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Can You Duplicate the Miracle of Dunkirk? A Review of A Spoiled Victory

Jeff shares his thoughts on the new Hermann Luttmann wargame A Spoiled Victory

A Spoiled Victory (White Dog Games)Game Name: A Spoiled Victory

Publisher: White Dog Games

Designers: Hermann Luttman and Paul Fish

Artist: Mike Mirfin

Year: 2013

Genre: Solitaire WWII wargame

Players: Solitaire

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 60 Minutes

MSRP: $38.50

A Spoiled Victory is the second design Hermann Luttmann has put together for White Dog Games. His previous WDG effort is Duel of Eagles and, of course, visitors should be familiar with Hermann’s work for Victory Point Games with Gettysburg: The Wheatfield, High and Tight, In Magnificent Style, and Dawn of the Zeds. Also gaining design credit is Paul Fish. This time out A Spoiled Victory takes on the setting of the Dunkirk beaches during late May and early June of 1940 as the German forces surrounded the British Expeditionary Forces, and assorted French and Belgian allies, poised to drop the hammer to possibly destroy “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army.”

What’s in the Box

 

A Spoiled Victory is a solitaire game, played out over 18 turns (nine calendar days, broken into day and night turns), where the player is tasked with evacuating as many Allied troops from the Dunkirk beaches as possible. You’ll look to match the “Miracle of Dunkirk” by saving the bulk of England’s fighting future that will battle the Nazis in Italy, France, and North Africa. If you fail, it’s possible Britain’s mighty empire will eventually fall.

A Spoiled Victory Map

Opening the box, you’ll find the overall component quality pretty solid with a nice paper map, a sheet of thick counters, 36 Action cards, and a reference sheet. I will mention two small issues the components though. First, the counter sheet I received with the game was a bit blurred. Nothing horrible as you can read the combat factors fine but the unit pictures and identification info were tough to make out. Second, the Action cards are exceptionally thin and you’ll want to be careful separating them from their sheets. I have to recommend grabbing some card sleeves right off the bat to help protect the cards during repeated play.

I should also mention while the rulebook is certainly functional, it’s on the bland side and could have used another once over to make it a bit more friendly for the reader. Sometimes I’m surprised when I encounter a game which has some really unique aspects to the design but the rules are presented in that same old, ho hum sort of style we’ve seen for thirty years.

Those of you who have played some of the States of Siege games from Victory Point Games will find A Spoiled Victory very easy to dive into as there are a few key elements of the design which are similar: Action cards which drive the AI of the Nazi forces and determine the number of player actions per turn as well as a map broken up into point to point movement for both the Germans and Allies. There are a few mechanics which are different from the SoS games of course, but if you’re a fan of any of the solitaire games in VPGs line then you should find A Spoiled Victory right up you alley.

A Spoiled Victory Action CardYou’ll begin the game by shuffling all the Action cards and setting up both the German and Allied units in their starting squares. Each turn plays out in a specific sequence of events:

Event Phase – The top portion of the card indicates an event which takes place which could affect the current, or possibly, next turn.

Luftwaffe Attacks – Consult the portion of the card which indicate where you’ll conduct air attacks against the Allies.

Escape Moves & VP Scoring – Any Allied units in the English Channel who are eligible to be evacuated off the map can now do so and you’ll score victory points for them. Even though units may be on the verge of escape it’s possible the ships transporting them could be sunk by mines or attacked from the air.

German Movement and Attacks – A portion of the Action card will determine where the German units move forward and attack. Allied units will defend and there’s a chance the German’s can conduct a breakthrough.

Player Actions – Now the player can conduct as many Actions as indicated on the card. The player can move nonsuppressed units from a single space to other spaces on the map. During the day, for a cost of 2 Action Points, these units can move an unlimited distance by truck (four spaces during a night turn) and end their turn anywhere. The player can also create Evacuee units, gather Intelligence to learn where the Germans will move on the next turn, flood the lowlands, build Beach Jetties to assist in the evacuation, raise the spirits of the defenders, and send the RAF on sorties. Some of these actions, such as the RAF attacks have a limited number of uses during each game.

Evacuation Moves – The name of the game is getting your troops back to the safety of England as opposed to taking on the German army. During this phase you’ll move units which you’ve converted from combat forces to evacuees. You’ll use your Evacuation Moves to get the Evacuees to the staging areas and into the Channel. Evacuees already at sea can be moved closer to England.

