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Axis & Allies 1941» Forums » Reviews

Subject: This game is seriously broken... rss

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Having a keen interest in history and being an avid strategy fan, I could not resist the temptation of picking a copy of this game when I saw it as an introductory to the series that is at a more accessible price point. This is my first copy of the series, and although I love the concept, I cannot help but feel that the game mechanics were downright overlooked.

First off, basic misprint errors such as the US's IPC's being printed as 15 when in fact they are 17 is such a nightmare for beginners trying to figure out how to play a game that is complicated in itself, and leaves them wondering if they misunderstood something along the way. Or the fact that as the rules are laid out, Russia is unable to build any warships during the game that would be usable (although this becomes less of an issue as Russia will always be on the defensive anyways).

Basics aside, I gave the game a couple tries with family and with friends. Both sides have won, but no game has come close to the 2 hour time frame the game is meant to last, extending easily into the 4+ range. I tried a solo game the other day to try some strategies I had in mind, playing IMO each country's best moves. The game tilted in favor of each side a couple times, but by the 7th turn, it was clear the game would never end. Moscow had fallen once but Russia got back on its feet after a close 1vs1 tank battle. Meanwhile Germany prepared its counter, Japan pushed on the US through alaska. The axis had secured most of Eurasia, parts of Africa, and destroyed the US and UK fleet. Sounds like a won game, right? Well it wasn't, because all the UK and US had to do was spam infantry, and Japan nor Germany would ever have enough manpower to take their capitols. And that's the problem with this game, because as long as you know what you are doing you can never lose. In other versions of this game, there's artillery and bombing raids and factory building to counter turtling. And I understand that many of these features where stripped down to create a game more accessible to beginners. An that is fine, but since everything else was kept constant (unit costs), and IPC's were cut to scraps, it leaves this inherent crucial problem that delays games for hours.

Let me explain: Even with the optional shorter one capitol victory condition, the Axis must capture either Britain, or Washington. This means 2 things. 1)USSR is not meant to stand a chance, which is a-historical and leads to longer games for Allies to win and 2) Victory from either side will have to come from an amphibious assault. And here lies the problem.. To match the manpower of 2 defending troops (4/6) the attacker needs a transport + inf + tank (4/6) not to mention a force to defend the transport. In economic terms, this means that for every 6 IPC's the defender spends, the attacker needs at least 16 IPC's to match his/hers. This means for one, economic superiority is a MUST (which is not that decisive in a game with such few IPC's) and joint 1-2 punches should be thrown (which is geographically very difficult for the axis to pull off effectively in either Britain or Washington). And that's that I haven't even mentioned waiting time in transports to arrive to destination, or the very real possibility of them being destroyed with your cargo in them. I am aware that this cost imbalance exists in every single edition of Axis and Allies, but it is not that decisive since nation's budgets are thicker. In this version, where the cheapest unit (inf) is the best defensively (IPC's/power) and a transport that doesn't have any defensive or attack capabilities, and can't even be picked as a casualty to keep your other ships costs all of the USSR's starting IPC's (7), leads to a very... very... long... game...

This is a very serious game mechanic that leads to frustration and many unfinished games. As stated before, additional rules from other versions quench this problem. My solution however, is not to include these rules, as that would go against the sole creation of this version and what Larry Harris was aiming for. Instead, since amphibious assaults are necessary for victory, and transports do nothing more than aid in the mobility of forces, I would reduce their cost from 7 to 2, as this is meant to be an introductory game anyways, and it would speed up gameplay. This way transports would not be free but would be accessible enough to players to build up an amphibious assault worthy of damage, and would not be cursing themselves every time one of their transports got blown to pieces.
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D F Visker
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Good post, I see your point. I think the change of cost of the transports is a good suggestion. Probably something our gaming group would like to houserule as well.
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Andrew Prizzi
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I haven't played this version, but slashing the cost of transports would seem to heavily aid the allies, since they have at least in other iterations of the game had much more need of them than the Axis.
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Gary Tanner
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Axis and Allies, in my opinion, is a badly broken game. Doesn't seem to matter which version.

Don't get me wrong, I love Axis and Allies. It was one of my first board games, it was my favorite war game for years, and it's hard to beat that exhiliration I get when I blitz into Russia with my tanks and crush them early on. But it's full of holes, loopholes, balance issues and if I'm honest, I have to rate it as one of the lowest games I own.

There are tons of suggestions for balancing and tweaking at http://www.harrisgamedesign.com/phpBB3/index.php. Even still, there are still issues. I used to play weekly with a guy who followed those tweaks religiously. We did all we could to balance things, but while they made things more complicated, they never fully fixed things. And those games tended to last from 6-8 hours, only ending when one of us could see the writing on the wall and gave up.

But for all that, I'll always consider it to be a fun game.
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Mattias R
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You were surprised that A&A isn't a balanced game? I'm surprised that you're surprised. It's the first step up from Risk on the wargame ladder.
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Andrew Prizzi
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My experience with A&A is mainly with the MB Gamemaster series edition. I think to call it broken says as much about players lack of ability to fix things as it does about the game itself. Are there some certain strategies that make a victory for one side very probable? Yes, but this issue can (1) take a great while to discover and (2) can be easily mitigated by bidding for sides.
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Jim F
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I found that balance issues in the MB A&A were usually to do with who I was playing. I haven't tried the '41 edition so I can't comment on that. Great fun game but others have superseded it for me now as I climb up the complexity ladder.
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E Butler
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This is an important update for your next play - from another thread....

