I played a day-long game of the Axis and Allies Global 1940 game by Avalon Hill (sold through Wizards of the Coast) with three other players today. We started with a rules review at 1:00 PM, started the actual game somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 (probably closer to 2:00), and played until Midnight. We had four players (of the up to six the game is designed for). We got 5 turns done and called it. We then did a post-game dissection of the experience.
Post Game Discussion
The first thing we all agreed on was that we had fun and were willing to play again. We are already talking about when we might be able to get together again.
The second thing was that the poor sap stuck playing all three Axis Powers is over-loaded. We need either a 5th player or to divide the sides differently. We feel that ideally the Global version of the game should be played with five players. Failing that, we think dividing it so Player 1 has Germany and Italy; Player 2 has Japan; Player 3 has Soviet Union, United States, and China; and Player 4 has United Kingdom, ANZAC, and France, is probably a better distribution of the load than the distribution the game lists.
We also were hampered by learning the new twists of the rules over the original Milton Bradley version we had all played previously. Attack and defense strengths were tweaked in some places and the addition of new unit types and the Air and Naval Bases changed several strategies and ways to think about things in the game.
I feel this version of Axis and Allies did a good job of emulating the real war without straight-jacketing the players. Adding Italy to the game had meaning and caused the Mediterranean and North African Campaigns to happen for good reasons. In the original version of Axis and Allies, Germany tended to ignore Africa once the initial units there were destroyed and focused all of its concentration and units and IPCs (money) on the meat grinder that was the invasion of the Soviet Union. By splitting off Italy and giving them goals (through the bonus IPCs they could get in the National Objectives and Bonus Income section of rules), that part of the emulation of the actual history actually happened.
On the flip side, ANZAC seemed of limited value and a waste of time. They spent most of the game doing nothing with barely any income. After later review, we decided that the UK/ANZAC player’s misunderstanding of some key rules and not having played the UK before (and by extension ANZAC) caused this issue. We think that in the next game, ANZAC will be a more significant force and will do something to help the Allies cause early in the game as opposed to being a back water.
Turn 5 was when the really interesting things started to happen. The United States was getting involved in North Africa, the real heavy fighting between Germany and the Soviet Union was happening, and the Axis Powers were closing in on victory on the Pacific board (Japan had 4 of the 6 Victory Cities on the Pacific board the Axis needed to win and were closing in on the 5th).
Finally, we all agreed that the next game will go faster. Once you’ve played through the game once, you have a better understanding of what is a good plan for the Power you are playing, your decision-making process becomes faster (as you know what options are actually useful), and you have a plan to follow (as opposed to making it up as you go along). This was an expected learning.
In summary, this was a fun (if long) game for us and we will play it again. There is very good game design in this version of Axis and Allies and we heartily recommend it.