End Turn – You’ll perform some clean up as well as check to see if the Belgians surrender or German Panzers withdraw.

A Spoiled Victory Counters

As I’d mentioned previously, if you’ve played VPG’s SoS line you’ll easily slide into A Spoiled Victory but there are plenty of mechanics which make White Dog’s title stand out. Most importantly the Action Cards are more flexible than in an SoS game; you’ll draw a new card for each of the phases rather than using a single card for the entire turn to determine what happens. This means you’ll reshuffle the deck throughout the game, although some events require you to discard after they take place so they’re removed from the deck.

It’s important to note a few things about A Spoiled Victory. Mainly that this is a game and not a hardcore simulation of Operation Dynamo. Many aspects of the conflict and evacuation are abstracted wherein the player is put in a higher level position so they’re focusing on the bigger picture as opposed to slogging through the minutia of the operation.

Also, the player has to remember the focus of the game is to get the Allied forces off the beaches and back to England. You don’t want to take on the Germans at every opportunity but utilize your combat units to stall the Nazis in order to enable you more time to organize the French and German escape. If you go toe to toe with the Germans you’ll be in big trouble so you better pick your fights very carefully!

A Spoiled Victory ComponentsFinally, don’t expect to duplicate the “Miracle of Dunkirk” the first few times you play. You walk a fine line during A Spoiled Victory, reacting to German movement while also planning ahead for moving evacuees and converting combat units into evacuees. You need to cleverly juggle all aspects of the game, draw some advantageous cards and don’t let your dice fail you if you want to have any hope of saving 300,000 plus fighting men.

A Spoiled Victory is another fine Hermann Luttmann design; I like it a quite a bit more than his previous release from White Dog, Duel of Eagles because A) there are some interesting twists to the design which really keep the proceedings tense through the game and, B) I don’t think Dunkirk is really a very easy historical event to game because most designers would probably approach it from an angle tackling more combat and less of what made Operation Dynamo the focus of Churchill’s “We’ll fight them on the beaches” speech: the evacuation.

Unfortunately, I have to ding A Spoiled Victory a tad because of the counter sheet containing blurred print (although I understand this issue has been addressed so if you order the title from WDG you should have a cleanly printed sheet, mine wasn’t), the Action cards being extremely flimsy, and the rulebook being rather bland and in need of a little touch up as far as being more intuitive to get into playing right away. I love the fact White Dog seems to be making big strides in the quality of the components with what seems like every release and I’ll guess it won’t be long before we see the components of the gems being released match the quality of the game play.

Overall if you’re looking for a solid, nail biting solitaire WWII game (especially based on an event which hasn’t been gamed to death – I’m looking at you Battle of the Bulge!) you’ll surely want to get your hands on A Spoiled Victory.

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Summary
If you’re looking for a solid, nail biting solitaire WWII game (especially based on an event which hasn’t been gamed to death – I’m looking at you Battle of the Bulge!) you’ll surely want to get your hands on A Spoiled Victory.
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Jeff McAleer

Founder/Editor-in-chief of The Gaming Gang website and host of The Gaming Gang Dispatch and other TGG media, Jeff tackles any and all sorts of games but has a special fondness for strategy, conflict sims, and roleplaying games. Plus, he's certainly never at a loss for an opinion...

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5 Comments

  1. I’m surprised at how much time you devote to nobody companies like Victory Point Games, White Dog, and a bunch of crappy businesses while effectively ignoring the big hitters like FFG and Mayfair. The gaming gang has become a website more devoted to games no one buys instead of covering games worth reading about.

    1. Well Mr. Kraven (I assume its a mister) I’m sorry you feel the games which are covered here at TGG aren’t worthy of your consideration; I’ve known plenty of gamers over the years who are probably very much like you – have no interest in trying something new which isn’t the exact flavor of gaming they prefer. It sort of reminds me of the people who play Pathfinder and hate D&D (or vice versa) because it strikes me as stupid wasting time disliking something when you have something wonderful in front of you which you enjoy.

      Damn! D&D 4.0 really screwed the half-elf Rangers so I hate that game!

