Vici Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 players
  • Approximately 30 minutest to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Worker Placement & Area Control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

A solider uses his sword and shield in battle to survive. A general uses all the swords and all the shields to conquer. You are the general of a large army of battle trained and hardened soldiers. Your goal is to crush your opponent who has camped on the other side of the valley. As you gaze across the large stretch of land into the enemy camp, you can’t help but feel that your opponent is looking back at you. Smiling, you return to your tent to rest. Tomorrow you go to war.

Vici, designed by Benjamin Shulman and published by Game Salute, is comprised of 1 game board, 1 Shared Stockpile mat, 2 Player Stockpile mats, 9 Vici tokens, 6 Battle dice (custom six-sided dice, 3 black, 3 white), and 16 Unit pieces. All the components, save the dice, are made of thick cardboard and durable. The only issue with the components we had were a few misprints. A number of the Unit pieces and Vici tokens did not have their printing correctly aligned resulting in images and words being cut off. None of which caused us to not be able to play the game, but worth mentioning.

Prepping for War

To set up the game, first place the game board in the middle of the playing area. Have the players sit so they are behind 1 of the 2 camps (behind black or white) found at the end of the game board.

Second, place the Shared Stockpile mat on one side of the game board and the 9 Vici tokens on the other side.

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Third, give each player 1 Stockpile mat and place them at the end of the game board so they are directly in front of the player.

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Fourth, give each player 3 “Spearmen” Units, 2 “Footmen” Units”, 1 “Bowmen” Unit, and 1 “Horsemen” Unit pieces. These are placed on the player’s Stockpile mat on the matching Unit piece shape outline. A picture of the Unit is provided on each space to assist. When placing the Unit, make sure the “Active” side is face-up.

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Fifth, place the “Smithy” and “Catapult” Unit pieces on the Shared Stockpile mat.

Finally, give the player sitting behind the white encampment the white dice and the other player the black dice.

That’s it for game set up. Determine who will go first and begin.

To War!

Vici is played in turns with each player completing a small number of steps and actions per turn. A player’s turn is summarized here.

Step 1: Activate Encamped Units

When Units are first brought into play, they are set so their “Encamped” face is showing. This indicates that the Unit piece cannot take any actions during the player’s turn. However, at the very first of the player’s turn, any “Encamped” Units are flipped to their “Active” side. This means Units that are brought into play this turn cannot be used until the player’s next turn.

Step 2: Determine Build Points and Deploy Units

By default, a player has a number of Build Points equal to the number of open Camp spaces they have. At the start of the game, each player has 5 Camp spaces open, meaning each player has 5 Build Points to spend. As the game continues, Vici tokens will be placed on Camp spaces which will reduce the number of Build Points the player has. However, players earn additional Build Points for conquering their opponent’s Camp spaces, earning +1 Build Points for every Vici token occupying their opponent’s Camp spaces.

Build Points are a form of currency. Each Unit costs a specific number of Build Points, as indicated on the Stockpile and Shared Stockpile mat. The “Smithy” and the “Catapult” Unit pieces cost Build Points and 1 or more Vici tokens to purchase.

The player can purchase as many or as few Units as they like from their Stockpile or the Shared Stockpile mat using the following rules:

  • Total cost of all Units cannot exceed the player’s total Build Points
  • Every Unit purchased must be able to occupy an open Camp space

Finally, players cannot “bank” Build Points. Whatever they don’t spend, they lose.

Step 3: Move Units

Up to 3 Units can be moved, but they must have their “Active” face showing. Movement is always towards the opponent’s camp. In almost all cases, a Unit can move 1 space forward or 1 space forward diagonally, but only if the space is free. The 2 Camps and the area between is a series of rectangles that make up a grid. Every space is one rectangle on that grid and only 1 Unit can ever occupy a space at a time.

There are only a few rules that must be followed when moving a Unit.

  • A total of 3 movement actions can be taken on the player’s turn
  • One movement action is always forward or forward diagonal (never backwards, backwards diagonal or horizontal), with the exception of the “Footmen” and “Horsemen” Unit’s initial movement out of the Camp space they occupy
  • A minimum of 1 Unit must be moved (or the player forfeits the game)
  • A maximum of 3 Units can be moved
  • A Unit cannot move into or through another Unit

As noted, there are two exceptions. Both the “Horsemen” and the “Footmen” Units have starting movement that can be used only once. Emphasis on the “can be”. These special moves are optional and sometimes may not be possible due to other Unit pieces being in the way.

  • The “Horsemen” Unit can move 2 spaces as a single move action, but only when leaving the player’s Camp space. Movement can be any mix of forward and forward diagonal spaces.
  • The “Footman” Unit can move 2 spaces as a single move action, but only when leaving the players’ Camp space. Movement must be forward 2 spaces.

If a Unit piece ever moves into a Camp space occupied by a Vici token, that Unit is removed from the game board and placed on the Shared Stockpile mat.

