A Short Review of Axis and Allies Miniatures
A&A Minis is a collectible WW II miniatures game. It’s designed to give the flavor of company (or smaller) sized operations while abstracting most of the details. In other words, this is a "game," not a simulation.
The Collectibility Problem – many people will be turned off on this game because it’s a "collectible." A lot of this stems from the basic fear of having to sink hundreds of dollars into the game before you get anything remotely playable. As collectible games go, this one doesn’t require a large investment, that is, if all you’re looking for is a game. If you are aiming to collect a complete historical set, you’re going to have to spend some money, or get the figures off of E-Bay.
There is a pretty nice distribution of available units: various infantry units (machine gun units, elite units, etc), tanks, antitank guns, mortars and the like. The newer sets also include aircraft and anti-aircraft units. All the major combatants of WWII are now available. For the original release I found that the starter set plus a couple of boosters produced a light 2-player wargame for about $40. But is it any good? Let’s take a look.
The Components. I’ve only got items from the original release, so take everything I say here with a significant grain of salt. The figures themselves are reasonable, basic plastic minis from China or wherever. The modeling is quite acceptable (for an amateur like me), but the paint job varies quite a bit. I rather like the Pz IV’s, but the Shermans are atrocious. I’ve seen some of the newer models in casual play (I’ve watched people play them) and I think the modeling/painting is improving. Just don’t expect to be floored by the quality of the figures. (But at least you don’t have to paint them!) Also, some of the pictures on the accompanying stat cards do not match the actual figures. That’s just plain sloppy, in my opinion. The game comes with a 8 maps (4 sheets printed on both sides) that are combined to form a 4 x 4 battlefield in 6 different configurations. Or at least the rulebook shows 6 different configurations. Obviously you can combine them any way you like. The maps themselves are made out of medium weight laminated paper and contain large hexes for unit placement/movement.
The game allows multiple units to be stacked in a single hex. They maps are very pretty and there is a fair amount of different terrain types (roads, woods, city, etc) to keep things lively. It helps to have some kind of clear plastic to lay over the battlefield to compensate for the inevitable creases that you get with laminated paper. Strangely, the scale of the terrain doesn’t really match the scale of the figures. E.g. The town squares are just different colored hexes, you don’t get any sense of city fighting, although city hexes do affect combat.
Tanks face off across the plains
Game Play. Ok, this is where the rubber meets the road. Each turn is broken up into multiple phases which I think can be summarized as: move, assault, resolve casualties. You role for initiative each turn, and the player who wins initiative get to decide who moves first. Movement phase: first player moves any or all units, second player moves any or all units.
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