Designed by Peter Morrison of Morrison Games, VIKTORY:
a Fast-Paced Game of Strategy and Conquest, is an exciting board game with unique game
mechanics and great components that made it a welcome addition to my board
gaming closet! It has a 19th century warfare feel, with the use of
infantry, cavalry, artillery, and frigates that are designed to fit into that
historical era. With a short list of rules, it was easy to learn and teach
This is a tricky category to write about because these may change if enthusiasm for the game broadens; I will describe the pieces in their current state. The game board is made up of five different hex types (water, grassland, plains, forest and mountain). Each hex is about 1.7" (4.3cm) across and about 0.05" (1.3mm) thick. The artwork is glossy and original. The production quality is equal to what you would find in something like Settlers of Catan. The current game pieces are plastic and include infantry, cavalry, artillery, frigate, town and city pieces. The game provides pieces for four players, bags to hold the pieces and six dice. In all you are getting around 400 pieces. Also included in the game are the rules (of course) and some reference cards that help new players learn the unit abilities and hex types. It all comes in a sturdy cardboard box that is probably better for protecting the game than a flashier box, but doesn't look quite as nice as a telescoping box (no box top to roll dice in). I'm not sure what the usual quality level for a "home made" game is, but the components in
VIKTORY are the equal to what you would get from a major game company. You can see pictures of what you are getting on BoardGameGeek and the
The core of VIKTORY operates using a system that I have never seen before. Town and cities are built on hexes and support military units. Each turn the player begins by either placing a town or upgrading a town to a city until town placement is no longer possible. Towns support one infantry; cities support one infantry plus one additional unit based on the hex type. The number of units that you have at any given time is always the total number of units that your towns and cities support. The original (to me at least) aspect is that any losses in battle are only temporary. The units are moved to a reserve area and are replaced on the game board at the end of the player's turn using certain restrictions. The fact that losses are only temporary makes attacking worthwhile from the first time that you are able to attack (there is no real need to wait and build up). The restrictions make an organized effort to project power essential. Even though the units may only be lost temporarily, the inability to have them in a useful position can be fatal. After additional town placement is no longer available, the only way to expand is to attack the other players. The only way to permanently destroy an enemy unit is to take a town or city that is supporting it. Correspondingly, when a town or city is taken, the attacker gains the additional units associated with the town. Turtling is a dead end in
The elite units are very well balanced. The cavalry gets a bonus die on attacks, artillery are given a first round bombard attack with casualties unable to respond and frigates provide a bombard and the ability to threaten coastal cities with their transport capability and long range. One of the most elegant aspects of the game is the determination of combat dice. Dice are given for the number of unit types in combat, so having an army with infantry, cavalry and artillery is far more potent than a hoard of one unit type. No single elite unit stands out as the "must have" and the additional incentive for diverse armies ensure that you organize your city placement to take advantage of the "combined arms" effect. Towns and cities provide defense dice during combat making the reward of taking a city appropriately difficult to achieve but certainly not impossible. All hits are on a three or less, so there is no need to roll multiple sets of dice for each unit type other than to take care of bombardment type attacks.
The downsides to game play are relatively minor. Since an attacker knows that any units lost will be regenerated and able to defend (though possibly not in the location you'd like) at the end of his turn, there is little disincentive to performing "punk attacks." You can send a small army against long odds of success with little consequence and sometimes a string of luck plays a big role in turning the game. Relying on getting lucky with punk attacks usually won't get you very far though; well planned projection of power is far more reliable. Perhaps the most counterintuitive aspect is the fact that there are times when as an attacker you'd like to lose a unit in order to be able to place them elsewhere defensively at the end of your turn. These are small prices to pay for a combat system that is otherwise quite active and that rewards good planning and aggressiveness.
As with any game incorporating an element of randomness, luck can play a role in the outcome of
VIKTORY. A string of good luck during a critical juncture can turn a game, especially amongst a smaller number of players. That said, luck usually seems to be the nudge over the top among players who have pursued strategies of equal quality and not a substitute for good planning. In the end, you know that fortune could swing your way in the next game which could be just around the corner.
