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When you first take Victory out of the box you’re going to want to start playing immediately. The “Quick Start” is the best way to dive in and play – take 20 units at full strength, place them on your maps, and start fighting. But first take a moment to consider what map you’ll be using. For beginners, it might be wise to pick maps 1 and 3 which leave a smaller role for your navies. In fact, you might want to agree not to use naval units in your first game or two. This will focus your efforts on your ground and air units and help you learn how they interact. After a game or two you can switch to a game using maps 2 and 4 and introduce the naval units.

Once you have played awhile you might consider what kind of game you feel like playing and choose your maps accordingly. Map 1 doesn’t have a large number of ports - this will allow you to concentrate on land and air units. This is especially true in a two-map game if you place it so that there are only two ports available and open to the enemy. But depending on your opponent’s choice of maps it is unlikely that you are going to be able to completely neglect your navy for too long and stay competitive. If your opponent manages to seize your ports and keep them full of battleships you’ll quickly be sunk.

On the other hand all the cities on map 2 are ports. This makes a larger navy almost a necessity. In addition no matter how the maps are placed, your city nearest the enemy is going to be isolated. You could concentrate on building a navy to gain control of the seas or use that forward island as a staging point for your own attacks. But don’t forget about your flanks...

As you continue to play and expand your set with the expansion maps, you might want to consider what kind of game you enjoy or which scenarios are most intriguing and choose those maps accordingly. It should be noted that to create larger oceans and individual land masses, not all the maps are 100% compatible on every edge. For instance, maps 7-14 have some edges that are all water. This allows more interesting map configurations but does limit the number of possibilities. With the maps included in the basic game, however, there are 24 different basic two-map configurations possible, and at least that many 4 map possibilities. Adding just two more expansion maps brings the two-map configuration total to 60. This being the case, running out of possibilities should not be a problem even with the basic set.

Once you have decided what game and or map to play it’s time to start thinking about what units to use and where to set them up. If you have a favorite style of play you should have already considered this when choosing a scenario and/or map. But in any case the set-up can definitely be critical to your success or failure.

Unless the scenario states otherwise you should choose your pieces three at a time and place them in cities and towns on your map. In a basic game (Quick Start) you will have 20 units to place in the six cities. Since you are required to place at least two in each city, you will have eight extra units to reinforce your cities and towns. A good rule of thumb is to make the cities closest to the enemy stronger – they will be the first to come under attack. Garrison the towns in your forward areas to deny the enemy airbases.

These can serve as airbases and in some cases as a source of sea supply. Putting a unit or two in one or more of these towns could slow down an early surprise invasion.

Initially you will likely want to allocate at least two of your armor units, backed by three or four infantry among your forward cities. Support these with some fighters and dive bombers. Base these air units in the cities in the middle and rear and bring them up to the front immediately on the first turn. Depending on the maps used and the type of game you anticipate, choose at least one airborne and one marine unit, especially if you sense from your opponent’s placement that an early invasion might be appropriate.

This will leave you with four or five units to allocate to your navy. A battleship in each of your forward ports will make an early invasion very difficult. When combined with a submarine they make an enemy blockade very difficult to achieve. Lastly, consider whether an aircraft carrier might be helpful. These units give you the ability to use your fighters and dive bombers outside the range of your forward cities.

The following are tips or little tricks for Victory. Just remember: after you introduce these to your opponent, they quickly learn them, and use them against you.

Fighter Sweeps
During WWII, especially late in the war, the Allies would send huge amounts of fighters on patrol. They first escorted the heavy bombers to the extent of the fighter’s range. If they did not encounter any enemy fighters, the escorts would drop down and seek targets of opportunity. In Victory, this is simulated by sending two 4cv fighters into a battle hex. Unless the defender has the same force defending, you should win air superiority in that hex. Have a second wave prepared for the following turn as it may take several turns to command the skies.

