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Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
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Go to the Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 page
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7
Go to the Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 page
20 out of 22 gamers thought this was helpful

Okay, let me tell you about this awesome game! It is a remake of the original Axis & Allies Pacific title released by Avalon Hill in 2000, but this version is SO much better in many ways. However, it is an advanced level A&A game and I would really only recommend it to players who already know the main game rules. Basically, this is a two-sided conflict and can be played by up to 5 players: the United States, United Kingdom, ANZAC and China constitute the Allies (the good guys), and Japan represents the Axis (the bad guys). So it’s a case of 4 against 1 which initially may seem a bit unfair, but when you see how much forces Japan begins the game with you’ll be feeling sorry for the Allies!

If you’re reading this review then the chances are that you are already a fan of the game series and know how to play. If you’re new to the game, then I would recommend you have a little read of my review of the Axis & Allies 1941 game, which gives an overview of the game rules and what you need to do on your turn. The review can be found here: http://boardgaming.com/games/board-games/axis-and-allies-1941 but basically, Axis & Allies is a combination of strategic manoeuvre using elements of luck to resolve battles.

Okay, so let’s begin. This game is set in the spring of 1940. Japan and China are the only two powers who are at war with one another, as they had been since the mid-1930’s. Powers at war may attack each other, and powers not yet at war may not. The United Kingdom and ANZAC are keeping a wary eye on Japan in case she makes any unprovoked aggressive moves in the South Pacific Ocean, either against them or against the vulnerable undefended colonies of the French and Dutch. The United States is (for the time-being) neutral and trying to stay out of the war being waged in Europe (see Axis & Allies Europe 1940). But the beauty of this game is that it’s completely open for you to do as you wish diplomatically with your chosen power. So you can elect go to war with the enemy immediately or bide your time in order to build up stronger positions for your forces!

The order of play is

Japan
United States
China
United Kingdom
ANZAC

Victory is achieved by the Axis (Japan) if it controls 6 Victory Cities on the map for an entire round of play whilst still controlling its capital (Tokyo). The Allies win if they control Tokyo, as well as at least one other Allied capital, for an entire round of play. This can take many rounds of play to decide. Japan starts off with more combat units on the board than the Allies and must attack quickly to achieve her goals. The Allies begin the game weaker militarily but have more economic strength than the Axis, which allows them to build up slowly over time.

There is no Research & Development phase in this game and so players won’t be able to gain any technologies; however, when you combine this game with Axis & Allies Europe 1940 the technology rules are used. Anyway there is much to explain so I’ll go through the game components first:

First of all the game board comes in two parts that you put together and it is pretty large (35˝ x 32˝ to be exact). There are many more territories and sea zones in this version, making it take longer to move around as well as opening up many different tactical possibilities. A&A veterans will love this. China is massive and the Pacific Ocean is vast. One minor drawback is that you don’t get many dice but other than that, everything else is top notch.
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There are two new combat units in the game: Mechanised Infantry and Tactical Bombers. Let me tell you a bit about them:

Mechanised Infantry – Attack 1, Defend 2, Move 2, Cost 4

These are basically infantry units in armoured vehicles (or halftracks). They were used in conjunction with armoured units in the war and would often spearhead the main thrust in offensives, protecting the tanks from enemy infantry and antitank units.

In the game, they attack and defend like regular Infantry units but they have added mobility and hence their increased cost. They can always move two spaces in either combat or noncombat move phases, but if paired 1-for-1 with one of your Tanks then they can blitz with that Tank. As long as your Tank and your Mech Infantry begin their movement together in the same space, they can move two spaces together into enemy territory in all the same ways as a normal Tank (without the Tank, your Mech Inf would have to stop in the first enemy territory it entered). Their attack is also increased to 2 when paired 1-for-1 with one of your Artillery units, just like regular Infantry. Mechanised Infantry are extremely useful for controlling vast areas of land (because of their increased mobility), and in this game with its many extra territories, they do just that.

Tactical Bombers – Attack 3, Defend 3, Move 4, Cost 11

These are a cross between a Fighter and a Bomber in terms of their size and capability, and were sometimes referred to as ‘dive bombers’ or ‘torpedo bombers’ back in the war. They were basically designed to attack surface targets, namely enemy armoured units or ships; whereas the bigger bombers (now renamed Strategic Bombers in this game) could carry a much heavier payload and were used more for bombing enemy industrial areas/military facilities.

In the game, Tac Bombers have the same move and attack values of the regular Fighter unit; however they don’t quite defend as well (defend 3 as opposed to 4 of the fighter plane). So, you could think of them as tanks but with more range! However, where these units really come into their own is when they attack with a combination of other units: when one of your Tactical Bombers is paired 1-for-1 with one of your Tanks or Fighters, its attack value is increased to 4! Now they have practically become Strategic Bombers and are very useful for eliminating enemy units, especially their navy.

