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Mark Turner
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Farnham
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Just back from two games of this, and I have to say, we were all perplexed by what a terrible game experience we had.

At first blush, this took what what was already an unbalanced game (in favour of the allies) and made it massively more so, massively so, to the point that there was simply no game here any more.

In both games, allies won in around the first 5 turns, and it was really hard to see what the axis could have done differently. There was basically no contest, or any way of having one that anyone could see.

Game 1 the axis had bad starting hands, and lost Western Europe quickly, and possibly didn't burn cards fast enough to get things out, but we were basically never in it for a moment, Japan was stuck doing nothing much, Italy was totally hamstrung, and Germany was fighting a two front war.

We chalked it down to experience, and started Game 2 much more optimistically. Axis sewed up Europe, and took Asia pretty fast, and it was all looking rosy until, well, boom, allies won again.

UK played cards that gave it india and Australia without doing anything, giving it a victory point machine for free. US starts with 4 points per turn, quickly went to 6 without any effort, and it was all Japan could do to bring that down to 4 in a complex battle for asia. Germany could conceivably have done more to keep Russia out of Ukraine, (but was shoring up Western Europe) but bottom line, allies has immediate access to masses of victory points while axis was extremely constrained as it sought to build up its war machine. Allies were under no pressure, axis could not make the tiniest mistake or be crushed.

6 players, and there was unanimity that the experience was pretty much the least enjoyable game anyone had played for quite some time. As in, there just wasn't any game. As in, how on earth was a game possibly released that was so unbalanced?

1 person opined that the expansion took a relatively fun idea and transformed it into an unplayable mess. Another that it was a 1 star. Another simply couldn't understand how anyone could have playtested this and thought it was viable.

I am genuinely perplexed here.

People,have raved about this expansion.

Yet our experience was completely the opposite.

Did we draw two freakishly bad combinations of cards, or play indescribably badly, or is there an issue here: that the allies basically don't need to do anything very clever to have points fall into their laps, while the axis are insanely pressed from the very outset, and cannot make a single mistake at any point or be crushed in around 5 turns?

Help me out. I will almost certainly never be able to convince my games group to play it again, and I feel I need to probably remove this expansion to make the game playable again.

In fact, it seemed so incomprehensibly biased towards the allies now, I am wondering if I have somehow fundamentally misread a rule or something.

Was I wrong that China and France generate victory points? The rules suggest they do, but it just doesn't make sense...
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Gary
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Brighton
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I had a similar experience in the one game I played. There's another thread on the game page with a few suggestions. I need to give it at least one more go before making some adjustments to balance things out and make it more of a contest.

China and France do score points for UK and USA, it's hard to see a situation where the Allies won't take an early points lead.

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Ian Turner
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We played 4 times in one night, randomising who got each army per game and we resulted in the Axis winning 3:1.

I'may yet to play the Air Marshall Expansion but so far we feel the game has allowed Axis to do some more.

Refor yourgent comments about China and France it's fairly easy for Italy and Germany to secure Western Europe via the classic German in Italy double ship in the Mediterranean plan.

England has the card for France but Germany gets the turn before then Italy the turn after so you really stop them taking that area.
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Mark Turner
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Squeek wrote:
We played 4 times in one night, randomising who got each army per game and we resulted in the Axis winning 3:1.

I'may yet to play the Air Marshall Expansion but so far we feel the game has allowed Axis to do some more.

Refor yourgent comments about China and France it's fairly easy for Italy and Germany to secure Western Europe via the classic German in Italy double ship in the Mediterranean plan.

England has the card for France but Germany gets the turn before then Italy the turn after so you really stop them taking that area.


It's this kind of comment that has me wondering if we are talking about the same game. (Well, we weren't. We had the 2 expansions combined).

The two games we played it was so massively skewed to the allies scoring points that there was pretty much nothing the axis could to stop being absolutely thrashed.

All I can think is that a) the learning curve is punishingly steep for axis players, or b) the game with 2 expansions is way too random to offer a reliable good gameplay experience or c) something very weird was going on in our games.

All I know is I'll never convince anyone round that table to even try this game again. It's been a while since anything I brought to the table was so roundly and unanimously panned by my playgroup. I feel really rather let down by the whole experience.
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Luc
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I played Alternate Histories yesterday, no AM. I was the Allies both times, and I won both games. In all games played to date: 3 Allied wins, 1 Axis win, 1 no contest (very even game but lost track of turns).

The first game was a rout - Allied win by 31 point lead in 5 turns. (Disclaimer, I lump the UK and France and US and China together for scoring purposes.)

Germany scored +2 +2 +2 +2 +4 (gained western europe).
Japan +2 +2 +2 +4 (china) +2.
Italy +2 +2 +2 +2 +2.
UK/France +6 (increased commonwealth support - australia) +5 (discarded a VP) +6 +6 +4.
Soviets +4 (ukraine) +4 +2 +4 +4.
US/China +4 +4 +4 +4 +4.

As I recall, Germany dropped a Blitzkrieg on turn 1, which allowed the UK time to recruit in Australia. There is so much scoring pressure in AH that the Axis is forced to take Western Europe immediately, it is basically mandatory in my opinion. Bias for Action would have been a lot stronger in this scenario, had he had it. The Soviets built right up to Germany as much as possible to restrict Blitzing and to give them another front to worry about. Japan didn't really get going, and the Soviets eliminated the Army when Japan did finally build in China. The US had Lend Lease in their starting hand and used it 3 times in 5 turns, pausing only to get a Chinese army back. It was brutal.

