VICTORY WWII [2nd Edition] is a revised version of Tom Dalgliesh's VICTORY:Blocks of War Columbia Games 1998
It comes with Version 3.0 Rules which you can download freely from the Columbia Games website.
The back of the box sleeve lists the components as 100 wooden blocks, whereas there are 124. These are divided 60 Red, 60 Blue and 2 of each spares. The list doesn't mention stickers, thus giving a first-time buyer the impression that the blocks are pre-printed, but of course they aren't - any regular 'blocks' game player would know that. There are two identical sheets of 60 stickers each, so players looking for a set for Red and a set for Blue won't find them, nor will they find anything about them in the rules booklet. Take the plunge and use one sheet for each colour, you won't be wrong.
I had thought that perhaps the Box Sleeve had been re-used from the previous edition to save on printing costs and thus keep down production costs and nicely, the price of the game for players. But seeing as the large star that proclaims "Second Edition" has been printed on and is not, as I first suspected, a sticker, then the box covers had to be reprinted anyway. Of course this doesn't detract from the fun of the game, but it may well make previous players think twice if they haven't read anything about the second edition changes and again it may confuse players who are buying the game for the first time and cannot equate the components they have to those shown in bright colours on the box.
There is also a sheet of cardboard counters (Air, Naval and Ground units plus some specials such as the Atom Bomb and Mulberry Harbours) which are die-cut but not very well cut around the edges of each bloack. Use a craft knife carefully around the edges and if you are pedantic about your pieces carefully cut along every die-cut line with your craft knife. The counters will push out into strips and then 'break/snap' into single pieces but will almost always leave rough edges or tears. This is, in my experience, rather unusual for Columbia Games who are generally very sharp and concise with the quality of their pieces.
As this is a sandbox game, a game with so many possibilities, the four maps, each 16 ins x 11 ins, are designed to create a multitude of different theatre configurations. There are scenarios included, starting with the quick-play game, and once you have played through them and know the rules inside-out you can easily create your own scenarios and battles.
VICTORY is a war-game that uses the technology of the second World War but none of the actual History. You won't find the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle for Stalingrad, the Invasion of Normandy, El Alamein, Midway, Guadalcanal etc etc etc but you can reproduce your own versions of them. You can even drop Atomic Bombs but in this game they have just about the same effect as Hand Grenades do in other WWII tabletop war-games.
To ensure the game plays at the fast rate it is meant to, each side has a pre-move move, this being the SM (Strategic Movement) which allows Blocks to move up to 6 hexes to get into position but without allowing them to actually initiate combat by entering an opponent controlled hex. Ships can sail to friendly harbours, planes to friendly Air Strips while Ground troops are Force Marched along road hexes which may be friendly or neutral; usually units may not enter Neutral hexes except with the intent of capturing them.
During regular movement units may move into combat position and opponents may move up reinforcements. One of the exciting rules of combat is that when this occurs only the attacking troops (the units that moved in) and the enemy units that were already in the hex fight the first Round, the supporting units arrive in time for the next phase of the battle.
The rules say that "some maps have resource hexes" but they don't, not in the base boxed game, but I understand they will be or are already on future maps and expansion game maps. I scoured the maps and saw no sign of them on any of the four maps. However, the players do have two blocks each that show a Shovel and Pick-Axe crossed; these are Resource Blocks and by moving them into Cities or Factory hexes they yield additional PPs (Production Points) which may be spent on new Units or to 'repair' damaged Blocks by rotating them anti-clockwise one Step for each PP. What I haven't discovered is whether the Resource Unit Blocks are removed from play after being used or whether they can move into different Cities or Factories to be used again; we play the former and remove them from play otherwise they are too powerful. New units costs are shown in the small yellow circle at the bottom left of the Blocks (Note: the back cover of the box shows the older style Blocks) but these units only arrive at Step One, further PPs can be spent to raise the Steps one at a time.
