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Subject: 8 out of 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long rss

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Dustin Whitmire
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Welcome to my review of Axis & Allies Spring 1942. I own a copy of the first edition, and so this review may serve as an interesting comparison between the two.



This review will breakdown several categories and concludes with overall thoughts and a final scoring. The scoring is based on a 10 point scale. I greatly appreciate any tips of you might award; I am trying to acquire a GeekBadge.

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Personal Background
Prior to purchasing this version, I had only played one game of classic Axis and Allies. That first game was with a total of 5 people, each controlling their own country. It made a good impression on me because when I was in the FLGS, I saw a copy of AA 1942 and went ahead and purchased it. Since then, I’ve played close to 10 games of this version; mostly as a 2 player match-up.

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Cost: 10
Here’s why I bought the game in the first place. I couldn’t believe it retailed at only $30. I had to ask the store manager if the game was a standalone or if this was just some expansion. The cheap cost for this game is almost ridiculous; I can’t think of single game where I have had such a surprised response to what the game cost, relative to the components.

Components: 9



And those components are amazing. All the figurines are highly detailed, and several are uniquely customized for a particular country, whether the battleships, or bombers, or artillery, etc. You get A LOT for 30 bucks. I like the tokens for the individual powers, and the battle strips are helpful. The game could use some additional chips here and there, but those are simple to acquire, and you ultimately don’t need more; it would just be a little more convenient at times. The game doesn't come with it's own currency either, and you will have to make or use you own; it's not a big deal, there are some files posted with some excellent AA "cash". Clearly, the biggest bummer is the size of the game board. It’s almost unplayable in certain hot spots – notably in the border confrontation between Germany and Russia, and the naval hotspots between the U.K. and Germany. I actually had a 8’ x 4’ professional mat made using the design put together by a contributor on BGG. A little large and crazy, but it’s pretty awesome.



Artwork: 9
It’s stellar artwork. It fits the theme well. It feels serious, but not boring or stuffy. It does a good job drawing you into the epic feel and length of the game. Although the board is under-sized, it is beautifully done.

Theme: 10
What does the game possibly lack in this category? It’s a war game done right. You feel like you have tanks and infantry, not figurines. When things are going badly in combat, you want to get your fighters out of there. When you are making movement and combat decisions, you might as well be wearing proper military dress because you are in control and every little movement feels weighty. All the different units in the game operate with strengths and weaknesses as you think they should.

Game Play: 8
The game play is pretty simple; AA1942 is not a complex game with a lot of moving parts, but it is incredibly strategic. I can’t think of another game that I’ve played that feels more intense than AA1942. Every dice roll feels like it’s crucial. And frankly, this can hurt the game a little. At least for very competitive folks (count me as one), I almost get too tense, because all my strategy is there, but now it’s all up to the dice, and if the dice bite you, you just hope that what goes around comes around – to your opponent.

What is truly amazing about the game is how balanced the factions are. I can’t imagine what kind of play testing you have to go through to figure out how many ships or infantry or planes to put in this or that province; or how much starting IC to give one power over the other; or how to allocate that IC across the board, etc. Not to mention that somehow 3 powers on one side are kept in check by 2 powers on the other; all typically racing for the fall of Berlin or that of Moscow, essentially at a neck and neck finish.

Learning Curve: 6
If you are a person that likes games that are quick to pick up and be competitive, this is not the game for you. Now maybe you don’t mind the learning curve to a game, as long as it’s a great game that will be rewarding to you as you learn and gradually excel at it, but undoubtedly AA1942 has a long learning curve. The difference between a novice player and an experienced player is huge. I’ve spent hours on the forums just reading about opening moves for different countries, let alone thinking about my long term strategies.

Interactivity: 8
This game is definitely interactive; I mean, people are blowing up your stuff after all. It’s everything you would normally expect from a game in this genre.

Luck Factor: 7
Ultimately people have different opinions about how much they enjoy or will tolerate luck in a game. Some hate rolling dice; others love the thrill and unexpected nature of the dice. I have decided to give this game a 7 rating in luck, because the dice rolling aspect of combat is essentially what you might expect in this game; no more and no less. I personally do not enjoy games that have high luck, particularly if luck is more prevalent or dominating over strategic (controllable) elements. With that said, I make an exemption for luck in war games if 1) you can strategically compensate for the unexpected results and 2) it plays into the theme and feel of the game, because war is by its nature, chaotic.

Length 4
Here is where the game has its biggest flaw. Now, please here me out. As I told you, I have played basically 10 games of this; and you know what? I have never fully completed a single one of those games. Not one. Not even close. Now my opponent and I have ceded defeat, because we kind of saw the writing on the wall, and didn’t want to spend 4 more hours to watch it happen, but we have never completed a game. I have spent 15 hours playing one game, and we didn’t finish it (we documented it on a template, and started it again later, over 3 sessions lasting 5 hours each). Now, I find that to be absolutely crazy. I typically play this with one particular friend. So, please tell me. Are we just so equally matched that we can’t finish a single game in 4-5 hours? And we use buzzers to keep us under a certain time limit per turn; we don’t fool around. I can’t finish a single game.


