircraft involved in a battle, land after their battle ends.
 [4] SUPPLY & VICTORY CHECK: (Simultaneous)Check Supply of your units (See 7.0). Unsupplied Ground/Air Units immediately lose 1 step. Naval units ignore supply.• Determine if the game has been won by any player. Otherwise go to step [5].
[5] PRODUCTION PHASE (Simultaneous)Build with available PPs in supplied cities. 




Add on German, Soviet, and USA Stickers


 The game is one where both sides have exactly the same units and unit values (except for some of the historical units). I haven't played a game like this since Tactics II in the 1960s. I will tell you this, I had completely forgotten how tense and fun Tactics II really was. I always looked back at it as a quaint way to get into real wargaming. How wrong I was. The fact that you do not have a panzer unit with a strength of twenty-four or have to worry about your opponent having one puts an entirely new spin on wargaming. Oh sure, you could try to put all your tanks together, but that leaves the other player the chance to attack at numerous other points and possibly cut off your tanks. It is like a boxing match where both of the boxers have the same punch and strengths. So you are forced to play as well as you possibly can. I have included a link for the games FB page. There you can find user made scenarios, and some of them are historical in nature. As usual with a Columbia Block Game, the blocks have their different strength steps printed out on the block. This way you just turn the piece instead of looking for another counter. You can also handicap each player if needed by starting some of their units at a lower or higher strength.The built in fog of war that block games have is present as usual, although I have had no problem playing any of their games solo so far. 


 These are some of the unit markers used in the Advanced Rules:

Factories
Storms
Destruction Markers for destroyed bridges and canals
Airfields
Mulberries




Logistic markers


 This is the second edition of Victory: World War II. The 'elite' units, which have been tweaked and modified, are now included with the main game. I am a bit confused as to why there are not more reviews of this game, and not much postings or talk about the game either. It doesn't have many votes, but is very highly rated on BGG. As I mentioned, I had forgotten how much fun a sandbox game can actually be. Thank you, Columbia Games, for letting me review Victory, and for reminding me of my wargaming roots.



One of the Add On Maps You Can Buy

 This is a neat idea to take your Victory battles to a lower level:



Have an climatic battle taking place in Victory? Use Combat Infantry, Columbia Games’ tactical World War 2 wargame to play that battle out at squad level!




 
 This is the link for Columbia Games:

http://columbiagames.com/

 This is the link for the game:

http://columbiagames.com/victory/ 

This is a link to the Victory FB page where you can find user created scenarios:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/346333536011986/


 

Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games   Columbia Games touts itself as 'the home of block wargami...

Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games Pacific Victory Second Edition by Columbia Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Tom Dalgliesh



by







 
Columbia Games touts itself as 'the home of block wargaming'. With the amount of games and how long they have been producing them, who am I to argue? I have reviewed two of their games so far: 'Julius Caesar' and 'Combat Infantry'. Julius Caesar is a good game, and it has a large following. However, I think Combat Infantry is a great game and a blast to play. So, they were kind enough to send me the second edition of 'Pacific Victory'. I never played the first edition, so I cannot compare the two. I will look online and see other people's comparison and see if there are any good or bad things that there are a consensus about.

 So first let us look at what comes with the game:
  • Large 9 panel mapboard
  • 2 sets Rules v2.5, in color with improved balance and victory conditions
  • 8 6-sided dice
  • 132 wood blocks plus some replacements in four (4) colors:
    • orange: IJN, 66 blocks;
    • blue: US, 39;
    • brown: British, Indian, ANZAC, 17;
    • yellow: China, 10.
  • Block artwork is new.

 The game also comes with two rule books, which is an excellent idea. Now two gamers can read their own copy, so you do not have to waste your time copying the rule book. More games should do this.


Back Of The Box

 There is a campaign game and these are the additional scenarios:

1941: Rising Sun - 4 hour playing time
1942: High Noon - 3 hour playing time
1943: Setting Sun - 2 hour playing time

 The victory conditions are:
Pacific Victory is played until one
player gains a Decisive Victory, or until
completion of the Jun/45 Turn. At this
time, the Japanese player totals Victory
Points (VPs) and consults the table below:
JVPs Victory Level TPs
25+ Japanese Decisive 3
16–24 Japanese Victory ('45) 2
13-15 Stalemate ('45) 1/1
6-12 Allied Victory ('45) 2
0-5 Allied Decisive 3
Victory Points are equal to supplied
Production Points.
Tourney Points (TPs) can be used to
compare game results. 


