AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress) [House Rules]


  • 2020 2019 2018

    Yo.

    Apologies for not being active lately, Christmas season was extremely busy in my line of work, so I had to put A&A on hold to juggle work/family (as I’m sure most of you had to do as well).

    Anyway, I finally got my hands on AAZ, undeniably the most controversial game that the franchise has ever seen, and I would like to take the next few days to share my thoughts on it.

    To anyone reading this, know that I was originally supportive of this game in the face of the massive backlash it received from the community when it was originally unveiled a few months ago. I’m not bringing this up to re-fight any flame wars. I just want to make it clear that if I end up criticizing or disliking this game it is not because I believe that “Wizards of the Coast ruined my childhood” or “They made fun of veterans” or whatever. Some people have those opinions and that’s fine, but I’m going to look at this game from a more objective standpoint (or at lease from as objective of an standpoint as an opinion about a dice-rolling abstract wargame can be).

    Anyway, this is my first post of 3 on this topic, a quick discussion of the components of the game. I’ll try to be brief, as components are relatively unimportant to me in these games (I own almost every edition of A&A at this point, and I just kind of keep all my unit sculpts, dice, etc. together in one massive collection). However, most members of this community highly value the sculpts that come in these games (for customization purposes, historical reasons, or otherwise), so I am going to take the time to address the quality of the product.

    The Units themselves aren’t much to write home about. They’re just reprints of sculpts from other games (1942SE and possibly G40 I think, but I’m not an expert on this so someone correct me if I’m wrong). Other people can detail this much better than I. One odd note is that my British Units came out a darker shade of tan than I’m used to seeing. Not sure if that was a printing error or if it was intentional.

    The Zombie units look fine. Their color being pale is probably why the British Units were made a darker shade. They’re relatively generic-looking too, which is a bonus if you want to use the sculpts in other games (HBG Global War, house rules for your G40 setup, etc.) as Partisan/Resistance/Civilian Units. I certainly plan on doing so.

    I was disappointed to see that they cheaped out and didn’t print Industrial Complexes/AA Guns, but we are finally seeing the triumphant return of Paper Money to the A&A Series, so I’ll take what I can get on this front.

    Anyway, on to the last bit for this part, the map.

    The map quality was honestly my biggest fear coming into this edition of A&A. One of the first things we learned about AAZ is that it was going to be targeting mass audiences (simpler ruleset, 40 USD price tag, zombies added for flavor, etc.). The last edition of A&A that “targeted mass audiences” was 1941, which has the most abysmal map quality in the franchise bar none (except maybe the Nova Games version but honestly that doesn’t count). My obvious fear is that the map for this game would be hopelessly scrunched on an impossibly small board, making the game virtually unplayable.

    I’m glad to report that I was wrong to be afraid on this point. The map isn’t perfect, but they’re pitfalls that most A&A games fall in to (lots of dead space in the ocean, Africa is too big, Russian chokepoints like West Russia and Ukraine are too small, etc.). The territories on the map are easy to distinguish from one another, and where one country’s territory ends and another’s begins is clear. This is due to the stylistic change they made with regards to the map design. The territories are no longer given the “terrain” style they’ve had since AA50 (which featured in AA50, 41, 42, 42SE, and G40), but are given sharp colors (more akin to what was in Classic, Revised, and 1914). In my opinion, this is an improvement, as my play group and I had difficulty distinguishing territories from one another when attempting to setup games with the former style for the first time.

    The clutter of the board is not that bad, as the board was made reasonably large. Still, the map is not fantastic. It’s pretty small, and suffers from the clutter issues I mentioned previously. Because of this, I’d put AAZ’s components quality somewhere in the middle, better than abominations like 41 and 42 First Edition, on-par with the likes of 42SE and Revised, but below masterpieces like AA50 and G40. Yes, I called the maps of AA50 and G40 masterpieces. Regardless of my opinions on the art style of the map, AA50 and G40 have well-crafted maps that are big enough to actually play the game on, even if you need a special table for it in most cases. Is it fair to compare the quality of the components of AAZ, a game that retails for 40 USD, to games that retail for over 100? Probably not, but I did it anyway.

    I would also like to address the design and structure of the map from a gameplay/balance perspective and compare it to other games in the franchise, but I’ll cover that more in a later part (or an entirely separate topic).

    Stay tuned for part 2, where I post a review of the gameplay of this edition. I’m going to be meeting with my group tonight to play a game with Zombies enabled. My feedback will address the overall “feel” of the game, and whether I believe the Zombies actually have anything worthwhile to contribute to the series. That part will be out tomorrow probably. Thursday at the latest.

    Part 3 I will upload later this week, and will cover a solitaire run or two I plan on completing after my initial play with others. I’ll be aiming to compare how this game runs with and without the Zombie Mechanic, to see if this game as a whole has anything worthwhile to contribute to the series. As a bonus, I’ll also be trying the “introductory scenario” that is in the rulebook. I haven’t reviewed it yet, but the concept of a 1939 start date is probably the single thing I was most excited for in this game, tutorial or otherwise.

    If you actually read all this, way to go.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve picked up a couple copies and poked at the pieces some, but until last week I was too busy to do anything with it. Looking forward to fixing that sometime soon.

    On the sculpt front, in my opinion they reused the sculpts from the Anniversary Edition reprint to make these pieces - excepting that they didn’t mold any cruisers, obviously. Which has pluses and minuses, depending on how you see it. I think the British pieces were darker in Zombies than they were my copy of the Anniversary reprint, for what that’s worth. I did a post on BGG about exactly what the new sculpts were based on, if people care to check for exactly what that means.

    I look forward to your other posts.

    -Midnight_Reaper


  • 2020 2019 2018

    DISCLAIMER: THIS POST WAS MADE GIVEN MY PLAYGROUP’S UNDERSTANDING OF THE RULES OF AAZ. IF ANY OF THIS INFORMATION IS FACTUALLY INCORRECT PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP SO I CAN CORRECT IT. THANK YOU

    Yo (again),

    Last night’s game was certainly an interesting experience, but it wrapped up far too late for me to write something immediately, so here I am now.

    This is my second post of 3 I’ll be making on this topic, where I’ll cover Axis & Allies & Zombies from a gameplay perspective. I played this game the way I believed it was “”“meant”"" to be played by the designers (in a 5-player game with Zombies, the Zombie Cards, and the “Desperate Measures” features of the Zombie Cards (and technology, by extension) all enabled ). The intention here is not to evaluate balance necessarily (that’s certainly not something that can be determined from just one game anyway), but to get a “feel” for how the new game plays compared to other A&A titles. This is about fun-factor and play-ability for now, not necessarily design quality and game balance (although I may end up lightly touching on those points in this post).

    One thing that bores me to tears when reading reviews of other board games is that the reviewer tends to attempt to explain the rules of the game to the reader. There are other posts and resources explaining how to play AAZ in varying levels of detail on this site, so I would direct any reader who is new to this game (or to Axis & Allies as a whole) to seek out those posts/resources.

    However, I will explain the changes to this version in high-level details, to be fair to those of you who are like I was and have not played AAZ yet. Out of politeness, I am also going to mark where the rule-dump begins/ends, so you can get through this post faster if you’re already up-to-snuff on how Zombies work:

    ZOMBIE EXPLANATION START

    • Core Rule Set (unit set, costs, stats, etc.) is based on AA50. That being said, there are a few differences.

    • No Cruisers or AA Guns.

    • No SBRs.

    • You can no longer use an ally’s TT or CV for your land units or FTRs.

