Open table communication leaves me wondering…


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    We just finished playing three rounds of Axis and Allies tonight - a six man game. 3 guys were the Axis and 3 were the Allies. It was fun, but I noticed something tonight that has started to bother me. It seems like there is TOO MUCH communication going on in our games.

    For example, Germany would start to do something and then Japan would say - “no don’t do that - you should do this instead.” Well, with 3 men on each side all correcting and reminding each other of each detail of what to do, it seemed like more of a consensus game or “game by committee” than a game of three individual nations vs. three other individual nations. In other words, we weren’t using our own individual skills to help each other win, but rather doing everything with the approval or even under the direction of the other two guys. Often our game session was interrupted by “can we get a few minutes alone with the board?” Then the three Allies or Axis would go over their plans in minute detail and seek the approval of the others. I just don’t think there was this extreme amount of cooperation between nations that didn’t even speak the same language, had different cultures and ideologies, and were often separated by thousands of miles in the real war.

    The benefit of this kind of “play by committee” is that very few mistakes are made. But this is also the drawback - very few mistakes are made. To me it makes the game flow seem too tidy and “safe” - whether you win or whether you lose, it wasn’t really you that made the decisions, it was all of you together. The human element of forgetting to do something or not seeing something is pretty much lost. What I’ve often seen happen is two guys kind of fall in line with the best or most enthusiastic player on their side and get instant access to all of his insight - they end up playing HIS game  as his minions instead of their own. More than once tonight I was licking my chops about a flawed decision one of the opposing players was about to make, only to see one of his Allies butt in and correct it.

    In reality, there was not nearly so much communication and cooperation between Allies. For example, Italy invaded the Balkans without even telling Germany, and Russia was pretty uncommunicative and distrustful of the USA and UK - only a common enemy kept them civil with each other.

    Do you get what I’m talking about?

    I wonder if any of you that play face to face games use any house rules that limit open communication with your Allies, and if so how do you implement them?



  • Me too hate when that happen, takes the fun out of the game.

    The old classic MB edition had an optional individual victory condition, making the game more realistic and intriguing. In the real world there are no such thing as a team victory, everybody just take care of them selves, and do what is necessary to kill the common enemy.

    In the classic MB edition, after one team had won, they would figure out who had gained most extra income in percentage, and declare an economic winner. I loved that because it model the real world so smooth and historical correct. Unfortunately it is very rare to face as many as 6 or 8 players, unless you play in a club, or online, so usually you play one on one and that makes individual winning nonsense. And if you are 8 players, it is common that two of them are Alpha players that want to dominate and command their team, using their outstanding and brilliant strategies, and a Very Important Player, or VIP as we call them, dont want a minor player to nick their trophy with an individual victory. So if you want to play individually, you need to gather a crowd of underdogs.


  • 2017 2016

    Probably depends on what kind of motive-driven player you are.
    I like to know where a given strategy is going and what will be the logical outcome if dice doesn’t trick to much with one side.
    I don’t play to win at all cost.
    For instance, I would remind my opponent that some of his TPs are alone and within reach of some of my planes.
    Or a given battle is very risky for him if he doesn’t bring more units.
    Of course, once it is said, if my opponent keeps things as they are I feel OK about this.

    I don’t want a good and long game meeting with a lot of suspense being win because my opponent forget to put a blocker unit somewhere and loose a major IC or Capital to a surprise Blitz or loose a lot of lightly defended TPs to a large fleet able to reach them because the blocker was forgotten.

    So in a face to face I play like this. If there is many players on each side, I like and hope they watch each other back, because I cannot betray my team if I play with Munchkins and competitive players.



  • Hello there.

    We ran into some of these problems early on when we started AA1914. It took over 20 minutes of talk every time a country played because we analyzed everything.

    Eventually, we settled with a 5 minute check for each side at the beginning of a turn and 1-2 minutes when a country was playing and the other side needed to discuss an important thing. It ended up being reasonable enough while also not always revealing the other side’s strategy.

    I also suggest you limit the amount of players in a game. Four makes for 2v2, which makes decision making that much faster. Any team with three players slows the game exponentially just because you now have three-way communication and negotiation. We play 2v2 and it goes by fairly well.

    Hope this helps !



  • Great discussion DK, you’ve described our group games to a tee.

    My only observation at this time without thinking to much about it is… I prefer the open communication over the resentment and blame that comes when a player makes a major mistake that effects the other two allies greatly. The “what were you thinking?”, and the “didn’t you see that?” comments can create a lot of negative energy in the game room… the major concern I have with this open communication issue is the amount of game time wasted as each player goes over every detail of every option as the player than absorbs it all to make one decision.



