I’ve been writing about V-Commandos on this website for over five years now. The WW2 tactics game, and its multiple expansions, are some of the best expressions of stealth in all of board gaming, and for those five years it has remained one of my most-played co-op experiences.
In 2022, though, it’s time for some changes. For one, the game is no longer called V-Commandos. Legal wrangling with the owners of the Commandos series of video games have 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-deserved glow-up. See, for all the joys to be found in playing the game—and I really cannot stress enough how good it is—it was always a little basic, with simple art and tokens that were functional, but also a bit drab, and hard to make out from across the table.
Now, thanks to some upgrade packs, the game has a ton of excellent plastic miniatures representing each character, enemy and even select pieces of equipment in exquisite detail. It also has new player cards, featuring 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 this doesn’t change how the game plays one bit. What it does do is make a huge improvement to the overall experience, as well as your quality of life while taking on a mission. Aside from looking fantastic, having each player and enemy (and alarm, door, machine gun nest, remote-control tank and barrel of poison gas) represented in 3D makes scanning the table and planning strategies much easier, since previously you’d have to scan the whole thing repeatedly just to remember what was where. It also got easy to miss certain things on bigger missions when everything, from humans to items, was represented by a flat little cardboard token.
Also as anyone who has been around Kickstarter for the last five years will know, plastic miniatures are just more fun to use. Whether it’s because it harks back to our childhoods or because they’re tangible, scaled, realistic versions of the things we’re supposed to be actually using in the game (or both!), it is usually better to be playing a game with miniatures than without.
The negative consequences of this love for miniatures on game design, production and shipping costs is another story for another time, of course, though some of those impacts can still be felt here; the miniature expansion for the core game costs more than the core game itself, and if you’ve got or want V-Sabotage’s expansions, and then their miniatures as well, then the cost blowout is going to be enormous.
Is that going to be worth it for someone looking at getting into the game now? I don’t know, that depends on how much money you make, how long you’re going to play the game and all kinds of other factors that are reminding me while I type this as to why our reviews never mention the concept of “value”!
Personally speaking, though, as someone who has played this game countless times with friends over a five-year timeframe, enough times that it’s now one of their favourite games as well, the addition of miniatures has really elevated the whole experience for me. I’m normally pretty dismissive of the current frenzy for plastic minis in board games (see my points above!), but this is a rare case where, having played the game first without them, I can say it’s definitely better with them.
Which sounds…superficial, but then isn’t half the reason people prefer to play board games in 2022 these kind of tactile delights?