Upgrades… we all want them. Better seats on the plane. Faster operating systems for our computers. New releases of our favorite board games. This is none of those things. This is a whole new animal in the world of Axis & Allies.
When they decided to make a second edition to Spring 1942, they decided to make an entirely new game. Now don’t worry, you already know 95% of the rules from first edition. You’ll recognize almost all of the pieces as well. But, those old worries about the board being too small or accidentally leaving your industrial complex unguarded from SBR attacks are over. You’ll have the new challenge of figuring out a whole new strategy.
The new board is a great size. Just a bit smaller than Anniversary, there is ample room in nearly all the territories and sea zones for all the different unit types. Gone is the jumble of black pieces in Germany that started the first edition game and the piles of ships crammed in the Pacific sea zones. Now you have enough room to see what’s going on, room for your new AA guns, and all on a map that actually looks like the earth! Putting the IPC tracker in the “tundra” above Russia was clever as well. It keeps enough room in the places we need it and still provides an integrated IPC tracker instead of another board I have to find room for.
The new pieces are a welcome addition as well. Each power getting their own unique AA-gun sculpt is nice after all the cardboard that’s been included lately. The ICs are still cardboard but are now the higher quality “textured board” like Europe 1940 rather than the cheaper, thinner “smooth board” that everyone dislikes. The new guns act like those in G40 firing at up to 3 enemy aircraft attacking your military forces. At 5 IPCs each, it’s not a bad idea to have a couple of these lying around. Especially when the Luftwaffe starts with 6 fighters! To take on this menace, we have been given 3 new UK sculpts (artillery, destroyer, and sub) and a Russian sub. But the Germans have a new artillery as well to replace the “88” that went on to anti-aircraft duty in it’s rightful place. The new pieces look great. Color match is excellent, and detail, especially the Brit sub, rivals the best that A&A has ever had. The stacking chips are completely new with a different ribbing and A&A embossed in the middle. Good news is they look really cool. Bad news is they are incompatible with previous chips.
The game itself plays efficiently. No National Objectives or tech to deal with. Just war. The new AAA system from G40 works well in this game, giving another defensive option to keep up with. Now an infantry turtle may need AA for cover if you plan to survive. Starting IPCs are the same, but there is more territory to cover and conquer, so stacks are smaller and battles more important. Initial balance seems good with a slight advantage to the Axis. With a set of good rolls on G1, you can sink the Royal Navy and still have fighters to land in the Fatherland. Japan will likely dispatch China before the US can stop it, but a good Brit player may help to add pressure in the Indian Ocean.
So far, there are two items that will require some form of rules errata. First, Sahara lacks the vertical lines that have come to signify impassible/neutral territory. It closely resembles a UK territory, which may be confusing for new players. Second, Honolulu has been accidentally included as an Allied victory city. The rules clearly state there should be 6 for each side and Honolulu is not one of them.
All in all we got what we needed out of this game. It’s half way between 1941 and Anniversary. A perfect intermediate game, it will require a bigger step to go from this to G40 than from 1941 to this. This is a brilliant addition to your A&A collection.