And if that wasn’t enough your Tac Bombers can also perform strategic bombing raids on enemy Air and Naval Bases (although not Industrial Complexes). However, the damage they do is not as heavy as the Strat Bombers. And just like Fighters, they can take off from and land on friendly Aircraft Carriers. They may also be scrambled from friendly Air Bases in order to intercept attacks on your naval units in adjacent sea zones (or against enemy amphibious assaults), as well as participate in the defence of your facilities in the case of strategic bombing raids. A versatile air unit with multiple uses.

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This game also comes with a new range of other non-combat units which are referred to collectively as ‘facilities’. They are: Major Industrial Complexes, Minor Industrial Complexes, Air Bases and Naval Bases. They are represented by small cardboard counters, as opposed to actual plastic playing pieces. The Industrial Complex counters have a factory symbol with either a 10 (major) or a 3 (minor) printed on them. The Air and Naval Base counters have symbols of a fighter or an anchor on them respectively. You get plenty of these counters but feel free to use any other pieces to represent them on the game board (I still use my grey plastic factories from earlier A&A games for Major ICs; and for Minor ICs I use the little green houses from Monopoly which I have painted grey – and they look fantastic). So, what do these units do?

Industrial Complexes behave in much the same way as they did in early versions of the game. They cannot be built on islands! They can still be bombed by Strategic Bombers and they can receive up to 3 or 10 damage counters (for minor/major ICs respectively) before they become made redundant and cannot produce any more units. In fact, they can produce one less unit for every damage counter on them. They can receive a maximum of double the number of damage counters in total (6 or 20) and any extra damage counters received after this maximum are discarded. Here are the details:

Major Industrial Complexes – Attack 0, Defend 0, Move 0, Cost 30

Yes, they’re very expensive! But these factories can produce up to 10 units per turn (hence the 10 printed on the counter), providing you can afford them. However, they can only be built in your own original territories that you started the game with, that have an IPC value of 3 or higher on them. They cannot be built in captured enemy territories. Most of the major powers in the game start with one of these in their capitals.

Minor Industrial Complexes – Attack 0, Defend 0, Move 0, Cost 12, Upgrade Cost 20

These factories can be built in any territory on the map, including those captured from an enemy power, as long as they have an IPC value of 2 or higher on them. They can only produce 3 new units per turn, however. Minor ICs can also be upgraded into Major ICs during the Purchase New Units phase for the cost of 20 IPCs, but only if they were sited on a territory worth 3 IPCs or more (the upgrade becomes active during the subsequent Mobilize New Units phase). So it works out more expensive to buy a Minor IC and then upgrade it into a Major on a subsequent turn, although at least that way you could spread the cost over two turns…

Air & Naval Bases are really cool, conferring many benefits not only to you but also to any powers in your alliance. At 15 IPCs, they’re not cheap but they may be built on any territory or island, regardless of its IPC value.

Air Bases Attack 0, Defend 0, Move 0, Cost 15

Air Bases are vital to the defence of the territory they are situated in as well as any adjacent sea zones, because the allow up to 3 friendly Fighters and/or Tac Bombers to be Scrambled from them in order to engage the enemy. Normally, Fighters & Tac Bombers in a territory without an AB would only be able to defend in that territory. But if there is an AB present, then they may also be scrambled to defend in any neighbouring sea zones as well. Let’s suppose an enemy player was conducting an amphibious assault against your territory with the AB – any of your or a friendly power’s Fighters & Tac Bombers stationed there could elect to either defend in the sea zone or the territory (each aircraft must choose and cannot do both).

Air Bases also give +1 Move to all air units stationed in the territory. So basically, Fighters & Tac Bombers go up to 5 movement; whilst Strat Bombers go up to 7. This range bonus is only given whenever an air unit takes off from the AB territory, in either combat or noncombat movement. It is very useful! This increased range has a great impact on the game, allowing your air units to reach spaces and conduct attacks that they wouldn’t normally be able to.

It should be noted that an Air Base that has 3 or more damage counters cannot provide any bonuses; i.e. it cannot award the +1 movement or allow air units to scramble.

Naval Bases Attack 0, Defend 0, Move 0, Cost 15

Naval Bases behave in much the same was as Air Bases in that they give the +1 Move to any friendly sea units that begin their combat move or noncombat move in the sea zone that has an adjacent territory or island with an active NB on it (see above). So all of your sea units that start their move at a friendly NB now have 3 Move, and so can outrun enemy fleets trying to evade yours!

They also immediately repair any damaged Capital Ships (Aircraft Carriers and Battleships) at the beginning of your Purchase New Units phase. If any of your Aircraft Carriers or Battleships are damaged at this point – having received a hit in a previous combat – they may now be fully healed for free (no IPC cost). This is very useful too.
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Let me tell you a bit about some of the new concepts in this game. First of all, as it is set in 1940 and World War II has not yet swelled to a global scale, there are diplomatic conditions that exist for each power in the theatre. There are rules and restrictions for powers who are on opposite sides, but who are not yet at war with one another. Whilst not at war, your power is in a state of neutrality and as such, your sea units may share sea zones with the sea units of other powers – without a conflict happening. However, you may not move your land air units into other powers’ territories (even if the owner of those territories is on your side of the conflict but not yet allied to you).

