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Subject: Two Games With Alternate Histories rss

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Peter Bakija
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Tonight we played two games (both 6 players) with Alternate Histories (and Air Marshal). I have played AH games three times by now here on the PBF forum, so knew a lot of the cards but no one else playing had seen any of the stuff, so we played blind (well, except for me). I did warn UK about the existence of Operation Sea Lion, however, as that is a card that, if you don't know it is coming, can really just end the game.

Both games, we also used Preparations for War! (I think that is the name), where everyone gets to play a Status or Response before drawing hands.

Game 1 saw Japan taking China on T2 with a couple responses (Chinese Civil War, which started the game in play, and the one that is just "Build an army in China"). Germany started with Landkreuzers (you have to discard 3 cards to attack German armies), but that ended up getting turned into something else later in the game. The Axis started off ok, but on about T9 or T10, the US got a navy in the Baltic Sea and managed to capture Germany with Artificial Harbors (Italy could have stopped that by building in Germany right before this happened, but they forgot to do that...). The game went downhill quickly, and even with Japan scoring 8VP a turn, the Axis gave up in a turn or two.

Game 2 didn't go much better--the Germans started with Blitzkrieg in play, and got the USSR pretty quickly, but by the time they got Moscow, Italy was occupied by the French (?!?!), and Berlin got taken by the US not to long after that. So USSR was conquered, but so was Berlin and Italy. The Allies hit +30 at the end of T12.

So both games saw significant Allied victories. The games I played online went, like 2:1 for the Axis, so I'm still unsure on what the what is so far. But on the upside, everyone liked the new cards and stuff.

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Peter Bakija
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We played another 6 player game with Alternate Histories the other night, using Preparations for War! (everyone gets to put a Status or Reaction into play at the start of the game). This game was closer, but the Allies won again.

Germany started with Blitzkrieg in play, failed to take Western Europe from France on T1 due to trying to be tricksy, playing a Build Army into Eastern Europe instead of just Land Battling Western Europe, and then relying on the Marshal Air Force/Bolster Battle for Blitzkrieg, which was foiled by Keep Calm and Carry On!, putting the Axis in the hole by 4 points. Then Blitzkrieg was killed on T2 by Enigma. Meanwhile, Japan was left totally alone, and grew to maximum size, generating +11 points per turn the whole second half of the game (Japan, China, Australia, India; +1 from Co Prosperity Sphere and New Guinea; +1 from having Central Pacific; +1 from having 3 navies on the board). But by the time that got rolling, things had started going south in Europe, with Germany being bombed out of a deck and eventually captured. The Axis high point was, like, T13 or to, where we ended the turn up, probably, +26, but started steadily losing ground after that. By about T17, the Allies caught up and got ahead of the Axis, and as no one was capable of doing anything new at that point (everyone was out of useful cards and nothing could change at that point), So we called it.

That's 3 games in a row with mostly pretty seasoned players and 3 Ally victories in a row so far. To be fair, if the Germans got Western Europe on T1 like they had planned, we might have won by +30 on T13 or so.

I'm thinking that Preparations for War! might be problematic for the Axis--the Axis get to start with Blitzkrieg, which is very likely to just get Enigma-ed early on, especially if using the other new Promo Tile rule (Research?), where you get to look at another 10 cards and pick one at the start of the game (allowing the UK to see 25 cards at the start of the game); the Japanese get to have a good Response (I keep using Chinese Civil War, but any number of them seem like a good play) which gives them a quick leg up, but doesn't have lasting effect; the Italians have not that much that really helps them from the get go. Meanwhile, the Allies get, say, Rosie the Riveter (which makes the US deck a million times better); Women Conscripts (which the USSR benefit from hugely all game); and the UK get, say, Rationing or the Funnies one ("ignore German status cards on the UK turn"). All three of which are hugely effective all game, where the Axis get mostly short term effects. Yeah, if Germany starts with Blitzkrieg, and the Uk never sees Enigma, they do great, but that is a total crap shoot with the odds on the side of the UK. Italy can start with a lot of +VP status options, but require the Italian deck and rest of the game to help facilitate that working.
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Mark Turner
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Ah, the old Enigma vs Blitzkrieg issue. I wonder if it's possible to tweak these cards somehow.
 
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Nicholas Avallone
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MrMT wrote:
Ah, the old Enigma vs Blitzkrieg issue. I wonder if it's possible to tweak these cards somehow.


I think folks place too much importance on Blitzkrieg. Don't get me wrong -- it's an excellent card, and even more so when coupled with Bias for Action and/or Dive Bombers. But my attitude is always that it's a gift to use it for a few rounds, rather than regarding it as the lynchpin of a Germany strategy.

And now the addition of Landkreuzers will really give one pause when deciding what to play Enigma on.

Pete's summary above drives home the point that Germany must act quickly to secure Europe from the get-go, or knock the UK back on its heels right away. Remember, the UK has to choose between playing for France or playing for itself. While it's an advantage for the Allies to have extra territory, the Axis can use that division of resources to its own advantage. Every card the UK plays for France is one less card that it is playing to strengthen its own defense or expand its offensive power.
 
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Luc
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With that French tank in Western Europe, I would have given serious thought to starting with Bias for Action
 
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Peter Bakija
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Played another 6 player game of AH last night.

-Germany: Pete, fairly new.
-UK: Courtenay, plays a lot.
-Japan: Me, plays a lot.
-Soviets: Ben, plays pretty often.
-Italy: Ben, plays a lot.
-US: Guy whose name I don't know, fairly new.

This is probably the 5th or 6th game of AH we have played as a group, so a lot of the cards were new to a lot of the people, even those who have played QmG a lot in general.

