Axis and Allies Global 1940 (Board Game)

Posted: 27th November 2010 by Mister Critic in Random

. . . men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
That is what I wanted. I wanted it to be the game to end all games. I wanted to fondly think back to that night we combined two stand-alone games into one massive, global game. No, no, more than a game. A life changing event.  A game board measuring 5′ wide by 32″ high and over a thousand pieces. In a word, it was to be: Epic.

First published in 1981, the Axis and Allies board game allowed players to assume the role of their favorite leader from World War II and attempt to lead a military to victory. The original version of the game pitted the Axis, Germany and Japan, against the Allies, USA, Great Brittan and Russia, with a game board that sets forth the world as it was around 1942. Players battle on land, by air and by sea. The original game is a lot of fun, but it feels to me like a reader’s digest condensed version of the war.  I missed some of the dynamics other countries, like Italy and France, could bring to the battlefield.

So, say hello to the new versions of A&A, Europe 1940 and Pacific 1940. Each game is sold separately, designed for hours of enjoyment on their own focusing in on their respective theaters of warfare. In Europe, Hitler is on the move, aided by Italy, knocking at France’s door, and is at war with Great Brittan. Russia and the U.S.A are watching and waiting to enter the war. In the Pacific, Japan is at war with China, negotiating the anti-aggression treaty with Russia and has not even begun to poke the sleeping giant, the US, yet. And when the two games are combined, the complexities of the global scale could turn the tide of war in any direction.

I have to give a special thanks to Mister Parvenu for purchasing the two games, and giving Mister Critic and his friends the opportunity to test out the game.

Upon seeing the global game in its full glory, I have to admit, I was very impressed and may have had just the slightest tear in my eye and lump in my throat. I almost didn’t want to mess it up by playing with it. Almost.

However, to reach full glory status, you must allow for at least an hour of set up time. Maybe that’s where the tears came from. I appreciated the fact the makers of the game tried to bring in realism by including different types of warships and aircrafts and such, but it took a lot of time trying to tell certain pieces apart. After a while, I couldn’t tell a cruiser from a transport. Then add in the fact that each power has pieces that look different from the other powers, so just when you figure out what a Japanese fighter looks like, you have to learn what a US fighter looks like. That’s where familiarity with the rule book comes in handy, as there is a guide in the back.

Once the game started, we lost a lot of good men out there. To attention deficit disorder.  We thought knowing the basic mechanics of the game would be enough.  We held a briefing to bring those who had not played before up to speed, and we thought that would be enough.  But even for those who had experience playing, there were new rules to learn which caused a lot of waiting. Our first round took about hour to get through all nine players.  I believe we played for about a total of five hours and made it through 3 rounds. Ultimately, we called the game on account of too tired to think. Learn from our mistakes.  Read the rulebook before playing.  A firm grasp on the new complexities will bring more realism to the game, and will ultimately make the game even more enjoyable than the original.

We chose the global game for our epic nerd night because we believed it had the potential to accommodate nine players: Germany, USA, Russia, Great Britain in Europe, Great Britain in the Pacific, Italy, China, France and ANZAC (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Unfortunately, certain powers don’t get to do a whole lot when you play like that. The US and Russia have to wait for at least six turns before being able to declare war unless someone declares it on them first. So they spend a lot of time in hurry up and wait mode. China and France essentially get wiped from the board right from the start, so those players loose interest pretty fast. And although the rules require that Great Britain keep its Europe and Pacific economies separate, it probably would work best to have one person play that power. So ideally the game should be played with about 7 players, which can still be epic, just not as epic as I had hoped.

All in all, I believe fun was still had by most. I put together dossier files for all players with some of the rules, the set up list, and photos of each leader.  Another person made sticks to move the pieces just like in a real war room.  Someone else printed up a large copy of the game board that could be used to plan out attack routes. The beer flowed like wine, pita chips were hummus’d. And I put together a music set of both period appropriate music and dramatic movie themes as to add that extra punch to the intense battle scenes.

Overall, I foresee that this game has a lot of potential to be epic once we are familiar with the rules and the number of players are reduced. Someday it will provide our finest hour(s).