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Dominion Card Game – Card By Card Analysis

Author – Cory Duplantis

We are going to go through each of the 25 Kingdom cards in Dominion and explain what the card does and how you can use each in various ways.  We will also go through common combos with each card.

We assume you have played Dominion or understand how the game is played before reading this article. All of these strategies will not work all of the time.  Because each game of Dominion is different, the setup could require tweaking of various strategies.

Adventurer – Reveal cards in your deck until TWO treasure cards are drawn, discard all other cards – 6 cost

This card is a great card to have in a deck where the gold count in the deck is small.  Since you are guaranteed to get two treasure cards from this one card, it doesn’t matter how big your deck is.  The way this card is played best is by eliminating Coppers (and Silvers if possible) from your deck completely.  This can be done with Chapel, Moneylender, or Remodel.

That is the basic combo with Adventurer

  • Make a very small deck with Chapel.
  • Make sure you only have Silver and/or Gold in your deck.

This way, each Adventurer you play is worth at the least 4 Gold or at most 6 Gold.

Bureaucrat – Gain a Silver card.  Each other player must place a Victory Point card from their hand on top of their deck.  If they do not have a Victory Point card, they must reveal their hand – 4 cost

This card is great for a deck where you want to dramatically increase the size of your deck.  This card can also be used in a strict Remodel deck.  You use Bureaucrat to gain silvers, and then Remodel those silvers into 5 G cards (these cards will depend on what is available for that game).  It is also a good opening card if the Militia is not currently in play.  As the card gives you a silver card each time is played, actually buying gold is useless for you now.  You can use the money you have to buy action cards instead of money.

Cellar – +1 Action, Discard X cards, +X cards – 2 cost

Use this card to discard useless cards in your hand in order to gain other cards.  This card prevails in a +Card deck.  Basically you discard everything except your +Action and +Card cards.  This way you maximize your draws you can get.  It is also a good card to use to end the game.  Since this card only costs 2, you can use it to empty a stack of cards if you are wanting to end the game.  One common mistake however is to have too many Cellars.  Too many cellars is useless because each time you use a cellar, you have one less card in your hand, because the cellar itself had a place in your hand.  So chaining Cellars is almost always useless.

Chancellor – +2 money, deck may be put in discard pile – 3 cost

At first, this card doesn’t seem that great, but after playing with it; it is quite useful.  This card shines in a small deck.  The reason for this is because you should know what cards you have in your deck, thus you should know what should be coming up in your deck.  If one turn you played a good bit of your gold or a good bit of your kingdom cards and know that you only have small money and victory point cards left, then this card is played to shuffle everything back together.  Also, since it is only 3 gold, it is a good starting card.  It gives you an early jump in money, and it also gives you the option to shuffle your deck or not, which is a useful option to have.

Chapel – Trash up to 4 cards from your hand – 2 cost

Well, the use of the chapel is obvious, get rid of cards you do not need.  Many new players do not understand the reasoning behind this.  The reason you want to trash cards is to draw other cards more often.  The smaller the deck, the more often cards are drawn, and therefore are played more often.  Basically instead of drawing a lot of copper, you will have a fewer number of silver and gold, but will draw that money more often.  This card is also vital if Witch is in play and Moat is not.  This card gets rid of those pesky Curse cards that no one wants to have.

Council Room – +4 Cards, +1 Buy, others players draw one card – 5 cost

At first, this card is amazing. WOW! 4 cards and a buy.  You must be very careful with these cards.  This card is only good, if other players are also playing with a big deck.  If there are players playing a small deck, then this card will help them more than helping you.  Since their deck is so small, every card they draw is useful.  On the other hand, if everyone is playing with larger decks, this card is also good.  Also, if this is the only way to purchase multiple cards, then it is also useful.  This card is a good card to combo with a Garden deck.  Since this card gives you a lot of cards as well as a buy, the odds of you drawing lots of gold is good.  Thus, you could purchase a Province as well as a smaller card (like a cellar for instance).  If this card is also one of the few +Card cards, then it is also good.  It is also a good starting card if you draw 5 copper on your first or second hands.  The reason for this is that your odds are great that you will draw 3 or 4 copper the next time your deck is shuffled, which almost always becomes an early Gold.

Feast – Gain a card costing up to 5 money, Trash this card – 4 cost

This card is absolutely great.  Early game, it is great to grab a couple of these for various 5 point cards.  In a game where Witch is in play and moat is not, grab a feast to grab a witch very early to put your opponent(s) on the defensive. Or, use the feast to grab more draw cards like Laboratory.  This card is just a great card to have in the early game.  That said, later in the game it is not so great.  You need to gauge when you think your opponent will end the game and how large your deck is.  If you are going to buy this but never  reshuffle your deck, then your money could have been spent on Victory Point cards, rather than this Feast.  In short, buy these early, but try not to buy them in the late game.

Festival -+2 Actions, +1 Buy, +2 Money- 5 cost

Hmm, where to start with Festival.  Festivals are a tricky card.  At first, it seems like festivals should always get priority because of all the stuff they give.  In some games this is the case, but most games it is not.  Festivals should be used with there isn’t Villages in play, or if there aren’t many +Buy cards.  If you are using this card solely for the +money, then you have wasted 5 money.  While yes, you can chain 4 festivals together to get a Province, you could have spent that 20 money on better draw cards.  That said, if there are not many +Card cards in play, then yes, this is a great card to have.  This card is also very useful in a Library deck strategy which I will discuss shortly.  In short, festivals shouldn’t be a deck strategy.  Use a couple festivals, but do not rely strictly upon them.

Laboratory – +2 cards, +1 action – 5 cost

This card is by far one of my favorite cards.  You get two extra cards in your hand, and you get to play something else.  This card is key to a “money only” deck strategy.  Basically you only buy money, in order to buy up to Gold and fill your deck with Gold.  The +action with the Lab will be used with either a Chapel, to get rid of Coppers or Victory point card in your hand, or with a Cellar for the same reason.  Also, Lab is just an overall good card you can use in most any deck.  Drawing cards, and then being able to play more things is just a fantastic ability.  That said, do not buy strictly Laboratories.  It is useless to go through your whole deck and only end up with 5 gold to spend.  That is pointless.  If you already have 3 Lab’s and you get another 5 money in your hand, use it on a Silver or a Mine, if it is in play.  That way, you can bring in gold faster.

Library – Draw until you have 7 cards in hand.  You may set aside any Action cards drawn this way, as you draw them; discard the set aside cards after you finish drawing  – 5 cost

Basically, with the Library, you want to empty your hand until you only have the Library left.  You then play the Library and redraw 7 cards at which point you continue to play cards.  A basic strategy with the Libray is Festival/Library.  This way, you get rid of cards in your hand so you can draw more cards, as well as give yourself actions to use after you have chosen the Library.  And since the very nature of Library is that you may keep action cards or not, you can gauge whether or not to keep certain action cards or to discard them.  Another good strategy with Library is to Chapel all the Estates out of your deck and then Library.  This way, you are guaranteed to draw money.  While this only works in the beginning, it is still a good opening strategy.

