Axis & Allies or How I Stopped Worrying & Learned To Love Long Games

I have very few positive memories centered around my father; video game arcades, chess, art museums, and Axis & Allies. Notice most of them are centered around games: video game arcades–for those who are not old enough to remember them, try to imagine a place where all of the games you play now were available to play, but you paid to play—chess, and Axis & Allies. Axis & Allies is a classic game that has gone through several editions and variations.

When I first played Axis & Allies (A&A) the pieces were infantry, tanks, AA guns, industrial complexes, fighters, bombers, battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, and transports. Plus fake money came with the game. I owned a lot of the supplements that came out from second party vendors to increase the complexity of the game. But at it’s heart A&A was about spending time with my father, fighting WWII, and learning how to manage resources.

A&AThat is what A&A is about, managing resources. Yes, you do fight, but you cannot fight if you do not plan ahead and make good purchases. A&A would lead to Twilight Imperium another post altogether, but responsible for this post. We showed the kids Twilight Imperium and they said, “We want to play that.” I said, “how about we play Axis & Allies first to see if you like that style of game?” Familiar with WWII via Memoir ’44 (notice not school…yet), they were all for that. Which is how we found ourselves gathered around a map of the world, placing tiny figures, and discussing the rules of Axis and Allies.

Thankfully, while the number of pieces has increased-artillery, cruiser, and destroyer-the rules have not. There are few new things, but I taught them the basics in under a half-an-hour and off to the races we went. A very slow race. They kids are used to quick and medium length games. The concept of a game that takes many hours and a game you can set-up, play for a bit, and walk away from blew their minds. With four of us, I am playing the Axis (Germany & Japan), and Barb, Our Girl and Boy are playing the Allies (USA, UK, and Russia).

We spent a lot of time discussing purchasing and planning ahead, thus when our boy bought a bomber and two tanks on his first turn for Russia and went on the offensive I was surprised. He lost a lot of troops, but took some German territory. Unfortunately for him his losses left his land looking empty. At the end of his turn he moved everything forward and waited.

Germany’s first turn I took back all of the lost territory and gained a couple new territories.

UK, played by our girl, spent her turn building a factory in India and harassing Germany with airplanes.

Japan, built a factory next to China and built up for the next few turns.

USA, Barb discovered that while she had a lot of money she did not have a lot of first turn options.

That took close to an hour to do. Yep, an hour. I hoped that it would too. I wanted to see how the kids reacted to games where there isn’t a lot of instant action and where table talk is not only encouraged, but is necessary. I also wanted to see how they handled having to plan ahead. As expected, our girl is not ready for most of that, age is the problem. However she does take direction well and then does her own thing. Our boy, realized at the end of the turn that he should have spent his money on infantry instead of the bomber.

In a little while we are returning to the game. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

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