In a recent game, one player started the game with 8 full strength regular fighters. His opponent chose to build a balanced force of 4 fighters and 4 dive bombers. By turn three, player B had lost all his airforce and was scrambling to recover. Any time player B built new fighters, they were quickly destroyed. Player A, after his initial gain, continued to ensure his fighters were everywhere and always at full strength.

Scouting Missions
Knowing what your opponent has is an ancient axiom. It still holds true even in games. The simplest and cheapest way to scout an opponent is to send a single 1cv bomber over the target hex.

This is exactly what every side tried to do in WWII. Planes were often sent on long range missions to have a “looksy”. The heavy bomber is the best unit for this mission. It can be based safely behind the frontline and still reach out beyond the battles, pin units from responding, and give the commander a view of what the opponent has in store. It is always interesting to find an invasion force setting up, or even knowledge of the strength and types of units in the reserve.

One of the wonderful things about the block games is the ability to bluff your opponent. This can be done several ways. Try to deceive your opponent with the placement of blocks along a coastal hex since naval and ground units can exist in these hexes. To continue the deception, those units must act as if they are the opposite type. Remember army units can move out to sea. They count as a naval target without naval firepower.

The ultimate bluff is to use many 1cv units, make them appear to be a large force, and scare the opponent out of attacking. I was playing a four player, six map game. I had just tried to invade across a large expanse of ocean and was defeated. Knowing it would be some time before I could replace my losses, I was on the defensive. Meanwhile my partner was doing well against his opponent. We secretly decided to ship strong resource and supply blocks to his sector. Meanwhile we shipped 1cv units into my section and built as many new units as possible. I started to assemble an “invasion” force of weak units. My opponent could see these blocks and prepared a defensive force. I started to advance my force slowly across the ocean, shuffling units and muttering under my breath. To complete the distraction, I moved the “invasion” to the furthest edge of the board. My opponent had to bring his units to meet the threat. He sent out scout planes, but my force was spread out over many hexes and was difficult to observe. To improve upon this deception, I should have sent a few stronger units to cover and present targets. My partner made use of the sudden increase of his production and overwhelm his opponent. This occurred just in time for me. My opponent, realizing the deception, aggressively moved a large force in my direction. But it was too late. With his ally on the run, they surrendered.

Bluffing can be risky. If your opponent discovers the deception for what it is, it can be difficult to recover. Have a back-up plan of a defensive line and hope it holds. Be ready to shift quickly from your position of strength.

Considering that all units are the same, with the same firepowers, same ranges and same abilities it is hardly surprising that some games of Victory bog down. Production, terrain, skill and the dice can even the game out.

Fortunately, Victory is very flexible and there are several easy ways to breathe life into a stalemated game.

1. Try adding another map set to your current game. This will extend the front and may open up the flanks for a land grab. One side will usually gain a production advantage during the land grab and the new front may have weaknesses that can be exploited.

2. Change the forces. This can be done mid-game. Each side randomly draws an agreed number of units from the force pool and adds them to the map in supplied positions. This can open up new options for attack and lead to a breakthrough.

3. Random Force Pool. Before beginning play, both sides draw random blocks for units. 20 in a standard game or 40 if elites are available. These represent the only forces available for the duration of the game. These units may be rebuilt if destroyed.

Variation: Increase the number of units drawn, but prohibit rebuilding of eliminated units. That means, if a unit is destroyed or merged it is removed from the game may not be rebuilt.

Variation 2: Randomly select one or two units, these types may then increase all firepowers by 1. Example: Blue draws a fighter and an armor unit. All of blue’s fighters now have A3, N1, and G2. His Armor units now all have A2, N1, and G3. Red draws Heavy Bombers [A2, N2, and G3] and submarines are A1, N3, and G1. Record each side’s new abilities on a piece of paper.

An important rule change has been introduced in the second edition of the Victory rules. To be supplied, a City must trace supply to another City. This means isolating and starving cities is a more effective tactic and positions anchored by a City are not as secure.