For a wargame about WWII that isn't historical most of the units will be recognisable;
AIR: Fighters, Dive Bombers, Torpedo Bombers, Medium Bombers and Heavy Bombers.
NAVAL: Submarines, Aircraft Carriers, Battleships and Cruisers.
GROUND UNITS: you always need basic Infantry as well as Marines, Airborne (Paras), Engineers, Artillery, Armour and Mechanised.
VICTORY uses fairly simple game play mechanics in comparison to the many and varied tabletop war-games there are available in the stores. This is definitely not just a step or two above RISK though it can be played with the same frenetic energy, it is, after all, a strategy game (like Risk) where die rolls determine each step of the battles (like Risk).
The rules are very neat and easy to follow, but I'd like to point out one war game rule that can sometimes be cause for confusion works excellently in VICTORY and that is the 'FOG of WAR'. Instead of having to check charts and tables and cross-reference units abilities and resources to discover if troops are visible on the Battlefield or not, when not moving or in combat Blocks are kept on their edges facing their owning/controlling player so they are blind to opponents.
I would describe VICTORY Second Edition as a lite entry into the world of tabletop wargaming. It has all the interesting and entertainment factors of a heavier game, well perhaps not 'all' but certainly enough. For the aid of new players and expected by experienced players there are sidebar rules reminders, game examples to ensure that once you have read the rules book you can find anything you need with a flick and glance, and a back page 5-step sequence as a reference of play.
This is a classical WWII game, units depend on Supply, whether they are Ground (continuous road), Naval (friendly/neutral sea hexes between friendly harbours and ports) and Air (Friendly Cities with a Supply Line), Battles are fast and deadly, units can stack (in fact they have to when setting up in Cities), Blocks have less information than some game counters I have encountered (can you encounter a counter I counter?) but that is good because the info on these Blocks is clear, by which I mean easy to read and understand. All Blocks have a letter in their top left corner which determines the phase in combat that they fire, A before B, B before C etc. with B+ as an exception (it comes between A and B).
I could make (an unecessary) list of all the similarities and differences between VICTORY, VICTORY 2nd Ed. and other Tabletop Wargames, but instead let me say that I enjoy playing wargames but do not always have the required 4 hours plus whereas it is usually possible to complete a scenario in around 2 hours and still have that satisfaction of high involvement.
Columbia Games are always looking for more scenarios for VICTORY. If you have created your own scenarios and they play well then please submit them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
INVASION OF THE HOME ISLAND: 2 Player scenario roughly simulating the planned invasion of Japan in WWII.
TITANIC LAND STRUGGLE: 2 Player scenario roughly simulating the Eastern Front
WESERUBUNG: 2 Player scenario roughly simulating the German attacks of Denmark and Norway in 1940.
BANANA WAR: 2 Player scenario on maps 5 and 15. Neutral city states lie between two powerful forces. Uses elite blocks and factories.
MISSION VICTORY: Players try to fulfill a mission unknown to their opponant
ISLAND GRAB: 2 Player scenario. Maps 2 and 4.
DECISION AT AUXERRE: 2 Player rush to control Map 1. Excellent introductory scenario.
PENINSULA DRIVE: 2 Player Scenario based on the Allied campaign in Italy.
NASSBUKTEN: 2-4 player Struggle to control a rocket-lauching site in Axis Germany. PDF FORMAT ONLY
REBELION IN KARAKISTAN: 2 Player modern warfare PDF FORMAT ONLY
CANAL ZONE: 4-Player battle for Canal Antonio. Includes Multi-Player Rules.
CENTERPUNCH: 4-Player battle over a neutral island. Includes Multi-Player Rules.
ANGEL RUN: Convoy Resource blocks through defended waters.
TWO IF BY SEA: Execute a long range invasion across a large ocean
THE BIG ONE: Multi-Player empire building scenario.
NEUTRAL IN THE MIDDLE: Two players a separated by a Neutral Army.