Playings 2, 6 hours (French wins)
Vittoria is aimed a little above the quad game and is pretty straightforward even for a Vae Victis game. In emulation of American magazine games it has a serious errata problem, not a lot of errata but one pretty serious change. In the original rules units must attack any enemy whose Zone of Control they are in although there are the usual opportunities for soak off attacks. The errata makes attacks voluntary and changes the whole flow of the game. With compulsory combat a successful attacker can advance and force the defender to retreat in his movement phase with a further 1 strength point loss and an extra 2 movement point penalty or the defender can push in extra units to improve the odds and fight back. This provides a deal of decision making as combat cannot be entered into lightly and units are drawn into melees removing the player's degree of control in that area. On the other hand if melee is voluntary the attacker can sidle up for optimum odds on a single unit and ignore its neighbours. Certainly this piece of errata is a bad thing degrading the game to a push me pull you odds counter.
The basic game idea is pleasant enough for a few games with the French on the defence but with an eye to sloping off map as the day goes on. The French have a strong position behind a river but do not have enough units to cover the whole line which is endangered by Allied units coming from 3 directions. 2 Spanish units come from the South and are likely to damage the baggage and loot the royal treasure if not chased off, which is not too hard. A more serious concern is the Allied arrival from the North which can cut off the line of retreat for the French. These units cause victory point losses on the French by killing them and preventing the units and baggage that are not killed from retreating off map, some serious fighting will occur in this area as the French try to keep the road home open. Most of the Allied forces turn up in conventional fashion from the West and try to plough through the strongest French position to seal off all 3 roads that the French can use to escape and capture the town of Vittoria. The Allies are clearly stronger but do not get up to speed until their turn 3 and 4 reinforcement arrive and then do not have time to push through the French lines if they play things by numbers.
Vittoria has a number of ideas which although sound in themselves are not used often enough to justify their inclusion. Consider hidden values of units, all units are backprinted with type and nationality but no strength to prevent odds counting in attacks. In reality this is not necessary because all strengths are located on rosters making it hard for the owner of a group of units to workout how strong they are and impossible to guess the enemy strength.. The front of counters tell the starting strength of units but this is not going to stay the same for long. Losses from combat must be strictly shared out so more than 1 loss on a single unit in 1 combat is unlikely, it would be a lot tidier but less easy to justify to take all losses on 1 unit until it is dead and then move to the next.. Infantry strengths average about 6 so these units hang around for most of the game making the printed strength number unlikely to be correct, cavalry are weaker including some 2s and 1s who are likely to be eliminated.
Combat itself generates few losses and short retreats, an interesting rout result has the target suffer heavy losses, retreat 5 hexes and require rallying by a general. Generals can be moved adjacent to routers and rally them but in so doing will have to leave the main combat area where they have an important die bonus for troops of their command. Fair enough but this rout result is only going to occur at very high or low odds with an optimum dice bonus and is always accompanied by serious strength losses. If the rout result does occur any affected units are likely to be eliminated by the same result or be pretty beat up, in 2 games only 1 combat turned up an effective rout result. Another combat related affect is disorder which is not caused directly by combat but by a retreating unit having to overstack on its retreat. Disordered units are penalised for movement and combat and have to spend 1 turn not moving or fighting to recover. Again a good idea which is penalised by the ability of units to retreat into enemy ZOCs with a loss of 1 additional strength point. Unless overstacking is the only option of a retreating unit it will avoid the effects of disorder. Cavalry can charge for increased effect but must advance 1 hex if they clear the target hex and there is a bonus for using all 3 combat arms in a melee otherwise artillery gets a poor deal. Artillery can bombard without suffering adverse combat effects but uses the standard odds based CRT making it very hard to do any harm against large targets. Bombardments do not count as a melee so there is no benefit in using artillery to avoid having to attack when in an enemy ZOC, a neat idea that could be added to the game.
In all Vittoria is a quick fix and a handy way to jazz up some old quad rules. It is very tempting to try out the combat changes on Armee du Nord with a few losses changed to routs on the Vittoria CRT.