Do you see what I mean?
Yes, I was thinking about this too last weekend. One way of looking at it would be to see the A&A games as falling in three different evolutionary streams.
The main evolutionary line is the one for the global-scope games that start in the spring of 1942 (chosen because it was the highwater mark of Axis expansion). The games in that stream are the Classic (Milton Bradley) version, the Revised edition from 2004, the first edition of Spring 1942 from 2009, and now the second edition of Spring 1942 from this year.
The second evolutionary line is the one for the regional-scope games which start at a date other than the spring of 1942. The original Europe game (which starts in mid-1941) and the original Pacific game (which starts in late 1941) were the first ones in that stream, followed by D-Day, Battle of the Bulge and Guadalcanal, then by the first edition of Pacific 1940 and Europe 1940, and now by the second edition of both those games.
The third – and strangest – evolutionary line is the one for the global-scope games which start in 1941, of which there have only been two so far: the Anniversary Edition, and now the new 1941 game. It’s striking that both games have essentially the same box cover artwork. It’s as if Anniversary was conceived as a souped-up version of the basic global game, while the new 1941 game was conceived as a stripped-down version of the basic global game…one which combines elements of Anniversary (the date and the box art) with elements of Classic (a simple map and a partial move back towards Classic’s use of identical sculpt sets for all countries).
The second paragraph of Larry’s designer notes in the 1942 2nd ed rulebook seems to reflect those three evolutionary streams. The end product of the main evolutionary line is the one he describes as being “front and center in the family portrait.” The two end products of the second stream are the one he describes as being “on the right”, and the end product of the third stream is the one he describes as being “on the left”. I’d say the third stream is the oddball side of the family line, highlighted by the fact that the new 1941 game has a completely distinct set of sculpts. But as Lozmoid has just said, it’ll be interesting to see where the sculpts in the 2nd ed of Global 1940 will fit into all of this.