Market – +1 Card, +1 Action, +1 Buy, +1 money – 5 cost

WOW what a card!  So much stuff to use on one turn!  I must get every market I can.  WRONG! (most of the time).  This is the mentality many new guys have when starting Dominion.  While in some occasions this card would be great to have 4 or 5 of, this card just isn’t as amazing as people think.  This card is basically a placeholder copper card.  When you draw it, you automatically get one money.  While this is great and all, you can use the card spot for a more viable card with many more uses (like a Laboratory or a Throne room, or heck even a Duchy at this point).  Yes the Market does give a lot of things in one turn, but again, it is merely a place holder.  If you are looking for a deck that get’s lots of  +Buy cards, then maybe this is an option.  For the most part, stay away from trying to buy too many of these.  While a couple (2 or 3 at most) is good, any more is just a burden and remember, the key to Dominion is deck management.

Militia – +2 money, each opponent discards down to THREE cards – 4 cost

Now this card is a great opening card.  Not only does it give you money at the beginning (which is key) it also reduces your opponent’s hand.  This is great because in the beginning, the game is usually a race to see who can get to a couple of the 5 cost cards the fastest.  That being said, this card is also great with Council Room in play.  If you can chain a couple of Council Rooms together and then finish the chain with a Militia, not only do you get the cards and the buys from the Council Room, but your opponent will more than likely have to discard at least one or two cards that would have made this hand great.  Your opponent discards down to only THREE cards, not discard only TWO cards.  This is a common misconception.  That being said, militia is not one of those cards you want to have more than 3 of in a deck, unless you are playing a heavy Festival/Village deck.  Militia’s main purpose is to give you money; the discard element is merely the bow on top of the present.  It is also to note that if Moat is in play, gosh you might as well pass on Militia if you see your opponent gaining a lot of Moats.  Why spend 4 gold on a card that you will only gain half the use of?  Militia is a great opening card, but mid-late game, it just isn’t terribly powerful.

Mine – Trash a treasure card; gain a treasure card TO YOUR HAND of the next highest value – 5 cost

Mine is one of my favorite cards.  This card does great in nearly every deck, because every deck needs to get rid of copper cards.  And, what better way of getting rid of copper card than by replacing every copper with a silver, or every silver with a gold.  Now for the common question… Which is better to do, Copper à Silver or Silver to à Gold? The honest answer is…it depends (yeah, yeah, it’s a generic answer, I know).  BUT 9/10 Silver à is going to be the most worth-while decision.  The only time this wouldn’t be the case is if Thief is in play, and even then it is still usually a good deal. You want to be able to purchase more powerful cards at all cost.  Yeah, you will draw that other copper, but remember Dominion is all about deck management.  Having 1 Gold and 1 Copper is much better than having 2 Silver.  You will draw the Gold which is automatic Silver if you still need it.  Overall, Gold is better to have, end of story.  Mine is an all around good card, and quite possibly could be in almost every deck strategy.

Moat – +2 cards, Show to have the effects of an attack card negated towards you  – 2 cost

Moat is the only reaction card in the first set of Dominion.  This card is a lifesaver in basically one game – a Witch game.  Every other attack card is kind of meh! on the attack, but the Witch is just MEAN!  This card is good when games are low on +card cards (remember the moat does have an ability other than the reaction) or when the Witch is in play.  Those are basically the only times moats are necessary.  You can also use a Moat for an easy end game strategy since they are so cheap.  Other than that, this card is just mediocre for what it is.  It is a reaction card, and basically only that.

Moneylender – Trash a copper to gain 3 money- 4 cost

I could also say this card works good in most any deck, but not as successful as the Mine.  Since the Moneylender only trashes copper and doesn’t guarantee any money cards in return, this card is tricky.  Many people pick up the Moneylender with the intent of using it like a mini-Mine (Trash a Copper to gain a Silver).  Many people have that intent, but get excited when they have more than 3 money.  Many people feel the need to buy a higher powered card than have the money.  Most of the time, the money cards are good to buy when using the Moneylender, UNLESS it is near the end of the game.  At this point, it is time to buy Victory Points.  Also, buying any more than 2 of these guys is basically useless, unless your deck revolves around +buy and regaining a copper every turn, which is a viable strategy.  With this strategy, you need Festivals as well as Moneylenders.  The optimum hand would be Festival, two Moneylenders, and two copper.  This is an automatic Province as well as another copper to refill the one  you used.  Other than that, there is no need to buy more than 1 or 2 of these guys.

Remodel – Trash a card, Gain a card costing up to 2 more than that card – 4 cost

This card is great – in more ways than one.  This card allows one to transform the early Estates into 4 cost cards.  This card allows 5 cost cards to become gold. This card allows Gold to become Provinces.  This is just an all around great card.  A common strategy with the Remodel is you have lots of +actions and you remodel everything in your deck up to gold.  Once your deck is full of gold, then you remodel the gold into Provinces.  Not many other decks can buy 2, 3, and possibly 4 provinces in one turn.  That is HUGE!  The other advantage Remodel has is it can Remodel CURSES.  That’s right, now you have an easy way to not only get rid of curses, but get an Estate from a Curse.  That is an automatic +2 Victory Points than you would have had.  Remodel is a card that is useful in some decks, but other decks – not so much.  This is also a card to watch out for other people using a lot.  It will easily sneak up behind you.

Smithy – +3 cards – 4 cost

Welcome to the shortest ability of the base game of Dominion.  Smithy is a good opening card to draw.  Odds are that it will allow you to gain an early Gold, which is good.  A VERY common strategy with Smithy is to combine this card with a +2 Action card (Village/Festival).  The reason for this is you play the Village first, then the Smithy which draws 3 cards.  You then have one more action left with which to do as you please.  No doubt this strategy will get you a lot of cards.  The only downfall this combo has is that people become too engulfed with that strategy that they forget to buy money cards.  There is no point in drawing 10 cards in your hand when you can only get 4 money out of it.  While this card is great for the combo, be warned not to disregard the key elements of the game (money and Victory Points).

Spy – +1 card/ +1 Action, Each player (including yourself) reveals the top card and either puts it back or discards it, your choice – 4 cost.

This card is also another one of my all around good cards.  This card, when chained with other draw cards, lets you eliminate cards you don’t want to draw, while ensuring cards you don’t want to get drawn do get drawn.  The way you use this card is it should be played first before anything else.  You want to know what is on top of your deck.  Even if you don’t have any +card card in your hand, this is extremely useful.  It allows you to discard your Victory Point cards that aren’t necessary in your hand.  Spy is just an all around great card to have.  I recommend at least picking two of these cards for your deck – if you can.

