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Author Topic: Returning to A&A after 30 years, advice sought (long post, sorry)  (Read 1303 times)
Wolfshanze
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« on: March 17, 2016, 09:24:43 am »
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Hello... this is my first post on this site.  I used to play a lot of A&A (Classic) back in the 1980s as a teenager back when there was only one version of the game!  I was also heavy into other Avalon Hill wargames back in the day, but as life moved on, I joined the military, moved onto computer wargaming (Panzer General & Pacific General were some of my favorites), eventually retired after 20 years, settled down and had children of my own (now with an 8yo son and 10yo daughter).

Now that my children are getting a bit older, I have started going back to showing them something other than Nintendo and computer games... (the old "back in my day" comes to mind... God, have I become that now?)... they both became addicted to Stratego, and when we couldn't all play together, I put together a custom Risk set (based on the 1993 edition) and we've been playing a lot of family Risk games together lately.

While my own personal dream of having the entire family hunched over a massive custom table of A&A Global will probably never happen, I have thought that I might be able to introduce them to A&A on a more kid & family-friendly learning curb... trying to catch up after 30 years of not playing A&A, I've come to realize all the many different versions that have come out in my absence and it looks like A&A 1941 is probably the best place to start with my kids (and maybe even with me, as it's been awhile).

If you all haven't fallen asleep by now, here comes my thoughts/questions... doing pre-purchase research (don't have the game yet)... I've seen a lot of comments about the utter lack of units for this game and that a lot of people who've picked it up say there's not enough units to play the game comfortably out of the box.

I'm not averse to customizing the game with buying extra stuff for it... (I beefed up my own 1993 Risk set with a lot of extra stuff as it was), and I'm aware of the HBG site and the units it sells.  I understand the game comes with the following for each of the 5 nations:
8 infantry, 5 tanks, 4 fighters, 2 bombers, 4 transports, 3 subs, 2 destroyers, 2 carriers, 2 BBs (and no IPCs).

My main question(s) are the following:
1) Just how much more should I be getting for each nation?  Double the units? More/less than double?
2) If it is double or close to double, is a 2nd purchase of the game cheaper than buying all that from HBG?
3) I noticed the Axis (and Allies likewise) share sculpts in 1941... like Japanese Heinkels and Tigers and American JS tanks (ick)... as a stickler for reality and long time student of WWII history, would buying units from other A&A games from the HBG site blend in size & color-wise with the default 1941 units or would they clash with one another?
4) Aside from units, what else (if any) should I look at to bolster the A&A 1941 set?  What else might be lacking that could be made better... IPCs are missing I believe, and I think some hard currency would be better then pen and pencil tracking.  Anything else to consider?
5) Relying on the HBG site sounds good in theory, if I could just click on whatever I want and get it... but I've heard some grumbles about stuff often being out of stock... is that still common or will I have issues getting things off the HBG site?

Thanks again for any help/suggestions... its been a LONG time since I've played A&A, and while I do have a goal of eventually picking up A&A 1942 SE, I think it's probably best to take baby steps with my young children and graduate them slowly from Risk... I just want the A&A set we move to, to be as complete and ready for a fun experience as possible, and I've heard a lot of grumbles about the A&A 1941 set to be short on units.
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CWO Marc
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2016, 10:32:11 am »
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Welcome to the forum and welcome back to the A&A hobby.  It sounds from your current situation that you're well-positioned to spend many enjoyable hours with the game -- perhaps even much more time than the folks here who aren't yet retired (though I must say that the various friends I know who are retired sometimes give me the impression that they're even busier than people who are still working).

Anyway, here are a few thoughts about the points about which you've asked.

A&A 1941 is a good choice to reintroduce yourself to the game (and to introduce your family) because it's the smallest-scale and simplest of the A&A board games that are currently being produced.  It's also the cheapest, so I'd recommend buying two (or more) copies, for three reasons.  First: that will give you a more adequate number of sculpts than just one copy.  Second because the non-infantry sculpts in the game are different from the "mainstream" sculpts found in the other A&A games -- and as such, they may become hard to find if A&A 1941 ever goes out of print.  To this day, I still regret not having snapped up multiple copies of A&A Battle of the Bulge when it came out rather than just one because it contains cool truck units that have never appeared elsewhere.  I haven't made that mistake with 1941; I currently own...um, well let's just say "several" and leave it at that.

