On March 10, 2013, I got together with friends I’ve known since childhood and with whom I’ve been playing Axis & Allies off and on for 22 years. We sat down for 10 hours and played our first game of Axis & Allies WWI 1914. This article goes over some of our first impressions of the game.
As there were 3 of use playing we used the recommendation in the rules and divided the major powers as follows:
- Dave: Austria-Hungary, Germany, Ottoman Empire
- Ross: France, British Empire
- Roland: Russian Empire, Italy, and USA
Ive been playing Axis and Allies for 22 years. Seems like longer. I remember the very first edition my father bought. Then the second exact same edition because the original didnt come with enough pieces (we hate chips). Then Axis & Allies Europe. Then Pacific. I’ve played them all, baby. In between all the games I found the time to get married and have 3 kids. Now when my good friend David comes down with a chance to play a new game, I jump.
And this … is the best … one … yet. Seriously.
I can pinpoint why. Trust me, its not the pieces; they still put in WAY too few pieces! its chip central out there. And the map is a letdown. Its not horrible, but they missed a chance to make it really great. A three panel fold could have done wonders.
But heres the good news. The gameplay, especially with battles, with what seemingly is an absurdly simple tweak, makes all the difference. Limiting the battle to the first roll, and the ability to trench in and annoy the hell out of your opponent, in many fronts at once, and is both a joy and agonizing at the same time. It all could go horribly wrong with one misrolled dogfight! The contested territories stand on the edge of a knife; however at the same time even with a horrible roll you find that not all is lost and have the ability to refocus that broken army elsewhere.
It also makes the game much much longer. Which in my opinion, is a good thing. There is a lot left to figure out after our first game. I’m still not sure what good tanks are for, except for soaking a hit (but at what cost! If a tank was a dollar less there would actually be some of them in play). I like that Fighters are crucial, and that you dont necessarily need to have a flock of them for them to be so effective, not that you could afford so many anyway.
Boats….well boats are boats. Kinda useful, very expensive, but like the US Army, you’re glad when you have one around. Speaking of the US, yes this is a game with historical accuracy. By the time they get in the war, its pretty much leaning one way, and if that way is not the Axis by that time, then it probably wont be once the US lands in France.
General Observations. We started our game a bit late in the day at 2:30pm and finished around 1am with about 30-45 minutes to break for dinner, which puts our play time around 10 hours. In 10 hours we made it through 6 rounds of play, the fastest round was the sixth round and it still took 50 minutes to complete. After six rounds, it was apparent, that I as the Central Powers made some errors and would likely eventually lose the war. Especially since the United States was finally landing in Europe and bolstering the Allied forces.
One thing that we kept forgetting was the movement rule that you must have at least one infantry unit with all of your armies. A territory can be empty but if there are units, one must be infantry. This wasn’t an issue at all during battle. The one infantry rule actually caused many a situation where artillery were destroyed in order to keep that one infantry around.
As the Central Powers player I wasn’t sure if or how I should conduct my naval strategy. It’s a little tricky because 1 battleship costs the same as 4 infantry, 1 cruiser costs the same as 3 infantry, and 1 sub costs the same as 2 infantry. After the game, I felt that I spent too much money on boats.
The Ottoman Empire was a tricky country to play. At first I moved North
The Good. The land combat mechanics are excellent. The higher attack values, combined arms, especially air superiority, and especially the single round of rolling attacks makes this a truly unique and fun experience. Artillery with air support is awesome. By the end of the game I was trying to get more fighters onto the board in order to get that upgraded artillery attack/defense of 4 or less. Those 4s saved me in many a battle. I actually enjoy the fact that there is not a Non-Combat movement phase, it simplifies the game. I really enjoy those tall stacks of infantry and artillery and because the attack values are high, those stacks can be cut down quickly even with only one round of rolling. However, smaller stacks get consolidated and reinforced and they’re back towering above the board. Finally, it’s Axis & Allies and it’s World War I.
The Bad. The industrial production chart, printed on the map is completely useless. After about one round of play, we completely abandoned using it and simply counted up our IPCs each round using the typical A&A shorthand, “This country starts with this, gained this territory, lost that one, and finally these are contested.” The other issue I had with the game is the number of infantry and chips at the beginning of the game, in a few cases is barely enough. After one or two rounds, there is plenty of carnage leaving you with plenty of pieces for the remainder of the game. Though, you might want to have your set of 1942 Second Edition on had, just in case. Finally, tanks are probably useless and should have been priced at 5 or given a better defense. Exactly one tank was purchased during the entire game. Any glare on your game board will cause confusion as to the shade of the chips, dark versus light. In a well lit room, it’s not a problem at all.
Conclusion. Axis & Allies 1914 is a fantastic game and I think that it captures the feel of previous Axis & Allies board games while at the same time being a unique experience with new game mechanics to keep the game fresh and exciting. I can’t wait to play again and I have plans for another round of play with another gaming group on March 17, 2013. This is quickly becoming my second favorite version of Axis & Allies, behind Axis & Allies 1942 Second Edition and ahead of Axis & Allies (Global) 1940 Second Edition.
More about Axis & Allies WWI 1914
- Buy Axis & Allies WWI 1914 on Amazon
- Axis & Allies WWI 1914 Releases on March 19, 2013
- Axis & Allies WWI 1914 Preview: Setup & the Political Situation
- Set Up Chart for Axis & Allies WWI 1914
- Preview: The Russian Revolution
- Preview: Six Second Unboxing Video
- Preview: Map, Units, & Components
- Preview: Movement and Combat Rules
- Preview: The Rulebook
- Discuss Axis & Allies 1914 in the Forums