Japan begins the game only at war with China but may declare war on the United Kingdom, ANZAC or the United Sates on any of her turns. Declaring war is done at the beginning of the Combat Move phase and you may attack immediately. So, you can spend some turns getting your combat units into advantageous positions ready for your command to strike. There is much anxiety as the separate powers anticipate an attack by an aggressor thereby constituting a state of war!

The United Kingdom and ANZAC are aligned together politically. That means if one of them declares war on Japan, then the other will automatically be at war with Japan also. The same is true if Japan declares war/attacks one of them; the other will automatically join on their side. However, a state of war between Japan and the UK & ANZAC will have no effect on the position of the United States.

The United States begins the game completely neutral and may not declare war on Japan until the Collect Income phase of her third turn, which is an exception from the normal rules for declaring war. However, when she does go to war with Japan, her economy doubles overnight as her industrial might kicks in! Watch out Japan…
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Your Aircraft Carriers and Battleships are now known as ‘Capital Ships’. They can take two hits in combat before they are destroyed, but they do not automatically repair themselves at the end of the Conduct Combat phase. In order to be repaired you have to get these ships to a friendly operational Naval Base, and even then the repairs can only actually take place during your Purchase New Units phase – although it is free to do this. So it’s a bad idea to suffer hits to your capital ships whilst out at sea and a long way from port. Battleships suffer no penalties from being damaged (having taken 1 hit) and may still conduct Shore Bombardment. Aircraft Carriers, however, are a different matter. A damaged Aircraft Carrier may not allow friendly Fighters or Tac Bombers to take off or land on it. This can be a very bad thing indeed as it can leave the vessel stranded without the protection of its air units. Also, if there were any friendly air units that were cargo when your Carrier took a hit, they are now trapped on board and cannot take off until the Carrier is repaired. Whatever you do, don’t let your Aircraft Carriers take damage! Not only that, but in this game Carriers have NO ATTACK VALUE.

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The separate powers in the game still get their individual National Objectives which they will need to achieve in order to be awarded extra income at the end of their turn. Some of these are harder to get than others. China only has one and that’s to keep the Burma Road open. Four of the territories in Southeast Asia constitute the Burma Road and if Japan attacks and takes any one of them, then the Burma Road is cut – severing China’s aid from the United Kingdom based in India. If the Chinese can keep these territories clear of Japanese units then they achieve their National Objective and gain an extra 6 IPCs per turn for it. Very useful indeed. Not only that, but they can also not buy Artillery Units and place them in any of their territories! Some powers achieve their National Objectives whilst still at peace and others only gain them when they enter into war; it is different for each power. I won’t list them all here.
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Just as in the original A&A Pacific, you can conduct Convoy Disruptions on your enemy’s economy in this game. The map has convoy symbols located in many of the sea zones, denoting where Convoy Disruption can be done. To take advantage of this opportunity you must get your warships and planes into these zones on your turn. The actual disruption takes place on your enemy’s turn, during their Collect Income phase. What happens is, your surface warships (excluding Aircraft Carriers as they have no attack value) may roll one die each, and your Submarines or carrier-based aircraft may roll 2 dice each. All rolls of 4-6 are ignored. Then you just add up all the 1’s, 2’s & 3’s to get the total figure. This is the amount of IPCs that the enemy power must surrender back to the bank. However, there’s a catch – the total figure must not exceed the total IPC value of all adjacent territories combined. So, say if you were convoy disrupting a sea zone that had two adjacent territories worth 1 and 3 IPCs respectively, the maximum you could disrupt the enemy for would be 4 IPCs.

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Also just as in the original Pacific game, the Japanese player may conduct Kamikaze attacks against enemy sea units that move into special sea zones with the Kamikaze symbol on them. Japan gets 6 Kamikaze tokens at the start of the game and that’s all she has so use them wisely. How do they work? Well, they’re basically a free attack roll against an enemy ship(s) of your choice. You select the target sea unit, state how many Kamikaze tokens you wish to use, and then roll that number of dice looking for a roll of a 1 or a 2. Any hits scored remove that sea unit immediately! Capital Ships can still take two hits, remember. If you’ve score more hits then you needed to take a ship out then you can’t carry over those hits onto another target; the excess are wasted. After all Kamikaze attacks have been resolved and casualties removed, the regular naval battle commences. I tell you, Kamikaze attacks are a big deterrent to the Allies!

