Sunday, June 12, 2011


It is impossible to talk about Axis & Allies: D-Day (AA:DD hereinafter) without talking about Axis & Allies (A&A), its spiritual and thematic ancestor. By the time A&A had come out, in 1981, I was well and truly launched with wargames such as PanzerLeader and Third Reich, and so turned my nose up at what was obviously (to me, at the time) an attempt by Milton Bradley to cash in to the burgeoning wargame scene with a simplistic Risk clone that had toy tanks, for heavens' sake! I mean, I only ever played Risk once, fer chrissakes! (Even at 14, I was a game snob.)

It's Toy-r-iffic!
It's Tie-in-r-iffic!
Which is not to say that prior to that, I hadn't been seduced by other, even more simplistic (but toy-r-iffic) war-themed games, such as:
* Tank Battle, which was Stratego with tanks;
* Battlestar Galactica (the tie-in with the original TV series);

So it wasn't until a couple of years ago, as my son got old enough to play such games, that I actually purchased and played a copy of A&A for the first time. To me it was a pale, pale copy of A3R, but I could definitely see the fun in it, and enjoyed the three or four games I played it--but to me, that was enough, I was done.

I was intrigued, however, when Wizards of the Coast (who had taken over the franchise) began to spin off the basic system into campaign-level games such as Guadacanal and D-Day. This seemed a perfect way of introducing young gamers (such as my son) to wargames without overwhelming them with the theatre-level decision-making and detail involved with playing A&A.

Germans eke out a victory (from the BGG photo archive).
So, what did my then-seven-year-old think of AA:DD? Of course, I gave him the Allies to play because he likes being on the attack all the time. He liked the figs, and the map, and had no trouble learning the rules. He quickly intuited some basic tactics, such as destroying your least-powerful units first (one of the A&A system's greatest lapses in realism). Strategically, though, it was still a bit beyond him. Having to capture and hold all three strategic towns for one turn meant that all I had to do to win was turtle up in St. Lo or Cherbourg and hold it past turn nine. (See here for my discussion on turtling. Anyone with an earlier reference than 1995?)

Unlike A&A, I can see myself holding on to AA:DD--it plays fast and clean and it's a decent introductory wargame.

This brings me to the end of the "A's" in my collection. 25 letters and 364 games (give-or-take) to go.


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