So, all it really takes is for the US or UK to take one more supply point early on (Australia, India, Western United States) and hold the others and it can be over in 5 or 6 turns.

The second game was considerably closer. The Axis took Western Europe and showed aggressive intentions in the North Sea. In the end the US had to come help out. It was more or less even until it was ultimately decided by a surprise Arsenal of Democracy in the Baltic Sea / Germany, supported by a Soviet army in Eastern Europe.

Some thoughts on balance, based on my games so far

Frame of reference: 37 games of QG, one of which with just AM, five of which with just AH.

Quartermaster General is definitely a game in which tempo is key. Being the first to get into an area gains you time; it costs one play to build/recruit into a place, and typically two plays to remove an enemy and then get in there yourself. So, for example, theoretical example - if I had the choice between taking a supply point or battling against a enemy controlled supply point, all else being equal, I would take the supply point. In my mind it is a tempo gain to do so.

So, in my opinion, the additional starting pieces are the most dramatic change in AH, for two reasons - tempo and scoring.

In base QG turn 1 scoring is most frequently Allies 6, 8 or 10 (Ukraine and Western US), the Axis 8 (Western Europe). IN QGAH, Allies 12 is not unusual (Western Europe, China, Ukraine), as much as 16 is possible (Australia, Western US), and the Axis tops out at 8 if they get Western Europe. It's a big swing. T1 German Statuses (except Bias) are a lot less viable, and the Soviets definitely have a little more breathing room early on due to attention on Western Europe.

Otherwise, the French/Chinese stuff seems generally fine, with some advantage to the Allies. To play a French or Chinese card, the UK or US has to forego a move of "their own", which is fair. I think the US feels the most benefit from it - before, they didn't always have much to do in the early war apart from Lend Lease, Arsenal of Democracy and Build Army - Western US. Now they have more options - for example, turn 1 Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies (Each time a Chinese army is battled, built or recruited, the Japanese player must discard a card from its hand) is simply crushing for Japan.

My current view on the matter is that I need to play more games with it. I would feel very presumptuous if I made final thoughts based on so few plays of the expansion. That is not to demean the opinions of your group, it is very understandable that a bad experience can really put a group off a game which is a shame. QG can be a swingy game, and a couple of imbalanced games in isolation can be tough for newbies. I remember when I first played it, I wasn't sure I liked it. It took about 3 games to truly fall in love with it. I taught it to a group and the first game was very one-sided and I was a bit embarrassed, but it happens sometimes. They have since played it more and love it.

So, I will give the expansion some more tries before casting my verdict. It does seem to favour the Allies, and it does seem to force the starting plays of Germany and possibly Italy. If my opinion doesn't change based on future plays, I would consider trying one of the following things with my group - some potential ideas:

1) Keep starting French and Chinese army, remove French and Chinese victory step - retains tempo/positional advantage, still prevents immediate German occupation, removes scoring advantage

2) Remove Chinese army from starting setup, keep French and Chinese victory step - reduces scoring advantage, still prevents immediate German occupation, gives Japan some help, if US has option to get a Chinese army in hand, they must choose between this and Western US / something else.

3) Remove French and Chinese army from starting setup, keep French and Chinese victory step - removes the immediate positional and scoring advantage while retaining the potential for scoring.

In my personal and humble opinion as it stands, the positional advantage is greater than the scoring advantage, but the two combined are really tough if you don't know what you are doing.

EDIT: I should make it clear that I have not yet played with both expansions at once.
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James Hamilton
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Stockport
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My initial thoughts were that this does help the Allies a lot but in the only game I have managed to play with all the expansions the Axis won despite not being able to take Western Europe until I think turn 3.

Interestingly the Allies chose not to discard cards early because they had the VP lead and this did pull them back a little. The Axis could not afford that luxury so did discard.
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Andy Daglish
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Cheadle
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eadred wrote:
Frame of reference: 37 games of QG, one of which with just AM, five of which with just AH.

Playing with AM is now pretty much mandatory, and the addition of AH makes this better in all but one respect [= there's no point in playing EW cards, or playing for them, because of the size of the decks]. Playing just AH is likely to be a bit odd.
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Nicholas Avallone
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aforandy wrote:

... [= there's no point in playing EW cards, or playing for them, because of the size of the decks]...


Well, that's a dubious premise.

When using AH, you are required to discard a card every turn or lose 1 VP. So if you hang on to all those juicy new cards, you may be able to resist an economic assault, but you'll be sacrificing 20 VP over the course of a full game to do so.

Nor does AH add enough cards to cover the difference: for example, it only adds 17 cards each to Italy and Japan, the most popular targets of an Economic Warfare campaign.

That seems to make the EW game even more plausible using AH, not less.
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Andy Daglish
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...and Air Marshal cards added in the other thread.

Another point is that with the added strength of the new cards, you are even less likely to do an EW strategy, and not at all casually. The game might do best on 25 turns, but EW cards would still need to be increased in power if they are to have a decisive effect beforehand.
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