    • You buy/place units at the end of your turn, meaning you can better adapt your purchases based on how the turn went. This has strategic implications I’ll go into more in part 3, so stay tuned.

    Zombies exist:

    • Spawn every time an INF dies (1 INF -> 1 Zombies, 2 INF -> 2 Zombies, etc.)

    • Spawn whenever directed to by a “Zombie Card” (more on those below).

    • If only Zombies exist in a territory, that territory loses its IPC value (and the Zombies “gain” its IPC value, more on that below).

    • If Zombie-Controlled territory (they even have their own roundels, printed on the back of the normal ones) reaches 25 IPC, the game ends and “the team with the highest IPC value wins”. This effectively means the Allies win, given the huge discrepancy in starting IPC values.

    • Players can coexist with Zombie-Units in their territory or attempt to remove them (ask me if you need more details on this, the rules are a bit complex and I’d be here a while trying to explain it. Better yet, ask Panther or one of the other “rules guys”, as I’m liable to give you incorrect information).

    • Zombies get a post-shot at the occupiers of any territory they exist in at the start of a turn. The controlling player doesn’t get to fire back.

    • During combat in a territory where Zombies exist, all 6-rolls kill a Zombie, whether you want to or not.

    • Also during combat, Zombies mindlessly attack at the start of every round of combat. The Zombies have their own special dice, but the breakdown of their attack is as follows:

    • Roll 1 die per-zombie.

    • 1 - Kill Defending Land Unit.

    • 2,3 - Kill Attacking Land Unit.

    • 4-6 - Miss.
      (Killed units are taken as casualties, but still get to fire for the combat round).

    • After combat, if the attacker won, they may stay and continue fighting the zombies in an attempt to wipe them out before they can potentially become a problem later.

    ZOMBIE EXPLANATION END

    I apologize again for explaining all of that. Hopefully someone finds it useful.

    Anyway, regarding the core gameplay changes, I’m sad to see AA Guns and SBRs go. The AA in particular was an extremely important unit for defense, but there are barely any air units in the starting setup so I guess I can let it slide (the rules for AA Guns were always a bit nebulous anyway, the changes they made in G40 only made them more nebulous, in my opinion).

    I feel that they could have simply reverted to the old SBR rules from Classic/Revised (direct IPC Damage instead of “damaging facilities”) if they wanted to “simplify the A&A experience” or whatever Wizards was thinking (also; if they wanted to “simplify” things why did they make the Zombie rules so bloody complicated?).

    I couldn’t care less about Cruisers though. Easily the most useless unit in all of A&A. Even the Battleship is a better purchase because at least it can soak up a hit.

    The changes regarding sharing transports/carriers were just to clear up clutter in the rulebook, I think. This is fair, and I couldn’t spy any openings for either side where the rule would have helped if it still existed.

    Again, I’ll hold off on commenting on the “purchase/mobilize units” changes until part 3.

    I’m going to review the gameplay factor by briefly stepping through the game I played with my group last night. I’ll explain my thoughts as we go along, with a conclusion at the end. No, I do not have exact unit movements recorded. I figured there’d be no point in that, because:

    • It was everyone’s first time playing the new game.

    • There are huge gaps in player-skill in our group. Some players are competent, but others simply do not make moves that would be considered acceptable by most of the players on this site.

    • This post is already getting a bit long the way it is.

    Anyway, with that in mind, let’s dive in, shall we?
    R1:
    For starters, this map and setup are more-or-less based on 41, but with a few changes:

    • IPC Values are buffed across the board.

    • “Eastern Europe” has been split into “Eastern Europe” and “Balkans” to make the game feel more like Revised/42SE.

    • “North China” has been split into two territories, the names of which I can’t recall. One is basically Sinkiang from Revised/AA50, a final barrier between China and Russia. The other is a buffer zone between the “Sinkiang-esque” territory and Japanese holdings.

    • India and the “Sinkiang-esque” territory have special Industrial Complexes that can only build INF. I’ll talk about these more in part 3 but I wanted to note them here.

    • A few extra SZs have been thrown about. US still can’t make it to UK in one move, which makes land bridges slower. The US and Japan can both make it to the Solomon Islands SZ in one move, which makes the prospect of setting up the USN difficult, given the huge disparity in starting forces.

    • The setup is pretty close to 41 from what I remember, but Russia seems a bit stronger and Germany a bit weaker. This is probably to address the fact that OOB 41 was basically unwinnable for the Allies.

    Anyway, on to the Soviet Player’s turn.

    The first “Zombie Card” of the game went to FIC. One Zombie was more-or-less ineffective for the time being. We had a good laugh at the Soviet Player’s expense, as they were clearly not going to be able to kill 3 Zombies this turn to get their tech roll.

    In a normal play for this scale game, the Russians hit Ukraine and West Russia with basically everything, leaving a blocker in Karelia (No IC there in this map). West Russia went well for them, but after 3 rounds of mediocre rolling on both sides in Ukraine the Soviets had to retreat. They bought 2 INF/2 ART, typical stuff.

    Even at this early point, one of the nuances of this edition of A&A became very clear to us…

    …The Zombies weren’t going to make land easy to hold. 4 Zombies were left behind in Ukraine due to the INF casualties. In a normal game, the surviving TANK would be in good shape to be reinforced by the other German starting units, and Germany would be on-track to securing a huge advantage due to the failed Russian attack. But in this game, things were different. In this game, Zombies were a thing.

    G1: I was the German Player
    And a thing they were… I didn’t even get to make my move before my TANK was killed off by Zombies, and my IPC value dipped. The Zombie of the turn took out Mexico, which immediately hurt the US Player’s income (no units start in Mexico). This prompted a few jokes, none of which I can share for obvious reasons.

    I got a free roll on the tech chart for my troubles, and wound up with the “Zombie Mind Control Ray.” It moves Zombies in territory I control during NCM, but I never got a chance to use it.

    Anyway, being the Germany player, I was immediately faced with two options:

    1. Attempt to retake Ukraine and establish a stack (…that would be perilously in-range of the West Russia Stack + Caucasus reinforcements)

    2. Hold the line.

    After thinking back to the discussions I’ve had regarding the Zombie mechanics before the game launched, I thought of a more sinister plan…

    1. Strafe West Russia until all of my INF die, leaving a mass of Zombies on Stalin’s front-porch.

    Perfect.

    To add insult to injury, I sailed 2 INF on a TT from Italy to Egypt on a suicide mission. The idea was to let Zombies pile up in hard-to-break territories and force the defenders out, then swoop in after the defenders die to get easy kills on the zombies. This turned out to be half of a good idea, but retaking Zombie-held land proved more difficult than I anticipated.

    Naval combat is the same as ever in this game, so I wiped out the entire Royal Navy G1, even the Canadians. I lost most of my subs doing this though due to lucky die-rolling on the UK’s part.

    I bought a mix of land units and passed play to UK.

    UK1:
    Sweden has joined the game
    That’s right. The Zombie card for the UK Turn spawned a Zombie in Sweden, meaning they join the war and the Zombies gain more IPC Value.

    The existing Zombies had a good run this turn. FIC Zombie got a hit, and the West Russia Zombies got 2, reducing the Soviet stack to 6 INF (the Soviet Player took non-INF units out first to try to slow the rate of new Zombie).

    The UK Player quickly picked up on my tactic, and strafed the poor Japanese position in FIC just to kill their own INF and the surviving Japanese INF. Other than that, they weren’t able to do much except destroy the Japanese fleet off FIC (to establish a blocker for India) and pick off the German Battleship with the RAF. They blew all their money on INF for India and the beginning of a new fleet.