Map


 The game also comes with nine different optional rules. Some of these are:

Banzai: 
 Japanese individual Infantry or Marine units can declare a Banzai attack. This increases the unit's firepower for one fire against a target unit. But the unit is eliminated unless it eliminates the target unit.
Fanatic Defense:
  Japanese Infantry or Marines have D2  defending any minor base, but cannot retreat.
ASW:
 Submarines become their own target
group. They can be attacked only by
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) combat.
Allied naval units (except CV) have ASW
firepower of N2 and the Japanese have
N1. The firepower of Air units, Carriers,
and Submarines are unchanged.

 The game also covers the entire Pacific War. The game does come with rules so that the Chinese part of the war is removed. This makes for a quicker game.

Stickers

 The map is large, and is relatively simple looking. However, this approach works well for the game. It is easy to read and figure out the different terrain. The large amount of blocks to sticker might be a problem for some people. I lucked out and lassoed my daughter into helping me. The stickers are very good looking. They  are also simple without any great embellishment. The blocks are the standard size, so they are easy to read and see at a glance what units you have where.



Map Closeup

 Each unit is marked with an  A,B,CD, or E. These represent where during a combat round a unit attacks. A goes first etc. If both sides have the same letter in the combat round, the defender attacks first. Battles can be fought for a maximum of three combat rounds. During a combat round a unit can either fire/attack or retreat. The blocks, as usual, are marked with dots on each side to show their strength at that moment. The number of dots also represents the number of die that the unit can roll during firing. In the lower right hand of the stickers is a list of numbers, for example  1-2-3. This corresponds to the die roll an enemy would have to roll for a hit. The numbers 1-2-3 would equal the die roll for attack by an Air, Naval, or Ground unit, A/N/G in the rule book.



Back Of The Rule Book

 I have played some monster games on the Pacific War. I have also played some much smaller and simpler ones that played very quickly. I would place this game in the middle of these two types of games. This game is able to be played in one gaming session, but it is also deep enough to keep players coming back for more. I am not a fan of light 'beer and pretzels' games. So be assured this is not one of them. The only real disagreement I would have with the designer (Tom Dalgliesh) is the choice of units and unit strengths. The battles are quickly played out in the game. So, you might even be able to get two games in on gaming night. This is a good game in that while it doesn't try to be a simulation of the Pacific War is still a good fun game for players. 



Counters Closeup

 As far as it being the Second Edition (with 2.5 version rules), people seem to only have good things to say about it compared to the first version. It has larger map, more leaders, and overall the rules have been tweaked to be even better.Thanks again to Columbia Games for letting me review this game. Now, get to work on the Eastern Front for Combat Infantry.

Robert

The box in all its American 2-2-0 glory. The Last Spike is a simple economic game that plays in about 45 minutes. That time is accura...

The Last Spike The Last Spike

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Tom Dalgliesh



The box in all its American 2-2-0 glory.
The Last Spike is a simple economic game that plays in about 45 minutes. That time is accurate for your first game and if every one at the table is familiar with the rules the game still plays in about 45 minutes... The rules are one of the simplest I have come across, almost as light as a party game which is a little strange coming from Columbia Games. This game serves as a very basic introduction to railway games, economic games or block games, take your pick, but you're not getting a comprehensive induction to either of those genres by playing this. However, don't think I didn't like it either, I did and it's in my 'games to take to game group bag' from now on; read on for my thoughts.

I have had this game for months waiting for a review but every time I'd pull it down, or take it to a game group, it wouldn't get played because the box is not as attractive as games from a triple-A publisher like Asmodee, or FFG.  The game, or at least my attempt to play it with both of my gaming groups, almost became a bit of a joke so I pounced on some unsuspecting house guests, neither of whom are/were gamers for my first play.  Even my wife (Queen of the non-gamers, at least that's what it feels like to me!) played it and spoiler alert... everyone enjoyed it. 
The quiet early game
My wife even went so far to say that although she thought she would hate it, primarily because of the drab brown box it came in, she would definitely play it again; that's a massive two thumbs up from me.  My gaming group were reluctantly subjected to this game the week after, on my insistence, and we played with a full complement of 6 players, which the rule book advises is not the ideal number of players (3-5 being optimum) and no real slow down in play was noticed. 