  • OK, I suggest 5 ways to deal with this.

    1. Buy a chess clock and give each player a given time to resolve his combat moves. Any delays atomatically trigger punishment.

    2. Play with individually victory conditions. The player that first reach a given number of Victory Cities is the winner no matter what. In this case the Alpha VIP dont want his team to perform too well, he just want them to survive long enough. Fair and squere.

    3. If the dough on your team bothers you just slap him in his face. Then I guess he stop doing that pretty fast. Let some happy slapping solve your problem.

    4. Ignore him. If he keep on use your Teaser.

    5. Call your mom, let she sort it out.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    It’s quite true that the degree of communication – and even more so of coordination and cooperation – that existed historically between the Axis powers among themselves and between the Allied powers among themselves was less than optimal.  On the Axis side, Germany and Italy had a rocky relationship, with Germany feeling that it had to bail out the Italians on various occasions; the low point came in 1943 when Italy switched sides and promptly got occupied by its former Axis partner.  The relationship between Germany and Japan was less strained, but also a lot less tangible, given that the two countries were for most practical purposes fighting separate wars on opposite sides of the planet; see the book “Reluctant Allies: German-Japanese Naval Relations in World War II” for more details.  On the Allied side, the Soviets and the Anglo-Americans harboured a lot mistrust towards each other during the war – which was hardly surprising, since their wartime partnership was very much an alliance of convenience in the face of a common threat.  Even the British and the Americans, who arguably had the closest and best-coordinated partnership of the war, had a relationship that was was at times quite strained.  This ranged from all the way at the top of the political and military leadership (where there were major major strategic disagreements, compounded by the unhelpful theatrics of such prima donnas as Montgomery and Patton) to all the way at the bottom (where, for example, enlisted British soldiers sometimes resented the fact that GIs stationed in Britain were comparatively well paid and could provide the local girls with rationed goodies like chocolate bars.)

    Despite all that, however, I don’t have a problem with the basic idea of A&A board game players communicating openly and playing by committee.  An A&A game, played in person on a map board, is a social event as much as a military-themed recreation, so it would be pretty grim to play it in complete silence.  Moreover, the OOB rules themselves fundamentally regard the game as a contest between two sides, not between five to nine separate countries – so a game involving more than two people is basically a game between two teams.

    I do, however, agree that this team-based approach does have a potential drawback: the possibility that one or two players on a given side will exercise a dominant influence over their other partners, to the point where those partners will become little more than subordinate commanders whose only function is to carry out superior orders.  When things get to that point, that’s probably a sign that the dominant – perhaps “domineering” would be a better term – players should be playing their side entirely on their own (since in effect that’s already what they’re doing) rather than playing as part of a team.


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    Thanks to all for the input!

    Looking at these responses I’d say Narvik offers the best solution - give players individual goals to go for. This would reduce the “team” mindset without introducing a lot of constricting and unpopular rules.

    Like if you said “no discussion” or “only 2 timeouts to discuss per game” - then I suppose you’d see players developing an elaborate system of hand signals, facial expressions, coughs, etc. to communicate.

    The best and simplest motivation is self motivation. (probably why capitalism works better than communism) So crowning someone champ for, say,  most % economic growth as overall winner might encourage some silence. Or, if you have three Allies as in our game, you could give the winner with the biggest growth percentage a major victory, 2nd best a tactical victory, and last a minor victory. The same could be done for the losers - major, tactical, and minor loss.

    The Axis and Allies in the real war did not just get up from a table and go home after the conflict - they were all very much concerned about the postwar world. For example, the USA and Britain certainly did not want to see a postwar Russian superpower and visa versa. These considerations no doubt influenced how much real cooperation went on.


  • 2018 2017

    this is all covered under the concept of “Tischsprachen” (Table Talk).  it originally meant idle conversation, but in wargames, it means excessive micromanagement, coaching, and interfering with other players moves….extending the game past its average 5 hours to do 4 turns…lol

    Like just about everyone who plays this game, of course, I think I have tons of interesting stuff to add during the game both on and off topic (off topic meaning, about the historical war, stories etc.)

    This I think is the key;  Now that im 40, I dont’ feel the need to manage or optimize the play of my opponents or teammates.

    I’ve been assigned one task; roll and play the powers assigned to me.