    The tactic of indirectly crippling the enemy with the Zombies was proving powerful.

    J1:
    This turn’s card saw a Zombie show up in Finland-Norway, and with no starting German TT in the Baltic, the two units I had there were basically sentenced to death. Japan was also able to convert a Zombie in FIC into 3 IPC, which was helpful, but too little too late to save the territory.

    The Zombie rolls continued, spelling doom for FIC and taking a bite out of the forces in Egypt and West Russia. The main Russian army was down to 5 INF at this point, looking great for my Germans.

    The Soviet Player made the common mistake of stacking Siberia (literally called “Siberia” in this game instead of “Buryatia” like it usually is). The Japan player attempted to exploit this by landing in-force. Other than that, they committed to a China-centric attack while also dumping INF on the beaches of the Philippines to die intentionally (and so further damage the US economy).

    Japan’s attacks in China went well, and they even stayed to ensure that the Zombies were cleared out afterwards. Sadly, Siberia did not go as smoothly. Only a TANK/ART/2 FTR remained after the Soviets (and Zombies) dished out some strong rolls during the battle. That means 6 Zombies (originally 7 but one died during the battle due to someone rolling a “6”) were set to prey on the TANK/ART that were left behind. Japan’s economy had been severely crippled due to the player’s bad decision to not retake FIC from the Zombies, but position-wise they were in good shape. The UK Pacific Fleet was 100% destroyed, there were no Soviet Forces in the East, and the main Japanese army was one move away from seizing the Chinese “INF-only IC”.

    A1:
    The Americans flipped over the next Zombie Card, which brought a Zombie to Australia. It also would have allowed the yanks to grab a tech if they killed enough Zombies this turn, but they were in no position to do so.

    Zombie Rolls were merciful this turn, but an incredibly lucky roll killed one of the INF in Norway-Finland, meaning only 1 INF was left to deal with 2 Zombies.

    The US started the process of cleaning up the Atlantic, but other than that they just amassed their forces and prepared for the rest of the game. They didn’t bother to retake Mexico, and led the Chinese on a suicidal march into Japanese China, successfully spawning a Zombie. Not a bad play.

    R2:
    “Why am I commenting on the entire game?” You’ll understand soon enough…

    The Zombies continued, this time arriving in the Balkans. Fortunately, my main stack was there, and the Zombie wasn’t able to get a kill. However, Siberia fell to the Zombies, leaving Japan in a rough position. Meanwhile, the last remnants of the mighty Red Army died in West Russia before the Russia Player could even begin their turn, leaving them in a rough spot with basically no army.

    Resigned to their fate, the Soviets sent a lone INF from Karelia into Eastern Europe, desperate to cause a diversion with a Zombie. To everyone’s surprise, the lone INF beat the INF blocker I had in-place there, completely cutting off my planned Tank Blitz into Karelia.

    Now relatively safe, the Soviets sent the rest of their standing army into China to hold the INF-IC, and built as many units as they could manage.

    G2:
    I now faced a position that I believe the developers intended. The Soviet Army was totally crushed and defeated. but a White Wall of Zombies stood between me and victory. The Zombie Card dumped a Zombie into Borneo, threatening the UK Economy. My objective card was to kill 3 Zombies for a tech, which I barely failed.

    The Attrition Rolls this turn were brutal. Norway-Finland died, Australia lost an INF (leaving a Tank to deal with the Zombies), Borneo fell to the new Zombie, Japan’s Chinese territory lost an INF to the Zombies, and Egypt was reduced to just 1 FTR (and 4 Zombies).

    Figuring that Egypt was crippled, I decided to go for the kill on the FTR, and marched my troops in. I was ultimately horrified to learn that the Zombies were already more than I can handle, and my 2 TANK/FTR were all wiped out in the process of killing the UK FTR. That means Zombies ruled the day in Egypt.

    Meanwhile, I cleaned up the Balkans and retook East Europe. Next turn, my death stack would be ready to hit Karelia, and from there my path to victory, around the Zombies, would be clear.

    B2:
    The UK got a truly terrifying “Desperate Measures” Zombie Card this turn:
    “Choose a Zombie-Controlled Territory. Move half of the Zombies from that territory to an adjacent territory.”

    4 of the 7 Zombies from Siberia were now in Manchuria (which was unoccupied), and Japan’s economy took a nose-dive. Scary stuff.

    Attrition rolls were ineffective this turn, but the threat of losing Australia made the UK’s turn uneventful anyway, as they were delegated to cleaning up Australia, flying a FTR to Philippines, and stacking India. The Royal Navy was finally established, which threatened to liberate Europe in the coming turn…

    J2:
    Japan didn’t have much to offer this turn. Their Zombie Card took out New Guinea, and attrition rolls did nothing.

    The Japanese Player attempted three objectives this turn, and failed all of them spectacularly:

    1. Finish off the Chinese (2 INF/ART/2 FTR Vs. 2 INF/ART/FTR) - Result - All defenders destroyed, but no surviving attacking land units (Zombies Win, 4 Zombies on territory), Japan retreats 2 FTRs to Kwangtung (“Coastal China”)

    2. Reclaim Manchuria from the Zombies - Result - A landing with 4 INF was attempted, but horrendous die-rolling saw the 4 Zombies roll 4 “As”, killing the entire Japanese landing party and leaving Manchuria in the hands of 8 Zombies.

    3. Seize the Philippines from the weakened defenders - Result - 1 INF/1 TANK/3 FTR + Bombardment Vs. 1 FTR Vs. 3 Zombies somehow resulted in all of the land units, the British FTR and one of the Japanese FTRs dying. Attempts to strafe the Zombies failed spectacularly. 4 Zombies now lived in the Philippines due to not a single “6” being rolled.

    The critical mistake here was that the Japan Player forgot that Zombies can’t hit air units. Let me elaborate a bit:

    The Japanese player whiffed the bombardment and lost an INF to the Zombies. They got their hit on the UK FTR and the UK FTR got a hit back, killing a JPN FTR. Knowing that 1 TANK would likely not survive a full round of Zombie Attrition, the Japan Player tried to stay and fight the Zombies. Immediately, the Zombies rolled an “A” on their combat round. The Japan Player wanted to take a FTR as a casualty, but were reminded that Zombies can’t hit planes. Thus, the poor lad had to take his last land unit as a casualty, resulting in the Philippines going Zombie.

    A2:
    The USA Player laughed at our misfortune, as the game was already over.

    “But how?” You may be wondering.
    Two Words. Zombie. Apocalypse.

    Yes, the alternate win condition that was mostly written off by my play group game into effect, ending the game in the Allies’ favor (their IPC count, naturally, greatly exceeded the Axis). 25 IPCs were really gone in just two rounds.

    WINNER - ALLIES

    So that was a game of AAZ. Our total playtime was about 2 and a half hours, and that includes the time it took to setup and review the new rules with everyone.

    Honestly, everyone in my playgroup had a blast playing it. The Zombies add a chaotic factor to the game that is not normally present, and the quick result was greatly appreciated, even if it was probably a symptom of everyone’s unfamiliarity with the Zombie Mechanic.

    However, I did find that the Zombie Cards added a degree of luck to the game that makes the thought of playing it competitively laughable. Our game was basically decided for us when the UK Player Top-Decked a card that transferred a horde of Zombies into Manchuria, which spelled disaster for Japan and triggered the “Zombie Apocalypse”.

