Friday, 6 May 2016

Airfix Battles - A Review

I had not intended to give this game a full review due to it having nothing whatsoever to do with the World of the Undead, but it garnered sufficient interest in my last Monthly Musings post that I felt it deserved more attention. Airfix Battles is a World War 2 squad level skirmish board-game produced by Modiphius. I bought my copy because of my fascination with Airfix as a young lad. My very first war-games used Airfix WW2 toy soldiers and models. I must have bought hundreds of Airfix figures and dozens of their models. Because I didn't know any better they got painted in a mix of Humbrol matt and gloss paints. As long as the colours looked right I didn't care.
As I grew older I wanted to play with them with a set of rules. I can't remember which was my first wargaming rulebook but I bought a few and I mixed and matched the rules I liked the most. I primarily concentrated on the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944 and my largest armies were those of the American, British and German forces. Once I seriously got into WW2 wargaming (mid 1970's) I collected figures and models from Japanese companies such as Fujimi and Hasegawa (who remembers them?) and Airfix's main rival, Matchbox. So, when Modiphius announced the launch of Airfix Battles (not as a Kickstarter, surprisingly enough) I took notice as nostalgic memories of my first forays into war-gaming resurfaced. The fact that the game only cost £24.99 made it even more attractive to me.That's not a bad price for a board-game these days.
Back cover of the Airfix Battles Introductory Set

I quote this intro from the Modiphius website. "Whether it’s British commandos, US Marines or Germany’s Afrika Korps, Airfix’s 1/72 scale soldiers have been fighting their wars across carpets, dining tables and gardens for decades.
Airfix is a fondly remembered part of everyone's childhood and the company are famous for their line of injection-moulded plastic aircraft, tanks and soldiers.  The Airfix brand has been synonymous with model kits for years and now it’s back with a vengeance, with Airfix Battles bringing those adventures to life and its campaigns to a tabletop near you.

Playable with all your existing Airfix figures and vehicles, Airfix Battles Introductory Set comes with everything you need to play exciting World War Two battles straight out of the box with the Introductory SetThis includes die cut cardboard counters for tanks, infantry and guns in case you don't have any figures to hand. Airfix Battles also lets you plan your army using the Force Deck. Draw the cards or select the ones you need to build an exciting army to challenge your friends.
Set up the battle using step-by-step instructions in the Mission book and you're ready to play. Each player has a hand of Command Cards to move and make their forces fight, bring in air-strikes or artillery support. You'll never know what your opponent is going to do next!
The game is designed to get you playing quickly, with fast and fun rules so you can play several times in an afternoon or evening with typical missions lasting from 30-60 minutes."

Contents include -
  • 10 Six sided dice
  • 2 Double-sided A2 (420mm by 594mm) Maps
  • Over 100 cardboard counters of US & German tanks, infantry and terrain!
  • 1 x 16 page Mission Book
  • 1 x 32 page Rule Book including rules for solo play up to 4 players
  • 1 x 54 Card Command Deck
  • 1 x 54 Card Force Deck (tanks, infantry, guns, officers, specialists)
One of the game maps, measuring 5 by 7 big squares.
My verdict of this game is highly favourable. I like it because it takes so little time to complete a mission scenario. I like it because the rules are so easy to learn. The Mission Book takes you through a series of scenarios, adding new rules to each scenario so you're not overwhelmed by having to learn everything at once. I like it because it uses counters instead of figures, although the makers do encourage players to use their existing Airfix figures and models instead of the counters. I'll stick with the counters because I don't fancy painting up yet more figures, which I'd have to buy. No, thank you! I sold all of my old 1/72 scale figures and models many years ago. If only I had known back then what I know now!
My good friend and fellow blogger, Steve, bought a similar WW2 game called Memoir 44 and I might have started collecting it if Airfix Battles hadn't come along when it did. Both games share many similarities, not just in their setting but in their rules as well. I mean no disrespect to Steve or fans of Memoir 44, which is a very fine game, but I'm glad I opted for Airfix Battles. If I had succumbed to buying Memoir 44, I'd have ended up spending a fortune on collecting it and its many supplements and the sheer amount of miniature figures that come with the game would have just swamped me. I doubt if they would ever have got painted.
Much as I like Airfix Battles, I do have one minor criticism of it to make. I feel you do not get enough counters of the infantry and vehicles. For example, if you wanted to field an all infantry force you could choose four or five basic infantry squads but you only get counters to make up two squads. The same is true of the vehicles, where each counter usually has a tank on one side and a half track on the other. To make full use of the options for force generation you need more counters. I guess if you're using figures and models instead of the counters it won't be a problem but I thought it worth mentioning anyway.
Modiphius have plans for greatly expanding this game, probably in a similar manner to Memoir 44 to include other theatres of war in WW2 (North Africa, the Pacific and Russia for example). Next on their schedule is the launch of the Airfix Battles Collector’s Edition, which will introduce new rules to expand your game, as well as showing you how to move your battles from the board to war-games terrain with movement in inches or centimetres instead of squares. The book will contain fantastic photography of games in action to inspire you as well as a much bigger campaign to fight your way through. It is due out sometime this summer.
I know a lot of gamers will have cut their teeth on playing WW2 war-games, and may still do. If that is you, then I can highly recommend Airfix Battles to you. It is fast, easy to learn, easy to play, cheaply priced and a lot of fun. What more could you ask from a game?