The third reason ties into one of your other questions, which concerns the fact that the non-infantry sculpts in 1941 are shared designs, with all the Allied units of one type being one design and all the Axis units one type being another design.  I'll return to that point in a moment.

Moving upward from 1941, A&A 1942 2nd edition is the intermediate-level A&A global-level game.  It uses mainstream sculpts (not the 1941 variant ones), and most -- but not all -- of them are nation-specific in design, and it has more unit types than the smaller game.  The same is true for the final steps upward: Pacific 1940 2nd edition, Europe 1940 2nd edition (which is a bit larger in scope than P40/2 because it has more player powers), and finally Global 1940 2nd edition, which is what you get when you combine P40/2 with E40/2.  G40 has the most player powers of any A&A game, the most unit types, and the biggest map.  Some forum members have recommended that new (or new-ish) players ought to work their way up to G40/2 as a way to gradually acclimatize themselves, while others have recommended that they dive straight into it without wasting time on the lesser games; both viewpoints have some merit, so I won't really get into that debate.

Now to get back to the 1941 game.  As an A&A sculpt collector, the thing I like the most about the 1941 game is that it fills two gaps that exist in the A&A Global 1940 2nd edition sculpt array.  In G40/2, all nine player powers have a distinctive infantry sculpt design, and most of the player powers have a distinctive sculpt design for each of the 13 non-infantry unit types.  The three exceptions are China (which completely lacks equipment pieces), Britain (which lacks a distinctive naval transport design) and Russia (which lacks a distinctive aircraft carrier).  Fortunately, the Allied naval transport in 1941 is a British design, the Allied aircraft carrier in 1941 is a Russian design, and the Allied fighter plane in 1941 is a P-40 Warhawk which fits the bill perfectly as the single Flying Tiger aircraft that China is allowed in the 1940 game.  The 1941 game can therefore be used to fill the distinctive-sculpt gaps in 1940, which is an added reason to buy multiple copies.  (Arguably, this still leaves China without a distinctive sculpt for the only other unit it's allowed to have, which is artillery.  My solution to that one is to use the pale green artillery pieces from A&A WWI: 1914, a game which -- like the original Milton Bradley edition -- uses generic non-infantry equipment pieces for all the player nations.)

You can find out more about the A&A sculpts by consulting the unit identification charts which I posted here...

   http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=31982.0

...and the table of G40/2 units given on the back pages of the E40/2 and P40/2 rulebooks, which are available for download here:

   http://avalonhill.wizards.com/rules

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Private Panic
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2016, 10:35:23 am »
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Hi Wolfshanze.

Welcome to the forum and also back to the world of A&A.

BTW - I think you are right to start with 1941 - as I did - and as I have with the 18 people I have thus far taught to play A&A.

1) Just how much more should I be getting for each nation?�  Double the units? More/less than double?

I asked the same question, looked at purchasing units from HBG and decided a second game would be cheaper.
Then I decided if buying a second game make it the next one in my development path - 1942.2. Then 1940 Pacific and Europe. Then mixed up all my pieces. No shortages now!

While all that was going on and before I took the plunge mixing up my pieces I actually learned to play 1941 without having any real problem with the number of pieces at all. Go figure!  smiley

2) If it is double or close to double, is a 2nd purchase of the game cheaper than buying all that from HBG?

Yes - as above.

3) I noticed the Axis (and Allies likewise) share sculpts in 1941... like Japanese Heinkels and Tigers and American JS tanks (ick)... as a stickler for reality and long time student of WWII history, would buying units from other A&A games from the HBG site blend in size & color-wise with the default 1941 units or would they clash with one another?

Size is fine. Colour can vary slightly, but that could be the case with whatever source. As you go up the A&A "tree" more varieties of tanks, etc get introduced, so you end up with a different types of each unit for each country. That reflects reality of course, albeit not always the actual units that each country would have, as you note above.