Thief – Each other player reveals the top two card of their deck.  You may gain one treasure card from each player.  The other cards are discarded – 4 cost

This is the ultimate “take-that” card in Dominion.  It is just a lot of fun for people who like to hurt their opponents.  With this card in play, getting Gold is almost a sin (assuming a moat is not in play).  This card goes AMAZINGLY well in a Spy deck.  You basically have 5 or so Spies in a deck.  You chain at least 3 of these together until you get a Silver or Gold on top of you opponents deck.  You then Thief that silver/gold and viola, instant free money.  That is a very common strategy with both of these cards in play.  If those cards are not in play however, then the thief is a bit weak.  It is based too much on the luck side of the coin.  Unless you know for certain that you will be getting money, then I would not play a Thief.  Also, if you trash some of their copper, you are helping them, because mid-late game, copper is useless most of the time.  While the Thief is good in some occasions, I would only recommend getting one or at most 2 of these bad boys.

Throne Room – Play one Action card from your hand twice – 4 cost

This card is quite powerful in a strong kingdom deck.  This card is not strong in a money heavy deck.  If you are playing with a lot of kingdoms, grab at least one Throne Room.  It WILL go a long way.  If you are playing a chapel deck, don’t grab this card.  Since you only have a couple of kingdom cards, this card MIGHT be drawn with another kingdom card, but usually it won’t.  This card has endless possibilities though.  Throne Room/Witch is a FANTASTIC way to screw over your opponents early on in a game without Moats.  To give your opponents two useless cards and negative 2 points in ONE turn is just amazing!  That is basically the strategy to Throne Room.  Play it when you can.  There is one rule note, however.  If you play two Throne Rooms back to back, you must play two kingdom cards following it.  You cannot play Throne Room/Throne Room/Witch in order for the Witch to be played 4 times.  Since each Throne Room must have its own target, you must play a separate action card for each.  That doesn’t go without saying you can’t play two Witches back to back, but not the other way around.

Village – +1 card, +2 Actions – 3 cost

Ah! the best new player gimmick out there. WOAH! One card, and two more actions, OMG, I must have all ten of these.  I have seen that before with players and they are dead wrong.  One player only needs 2 or 3 of these at most.  The reason is, is when you are done chaining these things together, you have close to 6 actions left over.  That is a signal that you have too many Villages and not enough Kingdom cards in general.  Yes this card gives you Actions.  You don’t need to flood your deck with as many of these as you can.  This is the same argument that goes with the Village/Smithy strategy be sure to grab some money and other kingdom cards and not just these.  Early game, yes go ahead and buy these, but later on, don’t bother.  Your gold is better used for other buys like 5 or 6 cost cards or even Provinces.  In the end, don’t buy more than 2 of these guys.

Witch – +2 cards, each other player gains a Curse card – 5 cost

Having two MAYBE three of these girls in your deck should suffice quite nicely.

Woodcutter – +1 buy, +2 money – 3 cost

This is a great opening card.  To have a card that acts as a Silver is great.  This card is also great for the Garden.  With the Garden, +buy is a necessity and this is the best low cost card for the job.  This card is basically a free Estate in a Garden deck.  Other than that, the Woodcutter is merely an alright card.  After your deck gets above 20 or so cards, more times than not you can Chapel/Remodel the Woodcutter unless you have tons of actions to use.  This is a great finisher to a chain.  Woodcutter allows for a great starting card as well as a great finisher to a long chain of cards.

Workshop – Gain a card costing up to 4 – 3 cost

This card is just a beauty.  It allows you to gain two cards in one turn, without having to have the gold or the +buy to do it.  This card is used to get spies/gardens/smithies/villages/SILVER, the list goes on and on.  This card is just an all around great card.  This card isn’t however a good starting card.  I would get my first two buys out of the way, and then I would buy the Workshop.  The workshop is not good in a Chapel deck.  There is no need for it.  Basically if you are in need of extra cards in one turn, the Workshop is the easiest way to get it.

Garden – Gain 1 victory point for every 10 cards in your deck at the end of the game

I saved the Garden for last because I wanted to tell show you all the other cards needed to make a good garden deck.  The OPTIMUM cards for a garden deck are Festival, Workshop, Bureaucrat, Council Room. While these are the optimum cards, you can mix this strategy to fit almost every possible set up.  Your goal is to gain more than one card every turn, and two cards if possible.  The festival is good for all its actions, +actions, +buy, and +2 gold.  If anything else, this gives you an estate every turn.   The Workshop allows you to gain a Garden every turn.  Bureaucrat allows you to get a silver every turn.  These two cards are good because they allow you to get cards before your actual buy stage.  Council Room finishes your chain buy drawing four more cards and getting yet another buy.  If everything else in your deck is money, then you are golden to use all your buys on useful cards. At your buy phase you then focus on gaining money, money, and more money.  USE ALL OF YOUR BUYS WHENEVER YOU CAN.  You want to get your deck up to 40/50/60 as fast as you can.  Take a copper every turn you can if you have extra buys.

Get your own copy of Dominion and good luck!

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May 6, 2009 at 1:59 am 3 comments

Axis and Allies Board Games – The Comparison/Review

Author: Andrew Tullsen

I’m going to try to lay out some of the differences and similarities between the different games in the Axis and Allies series. I’m going to assume you know something about the general Axis and Allies system.

Original Milton Bradley Edition

Let’s start with the original Milton Bradley Edition

The game that started it all. This game comes in a rather large box, and is a little outdated. I don’t suggest getting this one. There is a reason why these sell for only $10 on ebay. The box is so big the top dishes easily. The pieces are stored in Styrofoam containers, and a very blocky mold – not a lot of detail. The game has some key flaws, 2 of the main ones being the tech that gives you triple dice for your bombers, and Russia had about a 50-50 chance of defeating Germany if the Russians attacked right away from on turn 1. The game also doesn’t include artillery or destroyers.

Plays from 2-5. OK, let’s move on to the next one.

Revised World Edition (Avalon Hill)

This is the first one I got, so I have a little bit of bias towards it. I love it. I’ve played it so many times that I’ve memorized the entire setup for it. This is being compared to the (Milton Bradley (MB) edition.)

  • The minis in this game are much more detailed.
  • The sea zones are numbered for easier setup and PBEM (Play By EMail).
  • There are a lot more ocean and land spaces, allowing for greater flexibility.
  • It has destroyers and artillery.
  • Starting Setup has changed quite a bit.
  • Submarines can submerge.
  • Tanks got a better defense, Battleships are now double health, Fighters are lowered in cost.

This is the best game of the series. It is the “main” Axis and Allies and gives you the grand strategic battle.

Every first round will be different, as players try out new strategies. Part of the fun is finding out what would happen if you tried this plan or that one. It lets you change history, at least for a few hours.

Included in the back are 6 national advantages for each nation. You can roll or choose them. Some are duds, some are ok, some are really great. These are optional, but we almost always use them when we play.