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To summarise then: The piece sculpts and game map are beautiful, the rulebook is clear and concise. Again, this version is not for beginners and there are a lot of new rules to remember so even more experienced players may need to play it a few times to get the hang of it. But the levels of complexity as well as the feelings of victory brought on by sheer diplomatic and strategic skill are very rewarding and gratifying. I’m going to give this game a solid 9/10 (even though my initial impression was 7). They couldn’t have done it much better if they tried and I personally believe this to be an excellent strategy gaming experience.

8
Go to the Axis & Allies 1941 page

Axis & Allies 1941

32 out of 34 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: This is the easiest and quickest-to-play version of Axis & Allies ever released. I would personally recommend it to any new players who are curious about the game as it is a lot more simple to understand, and can be played in less than 2 hours. Many of the rules have been stripped right back to the bare bones, and this has made the whole experience much more streamlined and easier to get to grips with. It is also a great game for the more experienced players and veterans alike, as the refined game play is at times just as challenging and adds a whole new puzzle to solve!

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General rules: For those of you who have never played Axis & Allies before, I’m going to give a very brief summary of the basic rules of the main game. Otherwise, please skip to the next paragraph. Axis & Allies is a World War II strategy game that comprises of many different titles/editions, all with varying complexity. There are really detailed and advanced versions (Axis & Allies Europe and Pacific 1940) and there are also theatre-level expansions (A&A D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, Guadalcanal). This version is the most basic to date and is the one that I would suggest that newcomers try out first. Each player takes control of a world power during the war: the bad guys are the Axis powers (Germany & Japan) and the good guys are the Allies (United Kingdom, United States & Soviet Union). The game begins at a certain point during the struggle, offering players the chance to change the course of history by trying out different strategies to see what works. The board is comprised of a map of the world circa 1940’s and is made up of land territories and sea zones. The more land your power controls, the richer you’ll be and the more and better combat units you can buy. Some territories are worth a lot more than others and each power begins the game controlling their Capital City as well as many other spaces. Battles are fought by invading enemy spaces using your land, air and sea units and dice are rolled to gain the outcome of these battles. There are Fighters and Bombers, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, Battleships and Tanks etc. Each unit has its own Cost, Move, Attack & Defence values so there is some degree of learning involved here in order to remember their respective strengths/weaknesses and abilities. If you invade and win a battle on the land, your income (or National Production level) will increase by the amount on the territory and the loser’s income will decrease by the same amount. On your turn you will follow this sequence of steps:

1 – Purchase units. This is where you spend your cash to buy new combat units. Buy the units you require according to their Cost value, pay the money to the bank and then set them aside – they’ll get placed on the game board later on in your turn.

2 – Combat Movement. This is where you use your land, air and sea units to attack the enemy and try to take control of the territories or sea zones which are vital to your war effort. Each of your units can only be involved in one battle. Your land units (Infantry and Tanks) can only attack and defend on the land. Your sea units can only fight in the sea zones. And your air units can fight in/fly over both land and sea. Move all of your units into enemy controlled spaces, using and not exceeding their Move value.

3 – Conduct Combat. Now you will choose the order of which battles you want to fight. Each unit has its own Attack and Defence values as I mentioned above, and this is where they come into play: you roll 1 die for each unit involved in the battle and you score a hit on your enemy’s forces if you roll that unit’s Attack/Defence value or less. For example, an Infantry unit has Attack 1, Defence 2. So if you are attacking with some Infantry, you will try to roll 1s (if you are the defending player, your Infantry will score hits if you roll a 1 or a 2). Tanks have Attack 3, Defence 3 and so on. In any given battle, the player whose turn it is (you) will be the attacker, and the player who is being invaded will be the defender. The attacking player will roll for all of his or her units using their Attack values, and the defending player will do the same using their units’ Defence values. Each hit scored causes 1 casualty to be removed from the battle. The attacker may retreat if things are going badly but the defender may not. Battles are fought until only one side remains victorious and no reinforcements may be brought in once combat has been engaged.

4 – Noncombat Movement. This is where you may move any of your units that were not involved in a battle this turn. It’s a good opportunity to get some units to the front lines in order to strengthen your defences. You can land your Fighters on your Aircraft Carriers if you wish. Any units that were involved in combat during your turn cannot be moved again during this step.

5 – Place new units. Now you get to put the new units that you purchased during step 1 onto the game board. They will be placed at your factories (Industrial Complexes) and can be used to attack on your next turn. So you sometimes have to think one turn ahead which can make planning a bit trickier! You can place sea units into a sea zone if it is adjacent to a territory containing a factory. You can even place new Fighters onto new or existing Aircraft Carriers, which is cool.

6 – Collect income. The quickest and easiest step; you simply check your National Production level according to the chart, and then collect that much money from the bank. You will use these funds on your next turn to buy new units and forge new strategies.

