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Axis and Allies The Board Game – How To Lose Friends and Days

August 3, 2012

by — Posted in Personal Writing

Image from Wikipedia

I’ll admit it.  I’m a recovered Axis and Allies addict.   It’s part of the reason I will not touch Settlers of Catan with a ten foot pole.  Any strategy game I’ve played I get really involved in.   My wife won’t even play Monopoly with me.  My son, however, will be trained to be a Monopoly master.

Strategy games can be done in a few ways.   You can make alliances with other players or just use your own intellect.   Let’s start with the Monopoly example.  My roommate (Buckley), the guy next door (Twinkie), my ex-roommate (Dan), and the guy who slept on the couch (Sean) all loved Monopoly.   Playing the board game was too tedious.  It took too long.  We didn’t know if we could truly trust the banker (especially if it was the guy on the couch).  Thankfully I had Monopoly on my computer and that changed everything.

On Monopoly nights we would move the computer away from desk so we could all crowd around it until the time was right.   We weren’t going to sit there through all the tedious portions.   Everyone who has played the game knows the action starts once all the properties are purchased and true monopolies are in play.   We chose our pieces and set the game to autoplay.   What was even cooler is that you could set autoplay to automatically turn off once all the properties were purchased.

We would check the game occasionally until the autoplay ended, just to check our standings.   When the autoplay ended, the real game began.   We immediately checked where each other was financially and what assets we possessed.  At this point we started wheeling and dealing.  Alliances were made, but it was just so we could get whatever advantage we thought worked out for ourselves.

Normally we all targeted Twinkie first.  He was just an easy target that wasn’t the greatest at strategy.   Once he was out the rest of us went like gang busters at each other.  We would click the mouse and control our pieces manually from there on out.   After a few games of this we just set it again to autoplay.   We only intervened when someone went bankrupt and had to make more deals.

In the end only the deals that happened at the end of property purchases mattered.   That time frame took anywhere from fifteen minutes to over an hour.  It was all dependent on how high the stakes were in that particular game. I don’t really remember betting money, but if we were annoyed at someone we would take it on them during the game.   This taught me to be heavily invested in my game strategy.  It has followed me ever since.

Before I get into Axis and Allies, I should probably explain the game.   It is like Risk, if Risk magically turned into chess on meth.   Instead of a standard army unit, you could have nine different unit types encompassing ground troops, an air force, and a navy.  The land is all divided differently than Risk.  It is however all about world domination using World War II as the backdrop.

I was introduced to this game around when I was nineteen.   My friend Kenn introduced it to our gaming group.  Some of us loved it.   Other people of the group ending up loathing it.   Kenn normally won the games, at first.   Some of us were so obsessed with the game that Kenn took a full sheet of plywood and made an enlarged game board out of it.  It was self-painted and covered the dining room table perfectly.

Once we were all getting better, the length of the game extended.   The longest game I ever saw to completion was over twenty-hours.   I have had friends play a single game for days on end.   There are many small nuances you need to understand to become a master of the game.

There is one story that loved to be bandied about where my brother beat me in the first time he ever played.   Kenn was “advising” my brother through out the game.   I also wasn’t taking the game to serious, since I was playing against someone who never played before.   I left myself open in a method I never would have to an experienced player.  Kenn more or less told my brother where to move to expose a weakness.   My brother was extremely lucky with the dice and wiped me out.   There was some cleanup after that, but in that singular move the game was won.   I lost to Kenn playing strategy and my brother throwing the dice.

The real problem is everyone that didn’t enjoy playing was driven away.  They might come over and hook up a Playstation, but wouldn’t get involved in Axis and Allies.   It got to the point when people showed up over at Kenn’s house they asked what game was being played that night.   Upon hearing the answer the decision would be made whether they were going to stay or not.   This fragmented our gaming group a bit.  Xie also wasn’t a fan of the game.

Once I moved to Oregon I didn’t have anyone to play the game with.   I stopped for a while.  Then a version came out for the computer.   I was excited that I would finally be able to play again.  I started a game on easy, and trounced it no problems.   I then tried it on hard, it didn’t seem any harder than easy.  I was disappointed.   I could beat the computer model blindfolded, drunk, and passed out.   It wasn’t any fun.

I found a version later on for Palm OS.  It was a clone and not an official version.  I loved this while traveling, and was actually more difficult than the PC version.   Somewhere along the line I lost it, then I moved away from Palm OS.  I keep looking for a version for the iPhone or the iPad.   I don’t know why it hasn’t happened.   I think the game creators believe that people won’t pay sixty dollars for the board game.

I’ve never owned a copy of the board game.   It’s going on at least six or seven years since I’ve actually played.   I’m rusty as anything and at the moment I don’t have any wish to really sharpen those skills.   In four or five years, when my son is in prime board game age, it’s on.   Even if he doesn’t really take to it, it is one of the best introductions to strategy that I can teach him.

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