As the German army occupies most of Europe, elite units conduct covert operations behind enemy lines. Embody these units in V-Sabotageour board game of the week.
Established in July 1940 by Winston Churchill himself, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) aims to support the various resistance movements in occupied countries. In particular by sending airborne elite units, commandos, to carry out secret missions on strategic enemy elements.
V-Sabotage is a cooperative game, in which the players embody these famous commandos, opposed to the enemy forces controlled by the game.
Before starting the game, the players determine their mode of play. Either play a single mission (about thirty minutes), or a complete operation, a succession of several missions (some of which must sometimes be carried out in parallel). The number of commandos to use depends on the chosen mission, so it can happen to control several characters depending on the number of participants.
The missions describe how to set up the terrain, by assembling several exterior or interior tiles, where the enemies are positioned, where their reinforcements arrive, and above all the objectives to be achieved. There are two types: objectives to destroy (blow up a bridge for example) or not to destroy (recover plans for example).
Each commando has its own specialty (the sapper, the officer, the doctor and the sniper, the scout), its weapon of choice, and possibly a starting equipment.
After drawing a random event, some helping the players (the Germans think they heard a cat, for example), others much less (enemy reinforcements arrive, your weapons jam, etc.), each commando has three action points for his turn.
You can move from tile to tile, use equipment (a first aid kit, a grenade, a German uniform, etc.), discreetly eliminate an enemy, shoot, turn off the alarm, interact with an objective, etc.
The commandos start the game in stealth mode, and the whole objective of the game is to stay that way for as long as possible. The German reinforcements are then less numerous, we can kill them with a knife, they do not chase us, do not shoot us like rabbits, etc. On the other hand, once spotted (using a weapon that makes noise, going out in the open, not being discreet enough when moving, etc.), the alarm is triggered, and things become much more complicated. It can be turned off, but only once per game… The Germans are not fooled, they don’t believe twice in a false alarm.
Then it’s the game’s turn to act, differently depending on whether the alarm has gone off or not. First the reinforcements arrive, then each enemy moves, either according to the cardinal point indicated by the event card drawn at the start of the turn, or towards the nearest visible commando, then from which it fires.
If all the objectives have been achieved and at least one commando has managed to escape, the mission is a success. On the other hand, if all the commandos have been eliminated, all the enemy units have been deployed, or a mission failure condition has occurred, it is a failure. Otherwise, a new round begins.
Without going into details, the game is further enriched by a whole bunch of small additional elements, which further improve the experience and the games (machine gun nests, crowbars to open doors, equipment recovered from enemies killed, charges of TNT, etc.).
Why play V-Sabotage?
Let’s not cut corners: we were impressed by V-Sabotage. For starters, the rules are peppered with little historical and contextual snippets. Moreover, the operations, their location, their name, their objectives really took place.
Its basic rules are simple, and your first game will allow you to understand the few details that remained unclear from reading. The following are much more fluid, and the towers are then linked dynamically. And despite this simplicity (almost) all situations that one could imagine are taken into account.
But it is above all the game system, based on this notion of stealth, which gives all its strength to the game. The first pages of the rulebook are moreover entirely devoted to this point, as it is at the heart of the gameplay. You can of course go all out, but your mission will most likely end in failure.
Finally, the game manages to set up an atmosphere worthy of the best films of the genre. The Dirty Dozen, When eagles attack, The cannons of Navarone, Inglourious Basterds, gathered on your living room table. We also think, of course, of Commandosthe cult video game series.
Formerly known as V-Commandos , V-Sabotage is not a recent game, since it was published for the first time in 2016. But we take advantage of its reissue, which has just arrived in stores, to present it to you. The game hasn’t aged a bit, and the author even took the opportunity to improve certain points.
Finally, to renew the game experience, you have the possibility of enriching the basic box with several extensions already available. Each adds additional material: new events, new characters, new tiles, etc. Ghost notably offers experience management, a campaign mode, and a lone wolf mode. Resistance offers to cooperate with resistance movements, and adds German officers and guard dogs. Secret Weapons introduces, among other things, new weapons, barrels of gas to shoot at, or even radio-controlled mini-tanks. Finally, if you prefer to play with figurines (to be painted) rather than cardboard tokens, there is the Thumbnail Pack for the basic box, and the Thumbnail Pack for extensions.
If you are a fan of this type of gameplay and the theme, V-Sabotage will surely meet your expectations. Simple but comprehensive rules, fluid and dynamic turns, up-to-date equipment, malleable game durations, everything has been carefully thought out. And with its many extensions already available, the commando missions will no longer hold any secrets for you. Here is a cooperative and historical game with a well-established theme, which we particularly appreciated.
- V-Sabotageis a game by Thibaud de la Touanne
- Illustrated by Vincent Filipiak and Bruno Tatti
- Edited by Triton Noir
- For 1 to 4 players from 14 years old
- For games of around 30 to 120 minutes (depending on the game mode chosen)
- Priced at €57.90 at Philibert
- Tense parts
- Very nice material
- Many missions
- We’re really in the mood!
- Works great on its own
We liked less
- Not really storage in the box (we had to find something)
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