I think this game plays great with 2 or 5 and well with 3-4.

2 players allow you to manage one whole side, and 5 players lets each player take 1 nation. 3-4 players just require doubling up on some of the nations.

Plays 2-5

Axis and Allies : Europe

As might be expected, this game sets the scene in Europe. The map includes the East US, parts of Africa, and a good bit of Russia. Germany is the only Axis Power, and boy, do they look powerful. Tiger Tanks are all over, the infantry are just piled up in groups waiting to attack,  and their subs dominate the Atlantic. There are Convoy Boxes next to some sea zones. These represent shipments coming in to the allies. The allies will get the value from the convoys if they still own them. But if Germany was the last one to enter those spaces, then that allied cash flow is stopped, but Germany doesn’t get the money from it. The Allies can take these back by moving a ship through them, and perhaps fighting any units there.

  • It includes 2 new units – destroyers and artillery. Destroyers are a good buy for half the price of battleships. Artillery fit in between the infantry and the tank. It attacks/defends on a 2, and allows 1 infantry to also attack on a 2.
  • There is no weapons development process or building new Industrial complexes.
  • Fighters can escort bombers on strategic bombing raids, and enemy fighters can “dogfight” with them.
  • Russia can take control of allied units left in its land and control them.
  • There is a small struggle for the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
  • The Atlantic is dominated by German subs, until the power of America comes into play. Then it’s just a losing battle for the Germans on that side. But the main battle occurs on the border between Russia and Germany.

There are lots of big battles on that front. You have to win quickly as the Germans in this game, or else you lose.

Plays 2-4

Axis and Allies: Pacific

This version concentrates on the Pacific side of struggle. The map zooms in on that corner, and it includes a lot of islands, and parts of India and China. Pacific takes place right before Pearl Harbor. And as a nice twist, on the first turn, all Allied forces defend on 1’s. That includes Battleships and Fighters. Everything except China (which only has infantry, so it doesn’t make that much of a difference) is unprepared for the Japanese assaults. So Japan tries to cause as much havoc on its first turn as it can. Japan has a ton of troops, so its first turn takes a long time. So many different things you can do. Transport here, attack there, bomb this, sink that…

Japan is trying to get Victory points to win. They are trying to get 22 VPs before the Allies take Japan. Each 10 IPCs they get at the end of their turn is 1 VP. They can also win by taking and holding a capital city (India, New South Wales or the US). The United States are a formidable opponent. With its 75 IPCs per turn, it can field a large fleet quickly.

Similar to Europe, Pacific also incorporates Convoy Routes, and Dogfighting while strategic bombing. US Marines are worth 4, and attack on a 2 when they participate in an amphibious assault. China produces a few units per turn. UK has 2 bases – one in India, and another in Australia. They will try to hold off the might of Japan until the US can intervene. The game also includes things like kamikazes, island bases (let aircraft fly farther) and sea ports (let sea units move farther).

The game retains the main feel of Axis and Allies, but adds a whole new dimension to it. This is a must buy for A+A fans.

Plays 2-3

Check out Axis & Allies: Pacific here.

Axis and Allies: D-Day

D-Day incorporates cards into the game.

D-Day concentrates on 1 day and 1 small section of coast in World War II. The great D-Day landings. This game includes a lot of interesting features.

  • Germany gets blockhouses which fire on the landing zones.
  • There is no buying of troops – your troops come in a set order.
  • Only the Allies get an Air Force. Bombers pick a zone, and roll a single time for hits. Fighters patrol a zone, and then for each unit that leaves or enters, they get to attack it.
  • There are stacking limits per zone, and each battle in a zone goes through only 1 round of combat.
  • There is a set of Order Cards which determine the order of play, and what happens when. These work quite nicely. You just flip the card, and then it tells you what to do next. Basically it is just showing you the phases. After a few games, or a few rounds, you probably won’t need them anymore.

Advanced players can include Fortune and Tactics cards. With fortune cards you roll a die, and then if it’s a 1 or a 6, something good or bad happens (depending on your viewpoint). This roll happens before every order card. Tactics cards come after each order card, and the player mentioned on the card gets to decide when to use it. They can use it when it comes up, or decide to wait.

The Allies’ goal is to control 2 out of 3 of the Cities on the map. The Germans are trying to prevent this from happening. At the end of the game, usually there won’t be a lot of units on the map. Everyone has been wiped out. Because of the static setup, and the set reinforcements, this game holds a lot less replay ability than any of the other Axis and Allies series. D-Day changes almost everything about the main game, retaining only the figures and the stats for the land units. As the Allies, you are struggling getting off the beaches, and the Axis are trying to stem the flood, as the dodge bombs and strafing attacks. This is a fun game, but it doesn’t follow the original rules much at all.

Plays 2-3

Check Out Axis & Allies: D-Day here

Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge

And they incorporate hexes! That’s right, but it’s not your usual hex and counter war game. It’s a simple war game, dressed up as Axis and Allies.

Bulge is a mix of D-Day and a war game. Battle of the Bulge has no unit building, only set reinforcements. It has hexes, zone of control, supply tokens, roads and cities.

Each turn you activate supply tokens to activate the hexes and then you can move. Trucks are included which can move your units as far as you want on the roads. They help bring in your reinforcements faster.

The Zone of Control rules used in this game are simply if you move into a hex adjacent to an enemy unit, then you must stop. You never enter an enemy hex either. Like all standard war games, you move adjacent to them, and battle.

The game includes “front-line” markers which show you how far the bulge has progressed. You use these instead of control tokens, to determine how many cities the Axis has taken. It’s nice to watch the bulge grow, or shrink, depending on who you are.

The game doesn’t include the standard 6-sided dice. Now you get 12 12-sided dice. Each unit has an attack value, which indicates how many dice you roll for it. Rolls of 6 less counts as a hit. You pull out the unit strips (kept under the board) to the number of boxes which show the amount of the defending troops. Your hits are placed on the strips in order, counting down. If there is a “1”, put it in the first box, any “2s” go in the 2nd box, and continuing on, you distribute all the dice. If there are more than 6 defending units, you simply re roll your hits, and then place them in the boxes, wrapping around if need be. For every 1 die in a unit box, 1 unit of that type retreats. For every 2 dice in that unit box, 1 unit of that type is destroyed. Note that the defender doesn’t retaliate back. At least not yet. The initiative switches from player to player during the ground combat phase. Each player pays a supply token to attack 1 hex. They resolve it, and then other player can attack 1 hex. This continues until all units that you wanted to attack with have done so.

Battle of the Bulge is a very different system. It is now a simple war game, with Axis and Allies pieces, and some of the basic rules. But it is a completely new game. As the setup and reinforcements never change from game to game, it can feel a little “scripted”, more so than the standard Axis and Allies. Another fun game, and different enough to warrant another purchase.

