Axis & Allies Europe

Avalon Hill, 1999, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up. This A&A spin-off streamlines some of the production rules of the main game and focuses on the war in Europe between Germany and Russia (along with the United States and the British, although they don't become relevent in this scenario until later in the game). The rest of the game is straight Axis & Allies- capturing certain key territories earns you IPC's (money) at the end of your turn. At the beginning of your next turn you use the money to purchase new units (planes and ships costing the most, then armor, artillery and infantry). Then you move your units into harm's way and start rolling dice (a feature that either you like or you don't - some people absolutely detest all the die-rolling. Me, I love it). The pieces are the excellent (and fun) little toys we've come to know and love, although they still have the problem of being too big (especially those damned bombers) to comfortably occupy the tiny territories on the board. Providing poker chips to allow stacking of units is still a pain in the neck. The rules are decent and well-organized, but they are long. I think the whole game could be refined further, but I guess it's not really designed for the casual gamer who only plans on bringing it out once a year.

The set-up is pre-Operation Barbarossa with Germany poised to invade Russia. Germany has the advantage of having a lot of forces on the board to start with as well as having a very high income each turn. In order to win, Germany must conquer and hold one of the allied capitals for a full turn. Generally speaking, this means invading Russia and conquering Moscow (although a sneaky alternate strategy is to throw everything at Britain right away). Russia starts out with a fair number of forces on the board, but with a very low income. The United States has a high income (matching Germany's) but is hamstrung by distance and a lack of initial pieces. The UK has the worst of both world - few pieces and low income. This game seems pretty well balanced between the allies and Germany. In the one game we've played so far the German player ceded after about 5 turns (about how long it takes to crank up U.S. and British support to Russia). But I can see where had he played things differently the outcome might have changed entirely (or at least been in doubt longer). I was actually surprised that he lost, because my initial impression was that Germany had quite a favorable initial setup. But anyway, the whole thing is certainly less of a foregone conclusion than A&A Pacific (where the Japanese are virtually guaranteed victory). Despite what the box says, I think this game should be played with 2 or 3 players. The British and the Americans don't have nearly as much to do the first few turns as do the Germans and Russians, so allowing a single player to operate both seems only fair.

There are several interesting schemes out there that people have developed for merging A&AP and A&AE into one huge game. I haven't tried them myself (and really don't plan to), but if you're interested go here

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