Victory is achieved by your side (Axis or Allies) if you control one or more enemy Victory Cities or Capital Cities. This can take many rounds of play to decide. The Axis powers generally start off with more combat units on the board than the Allies and must attack quickly to achieve their goals. The Allies normally begin the game weaker militarily but have more economic strength than the Axis, which allows them to build up slowly over time.
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Components: The box, rulebook and pieces are very nice quality. This 1941 game comes with brand new sculpts of ALL the units including the much-coveted German Tiger Tank! An interesting point is that the same unit sculpts are used for both of the Axis powers and yet a different set of sculpts are used for all three of the Allied powers. This will perhaps make it easier for new players to differentiate between all the various pieces in the game. The only thing I would say is that you don’t get very many combat unit pieces and this may cause players to run out sometimes. However, this version now comes with green chips for stacking up on units (as well as the normal grey and red) and I think they look neat. Green represent 3 units, whilst grey still represents 1 and red 5. However, the chips are smaller than usual and are made card as opposed to plastic. The map is a beautiful thing to behold and is very easy to assemble. And it’s just about the right size too. However, the game only comes with four black D-6 dice which should be enough; however, feel free to use some dice from other games if you wish.

Setup: This game takes about 10 minutes to prepare which is fast for an Axis & Allies game! There are a lot fewer spaces (territories and sea zones) on the map this time around, and this makes for a much shorter game than would otherwise have been the norm. It also means that a lot of crucial battles will be fought literally on your capital cites’ doorsteps! All of the land territories have had their income values significantly reduced which means that players won’t have as much cash to spend on combat units in this version. But this is no bad thing! Less money forces players to make very careful considerations when purchasing their new armies, and I for one like that. The game does not come with the paper money that some A&A veterans may be used to but this is no problem due to the lowered expenditures, and I have found that it doesn’t detract from the game play. However, players may feel free to raid their other versions or even Monopoly to get some of these paper notes!

Game play: There are many slight changes here – and even experienced players will want to read through the rulebook at least once, just to familiarise themselves with them. For example, there is no strategic bombing of enemy Industrial Complexes in this version, nor can Battleships bombard coastal territories during an amphibious assault. The biggest change, however, is that there are no Artillery or Cruiser units in this version. So on the land you’re literally down to Infantry and Tanks! The costs of some of the units have been revised too making some of the more expensive ones a little cheaper, which is cool (e.g. Battleships now cost 16 instead of 20). There are two different ways of winning the game; a ‘standard’ and a ‘total’ victory making for a shorter or longer game respectively. There are no Technology rules in this game which also detracts from the longer play time; however, I see no reason that players couldn’t house rule this if they wished. Another interesting point also is that the Industrial Complexes come printed onto the map in this version, and you cannot buy new ones! There are ICs in India and Australia as well, which is better for the United Kingdom player. Oh, and Anti-Aircraft Guns are no longer available to buy – they come built into the Industrial Complexes. I’m not going to talk about the strategy involved for each power here, as I believe this is something you should discover for yourself!

Overall opinion: I really like this version! It’s fast, furious and simple. My group finished a game in one sitting and quickly started another. A lot of the territories don’t have income values although they are still of huge strategic importance – so it’s no good leaving them undefended! With such less room to maneouvre it really makes players think carefully about where to put their units, and with such small economies it also becomes really important not to lose that Fighter or Bomber, as they will be expensive to replace! I think one of the most attractive features about this game is its cost; this is by far the cheapest Axis & Allies game on the market – and a must have for all fans, as well as a good investment for new players. This game would therefore make an ideal, exciting and inexpensive present to any budding strategy gamer who is thinking about moving away from something like Risk, up into the next level. I will be playing this title for some time to come, and I award it a good 8/10.

6
Go to the Axis & Allies 1942 page
54 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

First of all, I must state that this is a wonderful Axis & Allies title – and I nearly own them all! (There are so many variations of the main game that if you are reading this then the chances are you already know how to play, and so I won’t go heavily into the rules) Being a smaller and more concise/streamlined version of the ‘A&A 50th Anniversary Edition’, it uses many of the same style components, most notably the topographical-style map, which always looks VERY nice!

So – on the plus side then: the new sculpts for the playing peices (or miniatures) are indeed among the best ever seen in an A&A title; especially the brand new naval unit designs for the Soviet Union player. The quality and clarity of the rules are superb and leave no question unanswered; however, as with all A&A games there is an official Errata & FAQ document available, which irons out any last creases you may have (and I have added a link to this in the ‘Game Tips’ section of this page, above).

On the down side: This game unfortunately does not come with any of the paper money normally associated with the A&A series (I just pillaged some of my other A&A games for this). It also does not come with a proper sized battle board, but these things can be overcome! My biggest annoyance with the game, however, is the size of the board/playing map – it is rather small and can get quite crowded with pieces during the early stages of the game. Still, I have played several games with friends and we have always managed to get around the issue with minimal fuss.