Plays 2-2

Check out Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge here.

Axis and Allies: Guadalcanal

Each of the 3 “closeup” battles (D-Day, Bulge, Guadalcanal) change the game, give it a new twist and surprise us with its ingenuity. Guadalcanal doesn’t disappoint.

Players move simultaneously – Each unit type at time, player 1, then player 2. The 1st player switches every round. The 2nd player can choose to move out and not combat if they want, so they have a bit of power. But they must react to what the 1st player does as well.

Combat is divided into Air, Sea and Land Attack Phases. Each unit can participate in different phases. For instance, Air Units participate in all 3 phases, Artillery in the Sea and Land phases, Infantry in just the Land phase. Each unit has a different attack value or number of dice rolled for that combat phase.

For instance, Bombers have:

  1. Air Attack: 1
  2. Sea Attack: 2
  3. Land Attack: 2

There is a “battle box” where you put all the attacking dice in and roll. Each die is randomly assigned a “target”. If it is a 1 or a 2, then that unit is destroyed. In the final round you get to buy units. Each unit has a different cost, the costs being from about 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of them in the original game. Each island you own gives you 5 reinforcement points which are used to get more units. So there isn’t that static reinforcement chart from D-Day or Bulge.

The game includes Cruisers and Airfields as well. Airfields are built using supply tokens which have to be transported to the island, and are worth 1 VP each turn they are held. And that leads to the end game.

The first person to have 15 Victory Points wins. You can also get a VP for destroying a capital ship (Aircraft carrier or Battleship) of your opponents.

Plays 2-2

Check out Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal here.

Collectors 50th Anniversary Edition

This is the world edition, but it is for the real fans only. I haven’t played it yet, so I’m just going to list some new additions the game has.

  • A new turn order
  • Includes Italy, a new nation and China as a ‘minor’ power
  • Two different setup scenario options (2 different years)
  • More victory cities
  • National Objectives
  • Bigger, Redrawn map with more territories, (3-piece board)
  • Different Strategic Bombing routine
  • New Cruiser Unit, along with new costs for some sea units
  • More technologies

Plays 2-6 players

Best Dang Games Comment:

At the time of this blog post (4/30/2009), the Axis & Allies series is undergoing a reprint under a new name – Axis & Allies 1942. We are expecting this game to be available summer 2009 – but that is merely an estimate. Because of this, many of the different games in this series are going out of print. Please contact us directly if you are interested in one of these games so we can check current availability for you.

Also, regarding the Anniversary Edition, this game is out of print. There is a rumor that it will be an annual release – around the holiday season. Last year, there were two printings of it. During the holiday season, this game was our runnaway best selling game.

Which game of the system do you like the best? Join the conversation and let us know which ones and why.

May 1, 2009 at 2:23 am 1 comment

Twilight Imperium Board Game – A Newbie’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy

Author – Jeff Woods

Twilight Imperium (3rd Edition) is a board game of galactic conquest and strategy for 3-6 players. With the expansion, up to 8 can play, and rules variants are available for 2 players. It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games.

I have not owned Twilight Imperium very long, and have not played that many games yet. But, it is a game I truly enjoy, and you may as well. It’s not my intention here to go into a lot of detail about every part and every rule. I thought I would write down my thoughts, and why I already love the game, to help you decide if it’s the game for you.

What is Twilight Imperium (TI) all about, you may ask? TI is a massive strategy board game that takes place mostly in outer space. The ‘game board’ is actually a map of the galaxy made of hexes, and is different every time. Players play one of several galactic races trying to take over leadership of the galaxy. You do this through conquest, politics and even economics.

Twilight Imperium Is HUGE!

TI is a huge game, and not just in scope. If you’re considering getting it, make sure you have plenty of table space for the map, all the different cards, and areas for each player to keep track of his stuff. My 4-by-5 foot table is barely big enough for a 4-player game. This is not a light, “hey, let’s play something,” game, but an event that you need to plan for and set aside plenty of time. All the games I’ve played have taken at least four hours. If you’re playing with any optional rules (yes, there are plenty, and lots of markers/chits for those, too) plan for longer.

When you first open the box, be prepared to be overwhelmed. The amount of pieces and parts is staggering. You get map hexes, cards, plastic ships, markers for this and that, and a nicely put-together rulebook. But don’t worry about what to do first; the rulebook itself tells you what piece is what and how to organize things. The production quality of the parts is wonderful. The map hexes and various markers are made from high quality material, and are sure to last a lot of games. One note of warning here, though: the box itself has no dividers. Invest in some baggies, tackle boxes or a combination of both to keep everything organized.

Basic Play

Twilight Imperium is played in rounds, each broken into three phases:

  • The Strategy Phase
  • The Action Phase
  • The Status Phase

The Strategy Phase

During the Strategy Phase, players pick a strategy card that gives them some type of bonus for that round. You may be able to get a free technology upgrade, or resolve a political situation and change the rules of the game, among others.

The Action Phase

During the Action Phase, you move you ships, engage in combat, and play to the bonuses of your particular Strategy Card you picked.

The Status Phase

The Status Phase is mainly a book-keeping phase in which you check your score, repair ships, and ‘reset’ the board for action in the next round. While you’re taking your turn, other players are planning their next moves, trying to sabotage you, and bartering for political gain.

Everything Has A Cost

This is a game where everything you do has a cost. You have a limited number of Command Counters, which allow you to move your fleets, and take advantage of certain strategies. You have, or may not have, Trade Goods (the game’s currency) you can spend to either help build ships, research technology, or buy votes in the political arena. Planets you’ve taken over provide you with resources and influence, which you use to expand your fleets or vote in politics, respectively.

How Do You Win?

You win a game of TI, and leadership of the Galaxy, by achieving objectives, which are random and different every game. An objective could be a simple as controlling 10 planets, to more difficult, like controlling Mecatol Rex (the Capitol planet that’s always in the center of the galaxy) with a number of ships and ground forces.

Why Do I Like Twilight Imperium?

I really like this game because for me it has it all. I love science fiction, so to me the theme is golden. You have large scale space battles, planetary invasions, politics and lots of player interaction. Although it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely that a player is eliminated from the game. The map is random, as are the main objectives for winning, which makes every game different. Each Race that can be played has a different bonus, and adds a bit of role-playing. There is plenty of player interaction, with very little downtime between turns. Even though it can take a long time to play, there’s enough going on to keep most people interested.

Of course, what appeals to some can turn others off. As I said before, it’s a massive game that takes a long time to play. There are a lot of rules, and a lot of steps to accomplishing any goal in the game. If you don’t have the table space, or aren’t into a LOT of bits, this isn’t the game for you.