    We have 2 strong players and 2 newer players, and firstly, we always put the stronger players on opposite teams.  If my ally is doing something stupid or off base, it simply opens up new possibilities and “errors” that prevent the game from proceeding along the “critical path” which is a vanilla SBR attack on both sides against Russia G2.  It has high chances of success and it is boring because we’ve played 40 games that way.

    We’ve played 103 games of AxA since 2011.  A more competitive game with league players would be quiet, and tense.  It would be exciting, but it wouldn’t be a time to see new ideas or hash out “best moves”.  When I play WITH the stronger other player, we play against a game-shop pick up group and we come with a pre-conceived plan, whether we are allies or axis.

    It isn’t very much FUN to limit the amount of time per turn or talk itself.  But I think after you play a lot of games, the desire to see the “critical path” is reduced to league play, forum discussion, and theory.

    So I sure don’t stay silent.  And all our classic games from ages 19-22 were exactly as you describe.  Most of the games with older and more experienced players aren’t quiet or boring, but there isn’t much Tischsprachen.  If I needed tight coordination between USA and ANZAC, or Germany and Italy, I take both teams as mine.    If I see something that the other player does wrong;  I say nothing hoping to exploit it against them in the next game or later that game.

    Weaker players simply cannot learn everything by being coached.  They have to attempt things that are clearly wrong and get burned for it in order to learn.  If they are still not progressing, its because there is too much handholding, not because there isn’t enough.  The learning curve in this game is so high, I see people making the same bold mistakes 10+ games under their belt.


  • 2018 2017

    heck, after 150+ games, I’m still making them myself.

    so just tell em, not “no talking”…“no (excessive) Tischsprachen”



  • Our victory objective house rule for determining a winner really helps with the table talk issue. Last game my teammate on the other side of the world asked me what he should do, so instead of spending crucial game time micromanaging his every move, I simply said “get us 2 victory tokens because I’m getting slammed with all the US income against me, and I can only get us 1 token max”. Therefore, he at least knew what his objective was even if he failed (he succeeded BTW, and we won the game 3 tokens to 1).



  • I like the more ambiguous approach to who’s winning the World War.  Somewhere I saw an internet meme that said something like:  “You don’t just END a game of Axis and Allies.”    😄

    I actually encourage table talk and communication in the games I host.  We play three-turns per round.  Axis go together.  Then Russia.  Then Allies go together.   Attacks can be coordinated (with some restrictions).    This speeds things up greatly.  So we are not as pressured for time.  And talk tends to be constructive and coordinated in “real-time” instead of advising the player what to do during their turn.

    Therefore, you see a lot of talk among the Allied Atlantic players and Allied Pacific players.  Usually, some sort of Operation Torch is patched together … with US and UK units attacking TOGETHER.  (as it should be)

    Then, inevitably, there is some squabbling between Germany and Italy.  And Germany has to divert units down into the Med.  … Lots of talk and coordination between those two players.

    Sometimes its clear who’s winning.  Sometimes its not.   I think that’s part of the fun.


  • 2018 2016

    Table talk can get out of control sometimes. Generally we have found that limiting the amount of smack talk or “propaganda” directed at an opposing player cuts some of the time down because then the player can think a bit straighter on their turn. We have a rule that you can talk crap on your non-combat and collect income phase. After you collect income, you must do the following: whisper to your partner your next turn objective(s), shut up, go get everyone a beer that needs one, have a smoke if you have that habit, and then see what your partner is doing making any suggestiosn after they have made their combat moves prior to dice rolls. No purchase decisions are open for discussion. This tends to average about 2 hours per full round in 1940 Global for the first 3 turns then it speeds up quite a bit. Smoke breaks are coordinated for the smokers at the beginning of a round and that tends to get the table talk out of the way for us.


  • 2018 2017

    “Axis go together.  Then Russia”

    Mr. Jetset,

    This alters the game subtly, but dramatically.

    Germanys exact placement and purchase will usually reveal the overall axis plan.  If that plan is to crush Russia with Japan attacking the east, your turn method prevents the Russian player from “reading the offense” and reacting to your G2/J1(J4 general war) attack  (and similarly, prevents Japan reading the Russian defense because they go before them) because you have essentially given Japan the initiative over Russia, which the OOB turn order is designed to avoid.   This gives the axis an informational advantage which is pretty big on top of the overall ease of winning. Â

    It also prevents cross-dropping your planes (Japan landing on german captured territory).   If they go at the same time, even if you try to preserve some of the order here by implying that things only work one way Germany–->Japan, then Russia still cannot attempt to recapture your landing zones because they don’t get to go yet. Â

    this is pretty devastating when they do the Nemestia Gambit…



  • Hi taamvan,

    Yes.  It does subtly alter the game in profound ways.  But it is by no means all “Pro-Axis”.  (If you feel bored sometime, try giving the full Three-Turn Playing System and Enhanced Combat rules set a read)

    By having the Axis and Allied forces go in the same turn respectively and allowing them to attack together, you are eliminating:
     -  Can Openers.  No more gamy “one - two” punches.
     -  Eliminating Allied airplanes landing in your recently captured territories.