VIKTORY was designed to be fast-paced and ideally finished by three players in about an hour. This is possible with a group of experienced players. Teaching someone the first time through will extend the game time a bit, as will adding a fourth player. The hex based game board makes it possible to adjust the size of the game board for faster or lengthier games. The game's structure makes it difficult for players to remain balanced for long once the opportunities for expansion by town placement are eliminated. Overall, unless you are playing with an unusually deliberative group, games tend to last less than ninety minutes.
The hex-based game board makes each game's starting place unique and more importantly, the particular arrangement of hex types greatly affect the sort of strategy that is necessary to be successful. Lots of inland water means that frigates will be especially useful. A few prime sets of choke points might become battlegrounds for the entire game. While there are general principles that can be followed, every decision is an exercise in weighing opportunity costs. "If I place a town there I will secure a nice choke point, but will I be able to defend it until I can make it a city next turn?" "Should I go ahead and use this unit for a punk attack with a slim chance of success or save it so it is in position to be part of a more substantial attack next turn?" Games don't develop according to a fixed pattern, so each game seems fresh. There are no instances of mindlessly following an optimal strategy.
VIKTORY was originally designed to meet the goals of a group of war game enthusiasts. While each gamer has his own opinion of what properties are necessary to make a good game, the principles that
VIKTORY was designed around make for an excellent fast-paced war game. Since there isn't an optimal strategy to crack, beginners can enjoy the game and have success while experienced players can appreciate the balance and variety of the game experience. Since care was taken to keep a game of
VIKTORY from becoming a day long event, players can find the time to come back for more.
VIKTORY is my favorite war game; I doubt it will sit on your shelf collecting dust.
Building Towns / Cities
The first step in a player's turn is the building of a town or
upgrading of a town to a city. While combat is the more exciting step in VIKTORY, this step can often be the foundation or stumbling
block to a player's victory. Many games will end with the thought, "I should have built there," or, "I should have upgraded to a city
Each new town has to be two or three hexes away from all existing town/cities and not occupied by an enemy unit. The first turn is
easy. Players are restricted to one of three predetermined starting hexes to choose from. After that, things get much more
strategic. There's a delicate balance between:
a.) trying to make a huge land grab by throwing up towns 3 hexes away from each other in every direction
b.) maximizing the # of towns/cities you can fit on your surrounding land mass by building only 2 hexes apart and using
every available peninsula
c.) maximizing the total number of nonplains hexes that you build upon in order to get better units
d.) trying to achieve some unit diversity by building on a variety of different hexes which support different units and will help you
in future battles
e.) positioning yourself for future attacks by building towards your opponent or building upon isthmuses of land to move naval
f.) upgrading certain towns in order to go ahead and get the better units that cities support
g.) upgrading towns under imminent threat to give them additional defense bonuses
h.) building your towns in the opposite direction so as to avoid a particular strong player that might have aggressive intentions that
you want to delay
i.) building towns on certain hexes to either deny your opponent that hex or deny your opponent any of the adjacent hexes
j.) building inland away from bodies of water that your opponents control
k.) not upgrading a certain town that your enemy is likely to take no matter what you do in order to deny them a city
During different phases of the game, different strategies work best. At the very beginning of the game, you want to look at the
map and the starting positions, and try to come up with an overall strategy of how you hope to build your empire and design it to be
able to take out your opponents.
Early in the game, you should focus on building on key hexes, such as isthmuses at important waterway intersections or denying those
to opponents. Simultaneously you want to maximize building on good resources and optimizing the land. Try not to build on plains
hexes if you can help it. Unless you're trying to rapidly build your way across the map to a certain hex, try to build your towns 2
hexes apart. Focus on getting a ring of towns out from your city,
that can neatly be filled in at some later time. In the middle of the game when you start bumping into opponents, consider upgrading
your towns to cities for both the added defensive protection and the extra offensive firepower you'll gain from the premium unit a
city supports. Try to save town locations and city upgrades in your protected backfield for future development down the road late
in the game. If you can cordon off a bunch of the map early, then your opponents will run out of building locations long before you
and you'll get to continue having guaranteed growth much longer than them. If you ever have a choice between the last two possible
build locations on the map, and one of them is safely in your back country, take the one that your opponent could also take, in order
to deny him the opportunity to build at all. Then you'll still have additional natural expansion in subsequent turns.
