Sean Croteau
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So I played my first full game of Axis & Allies last night. I know I made some mistakes in my strategy but I feel the majority of the game was ruled by die rolls and chance. I'll start with how the game played and get to the luck part somewhere in the middle.

So I'll start with my gripes:

First of all, the board for Europe is just too small. Even when chits are used to mark all of the additional units in a region, there is not enough space. This is especially true when a region in Europe has one of every type of land and air unit in it.

Second, the lines dividing the regions in Europe are black lines on a black background. This contrast is terribly hard to see. I may be partially color blind, but this is probably the worst use of colors I've seen in many games. Normally all I have to do is pick a contrasting color from the basic red, white, green, blue, yellow, orange, or purple colors so that my color choice contrasts enough from everyone else for me to see it. In most cases this means yellow is out if someone has orange or white, orange and white are out if someone has yellow, and only purple, green, or blue can be picked in a game. In this game the color choice of the pieces wasn't bad, it was just the borders on the map that were terrible. I can work around the lack of space and the mess that ensues, but trying to find a black border on a blackened country side is miserable. I have since used a silver Sharpie (permanent marker) to mark out the borders for each region in Europe.

Third, the amount of space in Europe, and the United Kingdom was insufficient for all the units that would be place there during the game. In the UK I had every type of unit, half of which were in the ocean. The Zone 6 ocean space was particularly crowded since only two ships could actually fit on that sea zone. The space in Europe was the worst though. Neither player could see which units were in which regions so determining where to attack went exceedingly slow.

Forth, the chits were only convenient for seeing how many units occupied a space. When it came down to combat, the chits got in the way. We completely ignored the combat and casualty strips, mostly because that resulted in moving units to move them back and would have been a pain. Instead we opted to count hits, and remove pieces after each round of combat. When it came time to remove pieces, the chits became a pain. Every time a unit was lost you had to take the marker unit of the stack of chits and pull off as many chips had died, just to replace the marker unit for the next round of combat, repeat ad nauseum. The problem with this was all the fiddling with bits rather than doing the attack and playing through strategies.

Fifth, the dice use was the biggest disappointment. Due to dice rolls the Russians were able to hold of 5 infantry units and 7 tanks with only 3 infantry. This gave the game the same feel as a game of risk. I go into your territory with 20 guys against your one. At the end of several rounds of combat your guy is still alive. That's the same feeling here. While tactical advantages sometimes existed, like defense values of units versus attack values, particularly in the case of a bomber, the overall advantages and disadvantages of units were overshadowed by the exceedingly large gap in the luck of the die rolls.

On to the game play:

I will preface this by saying I had never played the allies or read any strategies before playing. We had played a 4 round game a few weeks ago that ended due to time constraints where I played as Germany on the Axis team versus one player playing for the Allies. Most of this is vague memory, but it is mostly accurate.

In the first round Soviets made a bold move and captured West Russia. This space continued to be contested in several rounds of the game, but mostly stayed under Soviet influence. The Soviets also consolidated all of it's eastern forces north of Manchuria and into each of it's two Industrial regions. This turn ended with Russia up 2 IPC's a turn.

Germany retaliated and recaptured West Russia expending some resources. They then reinforced with artillery, tanks, and infantry. Britain had the most disappointing starting round. They attempted to capture the island above Australia with two infantry units sent via transport, lost a unit, and returned the unit back to the transport. This left the transport undefended. A sub was sent to reinforce the transport, and another transport dragged the tank from Eastern Canada back to the UK but they stayed one sea zone above where Britain had brought it's battleship. Britain reinforced with a transport and a cruiser to prepare for an amphibious assault on Norway. Britain had also consolidated units in Africa, started transporting a unit from South Africa to India, and consolidated units on the French-Indochina border.

Japan started their turn by making an aerial assault on the British transport above Australia, a brilliant move since subs cannot fire at air units. They also transported units in and captured the northern Soviet Provinces that had been left undefended. Manchuria received infantry and plan reinforcements and the region below received an Industrial complex.

