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Eagle games have definitely stirred up comments on the internet. There are some loud critics to be sure, but just as many fans of the game. The folks attacking Eagle Games like to point to what they determine as “rules defects”. However, the simple fact is that Eagle Games are the true successor to the Milton Bradley GameMaster Series, and Attack! (Eagle Games, 2003 - Glen Drover) is one of the best of the lot.
Attack! is full of plasticky goodness with hundreds of plastic miniatures and a huge world map. While some look at it as a possible World War II simulation (a competitor for Axis and Allies), I think that instead it’s a natural progression up from Risk. The components are tremendous, the game plays quickly and easily, and for those who love playing light war games with hundreds of figures, this one is a no-brainer to get! I will, however, say that I much prefer Attack! with the expansion added, and that’s the only way I would really want to play it. But for simplicity’s sake, the basic Attack! will meet a lot of people’s needs.
The rules are fairly lengthy, so I’m going to condense them as much as I can here. A huge map, showing the Americas, Europe, and Africa, is placed in the middle of the board with each player taking all the army pieces (infantry, tanks, artillery, and planes) of their color as well as some naval cards (1 battleship, 2 destroyers, and 2 submarines). A deck of economics cards is shuffled, and four are passed to each players. Economic cards are one of five suits (population, factories, rail transport, oil, or minerals) and have a value from one to four. Starting with one player, all players place one infantry unit at a time into any land region on the board, until each player has claimed four regions. A Capital City is placed in one region of each player, and five other units of any type can be placed in any of the four claimed regions for each player. One player is chosen to go first, and then play passes clockwise around the table.
On their turn, a player may take three DIFFERENT actions. The actions the player may choose are:
- Trade: A player may trade their economic cards with another player. Cards can be traded for promises or cards from that player. Players may only trade if they have adjacent regions on land, or if one of them “controls the seas.”
- Build New Units: A player may total the amount of production points (PP’s) they currently get and buy new units if they like. A player gets 10 PP’s for each capital city they control, plus the sum of the value of all the cards in their hand. If the player can form a “set” of economic cards (one each of oil, minerals, rail transport, and factories), the value on those cards is doubled. Once a player has totaled up their PP’s, they must spend them immediately or discard them. Infantry, destroyers, and submarines cost 5 PP’s; artillery cost 8 PP’s; tanks and battleships cost 10 PP’s; planes cost 15 PP’s; and aircraft carriers cost 20 PP’s. New land units may be placed in any region the player owns, and ship cards are placed in front of the player.
- Move: A player may move any or all of their land units from one region to an adjacent region, with tanks and planes moving up to two regions. Units may move across “sea lanes” (gray lines that connect two regions over the seas) if the person who controls the seas allows it. If a player moves into a region of another player, a battle occurs. If a player moves into a “neutral” region, they must fight the armies there. This is determined by turning over the top economic card and placing neutral forces there equal to those shown on the card.
- Blitz Move: This can only be done after a move. It is the same as a regular move but can only be done with tanks and planes.
- Strategic Move: A player can move all of their land units any distance they wish to (as long as it is legal) but must finish these moves in their own territory.
- Diplomatic Blitz: A player can attempt to peacefully take over a neutral territory. They declare the attack, then must roll an eight or higher on two six-sided dice to succeed on an adjacent territory, and a nine or higher for any other territory. On a success, they place a free infantry unit in the territory. The Diplomatic Blitz is the only action that may be done more than once.
- Naval Battle: Only one player can control the seas at a time, restricting all movement through and on the seas. If another player wants to take the seas over, they can initiate a naval battle. The player who controls the seas can voluntarily retreat, or stay and fight. If a fight occurs, each player places their ships in a row, each facing one opponent’s ship (with a maximum of eight ships). Each “match-up” is resolved with a simple die roll, rolling two dice and adding any modifiers on the cards (for example, battleships are +2 vs. Destroyers). The higher ship gets a “hit”, which is applied to the ship that is the first in line, sinking it. (Battleships take two hits). This continues until all the ships have fought, after which another round begins, or a player retreats. The winning player gains control of the seas.
Land battles utilize special six-sided dice: two sides show an airplane, one an infantry, one a tank, one an artillery, and one a blank side. Each player takes all the units both from the attacking territory and the defending territory, placing them in front of them. The attacker picks four units for his initial attack, pushing them forward, with the defender doing the same. The first round of the battle begins, starting with the defender. Each round begins with a reinforcement setup, where a player can bring units from their reserves. The maximum amount of units in each battle increases by one for each round, starting with four in the first. The player then rolls one die for each unit (two dice for each tank), scoring a hit for each die that matches one of their front-line units. A unit can get a maximum of one hit. The other player must eliminate units for each hit, in this order: infantry, tank, artillery, then planes. The other player then takes their turn, and this continues until one side destroys the other.
