Axis & Allies is a classic game of war, economics, and global strategy. Victory goes not only to the team that conquers its opponents on the field of battle, but also to the individual player who seizes the most enemy territory.
Now that I have the A&A 2004 edition by Avalon Hill, I say, all in all much much better. Most changes were improvements. But like all know-it-alls and complainers, I have my beefs. Viz.,
1. Game is still a rigid USA/Britain/China/ USSR versus Axis & Japan scrap, with no room for political and psychological maneuver between the players. E.g., there was nothing inevitable about war between USSR & Germany, or between Japan and USA. USSR could easily have landed in war with the British and the USA. The game dictates the most fundamental strategic choices, rather than letting players destroy the world in their own way.
2. The greater balance in economies (30 IPC for Japan, 40 IPC for Germany, 42 IPC for USA/China, 30 IPC for Britain, 24 IPC for USSR) is completely non-historical, and will tend to make the game drag on forever. The historical imbalance in resources should be in the game, but compensated by keeping America neutral, and producing at half or 1/3 strength, until a die roll brings it into war, no later than Turn 6, and probably by turn 3 or 4. That would give the Axis (and maybe the USSR) a chance to whip the British and Chinese while keeping the Axis/Japan /USSR peace.
3. The map is just as silly as the original, placing Moscow deep in Siberia. The multiplication of Russian territories was senseless. The continent of Australia is still too easy to conquer as a single territory. Africa is better than before, being harder to move across but less valuable economically, but I think the rule that neutrals can never be invaded goes too far. There should be two types of neutral territories, "Minor Neutral Powers" which, when attacked, become enemy territory and have pop-up infantry equal to a modified die roll in number, and "Primitive" territories which, as in the original game, cost 3 IPC to enter. In the Primitive category would go much of Africa, Sinkiang, Afghanistan, etc. But Turkey, Spain, most Vichy French territory, and most of Latin America would be Minor Neutal Powers.
4. As in the original A & A, the starting set up deprives Japan of the fun of contemplating and executing Pearl Harbor and Japan's wild run across southeast Asia.
5. The artillery adds nothing but map clutter, from a tactical perspective. Its sole effect is to allow the purchase of 3 attack strength points at a cost of 4 IPC. Tactically, how are they much different in game impact from tanks? Also, artillery was a more potent defensive than offensive weapon. Here, the reverse is true. Artillery, tanks, and infantry should have more sophisticated interaction, a sort of rocks-paper scissors relationship to one another.
6. The Wonder Weapons rules are much better, but the menu is still absurdly limited, and the Wonder Weapon dice still cost too much. They should cost 2 IPC for the Axis, and 3 IPC for other powers. At 5 IPC per die, the average successful development will cost 30 IPC, and you will miss the ten infantry they could have bought long before the WW has an impact. There should be at least 26 Wonder Weapons, whose properties are readable on small cards. Players should place the selected WW's small card face down and roll dice for it. If the dice are favorable, the card should move to the "Acquired WW" stack, whence it may be turned over to give the enemy a nasty surprise later.
7. Battleships are still too expensive at 24 IPC, even with the 2-hit feature. Battleships should cost 16 IPC, and their repair at a home Industrial Center 2 IPC. Destroyers are too expensive and too powerful. They should cost 8 IPC and fire at 2. Transports are too cheap, and carry too few units. Upping their cost would prevent players using them as "cannon fodder," which is certainly not how one would use a unit representing one or two million tons of shipping.
8. Transports should cost 12 IPC, and carry three units of any description. My reasoning is that primitive units such as infantry don't take less space, they take more, especially if their transport, which was often horse at this time, is integral to the unit. A typical infantry unit represents about 100,000 men and 4,000 horses. That's a lot of hay. Gasoline doesn't use so much space. The only kind of infantry which should be able to pack-in should be elite marines, with zero non-combat movement allowance overland, as their only transport is ship. Also, motorized American and British infantry would take less space. Infantry without horse or motor transport would be of little use in a big territory, such as France.