Step 4: Resolve Battles

There are 2 forms of combat in the game, melee and ranged. Melee combat is triggered when 2 opposing Units are adjacent to each, not diagonal to each other. All combat is focused on the Unit’s forward position towards the opponent’s Camp. Think of it like a point of a spear. The damage happens at the spear’s front (the business end) of both Units. Ranged combat, which is only used by the “Bowmen” Unit”, is triggered when an opposing Unit is 2 spaces away. Which Unit attacks first is determine by a Battle Order, which is nothing more than a list of which Units always get to attack first.

Vici also plays off a Unit’s strengths and weaknesses to give one Unit an advantage over another. This is referred to as “Battle Strengths” and there are number of different combinations. Each is summarized on the player’s Stockpile mat making it easy to quickly reference and determine the odds of winning a battle.

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By default, each Unit has 2 Battle dice to roll during combat. If a player’s Unit is  strong versus their opponent’s Unit, the player gets to roll 3 dice instead of just 2. If both Units are considered equal, then both players will just roll 2 Battle dice each. “Encamped” Units can still engage in battle, but are always considered weak against their opponent.

Once the players figure out which Unit (if any) is stronger than the opposing Unit, the correct number of Battle dice are rolled and the numbers are added together. The player with the higher total value wins. The vanquished or tied Unit piece are removed from the game board and placed on the Shared Stockpile mat, unless the Unit is the “Bowmen” who were engaged in ranged combat. If the “Bowmen” Unit fails to defeat an opponent in ranged combat, they simply missed their target, but the opposing force is too far away to do anything about it. If the victorious Unit was engaged in melee combat, they advance into the now open space immediately, which might trigger another battle. However, if the “Bowmen” Unit won, they remain in their current space.

The “Bowmen” Unit can also shoot over friendly Units and allow them to advance. Or, if the player likes, “Bowmen” Units can even support other “Bowmen” Units. This makes the “Bowmen” one of the more versatile Units on the game board, in my opinion.

This completes the player’s turn. The next player now goes starting with step 1 noted above.

The Smithy and the Catapult

Every player starts with the same number of common Units. These Units, once defeated, will be placed on the Shared Stockpile mat where they can be purchased by any player during the game. Two Units, the “Smithy” and the “Catapult” start on the Shared Stockpile mat and can only be purchased when the player starts to collect Vici tokens.

The “Smithy” Unit is for support. When the player Activates it, they can decide what bonus they would like the “Smithy” to provide. One side gives the player the ability to move up to 4 Units on their turn instead of 3. The other side gives the player +2 Build Points. The player can flip the “Smithy” Unit each turn, giving them the option to select the bonus the need most. The downside to the “Smithy” Unit is that is never leaves the Camp spaces, meaning it takes up an available spot and reduces the player’s Build Points by -1.

vici_smith

The “Catapult” Unit is kind of like the “Bowmen” Unit on steroids. It’s a cumbersome machine of war that must use a movement to flip from “mobile” to “loaded” modes as it slowly creeps across the battlefield and makes ready to rain down hell. The “Catapult” can hit up to 4 Units in a single attack, making it deadly to every Unit on the game board due to its “splash damage” effect. There are a number of other rules that I won’t go into that dictate which Unit is strong or weak against the “Catapult” attack due to its proximity to the attack’s main impact point. Needless to say, a player can take out their own Units just as easily as they can their opponent’s if they don’t watch where they are shooting.

vici_catapult

Vici Tokens and Victory

When the player moves their Unit into an open Camp space owned by their opponent, the Unit is given to the Opponent and placed on their Stockpile mat. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. The player then takes a Vici token and places it onto that Camp space. A few new rules now come into play.

  • A Vici token can never be moved once placed
  • If a Unit moves into the same space as a Vici token, they are removed and placed on the Shared Stockpile mat (the “Smithy” is the only exception to this rule)
  • For every Vici token the player has placed in their opponent’s camp, they gain +1 BP

There are 3 ways to win the game.

  • The first player to have earned 3 more Vici tokens than their opponent wins the game
  • The first player to have earned 5 Vici tokens wins the game
  • The first player to cause their opponent to not be able to make at least 1 move wins the game

To learn more about Vici, visit the game’s web page.

Final Word

The Child Geek really enjoyed themselves. They quickly grasped the game’s goals and how to go about obtaining them. I was most impressed with the level of tactical and strategic thought they put into moving their Unit pieces. Instead of just shoving them down the line, they moved them into position to take advantage of strong versus weak battles and stopping their opponent from taking over their camp. According to one Child Geeks, “This game plays a little like Checkers and a little like Chess, but it’s much cooler than the both of them.” Another Child Geek said, “I like how you never run out of guys to fight with.” The only aspect of the game the Child Geeks didn’t like was the reduction in Build Points. The more the player lost, the harder it was to rally their troops and get soldiers on the field. According to one older Child Geek, “I understand what the game is doing when it reduces our Build Points, but you get to a point where you can’t purchase anything.” Very true and at that time, the game mercifully ends. This felt a bit harsh to some Child Geeks and totally fair to others. It all depended on if they were winning or not, to be honest, but I suppose that perspective is everything when it comes to subjective opinions. And speaking of opinions, the Child Geeks shared theirs and voted to approve Vici.

asdfs

I know this look. It’s the same look a shark gives a fish before it rips it in two.