The US turn consisted of an assault on Libya, sending a fighter to the UK, sending a fighter to midway, and moving ships around the Hawaiian islands. Reinforcing Battleships and fighters were produced and the turn ended.

The following turns the Soviets built up infantry while trying to hold West Russia and they tried to re-establish some presence in the Northern Soviet Provinces but failed miserably.

The Germans went on to take the Soviet Victory city next to Norway and built up forces along the Russian boarder while eliminating British forces on the African border and taking over the entirety of Africa in a two tank Blitzing marathon. They ended up building a second AA gun in both Germany and Southern Europe in the hopes of stopping bombing raids to minimal success.

Britain built up it's bombers for economic attacks on Germany and Southern Europe eventually making significant impacts to the German Economy. Every transport (up to 5 total) made by the British was destroyed by the German Navy until the British parked a battleship above Germany to slow German naval forces. At this point it was too late to start assaulting Norway and taking over Germany. British fighters most effective uses were in taking out the German Navy parked around the UK, but overall the UK was too besieged to influence any European battles.

The Japanese managed to take over all American influence in China, capturing an industrial complex, and took over all of the northern and southern Soviet regions right up to the border of Russia. By the end of the game the Japanese were producing 45 production credits a turn and Germany was at 56.

The US lost all naval influence from Japanese attacks and was only able to combat a Japanese fleet parked outside of LA with a squadron of 7 fighter units. After this point they were basically crippled on units with only 2 fighters surviving. The US had lost their regions in China early on to Japanese forces after both sides had placed Industrial Complexes.

As entertaining as all of that sounds, when it came down to units versus units, most of the allied rolls ended up as 5's and 6's for the first half of the game, so the majority of the allied units died without a fight and took no units in any of their attacks. The only nation to gain any territory was the US in the German regions of Africa, and the Soviets in West Russia. All other fights were losses. The axis side however had good rolls. The only tactical based losses were from the Axis subs taking out transports. The biggest problem with this game is that it tries to be something more than the luck of the dice and adds significant amounts of complexity, but despite all this complexity and tactical "advantages" that each unit can have, the end result of the game comes down to the roll of the dice.

Maybe I'm missing out on some major things since 1942 does not have technologies, but unless the technologies make your unit choices more effective, I don't feel like I will want any other Axis & Allies games, and I don't see this game making it to the table again.
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Leo Zappa
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Aliquippa
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I've been playing this game, in one form or another, for 20 years. I guarantee you strategy is paramount in this game. Of course, if this was your first play, strategies are not going to be obvious, and you have to spend your first several plays understanding how things work. Once you have the mechanics down and gain some familiarity with the map and the unit capabilities, it all comes down to strategy.

Put another way - a good strategy is rarely defeated by a lucky die roll, and a bad strategy rarely salvaged by a good die roll.

BTW - technology is rarely a game-breaking issue in any A&A game, so its absence from this version doesn't really change anything. It still comes down to choosing a strategy and executing it.
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Seth Owen
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FellowsBrokenknee wrote:


Fifth, the dice use was the biggest disappointment. Due to dice rolls the Russians were able to hold of 5 infantry units and 7 tanks with only 3 infantry. This gave the game the same feel as a game of risk. I go into your territory with 20 guys against your one. At the end of several rounds of combat your guy is still alive. That's the same feeling here. While tactical advantages sometimes existed, like defense values of units versus attack values, particularly in the case of a bomber, the overall advantages and disadvantages of units were overshadowed by the exceedingly large gap in the luck of the die rolls.


