Axis & ALLIES 1942 (2ND EDITION)

Game Overview:  It is spring 1942 as you get a chance to play out World War 2 in this epic game.  Five major powers are represented in the game. Germany controls all of Europe and is on the doorstep of Moscow while Japan controls the Pacific.  They are at war against the United States, Great Britan, and Russia. The game requires that you set up the initial pieces throughout the areas controlled by each nation.  What you do from there determines if history is repeated or if Germany and Japan come out on top.  Players command their countries military forces and its war time economy.  They plan their attacks, bring in reinforcements and resolve all conflicts until a winner is declared.  I have seen some people compare this to Risk.  I can see that and I would say that this is Risk on steroids.

Box Contents: You have a massive board which will take up a large table, so make sure you have the space for this game.  The plastic pieces for each country are very detailed.  The cardboard pieces that are used to represent who controls the areas of land are of high quality cardboard.  In addition, you receive six total dice.  The box itself is very sturdy.  The complaint that I have is that there is nothing to put all of these pieces in once you begin playing the game.  I used zip lock bags to keep them separated by each country.  Even though there are many game pieces included, I feel there should have been more.  There aren't enough pieces to set up the initial game setup without combining pieces together by using the chips that come with the game which represent multiple units.

Clarity of Rules: Most people suggest you learn Axis and Allies by purchasing the 1941 version. We jumped right into the 1942 version.  The learning curve is quite steep if you have never played this game before.  The rules are well written but until you really understand the game itself, they are very confusing at times.  I read through the instructions three times before we played the game for the first time.  After our first game was finished, we discovered we were playing many areas of the game incorrectly.  The best resources we found in how to play the game was to watch videos on You Tube and by looking for an answer to a question that we had by searching message boards.  After three full games, we have still had to reference things online to clarify what should happen in certain situations.

Game Play:  The rules dictate where you must place all of your initial game pieces.  Each country has at their disposal land units (Infantry, artillery, tanks, and anti aircraft artillery), air units (fighters and bombers), and sea units (battleships, aircraft carries, cruisers, and destroyers).  You must go in the same order each round with Russia first, Germany 2nd, Great Britan 3rd, Japan 4th, and USA 5th.  Each turn consists of purchasing new units with any available money.  The money is determined by the spaces that country occupies.  Next come the sea and land battles, then non combat moves, before placing your newly purchased units on the board in your industrial complexes.  The battles are determined by rolls of the dice.  Each unit, both attackers and defenders, have a dice level where they must roll that number or below.  Both sides get a chance in the battle before the losses are removed.  The battle for the area continues until one side wins/maintains it or when the attacker retreats.  During your non-combat moves you can strengthen your forces on the front line or attempt to move towards taking over other areas on the board.  Each piece has a movement rate that they must follow.  Placing the newly purchased items also has strategy, especially for the countries that have multiple industrial complexes.  The play time is 4 hours.  We have yet to sit down and play it straight through to the end.  Instead we have room to set it up and then play a couple of rounds before walking away and continuing the next day.  Game play continues until you achieve the agreed upon victory level.  Generally the first group to take over three designated cities after the USA's turn, wins.  You should note that online you can find amended rules which note that Pearl Harbor is a victory city.  This was not included in the version that was purchased for me and I just stumbled across it online. There is nothing in the game that easily allows you to keep track of the victory cities, so we created a cheat sheet (see picture right) and placed a chip next to each city to know who owns it at that time.

Replay Ability:  I am still up the air on this.  The boys and I have been playing and so far we have rotated among the countries.  I wonder though if at some point we will learn what to expect when each of us is in control of a certain country.  Russia is all but forced to follow the same path each game.  Germany is on their doorstep and they must build up their defenses as they await the invasion from Germany.  As we continue to play, will we be willing to take a different strategy for a certain country knowing it could spell doom for us?

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 12+.  Cade was playing this at 10, and playing it very well.  If you have someone that understand the game and can play as the "rule director", then you could go a little younger than 12.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: I love playing this game, I really do.  I give the gameplay a 10/10. However it is the little things that brought it down for me.  Having to come up with places to keep the game pieces, the very confusing rules at times, the unknown long term replay ability, the foot print it takes up, and the length of the game if you do not have time to play it out in one sitting.  Cade absolutely loves this game and everything about it.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  There are many releases of this game that you can choose from.  From the original version that was released in 1981, to the "beginner" version of 1941, and onto the massive 1940 versions that you can link together to create one massive global conflict.  If you like this game and playing out the World Wars, the additional releases are a must have.