A Little Advice

Check out the rules (They are 44 pages long), then the FAQ section on Fantasy Flight Games’ website for rules clarifications. Then head over to Boardgamegeek.com and peruse through some of the excellent articles there. This is an expensive game, both in money and time. If you’re interested and trying to find buddies that you can play with, let your friends know it’s a little like Risk, but with politics and economics. Although combat and galactic war are big parts of the game, they’re the means to an end, and not the end itself. Although unlikely, it’s possible to win without firing a shot.

And for your first game, set a time to stop, and allow lots of mulligans as you interpret the rules.

Twilight Imperium is a great game for me. I can’t play it as much as I’d like because of the investment in time, but when I do, it’s an event that’s remembered.

You can also check out more information about Twilight Imperium here.

April 15, 2009 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Board Games – Playing Single-Player Board Games

Author – Jimmy Okolica

I love to play games.  While many people lost interest in games when they left Sorry and Memory behind, I have always been on the lookout for new interesting games to play.  While some people might think continually finding new interesting games to play would be difficult, what I’ve found more difficult is finding people to play them with.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I do have friends (and a wife) and I can even get them to agree to play games every couple of weeks.  However, for me, that just isn’t enough.  So, what is a gamer to do?  Although once upon a time, the only game a person could play alone was the card game of solitaire, that is no longer the case.  There are many games specifically designed for one player and many more that can be easily modified to be enjoyable solo games.

“Personal Best” Games

There are basically two different types of solo games.  The first are “personal best” games.  In these games, the object is to beat your personal best.  Many traditional board games can be played solo.  For instance, in Scrabble you can play with one set of tiles and try to beat your own personal best.

“Race Against Time” Games

The second type are “race against time” games.  For instance, in Arkham Horror, the object is to close the inter-dimensional gates in Arkham before the Ancient One wakes up and destroys humanity.

Within these two categories, there are also several different themes of games.

Abstract Games

The first theme is abstract.  These are the traditional puzzle games like the traditional Peg Solitaire where you keep jumping pegs until you can’t jump anymore.

Story Games

A second theme is story game.  In these games, which are generally of the “race against time” sort, after each move, you read either a card or a paragraph in a book that develops a story as you play.  While not a solo game, the traditional Dungeons & Dragons games are one of the best known story games.

War Games

A third theme that, although it fits within story game, that is usually separated is war game.  These use the same mechanic as story games, but due to the size of the genre and the time to play, they are usually separated.

Games Based on Mechanics
Finally, many solo games do not fit into any of these themes and are known by their principal mechanics, or by how they work.  For instance, resource optimization games reward you based on how few of something you use.  For instance, in Agricola you are a farmer who must use your scarce resources to feed your family and increase the size of your farm.

Another mechanic common to card games is hand management where you must make optimal use of the cards in your hand to either maximize your score or avoid disaster.

Co-Operative Play

A final mechanic that is helpful in finding games that work well solo is called cooperative play.  These are multi player games where the object is to work together for a common goal.  In these games, either everyone wins or everyone loses.  As a result, these are very easy games to convert into solo games.

Length of Time to Play
The last characteristic that is important to solo games is how long do they take to play.  War games can be fun but unless you have somewhere between 2 to 6+ hours to spend, you are out of luck.  Other games, like the traditional card of game of solitaire, can be played in a 10 minutes.

Here is a short list of a few of the solo games I’ve played in no particular order:

  • Arkham Horror: a cooperative multi-player where the goal is to save humanity by closing the interdimensional gates before the Ancient One awakes; race against the clock; story based; 2 – 4 hours
  • Lord of the Rings: a cooperative multi-player game where the goal is to help the hobbits destroy Sauron’s ring in Mount Doom before he can resuce it; race against the clock; hand management; 1 hour
  • Pandemic: a cooperative multi-player where the goal is to save humanity by curing pandemics before the Earth’s population dies; race against the clock; hand management; 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  • Ghost Stories: a cooperative multi-player where the goal is to save the village by killing ghosts and the evil Wu Feng; race against the clock; hand management; 1 hour
  • Red November: a cooperative multi-player where the goal is to stay alive aboard a submarine by fixing broken systems until help arrives; race against the clock; hand management; 1 hour
  • Battle Hymn: a solo game where the goal is to complete assigned missions without dying; race against the clock; war game; 1 – 4 hours
  • Agricola: a multi-player and single player game where the goal is to build the best farm over four years; personal best; resource optimization; 1 hour
  • San Juan: a multi-player game where the goal is to build the best town; personal best; hand management; 1 hour.
  • Dungeoneer: a multi-player game that can be adopted for single player where the goal is to complete 3 quests; race against the clock ; dice rolling and hand management; 1 hour
  • Set: a multi-player and single-player game where the goal is to complete sets where 3 cards either all have one thing in common or all have one thing different; personal best; abstract; 1 hour

January 12, 2009 at 10:30 pm Leave a comment

Android Review – Blade Runner As An RPG/Board Game

Seth Brown – www.RisingPun.com

Android is a giant 3-5 player board game for ages 13 and up, that can take 3-4 hours to play.

This conspiracy-filled board game set in a dystopian future inspired by various famous science fiction novels, where players each play a detective on a murder case. You have two weeks to follow leads, uncover evidence, reveal conspiracies, and resolve your emotional baggage. Imagine if Blade Runner were a 3-hour adventure board game, and you’ve got the general idea. At the end of two weeks, detectives are awarded points for correctly tagging the murderer, uncovering conspiracy, and resolving their own issues. Whoever has the most points wins.

Pieces/Parts:

Many.

A large fold-out board six times the size of the box, conspiracy puzzle pieces, event cards, murder-specific cards, suspect cards and sheets, and hundreds of cardboard chits of various types representing everything from favors and evidence to baggage and trauma. Each detective also has their own playset that includes a play sheet, a strategy guide, a flying car caliper, two decks of twilight cards, a deck of plot cards, and more.

Yes, you’ll want some bags.

How Do You Play?

Even summarizing the 48-page rulebook may take half an hour, but the basic mechanic is this: Every day, you have six times in which to explore the world and make progress.

Each time allows you to do any of these options:

  • Move to another location – Go anywhere you can reach from your current location by measuring with your flying car caliper.
  • Follow up a lead – Use the lead on your space to either uncover a piece of evidence (which you then place on a suspect to increase/decrease guilt) or uncover a piece of the conspiracy (to add a piece to the puzzle and possibly effect end-game victory points)
  • Draw, discard, or play a card – Play light cards on your turn for various benefits. Dark cards may only be played on other players’ turns, to attack them, but take no time.
  • Use a location ability – Various locations on the board allow you to spend time to acquire favors or trade favors for other benefits.

All the while, you’ll also be trying to add good baggage to your plot. In addition, each detective has their own unique mechanic with some affect on the cards.

What’s Cool?

Android has theme coming out the wazoo. Check out the trailer on the Android product page and you’ll have a pretty good idea for the feel of the game.

