The 24-Year Playtest Continues
WAW games are so mammoth they display
the current turn for th benefit of onlookers.
Designer Bruce Harper's never ending
WWII design odyssey continues complete with magnetized board
The event had four games recreating WWII in both theaters, and two games recreating it only in Europe. Three of the two-theater games began with starting positions that resulted from playing the recently published Gathering Storm which covers the pre-war period from 1935 to 1939+, and allows for ahistorical economic, military and naval development, diplomacy and aggression.
The first game began in Spring 1939, six months ahead of schedule. Poland was already conquered. The Axis plan was anti-British, focusing on submarine strategic warfare and shipbuilding. Germany chose to build only 3-6 armored units and maximize the German air force. France fell in Fall 1939. Britain was invaded successfully on a 1:1 in Spring 1940. Not to be outdone, Japan decided to DoW the US and Britain in Fall 1940 (!), enticed by an extremely weak Allied defense of their possessions, as well as the threat of an increased British commitment should England surrender. Meanwhile, Russia declared war on Germany in Spring 1941. England was conquered in Fall 1941, and Russia captured Ploesti the same turn. The British gave the Axis Mosul (and everything else) as a concession, which took the pressure off the Axis oil. The U.S. withdrew from the war in Europe. All this was good news for Germany, but very bad news for Japan, which now faced all the Western Allied units from both boards. Not to worry. The Germans were researching the bomb, and managed to explode one in New York harbor in Fall 1944. The Allies, meanwhile, had decided to postpone their A-bomb roll until 1945. Until they actually got a bomb, the U.S. would be out of the war in Europe. The Allies were able to force Japan to surrender in their Fall 1944 turn. This gave the Allies a four-turn win in the Pacific, versus a projected six-urn win for the Axis in Europe (for a net two-turn Axis victory).
The second game began in Spring 1940. In this version the Axis had already conquered Poland, and received one of the Baltic states as a concession. France fell in Summer 1940, and Russia and the other Baltic States were invaded in Summer 1941. The first Russian mobilization did not occur until Winter 1940. Japan used a Summer 1941 attack, which can be very effective, but requires a lot of skill by the Japanese player. This was combined with a planned Summer 1942 Japanese DoW against Russia! The delayed Russian mobilizations, the forward Axis jump-off into Russia, and the planned 1942 attack of Russia by Japan, were too much for the Allies to overcome. The Allies surrendered this game as a +6 victory overall. It did not continue past the Spring 1942 turn.
The third game arising from Gathering Storm began in Spring 1938, with Germany at war with Britain, France and Czechoslovakia. A favorable Nazi-Soviet pact gave Russia all of Rumania, in addition to the Finnish border hexes. US-Axis tensions started at -17. Germany deliberately provoked war with the Allies over Czechoslovakia, hoping to take advantage of the force pool and mobilization disparity that existed at the time, and out of concern for the massive British shipbuilding program. Czechoslovakia fell in Spring 1938. Two Moslem partisans appeared in the Middle East that turn that were instrumental in the eventual conquest of that area by the Axis. Poland fell in Summer 1938. Denmark and Norway were taken in Fall 1938, and the Low Countries in Winter 1938. In Spring 1939 Italy declared war. Paris fell in Summer 1939 with a +3 surrender level. Yugoslavia was activated as an Axis ally in Winter 1939. Suez and Malta were taken this turn, and 23 fleet factors of trapped British fleets were destroyed trying to leave the Med. In Summer 1940 Vichy activated as a German ally. Germany attempted to invade Britain, but was turned back by the British navy. Baghdad fell. In Winter Basra fell. The Axis DOWed Persia and took the oilfields. In Summer 1941, Turkey associated with the Axis, the Axis attacked Russia, without surprise, and Japan declared war. Game play stopped at the end of the Axis 1943 winter turn. Russia had reached the border of Rumania and the Baltic States, but still faced a threat to its oil fields from Persia and Turkey, and the Axis owned the Middle East. The Allies held Rabaul and Lae. The game was adjudicated as an overall Axis victory. This game illustrates that an early war arising from Gathering Storm is not necessarily bad for the Axis.