    Disclaimer (again): This bit on the zombies is based on how our group interpreted the rules. If I’m wrong on something please let me know ASAP so I can fix this. I do not want to have misinformation taint my image of the game

    I also found that the attrition rolls for the Zombies consume a disproportionate amount of time that could better be spent playing. This could be sped up by just making the Zombies stronger during the attrition phase or by removing the attrition phase outright. I’ll give the attrition phase a pass though, because it was hilarious making people roll to see whether their troops would randomly keel over and die to the Zombies. Watching the invincible West Russia INF Stack, an icon of the series in my opinion, melt into nothing over the course of a round was extremely satisfying to watch.

    If anything, it was way too hard to actually get rid of the pests. You have to roll a 6 to kill one Zombie (except in the case of spillover casualties, which are suffered by the Zombies). This means that, barring the one round of combat where you get spillover hits, you have the same odds of hitting the zombies as they have of hitting you. This makes attempting to seize Zombie-Controlled land effectively impossible unless you are bringing armies with 0 INF to clean-up, which becomes cost-ineffective when the enemy is just going to use the Zombie Stack as a Dead-Zone and kill your army for free once you’ve removed the Zombies for them.

    All-in-All though, this game was great to play with friends who weren’t taking things seriously. Highly recommended for a late-night activity, for when there’s simply not enough time to play a larger A&A Game, or even for a time where everyone’s not quite in the mood for ultra-serious gameplay.

    That being said, this game in its base form has no business being anywhere near a competition, and I hope that this game is not seen at Gen Con, Origins, WBC, etc., lest the reputation of the franchise as a competitive strategy game be damaged. At the bare minimum, the Zombie Cards cannot and should not be used in a tournament, and the “Zombie Apocalypse” victory condition should result in a draw rather than what is essentially a free win for the Allies. In its current state, the “Zombie Apocalypse” encourages suicidal play by the Allies to drown the Axis in Zombies and rush to 25 Zombie IPCs before the Axis can even have a prayer of reaching Moscow.

    I mean, just look at the starting IPC values:
    Allies: 68
    USSR - 14
    UK - 22
    USA - 32

    Axis: 38
    Germany - 23
    Japan - 15

    That’s a 30 IPC difference (15 IPC swing). Yes, Japan will hopefully nab at least Philippines, Borneo and 2 Chinese territories (6 IPC Swing) J1, but the Soviets will trade West Russia and Ukraine (4 IPC total) for Karelia and Egypt (3 IPC total) between R1 and G1, which is an overall 1 IPC swing back to the Allies. That means the Axis only make up 5 IPC of the 15 they need to close the gap round 1, and that’s before factoring in territories that might arbitrarily fall to an inconveniently timed Zombie Card.

    My point in explaining the IPC gap between the powers is to illustrate how easy it is for the Allies to win by forcing the Zombie Win Condition. Just march tons of INF into the Meatgrinder on the Eastern front and create a wall of Zombies. That effectively secures Moscow, as the Russians can easily punish any German Attempt at taking the clay by throwing more INF in their face and letting the Zombies do the rest. Japan is in a safer position to expand, but similar tactics can be used to slow them down by drowning FIC and the Chinese territories in Zombies. The Islands are probably a safe bet, but if the initial Zombies can’t be scrubbed from the islands quickly it will prove impossible for Japan to expand its income beyond its miserable starting value.

    So that’s it. The game’s a blast for a fun time with friends, but competitively it’s a bloody mess. Stay tuned for part 3, which is a bit of a bonus part, where I’ll try the interesting experiment of playing this game Zombie-Free. I’ll also be running through the 1939 Scenario, which is an overly-glorified tutorial where Germany crushes Poland, France, etc., to see if has anything exciting to bring to the plate. Finally, I’ll share my thoughts on AAZ as a whole, and what elements of it I’d like to see in future A&A Installments.

    If you actually read all this, way to go.
    If you actually read this and the last part, double way to go.



  • Yes, I am concerned about the idea that the allies are best served by intentionally giving up the world to the zombies. It’d be interesting to see how much strategies would change if both Axis and Allies tried to avoid the apocalypse


  • 2018 2017

    At least as I understand the rules, the zombies don’t take territory instantaneously, they only take it if they are present, alone, during that step of the next players turn. This is a check on every player turn, for every province. It seems odd that it is possible for you to reach the 25 total IPC so quickly, unless you were converting territories immediately. I think our highest by turn 4 was 12-15, and it consistently falls because there are rewards for clearing zombie held territory on the cards.

    In general, your review agrees with my experience; income tends to fall over the course of the game, the Axis have disproportionately little income, and with a solid opener to strip away key territory, they have even less. The USA isn’t really hindered by the zombies, since they appear the in the backfield, without the combined threat of also being near Axis pieces. Japan can easily lose the continental territories, if that happens they have 7 income. Taking moscow would appear to be pretty much impossible, last game, I attacked for one round, created 14 zombies, and withdrew. The zombie dynamic isn’t that they are particularly difficult to destroy, its that they are very risky to attack, which goes against the standard take/crush/push dynamic of Risk and AxA–a conservative strategy from game start might lack any goals except survival for several teams.

    It can still be a fun game, but luck (the zombie camo and zombie move cards are very important, the techs really aren’t–they’re mostly for clearing out the later game developments) plays a bigger role than ever, and I don’t really understand why Japan has been left with not much else besides a fleet it cannot lose or add much to.



  • You asked so…

    -It looks as if you interpreted two rules incorrectly which may have altered the outcome of the game significantly.

    1)“Zombie attrition” Zombies only attack the territories of whoever’s turn it is. Looks like you had,for example, zombies attack norway every player turn, when it should have only happened on the german player’s turn.

    2)Zombies always die on a regular hit plus the zombie special hit. IE an infantry can kill a zombie on a 1 or skull on any combat round if there is only zombies left, not just during the “spillover” round.

    Playing another game with those corrections I’m sure you’ll find zombies easier to deal with, though still problematic.


    -Other comments:

    Based on my data point of 1 game so far where, short version, germany successfully conquered moscow and won…

    Japan
    -I agree Japan seems to be in an odd spot. Its fairly hampered by a number of things.
    -1941 setup but Russia+Britain goes first…
    -Somewhat lacking in units in asia, and with average luck on the russia/UK turns it’s only Asian territory will be just coastal china before it even has a turn, cutting off a lot of income. If it doesnt reinforce china it can lose it as well the american turn.
    -Can only really influence the game by doing the tired siberian express as it’s historical objectives don’t matter much.

    apocalypse
    -I agree its a case of “simple does not equal good”. It might as well be called “alternative allied victory condition”

    Zombie warfare
    I think indirectly screwing over your opponents with zombies is the most fun/novel thing about this new iteration. A lot of unique strategies present themselves.


    Current overall impressions:
    Concept is great, zombies do add a unique and fun dimension to the game, but another pass at balancing the rules needed to be done and the game is somewhat let down due to that.

    Short term, I’ll be houseruling my version to include victory cities so that Japan can achieve an axis win by completing the India/Australia/Hawaii triangle of influence. I’ll be keeping an eye out for slight changes in setup as well. I feel for Japan to be relevant against aggressive allied play their turn either needs to be changed to go first, or for a little extra units to be added in setup.(An 1-2 inf/art in asia and maybe a sub in the pacific would probably be all they need though).


  • 2019 2018 2017

    @DoManMacgee

    Overall an interesting post. I look forward to reading your next missive. I just want to point out one thing…

    ZOMBIE EXPLANATION START


    • If only Zombies exist in a territory, that territory loses its IPC value (and the Zombies “gain” its IPC value, more on that below).

