From the Publisher:
Victory depends on you!
Be the stealthiest heroes of World War 2. Move like shadows behind enemy lines and undermine the adversary’s plans by accomplishing history-changing operations. Make good use of your commandos’ patented weapons: stealth, rapidity and nerves of steel.
V-Commandos is an innovative and easy-to-learn cooperative game. Captivating and audacious, it will keep you in constant suspense and challenge your tactical skills.
The German army occupies the majority of Europe and nothing seems to be able to slow its progression. The Luftwaffe launches air attack upon air attack against London and the major industrialized British cities. Great Britain withstands and gets ready to face an imminent invasion.
But Winston Churchill was not one to sit back in a defensive stance. Convinced that the Allied Forces must take the initiative and strike blows behind enemy lines, he orders the creation of elite airborne units. Simultaneously, the Special Operations Executive is established with the objective to “set Europe ablaze.” After intensive training, these units will conduct audacious operations of all kinds, striking like lightning bolts before withdrawing into shadows. Their numerous successes, although often unknown, weighed heavily in the outcome of the conflict.
Year Published: 2016
Number of players: 1-4
Playing Time: 30-120 minutes
Game Setup & Rules Overview
V-Commandos is a cooperative game that supports between 1-4 players who are working against the game’s enemy forces (AI). Players start by choosing their starting commando—each one with a unique ability—which will be part of the squad that will be sent on the mission.
V-Commandos comes with two booklets to help guide you through the game, with one set being in French and the second set being in English. The same can be said for all the cards and tokens, with both French and English being made available in the box. That said, the game is not heavily language dependent, as the iconography is pretty clear on the cards and tokens. The first guide covers all the rules and options available in the game, going into detail using multiple examples and images to help you understand the flow of the turn and game. The second guide contains a few training missions that will walk you through the basics of the game, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of how the game works.
The team at Triton Noir took a little bit of a different approach in creating the rule book. Instead of going through how to set up the game and players, and right into what each turn look like, they start with taking the time to explain how the main mechanism works in the game, which is how movement and stealth, work. Using examples from the game, before you even work on the setting up scenarios, you will know how it will all come together.
With V-Commandos, the setup for each mission is outlined on the scenario cards that are included with the game. Within each scenario, it will show you a layout that consists of tokens that need to be used and areas where you can use any of the tiles/scenery to fill it. For example, the initial training setup consists of a total of 7 different tiles that will be used, and shows you what the cardboard chits and layouts are in it. The tiles all come in 3 different sizes (square, rectangle, large square), and are clearly marked with indicators so you know which to use, and what the facing should be.
Play is straight-forward, with a total of 4 phases in each round. Each round starts with the Event Phase, where you will draw an event card for every terrain tile that is in play. What is a terrain tile? Glad you asked! A terrain tile is a tile that has an objective on it, related to the mission you are on. For, you see, when you pick the scenario card, you will be given multiple objectives to complete on the missions, and what the win condition is for the game. Not only will you have different objectives, but multiple spawn points for both you and your teammates, as well as for the game AI. Played a mission and failed it? Maybe try spawning in a different area and using a different character. Or split up the team and try it using multiple breach points to get to the objectives.
The event cards allow, well, events to happen changing the game state. The game comes with 37 different event cards, and you will be using multiple on each round. Once you resolve the event cards, we move to your turn (known as the Commando turn).
On the Commando turn, the first thing you will decide is the order that your commandos will play. As this is a cooperative game, you will want to talk to your teammate(s) and see what the order of play is. You will each have up to 3 actions that you can take, and each action has a cost associated with it. Need to pick or drop something where you are standing? That costs 0 actions. Need to go through a doorway? That is 1 action. Move up to a larger tile? That is 2 actions. Once that player is done, the next commando plays their actions, and play continues until all commandos have taken their turn and used up all their actions.
Once we are done with the Commando phase, it’s time for the Enemy phase, where they have up to 3 different actions that they’ll take. On this phase, there is the Reinforcement step (spawning additional enemies), Movement step (if one or more of the commandos is visible, move towards them, otherwise walk to the adjacent tile), and finally the Shooting step (this will only happen if the enemy is on the same tile as a visible commando).
The final phase is the End of Turn phase, where game state is checked. If the objective of the missions has been met, and at least 1 commando has escaped, then you have won! That’s right. Not only do you need to meet the objective given at the beginning of the game, but at least one commando needs to make it to the exit successfully for a victory.
With V-Commandos, the marriage of the game mechanics and the theme of World War II have combined to form a fantastic union that really shines. I’ll talk about the artwork later on in the review, but thematically it all works and fits.
Mechanically, the game is solid, using tried and true game mechanics in a logical manner to bring the game together. Using a simple point system to determine which actions each player uses on their turn, and a solid AI playing the enemy, the game flows smoothly and does not take a lot of time to learn and move through.
V-Commandos is based on a solid core and offers incredibly good replay ability in the core box. The game is a mid-weight game, offering challenging missions in the core box. With the inclusion of the training book, which includes 3 different scenarios to learn with, after playing through these, you will have a great understanding of the game and how the game-play is. Add in the ability to start in multiple location on each map, and the randomization of the enemy, throw in some alarms that dictate movements, and some additional tricks in the game, you will find yourself wanting to keep going with this.
Triton Noir currently has 2 expansions available that expand the scenario and maps. The first expansion is called V-Commandos: Resistance and it adds new characters, tiles, events, missions and new character support (call in an airdrop for more equipment, or your binoculars to get an advantage over the enemy. The second expansion is called V-Commandos: Secret Weapons and bring in even more characters, tiles, events, missions and, yes, new character support. Throw a smoke grenade to obfuscate your actions, or launch a Panzerfaust to take them out.
Artwork & Component Quality
The artwork for V-Commands is fitting for a WWII game. You will see lots of brown, green, and tan colors in the game, and while that sounds as a negative, it really works and fits in the game for that era. The artists have done a great job on the tiles and cards to match the theme of the game.
Solid game play that is extremely easy to learn. The inclusion of a book that has training missions allowing you to learn the game, starting with the basics and moving to the more difficult missions is a fantastic aide that helps people learn the game. Supporting solo play by playing multiple characters is a logical part of the game and doesn’t change the way the AI works.
What doesn’t work
With Triton Noir being based out of Quebec, and limited distribution across different regions globally, depending on where you are in the world it may be difficult to get a copy of the game. Luckily, they do ship direct to customers, and they do have some online retailers with copies, so it’s not too difficult to get a copy.
V-Commandos is an incredibly solid, turn-based experience full of difficult decisions, strategic planning, and artwork that drips WWII. With built-in support for up to 4 players (solo play does require you to play more than one commando), the game offers lots of replayability and hits that strategic itch more than once without you having to get into a large game. The sweet spot seems to be at 3 players, where game play really flows smoothly. If you want to bring in the young ones in to try the game, age 12+ does work, and the more complex missions can take more time to complete.
With 2 expansions available, adding new mission scenarios, commandos and challenges, the game continues to grow and offer more challenges, keeping the game fresh.