    Also, the Allied forces and “Russia” are now working together … but separately.  Allied and Russian forces cannot attack together.  And, Allied and Russian forces cannot occupy the same territory … so therefore, Allies can no longer attack Germany via Norway --> Finland --> Leningrad --> Poland.

    But, in general, the coordinated attacks tends to benefit the Allies more than the Axis.  This seems to counter-act the added initiative that the Axis have in the 1st turn.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @seancb:

    Table talk can get out of control sometimes. Generally we have found that limiting the amount of smack talk or “propaganda” directed at an opposing player cuts some of the time down because then the player can think a bit straighter on their turn. We have a rule that you can talk crap on your non-combat and collect income phase. After you collect income, you must do the following: whisper to your partner your next turn objective(s), shut up, go get everyone a beer that needs one, have a smoke if you have that habit, and then see what your partner is doing making any suggestiosn after they have made their combat moves prior to dice rolls. No purchase decisions are open for discussion. This tends to average about 2 hours per full round in 1940 Global for the first 3 turns then it speeds up quite a bit. Smoke breaks are coordinated for the smokers at the beginning of a round and that tends to get the table talk out of the way for us.

    Breaks combining tobacco use and propaganda / disinformation broadcasts could perhaps be called “smoke and mirrors” breaks.  🙂



  • @Der:

    Do you get what I’m talking about?

    I wonder if any of you that play face to face games use any house rules that limit open communication with your Allies, and if so how do you implement them?

    I was coming here to post the very same thing and instead find myself responding to your post.  My hardcore gamer friends refer to A&A as a “two-player” game for that very reason.  What usually happens is the two sides are played by committee, or worse, by the dominant player on each side.

    A few ideas:

    • Only allow written communication.  Require a roll to determine if a message makes it across the table or if it is intercepted.
    • Put a limit to the number of summits ie. closed strategy sessions
    • Eliminate table talk between allied powers

    Still only rough ideas but you get the point.  Playing by committee makes the game into a very tense, chess match and causes the game to become routine too quickly.  Having to make up for your ally’s bonehead move should be part of the fun of the game.


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    After discussing these issues with the veteran players in our group, we are going to implement the following house rules to address the table talk next week and see how it goes:

    The following player meetings are allowed and will be kept track of with a timer:

    1. 10 Minute Pre-planning - each team will get up to 10 minutes alone to plan their overall strategy at the beginning of each game.

    2. In-Game Meetings - each team can have only one 5 minute private meeting per game round to discuss strategy.

    3. Table talk limits - Constantly giving advice while a player is trying to complete his turn unduly lengthens the game. Historically, Allied nations in WWII did not talk to each other about where every ship and tank moved. For this reason, players will be charged 3 IPCs every time they advise or remind an ally who is actively trying to complete his turn. More mistakes may be made this way, but the game will go faster and the other side will make mistakes too, so it will even out. (Enemy players can help if they so choose.)

    These last two should already be known but are often not enforced in our group:

    1. Turn Phases - Game turns are divided into phases which are listed on each players reference card. You can do or redo any action you want within each phase of the turn in any order, but once the next phase of the turn is started, you cannot go back.

    2. Strategic and Combat movement - once dice are rolled to begin any battle, no more Strategic or Combat movement in that phase can be done. All movement must be done before any battles start in each phase.

    I mainly wanted to pinpoint the guy who is actively doing his turn with these rules. When someone is thinking through a turn and an ally says “How about doing this?” then that knocks him off of what he is doing and puts him thinking about what they want, which is what unduly lengthens the game. People can talk or whisper to each other all they want if they are not taking their turn - that doesn’t really bother me.



  • This is an interesting conversation. I’ve only played one game where there were multiple players so I haven’t experienced what you guys have.

    In that game, the US player was building forces as the Russian player was dealing with a German onslaught and he was getting pretty upset, just like the real thing.

