I have written on V-Commandos on this site for more than five years now. The WW2 tactics game and its multiple expansions are among the finest expressions of stealth in any board game, and for those five years it has remained one of my most-played co-op experiences.
In 2022, however, it’s time to make some changes. On the one hand, the game is no longer called V-Commandos. Legal disputes with landlords the Commandos video game series made sure of that. The game and its expansions are now known as V-Sabotage.
More importantly, 2022 is also the year the game finally got a much-needed shine. See, for all the joys found in playing the game –and i really can’t stress enough how good it is– it was always a bit basicwith simple illustrations and functional tokens, but also a little dull and difficult to distinguish from the other side of the table.
Now, thanks to some upgrade packs, the game has a tonne excellent plastic miniatures depicting every character, enemy, and even some pieces of gear in exquisite detail. It also has new player cards, with new art that gives each of the game’s heroes a stylistic refresh.
Having finally taken these miniature upgrades for a spin last week, one of my main takeaways is that it doesn’t change the way the game rooms a little. What it does is make a huge improvement to the whole live, as well as your quality of life during a mission. Besides looking fantastic, having every player and enemy (and alarm, door, machine gun nest, remote tank, and poison gas barrel) represented in 3D makes scanning the table and planning strategies much easier , because before you had to scan the whole thing over and over just to remember what was where. It also became easy to miss things on larger missions when everything from humans to objects was represented by a small, flat cardboard token.
Plus, as anyone who’s been around Kickstarter for the past five years knows, plastic miniatures are just plain more fun to use. Whether it’s because it reminds us of our childhood or because it’s tangible, scaled, realistic versions of the things we’re meant to use in the game (or both!), it’s usually best to play a game with thumbnails than without.
The negative consequences of this love for miniatures on game design, production and shipping costs are another story for another time, of course, although some of those impacts may still be felt here; the miniature expansion for the base game costs more than the base game itselfand if you have or want V-Sabotage’s extensions, and then their thumbnails as well, so the cost explosion is going to be huge.
Will it be worth it for someone looking to get into the game now? I don’t know, it depends on how much money you win, how long you are going to play the game and all sorts of other factors that remind me as I type this why our reviews never mention the concept of “rating” !
Personally though, as someone who has played this game countless times with friends over a five year period, enough times that it is now one of their favorite games too, adding figurines really improved the experience for me. I’m normally quite dismissive of the current frenzy for plastic miniatures in board games (see my points above!), but this is a rare case where, after playing the game first without them, I can say it’s definitely better with their.
Which sounds… superficial, but that’s not half the reason people prefer to play board games in 2022 this kind of tactile delights?