The first question you should ask yourself at the beginning of the game is, "What impact will navies have in this game?"
The lightning strike capability that frigates and the units they carry possess will make a huge impact on any map with lots of
inland waterways. First determine how important navies are likely to be, and then determine how significant your own navy will be. Are you on an archipelego that has lots of forest hexes or are you
on the sole continental land mass in the game?
It is quite likely that there are one or two key locations that seem to be lynchpins for the game. These are critical isthmuses
that connect bodies of water or waterways. If a player with lots
of forest hexes near them is likely to gain control of one of those key hexes, then first try to deny it to him by building on an
adjacent hex. If you can try to gain control of these key hexes
and your navies can use them as portals to the rest of the map, then you will be in an excellent position to project strength.
Much of building strategy is simply common sense - not building easily attacked towns, upgrading to cities when threatened,
building with a goal of attaining a variety of units. The
difficult thing to do is often utilizing common sense. It's easy to get distracted by one objective and lose sight of others and
later regret that you overlooked something important.
Aside from the raw size of your army, your ability to project power rapidly is what will allow you to overcome your opponents and seize
the VIKTORY. Your buildings should be made to deny your opponents ability to project power and to improve your ability to do so.
Bombard attacks provide a limited element of stability to the game. Your artillery and frigates get to sit back immune from
counterfire and make a single attack against an enemy unit up to a
range of 2 hexes away. Once your unit fires, it can't move anymore, so make sure you have it positioned where you want it
before you make the bombard attack. For your artillery, this
typically means inside a town/city if possible. That way, the
artillery isn't a "sitting duck" for an enemy attack and also provides defensive protection for the town/city it is in.
What is nice about bombard attacks is that if you do them first you get to see their effect before you commit your forces in a regular
attack. You can leisurely fire first one artillery, then another, then perhaps a frigate at a given target and after casualties are
removed, you'll know what still remains for a followup regular attack and can plan accordingly.
If the enemy player has a frigate adjacent to the town/city you're intending to attack and the battle is likely to go more than 2
rounds, it is a good idea to try to knock out that supporting
defending frigate with bombard attacks or a regular naval attack. That way, you can deny the defender the additional dice that an
adjacent defending frigate provides to a town/city's defense.
Because casualties are only sent to your reserves and placed back on the map at the end of your turn, it sometimes makes allocating
units for attacks easy. You typically want to send in everything possible, and try to send in as many different types of attacking
units as possible (which maximizes your attacking dice rolls).
VIKTORY is a game that hinges upon aggression. A passive player that doesn't like to attack and engage in combat will rarely win.
In virtually every round (except for the early rounds) you will be engaging in regular attacks - often with all or most of your units.
Since the game is a multiplayer game that allows for changing alliances, you must always think of the consequences of each attack
and the ability of other players to take from you that which you've just taken. Towns/cities that are nearby should be attacked
eagerly and regularly. It's also a big help to be the first to attack in a back and forth border war.
Here's why. Let's say that Player A and Player B both have cities that are two hexes apart (the minimum distance). Each city only
has 2 units in it. Player A attacks Player B first, killing one unit, but then getting driven back. At the end of Player A's turn,
he places those 2 units back in his city. Now it is Player B's turn. Player B only has a single unit in his city still surviving
and virtually no chance of taking Player A's city. He attacks, but is unsuccessful, killing nothing. Now Player B places his 2 units
back in his city, and it's Player A's turn again. Player A attacks again. Notice how the cycle continually has Player A attacking
with at or near 100% strength, while Player B is only attacking at 50% strength at best. It is a vicious cycle that Player B will
lose most of the time. That's why in those back and forth border
battles, it's important to strike first. It is quite literally a case of "the best defense is a good offense".