Krieghund wrote:
The issue of the US starting IPCs (should be 17) will be corrected in the next print run. Also, the setup will be adjusted as follows:

USSR: Add 3 infantry to Russia
USA: Add 1 infantry to Northwestern China and 1 destroyer to sea zone 11

The adjusted rulebook should be available for download once the next print run is released.
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Chad Ratashak

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You are absolutely right. Without adding any units, Germany can obliterate the entire UK Navy G1 and capture Moscow if R1 doesn't capture the territory west of Moscow. If they do, G2 still usually ends with Germany taking Russia out and then it doesn't really matter what the U.S. does, because Germany will be way ahead in income.

Also, if you did "fix" this game, the underlying problem is that fewer units --> fewer dice rolls --> way more luck. This probably can't be fixed.


I would say that if you want to introduce someone to the rules of AAA and giving new players a chance to figure stuff out on their own, this version is cheap enough that it's worth it as a good teaching tool.
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Alex
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warandeurogamer wrote:
You are absolutely right. Without adding any units, Germany can obliterate the entire UK Navy G1 and capture Moscow if R1 doesn't capture the territory west of Moscow. If they do, G2 still usually ends with Germany taking Russia out and then it doesn't really matter what the U.S. does, because Germany will be way ahead in income.

Also, if you did "fix" this game, the underlying problem is that fewer units --> fewer dice rolls --> way more luck. This probably can't be fixed.


I would say that if you want to introduce someone to the rules of AAA and giving new players a chance to figure stuff out on their own, this version is cheap enough that it's worth it as a good teaching tool.
Yea, I agree.
I also noticed that the UK CV is unescorted, how silly is that...lol.
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Yannis
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I ve tried this game for the first time last weekend and I have to say I agree with most of the posts above.
I ve played the revised and 1942 edition of Axis & Allies online at GTO to death and also have more than a few games with my copy of A&A50 aniv.

If the revised and 1942 editions of the game were a cup that was cracked, but you could still enjoy a cup of tea from it. Then 1941 is taking that cup, wrap it in a towel, hit it a few times with a hammer, sell it for 20$ and claim that this is a good way to introduce tea parties to newcomers.

The A&A 50 aniv is generally a better game, but is beers and pretzels from a wargaming perspective. Still it is a fun game if you see it as a WW2 themed game of RISK. I ve yet to try the Europe/Pacific editions so cant comment on them.
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Mark J.
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moonglum01 wrote:
This is an important update for your next play - from another thread....

Krieghund wrote:
The issue of the US starting IPCs (should be 17) will be corrected in the next print run. Also, the setup will be adjusted as follows:

USSR: Add 3 infantry to Russia
USA: Add 1 infantry to Northwestern China and 1 destroyer to sea zone 11

The adjusted rulebook should be available for download once the next print run is released.
It's been awhile, but IIRC these are official changes and should be used as they make the game balanced.

Axis and Allies is a family of games where your opinion on which side is favored will change over time. In some ways they are little puzzles and certain opening moves can drastically alter the outcome of the game. Figuring out those moves on your own is the fun part. Once you know them, the game loses its flavor.

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Chad Ratashak

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tsondaboy wrote:
I ve tried this game for the first time last weekend and I have to say I agree with most of the posts above.
I ve played the revised and 1942 edition of Axis & Allies online at GTO to death and also have more than a few games with my copy of A&A50 aniv.

If the revised and 1942 editions of the game were a cup that was cracked, but you could still enjoy a cup of tea from it. Then 1941 is taking that cup, wrap it in a towel, hit it a few times with a hammer, sell it for 20$ and claim that this is a good way to introduce tea parties to newcomers.

The A&A 50 aniv is generally a better game, but is beers and pretzels from a wargaming perspective. Still it is a fun game if you see it as a WW2 themed game of RISK. I ve yet to try the Europe/Pacific editions so cant comment on them.
I totally agree that this game is very broken, but I would say that the beginner angle is still valid for the simple reason that real AAA takes forever to set up. Also, as an experienced player, you may consider all of the winning strategies obvious but a beginner would not notice them. If you played Allies and said "this game is lopsided against me, figure out why" that could be a good introduction before playing 1940 or 1942.


All that being said, Larry Harris made this as a money grab without proper play testing and I am very disappointed in him for releasing this game as it currently exists.
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coolkid91 wrote:
To match the manpower of 2 defending troops (4/6) the attacker needs a transport + inf + tank (4/6) not to mention a force to defend the transport. In economic terms, this means that for every 6 IPC's the defender spends, the attacker needs at least 16 IPC's to match his/hers.
That is why I keep saying. Amphibious assaults must be coordinated and not a 1 nation effort.

But yes, 1941 falls short of the other ones. I have 1942 1st ed. In fact, it was the game that got me into board games. I would prefer to play 1942 always. It is a bit longer, but I rather spend 6h playing a good game then 4h playing an average game.
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John Ellis
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I'm afraid you've forgotten two important kinds of units old boy: Aircraft and Battleships.


With aircraft we can launch doomed amphibious assaults without losing our punch by withdrawing the air power before all landed ground forces are destroyed. This allows a relatively small number of transports to continuously inundate the UK with just enough forces for the German Air force to go to town and take a big chunk out of the UK defenders.


But there's an easier way still with Battleships. Since they bombard at 4 you only need as many battle ships present as what will kill more units than the enemy can build per turn and victory becomes as inevitable as it is simple. Every turn a single transport drops a single or pair of infantry on the target province supported by 3-6 battle ships. All additional income is directed to the construction of additional battleships. Then sit back and wait for the enemy to surrender.
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Kevin Chapman
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There is no battleship bombardment in this game.
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