Session Report: Attack! With Expansion
Date: March 11, 2006
Participants: Leo, Rick, Tim, Lou, Mike
March 11th witnessed a gathering of five of us for a game of “Attack!” with Expansion. Tim and I had played the game once before, but the other three had never played the game. The session started at 1:00 in the afternoon, but with a couple of slightly late arrivals, plus set up time and rules review, we didn’t start playing until 2:30.
“Attack!” is another Eagle Games’ product, and comes with the usual package of large playing board, numerous detailed miniatures, and a glossy rules book. The game is in many ways a cross between “Axis and Allies” and “Risk”. Like “Axis and Allies”, “Attack!” is set in the late 1930’s – early 1940’s, and provides the players with the appropriate military technologies for that timeframe. Land units include infantry, tanks, aircraft, and artillery, while naval units include battleships, carriers, destroyers, and submarines. Like “Risk”, this game has neither preset alliances nor historical set-ups; it is a free-form world where empires can spring from any corner of the map and alliances can be made and broken at will.
The mapboard is broken into land areas (territories), plus sea areas. At the beginning of the game, each player selects four territories for their initial possession and set-up. This leaves many territories unclaimed at first, and each such territory is considered a minor neutral country. Each player’s main goal in the game is to score victory points by gaining control of as many of these minor neutrals as possible, through diplomatic, political, and/or military means. The Expansion package adds a unique political system to the basic game, where each player is assigned a government type (democracy, communist, monarchy, and fascist). The type of government system that a player is assigned (via random selection) drives his behavior, as associated with each government type are victory point bonuses and penalties.
Layered on top of the boardgame is a card play system utilizing “political action cards” which really drives the game’s action. These cards can allow players to change the political status of a minor country, or spy on another player, or even incite revolts in other nations or allow players to dispatch expeditionary forces to minor nations under attack from other players. Some of these cards have an “eagle” symbol at the bottom of the card. When the thirteenth such “eagle” card is played, the game is over (as well as if one player is eliminated).
Mike concentrated in Western Europe, with his capital in England, and was assigned a democratic government. Tim based himself in Australia and was also a democracy. Rick was based in North America, with his capital in the Midwest, and in a strange twist of alternate history, ran a fascist US government. Lou split his forces between South America and Africa, and was assigned a monarchist government. I chose Asia as my base of operations, with Siberia as my capital and, appropriately enough, was handed a communist government. Some of these random government assignments were rather humorous, in that arguably the two most aggressive players in our group, Tim and Mike, were both saddled with democracies, a government system that penalizes players for invading minor neutrals, while Rick, perhaps the most conservative and defensive-minded player in the group, ended up as a fascist, a political system that practically demands that the player go forth and conquer minor countries, inflicting grievous casualties along the way!
The game lasted only four rounds before the thirteenth “eagle” was played. In the early phases of the game, all players except Rick attempted to diplomatically blitz minor neutrals to turn to their form of government. Rick as a dyed-in-the-wool fascist began a series of military campaigns to bring the rest of North America under his iron-fisted control. As for the diplomatic blitzes, Tim was incredibly successful, turning most of the South Pacific to democracy with hot die rolls, while Mike, the other democracy, had horrendous luck, and was therefore hemmed in from the start, as military invasions of minors would only hurt him. Lou was slowed at first as he had no oil resources, and therefore had to conserve the number of actions he would take. My Red Horde was fairly successful in capturing a number of neighboring minor nations, and politically converting a number of others to communism.
In the second and third rounds, Rick continued to invade neutral countries, eventually collecting six territories via the sword. However, some of these campaigns were quite bloody for him as well, and his army was somewhat weakened. Rick was also unhappily surprised when, during his campaign to subdue the American west coast, Mike played a foreign intervention card, allowing him to airlift a considerable contingent of his own army to California to aid the brave “left-coasters”! Mike’s aid allowed the surfer nation to defeat the Nazi invaders, and Mike had established a foothold in America. Mike had gotten the idea of using this intervention card from me, as I had earlier used it on Lou to thwart his effort to subjugate the Caucasus. My use of this card and subsequent defeat of Lou’s African corps ended Lou’s hopes of expanding into Eastern Europe and Asia. Tim continued his successful series of diplomatic blitzes and consolidated his hold on the Pacific. I began a push westward towards Europe, while attempting to maintain status quo in Southeast Asia, where I faced off against Tim on the watery border between Burma-Malay and the Dutch East Indies. During these times, a considerable number of political action cards were played, including a number of spy cards. The use of spy cards, which allows one player to take action cards from another player, definitely promoted a “use 'em or lose 'em” approach to card play, as no one wanted to sit on good cards, just to have someone else steal them. Tim resisted this line of thinking, however, and, as events were to demonstrate, he was able to successfully horde a number of “eagle” cards, allowing him to control the end of the game.
In the last round, Rick, Tim, and I vied for the top spot. Rick possessed fifteen territories, but was still contending with Mike’s considerable army in California as well as Lou’s remnants in South America. Mike and Lou were not well positioned to do much, as Lou’s military machine had been badly worn down after a number of unsuccessful attacks, and Mike’s lack of diplomatic success held him down. I was able to advance further into the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and ended with large armies in both Ukraine and Turkey. I reinforced in Burma and French Indochina, but did not attack Tim, which looking back was probably a mistake. Tim made his move on the last turn as he attacked my outpost in Burma, capturing it rather easily (democracies are only penalized when they attack minor neutral countries – there is no problem when they attack other major nations!). Tim made several other moves and then, played the thirteenth “eagle”, one of several he possessed. We proceeded to compute the victory points:
Tim: 17 territories for 34 points, plus 6 points for remaining minor democracies on the board, for a total of 40 points. Congratulations to President Lawrence on leading his democracy to victory!
Rick: 15 territories for 30 points, plus 6 points for participating in six military invasions of minor neutrals where at least three units were destroyed, for a total of 36 points.
Leo: 16 territories for 32 points, plus 3 points for 3 minor neutral communist countries left standing, for a total of 35 points.
Mike: 9 territories for 18 points, plus 6 points for remaining minor democracies on the board (he could take credit for the same ones as Tim), for a total of 24 points.
Lou: 8 territories for 16 points, plus 3 points for minor monarchies located on continents outside of his capital, for a total of 19 points.
First: Tim 40
Second: Rick 36
Third: Leo 35
Fourth: Mike 24
Fifth: Lou 19
A couple of notes: 1) Mike was the only person to attempt to develop a technology, and he came away with enhanced sonar. However, this breakthrough meant very little as 2) there were no naval battles the entire game! This is in marked contrast to the first game of Attack! with Expansion that we played, where several large naval encounters took place. 3) Trade routes were never developed – we were apparently all too busy fighting and politically maneuvering to consider trading!
The game lasted from 2:30 PM to 7:00 PM, so the session was only four and a half hours long, which was quite refreshing, compared to some that have gone six hours or longer. We all felt this was a good time and the plan is to play it again in April!
I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
Did Natasha Stott Despoja conquer much? She's my favourite.
Did Natasha Stott Despoja conquer much? She's my favourite.
In fact, yes - she has certainly been busy since taking over for Senator John Coulter, and while you probably missed it (buried in the back pages of the newpapers no doubt), she led your nation in a successful, if brutal, invasion of Malay, among other notable achievements! All of this and promoting the rights of women in the workplace - when does she find the time?