    There is a special case: when a territory that is overrun with zombies (has only zombies in the territory) is also home to an Industrial Complex (such as Germany or the Eastern US), the zombies don’t take over until there are more zombies in the territory than it’s worth. (e.g. The Eastern US is worth 8 IPCs - if there are no units other than zombies in the territory, that territory is still controlled by its last owning power (normally the US) until such time as the zombies there total 9 or more.)

    Just a small nit, but there to be picked all the same.

    -Midnight_Reaper


  • 2020 2019 2018

    No Part 3 today. Ran into some trouble at work so I did not have time to play out my solitaire rounds. I’ll probably get around to it over the weekend and have the post ready Monday (or Wednesday if New Year’s gets too busy).

    However, it looks like a few people have helped out and clarified some rules for me. Thanks!

    @taamvan said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    At least as I understand the rules, the zombies don’t take territory instantaneously, they only take it if they are present, alone, during that step of the next players turn. This is a check on every player turn, for every province. It seems odd that it is possible for you to reach the 25 total IPC so quickly, unless you were converting territories immediately. I think our highest by turn 4 was 12-15, and it consistently falls because there are rewards for clearing zombie held territory on the cards.

    This is one of the things we seem to have misunderstood. Thanks.

    The reason the Zombies spread so quickly, in my opinion, is due to this being everyone’s first time playing. No one really put in much effort to stamp out Zombies after they’d taken territories (The USSR and Germany used the Zombie-Occupied Territories to dead-zone each other, Japan tried but failed, and the US/UK were actively trying to trigger the Zombie Apocalypse to cheese out an easy win for the Allies.

    @Striker said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    You asked so…

    -It looks as if you interpreted two rules incorrectly which may have altered the outcome of the game significantly.

    **> 1)“Zombie attrition” Zombies only attack the territories of whoever’s turn it is. Looks like you had,for example, zombies attack norway every player turn, when it should have only happened on the german player’s turn.

    2)Zombies always die on a regular hit plus the zombie special hit. IE an infantry can kill a zombie on a 1 or skull on any combat round if there is only zombies left, not just during the “spillover” round.**

    Playing another game with those corrections I’m sure you’ll find zombies easier to deal with, though still problematic.


    These are huge points that probably would have allowed the game to continue longer than it actually did. Thanks for clarifying these. The first point is particularly impactful, as the Soviet stack in West Russia certainly would have survived for far longer than it did in our game. Thanks for clarifying!

    @Midnight_Reaper said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    @DoManMacgee

    Overall an interesting post. I look forward to reading your next missive. I just want to point out one thing…

    ZOMBIE EXPLANATION START


    • If only Zombies exist in a territory, that territory loses its IPC value (and the Zombies “gain” its IPC value, more on that below).

    There is a special case: when a territory that is overrun with zombies (has only zombies in the territory) is also home to an Industrial Complex (such as Germany or the Eastern US), the zombies don’t take over until there are more zombies in the territory than it’s worth. (e.g. The Eastern US is worth 8 IPCs - if there are no units other than zombies in the territory, that territory is still controlled by its last owning power (normally the US) until such time as the zombies there total 9 or more.)

    Just a small nit, but there to be picked all the same.

    -Midnight_Reaper

    We did not realize this was a rule, but it so happens that the only territories where this applied were Australia and the Chinese INF-IC. Both of these happened to be overrun with enough zombies that the occupation would have triggered anyway. Will definitely keep this rule in mind going forward, though.

    With these points in mind, I may have to play another round with Zombies enabled to see what kind of difference it makes. I believe the outcome will still be the same (Axis are virtually unable to catch up to the Allies’ IPC Income before drowning in Zombies), but the longer game (due to less Zombie Attrition) will give both sides more chances.


  • 2020 2019 2018

    Now to reply to other comments that weren’t just rules clarifications:

    @taamvan said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):
    The zombie dynamic isn’t that they are particularly difficult to destroy, its that they are very risky to attack, which goes against the standard take/crush/push dynamic of Risk and AxA–a conservative strategy from game start might lack any goals except survival for several teams.

    I don’t see this as a bad thing per-se, as A&A prides itself on forcing the Attacker to choose the right time to attack. The issue is that, due to the starting income gap, the Axis need to take the initiative to have a chance at winning, but the turn order (and the 3v2 element, not sure why they couldn’t sneak Italy into the game as a gimped power) explicitly gives the Allies the initiative at all times. This means that the larger Zombie Stacks caused by battle casualties will almost always be on Axis Property rather than Allied.

    It can still be a fun game, but luck (the zombie camo and zombie move cards are very important, the techs really aren’t–they’re mostly for clearing out the later game developments) plays a bigger role than ever, and I don’t really understand why Japan has been left with not much else besides a fleet it cannot lose or add much to.

    Your point on the luck being too important is what I agree with the most here. That’s why one of the experiments I’m going to try running is playing the game with the Zombie Deck removed altogether.

    Japan’s situation is extremely challenging to be sure. After watching my teammate try/botch a mainland push, I’m convinced the main road forward for Japan is either an India Crush (the entire UK Pacific Fleet can be wiped out J1 unless they retreat to Australia B1) or a rush on the “money island” (as much as a 2 IPC Philippines, 2 IPC Borneo and 2 IPC DEI counts as “money”). From the income values, I’m convinced that the developers intended Japan to go the island hopping route, probably for historical purposes.

    On that note, not being able to construct Factories is a interesting take on solving the problem of the infamous “Japanese Tank Drive to Moscow”. However, not having this option available makes Japan’s strategy static and predictable (Transport-Heavy Navy). This would be fine, except the lower income across the board makes this strategy terrible, as Japan can barely afford to pump out fresh troops to fill its transports, let alone expand its fleet to deal with the Americans.

    I’ll try brainstorming some openings at some point. Personally I find the challenge of playing Japan in this version alluring. Maybe I’m just a masochist though…


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @vonLettowVorbeck1915 said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    It’d be interesting to see how much strategies would change if both Axis and Allies tried to avoid the apocalypse

    Having the Apocalypse result in a draw makes more sense to me than the current rules. I’ll try that during one of my solitaire games (play group would just take the idea as me being sore over our last result, haha).


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @Striker said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    -Other comments:

    Based on my data point of 1 game so far where, short version, germany successfully conquered moscow and won…

    I feel like I would have achieved a similar result in my game had we gotten the rules straight. The Soviets overextended by failing their Ukraine attack R1 and I think that if I strafed West Russia a second time the Soviets would have had their army reduced to basically nothing. For reference, I still had basically all of the starting German Tanks/Artillery still on the board when the game ended (except for the ones from Ukraine/West Russia, obviously).

    Japan
    -I agree Japan seems to be in an odd spot. Its fairly hampered by a number of things.
    -1941 setup but Russia+Britain goes first…

    UK getting a free shot at FIC is the killer. With the setup UK must go before Japan though, or Japan walks into India for free J1.

    -Somewhat lacking in units in asia, and with average luck on the russia/UK turns it’s only Asian territory will be just coastal china before it even has a turn, cutting off a lot of income. If it doesnt reinforce china it can lose it as well the american turn.

    Our game didn’t go that poorly, but our Soviet Player didn’t suicide the Siberia Stack into Manchuria to flood it with Zombies. Had they known to do that, things probably would have gotten ugly for Japan.

    -Can only really influence the game by doing the tired siberian express as it’s historical objectives don’t matter much.

    Capturing India + the money islands at least effectively removes UK from the game income-wise (and is necessary to give Japan the economic base to pull off a march to Moscow). I agree with your point though.

