I got a chance to play Vici, which is designed by Ben Shulman and is being published by Game Salute. It is set to launch on Kickstarter (possibly today) so keep an eye out for it!
Vici is a fun two player tactical battle game where you pit various soldiers against each other. It has a chess-like abstract feel, but thanks to the theme it’s a lighter and more enjoyable.
“I have always been a big Chess player,” Shulman said. “The simple, yet intricate rules are unmatched by modern games. I also began playing Shogi, which offered a brand new perspective on war strategy games. My Flux-capacitor moment happened when I was staring at the ugly tiles on the dish room floor. I began to think about Shogi and the elegant tile pieces moving and battling, and it dawned on me. A simple war strategy game using the tiles similar to Shogi!”
Vici plays on a 5×7 grid board. At the start of your turn, you can spend gold to recruit new units. Then you move those units across the board, trying to get to the enemy’s camp. If you succeed then a Vici token is placed in the enemy’s camp, which means the enemy gets one less gold to spend and you get one more.
“Originally a player would roll a die and that would dictate how many points they could deploy,” Shulman said. “It was incredibly variable, and testers wanted more control over their build points. With the help of my testers, we came up with the current Build Point equation, which is Open Camp spaces in the Camp + Vici Tokens in the opponent’s Camp = Build Points. It works very well, since now a player must choose to fortify their Camp or advance their troops to deploy bigger, badder units.”
The real heart of the game has to do with specific units. Each has a special ability or movement pattern and each is stronger against other specific types of units. For example, when doing a ranged attack the Bowmen get to roll an extra dice, however when they are in melee combat they don’t.
“The strength system was in it from the very beginning,” Shulman said. “Footmen are stronger than Spearmen, Spearmen and stronger than Horsemen, and Horsemen are stronger than Footmen. Bowmen are always strong at battling from a distance, but close up they are weak. I played around with different types of dice to be used in battle resolution. Initially I used D6s, but after I showed the game to my Latin peers and teachers they recommended I use a 4-sided Roman tali dice. These Roman dice were irregularly-shaped, carved knuckle bones and would therefore add more of a Roman flare to the game. However, with continued play testing I found a great solution with the D3 dice that I am using now.”
Players begin game with the same type and number of units but as the game progresses, dead units get retired to a common stockpile. Thats where the real depth of the game starts to appear. Because you and your opponent have access to the same units it becomes a tough decision on which units you will place on the board. Sometimes you might want to buy that Bowmen just so your opponent won’t get it and other times you may need that Footman so you can quickly defend against a Spearman.
Vici is a strategy game and although there is some light luck thanks to the dice it’s more about getting into your opponents head than hoping luck turns your way. It has a strong tug of war type feel. You’ll pull ahead for a hot second by scoring a Vici token or two and then on the next turn your opponent will catch right back up.
That balance is so important in a two player game because if you are playing one on one against someone and just demolishing them, that’s not fun. So it’s great that not only is Vici designed for two players but that it works so well for two players. That’s a rare trait in modern games.
“When I started designing Vici in 2006,” Shulman said. “I had yet to be introduced to modern gaming. In fact, a lot of the big changes in its design and game play happened in 2011 after I started playing games like Catan, 7 Wonders, Carcassonne, and Small World. These gateway games changed my life! The younger me was afraid that I would have to sell my soul and my game to giant American companies Hasbro or Parker Brothers, since Ameri-trash were the only games that I knew at the time. I realized that making independent games could be a reality!”
If you want to help Ben achieve his dreams of being a published game designer make sure you keep an eye out for the Kickstarter!