With Atlantic Storm on the table you certainly have quite a decoration on your table. Not only does the artwork of this WWII game appeal to most eyes, the cards also have historic events explained, which partly have an effect on the game.
So how does the game work?
Basically, players take turns picking up one (or two - advanced rules) convoy card(s) from the pile and decide what to do with it: escort it with Allied ships or sink it with German ships.
The other players then announce what they will do with the proposal of the player who put the convoy on the table (the dealer). Either they can join forces with the dealer, play enemy ships to oppose the card of the dealer, or pass.
With three or more players there is the additional effect that when 2 or more players decide on laying down ships, one of the sides gets bigger in the convoy battle. Once the battle is determined in favor of one party, the player with the biggest part of the victorious party gets the decision of the spoils of war.
That is, if the allies win, the convoy is won by the biggest contributing player, and that player gets to choose how the sunken enemy ships are distributed among the winning party.
So how are battles being won?
First the convoy played determines in which year the battle is fought (only cards with that year on it can be played in that round - a round being the battle for that convoy) and in what kind of territory (Atlantic Ocean or Ice Sea).
Next, the dealer decides on which level of the sea the battle is fought, either in the air, on the surface (of the sea),underwater or combined. The other players try to play cards that match or topple the dealer's card on that level, where combined means all the values are added together. This counts for every card that is played in the round.
There are all kinds of cards to improve the value of your ship, as well as there are airplanes to be played, and historic figures such as Dönitz and Tovey with special abilities, but the most neat thing is in the "nemesis" feature.
Every ship that has its name printed in red has another vessel (from the opposite side, of course), that can be sunk if it is played in reaction.
For example, the Hood has been sunk by the Bismarck (in real life), so when the Hood is on the table, and the Bismarck is being played, the Hood is immediately sunk (discarded). If the Bismarck is played first and then the Hood, nothing happens.
The same goes for convoys, but when its nemesis is played, it's not being sunk. Instead all the values of its nemesis are doubled.
If a battle is tied, a following round is played with all the ships played in the previous round placed under the convoy, thus giving the convoy more loot to be won.
When a battle is over, the victor count the number of laden convoys he has, which is depicted in the top right corner (a ship in black-full, black and white halfly laden or white - empty). For every full convoy, the hand size of a player increases with 1 (every player starting with 6).
After every round, players may take cards to fill to their maximum hand size, and the next player takes one or two convoy cards, after which he chooses to play one. The other convoy card is discarded face down.
When the convoy pile is empty, players count their victory points, which are printed in the left down corner of convoys and ships. The one with the most VP is the winner.
At first, it takes some time to get used to all the factors that need to correspond before you can play a card on the particular convoy that is being played, but once you get passed that, it is a quickly playable game with much historic accuracy, aside from the years that can be mingled in play and the constant change of sides by the players. However, this only enhances the fun in playing.
Another thing that is rather nice, is the possibility of plotting against other players. So, if player 1 is really winning every convoy, player 2 and 3 can decide to join arms and deny player 1 any convoy (if they have the right cards of course).
It needs to be repeated: the artwork is absolutely enchanting, this must not be underrated. For a relatively simple game it's important that the presentation is tip-top, in which department this game scores a 10 out of 10.
The only thing that is troubling is the fact that this game is hard to come by.
I can only suggest to hunt it down, and play it with your friends and family while at home or travelling, cause it is both easy to learn and deep in historic content.
As an added remark, not only is the artwork excellent as "art" but the graphics involved in game play are well thought out.
This was particularly remarkable if one looks around at the other "final" games from Avalon Hill-- Bitter Woods and For the People were both... uninspired in their visuals. AS was a fine piece of work. And, with some intricate permutations possible, the rules were exceptionally well done... not very long, but they covered everything we ever ran into.
I read that there were "expansion" plans for AS and I was sorry that AH folded before they came out. I don't know if Hasbro cares enough about the "rights" to keep it away from someone else (I read that they are hanging on to We the People, which the designer would like to re-do and is working under a different title and different game mechanics because of it.)
We might hope that Pacific Typhoon would do well enough that GMT would pursue AS. The idea of re-releasing the game-- perhaps adding the planned expansion-- should be a winner, given its current asking price on the rare occasions when it can be found.
If you get a chance to play it, go for it--- IF you have a big group. The balance was very good, and it was a rare game which was better with a large group of people. It did not work well (to me at least) with as few as 4 players. 5 was the minimum for some good things to work. 6 and 7 were even better.
But if you get a chance, DO play with all the optional rules (there are only a couple) including the "spoils" system. They make all the difference.
- Last edited Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:16 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:13 pm