Avalon Hill has created a simple and clean set of rules to simulate World War II Squad combat. Too bad they decided to go with the "screw the customer" route by selling the game in blind boosters.
Though since the game is 15mm scale, you can play "Screw Avalon Hill" because 15mm World War II figures are commonly available.
If you are looking for a simple World War II game, try this one out, it will probably be worth the money for the starter set.
After having negative experiences with several collectible miniatures games, it's quite difficult for me to get excited about starting a new one. Monsterpocalypse seems to be an exception to this rule, but we will see how that goes next month. In the mean time, I was able to get a hold of a starter set for Avalon Hill's Axis and Allies collectible miniature game. While this game has not got me back on to the side of “collectible miniature games rule!”, there are quite a few nice things about this game.
The starter set comes with 10 pre-painted plastic figures. Four of the 10 figures are tanks and the rest are infantry. In terms of nationality, there are four German pieces, four American pieces, one Soviet tank, and one British tank. Two beautiful and effective maps provide ample space for small games. A quick start book will help explain the basics of combat while a complete rule book includes all of the rules for the game. Each of the 10 figures has a matching full color start card and a stat card for the Panzer IV tank can be found in the rule book. Dice and counters are also included in the box. Despite the number of items in the box, there simply isn't enough figures in the box to properly enjoy the game. Thats why in the pictures of the review, we are using Starcraft pieces to expand the game.
Collectible miniature games tend to have incredibly simple rules. In this case, the rules are simple and work quite well. The hex based maps allow for easy movement, quick range measurement, and effective line of sight checks. When it comes to combat, each card has a simple table which tells how many dice to roll for a given target type at a specified range. Unit damage is tracked with a set of simple tokens. There is a lot of dice rolling and many attacks will have little effect on the enemy, but once a solid it or two scored, tanks start dying quickly. To some extent, this probably accurately reflects tank combat because an attack on a tank which either breech the armor or bounce off. Rules for aircraft support are included, but there are no aircraft included to test these rules. Another knock on the starter set game play is that the two sides are not balanced. The early war Panzer III tank included in the starter set cannot stand against the more powerful Allied tanks. Though allowing the German player to use the Panzer IV stat card found in the rule book should make things more balanced.
Axis and Allies is distributed in five figure blind boosters which retail for around $10 to $11. Though I say screw Avalon Hill and their blind booster system. Axis and Allies figures are in 15mm scale.(Though the package says “Now with Bigger Tanks, so maybe the tanks are not quite 15mm). 15mm World War II figures are commonly used in other games such as Flames of War. Just look on e-bay for the stat cards you want and then purchase the figures from another source. But if you really want to know about the figures for this game, they are on par with other collectible miniature games. The tanks have a basic coat of paint with a wash or two applied. The infantry have average paint jobs as some of the colors are a little sloppy. I didn't have any problems quality-wise with any of my figures.
When purchasing this game, don't look at it as if you are buying into another collectible miniatures game. Due the availability of 15mm World War II figures, think of it as more of a traditional game system. Avalon Hill has a quick playing and clean set of rules here. If you want a simple World War II theme game, try this one out.