4) Aside from units, what else (if any) should I look at to bolster the A&A 1941 set?�  What else might be lacking that could be made better... IPCs are missing I believe, and I think some hard currency would be better then pen and pencil tracking.�  Anything else to consider?

For me, the thing I hated most was the smallness of the map and the horrible little cardboard counters. Got my own bigger map printed (happy to recommend the printer) using the resources on this forum and am thus able to use the larger plastic counters from 1942.2.

5) Relying on the HBG site sounds good in theory, if I could just click on whatever I want and get it... but I've heard some grumbles about stuff often being out of stock... is that still common or will I have issues getting things off the HBG site?

My biggest bugbear now is wanting plastic factories instead of the cardboard counters. Have been out of stock for ages.

Hope the kids enjoy it and manage to beat you from time to time! grin

Cheers
Adam
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 10:41:05 am by Private Panic » Logged
Wolfshanze
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2016, 11:54:19 am »
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Thanks to both CWO Marc and Private Panic for your replies.  Some good thoughts there... I was thinking about either ordering a bunch of spares from HBG or perhaps buying a 2nd copy of 1941... but there is some thought about just going ahead and buying 1942SE and combining both sets for a deeper pool of units for either game.

Also, nobody really mentioned how available extra units from HBG is... is the site reliable for getting spares from or (as with the industrial complexes) are a lot of units "out of stock" for indefinite periods of time?

I often scour websites for spares (I got a "super set" for Risk by combining multiple editions as well), and I might also try that route for A&A if its cheaper... also, the Youtube channel "The Cliffside Bunker" specializes in A&A and has a lot of great ideas about custom sets and industrial complexes and what-not (even stealing Industrial complexes from the 2008 Risk edition for A&A).  Through my returning research, I've found a lot of comments on the lack of industrial complexes (replaced by cardboard cutouts, yuch)... if HBG never has any... I might have to break into my attic... its possible I might still have my 1984 Classic A&A set up there somewhere... I could steal the chips, IPCs and industrial complexes if I can find it! lolz.  To be honest, I'm not sure if its up there or if its long gone.... I don't remember its fate.

I have seen multiple references to "printing your own map"... how does one go about that... you get the file and take it to a Kinkos or something?  How much does something like that normally run?  Curious about that process.

Thanks again for the input, I'm welcome to take any advice on the matter.
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CWO Marc
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2016, 12:26:51 pm »
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I've ordered various types of things from HBG over the years: units from out-of-print A&A games, units from in-print A&A games, sets of HBG's own combat unit sculpts, and other gaming supplies such as a few of HBG's round-cornered square acrylic markers.  The situation varies depending on what the category is.  With regard to units from out-of-print A&A games, the problem is that the only source for these units is (by definition) the secondary market; therefore, when HBG runs out of an item, the company may find it difficult or impossible to restock.  Fortunately, for most A&A units, this isn't a problem because most units can be found in A&A games which are in print, and therefore HBG can restock those by buying more copies of these in-print games and breaking them up for sale.  Unfortunately, the generic industrial complexes from the early games are the exception to this general principle.  Unlike the generic anti-aircraft artillery pieces from the early games -- which reappeared as new nation-specific sculpts in 1942/2 and 1940/2 -- the generic ICs never returned as plastic sculpts in later games, and therefore are only available as secondary-market units.  The best source, if HBG is out of stock, may be to simply buy a complete older A&A game on the secondary market.  The good thing is that ICs are found in many of the older editions of A&A, not just on one specific one like the trucks in Bulge, so that gives you more options to choose from if all you're really after are the ICs.

As you've noted, there are other possible solutions.  There are other games, like some versions of Risk, which have nice IC-like grey pieces.  A less attractive option, but one which is easily obtainable, is to buy a few Monopoly games and use the houses and hotels as minor and major ICs respectively.  Painting them grey helps, and is easily done because there's no detailing involved.