    Zombie warfare
    I think indirectly screwing over your opponents with zombies is the most fun/novel thing about this new iteration. A lot of unique strategies present themselves.

    I agree. As much as the OOB setup seems to favor the Allies, our group had a great deal of fun at the expense of other players when they dumped Zombies on their front lawn.

    Current overall impressions:
    Concept is great, zombies do add a unique and fun dimension to the game, but another pass at balancing the rules needed to be done and the game is somewhat let down due to that.

    I would like to know how WOTC play-tested this, or if they even cared about the balance beyond turn 1. Given the presence of Zombie Cards and the emphasis on appealing to a casual audience, I wouldn’t be surprised if they only things they checked for were:

    1. Assure neither side can win (or obtain an unstoppable position) on turn 1.
    2. Assure no country can be totally wiped out (or put in an unwinnable position) on turn 1.
    3. Assure that Zombies have a meaningful impact on the game that is felt by all players.

    Short term, I’ll be houseruling my version to include victory cities so that Japan can achieve an axis win by completing the India/Australia/Hawaii triangle of influence. I’ll be keeping an eye out for slight changes in setup as well. I feel for Japan to be relevant against aggressive allied play their turn either needs to be changed to go first, or for a little extra units to be added in setup.(An 1-2 inf/art in asia and maybe a sub in the pacific would probably be all they need though).

    I like the idea of Japan winning if they seize Aus/India/HW, but I’ve considered another approach while typing this.

    “Modify the Zombie Deck by removing all cards that spawn Zombies in the territory of USSR, Japan and Germany.”

    This effectively means that only the UK and US, the two countries most unaffected by the Zombies under conventional circumstances, will have to deal with random Zombies popping up. This also serves as a nerf to the Allies’ income advantage, as the UK/US are loaded with far-flung, low-value territories that are far removed from the actual conflict zones of Europe and Asia. Examples include:

    • Brazil
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • random Pacific Islands like New Guinea
    • North American territories other than East/West US
    • etc.

    If you actually force the US/UK to divert resources to these areas (with the threat of damaging their economy if they fail to act), it delays their 100% entry into the war against Germany and Japan, which gives them more time to make the gains they desperately need to be relevant.

    Any imbalances after my proposed house rule could be dealt with using bids.


  • 2018 2017

    A strong allied opener is really all they need in order to set up for victory.

    R1
    All the Russians attack and stack “West Russia”
    Same Manchuria
    G1
    Germany may attack the stack, but if they do, they need everything to come. Attack Egypt.
    Stack battle creates a pile of zombies
    If you decline the attack, or do poorly, Germany has to fall back and build for another turn. Tanks. The rule dynamic favors the same thing as always; 100% tanks and hopefully, chainsaw tanks before T4.
    UK 1
    Take FIC. Attack the Japanese DD TT. Don’t hide your fleet, expend it. If you hide and USA declines to go 100%KJF, Japan can step between UK/USA.
    J1
    You can buy men, or a ship. No men means no income after J3.
    Land all your men on the mainland, to enroll in Future Zombie University
    New Income is 7 by J2. The Allies are pretty weak in this region, but you’re dead…excuse me…undead.
    USA 1
    Pick a side and deploy a sweet fleet. Then wreck that axis starting USA3-4. Fun!

    R2
    turtle
    G2
    move your tank stack
    UK 2
    consolidate
    J 2
    dont lose any ships or men. They cant be replaced.
    USA 2
    see above

    repeat


  • 2019 2018 2017

    One strategy I’m curious to try out is the “no Infantry” strategy. In short, you don’t buy Infantry. Ever. You buy Arty and Tanks, Fighters and what not, but never Infantry. You could even take it to the extreme that Infantry units in factory territories can be traded in, 1 for 1, for a 1 IPC reduction in the cost of buying another unit at that factory.

    I’m sure there’s downsides to this (besides the fact that Arty units are more expensive), and I don’t know how practical it would be, but I’m going to try it a few times myself to see.

    -Midnight_Reaper



  • @Midnight_Reaper

    I also think the no infantry strategy is interesting, especially as Germany. Instead of 4 inf, you get 3 art (or perhaps more practically in terms of what one would buy overall even if it can’t be afforded/placed in 1 turn, every 28 IPC gets you 7 arty instead of 4 inf 4 art) Then when you presumably attack Moscow, that’s a lot less zombies you’ll be making that are more likely to hit you than the Russians in that battle. No idea yet how that works out in terms of odds.


  • 2020 2019 2018

    NOTE: Thank the Lord for the new Forum Software. My session timed out while writing this and I was horrified to think I had lost my entire post. Fortunately, the new Forum Software is smart enough to save a draft of your post for you.

    I have my own thoughts on the strategies others have posted about, but first and foremost Happy New Year to everyone.

    Sorry it took a while, but I was able to sit down over the holiday and give AAZ another look. This is the third and final part of my overview of this game, where I’ll be taking a look at how the game plays without Zombies, compare it to AA41, review the “1939 setup” from the back of the instruction manual, and give my final impressions on AAZ and what it brings to the series as a whole.

    I was not able to round up my playgroup for a game without the “Desperate Measures” features of the Zombie Cards, nor was I able to test out my proposed House Rules from my last post (only use the Zombie Cards for UK/US-owned territories). I apologize for this and I’ll try to test these out in the future at some point.

    Anyway, I ran through AAZ without applying any of the Zombie Rules, and I what I found turned out to be the exact opposite of the scenario I described in my previous post. Here’s a general overview of my observations:

    • The Eastern Front devolves into the typical West Russia Stack game you’d expect from a Revised/42SE game, mostly because no zombies = no attrition. No surprises there. However, the lack of a “Belorussia” territory between Eastern Europe and West Russia makes East Europe into the main German stacking point instead of Ukraine, which greatly strengthens their position by shortening their supply line.

    • Due to the way the SZs in the Pacific/Indian Ocean are positioned, UK can drive the Germans out of Africa B1 with minimal losses (by using the FTR from India + loaded TTs from Australia and India. The FTR is only necessary if Germany suffered minimal losses in taking Egypt).

    • Without zombies to hamper their advance, Japan is able to steamroll mainland China with minimal issues. They tend to stall out in Southeast Asia though, due to their weak start in FIC + having to spend the first 1-2 turns clearing out the UK Pacific Fleet. This gives the British enough time to establish themselves in India and the USN enough time to match the IJN’s strength.

    • No AA Guns helps the Axis in assaults on key Allied positions (India, West Russia, etc.). By time the Allies are attacking strong Axis positions the lack of AA guns doesn’t matter as much as they should have an overwhelming advantage when they go on the offensive.

    • Overall, with no zombies bogging down their forces, Germany can steamroll the Soviets because the amount of TANKs they start with is simply insurmountable. They force the Soviets to retreat their stack to Moscow G1 by moving every available TANK to East Europe, and after that point they can just stack Ukraine to finish the game (Caucasus can only produce two units per turn, which is too few to stave off a German push around G3/G4). German loses its entire fleet at the end of round 1, but they inflict so much damage on the RN that by time they build a fleet capable of landing in Europe the game is already over.

    • Japan doesn’t amount to much, but they can clear out China J2 and force the Soviets into a position where they’re forced to either clear out the INF-IC in Szechwan or allow Japan to start building INF there each turn, neither of which are sustainable options.

    • It’s amazing how much the game balance fundamentally changes if Zombies are removed, in my opinion. Honestly the game is more even with the Zombies left in. Without Zombies Allies probably need 6-9 IPC of bid to either bolster Russia’s start or to give the UK an extra DD to force Germany to commit all 3 Subs to clearing the main fleet (the one with the BB).