The game continues until one player is eliminated at which point the game ends, and the player with the most territories is the winner (ties are broken by the player with the most land units).
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Over six hundred plastic units is never a bad thing, especially when the models are as good as they are in this game. It did take a LONG time to twist them all out, especially those accursed artillery pieces; but you do get a TON of plastic in this game, and that is a fantastic thing. The only problem I had with the pieces was that it was difficult for me to tell at a glance the difference between a one-unit piece and a five-unit piece. For example, the five-unit plane is just a smidgen bigger than the one-unit plane. When you place them next to each other on the board, it’s easy to tell the difference; but when a piece is by itself, it can be sometimes confusing. I just ditched the difference all together and started using chips from Axis and Allies. The special dice are really cool - an idea that is similar to Memoir ’44 and Battlecry. The cards are of good quality; and while it’s a little odd to have ships as cards, it works. The board is gigantic, and it’s only half of the world; but it’s very clean cut and looks nice on the table (better than the new Axis and Allies board.) Everything fits inside a nice-sized box, although players are going to have to provide bags for everything. The artwork, done by Paul E. Niemeyer, is very invocative of the time period c. 1935 and looks really good on the cards, board, and box. One certainly gets their money’s worth when buying this game.
2.) Rules: The rules are actually quite simple - a break from the three sets of rules that Eagle Games had done up to this point. Everything was explained quite clearly, and a fully pictorial battle example was included in the twenty-page booklet - the best Eagle rule booklet yet and well formatted. The game (without the expansion) is simple to teach and play and may even be too simple for some people. It’s a step up from Risk but less complicated than Axis and Allies.
3.) Axis and Allies: The game is going to be inevitably compared to Axis and Allies, since they have a similar feel with lots of plastic units and from the same time period. The differences, though, are enough that players can have both games and not feel like there is duplication. Attack! is basically my version of Risk; it is not constrained by history, and players can create any scenario they want. Axis and Allies is better if a player wants to recreate World War 2 (on an abstracted scale). Attack! is probably a better, simpler, cleaner game, although it does have some problems with players ganging up on a leader, while Axis and Allies has team. My verdict? If you like one, you’ll probably like the other. Get ‘em both.
4.) Expansion or not?: Read my review on the expansion if you’re interested in getting it, but the short story is that the expansion adds a lot more complexity and options. If you want plastic ships, paper money, technology advances, and different governments; then the expansion is a necessity. I prefer it, because it offers more options for a player, and games are more exciting. However, the basic game is very simple, and adding the expansion can add a bit of “clutter”. If you just want a game that is a step up from Risk, then this is a good one. I especially like the fact that when one player is eliminated, the game ends; this solves the problem of player elimination other multiplayer games have.
5.) Diplomatic Blitz: The only odd thing in the rules is the diplomatic blitz. It’s effective, it works much of the time, and it seems more viable than attacking a random neutral army. Still, there is some luck of the roll here; so if you WANT a territory for sure, just attack it.
6.) Ships: The ship combat at first felt slightly out of place; a card battle with all these miniatures on the table? But after seeing it in action a few times, I began to like it a lot. It was clean, simple, and easy and was almost a mini-game in itself.
7.) Luck: Of course, with all the dice that is rolled in this game, there is a decent amount of luck. But, if luck doesn’t bother you in Axis and Allies, Risk, Memoir ’44, Battlecry, Samurai Swords, and other games of this genre, it’s really no different here. I actually think that the land unit battles are quite interesting and fun. Although I’ve enjoyed all of Eagle Games combat systems, this one is the easiest and works the best.
8.) Fun Factor and Time: The drawback, of course, is time. If you’re not up for a three hour game, then this may not be that fun for you. But with each player only having three actions on their turn, the game moves quickly; and there’s not as much downtime as in other light war games. I did not have as much fun with the basic game as with the advanced game, but I saw others who did who enjoyed the pure simplicity of the game.
If you like the idea of Risk, but find it too random and predictable, then this game is a nice step up. The plastic units, cards, and board add a nice pre-World War II period flavor to the game, and the different abilities of the units make different strategies possible. The trading of the resources adds a bit of negotiation to the game, and the ship battles are unique and interesting. If you look for more, pick up the expansion also; but if simplicity in combat is your thing, then this is the game for you. Attack! is certainly a fitting name for this game; it’s all about destroying your opponent. And for a lot of people, that’s fun.
“Real men play board games.”
The root of all evil... but you can call me cookie.
Another stupendous review, thank you sir. I got the game and well now need to get the expansion.
thanks for this nice review tom...i've always been a fan of risk and with the last comment you hit the nail....and with i have no choice but to buy it....LOL
- Last edited Sat Sep 24, 2005 9:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Sep 24, 2005 9:34 pm
Yeah... I see what you did there.
This is an AWESOME little game.
Especially when I want wargame something different.
And it's on sale everywhere right now. Take a chance!