Sunday, August 8, 2010

Axis & Allies 1942 newbie strangeness

As a warm-up for a planned global 1940 Axis & Allies game later in the month I organized a play session of the regular Axis & Allies 1942 game at the Arkham Asylum Saturday. Due to a homeowner emergency situation involving a well the game got off to a late start, which was too bad because everyone was having a good time. One player (me, had played this version before and was the game owner. One other player had played an older version some years ago, and the other three players were completely new to the game, although they were pretty experienced Magic players and so were not complete gaming newbies.

Players were allowed to pick their countries, so one new guy took Germany, while his partner as Japan was the fellow who had played an earlier version of the game. Russia and Britain were also new players while I took the USA.

This probably wasn't the best allocation of players, but I was afraid of dominating the action if I took Germany and one of the new players really wanted to play that country, so I went along. Unfortunately for the Axis cause the German player was no where nearly aggressive enough with that country during his first couple of turns and despite a little advice from me and more for Game Store Tony (who had played earlier versions extensively) Germany simply didn't do enough damage to either England or Russia in the early going. This might not have mattered too much as the British player was also pretty passive and ended up handing over Britain to another player around the fourth turn. But the Russian player, while also a new player, understood that the most important thing he could do was build as much infantry every turn as he could afford. He combined that with a judicious sense of when he should counterattack with the end result that he not only withstood the German offensive but was soon counterattacking through German territory.

Meanwhile the Japanese were making some hay in the Pacific, China and in the Pacific portion of Russia but his overall progress was too slow to help his German ally. He had a bad habit of leaving his transports unescorted (despite being reminded of the danger) and also tended to operate his fleets in small packets that the US player was able to overwhelm in detail. The Japanese player was much more comfortable with the land campaign against China.

The US committed enough force in the Pacific to keep the Japanese occupied but put most effort into Europe, sending bombers to England that soon inflicted maximum damage on Germany's factory and launched Operation Torch to start clearing out Africa and wipe out the German Med fleet. The British were able to win a somewhat risky landing in France that recaptured Paris. The Germans had too little force to rake back Paris while defending Rome against the US force in Africa and Berlin against the approaching Russians.

The game was called on account of time, with the Allies ahead with 7 Victory Cities to the Axis 5, although as mentioned the Axis were in imminent danger of losing two more victory cites while there were no Allied victory cities in real danger, so everyone agreed the game seemed to have reached a decisive result. Losing and winning players all said they enjoyed the game and several said they were now planning to take part in the grand global game we have planned for the end of the month. That will involved playing a combined A&A: Pacific 1940 and the brand-new A&A: Europe 1940 game.

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