If you could design A&A from the ground up how would you do it?


  • Axis and Allies does not exist. Larry Harris became a podiatrist instead of pursuing his dream of making board games. You have a vision of a strategic board game where you control the outcome of WWII. You are the leader of your nation and you must defeat your enemies and win the war. How do you design it?

    The rules are over 50 years old and other than a few additions are basically unchanged. Board game design has come a long way in that time. What could make it better while keeping the same “feel”?

    Global Strategy
    For a strategic board game A&A always felt to me like there wasn’t a lot of strategy. Turns have been so optimized that it feels like you have to do the same moves every game. I would love to have the Americans island hopping across the Pacific be a viable strategy. Or cutting off the UK with Uboats and then going full Sealion. I don’t think just adding a few units or changing IPC values would accomplish this.

    Time
    I just don’t have 8 hours of time anymore to play like I used to. Could you get a good amount of the strategy into 2.5-3 hours? The Game of Thrones board game has a lot of the A&A feel and it can be played in 3 hours. What mechanics would speed things up without resorting to timed rounds or things like that?

    Military Strategy
    Maybe this is a reflection of my skill in the game but I feel like when I play Germany or Russia I’m not doing much more than pointing my troops in the direction of the capital. Sure there are decisions to make about what territory to hit based on unit strength and distribution but those don’t feel “cinematic” for want of a better term. I want to feel like von Manstein rumbling through the Ardennes to cut off the Low Countries. Maybe this isn’t possible in a board game.

    I don’t want this to seem like an attack on A&A. I have loved the game since I was a teenager. It’s just sometimes it seems to fall short of how I imagine it would feel to be a general leading his country into WWII. Maybe that is unrealistic. But I would love to hear people’s thoughts.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13

    Then you better play chess.


  • Yeah I expected comments like this but I was hoping someone would actually have something constructive to say. A simple “I would change nothing” would have at least been polite.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13

    I was being polite. For what all you want in a game it won’t happen in 3 hours.

    You mentioned game of thrones was good. Maybe try to do a 42 game like that ?


  • It felt dismissive and didn’t really add anything to the discussion but thank you for following up. You’re right, it may not be possible in 3 hours. Although I think longer games often turn into a slog. Making it last longer won’t necessarily make it more exciting. Often a shorter game has more tension.

    Chess is the opposite of what I want. That’s completely abstract. No one would say a chess match is cinematic.

    But really I was interested in what other people would change. Maybe the answer is nothing but I thought it would be interesting to see people’s thoughts.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13

    @bigbucky said in If you could design A&A from the ground up how would you do it?:

    It felt dismissive and didn’t really add anything to the discussion but thank you for following up. You’re right, it may not be possible in 3 hours. Although I think longer games often turn into a slog. Making it last longer won’t necessarily make it more exciting. Often a shorter game has more tension.

    Chess is the opposite of what I want. That’s completely abstract. No one would say a chess match is cinematic.

    But really I was interested in what other people would change. Maybe the answer is nothing but I thought it would be interesting to see people’s thoughts.

    Ya all cool.


  • I think you should pull out out A&A europe or pacific (the orginal ones), they are imo much better from a balance standpoint and have the best utilization of the convoy system. You could add that as a base and then add some cool stuff like tech, more lend lease, combined allied attacks, etc. And in those games turn 1 isnt as formulaic. At the beging of the europe game for example each side get 12 ipcs to spend and place them along with the other starting units… Allies can split it or spend it in one place. You have soo many options as to what you want to do with that.

    Now how would I design a&a? Make a global version of the classic europe and pacific games, along with additional improvements on convoys, tech, multinational attacks, add a morale system, and overhaul some units that need it like aaguns. All the while try and make it as simplistic and smooth as I could.


  • Thanks I’ll take a look at the Europe and Pacific ones. I had been thinking about adding units like a bid does so you can focus on a certain region.

    All the while try and make it as simplistic and smooth as I could.