Attacking more distant towns/cities should be considered more carefully. Players may often take a distant city simply because
they can or it is a cool move. What they don't realize is that if they can't hold that city, then not only do they lose it right
back, but they may well lose out on the opportunity to take an enemy's border city with those same resources that they could have
The better strategy is to push out in a continuous path from your base which allows you to take a town/city, advance your army, and
then take something else on your next turn. Lightning strikes are great when you have a chance to take a capital or an outlying
town/city that can't be retaken, but don't use them to take something that you won't be able to keep.
It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes it's better to attack your enemy at a well defended city than a poorly defended city.
For instance, if you take the poorly defended city, your enemy's forces in the well defended city (accompanied perhaps by units from
elsewhere) may simply retake the poorly defended city (albeit now defended by your units). On the other hand, if you can go around
the poorly defended enemy town/city, which means it isn't an
immediate threat to your backfield, and take other town/cities that
are defended (but you can still overwhelm), then not only do you take a town/city, but you've crushed the enemy counterattack before
it began. Then even if your enemy reinforces the previously poorly
defended city with a couple of units, you will likely have a large enough army encircling it to easily crush it and take it on your
Also, when you're involved in a regular attack and one of your units gets a selective hit, you should remove enemy units primarily
to deny them dice rolls on subsequent rounds of battle, but if you don't think you will win the battle, you should also target enemy
units that would have to be replaced way back from the front lines, inconveniencing your opponent by forcing him to spend a couple of
turns just to get the unit back into action.
Another interesting strategy that is easy to forget, but great when executed properly, is explained in the following example:
There are two cities that you hope to attack.
City A is your enemy's only mountain city and is defended by two infantry.
City B is one of your enemy's two plains cities and is defended by two infantry and an artillery.
Which should you attack first?
City A. By successfully attacking and taking City A, your opponent has to lose an infantry and an artillery. The infantry is an easy
loss for him to absorb, you've just sent two infantry to his
reserve and he can lose one of those. He only has one artillery though, and it is in City B that you were planning to attack next.
He has to remove it because he lost the city that supported it. You've just knocked out City B's artillery without firing a shot
(at least at City B). Now attack a much less well defended City B!
Most movement in VIKTORY actually involves units moving into battle. When units aren't close enough to an opponent to engage in
battle, then they have to be moved forward into position. Frigates are a huge help in this and can efficiently carry any three units
up to the front lines for future combat. There isn't much point to keeping reserves in your backfield, so you should always focus on
getting units into battle as quickly as possible.
When your opponents have lots of artillery and frigates, try not to move units needlessly into range of bombard attacks. A cavalry
unit alone in an open field is a prime target for a bombardment shot if your enemy has the units within range. If you do have a
premium unit such as a cavalry or artillery out in an open field alone, try to move an infantry or two into the hex with them for
One useful movement technique in the early phases of the game is to move your units onto prime building hexes of your opponents. If
there is a key hex that they are hoping to build upon, you can frustrate their efforts simply by moving an infantry onto the hex.
They have to kill the infantry before they can build and the build phase of their turn is at the very beginning. Which means that
even if they do kill your infantry (intending to build there on their next turn), if you have another infantry around, you can just
move the new infantry right back onto the hex! Alternatively, moving your units out to where they could attack a newly built town
at the edge of another player's territory can be a strong deterrent to their building in your direction, which can save prime real
estate for you to build upon.
Also, because of the rule that you can only attack into a single hex once per turn (in regular attacks, bombard attacks have no
limits), if there is ever a single land hex path that an attacking army is likely to take, then by placing a single infantry out in
that path as a roadblock, you can often force the attacker to commit two or even three units to ensure they take it out. If they
do, then they just wasted two or three units that now can't attack their main objective. If they don't kill your roadblock unit, then
they can't attack that hex again, and they would naturally be prevented from attacking further down the path to their main
objective. This technique allows you to use one unit to deny the attacker a possible two or three units
(well worth the price).
