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Quartermaster General» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Alternate Histories cranks up the pace? rss

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Ian Brody
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I've gotten a fair number of games in over the past month with conventions and such.

I've decided not to push Alternate Histories on newbies as I might do so with Air Marshal. What am I talking about?

At this point I always want to play with Air Marshal. I don't always teach Air Marshal to newbies if the players aren't familiar with strategy or wargames. Air Marshal ostensibly adds fewer rules, but the pressure to discard good cards can be too much on a new player.


In Alternate Histories, the discard requirement allows a good player to move through cards and find the ones that work best for that game's strategy. New players often will sit on cards that seem individually amazing, but are less interesting when considering the combinations or situation.

The starting setup also creates pressure from turn 1. So newbie axis players can get crushed, and fast, in Alternate Histories. Reallocate Resources at the "bargain" price of 3 cards can force the Axis forward but at what cost!

Meanwhile, the UK is much more vulnerable than in the past, but may be able to dominate in points if they get both the UK and French pieces fully deployed.

Has anyone else noticed the pressure level increase?



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Witch Lord
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I've played around 20 AH games (all of which also included AM), around 10 with the standard rules and 10 with the constructed decks. My personal observations are:

1) With the constructed decks, the Allies have won every time so far. Probably I'm just awful at constructing decks for the Axis. However,what tends to happen is that basically, if I focus the UK deck on supporting the French and on teleporting to India/Australia/Poland, and the US deck on attacking Europe ASAP while throwing the Pacific and the Chinese under the bus, Germany and Italy usually just don't have the time to develop their game (let alone attacking the UK ) while also keeping their borders safe. The Chinese also buy one or two rounds worth of time by slowing down the Japanese expansion.

2) With the standard rules, my outcomes have been split about 50/50. The UK and especially the US usually end up with quite diluted hands, which makes it harder for them to focus on a strategy effectively.

To answer our question, yes, with standard rules I definitely feel a sense of urgency now on both sides. The Allies now are more or less forced by their hands to play at least one or two suboptimal moves early on, which gives the Axis a bit of a breather - so then the Allies find themselves pressured to try and prevent Germany from turning into a monster, and Italy and Japan from becoming point factories. On the other hand, the Axis feel pressured by their initial point disadvantage (usually at least -6 after round 1 and most often at least -10 after round 2) even when they gain the positional advantage so the games tend to be very tense now.

So far I've had lots of fun and I totally recommend the new expansion. thumbsupcool
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Peter Bakija
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IanBrody wrote:
Has anyone else noticed the pressure level increase?


Absolutely. The Chinese/French units mean the Axis need to be very decisive early (sometimes needing to Reallocate Resources on the first turn, although with the Research promo rule tile in play, this is much less of an issue), and I have played games that looked like the French or Chinese units were completely irrelevant, but in the end analysis, it turns out that the Axis lost by the 2-4 point edge that the Allies got on T1, 'cause they were foiled trying to get into Western Europe, or whatever.

The extra vulnerability of UK (due to Sea Lion) is a significant issue if you don't know it is possible, and the first few games we used AH, I was very clear to the UK that said card existed. But in practice, when everyone knew Sea Lion was a thing, it turned out to not do much (I don't think I have seen it result in taking London in any of the AH games we have played around here so far).

I think we have played 3-4 games with AH (and all the extra stuff) so far, all with 6 pretty experienced QmG players, and the Allies have won all of them pretty handily. I think the main culprit, however, is Preparations for War (promo rule tile where you get to put a Status/Response in play before the game starts). It looks like that is a *much* better deal for the Allies than than the Axis. We gotta try a few without that extra rule and see how it goes (the online PBF games *weren't* using that extra rule, and I think those were either even victories, or possibly advantage Axis).
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Peter Bakija
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Witch Lord wrote:
1) With the constructed decks, the Allies have won every time so far.


Yeah, looking at the cards, it looks like constructed deck games are likely to favor the Allies, if for no other reason that a lot of their new cards are "here is a possible strategy path to follow...", and picking one of those and focusing on it, while trashing the part you don't want to use, makes the decks a lot more focused.

Quote:
2) With the standard rules, my outcomes have been split about 50/50.


Interesting. Have you been using the Preparations for War promo tile?

Quote:
The UK and especially the US usually end up with quite diluted hands, which makes it harder for them to focus on a strategy effectively.


That seems like something that will happen, certainly. When we played, and used Preparations for War, the UK always starts with Rationing, and the US always starts with Rosie the Riveter, both of which pretty much solve the problem mentioned here.

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So far I've had lots of fun and I totally recommend the new expansion. :thumbsup::cool:


Us too. We really like it. We just gotta find the balance point :-)
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Witch Lord
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bakija wrote:
Interesting. Have you been using the Preparations for War promo tile?


No. I suppose that's yet one more thing I still need to try
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Peter Bakija
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Witch Lord wrote:
No. I suppose that's yet one more thing I still need to try :)


In 3 or 4 games so far, I think it helps the Allies far more than the Axis.