Game starts out with the Allies getting a significant jump in points, as France and China aren't instantly blown up; France goes down on T2 as Germany played Blitzkrieg (well, Production Initiative) on T1; China goes down on T2, but Japan doesn't take it till T3 due to a lack of clever Response cards in the opening hand. The US ignores the Pacific and just goes to Europe. Germany and Italy are doing pretty well in Europe, as the Soviets gets pushed back to Moscow. The Axis take the lead, VP wise, by about T6. Japan ends up in China, India, and has the Philippines along with Imperial Designs for +7VPs a turn.

Things start to fall apart here. UK gets Polish Resistance in play and moves to Eastern Europe. The US starts hitting Western Europe. Japan is raking in points, but not fast enough. By about T12, the Axis is up to, like, +27 points, but then Europe starts falling apart, Italy runs out of useful cards, and we can't quite push it over the top. But T17, Europe has been completely taken over by the Allies, and even with Japan generating +8 VP per turn, the Axis are still losing 10 VP per turn to the Allies, so we surrender.

I think the thing that killed us, all other things being equal was that on T8 or T9, I as Japan had the choice between:

A) Play National Defense Sphere to get +1 VP per turn for having 3+ navies on the board, and then take Australia the next turn.

or

B) Play Build Army and take Australia, and then play National Defense Sphere on the next turn.

I was distracted by the shiny new National Defense Sphere, so I played that first, for a +8 VP per turn, rather than take Australia, putting me up to +9 VP per turn, which would have climbed to +10 VP per turn on the next turn when I played Defense Sphere. As soon as I played Defense Sphere, however, the US played a Bolster on his turn that let UK recycle a Response out his discard pile, which was Loyal to the Crown (which had already protected India for a turn from the Germans). So on the next turn, I didn't build in Australia, and then soon after, UK played Directorate of Manpower, got in Australia, got killed by Japan, but by then it was too late.

-Moral of the Story: Always take Australia if you can as soon as you can.

We also lost by, at most, 3 points, and I suspect that as a team, we lost 4+ points to not taking the mandatory discard early.

-Second moral of the story: I suspect that as the Axis, you should *never* not take the mandatory discard. Those -1 VPs add up and inevitably make you lose.
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Alec Usticke
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Nice recap. I've seen plenty of games like that: Where the Axis have to go all out earlier in the game to get to +30 but then totally fall apart if they don't make it (even if only by a point or two).
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Peter Bakija
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After a few months of playing other stuff, we got in two more games with AH last night!

We were using both expansions, no promo tiles or alternate rules (i.e. no, like, "start with a status in play" or the kooky bonus ability cards or anything). We had 4 pretty seasoned players and two brand new guys who we just taught the rules to. We played a game, finished it, and then everyone moved one seat to the left and played a second game with the same team set ups, but as a different side each game. And kind of surprisingly, the Axis won both games, and in both games, one of the new guys was Germany.

Game 1: I'm Japan. Amer, one of the new guys in Germany. Early in the game, the US doesn't get an Army in Western US for about three turns, but gets a bunch of good status cards. I kind of flounder a bit in Asia, taking China quickly, but losing it almost immediately to Chairman Mao, at which point I give up on China till much later in the game. USSR has an insane first turn, where he played, like, 5 cards and ends up with half of Europe. After that the Germans kind of get rolling (but lose Bias for Action as soon as it is played), the Italians are scrappy and hold on to Western Europe for a while. I finally get going, and end up in India and Australia and start playing +VP status cards. The US eventually gets into the Med and starts bombing Germany. Japan eventually starts scoring +10VP per turn--there is no interference at all in Asia from the Allies, except for a UK army in India early in the game that got whacked pretty quickly. The Axis are starting to run out of cards and about to fall over, but the Germans play some submarine card for +3VP at the last moment and we win with +31VP on about T14.

Game 2: We all move a seat to the left, so I'm USSR. The UK don't put a ship in the North Sea as their first play, but instead set up for Asia. They get an army in India on the second turn, but, well, the Italians end up in the North Sea on their second turn. This leads to about 5 or 6 turns of the UK scrambling to not lose London, digging Deploy Air Forces and Sea Battles out of their deck, as they are constantly hammered by the Axis, but they manage to hold on and never lose London. Barely. Meanwhile, Japan kind of grows some, taking China around T5 or so (the Chinese managed to score 8-10 points), and eventually get up to +8VPs per turn with only Japan and China as supply points. In Europe, Germany starts on the Russians early, and the Russians are on the defensive the whole game. As the Russians, I'm distracted by a bunch of cards that give me an edge in Asia, so I kind of move in that direction, and when the Germans have Blitzkrieg in play (Bias for Action having been Enigmaed earlier), I get nihilistic and declare Siberia my new capital. Moscow is quickly taken. Then Siberia is taken. I'm down to an army and air force in Vladivostok, and then notice that I had accidentally discarded Evacuation Council a couple turns earlier. USSR is removed from play. I spend the next 3 or 4 turns ditching cards and searching for, like, General Winter or something, but I never come back. The US spends the early game ramping up, and eventually gets into the North Sea after the Axis hold onto it for most of the game. We never really catch up to the Axis point engine, and while the Axis are about to fall over due to running out of cards, they win with +32VP on T15 or so.

Two great, reasonably close games (in the sense that the Axis were just about to fall over when they won; it seems likely if they had no won exactly when they did, they would have started sliding backwards) where the Axis won two in a row. Fun stuff!
 
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Alec Usticke
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Thanks for sharing, Peter. Those do sound like exciting sessions!
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