Are you sure you were playing correctly? I find that astounding luck. You have 7 tanks with a 50% chance of a hit PLUS five attacking infantry available to soak up the defender's 33% chance of a hit and you still lost the battle!? That's such an amazing fluke that I wouldn't judge the game by it. Even if the defender was super lucky and got three hits the first round they had to survive 7 dice with 50/50 hit chance and then do it all over again in the second round. That's hardly Risk.
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Sean Croteau
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wargamer55 wrote:
FellowsBrokenknee wrote:


Fifth, the dice use was the biggest disappointment. Due to dice rolls the Russians were able to hold of 5 infantry units and 7 tanks with only 3 infantry. This gave the game the same feel as a game of risk. I go into your territory with 20 guys against your one. At the end of several rounds of combat your guy is still alive. That's the same feeling here. While tactical advantages sometimes existed, like defense values of units versus attack values, particularly in the case of a bomber, the overall advantages and disadvantages of units were overshadowed by the exceedingly large gap in the luck of the die rolls.


Are you sure you were playing correctly? I find that astounding luck. You have 7 tanks with a 50% chance of a hit PLUS five attacking infantry available to soak up the defender's 33% chance of a hit and you still lost the battle!? That's such an amazing fluke that I wouldn't judge the game by it. Even if the defender was super lucky and got three hits the first round they had to survive 7 dice with 50/50 hit chance and then do it all over again in the second round. That's hardly Risk.


Well, I can certainly say this this did happen. This was the biggest luck based combat result, but it was a very apparent issue in at least this situation. There were other cases that weren't as extreme, but the luck was very prevalent in this game. I do realize that there were several strategic problems, like unaccompanied transports and a lack of a destroyer in sea zone six to stop German subs. Unfortunately the dice seem to be too much of a factor. This game will see a minimum of one more play before I completely drop it, but that is only because I make a personal requirement to play a game twice in case I misread rules or played a strategy horribly wrong. I don't feel that changing some of the strategy will change my impression of the game though.
 
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Seth Owen
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FellowsBrokenknee wrote:
wargamer55 wrote:
FellowsBrokenknee wrote:


Fifth, the dice use was the biggest disappointment. Due to dice rolls the Russians were able to hold of 5 infantry units and 7 tanks with only 3 infantry. This gave the game the same feel as a game of risk. I go into your territory with 20 guys against your one. At the end of several rounds of combat your guy is still alive. That's the same feeling here. While tactical advantages sometimes existed, like defense values of units versus attack values, particularly in the case of a bomber, the overall advantages and disadvantages of units were overshadowed by the exceedingly large gap in the luck of the die rolls.


Are you sure you were playing correctly? I find that astounding luck. You have 7 tanks with a 50% chance of a hit PLUS five attacking infantry available to soak up the defender's 33% chance of a hit and you still lost the battle!? That's such an amazing fluke that I wouldn't judge the game by it. Even if the defender was super lucky and got three hits the first round they had to survive 7 dice with 50/50 hit chance and then do it all over again in the second round. That's hardly Risk.


Well, I can certainly say this this did happen. This was the biggest luck based combat result, but it was a very apparent issue in at least this situation. There were other cases that weren't as extreme, but the luck was very prevalent in this game. I do realize that there were several strategic problems, like unaccompanied transports and a lack of a destroyer in sea zone six to stop German subs. Unfortunately the dice seem to be too much of a factor. This game will see a minimum of one more play before I completely drop it, but that is only because I make a personal requirement to play a game twice in case I misread rules or played a strategy horribly wrong. I don't feel that changing some of the strategy will change my impression of the game though.


You're unlikely to see that bad a run of luck again. Where the game is admittedly more luck prone are those situations where a small number of units are involved in a strategically critical battle. You might have 3-4 bombers coming in for a strategic bombing raid and lose two of them or you campaign in Africa may turn on the outcome of a battle between 2 German tanks, an artillery and an infantry against two British infantry and a tank with neither side able to reinforce easily.

To a certain extent the amount of luck desirable in a game is purely a question of preference and its certainly possible that Axis & Allies exceeds your personal preference.

On the other hand, you are certainly overstating the case to call Axis & Allies "Risk on steroids" and dismiss it as having no strategy.

