Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
17 Posts

Axis & Allies» Forums » Reviews

Subject: One word for this game: Nuts. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ike Evans
United States
Shakopee
Minnesota
flag msg tools
No thanks needed. I'm just your everyday galactic hero.
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Preamble: I never owned the original Milton Bradley game of A&A, but I have played it several times with friends of mine. I own a smattering of other A&A games in what has become a series of sorts. These games operate under the same basic ruleset, but focus on portions of the World War II conflict in greater detail. There are also a good dozen other versions of the base game that have been published by a number of different companies.

Since there are a bazillion different variants and prints of the game, I will focus solely on the Milton Bradley 1981 version for this review.

Besides maybe Risk, A&A epitomizes what can be classified as the American style of board gaming. This makes sense because here in the US, we tend to be extremely nostalgic about that horrific war.

Value:

The original game is, of course, out of print. On Amazon, you are looking at a $189 price tag if you want to get the original first edition game. Unless you are a collector with money to burn in your pocket, do not buy this game at this price. Go get yourself a newer (probably much better) print instead. If you run into this game at a garage sale, your best bet is to buy it and throw it on ebay.

Aesthetics/Artwork:

I always remember the game looking rather appealing as I was growing up. The mass amount of plastic miniatures, tanks, bombers, battleships, etc. gets me very excited. I would say that, even as the components look generic (i.e. the American tank looks just like the German tank) it does have a satisfying look to it that tantalizes the testosterone of any manly-man.

Gameplay:

Okay, so this is where the game takes a serious nose dive like a Junker over London.

The game was developed by an American designer and published by an American company. Hence, whoever plays the allies has a super advantage over the evil Axis. Right off the bat, I don't mind playing this game so long as I can convince some other poor schmuck to take on the Axis. The game is horribly inbalanced. I have never once seen the Axis win a game. If they ever do manage to win, it was entirely because the Allied players are wildly incompetent.

The game has a technology component to it that is also... well... horrible. Oh, how many times I have invested literally every bit of money I have into technologies, not to have a single die come out in my favor. And to add to it all, I have nothing to show for it other than an entire round of the game wasted. But on the flip side, if I manage to get heavy bombers, it is an automatic game over for the other guy - especially if he is playing the Axis.

The capriciousness of technologies in this game really undermines the strategic component to it all. This is even more apparent when you manage to get the super-submarine technology, even if you don't have a single sub in the game! I don't want super-subs. I want heavy bombers. GRRRRRR!

There is also the historical component. This is another little bit that is curiously very poorly done. There were no aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. But if I were to look at A&A for a history lesson, I would think otherwise. This is just one of several smaller bits that makes me chuckle just a little bit.

Also, since the game is ambitious enough to take on the entire global conflict, the board is way too small. Because of this, several details into the game are glossed over to make it all work for mass marketing.

*sigh*

Theme:

As a patriotic-red-blooded-American and history buff, I gotta say the theme still manages to be very well done. If the designers were trying to make me feel like a General in a war room at the pentagon contemplating the maneuvers of my troops, this game does that.

Verdict:

To this day, if anybody ever invites me to play the original classic of A&A, I will jump in eagerly, so long as I don't have to play Germany or Japan. But to be sure, the game is fundamentally broken. Even if you run into a beat up copy of this game at a garage sale (something that isn't worth anything on Ebay) you are probably much better off buying a newer up-to-date version because this game just doesn't work.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Noel
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The game is slanted towards the allies. Japan never really stood a chance historically and Germany also made fatal decisions by the time this game has started (post-Pearl Harbor).
It's not the most historical game, but it does provide some fun die-rolling with a historical veneer.
The technologies have improved somewhat in the newer versions, although it it still gambling.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ronster Zero
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sounds about right, and I enjoy this game.

By the way, I have won as the Axis numerous times over the 20+ years of playing this.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ikesteroma wrote:
The original game is, of course, out of print. On Amazon, you are looking at a $189 price tag if you want to get the original first edition game.