    So any way you split it, this game is not a balanced one. Additionally, taking away the Zombies completely kills the Fun-Factor this game has vs. the rest of the franchise with nothing to show for it. Not the news I was hoping to give you all on this front…

    Anyway, let’s talk a bit about some more general points this setup has, Zombies or not:

    • Germany’s starting fleet has a whopping 0 TTs in the Baltic. This makes Sealion virtually impossible unless the German player is willing to commit almost all of their starting income to it.

    • That being said, Germany can attempt to bolster its starting Baltic Battleship by keeping it out of the G1 attacks and building a CV on G1. This echoes a popular strategy in Revised where Germany builds a Carrier G1 to delay the UK’s uncontested landings in Europe for a turn or two. Whether this strategy has any merit Vs. opting to wipe out both starting fleets I can’t say for sure, but it’s worth looking into further. Note that going this route means sacrificing most of Germany’s land build G1, but Germany’s start has such a material advantage over the Soviet’s that I don’t think one lost round is necessarily crippling.

    • As I’ve mentioned previously, the starting Submarines + the small Italian Fleet Germany starts with are enough to kill basically the entire UK Naval Setup on the Atlantic Side. The trade-off is that the US/UK can clear this out by the end of round 1. However, much like in G40 and 42SE, the near-total loss of the Royal Navy cripples the UK and delays any serious threat to Germany by at least 3-4 turns. Not a big deal when Zombies slow down the German advance, but without Zombies Germany is partying in Moscow before the Western Allies can manage anything significant.

    • Unless the Allies go for a 100% KGF, the USN will overtake the IJN in about 2 turns. That’s not a lot of time for Japan to establish itself, and without the ability to build ICs, Japan will have an extremely difficult time gaining income once their initial land units are killed off. This is less of an issue without Zombies due to the lack of Attrition Rolls.

    • I don’t understand why players are not allowed to purchase ICs. In my opinion, this streamlines the game to the point of making the strategies for each country painfully linear. Yes, the Japanese Tank Drive to Moscow is not historically feasible, but neither is 70% of the other nonsense that happens in this game. Without being able to build ICs, Japan is forced to play the naval game, which they will lose every time. Without being able to build ICs, Britain is forced to defend a difficult position in India/Australia without even having the option of declining in favor of a full-on KGF because of the threat Japanese control of the Indian IC presents to Russia’s back-door.

    • INF-ICs (the ICs in China and India that can only build INF) are a marvelous addition to the game that should be included in future releases as not only features of the setup but as a cheaper alternative to a full-priced IC. Imagine being able to spend something like 6-7 IPC to build an INF-IC in a territory you want to defend, but simultaneously don’t want to risk becoming a strong point of the enemy. I’m thinking of ideas like giving the UK the option to produce INF in India to stall Japan’s advance without the downsides of wasting 15 IPC and handing Japan a staging point to build Tanks from. The INF-IC is a perfect middle ground between leaving a territory in the hands of the starting units and investing 15 ICs in what is essentially a double-edged sword. Something like a double-edged knife, I guess?

    • Switching the “Purchase Units” phase to the end of the turn is a change I welcome, but question the value of. I appreciate the ability to better-tailor your buy to account for some of your rolls going poorly in a major battle, as it lowers the barrier-to-entry for new players to compete on a higher level. However, was such a drastic change to the core rules really necessary for a 35-year-old series? My play group and I had to catch ourselves several times buying units at the wrong time, and we’ve only been playing since ~2007. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for people who have been playing since the 80s/90s to adjust to the new timing.

    Anyway, the last major point I want to touch on is that this game, in my opinion, is heavily based on 1941 to the point where I’d go out on a limb and say that this is what WOTC did:

    1. They started with just having 1941 and trying to add Zombies to it.

    2. They realized immediately that:
      A: The starting incomes are way too low in 41, so no country would be able to deal with the Zombies.
      B: There are far too many INF in the 41 OOB setup compared to other units, which only furthers issue A above.

    3. To remedy this, they bumped up the IPC value of (almost) every territory in the game, while retaining mostly the same map apart from some minor changes (which I covered in my first post but I’ll briefly go over again below). These changes mostly serve to tweak the balance of 41 while also accounting for the switchover to the Zombie rules. Below is my comparison of the 41 OOB Setup Vs. AAZ’s OOB Setup, by-country:

    • USSR: Almost no changes, but 1 INF in Moscow is swapped out for an ART and 2 INF were moved from Moscow to Urals. This weakens the initial Soviet push but gives them more flexibility in their opening (allows a bigger stack in Siberia or a beefier Sinkiang).

    • Germany: “East Europe” has been split into “East Europe” and “Balkans”. This makes attacking Europe more time-consuming in a late-game scenario, and splits the initial German units between more territories. The Wehrmacht on the front lines in Russia have had their strength reduced (mostly INF cuts, INF swapped out for ART, and one less TANK in West Russia. All of these changes were likely intended to reduce the number of Zombies that would pile up after R1 and G1). To compensate, Germany has had several TANKs added to their overall setup (North Africa, West Europe, Germany), along with an extra SUB which makes G1 an absolute nightmare for the UK.

    • UK: The Carrier near Gibraltar has been swapped out for a DD, and the FTR that was on it has been relocated to Gibraltar proper. This spares the FTR from the G1 onslaught unless Germany goes out of its way to eliminate it (at the cost of letting the Egyptians live, bad trade-off IMO). Their Pacific Fleet has been given an extra DD, which allows it to stand against Japan for ~1 more turn (or simply betters the odds of wiping the DD/SUB off FIC). The Atlantic Fleet got an extra DD, but that’s not enough to save the Royal Navy from being obliterated G1. India can now only produce INF, which indirectly weakens Japan by preventing them from mass-producing TANKs once they capture the IC.

    • Japan: Navy 100% identical to the 41 setup. This, coupled with the buffs to the US Pacific Fleet and UK Pacific Fleet, makes life difficult for the IJN, as I’ve elaborated on previously. The only other change for Japan is an extra ART in Manchuria, which helps the J1 push but not much else (it doesn’t even help the J1 push if Zombies are in-play, as the Soviets can sacrifice the Siberians to drown Manchuria in Zombies).

    • USA: “Szechwan” split into “Szechwan” and “Yunnan”, net change in the area is one extra ART. Szechwan can now produce 1 INF per-turn. This doesn’t do much without Zombies, but with Zombies it effectively allows the US to dump 1 Zombie on Japan’s advancing troops per-round. This adds up quickly and will ensure that Japan’s land forces die out long before they reach the Russian border. The SUB on the US West Coast has been replaced with a DD, and the SUB was moved to the Solomon Islands SZ. As mentioned previously, this allows the USN to very quickly overtake the IJN and strain their supply lines (since Japan can only really produce land units in Japan proper, and must ferry them to the mainland via TT).

    Lastly, we have the 1939 Setup, a glorified tutorial. As it hasn’t been covered by any posts on this site, I’d like to review it briefly here.

    Play is limited to the following territories:
    SZ5 (Baltic), Norway-Finland, Karelia, Archangel, Moscow, Caucasus, West Russia, Ukraine, East Europe, Balkans, South Europe, Germany, West Europe.

    This means that UK Proper, the USA, Africa, Japan/China, and most SZs are out-of-play.

    The objective of the scenario is for Germany to reach 20 IPC value by turn 6. If they cannot attain this objective, the USSR wins. There are British units on the map, representing Neutral Countries. However, the UK does not take a turn. These units merely exist to die to Germany and Russia, but will fight back when attacked.