Two of the major differences between this Spring 1942 edition and the 50th Anniversary Edition are: this game does not feature the ‘Research & Technology’ rules that allows you to improve your combat units’ abilities, among other advantages. It also does not feature the ‘National Advantages’ rules that allow you to gain much needed additional income.

The game is not overly-complicated and I would therefore suggest that this edition is mainly for beginners; and to that end I have been using it to introduce new players to Axis & Allies (and you can always add the technology rules yourself, if you like).

Overall then, I’d say that this game is well worth the money. Please go ahead and buy it if you want to make the move from ‘Risk’ style games up to the next level of strategy – you won’t be disappointed. Being a firm Axis & Allies proponent I personally love this game – as I do all its other variants – and play it wherever I get the chance to bring new players into the fold.

7
Go to the The Settlers of Catan – 5-6 Player Extension page
30 out of 33 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a short review for the Settlers of Catan – 5-6 Player Extension set.

To make any use out of this set, you will need the following:

The Settlers of Catan

This 5-6 player expansion allows another two players to join the fun. The set comes prepared with all the components necessary to ramp the ‘The Settlers of Catan’ game up to six players, and provides two new coloured sets of playing pieces: Green and Brown. I like this because you now have the extra colours to choose from when playing just the basic game. It also provides extra Resource and Development Cards to cater for the added players.

The ‘Special Building Phase’:

The main difference between this expansion and the basic game is that all players get a ‘free build’ stage in between each player’s turn. Say you’ve just finished your turn – all other players are then allowed to build Roads, Settlements, Cities and Development Cards using only the Resources they have in their hand. No trading is allowed. Nor are players allowed to play Development Cards during this stage. The reason for this new phase is beacuse people are picking up many more cards than usual due to the added players, and this means you are discarding half of them more often when the seven is rolled. So it basically allows you to get rid of some of those cards so that you don’t get caught short.

The only drawback to this new feature is that it slows the game down considerably and the basic game can already take an hour or longer sometimes. With 5 or 6 players and the free building stage in between everybody’s turn, it can sometimes take AGES for it come back around to your turn again. But this is the only drawback. And if players wish, I’m sure they could do away with this rule altogether…

I am very happy with this expansion set. The quality of all pieces and components is again, brilliant and it’s great to have the two new colours. This set is an essential for all Catan fans who want to expand to five or six players. Buy it today, it rocks!

8
Go to the Catan: Cities & Knights – 5-6 Player Extension page
23 out of 34 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a short review for the Catan: Cities & Knights – 5-6 Player Extension set.

To make any use out of this set, you will need the following:

The Settlers of Catan
The Settlers of Catan – 5-6 Player Extension
Catan – Cities & Knights

This 5-6 player expansion set does what it says in the tin: it allows another two players to join the fun. The set comes prepared with all the components necessary to ramp the ‘Catan – Cities & Knights’ game up to six players, and provides two new coloured sets of playing pieces: Green and Brown. It also provides extra Commododity Cards to cater for the added players.

Again, superb quality of all pieces and components. This set is an essential ‘must-have’ for all would be Catan fans. Buy it and enjoy!

10
Go to the Catan: Cities & Knights page
103 out of 112 gamers thought this was helpful

Well, what can I say about this glorious title… I trust you are already familiar with the standard/basic Settlers of Catan game? Good. Then let us begin!

It uses all the normal rules of the basic Settlers and builds upon it quite substantially. You can also mix this expansion with the Seafarers of Catan, as well as some of the scenarios in the Traders & Barbarians expansion. The Development Cards are removed and not used for this expansion, but you won’t miss them as they have been replaced by the superior Progress Cards. The winner is the first to reach 13 Victory Points; no easy feat.

On your turn you will roll three dice! The first die is a standard white D6 for determing production, as per normal rules. The second is a red D6 also for determing production, as well as for the drawing of Progress Cards (more on this later). And the third is the Event die, for determing what kind of Progress Card may be drawn, or whether the Barbarians will move one step closer to attacking the island of Catan! You roll all three dice together – resolve the production for all players first using both the white & red dice, and then resolve the results of the Event die: if a black ship is rolled, move the Barbarians one space closer to the island. If a yellow, blue or green city is rolled, then all players check to see if they are lucky enought to draw Progress cards.

In this version, players begin with 2 Roads, 1 Settlement and 1 City. You have more building options. For 2 Brick you can build a City Wall piece which fits nicely underneath one of your cities and allows you to increase your hand of cards by +2 whenever a 7 is rolled. For 1 Wool, 1 Ore and 1 Grain you can build the most important piece in the game: the Knight.

