Axis & Allies 1941

Axis & Allies 1941Well, this holiday was a busy one for gaming, so I have decided to add another board game review, and other types of reviews may follow in the near future.

The second board game played was Axis & Allies the 1941 edition. This is a more simplified version of Axis & Allies than the other 1940 and 1942 editions. My previous experience has been with the Axis & Allies released in 1984, which started in 1942 also.

Packaging

The presentation on the box is excellent. The artwork looks really nice and the back of the box provides a good overview of what it contains. The inside of the box is pretty empty. You will have to find a your own way to organize the components since no baggies or slots are provided for storage. So, this is a bit of a downside.

Game Components

The miniatures themselves are excellent. The colors between the countries are easily distinguishable and look nice. We had a little bit of confusion identifying destroyers and transports, since each country has a slightly different models for these. It’s not a big deal, though. The game only comes with four dice, which is a bit on the low side, but this is easily fixed. I almost ran into a shortage of pieces when I was planning to build an additional destroyer and submarine as the US, but luckily Japan attacked and solved that problem for me. I found the extra unit markers (that you place under the units to represent more) were quite hard to pick up and not nearly as nice as the plastic chips in the 1984 edition. The biggest complaint, though, is that no money is included with the game. You are told to keep track of it on paper. We ended up using some poker chips that we had laying around, since we felt that to be better.

Gameplay Overview

As one might expect from the name, the Allies (Russia, Great Britain, and the US) are fighting against the Axis (Germany and Japan). The game is over when the Allies control both Axis capitals or the Axis control London or the Eastern US at the end of the round.

Each round is played in the following order:

  1. Russia
  2. Germany
  3. Great Britain
  4. Japan
  5. USA

During the country’s turn, the owning player progresses through the following phases:

Purchase Units

In this step, you decide what units you are going to purchase, and can be one of the most important phases of the game. One thing to keep in mind is that what you purchase is placed at the end of your turn, so you have to plan ahead. In this version of the game, you rarely have much money (referred to as IPCs), so usually can only build 1-4 units.

Combat Moves

After the purchases have been made, the player declares all of the combat moves he would like to make. A combat move consists of moving your units into a region that contains hostile forces. After all of the combat moves have been declared, the combats are resolved one by one.

Resolve Combat

The current player decides the order in which the combats are resolved. Each unit type has a value for when they attack and when they defend. This determines what number you need to roll for them to hit the enemy. For example, a Fighter has an Attack value of 3 and a Defense value of 4. This means that when the fighter is attacking, the owner needs to roll a 3 or less on the die to hit the opponent, but needs a 4 or less if it is defending. Each side rolls the dice for all of their units and the total number of casualties for each side is determined (i.e. killed units do receive a chance to fight back in that round). The owning player determines which units are lost, so that you can remove your less effective or least expensive units first. After a combat round is fought, the attacking player can retreat or press the attack.

Combat ends when only units from one team are in the contested region. Some territories have a value printed on them which represents their IPC value. If the defender lost a region containing an IPC value, the IPC chart is adjusted to reflect this change. If you are fortunate enough to take a country’s capital, you seize all of the IPCs that then are holding and they cannot recruit new units until they control it again.

Non-combat Moves

Once all of the combat moves have been resolved, the controlling player completes his non-combat moves. This step can include landing fighters and bombers that were involved in combats and also moving other units to reinforce regions.

Place Purchased Units

After all of the moves are completed, the player places the units that he purchased at the beginning of the turn. He can only places these in territories where an industrial complex exists (printed on the board) and that he has controlled from the beginning of the turn (not any that he captured during his combat moves). Also, he can only place one unit in that region for each IPC value that is has. For example, India has an IPC value of 1, so only 1 unit may be placed there, but Germany has an IPC value of 4, so may build 4 units there.

Collect IPCs

At the end of his turn, a player collects the IPCs from the regions that he owns. This includes the IPCs from any regions conquered during this turns combats.

Changes from Previous Edition

I thought that I would include this section, because there are many changes from the 1984 edition that we had played. I will try to go over the major ones fairly quickly.

  1. Map Changes – Some of the regions and ocean spaces have been changed from the old version. My older brother was having issues with this because he played the old version a lot things were just out of reach from what he was used to.
  2. Reduced IPCs – The amount of starting and potential IPCs is greatly reduced. For example, the US starts at 15 IPCs, whereas they started around 32 before. I assume that this is to make the game quicker, since you have less buying options and less units, but it greatly reduces the strategy involved since you don’t have many options.
  3. Unit Costs Reduced – At least with the reduced IPCs available, the units are slightly cheaper. However, the reduction is not proportional, so you can’t really buy much more.
  4. Unit Stats Changed – Some of the units have had their attack and defense values changed. I am sure that this goes along with the reduction in price, but it can be hard to remember the updated values after having played with the old ones for so long.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I was not impressed with the game. It seems that they have tried to make a more casual version of Axis & Allies, which I don’t really think works all that well. The reduction of the IPCs available really limits your options and steals some of the magic of the game, since after a couple of large clashes, you won’t have much left to fight with. Maybe that is how it is designed to work, so that it can be completed faster. Our game didn’t play all that much faster than the previous version, but maybe we were over-thinking our moves. If you have played any of the previous versions, I would recommend that you avoid this edition. If you don’t have any experience playing Axis & Allies, it might be a decent introduction, but I think it would probably just be better to pick up one of the more complex versions.

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