Super Vorcon Wars is, to quote from the precise rulebook, “an enhancement of the long running and popular, computer moderated Vorcon Wars.” I couldn’t have put it better myself: SVW is a genuine enhancement of VW (which I reviewed in July 1986). The games features have been broadened and developed — but unfortunately the price has also gone up! John Nicholson, founder of Vorcon Games, released SVW to complement, and not to replace the original. The new and improved features of SVW reflect all that John has learned about the game during his four years of moderation. So, what is so special about SVW? Is it any better than the original? It is worth the extra 40p per turn? And, most importantly, are its players having fun?
As you may or may not remember, Vorcon Wars is a sixteen-player game of global strategy and diplomacy — with the ultimate aim of gaining power over a fully circumnavigable semi-developed world. The planet of Vorcon is divided into ‘hexes,’ each hex having its own function (agriculture, industrial, forest and so on) and longitude/latitude position. These hexes must be captured, and defended by deploying armies about them — thus expanding the amount of world controlled. Diplomacy is often ignored, and battle soon erupts when players meet — and can be anything from a minor skirmish to an all-out nuclear bash. That, very basically, is Vorcon Wars. Super Vorcon Wars is an attempt at improving this masterpiece of simplicity and playability!
The basic differences and additional features of SVW in comparison to the original are: new land types, revised hex layout, subordinate commanders, spy satellites, running points score (which can grant your commander a Super Commander status — very effectively raising military might), additional options and diseased food supplies. This may not make much sense to non VW players, but the rest of you will know what I mean.
Should you prove super-efficient at stockpiling food supplies for your forces, diseases will become rife — destroying your stockpile very rapidly. To overcome this difficulty, the Laboratory hex has been created: when disease appears, you must set up one of these to discover the antidote. Once the antidote is discovered (at economic expense) and the stockpile has fallen, the problem vanishes and the lab is destroyed. This prevents players from stockpiling so much food that they needn’t worry about feeding their armies during battles.
A problem encountered by many in Vorcon Wars is the limited range of your commander’s effectiveness when moving armies. Your troops can only be moved when within viewing range of your commander (the SVW equivalent of the Chess King — a very important entity). In SVW, subordinate commanders can be created to control a minor campaign on one border while your main commander has an additional print-out sheet. This feature allows a greater use of strategy, yet it could be argued that it de-limits the use of diplomacy (a powerful player with many subordinate commanders has little need to trust in allies).
In the revamped game, satellites can be ‘re-directed’ away from your commander’s location to any co-ordinate you choose to spy on — effectively allowing you to keep an eye on the opposition while you temporarily play semi-blind. This switching of orbits cuts down the satellite’s life, but it is a useful idea.
Additional options and land hexes exist to accommodate the features covered here. There is certainly more scope for strategy with the use of subordinate commanders and spy satellites, but only time will tell how the game goes down.
SVW is not necessarily a better game than the original, although if you are looking for a fast turnaround game that has a lot of scope, then it may well be the better option — it’s up to you. SVW does cost more to play though. Vorcon Wars costs £1.00 per turn, while Super Vorcon Wars comes in at £1.40 (which can be weekly, fortnightly or every three weeks).