      Honestly, I have too little time in the life to enjoy gaming so I’d rather invest myself into having a good time and providing what I hope is considered an upbiased opinion of games I come across. If you don’t consider TGG a valuable resource I’ll provide you with the same piece of advice as the folks who email me their displeasure with how TGG operates: Go invest your time and money into launching your own website and then you can knock yourself out writing articles, recording podcasts, shooting and editing your own videos, and then you can come back and tell me how it’s like falling off a log and everything you present is golden.

      Plus you can enjoy yourself reading emails and comments which tell you how much you suck because that will surely make your day and pump you up to make sure get more content out in front of the public…

      As for covering companies who you feel don’t deserve coverage, I’ll point out three items:

      A) I’ve always looked at TGG as a underdog sort of website. Thus, I have a soft spot for underdog sort of companies. You never know when one of these underdogs is going to produce the next must play game. Back in the day the only websites who seemed to touch Victory Point Games was The Little Metal Dog Show, Fortress Ameritrash, and us. Pretty much the “big boys and girls” of gaming reviews wouldn’t touch Alan Emrich’s company with a ten foot pole. Then, lo and behold, VPG took the next step and started producing the Gold Banner line of games – with much more exciting components – and suddenly they became a hidden gem which the aforementioned big names suddenly played off VPG as coming out of left field and suddenly being worth your gaming dollars.

      The thing is VPG was always producing games worthy of notice. You just had to notice them…

      I take great pride in the belief that TGG and VPG’s mutual support helped take both my website and “The Little Company That Could” to the next level. I’m so happy that TGG may have played a wee bitty piece in putting a few extra bucks in the VPG coffers to help get those Gold Banners in front of the public so now gamers can enjoy enhanced editions of Circus Train, Dawn of the Zeds, Zulus on the Ramparts, and more.

      Which leads me to…

      B) I support people I like. Since 2010, when TGG launched, I’ve aimed to build good relationships within the gaming industry. This didn’t mean contacting companies asking for them to throw free review copies my way but informing them of the website and asking to be added to the press release list. Personally I hate asking for review copies – something which those previously involved with TGG didn’t understand – so if companies want to see a review here on the site they normally have to contact me, as opposed to my showing up on their doorstep with hat in hand,

      I’ve met plenty of people in the industry who I consider good friends and if I have an opportunity to help get the word out about their latest releases I’ll certainly do so. Hopefully our audience understands regardless of the relationship I may have with a company rep or designer doesn’t mean I present anything other than an honest review so if I feel a title isn’t up to snuff or, worst case scenario, is a steaming pile I tell it like it is; it doesn’t matter if the designer is a friend or the company is one of the heaviest hitters in the industry because I’m not going to soft soap something just to insure I stay on the good side of a company so review copies keep flowing.

      The moment I sell out so I can secure advertising dollars or get free games is the day I’ll be packing it in here at TGG because that’ll mean I’ve become what I’ve always railed against.

      And, finally…

      C) I have nothing against the FFGs or Mayfairs of the world. Hell, Mayfair is based out of Skokie, IL and I always had a soft spot for the company since they were the local game company when I was growing up in Chicago. Plus I have fond memories of a Diamond Distributor show, with Mayfair in attendance, years back (a story for another time). Yet the FFGs and Mayfairs of the world don’t seem overly interested in having TGG provide coverage. I’m cool with that.

      As I mentioned, I’m not big on hammering away at companies because I have better things to do with my time. Oh, providing content on the website comes immediately to mind, Some companies I don’t provide much coverage for because I personally don’t like the people running those shows; TGG is my baby and it’s well within my right to post what I like – thus the invitation for people to create their own gaming websites – but, thankfully, there aren’t too many companies who I strongly dislike the powers running the show.

      For the most part I’m happy to work with people I like who also want to work with us. If not, I don’t lose any sleep over companies who don’t want to be on board. If that makes it look like TGG covers “nobody companies” then so be it.

      My website. My hours invested. My call.

  2. I think the comment that initiated Jeff’s long response was a bit “craven” to begin with. I happen to like the fact the gaming gang covers a lot of games which don’t see a lot of publicity. I never knew about VPG unitl I came to this site and have to say I now possess a handful of their games which I really love. I’m betting the original comment is from one of those gamers who aren’t happy with anything and clogs up BGG with their complaining.

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