FYI: I posted this elsewhere, but I thought folks here might be interested in my review. I am a longtime lurker on this site and have found comments by numerous posters to be very useful in the past.
Eight Things I Love about the New Edition
1. The trays for holding your pieces. The Revised edition was terrible in this regard, and the Classic edition’s Styrofoam boxes left something to be desired. The anniversary edition ones are great.
2. The larger board. Although there are some issues here and there (see below), the bigger board is a great thing. The Revised board was too cramped, and the Classic board had the awkward boxes at the top of the board for extra units.
3. Italy! I like the way that Italy has been included. It is by far the weakest power, and to make it anything else would have been to fly too much against my sense of history. Yet, Italy, especially if one plays with National Objectives, has fun and interesting things to do during the game. Heck, Italy even took Stalingrad in my first 50th edition game!
4. China! I love the way that China is incorporated in this game. China’s semi-independence from the U.S. and its great expansion in number of territories makes it much more interesting, essentially adding more challenges and difficulties (and rewards) for Japan without giving the U.S. and equal boost in IPCs, etc.
5. National Objectives: I really like the way that these objectives encourage historical simulation in play. I do think that they have some drawbacks (see below), but I love them in general.
6. Revised Weapons Development Rules: I have never really liked weapons development, as it seemed to increase the role that luck already played in the game. I also thought several of the weapons developments in both the Classic and Revised were too game unbalancing. Although I haven’t played with these new rules yet, they seem on the surface to me to be the best rules yet in this area.
7. Naval Units: The addition of the cruiser is cool, but the best thing is that the naval units are cheaper all the way around, making naval purchases more viable and interesting. I also really like the way that transports have been changed, removing them as “cannon fodder” in naval battles, which always bothered me since it was hyper ahistorical.
8. 1941 or 1942 Start Options. I had rules for a 1939 start for the Classic Board, and I am glad to see two starts built right into the OOB rules this time.
Five Things I Don’t Love in the Revised Edition
1. The non-folding board: I hated the four-fold Revised board. It was already coming apart on me, so having three pieces is better than that, but why couldn’t the board three-fold like the Classic Board? Maybe there is a reason for this, but it eludes me.
2. The Pacific as “Pond”: The Pacific seems very “shrunk” in comparison to the Atlantic which is expanded in size over its geographical dimensions. I am not terribly bothered by this, as both are probably necessary for good gameplay.
3. Offshore Bombardments: I liked offshore bombardments taking out defending units before they could roll a defensive die. I will recommend going back to this in our group.
4. National Objectives and Germany: As a friend pointed out, Germany’s grand strategy options are severely limited in this edition. In earlier editions, especially in Revised, Germany could viably go after USSR, England, or Africa or some combination of these three. In the 50th edition, because of its National Objectives and because of Italy, Germany is really limited to attacking the USSR.
5. Game Length: This may be biggest issue of all for me. I think the best thing about Axis and Allies is that you could play a World War II game heavy with logistics in one evening’s time (or in a tournament). Adding Italy seems to extend the time a bit, though maybe not as much as I think once we get used to the new rules. I think that the 1941 start would take quite a while to complete even under the 13 game victory city conditions.