It should be noted that the first edition of Axis & Allies was published as a mapsheet and counter wargame by Nova Games. The Milton Bradley Gamemasters edition was the next version, changing a few rules and doing the typical MB treatment to the gameboard and components.

ikesteroma wrote:
The game was developed by an American designer and published by an American company. Hence, whoever plays the allies has a super advantage over the evil Axis.


Rather presumptuous, I think. I've seen more than one American-designed wargame where the imbalance is toward the Axis.

I've seen the Axis win on this edition by getting the combined war production total (87 IPCs?). It takes a persistent strategy supported by smart production and aggressive play, and perhaps some luck of the dice, but it can be done. The trick is to shock the Allies into the strategic defensive; if the Allies keep etheir cool, they should be alright, but if they slip into a purely reactive mode, the Axis can win. I was once in a three-player game (I was Germany), where the Allies had reduced me to turtling-up in Germany, while the unchecked Japanese player -- a rookie but hell-bent for leather -- conquered most of Asia and Africa and sent aricraft carriers into the Med to help me. Not very historical, but wild & wooly nonetheless, and I think that's what made the game such a big hit then and now.

Subsequent editions of A&A and its many variants have benefited from years of feedback (i.e. house rules) and further experimentation, and smoothed out many of the rough spots.

ikesteroma wrote:
If they ever do manage to win, it was entirely because the Allied players are wildly incompetent.


While that factor (if true) certainly makes for a poor game, I think it makes for a rather realistic historical outcome. The Axis was doomed as soon as the US declared war on Japan.

ikesteroma wrote:
There is also the historical component. This is another little bit that is curiously very poorly done. There were no aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. But if I were to look at A&A for a history lesson, I would think otherwise. This is just one of several smaller bits that makes me chuckle just a little bit.


That would be so if the game starts in December 1941. While the game has no time record track, we can consider the territories the Axis begins with, and correctly assume the game begins as late as April 1942, when the Allies in the Philippines finally fell to the Japanese, and the Doolittle Raiders hit Japan.

Considering the abstractness of the game (i.e. the game doesn't define what a tank or aircraft carrier actually represent, and the range and movement factors are crazy), the starting set up is actually pretty good history. It's once the game begins that the game gets wild.
28 
 Thumb up
0.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Davis
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Good replies Bill. I agree completely. The OP is way off on several of his observations. While the game is slanted toward to Allies, it's certainly not impossible for the Axis to win (without having a moronic Allied player either). I've done it many times myself playing as the Axis. Aggressive play and some luck is all that is needed for the Axis to win.

And I'm really surprised to see the OP thinks the game starts in Dec 1941. Germany is on the outskirts of Stalingrad for pete's sake! If that's not 1942 I don't know what is!
23 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Richbourg
United States
Arlington
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
This is Kyoshi, our adopted Shiba Inu.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We always found that "No Russian attack on the first turn" and having a full 5 players went a long way toward balancing it. I can't imagine ever wanting to play that edition again though.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar

The lid literally says spring 1942 on all 5 sides.

The back of the box says 1942 multiple times.

The 1st line of the rulebook is, "It is the spring of 1942."
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Los 28
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Seahawk wrote:
The lid literally says spring 1942 on all 5 sides.
The back of the box says 1942 multiple times.
The 1st line of the rulebook is, "It is the spring of 1942."

Was too lazy to look at my box, but I was thinking the exact same thing.
meeple

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Trent Garner
United States
Fayetteville
Arkansas
flag msg tools
also Game Developer
badge
Personal LnLT Avatar
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The problem with this version is that it has been analyzed to the point that, against competent play, each country has to be played just so for the first few turns, or it is auto-victory for the side that doesn't make any mistakes. If you deviate from these tried-and-true strategies, you might as well not play this version.

As for tech in this version of the game, the hardcore players simply ignore tech and buy more units. You can get lucky on the tech table occasionally, but for the most part, any $$ wasted on tech rolls just puts you behind everyone else in unit count, a sure path to being vanquished. I quit playing when our group got to this point, as it is just boring to wait and see who the dice gods favor this time around, since nobody deviates from the know starting plays any more.

