Anatolis Victory Decision rules review
A review of the core rulebook and the Victory Decision rules is now up on my blog. Victory Decision offers a fast paced and easy to learn game for playing WW2 squads on a platoon or company level scale. In terms of miniatures the recommended scale is 15-28mm, but you can use both single or multibased with the rules adapting to either case.
Players take turns trying to activate single units through initiative rolls as they work their way through their forces, with each unit having several action points to spend on various actions such as movement, calling in artillery strikes, firing at the enemy, taking cover etc.
There is also a clever game mechanic which handles how hard units are to hit and to wound combined into one roll. This combined with units using both D6 and D10 dice depending on small arms and AT weapons this controls who and what can attack armored vehicles without disrupting the flow of the game and maintaining the basic formula of the game mechanics.
Check Anatolis Blog for the full review:
In depth review of “Victory Decision: World War II” – by Andreas Kopp
First published on the German Sweetwater Forum – June, 23 2011
The text is more or less literally translated to keep the original feel.
First of all, a short remark, whoever gets scared because he thinks – “Oops, just another new system. What happens now to me beloved already based figures …” - let me say to you, calm down. Agis Neugebauer, the author of Victory Decision, has a great heart for us painters and players.
Nothing needs to be rebased, and even though the game is meant for individual-based minis, the author clearly points out; that you can also use multibased infantry stands as in Flames of War. In the rulebook you will find examples of these infantry stands and special rules how you – as a player – have to handle these figures.
The lists of Victory Decision are a good reflection of original ToE’s and for experienced players there is a recognition value to games like Disposable Heroes. So a player, who has drawn up his troops to the DH scheme, can confidently face the future and that without worry lines in his face.
The layout of the rules is very professional.
Let’s have a look at game play and the activation procedure. The activation process is simple and bears a lot of fun. Each player nominates a unit to activate. Then the players roll for the initiative using their Leadership value as a dice modifier. The winner activates the chosen unit. So the course of the game is very open. It may be that a player succeeds more initiative throws during this activation process – Elite forces have better Ld values! There is no doctrinal UGO/IGO, but a fun based a bit unpredictable alternate unit activation.
Infantry units have three actions per activation. The player can choose from the following actions: Assault, Close Combat, Concentrate Fire, Hide, Infiltrate, Move (only the movement of the squad leader is measured, all other soldiers in the group are then grouped around him within Leadership distance. That’s really great and I love it. No more annoying measuring of each figure. I think hardcore DBx fans , “ …. that is my mm, not yours …”, will have there problems in accepting such a laxity). Regroup, Shoot, Spot and Take Cover are additional actions.
Explanations and examples of those actions are included in the rulebook.
As stated above, the system reminds me sometimes of Disposable Heroes, but the possibility to use more actions is really a new thing. Units can hide, they can take cover and sometimes they have to be spotted. Yes, it sounds good.
In my opinion, the 8,- GBP for the ebook are a really good investment.
In the next section the infantry abilities are treated. Here you learn something about ambushes, leaders, medics, tank hunters and pioneers, to mention only a few aspects that occur here.
It is striking that in this part of the rulebook capabilities of units are listed that definetly increase the fun of a wargame (unseen, nerves of steel, tenacity, untrained etc.) One can see that it is possible to make very special units, with very specific options. We will see if the rulebook will have a closer look on it. I suspect, that these special forces are dealt with in the army books.
I’ll keep you as up to date.
Now we have a look at the Weapon Features. The blast weapons use the good old template, but without a special dice for deviation. Because such a dice is missing, you can realize that the game was not written by a british or american writer. Why ??? There is really no equivalent in german language for friendly fire. Hope you understand, what I mean. ;-)
There follow descriptions of co-axial guns, flamethrowers, indirect fire .. my sarcasm was too early. Here you find a deviation rule.
Other discussed weapons features are: one shot, re-roll, save/x, scoped, set up/x, stabilized, suppression. One can even imagine here, what is meant by the mysterious x. A save/x means, for example, that if a weapon has such a profile, the saving throw is modified – for example - with -1.Bad luck, when the armor save of a figure is 6+. Yes, that is the good old Games Workshop DS (have I ever told you, that I’ve always loved the plasma guns of my Imps?).