Unlike many more cerebral games where you calculate points and rarely get into the game itself, Android really draws you in. After flying around earth and the moon for two weeks chasing suspects, retrieving evidence, and dealing with the personal baggage of your detective, you really feel like part of a large story. The flavor text on all your character’s light and dark cards really adds to this, and the plots weave theme into gameplay really nicely.

Android easily could have been a movie, and many people would still want to see it. The same cannot be said of most board games.

There are also a number of interesting mechanics.

  • When you draw dark cards, you choose which player’s dark deck to draw from, and then the card is keyed to attack that player only. Each player has a twilight marker that can shift from light to dark. Playing light cards and dark cards requires shifting the marker in opposite directions, with the result that players must balance the types of cards that they play.
  • The conspiracy puzzle is also quite innovative, with 24 pieces of actual puzzle that can be constructed into a 5×5 grid during the game. In addition to scoring points for completing rows or columns, the placement of pieces determines whether certain favors are worth points at the end of the game, as each piece has a line that can connect the conspiracy to different organizations.

Perhaps the best combination of theme and mechanics comes in the interplay of cards with locations on the board, such as seedy locations. When entering a seedy location, you draw a dark card to injure other players and enable more light card play, which is good. However, many of the dark cards played against you may only injure you in a seedy location (and have appropriate flavor text), which is bad. Players can enable this by moving leads to seedy locations, luring you there. The end result is that you and your detective start to feel that seedy locations are dangerous but good sources of information, which is exactly how things should be.

What’s Not To Like?

Android is an absolutely huge game. It takes up a lot of space, it has hundreds of pieces, takes a lot of time to set up, lots of time to learn (48 pages of rules), and lots of time to play. If you only have a small card-table, or aren’t willing to invest a few hours into playing a single game, then Android may be more game than you want to deal with. The reward (in terms of fun) can be quite high, but the time investment is substantial, and may be off-putting to players who can’t imagine spending 4 hours on a single game.

Some people may also be disappointed that “solving the murder” consists mainly of adding evidence to the suspect you believe is guilty, rather than any process of deduction. Try to think of it as uncovering evidence that confirms your hunches (rather than planting evidence), and it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Finally, some players dislike being directly attacked by other players, and that’s what dark cards are. However, most characters can easily reduce the risk of attack cards by avoiding certain locations.

Overall Thoughts

Android is a giant 4-hour adventure board game, far bigger than my usual Euro-style fare. The first game took way too long to set up and learn the rules, but I really wanted to play again. Things are a lot faster the second time through, and after that, setup time becomes almost reasonable. My friends immediately wanted to schedule a time to play again, because the game just has so much fun in it. Any big science fiction fans – especially if they like Blade Runner – should definitely consider this game. Android is still a very long game, but if you don’t mind spending a full evening on it, it will provide a full evening of entertainment.

Buy your own copy of Android

January 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm 1 comment

Axis & Allies: A Basic Strategy Guide for Beginners

Introduction

For experienced players of Axis and Allies (A&A), many of the moves and actions will seem either natural or scripted, particularly in the opening rounds.  There are certain actions that seem obvious to veterans of A&A.   Fortunately, the Revised Version of A&A has opened up the game to new tactics and strategies, and allows for a wider variety of opening moves.  At the same time, there are still some aspects of the game that new players do not grasp right away – so if you fall into this category then this guide to the basic strategy of A&A is for you.   At the same time, I hope that even experienced players can learn something.

General Strategy

Before we look at each country individually, it may be useful to sketch out a few basic suggestions that apply to each nation.  Specifically, there are three rules you should keep in mind: be ready to adapt, focus on IPC’s, and be efficient in your troop production and movement.

The first rule for A&A is less of a rule than a mindset; it is the realization that no plan is perfect.

The greatest skill you need to develop is the ability to adapt.  The dice are fickle – and sometimes no amount of strategy can help with bad rolls – and so it’s important not to get too fixated on one goal.  If you’re playing Germany, for instance, and you are mercilessly pressing towards Moscow, yet are getting nowhere (let’s say because the British are heavily reinforcing the Russians), this might mean that the Allies have weaknesses elsewhere that you might exploit.  Perhaps you can gain IPCs faster elsewhere – by invading a nearly empty India from Africa for instance.  Those IPC’s will give you the economic superiority to finally beat Russia later in the game.

This brings us to our second general rule: economic superiority is extremely important.

A&A is won primarily by who has the most money.  And to get money, of course, you need land.   You don’t have to hang onto land forever, however.  Beginners tend to spread their troops out in order to defend every country.  This is a serious mistake.  Bigger stacks of troops suffer fewer casualties on average, and so it’s dangerous to spread your troops thinly.  You’re much better off keeping major armies together in order to use them for counterattacks.   For your income levels, all that matters is that you control territory at the end of your turn, not at the beginning.  Only once you think you can hold a territory till your next turn is it worth putting a big stack at the front line.  The exceptions are of course capitals and territories that are worth significant amounts of IPCS.

Rule number three: buy your new units in such quantities that you can get them to the front line as quickly as possible.

Let’s say you’re Japan, and you start with 25 IPC’s.  There is no point in buying 8 infantry units because you don’t have sufficient transports to move them all right away.  Efficiency is the key.  Let’s say you’re Germany – unless you plan some really risky Blitzkrieg your first purchase will likely include quite a number of infantry, because they take longer to get to the frontlines against Russia than tanks.  Late in the game, when you are preparing a final push against a capital, you might buy a large number of planes, because by then other troops will not get there in time to help out.  This principle is self-evident when you think about it, but applying it consistently is the key.

From these general rules you can really tell the importance of economics.  In the next section – a detailed analysis of each nation’s strategies, with a special focus on opening moves – we’ll focus more on specific military strategies.

National Objectives and Strategies

Russia

Russia is in many ways the easiest nation to play, primarily because your options are somewhat limited.  You’ll never have a huge navy to worry about and you likely won’t have the resources to build up a big air force.  So what should you do?  In the original A&A the general strategy was to buy massive numbers of infantry.  This is still partially true for the revised version, although now you should invest some money in artillery, tanks, or (not my preference) planes.   These units allow you to counter attack in select places in order to slow down the German advance.  The war with Germany is primarily a war of attrition.  Since you go first, your best opening move is to straighten out your front lines by attacking West Russia with significant numbers of troops.  You might as well give up on Karelia, although you should leave at least one unit to avoid a German blitzkrieg.  Once you take West Russia you will have a very strong base to operate from and it will take Germany a turn or two to build up its forces against you.   On the East Front you should consolidate your infantry, although it’s not always easy to know what to do with them.  If you leave them on the coast you risk having them all wiped out quickly by a Japanese amphibious assault.  On the other hand, it may relieve some pressure from your Allies, because Japan won’t be able to attack everything on its opening turn.  You should note one particularly useful trick – if you do stick close to the coast you allow the possibility of an American bomber to destroy isolated Japanese transports and have a safe place to land.  This is a surprising move that will really annoy the Japanese!