Knights are awesome and come in three different strengths: Basic, Strong and Mighty. When you place a new Knight on the map, he has to go on one of your Road intersections and he will be a Basic Knight to start with. Knights can move along your Roads to different intersections as required. They can battle with and displace enemy Knights and this is resolved by comparing their relative strength levels: Basic(1), Strong(2) and Mighty(3). Strong beats Basic, and Mighty beats both Strong and Basic. If one of your enemy’s Roads is intersected with one of your Roads, a Knight can move to that intersection and block the further Road building progress of the other player. If an enemy Knight was on that intersection, you can chase him away with your Knight – if yours was stronger.

Knights can also be used to chase away the Robber, just like rolling a 7 (except that nobody has to count their cards and discard half etc). Just move the Robber and take a card at random from the hand of the victim as per normal rules.

The Knights themselves are represented by a circluar wooden piece, and they have two sides to them – Active (colour) and Inactive (black & white). Whenever a Knight performs an action (moving, displacing an enemy knight, chasing away the robber etc) he becomes Inactive and is flipped over to his b/w side. All Knights come into play Inactive to start with. It costs 1 Grain to activate a Knight. They can also be promted to the next strength level for the cost of 1 Wool & 1 Ore.

But the main reason for having Knights on the map is this: they help to defend the island of Catan from the ever persistent Barbarians who will invade. The barbarians are represented by a little back ship piece which moves along a track on a specially designed sea tile, from their home island to Catan itself. When they reach the final space on the track, they begin their raid on the island! The Barbarian attack strength is equal to the total number of Cities on the map (and bear in mind that each player starts the game with 1 anyway!) This is then compared to the defence strength of the players. Each Active knight on the map is counted towards this total strength; Inactive Knights do not count. So the players have to work together in this regard and this adds a nice element of mutual cooperation and a common goal – to defeat the barbarians every time they attack, which will be often!

If the Barbarians are stronger they win – and the player who contributed the lowest number of Active Knights will be penalised by having one of his Cities reduced to a mere Settlement (this can of course be rebuilt later). If the players are stronger they win – the player who contributed the highest number of Active Knights now gets a ‘Defender of Catan’ card, worth 1 Victory Point. If two or more players tie for this, then they all get to select a Progress card of their choice from one of the three different stacks. In either case, the Barbarians go back to the beginning of their movement track and prepare to make sail for Catan again… Also, ALL Knights are flipped over to their inactive side.

Which brings us to Progress Cards! These are awesome and you won’t win the game without them. The whole point in this expansion is to develop and improve your Cities’ culture, and you do this by drawing Progress Cards. They come in three seperate stacks: Trade (yellow), Politics (blue) & Science (green).

Progress is tracked by using a City Development Calender. This is a flipchart divided into 3 coloured branches: Trade (yellow), Politics (blue) and Science (green). Whenever you achieve the next level of City Development in a given branch, flip the appropriate section of your calender over. Each branch has 6 levels to it and provides more benefits to you as you progress. Whenever a player reaches the 5th level of progress, they can then place a large yellow Metropolis piece over one of their Cities; it fits nicely and combines to make an awesome structure. Your City is now a Metropolis and is now worth 4 Victory Points! However, if another player reaches the 6th level of the branch they will take the Metropolis from you!

Players still collect the 5 main resources from the production of their Settlements (Lumber, Brick, Grain, Wool & Ore cards) as normal. They can also produce Commodities at their Cities. Commodity Cards are three in variety: ‘Cloth’ which comes from Pasture hexes, ‘Coin’ from Mountain hexes, and ‘Paper’ from Forest hexes. In the standard game, a City would normally produce two of a Resource for you; in Cities & Knights it will produce one Resource and one Commodity. Commodities are added to your hand, just like Resource Cards, and are counted towards the limit when a 7 is rolled, as normal. Commodities may be traded in the normal ways.

You use your Commodities to build improvements on your City Development Calendar. Cloth will improve your City’s Trade progress branch, Coin will improve your Politics branch, and Paper your Science branch. Each of the 6 levels on each of the 3 branches costs one extra Commodity to achieve. So for example, level 1 of the Trade branch will cost you 1 Cloth, level 2 will cost you 2 Cloth, etc. Each level of city improvement you reach will increase your chances of being able to draw those all imperative Progress Cards. Players can decide which branch they want to focus on, although its obviously better to improve on all three gradually.

So what do these Progress Cards do? Well, they specialise in three areas of the game: Trade, Politics and Science. They are drawn when you roll the dice (and are lucky enough to get one) and you may hold up to 4 in your hand. You may not trade them in any way. You can play as many cards on your turn as you wish, even if you just drew one this turn. Trade cards give you great bonuses on trading with other players or the bank, among many other benefits. Politics cards will allow you to do some sneaky and often nasty things to your opponents, like spying on his/her progress cards and taking one, or even stealing one of his/her Knights. Science cards will provide you with cost cutting ways to get those City Improvements as well as the odd Victory point cards thrown in too. Each different deck has its advantages.