Just before the vehicle rules (eagerly anticipated by me!), Agis explains in the chapter “a World of Scale” how to handle the rules with other miniature scales, like 15, 10 or even 6 mm. Very interesting, in my opinion, is the statement that the weapons range seems most realistic if you use 15 mm figures.
The description is supplemented by very well taken photos. It is obvious that Victory Decision meets all miniature scales and methods of miniature basing. It is really an open and generic system for all the different stuff you own.
I have the feeling that Agis disliked in the past the boring rebasing of his minis. That’s certainly his special form of revenge against various rivet counters, and a form of compassion towards players, who lack imagination and flexibility. Just my impression.
Now let’s take a look at the vehicle rules.
At first, the profile chart of the vehicles is explained. The system here is similar to that of the infantry – of course adapted to vehicles. Once again a big plus compared to Disposable Heroes, where I’ve always felt, that I enter a new world, when I come to the vehicle section.
Vehicles can choose between five actions: Close Combat, Concentrate Fire, Move, Shoot and Spot.
Close Combat actions are representing real world actions like ramming, driving or rolling over. What strikes me personally, is that, - as in many other systems -, the vehicle range is matched to that of the infantry. 4” for a Panzer IV. Is that realistic? OK - the player can choose two move actions per turn, plus 1 inch when moving on streets. But, in my opinion, the tank is also in this game more an infantry support vehicle than a breakthrough weapon. This is still acceptable for a skirmish system, but for me as a gamer, if I want to perform major operations with vehicles, than BKC and Flames of War will remain my favourites still in the future.
Amphibious, wheeled and tracked vehicles can be distinguished. And you can move and you are able to fire two weapons of the tank. No more Leman Russ tanks standing on the battlefield doing nothing. Yes, I like that.
The different types of guns are very well depicted. So for example the co-axial machine gun is used in a realistic fashion - to improve the quality / aiming of the main gun. Thumbs up from me!
Hit zones for vehicles are front, sides and rear area (90° each). There are different fire angles, depending on the type of weapon. Again 90 degrees arcs to the front, rear and sides. The firing arc is explained in the vehicle profiles or in the descriptions of weapons and so on.
The vehicle rules are simple – and I like it.
A vehicle has a certain number of structural points like hit or health points. A Tiger tank can withstand more hits as soft topped truck.
An example: A German PAK 40 (AT-Weapon) has a reach of 48”, and rolls D10+2 damage Dice. It’s a blast weapon/1”, with a save /-2. If such a gun hits a M4A3 Sherman tank, it hits the front of the tank on a 9+. A 12+ is a critical hit (the sides and the rear of the tank are lighter armoured, and so it will be easier to hit them). The Sherman tank has a save of 3+, which is modified by -2 because of the AP quality of the PAK 40. So you have to roll a 5+.
If the dice roll is successful the Sherman will loose a structure point. Luckily it has two. In case of a critical hit, the vehicle would be hit twice. If both saving throw fails, the vehicle explodes.
Maybe in the eyes of some readers the vehicle rules appear too simple. I think, they are simple, but they are great. Now I can rumble with more than one tank across the battlefield. It does not matter if the crew is shaken or stirred, whether the top rivet of the tank turret is hit or not, whether the tank commander has a cold or cough. Very clear rules, instead. Fast, fun, yet firmly based on real life tanks!
There is a tendency that many systems lay a claim to reality by complicating the rules. I love rules where the fog of war is defined with dice rolls and not with 1 million modifiers, or three different hit tables. If I want a 1:1 simulation, I go to the army. “Your nation is desperately seeking volunteers. I think you will be welcomed. Do you want to learn more ….” ;)
Rules of attacking and bombarding vehicles are also discussed in this section; also special rules for commanding vehicles. Like there infantry counterparts they have special options, such as the activation of other units, or the call in of an artillery or air attack. There are also rules for using smoke, for Tank Riders and other for transport vehicles.
There is even an unreliable property! If an unreliable vehicle (like an early Tiger) chooses two Move actions, you have to roll at the end of this step: If the result is 1, the vehicle is bogged down. A nice detail. You don’t know how many 1 I have rolled, if I do not want that.