    This is the hard part isn’t it. You really have to start over from scratch.


  • I think @DessertFox599 is spot on. I second that motion. Well said.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17

    @bigbucky I’ve given this some thought. You’re not the first person to want to re-fight the Second World War without the game taking a noticeable percentage of the actual war to come to a conclusion. So, two suggestions:

    1. One game that has already been released that is about re-fighting WW2 inside of 2 hours would be Quartermaster General (BGG link). Perhaps you might find the game you seek inside that box. Or…
    2. A possible inspiration for a quick re-fight of WW2 comes from Europe. There was a line of games known as Express games, one of which was Risk Express (BGG link).

    Risk Express is a reduction of Risk - here’s a stack of cards, representing different territories; here’s a stack of dice, with different sides. Roll the dice and use the results you get in order to take a card. If someone else has already taken a particular card, to take it from them you must meet the requirements for the card, plus an additional die result on top - the Leader. A picture of dice for this game is on the other side of this BGG link. A picture of some of the cards for this game (in this case, the cards needed for taking North America) is on the other side of this BGG link.

    Risk Express is hard to find but it was re-implemented as Age of War (BGG link), which might be easier to find. So, Risk Express, what does that have to do with Axis & Allies? With a new vision, a new deck of cards, and some new sides for the dice you might have an Axis & Allies Express…

    Is that what you’re looking for? I dunno. But as I’m working on that anyways, would be interested in knowing more?

    -Midnight_Reaper


  • Thanks @Midnight_Reaper that game looks interesting. I’ll check it out.


  • My group has taken the ultimate step that many on this and other sites are loathe to do. We have unified turns, 1:Axis 2:Allies. We mainly play a modded AA50 with slightly (5-10) more territories. This greatly increases the speed and playability for several reasons.

    Positives
    Firstly, the vast majority of the engagements can be done simultaneously without any real issues.

    Everyone can purchase simultaneously, and if you are not particularly a-retentive some people can finish their purchasing while others are moving forward with their attack declaring, but please make sure all attacks are declared before any attacks begin, to easy to start conflict there with meant-to/didn’t-do.

    The most important factor in time improvement is not the actual simultaneity of the turn but that every turn, every round, attack and defense, involves every player. No one is bored (US/USSR) for turn after turn of waiting to do anything. This engagement greatly increases the camaraderie (heh) and the pressure of the turn. Everyone’s attention is focused. We REGULARLY complete our AA50 to a satisfying surrender in about 3 hours. In fact most of us have young kiddos so we don’t really have a choice.

    Another useful point is that if someone brings an uninterested significant other or newbie, Italy makes a great and dynamic option when coordinating with an expert playing Germany. I find that scheduling is one of the hardest issues with getting a group together and perhaps one of the main reasons you would want a shorter game.

    Counter points/Solutions
    No 1/2 punches with Italy/Germany or UK/US. This might be a bigger problem on Global but I do not feel that it is an issue in AA50. To correct this we use some special rules including a reserved 2nd attack round for unused armies that want to attempt a blitz through/drop past a recently conquered territory or Sea Zone.

    Massed Allied navies, especially in Europe. Haven’t really figured this one out, but it is historically accurate and axis can usually get the allies to a surrender point without Operation Sealion anyway. Massed navies is one of the reasons we support the 7/0 Transport rule in the recent editions over the 8/1 of the old editions.

    Starting positions for UK and USSR. Since Axis will move collectively ahead of them, USSR and UK might need a little tweaking in the setup. I usually move some of UK’s Pacific/Indian navies one space further from J1. Additionally we give a territory or two to USSR to absorb the assault of G1.

    Conclusion
    I feel like if you really want to make A&A work for you, it can. It just might take a little more willpower in working through and agreeing to some compromises on OOB rules.

    P.S. It always helps if the scheduling problem is with other people, you be the one to set up ahead of time. I always end up falling on that sword.

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