The Allies can (and have every time we have used this) start with:

-UK: Rationing. Helps them the whole game, and especially helps them with the issue that is having a lot of cards that don't necessarily help at any given moment and churning through your deck.

-USSR: Women Conscripts. Super important for USSR. Helps the whole game.

-US: Rosie the Riveter. Takes the US deck issue of "here are a lot of cards you don't really want right now" and completely fixes it instantly, turning the US deck into a high speed sift machine from T1.

Conversely, the Axis can start with:

-Germany: Blitzkrieg. Handy. But probably gets killed on T1 or T2, as the UK can find Enigma very quickly (especially with Research in use as well...).

-Japan: Any number of handy responses (I like Chinese Civil War, but there are options). These are certainly handy and give the Japanese a quick leg up, but really, it is just sort of making things neutral against the Chinese upgrade. And other than the good short term effect, no serious long term effect. They could start with a +VP status as well, and rely on regular draws for Status cards, but this slows them down against China, and gives away VPs anyway.

-Italy: We are yet to find a good Status for them to start with. The +VP ones are very conditional. The "Italy controls the Med" one is pretty good, but the Allies can just get about the same effect out of North Africa.

This might need to be its own thread...
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Mark Turner
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Blimey, so this expansion further favours the allies? I was so hoping it would tilt the balance a little the other way.
 
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Ian Brody
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In playtesting, the Axis won more games. But not significantly (from a statisticians view)
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Nicholas Avallone
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MrMT wrote:
Blimey, so this expansion further favours the allies? I was so hoping it would tilt the balance a little the other way.


I think most of the discussion regards the Preparations for War promo tile, which seems to favor the Allies.

Alternate Histories actually takes the edge off of the Allies' advantage. Which was totally counter-intuitive to me the first time I played it. "Allies start with Western Europe and China?! Ian, have you gone mad?!" But it totally works, unless you dither too much as the Axis.
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Mark Turner
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Smolin wrote:
MrMT wrote:
Blimey, so this expansion further favours the allies? I was so hoping it would tilt the balance a little the other way.


I think most of the discussion regards the Preparations for War promo tile, which seems to favor the Allies.

Alternate Histories actually takes the edge off of the Allies' advantage. Which was totally counter-intuitive to me the first time I played it. "Allies start with Western Europe and China?! Ian, have you gone mad?!" But it totally works, unless you dither too much as the Axis.


Ok, encouraging.

I don't have this promo tile. In fact, I only have one, prisoner exchange, which seems fairly harmless. Seems like it's not worth seeking out the others?
 
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Mike Anastasia
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MrMT wrote:
Smolin wrote:
MrMT wrote:
Blimey, so this expansion further favours the allies? I was so hoping it would tilt the balance a little the other way.


I think most of the discussion regards the Preparations for War promo tile, which seems to favor the Allies.

Alternate Histories actually takes the edge off of the Allies' advantage. Which was totally counter-intuitive to me the first time I played it. "Allies start with Western Europe and China?! Ian, have you gone mad?!" But it totally works, unless you dither too much as the Axis.


Ok, encouraging.

I don't have this promo tile. In fact, I only have one, prisoner exchange, which seems fairly harmless. Seems like it's not worth seeking out the others?
I rounded them all up for completion's sake, but I basically never intend to play with them.
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Peter Bakija
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MrMT wrote:
Ok, encouraging.

I don't have this promo tile. In fact, I only have one, prisoner exchange, which seems fairly harmless. Seems like it's not worth seeking out the others?


Yeah, it is important to realize my comments about are basically indicating that I think that the promo-tile Preparing for War (which came with the kickstarter of Alternate Histories, and so we were using it with Alternate Histories games we were playing) is probably the thing that is pro-Allies. None of the online "pre-release" Alternate Histories games we played used it, and the Axis did fine.

We gotta try it around here without the promo rules tile.
 
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Peter Bakija
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MyNameIsFourteen wrote:
I rounded them all up for completion's sake, but I basically never intend to play with them.


The first 3 are very mild--two of them (Peace Treaty and Prisoner Exchange) don't change the game in any way; they just give you a little more flexibility in card drawing (Peace Treaty is two players agree to just redraw their opening hands; Prisoner Exchange is two people agree to each draw a card). We use them all the time, although they don't often actually come up. Most games start with me as Japan saying "Peace Treaty anyone?", and once and a while, it sticks. The third is Air Supply, which adds a actual new rule, but it is pretty corner case (burn an air force to keep a unit in supply), and I think in one game we have used it, it was actually significant (the US burned a plane to keep an army in, like, Scandinavia alive so they could bomb Germany on the next turn), most of the time, it doesn't come up. Once and a while, someone considers it. Rarely is it used.

The two new ones have much bigger effects--Research isn't that big of a deal in terms of rules (dig through 10 more cards and select one at the start of the game by ditching one from your hand), but has, if nothing else, a huge effect in that it lets UK get Enigma immediately a lot of the time. Preparing for War has a huge impact on the game, and in theory, is really fun (starting with a Status/Response in play), but as noted, probably leverages the Allies a lot more than it probably needs to.
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