IMO the vehicle rules are good. They are definitely fun to play and I’m sure that Victory Decision players will use several vehicles in a game. Because it is an easy to use system and not too complex. The only downer for me is the limited movement range of the tanks in the main rulebook. Infantry can always keep up with the tanks. But I can live with this shortcoming, because on my Normandy Gaming table has anyway far too little open space to fully manoeuvre my tanks. That will be the task for me and my 6 mm models. But that’s another story.
The next two pages are about buildings and urban warfare. Buildings have a profile just like vehicles, they have structure points and hit / critical values. Thus, you are able to destroy buildings. You can enter buildings, and leave them. Troops that are inside, can shoot (half the models of a unit), but they can also be targeted and killed (the maximum loss is also half the squad).
Finally this chapter explains the attack on a building and the destruction of it. A nice detail is the fight to enter a building: At first there is a duel to be fought between the combatants. If the attacking unit destroys more models than the defender, the attack succeeds. Then the fight will continue until a unit in the building is completely destroyed. The actions that can be chosen are Shoot or Close Combat. A pretty bloody affair.
At this point we have left half the rule book behind us, and basically we have covered all the important rules. One should not believe it, but so far I’ve understand all aspects of the rules after one read!
The next 40 pages are dealing more with general gameplay.
In chapter 13 we have a look at the gaming table and the set up the figures and terrain. The recommended field size is 180 cm x 120 cm. Set up process as we know it from other wargames.
Chapter 14 presents scanarios, 6 are included. 1 Open Battle, 2 Advance, 3 Seek out, close in, destroy and hold, 4 Capture, 5 Ambush, 6 Bunker Assault. Quite familiar, but also here some exciting and new rules.
Chapter 15 describes scenario special rules. First of all there is a chapter about foxholes, barbed wire, booby traps and heavy bunkers. Then night fight, objectives, random deployment and random game length, reserves, retreats and victory points are also explained.
Finally it should be noted that the scenario chapter is very detailed and comprehensive. I think everyone will find something to have fun.
In the next chapters the army structures are in depth discussed. A generic armylist and generic army weaponchart are presented. Finally there are the armylists for the four major nations of the European theatre of WW II: Germany, Great Britain, Soviet Union and United States.
Victory Decision uses a point system to select the units for a game. Recommended are 1500 points (length of a game nearly 2 hours), but of course smaller or larger games are possible. 1500 points represent a complete platoon, including HQ unit, squads and several supporting units. I think it’s very good for the understanding of such armylist that Agis gives a brief outline of historical military organisation. This is very helpful for rookies and newbies, and the gamesystem is therefore reflecting the historical context.
Below is a brief description of the generic list: There are 0-2 HQ elements (command + staff troops), 2-4 combat elements (squads), 0-3 fast or light support elements, 0-3 heavy support elements. Although Victory Decision is basically an infantry platoon game, vehicles are only supporting, Agis also provides a generic list for AFVs.
Almost 30 pages of the rulebook are filled with basic army lists for the four major nations of World War II, so the owner of the rulebook can immediately start playing. Of course – especially for support weapons and vehicles – many profiles are missing. But these units will be described in the separate field guides or technical manuals.
In the armylist you find the description of the command element, along with support units like mortars, radio operators and so on; the composition of a squad, also with supporting units (fore example Heavy MG); the profile of a AT-Weapon; the profiles for the three most important half-tracks (SdKfZ 251, Bren Carrier, M3) and for four tanks (Panzer IV H, Cromwell VII, Sherman M4A3 (76), T 34/85).
IMO that is enough for the first games.
Now we’ve reached the end of the rulebook. Finally Agis give some desgn notes. Here he explains, what was important for him while writing the rules. The main design goal was to create simple and playable rules. Rules with a good interaction between players, without long waiting times. He intended to give a good representation of leadership and command, a picture of the disintegration of units (suppression rules!). Also Agis explains his intention regarding hiding and spotting of units, and he said that one of his aims was to prevent an omnipotence of tanks.
Crucial for me is his final statement: Have fun with the game. It’s simply a game, not a simulation…
IMO Agis achieved this design goals 100 %. I’m totally convinced, and I’m already a fan of Victory Decision.
Victory Decision will be my favourite WW II skirmish system in the future. The review of the rules at this place will hopefully contribute something to make the system well-known. The rules have earned popularity.
For more information check out Agis website
and to get the ebook: