The 23-Year Playtest Continues
Chris Collins and Ashley Johnson on
their way to victory with Ashley voted top prize.
Designer Bruce Harper's never ending
WWII design odyssey continues.
World War II Evolution Never Ending ...
Six A World at War games, refighting World War II,
were played this year. Three games began from starting positions
arising out of Gathering Storm, the companion prequel
game which begins in Spring 1935. Gathering Storm, which
is scheduled for release in early 2015, allows for ahistorical
research, economic, military and naval development, as well as
diplomacy and aggression.
first Gathering Stormgenerated game, began in Fall
1939, the historical first turn in classic A World at War,
with the important difference that the Allies had already given
Danzig and the Polish Corridor to Germany prior to the outbreak
of war. The Axis conceived of the startling plan of invading
Turkey to set up a flanking attack on Russia in 1941. France
fell in Fall 1940, and on the same turn the Axis invaded Turkey.
The British attempted to block the German conquest of eastern
Turkey, and in response Germany declared war on the United States
in Spring 1941 (!) in order to attack Vichy-controlled Syria
and exploit into Iraq. Germany then invaded Russia as planned,
and the Russian position became critical - as did the Italian,
as the Axis forces in North Africa were no match for the combined
To further confuse matters, the Axis went all in, with Japan
declaring war on Russia in Summer 1942. This ensured both a Russian
surrender and the early defeat of Japan. The key question was
how long Russia would stay out of the war.
It turned out "not quite long enough", as Russia
re-entered the war in Summer 1944, reached Poland by the end
of the year, and helped defeat Germany in Fall 1945. This was
a one-turn victory for the Axis in Europe, but Japan was lucky
to hold on until Spring 1945, which meant a two-turn defeat for
the Axis in the pacific, and an overall Allied victory by the
narrowest of margins - a fitting end to an exceptionally tense
and interesting game.
The second Gathering Storm-generated game ended in
an Axis win, not because of any imbalances at the start of the
war, but rather a misplayed Russian defense which led to the
loss of Moscow in Fall 1941. Just as you might expect, this led
to the unravelling of the Allied position in both theaters, with
a more or less permanent Russian surrender and a complete Axis
The third Gathering Storm-generated game was a European-only
theater, played by less experienced players. They may have had
more fun than anyone, with the game ending indecisively in 1944.
The first of the three "classic" base games featured
a peace plan by the Axis, with an emphasis on slowing the Russian
and American mobilizations, combined with the conquest of the
Mediterranean and a strong German submarine campaign in the Atlantic.
This low risk plan worked, with the Axis holding on past the
historical break-even points in both theaters.
The second classic game was a very dynamic slugfest. Channeling
Rommel, the Axis player smashed the Allied defenses in Egypt
with a successful series of 1:1 attacks, gained control of the
Turkish hexes with a timely "6" diplomatic roll, but
then may have gone astray by invading Spain. This led to the
postponement, then the complete abandonment, of the German attack
on Russia. There followed three intense campaigns; the first
in Norway, where the Allies invaded and eventually conquered
Scandinavia, the second in Poland, after Russia declared war
on Germany in Winter 1942 and proceeded to batter its way to
Berlin, and the third in France, once the Western Allies invaded.
But the Allies still had to conquer Italy, and the European theater
ended in a tie.
In the Pacific, however, the Japanese played with great aplomb
and succeeded in holding on to Winter 1945 for an overall one-turn
The final classic game was a global game which was more a
learning game, with Germany struggling from the start and the
game ending indecisively.
Most players were already looking forward to next year's event,
and with the growing number of new players, the A World at
War event will likely expand from the usual 25-odd players
to 30+ next year.