BLOG NEWS. I would urge you to take a look at this week's post on my other blog, All Things Dungeon Crawl. Our newest team member, Tarot, has penned her first Chibi World batrep and I must admit it is one of the best written batreps I've seen in a long time. Here's the link for it -
http://allthingsdungeoncrawl.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/a-chibi-world-batrep-by-tarot-hunt-part.html

15 comments:

  1. Terrific review Bryan, I'm certainly hoping to use these rules for a BatRep at some point soon, using 10mm WW2. I do own "Memoir 44" and as you quite rightly say the number of minis it produces would rival "Zombicide" in some quarters :-)

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    1. Thanks, Simon. I have seen a few play-through videos of "Memoir 44" on YouTube and the amount of figures you get with it was, to use a WW2 cliché, a "bridge too far" for me, as I would never have been able to paint them all. Airfix Battles with its card counters very nicely sidesteps that problem.

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  2. Great review! I would be so tempted to get my own copy of this, but I am in the process of helping playtest NUTS! Big Battles with Ed T, and am going to need to concentrate on those rules.

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    1. Thanks, Blackstar. I did read about NUTS! Big Battles but I don't think it's for me as I prefer much smaller scaled battles. I do, however, own NUTS! and a few of its supplements, so it is a game I like.

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  3. Interesting it sounds lke it could be fun. The lack of counter is a bit annoying but is that to keep it light and quick to play?

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    1. I suspect so, Simon. Plus I suspect that Modiphius would prefer it if you replaced the counters with your Airfix figures and vehicles.

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  4. aye ye gawds, Memoir 44, you are absolutely right Bryan. As you know, my other half has it (winks at you) and ALL the expansions and yes its massive. Lord knows how he actually got everything painted for it all (but he really did), but it doesn't stop there. There is the World War One game by the same company plus all the expansions due out for that (he`s gone mad for that too), and the Game of Thrones one and all the expansions for that, and the Napoleonic one and the VAST number of expansions for that, and the American Civil War one, and the new Fantasy one, and - it never stops. Richard Borg games seem as prolific as Warhammer 40K codex lol (and my partner says they are amazing.. Ricard Borg games, not Codex), once you start down that road there is no going back. Yes Bryan, you are better off with Airfix Battles lol.

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    1. Believe me. Hil, I KNOW! I am well aware of the contents of "Memoir 44" and its many supplements. I knew Steve was interested in the WW1 expansion but not the others you mentioned. I am staying well clear of them. Not because I don't think they're any good. I imagine they're all excellent. But I simply do not want to add that amount of figures to my already high unpainted figures mountain. Plus, if I did buy one, then I'd no doubt want them ALL! Uh, uh! No thank you!

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    2. He bought the Game of Thrones one (Battles of Westeros) and the American Civil War one (Battle Cry) long, LONG ago: still has them packed away somewhere, but never uses them. the rest, he resists, but the temptation gnaws at him lol. No he only plays Memoir 44 and The Great war.

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    3. I don't know whether to admire his willpower for leaving them alone for so long or to criticise him for buying games he has never played. I'm conflicted, Hil.

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    4. I`m just confused Bryan O.o LOL

      Battles of Westeros was an impulse buy. A stupid one really. But it has left me wondering about using all the components to make my own King Arthur genre wargame. Trouble is, I don't think I`d ever get round to it any more. I`m being good and staying focussed on the stuff I already do now. I see the stuff is getting very hard to get and is selling at stupidly high prices now, so I`m sort of hanging onto it, and might one day just sell it all off.

      Battle Cry for the American Civil War, now that's a hard one. I want to... I so want to play this one (AND its a one off with no expansions so no more to collect for it). Its sitting high over my head on a book shelf, looking pretty in its box, tempting me. One day I just might really get into this one. Hils calls it my old age pension `fall back` game for one day when I`m old and knackered LOL.

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  5. Okay, startling news... but every word of it true. If... I repeat IF... I still had all the Airfix World War Figures I owned and loved all through my childhood (what scale were they, ho/oo, about 20mm or something?) I am pretty darn sure I would have become a WWII historical buff, and would probably... almost definitely in fact... not have taken up ANY other era or genre throughout my life, and would, to this day, have stuck to that and would by now (I`m sure) be the grand owner of one of the biggest `in use` collection of Airfix WWII of all time. Omg I had so MUCH, and I gave it all away to a friend of my father`s, right before College. I wonder if that father`s friend`s son even used them hehe. Has he got them now, or have they all gone the way of %99 of them: lost and long ago doubtless destroyed by the ravages of time.

    Nice review Bryan. It took me right back to my childhood that.

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    1. This game certainly took me back to my childhood and how I wish it was available back then! At least I sold my collection and didn't give it away. Oh, Steve, I do feel for you! If you need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here, mate!

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  6. I am very lucky in that I can imagine afew players at the club getting this so I will most likely get a game without much expense.

    I do like what you have written to be interested though. I will keep my eye open for the game and see what it plays like. You just never know.

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    1. Thanks, Clint. I suspect you will love it if you play it.

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