If the opportunity presents itself, you should always try to focus on your opponent's Achilles heel, their capital. Even when you
can't attack it directly, in some situations you may be able to
land a large army (via a navy) within two hexes (easy walking distance) of his capital. There is no way that he can ignore that
threat. He has to try to defeat your army or at a minimum commit large numbers of units out of his reserves to his capital's defense
on the next turn. It throws a monkey wrench in his plans and forces him to react to you. Even if the size of his capital's
subsequent defense deters you from attacking his capital, you can typically use your force (particularly if your navy is still
around) to venture off and attack some other defenseless city that was virtually abandoned in order to defend the capital.
Placement of Units
When placing your units, you almost always want to place as much as possible on your front lines where it can help defend immediately
and be used to attack on your next turn. The only real exceptions to this are when you expect to lose a particular city and the front
lines are likely to get collapsed and you're having to adjust your placement accordingly, or also when your capital is being
threatened and you're forced to commit large numbers of units to
help defend your capital.
During the earlier part of your turn, while moving units and making attacks, you should bear in mind where your units will have to be
placed should they be lost as casualties. A unit that is going to be placed immediately back on the front lines can be lost with
little concern, because it will immediately be back into action. A unit that is supported by a city distant in your
backfield that would take a couple of turns to get back to the front lines should
be protected a little more cautiously.
In certain situations where you are suddenly faced with a new threat on the other side of the map, it may be advantageous to lose
some of your units that are supported by cities in that newly threatened region. That way once the units are lost, they can be
placed back onto the map at the point of need. Similarly, when you have a frigate that is on the far side of the board and has nothing
to transport, you should eagerly seek out a naval battle. If you win, you deny your enemy the use of his frigate for a turn. If you
lose, then you'll get to place your frigate back on your side of the map where it can used more effectively to support battles and
Finally, your capital town/city offers a unique capability. You can build unlimited units there. Typically, that comes into use
when you are losing and your capital is being threatened by another player. However, it can be used quite effectively during the rest
of the game as well, particularly when you have a navy and nice waterways into the interior of the map and toward your front lines.
First deploy units can be placed directly on the front lines. The ones that can't can all be dumped onto your capital, along with
your frigates. On your next turn, your frigates can carry all of those units either straight into battle or immediately up to the
front lines at least. Building units along with frigate transports back at your capital can be a fast way to get your units back onto
the front lines.
Another use for this strategy, particularly on smaller maps or maps with good waterways between capitals, is to send those loaded down
frigates directly from your capital into a position from which they threaten your opponent's capital. It's another way to get quick
use out of your units that might otherwise take a couple of turns to be effective.
"Striangulation" is a good "made-up" word that means getting suffocated to death from two opposing angles or sides. It occurs in
a 3 or 4 player game in which loose alliances are easily formed and dissolved.
Players may not realize they are technically pursuing a striangulation strategy, but it will occur naturally among good
players, as long as they aren't involved in grudge matches, or
personal vendettas within the game.
What happens is that one player will start to dominate and gain an ascendancy over the other players. The rational course of action
for the other players is to put aside temporary petty differences and squabbles and focus on the greater mutual threat they face.
That dominant player becomes the unifying factor that drives all the weaker players into an alliance with one objective: to beat
down the dominating player until he is as weak as they.
Performed correctly, this strategy will prove successful most of the time, as the alliance of weaker players should have a combined
strength greater than the dominant player and will weaken the dominant player until he is at par with the other players.
The alliance will typically be dissolved and the players will resume their fighting for dominance, until another player
begins to rise to the top. Then the others will likely form a new alliance, and the process will repeat itself again.