Your turn consists of playing one of the four track tiles in your hand, buying a city card and refilling your hand of track tiles back up to four.  There are a few exceptions to this for example if a track connecting two cities is completed by your track, the city will pay out to every player who has bought the connected cities cards, i.e. invested in that city.  The end of the game immediately happens when a continuous route from Saint Louis to Sacramento can be traced. This action will also bequeath a $20,000 bonus to the player who place the eponymous 'last spike'. 
City Investment Cards
Each track piece can only be placed in a specific spot, indicated by the coordinate on the tile and the matching coordinate on the board, e.g. B3 or Z1 etc.  This allows you to play a little tactically by holding back pieces that you know your opponents are waiting for, although this does severely limit your own hand from 4 pieces to 3, and you have to balance your satisfaction from denying your opponents a big pay day, with limiting your own opportunities. I think the longest I've held onto some track, hoping to cause an opponents bankruptcy (it never happened) was about 6 turns. 

Talking of money, you start with $35,000 denoted by white red and blue wooden discs ($1, $5 and $10 respectively).  Although I described this as an economic game it doesn't ever feel like you're going to run out after that first pay day. I have seen a player down to $4,000 as they had heavily invested in one city (not recommended by the rules) and it hadn't payed out in the early game.  I would have like to see a slightly tighter economic game, especially at higher player counts - it never felt like money was an issue and by the end of the game every one is as rich as Croesus. 
The train-robbing end game
The winner is simply the person with the most money, bearing in mind the $20,000 bonus for laying the last spike, at the end of the game. The end-game is where this game is best. During the early stages of the game it doesn't really feel like you're doing much as the board is relatively empty and your track lays don't feel like they have much consequence; other than looking to see which Cities are most likely to pay out earliest. However, the end-game feels very different; by then everyone has a firm grasp on all the rules (achieved by the second round) and is attempting to work out how to be the last player and getting the $20K bonus.  This is largely down to the tile draw but delaying tactics can buy you some time and sometimes the game.

Unfortunately that end-game tension does not have an early game comparison. The beginning of the game feels more like a full on cooperative game with no 'take that' present, yet in the last 10 minutes the game morphs into a hybrid between all working towards the same goal and doing their upmost to crown themselves winner, or denying others that chance. 


"Hunky Chunky ... Game Blocks"
Some would see the very simplistic game play as a negative but this game (in terms of game play alone) went over very well with my family, my pseudo-non-gaming-but-will-humour-him-if-necessary friends and my game group. The one resonant criticism that those groups all had was the components. They criticised the board, the box and even the counters which I don't think is particularly fair, but it does highlight that I think this game would be most enjoyed by a non-gamer who will probably not be enticed by the aesthetic of this game. The tired-but-have-got-time-for-one-more-game type of gamer (I fit nicely into that category on game night), can easily overlook those criticisms and in fact would champion small publishers releasing interesting games that maybe don't have the production quality of the big hitters.

The blocks are the familiar nice and chunky size of those in a block wargame and I have no issues with the stickers or cards.  However, I'm not a fan of the money, although it does its job, unmarked denominations feels a but under-produced. The board and box are fine, nothing more, although maybe not what you would expect these days. However, as a small publisher, I would rather Columbia Games continue to publish games with solid game play like this, than waste their money trying to match CMON's latest Kickstarter.
The box slip cover
I was pleasantly surprised by this game, the game play is very easy to pickup, and is the perfect game to play either at a game group whist waiting for another table to finish up, or to introduce the very basics of train, economic or even block games to someone. There is variable game play, as you progress through the game it gets progressively meaner and there certainly are some interesting tactical decisions to be made later on. The components are a bit of a mixed bag, I really like the blocks, I didn't like the money discs, and everything else was perfectly fine.

I would like to thank Columbia Games for sending this review copy of the game and also send my apologies for taking so long to convince my friends to play it... Somehow I don't think it'll take so long to get it back to the table now that they've tried it.

You can still pick up a copy of this at many online retailers or direct from Columbia Games if you want to support a small independent board game publisher directly for $39.99 which I think is a very fair price for the amount of wood in the box. They also publish the rules on their website here. 
PixelPLaybox.co.uk