Japan

In the Revised A&A, Japan has more of a naval force, so the question is what to do with it all.  Of course Pearl Harbor is a good option, and I strongly recommend that you take out those American ships before they come after you.  However, you also have a bigger British Fleet in India to worry about.  And then there’s the assault on the main land.  The first thing to realize is that you can’t do it all on your first turn.  If you try to destroy the Brits and the Americans on the same turn you’re risking disaster.   Pyrrhic victories are best avoided.  On your first turn you should make sure that at the very least you either buy a transport or a factory (to be placed on the mainland).  It’s key that you get as many troops on the mainland as fast as you can.  It’s also key that you put pressure on Russia soon.   Limiting Russia’s IPC’s will help Germany out tremendously.  Japan has much more breathing room, and so has a duty to help out her partner.

Attacking America is hardly ever a good idea.  Attacking is, however, different from putting pressure on her.  If the US is entirely focused on Western Europe then sending a few troops to Alaska will not only get you a few easy IPCs, but will further divert the attention away from Germany for a little while.   It’s like if you’re friend is being attacked by an angry bear and you help him out by prodding the bear in the back.  Of course you risk having the bear (America) come after you, but that’s not a bad thing if it takes a while for the Americans to build up forces and shift their attentions westwards.

One of the key things the Japanese need to watch out for is that they don’t lose naval and air superiority in the Pacific.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the easy victories on the mainland.  However, if both the British and Americans are building up their navies, then the Japanese should too.  The reason is that the Japanese are very vulnerable if they don’t control the sea.  If the Americans should get a toehold on some of the bigger islands they can build a factory and start pumping out the troops.  Given their economic superiority they will soon make life very difficult for the Japanese.  And once you’re behind in this naval race it’s almost impossible to catch up.

The United States

New players should almost always be assigned to play the United States.  The reason is that it’s the most forgiving nation – if you make a mistake it will not always cost you the war.  The big pitfall for America, however, is to try and fight the war on both fronts.  This is not generally an effective strategy.  Decide where you will help out and stick with it.  America’s opening move depends somewhat on how the Japanese fared on their turn.  If they made some mistakes or took some unexpected losses then it might be a good idea to put the pressure on them.  Most often, however, the American player will try to help out Britain in the Atlantic theatre.  A strong opening move is to start sending troops to Africa, and limit the German attacks there.  Watch out, however, because the Germans may have landed many of their planes in Western Europe or North Africa.  There’s no need to be too hasty.

What else can the Americans do?  Generally speaking building a factory in China is a bad move – you’ll be overrun by the Japanese before you know it.  Once you’ve got some troops in Africa and Britain has built up a bit of a navy you might start to send troops into Finland or Western Europe, depending on the German strengths there.  The main thing here is to figure out a consistent and fast way to get troops across.  If you have two waves of transports then you will always have troops arriving for action every turn.  That makes it more difficult for Germany to react.

If you do decide to attack the Japanese, the key is not to send a huge invasion force when you first send your navy in.  Take enough troops to conquer one of the major Indonesian islands.  Then build a factory on it – now you will have a base in the middle of the theatre of war.  With your economic advantage you will soon out-produce and outfight the Japanese.

Germany

Germany is easily the most difficult nation to play.  Particularly the opening turn is very difficult.  Generally speaking on your first turn you should at least set the following three objectives.

First of all, destroy the British fleet wherever you can reach it.  You should use most of your air-force for this task.  If you land your planes in Western Europe or northern Africa you will also be able to stave off early attacks from the Brits and Americans.

Objective 2 is Egypt: this is the gateway to Africa and you need to conquer it right away.  Try to send as many troops from Italy and Africa as you can.  The British will sometimes counterattack from India, so watch out.

Objective number three is to figure out your Russian campaign.  Send as many troops as you can afford east.  However, don’t send them right up to the front lines, as you’re not at a level of strength where you can hold the front against the Russians.  That time will come.  Make this a war of attrition.  It’s a matter of taking and retaking weakly defended territories and leaving a few troops to tempt the Russians into attacking.  If they send in too many troops then you can take out a major army next time.  If they persist with small battles then eventually you should be able to out-produce them and send in your built-up forces for the kill.

What else can you do with Germany?  Well, one strategy is to build an air-craft carrier in the Baltic to make life more difficult for the Brits.  I’m not too fond of this idea, but I have seen it work.  You should conquer major parts of Africa as soon as you can.  It’s almost inevitable that it will be taken back, but you need to get as many IPC’s out of it for as long as you can.  The main thing to remember for Germany is to have patience.  And be ready to adapt.  Often it’s Japan that finally conquers Russia.  If it comes to that time you may have to be ready to send your troops back to Germany to defend the capital and let Japan finish the job.

Britain

It can be frustrating to play the Brits because they’re scattered across the globe and their IPC’s dwindle quickly.  Let’s have a look at each theatre of war separately.  In Asia you have a number of options.  You can try to link up your navies, but you’re probably better off sending the Australian sub and transport eastwards to the Atlantic.  If you keep your Navy by India (for instance, if you build a factory in India) then you might send your fighter plane to take out the lone Japanese transport within reach.  This is a bit risky (if you misfire), but generally it’s a safe bet.  You might also try to retake Egypt, or you can withdraw your navy towards Madagascar.  A final option is to launch a suicidal attack against some of the Indonesian islands and isolated Japanese naval units.  I’m not a big fan of this strategy, but I have had opponents pull it off (with a lot of luck).

In terms of the Atlantic theatre, you should ferry your Canadian troops to England, and there you should begin building up a fleet and air-force.   Don’t be too hasty to take out the Baltic German fleet.  Most likely it won’t go anywhere, so build up your air-force to take it out in one fell swoop.  Having a large air-force with Britain is a huge asset.  It allows you help with the defence of Russia, and it gives you a good opportunity to do damage in the Indian Ocean.  In Europe you’ll want to steal IPC’s by taking and retaking Scandinavia and Western Europe.  Once you control the Baltic you might begin sending troops in to trouble Germany’s advance to Moscow.

Conclusion

So these are a few basic strategies for becoming a competent A&A player.  Not everyone will agree with me on each of these points, but I hope that the general thrust of this article is broadly acceptable.  Remember, however, that none of these rules is set in stone – there’s no fail-proof  way to win.  Only if you are able to adapt to changing circumstances will you start to win on a consistent basis.

Happy war gaming!

Buy Axis & Allies

December 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm 10 comments

Agricola Board Game – New Product and Tutorial Video Posted

We have posted a new video about Agricola. The goal of the video is to allow you to see the components of the game and understand the basic mechanics of the game. This should be enough for you to determine if you think it is the type of game you would like and how to get started with your first game.

We did not attempt to show every aspect of the game, nor is it a review style video.

Hope this helps you determine if the farming-themed board game, Agricola is a game for you.

November 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm 4 comments

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