It is important to fully appreciate this phenomenon in VIKTORY if you are playing against alliance-minded opponents. Theoretically a
game of VIKTORY could go on forever, as first one player, and then another gains ascendency, only to get beat back down by the other
two or three players, and no player is able to seize control of the game and win. In practice, what happens is that a couple of
players may gain a temporary ascendency before being brought back to parity, but fairly soon one player pieces together a series of
successful battles and the right combination of luck and skill in order to throw the game out of balance and can then take out all of
the other opponents, regardless of what alliances are formed.
It all depends on the personalities of your opponents (are you playing with players that are trustworthy dealmakers or conniving
backstabbers?), but one key method of overcoming opposing alliances is by capitalizing on terms of a former alliance. For example,
assume Player A becomes dominant and Players B & C both team up against him. Players B & C have an alliance in which the terms are
that either player can fairly break the alliance (in VIKTORY you can make an alliance under any terms you want) by announcing it on
his current turn and then being free to attack the other player on his next turn.
Before he could fairly (under the terms of the alliance at least) attack his former ally, his former ally would
have the opportunity to attack him (after all, he broke the alliance). In this sequence, Player B (the weakest player) attacks
Player A, taking a couple of cities back (which makes each player equal in size, although he doesn't announce the end of the
alliance, to his later chagrin). Then Player C attacks Player A (he's still in alliance with Player B) and takes several cities,
making him easily the dominant player. At this point, Player A counterattacks Player C (the new dominant player), but does little.
Player B would love to attack Player C, but preserving his reputation chooses to merely announce the end of the alliance. Now
Player C goes, attacking both Players A and B successfully (the alliance is officially over). At this point, the combined efforts
of Player A and B cannot hold off Player C, who ultimately wins. The key to Player C's win was capitalizing on the old first
alliance that he had with Player B which restrained Player B from attacking him on that critical turn just after he had gained
Additionally, it's important to keep track of what actions and intentions players may reveal in regular conversation during the
game. If Player A says, "I'm definitely going to build on that
forest city," then you should recognize that if you are hoping to postpone aggression with Player A (and would prefer to focus on
attacking another player) then you should avoid challenging Player A over the forest hex. Remember that VIKTORY has tremendous
degrees of freedom for each player to take advantage of, and by listening to their intentions, you can often anticipate their moves
and plan accordingly.
Finally, it's a point of personal preference, but because of the degrees of freedom involved in VIKTORY, as well as the ability to
form loose alliances, it's important to preserve your gaming reputation. Make threats that you can and do intend to follow
through on. Treat allies as you would expect to be treated or you may find that no one will trust you and your ability to accomplish
your goals in the game may be severely hampered. Because the numbers of units in VIKTORY are fixed based on your towns/cities, a
few additional units in a battle can make a huge advantage. If you can create temporary alliances with neighboring players on one side
of your or the other, then that will free up those critical additional units that can give you the edge on your active front
(it's a lot easier to fight one front at a time, rather than a continuous two or three front war). Your ability to form those
temporary alliances may be directly tied to your trustworthiness reputation.
Two Player Set-Up Variant
There is a big different in the dynamics that develop from two player games, as
opposed to three and four player games.
Three and four player games involve a diplomatic dimension which adds greater
depth to the game and creates a completely different game experience. On the
other hand, two player games are pure aggression unleashed, with no diplomatic,
deal-making aspect to take the edge off. In a two player game, each player is
pushing the limits immediately, and at the first side of gaining the upper hand,
the dominant player wants to completely crush their opponent.
In order to add stability to a two player game, one starting variant that is
helpful is to start the game off with the following:
1. After placing the first town and accompanying infantry, players continue to
place additional towns/city upgrades, along with their accompanying units
(without doing any movements or attacks), until each player has placed 10 times
(resulting in either 10 towns, 5 cities, or a combination of towns and cities).
2. The first player places their 11th town/city upgrade and has the opportunity
to move all of their units (without attacking).
3. The second player places their 11th town/city upgrade and has the opportunity
to both move AND attack with all of their units.
4. The first player now goes without any restrictions and the game begins
following standard rules.
This results in a longer two player game, but will provide more ups and downs,
and reduces the role of luck in the game, compared to a standard two player