I’m still gluing together Easterlings for my Lord of the Rings warband, so Rick and I had to pick a different game last night. We decided to play Axis and Allies War at Sea instead. This was the second time we’ve played the game and we’ve had a good time with it. It’s a nice light wargame, something you can pick up and play easily in an evening. The miniatures are pre-painted and since they don’t have faces they look OK. The problem with the game is that it’s collectible. That means the boosters are random, so you get ships and planes from all the different nations and of course there’s no guarantee you’re going to get what you want. If I could buy a fleet off the shelf I would. As it stands I’ll probably just play with what Rick’s already got until the game dies and then I’ll pick up cheap boosters from dealers at Gen Con or on Ebay.
I’m not a big fan of collectibility to begin with, but it’s extra annoying with historical games. Unless you spend a lot of money, you won’t be able to field historically accurate forces. The Axis and Allies rules hand wave this, allowing you to field anything Allied or anything Axis in the same army or navy. So last night I had British, French, and American ships in my fleet, and two types of planes that America only used in the Pacific Theater. I fought a fleet based around a Japanese carrier, but it also included an Italian battleship and three squadrons of German Stukas. I will grant you that most folks don’t know as much about WWII as I do, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that part of the appeal of Axis and Allies is its historical background. In other words a World War II game is going to appeal to people with an interest in history. It would be nice if the game offered a way to field more realistic forces other than just buying more boosters. Now that WotC has developed the game and had the minis sculpted, it wouldn’t be that difficult to release, for example, a stand-alone Battle of Midway game that came with full American and Japanese fleets, rules, and a scenario book that let you play through different phases of the battle. I would buy something like that in a second. Lately Wizkids had been doing some fixed sets for its MechWarrior game. Perhaps WotC will follow suit.