Early Alpha Game Play Observations
So after 17 hours of playing the game, it still remained to be determined who was going to win. One thing was certain, it had been a great 17 hours (lots of B.S.'ing and beer drinking as usual ), and another super game of AAG Alpha.
Last year, we played the heck out of AAP as soon as it came out, and over a similar period of playing time, we'd have played three games of Pacific. Global is a heck of a lot more time consuming, but worth every minute of it. Tim and I racked up well over 300 hours of gametime on Pacific before the Europe half came out.
We actually haven't played one game of OOB Global, and this is just our second game of Global with Alpha rules. One thing we noticed was that with each change in the Alpha set up, it causes us longer than average game playing times as we play slower taking in and considering the changes from the adjustments. Don't get me wrong, we love what Larry is doing with Alpha, and have no problem with all the adjustments or the longer than normal game times. Once Alpha settles in and becomes more fixed, the game playing times should decrease as we get used to whatever the final setup is going to have to offer. For now though, you can't really build on your previous games experience going forward with your next game, because the set up changes and you have to reconsider all of your plans. Again, this is not a problem, but longer game times are kinda the norm for the time being.
When I got into Dayton Tuesday night, Tim had just printed the latest changes Larry posted that very day, so we played with the 12/28/10 set up. We were checking out the forum here today, and noticed that Larry has the Brit heavy bomber posted as being "on the chopping block". Tim (the guy I play the game against, lifelong pal and beer drinking buddy), played the Allies. He's a great A&A player (way better than me), and he had the Brit heavy bomber in the Med. on B1, and had the British kick the heck out of the Italian Navy. The British took out the Italian Navy easily and had Malta loaded with air with a Brit CA and the Frog navy still there too, after the smoke cleared.
The Italians never really recovered. With the help of the German Luftwaffe, the Med. was cleared of Allied warships, but with a starting income of just 10 IPC's it took the Italians time to get in a position to get transports back into the Med. With Malta stacked with air (the Brits managed to survive 2 x ftrs, 1 x TAC and the SAC bomber there), the Italians can't just plunk down a naked transport, even with Italian air cover. By the time they had the Germans help them clear the Med. of Allied warships, and had built up enough IPC income to begin the attempt of reintroducing the Italian Navy back into the Med., it wasn't much later than the Americans showed up.
I can see the point that I read on here earlier today, that if the Brits go heavy with an attck against the Italian Navy, that the obvious counter is for the Germans to then go for Sealion. If that is the case and it winds up being the best Axis response, then it is no good that the British player be able to direct the course of German game strategy by attacking the Italian Navy first, knowing that this will force or push the Germans to have to go Sealion to counter. I'm not sure that that is the case yet; but arguing that if one doesn't like the Italian Navy getting deep sixed right out of the gates, then do a Sealion on England; well, that does't cut it with me. It's a weak response to the issue.
In all previous games of A&A we've played, Africa has always been an area of the game that was extremely fun as both sides were playing with limited resources, and far from reinforcement. In our game just played, Africa was reduced to both sides trying to avoid a fight as neither side had a decent prospect for reinforcements at the start. As British troops came up from South Africa, The Italian troops just tried to stay alive until the Italians could get some kind of Navy going again and try to come to their aid. By the time that happened though, like I said earlier, the Yanks had arrived. So the Italians never really did anything but run away; then a brief show of force; then they got chased out of Africa for good. Africa was a non factor in the game for either side as a result.
The Russian Front was, on the other hand, very active and challenging for both sides (G3 attack), and game play in this area was fun and exciting. I'm guarded in my opinion of the "1st attack 3 IPC/territory" rule. Tim said he liked it after I suggested we skip using it at the start, so we wound up playing with that rule. Looking back, it seemed to work out fine in our game. It seems to have the effect of trying to draw the Germans into spreading out and attacking as many different Russian territories as they can on the opening attack to take advantage of the rule. But that spreads out the German forces, as opposed to them concentrating their forces in one compact and powerful thrust straight at Moscow. I joked before we started the game that the Germans were getting paid first to not attack Russia (wheat and oil NO), and now they are getting paid to attack Russia (3IPC/territory NO)! They can't lose! They get bonus money no matter! But it seemed to work out fine; we played with it, and it appears to be a good NO.
The Western front developed well in our game, and was also fun and interesting, complete with several Dieppe assaults and then finally a toe hold for the Allies in Western Europe.
The Japanese decided to see what they could do with a J1 attack, and the Pacific was great fun. Our previous Alpha game had the Japanese wait for a, I believe it was a J3 attack. The balance on what turn to attack now seems to have the right mix of pros and cons for the Japanese. Each option has it's own set of unique advantages and disadvantages such that there appears to be no clear cut "best option" any longer, as far as what turn to attack on.
We did set a record in this game though. For the very first time EVER in a game of A&A dating back to the MB version, the Japanese did not attack the Russians! It was a first! In our previous Alpha game, the Japanese eventually attacked Russia. Not so this game, and that has NEVER happened before in our games. The 12 IPCs was just enough. For a brief time, the Siberian border was actually abandoned by both sides and unmanned! The 12 IPC NO is agreat rule.
Overall we liked this latest and greatest Alpha set up better than the previous one. As much as we liked the addition of the Brit heavy bmbr, I can see it going away now, looking back.
I've seen threads where folks are getting all steamed with all the changes, and taking shots at Larry. All I have to say to those folks would be, "Try it, you'll like it!"
The Alpha set up is damn good, and Tim and I both feel it is the best version of A&A ever. If you're a fan of the game, have patience. Alpha is worth the wait.
For Larry: "Hard work and perseverance, baby! You know it!"
Oh, and by the way, if anybody hears about any Norwegian office parties going on, please let me know. I've never been to one, but from what I've seen, they're great. Especially if Germany shows up. I just love Germany.