It can be frustrating, when first introduced to any wargame, to figure out what the hell to do. You're not aware of the interaction of rules, units and geography and the implications of that interaction. Its common in the early going for "luck" to seem to be playing a large role when, in truth, it's merely mistakes coming home to roost.

You can play a wargame a couple of times and decide if you like it or not, but a couple of times isn't enough to get any sense of the strategy.
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The pirate's life for me!
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I've only played a copy online of this game. Luck is an element, but strategy has a larger influence on the outcome.

I know so many peple who say "Risk actually involves strategy!" I personally hink it's an ok game, but strategy has nothing to do with it. For Axis and Allies, the gameplay is much less dice-heavy, and I would say it has far more actual strategy, planning, etc. then you're giving credit for.
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Joe Ledgett
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Just to make absolutely sure we're on the same page, tanks hit on a dice roll of three or less (meaning that if you roll a one, two, or three, your tank scores a hit). Also, make sure you roll one dice for each unit (four tanks = four dice). I'm pretty certain you're playing correctly, but it helps to be 100%.

To help gameplay, there are a few you can do: First, print a larger map. This can be expensive, and it should be unnecessary, but it does help. There are several maps available on the web. You can't imagine how much this helps. My cousin had a map printed that is twice and long and twice as wide, and it turned it into a whole new game.

Second, buy some flight stands for your fighters and bombers. These are pretty cool and add a nice visual element to the game. They also can help free up a little space.

And third, find some way to tell the difference between destroyers and cruisers (I suggest paining the rim of the cruisers red). This is something small that can help avoid some confusion.

Anyway, give the game a couple of more tries. Knowing the rulebook and employing different strategies will make a world of difference.

 
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No Cat - No Cradle
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Hey - War is Hell. The dice rolls are random, but even they have a statistical probability. One of the things I like most about A&A is the "go for it" factor. When you are backed up against a wall or need to make a breakout - sometimes you want to take a gamble or go down in *glorious* defeat. That is the beauty of randomness - "sometimes" (others say "rarely") it works in your favour.

Strategy is important and I agree with the other posts - that you need to have a game plan - but things go wrong in the moment of execution. Guns jam, soldiers loose nerve, the weather turns against you - things that are outside your plan. You have to deal with it in your follow up turn. Strategy is the long play (statistical probability) vs. just tactics which are the moment by moment random dice event.
 
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Troy Dawson
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FellowsBrokenknee wrote:
5 infantry units and 7 tanks with only 3 infantry.


When I play the game one heuristic I use is kill spot comparison, eg each defending infantry gets 2 kill spots.

This battle is 26 to 6 in the Wehrmacht's favor. When battle planning, 2:1 by this measure is overkill.

The chance that the Germans don't kill an infantry in Round 1 is 0.3%.
The chance that the Russians kill 3 infantry in Round 1 is 3.7%.

The chance that both of these independent events happen is 0.012%, 1 in 8000.

That was Round 1.

For Round 2, the chances of this repeating is 0.02%, 1 in 5000. The chances that Round 1 & 2 go down like this is 1 in 40 million.

So now we're down to 6 tanks vs 3 infantry, 18 kill spots vs 6. Still overwhelming German power. The chances that the tanks all miss and the Russians kill 3 again is 0.05%, 1 in 2000.

The chances that Rounds 1 through 3 went this way is 1 in 70 billion.

Now we're down to 3 tanks vs 3 infantry, 9 spots to 6. This is more dicey, with the chances of eventual German win down to 70%.

The chance of total Wehrmacht failure here on this round is 12.5% and the chance of the Russians taking the 3 of them out is still 3.7%, for a chance of Germany extinction of 0.5%, making the chances of a quick 4 round Russian victory 1 in 15 trillion.

Granted there are other victory paths where the Russians grind out a victory more slowly, but I wrote a little utility in C and the Russians did not eliminate the Germans once in ten million trials.
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