    Personally, I’m only playing these games for sheer enjoyment, so if someone, even my best friends, started telling me what to do, not only wouldn’t I listen, but I’d most likely do the opposite, even if I temporarily suffered or lost the game. I’d consider anything more than a simple “I’m going to need help in the Med” an insult.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    I have been thinking about this off and on today.  It all comes down to, in my mind, that Stalin, Eisenhower and Churchill got together periodically for meetings.  How is that any different than Russia, England and the United States working together on a strategy?

    Now, maybe kibitzing on specific battles is a bit much, but I don’t think it is out of line.  You’re a team and I could see myself saying “dude, you really want to throw all those troops at Crete?  It’s just Crete man!” So I wouldn’t really have a problem with chatting at the table.

    Just my two IPC.  Take it, leave it, agree, disagree.  Not saying I am right! Don’t think I am wrong though.


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill’s meetings are represented by the 10 minute opening meeting and the 5 minute meeting every round. According to this site the three only got together three times during the whole war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_conferences

    As for the table talk sample you gave, at our table it would go more like this:

    Player 1: “dude, you really want to throw all those troops at Crete?”
    Player 2: “Yeah, because look over there, the USA could counterattack.”
    Player 1: “No they won’t with my submarines threatening them.”
    Player 3: “What you should do is use those on the East Front”
    Player 2: “But islands are hard to get back - Crete could pay off for several rounds.”
    Player 1: “But that won’t win the game for us.”
    Player 1: “OK take Crete, but use the bomber on Caucasus’ factory.”
    Player 3: “No way - what if it gets shot down? Italy doesn’t have money to replace it.”
    Player 1: “Seriously dude, just do this…” (Starts moving player all of player 2s pieces around) “See?”
    Player 2: “No, I don’t like that” (Moves all pieces back to where they were)
    Player 3: “Can we have the map for a few minutes?”

    It’s this type of tomfoolery I’d like to curb - in my solution players can advise each other all they want if they are not actively trying to complete a turn. I think that is reasonable. If you have something so all important to say to your teammate that it’s worth spending 3 IPCs, you can still do it. We’ll see if it works, I could be wrong also.

    I like the setting individual goals idea the most, but after thinking about it it seems too hard to implement. Each nation does not start out even. For example, Italy may have played a great game just keeping what they have with their small income, while Japan should be able to take a lot of land. How do you figure out who did better to declare individual winners? Seems complicated.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    So if you want to limit chat:

    Teams are allowed 20 minutes to kibitz between each other.

    Then orders are written down for all countries for major engagements (as defined as not territory trading, ie attacking with 50 infantry, 20 artillery, 10 armor is a major engagement; liberating a territory with 2 inf + fig is not)  and major actions cannot be altered.

    Adds a lot of fog of war too.


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    Points noted - thanks CJ!


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13

    @Der:

    Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill’s meetings are represented by the 10 minute opening meeting and the 5 minute meeting every round. According to this site the three only got together three times during the whole war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_conferences

    As for the table talk sample you gave, at our table it would go more like this:

    Player 1: “dude, you really want to throw all those troops at Crete?”
    Player 2: “Yeah, because look over there, the USA could counterattack.”
    Player 1: “No they won’t with my submarines threatening them.”
    Player 3: “What you should do is use those on the East Front”
    Player 2: “But islands are hard to get back - Crete could pay off for several rounds.”
    Player 1: “But that won’t win the game for us.”
    Player 1: “OK take Crete, but use the bomber on Caucasus’ factory.”
    Player 3: “No way - what if it gets shot down? Italy doesn’t have money to replace it.”
    Player 1: “Seriously dude, just do this…” (Starts moving player all of player 2s pieces around) “See?”
    Player 2: “No, I don’t like that” (Moves all pieces back to where they were)
    Player 3: “Can we have the map for a few minutes?”

    It’s this type of tomfoolery I’d like to curb - in my solution players can advise each other all they want if they are not actively trying to complete a turn. I think that is reasonable. If you have something so all important to say to your teammate that it’s worth spending 3 IPCs, you can still do it. We’ll see if it works, I could be wrong also.

    I like the setting individual goals idea the most, but after thinking about it it seems too hard to implement. Each nation does not start out even. For example, Italy may have played a great game just keeping what they have with their small income, while Japan should be able to take a lot of land. How do you figure out who did better to declare individual winners? Seems complicated.

    Yes, this does happen over table and in team meetings !  :lol: :lol: :lol:

    We do have little talks over table if somebody needs to ask what you or him want to do if its like when US and UK are playing split sides and Germany Italy.

    We do have team meetings after every turn for 5 to 10 mins if sides request it.

    Last game was really good and we had more team meetings than was expected. But guys want that and get it.  😉


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