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Axis & Allies: WWI 1914» Forums » General

Subject: Figure Counts: Design or Oversight rss

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Brett David Spain
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Are the figure counts in this game intentional? Was this a design decision to maximize the number of allowable areas which could be controlled at any one time with an active army? Was it a matter of not including enough figures to meet players strategies?

I understand that the chip count is a separate issue. If the game allows "unlimited" number of pieces in a single territory, and this total is tracked through chips, then the lack of chips would be an issue.
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By mechanic, A&A is designed to purchase as much of what you want. There is no artificial limit. By design, chips have always been used to represent those quantities by crowning a stack. And controlling a limited amount of "areas" has never been a design intent in A&A.

A&A:1914 isn't far off the formula for design and function as any other A&A game. However, the bottom line is you only have just enough German infantry to perform the setup. Other nations have anywhere from 2-5 spare infantry (I posted a photo of the exact numbers here on BGG somewhere). At the bare minimum, the game would only need 1-2 more German infantry and you'll likely never run out. When you buy reinforcements you'll put a guy on a stack of chips anyway. And if you reinforce into an area, there's already an infantry there since per the rules there would have to be.

As for the chips, there seem to be plenty of 1's but the red 5's seem to run low. You could just use a blue five (or vise versa if it's an issue) but they chose to provide specific color chips for Allied and Central powers. This design choice departs from the standard A&A model of one chip fits all. As such, the game needs a few more chips. Again about 5 of each would probably do it.

Bottom line (opinion anyway) is it wasn't intentional. Something got shorted somewhere along the line and missed. Sure it would be great for Hasbro/WotC to acknowledge their mistake and make good with a small bag with a few extra infantry and chips, but I'm not holding my breath that it will happen.
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Kevin Chapman
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You are not required to keep units in a territory in order to maintain control of it (see page 15 of the Rulebook). Also, you can always create a unit (or stack of units) that you are out of figures for by using any type of marker that you and your opponent(s) can agree upon (see page 8 of the Rulebook).
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Chris Allen
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More pieces and chips should have been included. I bought a second game and split the pieces with a friend. I would be more upset if the game weren't so fun. I had the same issue with A&A 1941. I bought a set game of that as well.

I don't mind the price tag of A&A 1914, but it is irksome that they did not spend a few extra PENNIES to include a few more pieces.

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Lawrence Davis
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Krieghund wrote:
You are not required to keep units in a territory in order to maintain control of it (see page 15 of the Rulebook). Also, you can always create a unit (or stack of units) that you are out of figures for by using any type of marker that you and your opponent(s) can agree upon (see page 8 of the Rulebook).
Hey Krieg, long time no talk. I understand the rule about using any type of marker to denote units that you run out of, but I think Walt's point is that the game just didn't come with enough pieces to begin with. (ESPECIALLY for what the MSRP is.)

Germany should be able to purchase infantry on it's first turn without having to use proxy pieces or markers, IMO.

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Agreed. This is clearly deliberate. Anybody playtesting the game would have known how many infantry were needed to set up and then buy.

The playtesters would have known what was needed to start, play, and then continue playing over the course of the game. Starting and ending numbers would be lower than turn 2-3 numbers.

I would wager Hasbro dialed it back to the minimum to save the pennies per unit over the entire volume. All speculation, but it is my humble opinion.
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I don't discount production and quality control issues. As big as Hasbro is, the playtesters are the gaming geeks, not the contract managers or even QCers for that matter. It's clear that the US doesn't need as many infantry as they have, nor do the Turks. Is possible that numbers got screwed up in production and all nations got the same number of bits as the molds were set up that way. I would love to hear straight from the designer on the issue. Often (more often than not) changes are made after the game is turned over to the publisher that the designer has no control over.

Someone dropped the ball and nobody wants to be held accountable for it.
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Kevin Chapman
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DocD wrote:
I understand the rule about using any type of marker to denote units that you run out of, but I think Walt's point is that the game just didn't come with enough pieces to begin with. (ESPECIALLY for what the MSRP is.)

Thanks, I understand Walt's point. I was responding to the OP's question. I probably should have quoted it to make that clear.
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Chris Hansen
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I believe this was a design decision as well, with the first one being the decision to have the same number of pieces of each type for each nationality. And so when the playtesters chimed in with requests for another 4 or so German infantry, the money end went something like 'What? That would mean we would need another 4 for every nationality...that's an additional 32 pieces!'. Commence hair-tearing and carrying on with the answer ultimately being - shake shake shake

In the end I'm sure it really comes down to some power-that-be who made the decision of limiting the included plastic pieces to a count of 400 for whatever esoteric economic reasons.
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Ken Kmak
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But actually 4 more German infantry and 4 more British infantry would pretty much solve the problem. That plus 5 more chips of each of the 4 colors.
 