9. The submarine/destroyer interaction is confusing and not interesting. I propose that excess transports not protected by a matching destroyer on a 1:1 basis should be vulnerable to subs, destroyers, carriers, fighters, or battleships, all firing at 4. The firing unit could declare its target is an "unescorted" transport, and fire at thespecial higher factor for that occasion only.
10. Carriers are still too expensive at 16 IPC. They should cost 12 IPC, and fire at 3 on both the attack and defense.
It can be a 10 IPC swing (Including F. Madagascar which is basically relegated to a Japan move) from the UK to the Axis- that is nothing to sniff at especially when it is basically free IPCs for several rounds. In most of the A&A Rev. Ed. games I have played, most of the Africa Territories remain in UKs possession, thus a non-factor or advantage to the Allies.
Depending on where you strike from, with a few tanks it is basically 2 (three @ the max.) moves to capture the IPCs. As an option, Japan could build an IC in the E. Indies on turn three or beyond (if there turns out to be none in India for it to conquer......) Japan can then easily pressure India or make the Africa move. Japan should build mostly Tanks/Dudes/Artil. in the E. Indies and be thinking ahead with it's Transp. to shuffle them that way 1 or 2 turns before. The Africa Transp. can then go back to assist where needed in India/Asia/USA battles.
As the Axis, why wouldn't you go for 8-10 free IPCs of Africa? The benefit is there till the Allies move to take the territory back, which probably won't be for several hands. In turn 3 and beyond the Allies are usually just about ready (or building up) to strike Germany. With a Axis diversion like this will, the Allies be able to switch gears? With these IPCs gone the UK will have a harder time moving across the Channel to mainland Europe.
Hitler hated communism and had plans for attacking the Soviets long before he ever became chancellor.
Stalin also was expecting war with Germany.
After Germany reoccupied the Rhineland, before the appeasement policies of Chamberlain, Stalin tried to get the French and British to discuss policies of joint opposition to German expansion.
Basically, the French and British wouldn't talk to Stalin.
After the events of 1938 and early 1939 (Anschluss, Munich Agreement, German occupation of all of Czechoslovakia), the French and British then tried to talk to Stalin about policies of joint opposition to German expansion.
Stalin was infuriated because the situation had radically changed - Germany's position was stronger, the French, British and Soviet positions weaker - which would not have happened had the French and British talked with Stalin 2 years earlier.
So Stalin made the deal with Germany knowing that it was almost certainly only a matter of time before he would be at war.
The speed at which France fell was a horrible surprise to Stalin but it also reaffirmed his belief that it was only a matter of time.
As for Japan and the West, as long as Japan continued its aggressive policies (particularly in China), war between Japan and the West was inevitable.
Japanese aggression in China had caused serious tension with the West - especially the US - and continued Japanese aggression in China was becoming more and more unacceptable.
What were practically continuous, ongoing negotiations regarding China were fruitless.
Japanese strong arming of the Vichy government of French Indo-China in September 1940 so as to allow Japanese occupation of the border with China further exasperated the issue.
The primary points of that effort were two-fold: open another front against China (i.e. yet more Japanese aggression against China), eliminate the simplest & most effective method for the West to send aid to China (i.e. further cut off China from the West).
Japanese occupation of all of French Indo-China in July of the next year (1941) was the final straw and the West froze Japanese financial assets.
Nothing less than a major reversal of Japanese effort in/against China and Southeast Asia would have prevented or changed this action.
With its assets frozen, the Japanese government could not buy the materials (e.g. aviation fuel) needed to carry on its war with China.
It was only a matter of time before this embargo would achieve what negotiations could not - the cessation of Japanese aggression in China.
So while one could argue "there was nothing inevitable about war between USSR & Germany, or between Japan and USA", one could only do so under such auspices as these:
After Germany reoccupies the Rhineland, the French, British and Soviet governments agree to jointly oppose any German expansion. When Germany tries to annex Austria, gain control of the Sudetenland or whatever other expansion it tries, joint French, British and Soviet opposition prevents each effort. That would prevent “war between USSR & Germany” but would also likely prevent the entire war in Europe.