(You will need a lot of this substance.)

Replay Value 8
The game has a great deal of variety. No game is the same. You can try out different countries, use different opening strategies and tactics, or use the same strategy, and see the dice treat you totally different. The replay value is definitely there.

There are two weaknesses to replay. One is the Length of the game. Who wants to invest that amount of time? Goodness sakes, that is a lot of time! And the second is that you need to have friends in your gaming group who enjoy this type of game. It doesn’t appeal to a wider audience (it’s not Ticket to Ride, after all), so you will have to decide on more than just how you would enjoy playing it again and again, but what 1 or 2 or more other friends think about it.

OVERALL 8
Axis and Allies: Spring 1942 is an incredible game at an incredible cost. If you love war games, then you will enjoy 1942. The Axis and Allies series has been around a long time for a reason, and Spring 1942 is a superb addition in that franchise. A jarring flaw is the size of the game board, but there are options to get around that. More fundamentally though, the length of the game is crushingly long, and I love long, epic games. Many will be willing to work around its time consuming nature by using house rules or variant victory conditions, nevertheless you will have to do so. Besides that, the game is uncannily balanced between its 2 factions, while containing 5 strategically distinct player controlled powers.

Edit: corrected the edition listed
Edit: spelling
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Chris Strabala
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Re: 8 our 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long
Nice Review! A&A'42 is a great game for the price.

However this is not the 2nd edition of 1942. 2nd ed. features a red box:



and features a new map, plus new nation specific anti-aircraft & artillery.
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Sky Zero
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Re: 8 our 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long
Are you sure your playing all rules properly? I just played a game a few weekends ago and won as the Axis capturing 9 victory cities In just under 4 hours. We were both experienced A&A players.
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Dan Long
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Re: 8 our 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long
skyzero wrote:
Are you sure your playing all rules properly? I just played a game a few weekends ago and won as the Axis capturing 9 victory cities In just under 4 hours. We were both experienced A&A players.


If you play using 'Victory Cities', you should be able to finish in one, still lengthy session. If you are playing til you totally occupy all your enemies lands...yes, you'll be at it for a long time.
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Dustin Whitmire
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Re: 8 our 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long
crsluggo wrote:
Nice Review! A&A'42 is a great game for the price.
However this is not the 2nd edition of 1942. 2nd ed. features a red box: and features a new map, plus new nation specific anti-aircraft & artillery.


Interesting. I didn't realize. I purchased my copy about 3 years ago, so it must have been roughly before the 2nd edition came out (2009)? I'll make a note in my opening post.

skyzero wrote:
Are you sure your playing all rules properly? I just played a game a few weekends ago and won as the Axis capturing 9 victory cities In just under 4 hours. We were both experienced A&A players.


Well, unless there are some substantial map and unit differences between the two editions, I can only tell you that yes, we do play to 9 victory cities, and every game has gone as long as mentioned. Germany and Russia go back and forth on the Eastern front, U.K. builds up sufficient ships to make an amphibious landing on western Europe while dropping support units in Russia's north western areas, Germany hangs in there and aquires a few fighters and invades Africa until getting booted out, the U.S. build ships, combine with the U.K. fleet, and retake Africa, while Japan is a juggernaut pressing toward Moscow and into east Africa/Middle East region. Eventually Japan reaches and takes Moscow or the U.S./U.K. hold a province in Europe and take Berlin.

Maybe we arent' bold enough with our units, and if we took more risks, the game would progress faster?

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Ray
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Re: 8 our 10 Stars: Oh so Great, and Oh so Long
dustwhit wrote:

Length 4
Here is where the game has its biggest flaw. Now, please here me out. As I told you, I have played basically 10 games of this; and you know what? I have never fully completed a single one of those games. Not one. Not even close. Now my opponent and I have ceded defeat, because we kind of saw the writing on the wall, and didn’t want to spend 4 more hours to watch it happen, but we have never completed a game. I have spent 15 hours playing one game, and we didn’t finish it (we documented it on a template, and started it again later, over 3 sessions lasting 5 hours each). Now, I find that to be absolutely crazy. I typically play this with one particular friend. So, please tell me. Are we just so equally matched that we can’t finish a single game in 4-5 hours? And we use buzzers to keep us under a certain time limit per turn; we don’t fool around. I can’t finish a single game.


Fifteen (15) hours? That does seem a bit long. Last time few times I play this game (the exact same version) we could have played two full games in that time frame. Now these were five player games, so maybe that might have made a difference. But even when I played this game with only one other (two-player game), I don't think it took nearly that long to finish.

However, when we have new players, it tends to take a little longer because it will be a learning game for them, but when everyone knows how to play, the game flow seems to go okay.

There is a social note to be made here. Board/Miniature gaming is more or less a social event as well. I've had games take longer than normal just because of the social interaction among the players. But that is one of the aspects I like about gaming. But usually, its not an overwhelming factor.
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