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So here's my shot of what's left after setup:



You can see that the US is way over in what they'll ever need for infantry as pretty much are AH, Italy, and the Turks. Realistically I would (and did request from Hasbro customer service, and was denied) request the following additional bits:
- 3 German infantry
- 2 British infantry
- 1 French infantry
- 1 Russian infantry
- 5 more chips in each of the 4 colors

So how hard would it be for Hasbro or WotC to make a small replacement pack for anyone requesting one that can show proof of purchase somehow? Relatively easy. It would go a long way towards customer relations and good PR. But if I was a manager that understood only marketing and profit to shareholders, I'd probably weigh the cost against dividend loss and whether it's worth it to please a few hundred people on BGG that are hard core A&A players having an issue compared to a few thousand family shoppers that will eventually pick this up off the shelves at Target and Wal-mart and not ever know there's an issue. I'd temper that decision by the fact that a 2nd release is certain to capitalize on the 100th anniversary of WWI (and maybe put that version into the mass markets) given that the few hardcore folks who are waiting for the next edition instead of this one, will simply buy it anyway when it's released. And finally, if I was going to be the "fall guy", how is the added cost to fix someone else's mistake (playtesters, production manager, quality control department, etc.) going to affect my annual bonus. My guess is they'll do nothing, note the sidebar issues being batted around here on BGG, and quietly address it in the next release. Cynical? Absolutely, but ever hopeful.
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The setup is by design. Anyone who's ever played A&A knows this, so im not sure how you get away from that. The chip shuffling is also normal and by design in any A&A game and expected. I agree it's made more difficult in the Western Front by smaller areas but there have always been small(er) areas in many A&A games and the filddliness is just something you deal with. Adding more figures to reduce the amount of chips used is not the answer, nor will it ever be for A&A. The chip/figure mechanic is by design.

Certainly for anyone new to this game or even the A&A games ther best recommendation os try-before-you-buy. Of course someone always needs to get it first to play. I was fortunate to try it first and still bought it despite my foreknowledge of the issues. With all the pros and cons about the game here on BGG there's no reason why someone shouldn't be able to make an informed decision about the game before deciding to purchase it or not.
 
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Well I see you're an A&A aficionado so you should be well versed with the filddliness of handling the chips. You bring up an excellent point which I didn't consider about the contested areas contributing to the problem. It's something the average A&A player might not give much thought to but the designer should have considered it since it's a significant change from the usual A&A mechanics. And in case my comment was construed wrong, your critique is valid. The constraint of the Western Front areas does cause problems, but adding more figures over chips isn't the solution. A redesigned map would be one solution. Another would be a break-away map for just the Western Front (which would be my choice), or holding boxes for those tight areas (my least favorite choice).
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Christian Kalk
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I've been thinking about how the piece count could possibly have passed play testing, and it just hit me...play testing probably didn't take place with a complete set...the game probably went through testing long before the final contents were decided. Testers would have played with a pool of pieces, then later when the final components list was being compiled, someone not involved in testing probably looked at the initial setup list and decided, "Well, Germany has the mist stuff, and they're going to be losing pieces, so that's the most anyone's going to need." And that was that.

The game SHOULD have gone through a final round of testing to make sure the included components were sufficient, but I'd guess that didn't happen, and now they don't feel like correcting the mistake, especially when people are buying after-market or even additional copies to make up the difference.
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Quote:
Are the figure counts in this game intentional?

So Brett, back to your original question, I'm even more inclined now to say it was oversight and poor quality control.

I just set up a solo game intentionally using the chips that come with the game. I had exactly enough dark red "5's" to set up the Central Powers with none left over. Now any good playtester explores all possibilities like maybe a crazy decision by the AH to do nothing on their first turn (other than attack Serbia which is required). The first thing AH does in their turn is build. AH starts with 26 IPC's so if you wanted to build 8 infantry, you won't have a 5-chip to place and will have to use 7 singles crowned by an infantry. In my book, that's oversight. But even assuming the do attack and take losses, Germany is coming on board next with 35 IPC's and the ability to build 11 infantry. So you will have needed to regenerate at least 2 dark red 5-chips for that contingency. I just can't believe it was the playtesters who would think that could never happen. What it likely amounts to is poor inter-office communication between the designer, playtesters, and production manager. I'd hesitate to lay the blame for this problem at any one person's feet.
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Brian Morris
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PeterZiegler wrote:
It's a huge difference if your company name is Hasbro or Academy Games. The makers of A&A are not gamers, even if they claim to be. They are money makers and profit optimizers. Not more - not less.


This all reminds me of a few years back. Hasbro according to certain people basically handed off their Avalon Hill section to a bunch of business majors not long out of college who had very little experience with actual boardgames. These ding dongs basically came to the conclusion that to be successful all they needed to do was hire a successful designer, give him a few weeks to design a game and then (here was the trick they thought) promote the hell out of it with a snazzy marketing campaign. The game actually being a good game wasn't part of the formula. The result was Rocketville, Sword & Skull and Monsters Menace America (although a few games like Vegas Showdown and Nexus Ops are actually suppose to be pretty good games). It was a disaster resulting in a lot of games sitting unsold in a warehouse (eventually sold off in a huge fire sale), lots of money wasted on bad advertizing (The Rocketville adds became a running joke on BGG for how insulting they were to people's intelligence), people blasting Hasbro for soiling the Avalon Hill name and from my understanding a few business majors fresh out of college being unemployed.