When the US tells Japan that they must get out of China or there will be consequences, the Japanese government agrees to begin negotiations with China. Within two years, Japanese withdrawal from China is complete. That would prevent war “between Japan and USA" but would also likely prevent the entire war in the Pacific).
So the claim of "there was nothing inevitable about war between USSR & Germany, or between Japan and USA" is about the same as claiming ‘there was nothing inevitable about WW2 occurring’.
Aircraft Carriers should attack at 3 because their attacking aircaft were most effective at short ranges of one to two hundred miles. Carriers never used their light cruiser sized guns in combat. Sea zones in this game are three hundred to fifteen hundred miles wide, from side to side. I imagine an "empty" carrier as having at least a few dozen aircraft. So they should have strong intrinsic attack strength.
By your argument, aircraft carriers should have a weak defense strength too, as their guns on the defense would have been as ineffective as their guns on the attack, in gun fights with armored cruisers and battleships.
Carriers should be allowed to handle only one fighter. The Japanese began the war with about 5,000 combat aircraft, of which only about 1000, at most, were on the aircraft carriers. Each aircraft token in the game represents about 1000 planes. Carriers can handle very few planes, compared to air bases.
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If you get a chance read my post "the case for abstraction of carrier based fighters" and "advanced naval combat sections" - all under 2nd stage advanced a/a
The West and Russia might have made a security deal in AD 1939. The rub was that Stalin wanted to control Poland, and the West wanted to use Russian troops, giving nothing to USSR in return. The result would have been great losses for the USSR, and a stronger, anti-USSR Poland aligned with the West after the war. Stalin wouldn't buy it--but he might have, on the reasoning that this would be a safer course than a non-agression pact with Germany at Poland's expense. Stalin misread Hitler as a straight guy who kept his word, and who never attacked without fair warning. Individual choice and psychology, not historical inevitability or Fate, was at work here. Without the Hitler-Stalin deal, no war was likely.
Chamberlain need not have guaranteed Poland against Germany, and then done nothing to make the Poles accomodate Germany's request for Danzig and a corridor through the Polish Corridor. No British guarantee to Poland would have meant no war in AD 1939. Minor Polish concessions also would have meant no war.
Hitler need not have attacked Poland. His preference was to make Poland an ally, which he might have done, with years of the patience he lacked. Again, individual psychology and choice were decisive.
Hitler could have offered lenient terms in July 1940, ending his war with the West. (This would have meant German withdrawal from France, the Low Countries, and Scandinavia). After all, the West tolerated German/Austrian control of central Europe before AD 1914, and could have after AD 1940. Hitler did not, for reasons of personal psychology, not historical inevitability.
Mussolini could have joined the war earlier, or not at all, making a very different war. Individual choice and psychology.
Hitler need not have attacked the USSR. Many of his henchmen, such as Goebbels, were not happy, and were surprised by the attack. The German people weren't in love with the idea of a huge new war in the east.
Roosevelt need not have demanded unconditonal surrender at Casablanca in AD 1943. Individual psychology--in this case his hatred of Germany, which preceded the rise of the Nazis--was decisive. The war might have ended much earlier. Nor need FDR have been so accomodating of Soviet lust to dominate eastern Europe after the war. The USSR lost any moral claim on the West when it made its separate deal with the Nazis in AD 1939. FDR's individual psychology was decisive.
The Soviets were considering a separate peace with Germany well into AD 1943, and never lost their suspicion of the West.
The same holds true in the Far East. There was nothing inevitable about the war, or its historical progress. Hirohito decided to escalate every time he had a choice. The Americans demanded a climb down the Japanese leaders could have, but would not accept. Hirohito always chose to escalate, rather than back down and lose some face. He might have done otherwise. Japan and the USSR decided not to go to war, although war between them previously looked "certain." This was because of the choices of the warlords, not History.
Modeling these types of choices in a game, with Victory Territory point pay offs, would be more interesting than the current game. The current game is fun, but too fixed in its possible outcomes. For reasons explained elsewhere on these boards, I think October 1940 would be the best place to start the model.
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