Classic WAW Games
The only classic WAW two-theater game proceeded along conventional lines. The Axis plan was to research a combat training level of three, which makes the Axis attritions in the Mediterranean very strong, and ensures victory for German units on 2:1 attacks. France fell in Fall 1940 and Russia was invaded on schedule in Summer 1941 (with CTL 3 arriving just in time). Japan attacked in Winter 1941, but faced an extra British armored unit in Singapore. The European Axis plan worked well, with the Middle East collapsing in Spring 1942. However, maximum Russian winters in 1941 and 1942 stymied any Axis offensives then, and helped the Russians rebound. Although the Italians took Mosul, the Allies invaded France in Summer 1943. A poor German attrition roll helped the Allies to consolidate their position. In the Pacific, Japan was finally able to take Singapore in Summer 1942 and consolidated the perimeter. With help from the British carriers, the Allies advanced successfully into New Guinea and the Japanese oil fields, interdicting all oil by Summer 1944. The Allies then advanced up the Chinese coast. This game featured many naval battles. Berlin was projected to fall in Winter 1944 or Spring 1945, and Rome a turn or two later. Japan was projected to surrender in Summer 1945, resulting in a close Allied victory overall.
The first classic European game saw France hold out until Fall 1940 with the help of an Anglo-French cooperation result, and yielded a -3 (maximum pro-Allied) surrender level. The Axis experienced difficulty activating Rumania, failing to do so because of Russian subversion in 1941. Delayed by conquests of Yugoslavia and Greece, Germany did not declare war on Russia until Fall 1941, although it still retained surprise. In Spring of 1942, Germany failed again to activate Rumania because of Russian subversion. The U.S. entered the war, and an Allied diplomatic roll for Vichy activated it as a full ally. This allowed the Western Allies free entrance into France, which they took advantage of. They captured Milan and Genoa before German attacks contained them, although they could not be thrown out of France. War continued to see-saw, with the Russians going onto the offensive in 1943. The game was called in mid-1943, and a draw, or an Allied victory, was predicted.
The second classic European game also saw Germany struggle through France, conquering it in Fall 1940, with a -3 surrender level. Vichy was established. Meanwhile, Tripoli fell to a French/British attack in Summer 1940, and half the Italian fleet was destroyed trying to supply the Italians in Africa. In Winter 1940 the Axis took Malta. Russia was invaded in Summer 1941, though with only hex control in Rumania. The attack into Russia was very successful, but the British managed to re-take Malta, land in Sicily, and activate Turkey as an ally. The German advance in Russia continued, with Moscow and Sevastopol falling. But Germany suffered during the Russian winter, and the Allies managed to force an Italian surrender. In Spring 1942, with Sweden on the Axis side, Germany attempted to invade Britain, but failed. The U.S. entered the war in Summer 1942, and Vichy activated for the Allies, taking Genoa and Paris. Game play stopped at this point. An Allied victory was conceded by the Axis player.
A Few Rule Changes
Some rules were changed between the 2014 and 2015 conventions. These included additional rules regarding the conquest of Spain (to make it harder for the Axis to immediately besiege Gibraltar), changes to mobilization rules for Russia and the U.S. (to make it harder for the Axis to manipulate tensions to defer them), and changes to penalties for deploying Allied units to the Pacific pre-war (making it more costly for the Allies in terms of units and tension penalties).
A few rules changes to A World at War resulted from the convention games. The Western Allies can no longer pull the transports from the SW box. In compensation, they will always be able to use some of the transports, even if all are inverted. Rules changes were also made to the Gathering Storm research results for Allied transports and Axis submarines, to tone them down a bit.
The US Election rules following a British surrender are not often invoked, but this year they were. It was decided that the game is more interesting if no U.S. election is held if Britain (or Russia) surrenders. (A deep British surrender sees the U.S. drop out of the war and the game effectively ends. U.S. re-entry is too slow to affect the outcome of the game.) To go along with this change, British units can be built in Canada following a British surrender (since there is often no place to build them in Britain, once Britain re-enters the war.)
One rules change arose from the classic WAW global game, in which a British Task Force in the Indian Ocean was used to protect supply to Singapore in Winter 1941. Use of any units other than transports in the Pacific theater IO box are prohibited on the DOW turn now, as part of the Allied Unpreparedness rules.