Alternately, HBG has nice acrylic IC markers...

   http://www.historicalboardgaming.com/HBG-Factory-Marker-Acrylic-x5_p_809.html

...which, even though they're not sculpts, are much better-looking and easier to handle than the cardboard ones in the current A&A games.
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Wolfshanze
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2016, 12:37:07 pm »
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Thanks again... are the national colors standardized across the different versions of the game (from the same edition)?  Like, if I bought the current A&A 1941 SE, and also bought A&A 1942 SE, would (for example) the Japanese units have the same color from 41 and 42?  ie: would the infantry and sculpts all be in the same shade of (orange/red?) from 1941 and 1942?  I know older (like 1st edition) may not be the same, but if I bought the current 1941 SE and 1942 SE, would the national colors be the same (like same shade of US Green and what-not)?

Or do I have to keep multiple 1941 editions together to get a color match for 1941, and the same for 1942 respectively?

Sorry for all the questions... I like putting everything together correctly before I even open up the case... I think I will search my attic too for the classic A&A, if nothing more than to steal the IPCs and Industrial Complexes.
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CWO Marc
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2016, 01:01:54 pm »
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All the A&A WWII board games currently in print (1941, 1942/2, P40/2 and E40/2) follow a standard system of colour identification, a system which matches the more recent of the older games.  That being said, you may encounter a few small differences in shade.  I own several copies of the 1940/1 and 1940/2 games, for instance, and two of the shades vary somewhat.  The German pieces come in two slightly different "shades of black" (as absurd as that sounds), though one really has to look closely to notice the difference. 

The really noticeable shade difference is in the American pieces, which are distinctly more yellowish in some printings than others.  The problem isn't actually particular to the 1940 games: I own every A&A game ever produced, and at this point I have about fifteen different shades of US infantry sculpts in my collection.  A couple of groups -- the ones brownish khaki ones from the Milton Bradley game, and the dark green Marine units from the original Pacific game -- are "intentionally" different from the others, but otherwise these shade variations are caused by "unintentional" factors.  Part of the problem is that green is apparently a colour that's difficult to produce in a consistent shade.  (Derek Meddings, who built the miniatures for the Thunderbirds TV series, once wrote that his team was never able to replicate the exact shade of the original Thunderbird 2 paint job.)  The other part of the problem is that green can look wildly different depending on whether you view it in bluish daylight, reddish incandescent light or greenish fluorescent light.  This is to some extent true of other colours too, but green is particularly sensitive to this phenomenon.  (When my American infantry sculpts get mixed up, I need to sort them in two stages: once in daylight and once at night under artificual lighting.  Two sculpts might look an identical shade of green in one type of lighting and radically different in another.)

But anyway, for practical purposes, the current A&A WWII games are mutually compatible colour-wise.  A&A WWI: 1914 uses a different colour scheme and is not compatible with the WWII games (except in the case of the brown and orange pieces, whose shades match).
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 01:08:05 pm by CWO Marc » Logged
Private Panic
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2016, 03:32:31 pm »
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Marc is correct on all points Wolf.

I don't think he answered your question re getting a map printed. The top thread on this 1941 board includes variations of a 1941 map kindly shared by dedo. My larger 1941 map cost (from memory) £30, but it will depend on the material you use. My two comments having used dedo's map myself are to ensure that the sea zone boundaries are darkened and seek larger circles for the ipc tracker at the top of the map.

Take the file provided by dedo to a printer who can make those changes. I have heard Kinkos mentioned by forum colleagues, but don't know if they can make the sort of changes I suggest above.

But there are printers who can, such as the one I used for my other maps over here in the UK. So if at first you don't succeed .....

I am sure any number of us could recommend someone to you if you ask.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2016, 02:54:08 am by Private Panic » Logged
Wolfshanze
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2016, 08:39:13 pm »
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Thanks for the answers again guys, especially the detailed answer on the color matching... that's a help for sure.  I decided to go up into the attic and dig through some old boxes... 30 years later, I dug out my 1984 copy of Axis and Allies (now "Classic")... a little worn, but still intact.  Guess there's some free chips, IPC bank notes and 12 factories... I don't suppose any of the sculpts are useable, but oh well.
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Mark the Shark
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2017, 07:30:16 am »
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You could always open up a new can of worms by painting the old sculpts.
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Wolfshanze
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2017, 05:30:26 am »
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Oh my, there's some Necromancy going on here... this is a very old post... any issues I brought up here were resolved over a year ago.
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