    Anyway, here’s the setup:
    Germany - 7 IPC
    Germany (4) - 7 INF/3 ART/3 TANK/2 FTR/BOMB
    Italy (3) - 3 INF/2 ART/2 TANK
    SZ5 - 1 TT/1DD

    USSR - 10 IPC
    Moscow (4) - 3 INF/TANK/FTR
    Caucasus (2) - 2 INF/ART
    Archangel (2) - 2 INF
    Karelia (2) - 2 INF

    UK - 14 IPC
    France (4) - 2 INF/TANK/FTR
    Norway/Finland (2) - 2 INF
    East Europe (2) - 2 INF/ART
    Balkans (2) - INF/ART
    West Russia (2) - INF
    Ukraine (2) - INF

    This scenario is a joke, so I didn’t really sink much time into it. I’m pretty sure Germany just wins outright by the following:
    G1: Build INF/ART, they go to Italy to hit Balkans G2. Crush France/EE. Be sure to stay after combat and eliminate all Zombies. End with 13 Income.

    R1: Either 2 TANK for fast-move of 2 INF/ART for a longer game. They take West Russia + Ukraine. They probably kill all Zombies as well. If they’re feeling lucky they can try taking out the Baltic Fleet to lock Germany out of Norway-Findland. End with 14 Income.

    G2: Build 2 TANK/INF, all in Germany. Take Balkans and probably Karelia + Norway-Finland (may not be able to take it if Russia killed the Baltic Fleet R1). End with 17-19 Income. Rest either stacks EE or dead-zones it by over-committing to the Balkans fight.

    R2: Not sure what they can do here, really. I guess the can try poking at EE if it was lightly defended, or strafing Karelia to flood Germany with Zombies.

    G3: Germany probably wins this turn by mopping up Norway/Finland and/or taking one of Ukraine/West Russia/Karelia. I’d have to play it out to be sure, though.

    All in all the “1939 Scenario” is a disappointment. I like what they went for with the concept of “holding Germany to a certain IPC level”, but I wish they had at least added Japan/UK/US to the scenario to represent the 2nd Sino-Japanese War and the early tension in the Pacific. It could have been a useful tutorial on the Naval Mechanics.

    If you actually read all this, way to go.
    If you actually all 3 parts, You Da Bes.
    If you only read 2/3 parts for some reason, you’re kind of strange but way to go anyway.


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @Midnight_Reaper said in AAZ - Review and Thoughts (Work In Progress):

    One strategy I’m curious to try out is the “no Infantry” strategy. In short, you don’t buy Infantry. Ever. You buy Arty and Tanks, Fighters and what not, but never Infantry. You could even take it to the extreme that Infantry units in factory territories can be traded in, 1 for 1, for a 1 IPC reduction in the cost of buying another unit at that factory.

    I’m sure there’s downsides to this (besides the fact that Arty units are more expensive), and I don’t know how practical it would be, but I’m going to try it a few times myself to see.

    -Midnight_Reaper

    This issue with this IMO is that you’re still losing units to Zombie Attrition when attempting to move forward. That, and when you don’t build INF you start losing every single trade in every single battle you fight. 1 German ART for 1 Soviet INF is fine on-paper but the losses add up over the course of the game.

    INF cost 3, ART cost 4. That means for the trades to be worth it the ratio of Germany’s economy Vs. Russia’s must remain at or above 4:3 (1.333)

    Germany starts with 23, Soviets with 14. A 23:14 ratio rounds out to 1.643, just above where it needs to be to make trades worth it. However, I’d warn that after R1, Russia starts pulling in between 16-18 IPC a turn (from taking Ukraine and West Russia). Meanwhile, Germany’s income winds up being about 26 if I’m being generous (+1 from Egypt if they can hold it through the Zombie Attrition, +2 from Karelia if they don’t just strafe the Russians in West Russia, +2 from trading Ukraine if they can withstand the Zombies that are due to pile up there).

    That being said, 26:18 = 1.444, which means that trading ART for INF is still on the table, although it’s a risky venture. Good find.


  • 2018 2017

    @DoManMacgee

    With tanks costing +2 in return for +2 attack, +1 defense and +1 move, they are clearly and intentionally underpriced. The fact that they dont turn into zombies and get the chainsaw clench it–if you could buy only tanks, you should. Since every unit gets a different tech, you still would want some “combined arms” just to access all the techs you are getting as the game progresses–though as you may note, the techs all address zombies and nothing else, which is why none of them are particularly game-breaking and can be awarded freely.

    However, there are plenty of reasons to create zombies, and infantry remain 1) the cheapest for defense + hits 2) get a free space on a transport 3) are being created by liberation and cards so you can’t avoid getting some.

    I appreciate that you undertook the comparison with 1941 ed., but without the zombies or fun cards in the mix, that game seems like a bust. No zombies = low luck of AAZ.

    After my 3-4th game, I started to get the hang of it though; alot of times, you as the acting player (germany esp.) will want to create and manipulate a malestrom of zombies, they appear as a battlefield “memory” of wherever conflict has been taking place and makes those areas less amenable to further conflict…so regardless of your overall strategy or unit buys, if you create the vaunted zombie horde in a time and place more likely to stymy your opponents than yourself, you’ll win.



  • @taamvan Yes. Infantry does appear after a successful battle and by cards. But you can seriously limit the amount of infantry you have. Still I think this is a very expensive strategy…


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @taamvan Your conclusion about AAZ No Zombies was the same as mine. The game simply isn’t fun and I’d rather be playing something else. The Zombies are what gives this game its niche, although I wished the game could be fun without them, for the community’s sake.



  • @DoManMacgee,
    You came up with an idea for a house rule. Being: only Zs in UK/US controlled areas. This to balance the game.

    Just an idea:

    This might be too harsh. But what might be an idea:

    If a player draws a card adding a Z in a German/Japanse/Russian controlled area then simply discard this card. Draw another card. This card is implemented regardless of the territory a Z is added to.

    So basically Axis and Russia have a bigger chance not to have Zs added to areas under their control. But it will happen. Only not so often.

    What do others think?

    (Moderator, if needed to be moved then please move this message)


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @thrasher1
    Eh, I’d just take out the Japan/Germany/Russia-labelled cards from the get-go, rather than evaluate every card drawn. That way you don’t get gamey scenarios like:

    1. UK Invades France.
    2. Japan starts their turn, reveals “France” Zombie Card.
    3. Additional Zombie spawns in France, making Germany’s life more difficult (UK probably only intended to stay in France for a turn or so, just to gain some extra income).


  • @DoManMacgee ,

    I do not agree. I think your proposal is way too much ‘pro-Axis’. So that’s why I came up with this idea.


  • 2020 2019 2018

    @thrasher1 I’ll hold off on arguing with you until I’ve actually had a chance to test my house rules.

    Personally, I’d prefer axing the cards altogether. They bring too much luck into the game. I’d keep the Zombies that appear from casualties, of course.

    However, I’d argue that the Zombie mechanic in-general is Pro-Allies to an obscene degree. It makes conquest neigh-impossible for the Axis from my (admittedly limited) play-testing so far.



  • @DoManMacgee ,

    Please share your thoughts and ideas and opions 🙂 And ideas for house rules are welcome of course. But I guess they should be posted in a different forum.


  • 2018 2017

    Ah, but the cards are one of the most fun things about this game. I’m not sure the mechanic itself is pro- one side or the other, its that the SETUP has a number of imbalances that stand out visibly without extensive playtesting. If you pull out half of them for one reason or another, it’d be hard to objectively justify what was left over…



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