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Posted on Jan 25, 2019 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

“Stealth is life.” Triton Noir’s “V Commandos” Game Review

“Stealth is life.” Triton Noir’s “V Commandos” Game Review

By Rick Martin

V Commandoes  Board Game Review.  Publisher: Triton Noir   Game Designer: Thibaud de la Touanne  Price  $50.00

Passed Inspection: Rules and components are in both French and English, very high quality, logically laid out rules with full training courses, tons of replayability

Failed Basic:  the terrain tiles could benefit by having a unique identifier somewhere on them

Triton Noir was founded in 2014 by Thibaud de la Touanne  and is based in Montréal, Canada.  V Commandos is their first game release and, man oh man, this game is a winner!

V Commandos is a solo or cooperative game in which you send teams of commandos in to occupied Europe in order to fulfill various missions.  This game puts you down in the dirt with each unit being one person or piece of equipment and each turn being a minute or two.  You control the commandos and the game controls the German troops.

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The stunningly illustrated box includes English and French copies of:

1 rule book

1 training manual

37 event cards

9 operation cards

26 terrain set up cards

5 commando cards

29 double sided terrain tiles of three different sizes

Counters for both the commandos and for the Germans

Tons of terrain and status tokens

Equipment tokens

12 dice

The terrain tiles are double sided – one side is for outside locations and the other is for inside locations.  There are different sizes of tiles which fit together based upon the information on the terrain set up cards.  On to each terrain tile are placed unlocked and locked doors, trapdoors, objectives, German troops’ entrances, alarm controls, MG42 machine gun nests and such.  The terrain is randomly set up based upon the terrain tile size shown on the terrain set up cards so there are a variety of possible terrain styles even if you play the same scenario multiple times.  Each commando moves from one terrain tile to an adjacent terrain tile.

Each tile has multiple circles printed on it.  These circles show how many soldiers or commandos can be on that tile but I found a great way to add extra tension to the game by using the circles as movement squares or hexes in other games.  In my house ruled variant, when your commando or a German soldier moves, they move from circle to circle.  This helps make the game a little more detailed and makes for longer more nail biting missions. In addition, each tile has a number listed.  This number is a “to hit” number for combat and it is based upon the covering terrain in the tile.  Open terrain has a lower number as you must roll that number or more on the dice to successfully hit a target.  Conversely, the more cover on the terrain tile, the harder it is to hit someone so the number is higher.

I wish that the terrain tiles had identifiers on them.  This would help for creating your own scenarios in that you could reference specific tiles in the scenario description.

The turn sequence is as follows:

  1. Event Phase: draw 1 event card for each terrain and apply

its effect.

  1. Commando Phase: each commando takes their actions.
  2. Enemy Phase: activate enemy units.
  3. End of Turn Phase: check to determine victory or failure.

If the operation does not end, start a new game turn.

Stealth is the key to this game – get in and get out and try not to get caught.  As such, each commando counter is double sided.  One side is your commando sneaking and the other is your commando not being stealthy at all.  When your commando is sneaking around, he moves slower but German troops will have a more difficult time spotting him or her.  In addition, you have the option of dressing up as German soldiers if you can “acquire” an intact uniform.  If a guard enters the tile in which you are sneaking, he usually can’t spot you unless he rolls a 1 or 2 on a 6 sided dice.  If the guard spots you, he raises the alarm and attacks.  This can spoil your day.  Each weapon that the commando has is rated for its noise.  If you fire a weapon that doesn’t have a “stealth” icon, this alerts the guards to your presence and the alarm goes off.  You’ll find yourself doing a lot of sneaking up on guards and cutting their throats in order to avoid alerting the whole gaggle of guards that commandos are on the base but when it hits the fan, you have a great selection of noisy guns and grenades to help you out.

Each weapon is rated for the number of dice you roll with it.  A more powerful weapon may have you roll 3 or 4 dice while a weaker weapon such as a low caliber pistol may only allow you to roll 1 die.  Some weapons, such as the MG42, are prone to overheating and this is also accounted for in the rules.

Each scenario has positions where German guards enter the board.  The German guard counters are put in to a container for drawing later in the game.  The guards are rated for skill level (1 to 3 with 1 being relatively green and 3 being experts) and their skill level dictates how many dice they have to roll when attacking you.  In addition, some of the German guard counters have no guard on them.  When these are drawn, they represent no enemy entering the board for that particular enemy draw.  When there is no alarm, the German entrance chit usually only allows one enemy draw per turn.  When the alarm is active, the chit is flipped over and the numbers of guards shown on the chit enter the board each turn!  This can make your life pretty nasty until they shoot you down and end your misery.

The objectives change based upon the scenario played.  In one game, I had to put explosive charges and destroy a location.  In another scenario, I had to sneak my commandos in to a radar base and steal some key equipment.  As I said before, with two different cards dictating your mission, the game doesn’t play the same way twice adding to the replayability of this great game.  In addition, each mission can be played in an hour or less, usually more like 30 minutes – so you can get in many games over the course of the session.

In addition to dealing with guards, you also have to deal with random events such as friendly fire or being spotted by German aircrafts.  These event cards are also used to generate the movement pattern of unalerted German guards.

Commando actions can include laying explosives, turning off alert sirens, disguising as a German guard, opening doors, jamming doors shut, etc.  Pretty much anything you can image a commando doing can be done in this game.

The German guard artificial intelligence is simply simulated but very effective.  Essentially guards travel a random path dictated by the direction of patrol shown on the event cards.  After an alarm is triggered or upon spotting a commando, the guards will travel towards the commando or attempt to shoot him from range.  They will also attempt to man a MG42 position if that weapon is available and the commandos are in the forward arc of the machine gun nest.

OK – I love this game!  The rules are simple enough to be easy to learn but the scenarios are challenging enough so that you won’t get bored with the game.  If Triton Noir keeps making games of this caliber, I think they’ll win the hearts and minds of the board game community.  As for me, I’m going to try and take out that German observation tower!  Rick Martin – over and out!

Armchair General Rating: 98 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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