12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This is A&A 1942 by Avalon Hill/Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast (WotC), which updates the previous 1942 "Revised" update by Avalon Hill/Hasbro, both of which were based on the classic and beloved Milton Bradley (MB) "Game Master" version from 1984. Wizards/Avalon Hill also has put out A&A Europe 1940 and A&A Pacific 1940, which are updates of Avalon Hill's two Europe and Pacific 1941 variants. Both Avalon Hill Revised and the new WofC versions are supposed to represent game designer Larry Harris' vision (once again) of a game improved from the MB version. For what it's worth, the original MB game itself had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition clarified rulebooks, but those were just rules, not new games. So on one hand, designers have continually been seeking to make this much beloved game better. On the other hand, one cannot help but notice how much money Avalon Hill has been making with all the new versions in the last 12 years.
Several other reviewers have pointed out the absence of both paper money for the IPCs in this version (also missing in the 1940 versions, but present in the AH and MB versions) and the lack of enough unit chips to even set up the game. I agree, this is really sad. What is more, the chips they give you can't be stacked with the chips from the previous AH or MB versions (the grooves won't match up), so if you have earlier A&A copies, you can't just conveniently cannibalize the older sets. This can't be a coincidence. WotC has also made the A&A piece different colors from the units of previous versions, which means that cannibalizing your older sets for more units will mean your Japanese units are both orange and red, your German units are gray and black (and somewhere in between), your British units are beige and slightly browner beige and slightly less brown, your Russian units will be dark burgundy and light burgundy; even the green American units have different hues. If you're not feeling picky, this is not a problem; personally, this bugs me. There are 10 dice in the game, whereas the original game gave you 12. Finally, the previous versions (including 1940 versions) gave you boxes or dishes in which to keep your units separated. Here you get nothing except one cardboard dish for everything. In fact, about 2/3 of the entire game box you receive is empty air beneath a cardboard lift. Did they keep the box large so it would compare well with the image of the original MB "big box" games?
The game board is the same size as the 1984 MB version but the world map is smaller because the National Production Chart is now on the game board below the map. This addition is not really a bad innovation per se, but the smaller map lacks the awe-inspiring canvas of other versions. In terms of colors, the map follows the 1940 version by choosing earthy tones that are all fairly close to one another, rather than the original distinctive national shades of the MB version. Whether this looks better is anyone's opinion. I suppose it's supposed to look more like earth, but I think it looks bland. Meanwhile, the map distorts Africa wildly by squishing it - as does the 1940 version - which is pretty ugly. The country spaces, particularly in Asia, seem more blobular in appearance than in other versions. There are other nitpicky, inexplicable map choices, such as a shrunken Brazil and swollen, misshapen Peru and Venezuela. Along the north border of the whole map is white representing the north ice sheets but looks more like your little brother maybe took spray paint to your game board to annoy you.
This game version changes the cost of several units (for examples: tanks cost 5 credits, same as MB version, but less than the 1940 version cost of 6; aircraft carriers are 14, whereas before they were 18 in MB and 16 in the 1940 versions) and has changed the attack or defense of units (examples: aircraft carriers attack at 1, same as MB version but more than the 0 of the 1940 versions; subs defend at 1 instead of 2, which is in all other versions I know). There are many rule changes or clarifications from previous versions (examples: aircraft carriers take one hit to destroy, same as MB and AH versions, but the 1940 versions it takes two hits; no tech development in this variant, unlike 1940 and the original MB version; tanks can't blitz through a space occupied by even an AA gun). There is some method behind the difference between 1942 and 1940 versions: smaller board, fewer great powers, fewer units, fewer spaces and special conditions, and overall less complexity of rules. Obviously, you have to review the rules carefully from variant to variant because you could easily jumble up these many rule shifts. If you wanted to teach someone Axis and Allies, you could start here and move up to the 1940 version.
I have always enjoyed Axis and Allies and I own all the versions I've named above. A&A is an excellent game, and although the original MB and 1940 editions are probably the best versions overall to own, this is the version to buy if you want the least expensive and most "up to date" version. Unfortunately, this version of the game feels skimpy and small right out of the box. As with other reviews, I would have paid more to get more. For A&A buffs with more cash to burn, the 1940 Europe and Pacific versions -- especially when put together to form an overall world game -- will be more compelling. For those learning the game, the 1942 version offers a cheaper entree to the world of A&A, whetting your appetite for the bigger, more expensive 1940 versions (which is probably what is intended).