To summarise then – improve your Cities, build plenty of Knights and keep them active as often as possible, play your Progress Cards wisely… and you might just emerge the Victor. This amazing expansion adds heaps of extra depth to the game and I for one won’t play the basic Settlers anymore. I seriously recommend this game to anybody who has been playing the Settlers of Catan and is looking for something a little more complex.

Well, I’ve covered the main rules in some detail here but there is still so much more to imbibe. I will say that the general quality of the game components is absolutely first rate!

The Cities & Knights of Catan is one of my favourite board games of all time. I’ve been playing it a good many years now and I still do not tire of it. Don’t delay – buy it if you don’t already have it.

I certainly hope this review was helpful to you!

10
Go to the Axis & Allies 50th Anniversary Edition page
158 out of 168 gamers thought this was helpful

This game was released to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its publisher, Avalon Hill and is more advanced than the standard Axis & Allies game.

Whilst there are many variants, this is the version that I would recommend to more experienced players as it encompasses all aspects of the basic game, and gives another level of depth and detail. If you want a medium level World War II strategy game, then this is the one for you. I own nearly all of the A&A games and this one is by far my favourite!

There are several optional rules for more advanced styles of play in this edition and new players may want to try them out one at a time, to avoid getting overwhelmed in the early stages.

There are many differences in the rules and appearance of this title. The map is very large and contains many more game spaces than the original. Battles on the Eastern Front between Germany and the Soviet Union are much more exciting due to the extra territories that can be fought over! Some of the units have changed in cost. There are also more Victory Cities on the map creating heightened strategic possibilities, as well as 3 different victory conditions for winning the game: capture and hold either 13, 15 or all 18 Victory Cities.

The Research & Devolpment phase has been very much improved: There are now twice as many different Technology breakthoughs than before (12 in total), and these have been broken down into two seperate charts: Chart 1 which contains 6x Air & Sea breakthoughs, and Chart 2 which contains 6x Land & Production breakthoughs. Players can choose which which chart they wish to invest in. A research die is still purchased for 5 IPCs (Industrial Production Certificates) and a Research Token is gained. The player can buy as many of these as he/she wishes and then rolls that many dice to try and get a 6. This continues every turn until a breakthrough is achieved. This is a better way of doing it because your money is invested for the future and not squandered as before.

There are now more ways players can earn their cash, and these come in the form of ‘National Objectives’. Each power has a certain set amount of National Objectives, which if completed, will earn that player a boost in income. I really like this new aspect to the game because, with the reduced cost of some of the units, means that players can buy a LOT more units on their turn!

The basic game mechanics are the same. Each player, on their turn, uses monopoly-style paper money (1′s, 5′s & 10′s) to buy their weapons of war – and you can buy everything from Tanks & Infantry right through to Bombers & Battleships – YOU decide what to buy and how to use it to bring about the defeat of your opponents. You can also use some of your cash to invest in and conduct Research & Development, where your units and economy could recieve a substancial boost, giving you that much needed edge over your enemies. But they can also gain the same advantages as you, so try to stay ahead of them!

There are more complex versions of Axis & Allies available, so this is more of an intermediate level experince. I would certainly recommend this title to casual, avid and fanatical gamers alike!

The quality of the board, pieces and components is second to none. First rate quality boards, charts, tables etc. Also, each power comes in its own box with National Control symbol on the front. All in all, a really nice looking product which I am personally very pleased to own!

9
Go to the Axis & Allies Revised page
27 out of 31 gamers thought this was helpful

This is THE definitive Axis & Allies game. Whilst there are many variants, this is the version that I would recommend to new players as it encompasses all aspects of the basic game without going to TOO much detail. I have turned many friends onto Axis & Allies with this very version, the ‘revised edition – 2004’. I loved it so much, I have even taken it on holiday to Australia and Malta! If you want a basic-medium level World War II strategy game, then this is the one for you.

Each plaer, on their turn, uses monopoly-style paper money (1’s, 5’s & 10’s) to buy their weapons of war – and you can buy everything from Tanks & Infantry right through to Bombers & Battleships – YOU decide what to buy and how to use it to bring about the defeat of your opponents. You can also use some of your cash to invest in and conduct Research & Development, where your units and economy could recieve a substancial boost, giving you that much needed edge over your enemies. But they can also gain the same advantages as you, so try to stay ahead of them!

Where the game can get a bit complex is that each unit (land, sea & air) has its own rules and values. Each unit has a Cost, Movement, Attack & Defence score. The better the unit, the more it’ll cost. But it’s also a god thing to have stacks of cheap Infantry to defend your key territories! It’s all up to the individual player to decide what to purchase, and how best to employ it. And this is where your own personal style really comes to the fore; it’s all about the choices/decisions and strategy.

The quality of the game components is very good and serves the required purpose. Some players may find the map/board a littl on the small side as things can get crowded sometimes. But overall, I would say that I am VERY happy with this product. There are more complicated versions available so this is a nice place to start! I would recommend to both casual and avid gamers alike.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it.

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