Not sure how much of that is truth and how much legend. What is for sure is Hasbro pulled the plug on whatever was happening then and went a completely different direction. They sold off all the really bad games like Rocketville in one big huge sale (sadly many children likely got that piece of garbage for Christmas that year) and the name has been pretty much used just for Axis & Allies ever since.

This and a few other things make me wonder if Hasbro is slipping back into that Rocketville era in their thinking. This is the same era where Betrayal at House on the Hill was published by Hasbro. The game was really good but had big problems which the designer wanted to fix. Hasbro however wouldn't post on their website errata fixes by the designer because they were afraid people wouldn't buy the game if they saw that there were problems. Instead the designer had to post on the Hasbro message forums errata and fixes for the game.

In my mind this seems to be an ongoing theme as we're seeing them use little cheap counter chits for factories in Axis & Allies now instead of the plastic factories we've seen in the game series for decades. They're simply cutting corners and pinching pennies at the expense of their customers. In this case I think we simply had someone looking for ways to pinch a few more pennies to make himself look good to the guys upstairs. They did not have enough knowledge of the game itself to understand what they were doing to the playability of it.
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Michael Menial
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I think there are several posts where people complain about the lack of material.

Shouldn´t we start a petition where we can show our resentment?
 
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Dave de Vil
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I'm going to use a different system - each chip colour represents a different unit type.

This way, each power has only one stack in an a region, making areas like Rome just about manageable (in my last game while under siege by Austria I think there were at one time 12 stacks of units from 4 different powers in this very small region - completely impossible).

But since this renders every land and air unit piece obsolete will the game still be Axis and Allies?
 
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Andrew Rice
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I emailed Wizards of the Coast, and just received this reponse:

I have placed an order for your Axis & Allies 1914 replacement items and you should receive it within 7 to 10 business days, depending on your local postal services. Below is a list of the missing pieces requested:

4x British infantry
4x German infantry
10x light red chips
5x dark red chips
10x light blue chips
5x dark blue chips

Good to know they are finally responding! I think the volume of complaints on the forums and the emails have gotten to them.
 
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Christian Kalk
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andy.rice@att.net wrote:
I emailed Wizards of the Coast, and just received this reponse:

I have placed an order for your Axis & Allies 1914 replacement items and you should receive it within 7 to 10 business days, depending on your local postal services. Below is a list of the missing pieces requested:

4x British infantry
4x German infantry
10x light red chips
5x dark red chips
10x light blue chips
5x dark blue chips

Good to know they are finally responding! I think the volume of complaints on the forums and the emails have gotten to them.


Now what would really be sweet...if retailers were issued "supplemental" component bags to hand out with every purchase of the game until the new printing which includes enough pieces.
 
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Quote:
I emailed Wizards of the Coast, and just received this reponse:


What was the body of your email? I'll try them again and see if I have better luck this time. Thanks.
 
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Dave de Vil
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By "missing" are we talking about from the standard contents? My guess is that this is what Wizards interpreted the word to mean.
 
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Andrew Rice
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My Initial Email:

I have just enough pieces to set up the game, but not enough to PLAY! Germany and Britain both need more infantry, and there are not enough chips to go around.

Please let me know how I can get enough pieces to play.

Their Response:


Axis & Allies WWI 1914 does come with the appropriate (emphasis mine) pieces for game-play, although there may be times when you will need to improvise. Please see page 8 in the rulebook for our suggestions. We appreciate your suggestions for possible adjustment to the starting numbers of infantry units. While at this time we have no information regarding any changes to be made to the game, we have passed your suggestions and feedback to the developers of the game. I assure you that they review each and every suggestion, however I cannot guarantee any further follow up.

Could you please also provide us with all the requested information below for potential replacement purposes? Once I have that information I can escalate your request to be fulfilled.


My Next Email:

There are only enough pieces for Setup, but not enough to play the game!

Need 4 more German Infantry, 4 more British Infantry, 10 more Light Red Chips, 5 more Dark Red Chips 10 more Light Blue Chips and 5 more Dark Blue Chips.
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Michael Menial
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I wrote the following message on the 24th of April via the following site: http://wizards.custhelp.com/
Quote:
Dear sirs and madams,

I recently bought Axis & Allies 1914 and found out that there are just enough playing pieces for initial setup but not for playing the game.

It would be really nice if you could send me the following additional pieces
- 4 German Infantry
- 4 British Infantry
- 10 Light Red Chips
- 5 Dark Red Chips
- 10 Light Blue Chips
- 5 Dark Blue Chips.

to the following address:
...


Today I received an additional bag of chips and 4 german & british infantry unit directly from the U.S..

IMHO great customer service despite the not sufficient initial stuff in the game box.

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Christian Kalk
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Awesome news! These recent reports of decent customer support have just bumped this one up onto my "consider buying" list. Have to scope out my price options to see if I can afford it now...
 
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