Saturday, December 27, 2008

Axis & Allies For Christmas

I received the new Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition (commemorating Avalon Hill's 50th) for Christmas from my parents (and almost from my wife, too). It is simply amazing! I've been playing Axis & Allies since the mid-80's when it was first published by Milton Bradley. I thoroughly enjoyed the Revised Edition released in 2004, a comprehensive upgrade of the original. I played that version in tournaments and even got it signed by the designer, Larry Harris. I loved it.

This one is even better! First off, the board is GIGANTIC, as you can see. The graphic work is excellent, incorporating a topographical quality. There are more territories in key areas (Eastern Europe, China, Soviet Far East). There's even a new spot in Northern France--a likely foothold for an allied invasion. The packaging is magnificent--boxes are included for the units. And all the boxes fit together to form a picture when packed away. Nice touch. Everything is linen-finished, euro-style. The individual unit sculpts return with a few upgrades/changes. Americans now have P-51 Mustangs instead of P-38 Lightnings. Germans have big Tiger tanks with 88s. We also get a new unit: the cruiser.

The rules have also been improved significantly. The 2004 Revised Edition brought the game light-years ahead of the MB version, but Mr. Harris has taken this opportunity to fix nearly every single gripe and issue. The sub rules are masterful (they can be ignored by surface ships). The new 0-defense transport is perfect. The lowered unit costs should add more units into the fray. The research scheme is forgiving and enticing. The national bonuses inject pure history into the game. And the 1941 starting setup puts you right on the front lines. I believe the moment I completely fell in love with this game was when I first placed those 2 fully-loaded Japanese aircraft carriers in the same sea zone! My Japanese turn was spent trying to put together an invasion of the Philippines and/or a fighter attack on Pearl Harbor (can you say historical accuracy?).

This version includes Italy as a separate power, which seems to work well. It also brings in Chinese forces. These are controlled by the US player, but they get new units (all infantry) based on the number of Chinese territories they control. China becomes a living, breathing beast that Japan cannot afford to ignore. This new reality affects the entire Pacific theater.

I was pleased to find my buddy's name in the playtester credits. Greg Smorey has done just about as much for the Axis & Allies franchise as any other non-paid fan. He runs several tournaments every year. I look forward to facing off with the pros over this new and exciting version of one of the greatest war games ever conceived.

5 comments:

  1. We are two italian fans of Axis and Allies. We aren't pros in the institutional way as we never participated to tournaments but we have been playing the original edition since the mid 80's. We are honestly entusiasthic about the design of the game and we found the nmew rules to be more accurate historically and realistic. Anyway we found that the axis player is quite weak in this game as germany can't defend all the new territories along the baltic and northen sea and he doesn't appear to possess enough infantries to support is push trough east before Russia can reach a strong defensive position joining a strong mass of infantry and eventually allied figthers. We realy like this game but find it unbalanced. We haven't tried yet the 1942 scenario and rules including the national specialties that seem anyway help the allies more than the axis. Maybe we miss something as long the game seems to have been throughly playtested

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  2. Balance has always been a tricky part of this series, even going back to the original MB version. We have been discussing this issue in relation to the upcoming tournament season.

    Right now, the consensus seems to be leaning to using the 1942 setup. This also happens to be very similar to the more familiar Revised Version. Apart from that, here are a few balancing suggestions:

    1. Play without National Objectives and Tech. Both of these may make for more fun and more history, but they tend to skew balance.

    2. Bid for sides. This has been standard procedure at tournaments for over two decades. If you think Allies have it easy, offer an extra 5 IPCs to the Axis player. They might offer you the Axis and 6. And so on.

    I believe you will find these suggestions will help. Good luck!

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  3. Thanks Philip. Your suggestions are really wellcomed. We will concentrate on the 42 scenario. We thought that national objectives would balance and you will spare us the time to discover that it's not so...But the tournaments are they on line or on board. We are quite interested in expanding our playground and adversaires...let us know and thank you again

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  4. The main two tournaments I know about are at Origins (Columbus, Ohio) and Gen Con (Indianapolis, Indiana).

    There are (or will be) some good online opportunities at www.tripleawarclub.org and probably in a few other places.

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  5. When I play as the Allies near the start I keep throwing everything I got at Italy because they have little land. As the Axis to get on the United states neck get as much carriers as you can stack them up and invade East Canada. Also when your the Allies and Germany trying to take over all of Africa to defend well keep the south part safe and take borders from other places like Brazil stuff that you can use.

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