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This game fulfilled my desires in going all the way to Turn 19, where the first two had ended early and in the middle. (You may want to read the separate thread First Two Solitaire Plays if you have not seen it yet, before continuing here). Although only a few Economic Warfare cards were played, some nations ran out of cards in their Draw Piles and even their hand at the finish, just like in a core QMG game (or with Air Marshal) before Alternate Histories. It was again a very different experience from the first two games.
Besides Japan in Asia, the main battle was directly on the continent of Europe, both on the Western and Eastern fronts. Dealt at start both Polish cards, that allow the UK to use E. Europe as a supply center and the one that puts an army there, the UK tried this strategy for my first time. France even took out the army in Germany right away, but that nation recovered immediately! With Ardennes Offensive (methinks reflecting the one in 1940 rather than in 1944), the Germans even retook W. Europe for a short time. Back and forth it went. Meanwhile Japan took China, after knocking out the Chinese army there. With Production Initiative Germany fished for and played Blitzkrieg,. and then really started moving against the USSR.
The US, UK, and Italy had minimal armies on the board. Where the Allies had taken the lead in VP initially, the Axis made it so close that on Turn 5 it was Allies 86, Axis 82. France being in the game made the concentration on Europe directly meant ignoring the Mediterranean, and the US stayed in the Pacific. The scores remained close for several turns: T7 Axis 97, Allies 96; T8 Allies 107, Axis 106. T13 saw the Axis pulling ahead 48 to 36. Then Germans managed to put together the classic combo of Bias For Action with Blitzkrieg, giving them 3 actions per turn on attack, whereupon their Eastern drive continued and they actually took Moscow.
France remained now in W. Europe, although when the British put an army there also, the Italians took it out. Germany and Italy now both had Air Forces guarding their homelands, as did the French, staletmating the front. The Germans, having lost Blitzkrieg to a UK Enigma, used a different card that allowed them to build an army and attack an adjacent one, now ended up in Siberia to take out a British army in Russia! Yikes! On T15 the score was Axis 182, Allies 166.
To get a general feel, let's take a snapshot of each army's Turn 16:
Germany: (Controlling E. Europe, Ukraine, Moscow, and Siberia) did a Sea Battle against the UK fleet in the Baltic, but then realized it would never make it to play its recently drawn Sea Lion card, as its draw pile was now exhausted. But with Japan still racking up points with her and Italy providing important support, the Allies would hopefully not be able to catch up, even if Germany had to lose a point or two for not discarding now.
UK: Put yet another army into W. Europe, there to threaten both Germany and Italy directly, as Germany now would not be able to respond much (hopefully).
Japan: Although the Chinese were now based in Szechuan, they seemed to have few attack cards. So ignoring them, with India, Thailand, and China held, they built a fleet in the Eastern Pacific, and seized Australia (who had never entered the game).
USSR: (In Mongolia only, but always supplied, with the Chinese always supplied as well with a Russian Status Card). The People's Liberation Army now liberated China.
Italy: (In Italy, Balkans, Fleet Mediterranean, and North Africa) Take the British out of W. Europe, and therfore out of mischief.
USA: Had China battle India to remove the Air Force there.
Soon cards starting running out:
Draw Piles Out: Germany T16 (with its hand exhausted as well!) , Japan T17, UK and Italy T19.
Cards Left In Hand: UK 7, Japan 2, USSR (Draw Pile 5) Hand 7, USA ( Draw Pile 8) Hand 7.
Alhthough the Axis was exhausted, the Allies had recovered far too late. The game now ended on Turn 19, with the score Axis 237, Allies 202. The Germans had forfeited one point in not discarding on Turn 19, but as they had calculated, it hadn't mattered.
Thus the game ended in a similar way in terms of cards remaining as a Core Game play. But in specific turn by turn play it had been quite different from any played before this. The new cards provide many early war events, as well as some alternate history happenings. The game seemed to agree with the conclusions reached after my first two games, while fulfilling the designer's goals of adding France and China, while keeping it possible for either side to win. (Ian has noted elsewhere that the Axis won more often than the Allies in his own playtests, in response to new Alternate History players saying it seemed too balanced now toward the Allies).
However, the game dynamics have changed, as noted in the conclusions to the first two games. In 1937-40, it was not clear what was going to happen, and either side looked powerful. So in that sense, although the Axis no longer takes the lead most of the time (so far) at start any more, you can even argue that it is quite historical strategically.