Revised edition is, IMHO, the best version of the full WWII A&A game so far.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Chapman
United States
Powhatan
Virginia
flag msg tools
Axis & Allies Developer and Playtester; War of the Ring Editor and Playtester
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's possible that the reviewer's entire experience with this game is with the 1st edition (1984) rules, which were indeed heavily biased toward the Allies. Almost no one uses these rules anymore (if they're even aware of them), as the 2nd edition rules (1986) have become the standard for play.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Cantatta wrote:
Revised edition is, IMHO, the best version of the full WWII A&A game so far.


I agree, although the so-called anniversary edition (6 players, adds Italy) has a very dedicated following that would differ with us.

I think the best developments to A&A since the Gamemasters edition reviewed here have been:

- Revision of the strategic bombing rules

- Addition of anti-maritime commerce rules (introduced in Axis & Allies: Europe), giving the subs their historical mission and raising their value to the effort. Consequently, ASW rose in importance, too.

- Revision of the industrial complex rules

- Map reconfiguration, to include impassable terrain, reducing the amount of operationally-impossible moves.

To me, those were more important than the introduction of (a) cruisers, artillery, tactical bombers, and mechanized units, and (b) air and naval bases. At the A&A scale, these are all chrome and don't really enhance gameplay.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
badge
Ashwin
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Spent many happy hours playing this game (2nd Edition). Lots of great memories and wins for both Axis and the Allies.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hoss Cartwright
United States
California
flag msg tools
The game is played with bids for the axis, which typically amount to 6-9IPC worth of units, plus Russia is restricted from attacking turn 1.

Give 2 infantry to axis in libya, and no Russia combat phase, and you got a hell of a game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James C
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I disagree with the OP too. I played this version when I was growing up. I loved it then, but moved onto more advanced games - even the more recent A&A versions. This box layed dormant in my closet for decades.

I brushed it off very recently, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it retained it's playability. It's surely not the most sophisticated of games, but can cRetainly provide hours of good fun.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
René Christensen
Denmark
Solroed Strand
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One word for this review: Nuts!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David K
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Much like the actual war, it's definitely weighted towards the allied side. In our play group, the Axis have managed to win their fair share of games (though I'll happily admit it's less than 50%). Our last 5 games have featured 4 Axis wins.

You should almost never invest in technology. It is a complete waste of money, IMO. The only time this should ever be considered is when your side is (a) definitely going to win or (b) definitely going to lose.

I know I'm not going to change your mind, but when A&A is played at a very high level, it's a very close game indeed -- wherein success or failure will hinge on the results die-rolls / battles.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve
Thailand
flag msg tools
Volstag wrote:
Much like the actual war, it's definitely weighted towards the allied side. In our play group, the Axis have managed to win their fair share of games (though I'll happily admit it's less than 50%). Our last 5 games have featured 4 Axis wins.

You should almost never invest in technology. It is a complete waste of money, IMO. The only time this should ever be considered is when your side is (a) definitely going to win or (b) definitely going to lose.

I know I'm not going to change your mind, but when A&A is played at a very high level, it's a very close game indeed -- wherein success or failure will hinge on the results die-rolls / battles.

It is my crazy opinion that to understand the Tech rule you need to remember who developed and marketed this game.

Milton Bradley is not a wargame company. It is a family game company.

This game was developed [from the Nova Ed.] to make it good for kids to play. This why you see all the minis. This why it is so simple. For example, why can land units move as far in their Combat Move Phase as they can move totally unopposed in their Non-combat Move Phase? Answer, because it is simple.

IMHO, Tech is not intended to be used to make the game more like WWII with all the Tech that was developed during the war. The purpose of Tech in this game [plain and simple] is to give kids who are losing hope that they can win the game with 2 lucky die rolls. Spend $5 and there is a 1/36 chance that you get Heavy Bombers [aka Atom Bombs] and win with them. And if you don't, you lose faster because you don't have that Tank or 2 or 3.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.