Vici was the most popular with the Parent Geeks who were gamers with Child Geeks who also liked games and the non-gamers. Yes, that’s right, the non-gamers. According to one non-gamer Parent Geek, “This game makes total sense to me and I love how everything is so clearly organized. All I ever have to do is just focus on my turn and the next. Then I can always act and react accordingly.” Well said, in a roundabout kind of way. The Parent Geeks with younger Child Geeks said, “This is the Wargame I’ve been waiting for! It’s easy to learn, has very few components, is abstract without being too abstract, and requires very little math. Excellent game to play with younger players and with those who want to learn games like this.” All the Parent Geeks voted to approve Vici, finding it to be a fun, easy to teach, and great gateway game for the young and the old gamers alike.

The Gamer Geeks appreciated a number of the game design decisions in Vici. They liked how easy the game handled building an army, the way each Unit had its own strengths and weaknesses, and how the game became harder as a player was beaten down. According to one Gamer Geek, “I like games that don’t take it easy on you. If you are messing up and losing in the war, it should feel like you’re in a tight spot.” But the Gamer Geeks were not really feeling the game as a whole. As one Gamer Geek put it, “The game seems incomplete to me. I feel like we were only provided the most basic of Units and 2 special units. I want more out of this game and I just don’t see it delivering.” Vici bored the most elite of our Gamer Geeks, who found the game to be too simple and straight forward. As one of the Gamer Geek elitists put it, “You only ever need to move forward and forward and forward. It feels a little bit like a castle defense game, but not as strategic.” But not all the Gamer Geeks felt this way. A large number found Vici to be streamlined, not simple. As one supporting Gamer Geek said, “There is a real need to think ahead in this game, spend your Build Points wisely, and out smart your opponent. I think this game is great and I would gladly play it with anyone anytime.” When all the debating and voting was over, the Gamer Geeks gave Vici a mixed level of endorsement.

I fully agree with the Gamer Geek who said that Vici feels incomplete. The Units that come with the game are very useful and fun to play with. The problem is, once you’ve played with them a few times, they are rather boring. The “Catapult” and “Smithy” are two excellent examples of what Vici needs more of. These special Units give players something to strive for and eagerly use. However, neither are a significant game changer and will not provide their owner certain victory. What these 2 Units provide is unique opportunities and options. The majority of the game is the same for both players, meaning much of the game play is unsurprising at times. Especially when you are purchasing a “Footmen” Unit for the 10th time. I think the game missed a great opportunity when they only provided 2 special Units. More would certainly provide a lot more options and a lot more interest.

But for what it is, Vici is pretty darn good. Wargames can be notoriously difficult for younger Child Geeks and non-gamers to learn. Both groups sat down and quickly understood how to play and then had a great time playing the game. That is a very rare thing when it comes to tactical and strategic games were the objective is to move and maintain multiple pieces. There were only a few times where players become a bit confused, but they were able to quickly self-correct and move on. That makes Vici is a winner in my book right there and here’s why. I think Vici is a gateway Wargame. It teaches the basics, provides enough layers of complexity to challenge, and provides rewarding and punishing game play. Its simplistic approach in some respects has created rather difficult decision making at times, and the use of Vici tokens on the Camp spaces gives all the players a very strong goal to attack their Opponent’s Camp and defend their own.

Overall, I am pleased. Not thrilled, but I think Vici does a good job. What I want is simply more “stuff”. If a little is good, more must be great, right? Maybe, but until we know for sure, the game is fun to play as-is. If you are looking for a gateway Wargame or a shorter Wargame to just play from time to time, do site down and play a game of Vici. Win or lose, I think you’ll have a positive experience.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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3 Responses to Vici Game Review

  1. Shawn says:

    Its a shame that the game that the game feels incomplete. It sounds like an otherwise awesome game. I love finding new tabletop games to play with my family. Thanks for all of the excellent posts.

    • Cyrus says:

      Thanks for reading the review and leaving a comment, Shawn.

      The game feels incomplete due to the lack of variety in units to use during the game. After you play Vici once, you’ve pretty much seen the entire game (unless no one purchases the “Catapult” and “Smithy”).

      Please do not be mislead by my personal feelings towards the game. Vici is a complete game, plays well, and is a great gateway to war gaming. Easy rules, easy movement, and easy game play all add up to an enjoyable experience. The only negative here is that experienced gamers will begin to lose interest after a few games. Not the case with Child Geeks and casual game players.

    • Shawn says:

      I had the same problem with a game called Boss Dungeon. It had a great concept, but little replay value. I guess its bound to happen with some games.

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