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[Review] Attack! Expansion

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Joined: 03/23/2011

I really enjoy the game of Attack! but find it a bit simplistic for my tastes. This is perfectly fine for many people, but I like more options. The Attack! expansion (Eagle Games, 2003 - Glen Drover) does just this, practically changing the entire game but raising it up a notch. If you’re interested in the basic game, I’ve written a review on that game; this review will just concentrate on the changes and my opinions of each. And there’s a LOT of changes!

1.) Game board: Another game board is placed next to the main Attack! board, adding the rest of Asia and the Pacific Ocean. This changes the game from being played on a massive board to a gargantuan board, doubling the size. It’s neat to see it all laid out but requires a LOT of space. Both boards have sea areas on them now where sea units will be placed. The world now “loops”, so units can move off the edge of the east and/or west, appearing on the other side. “Control of the Sea” is no longer a valid option.

2.) Setup: Players now start with five units, but now can play and place naval units (destroyers, aircraft carriers, battleships, and submarines.) I really enjoy the model of the aircraft carrier; there are little planes sculpted on it - it’s pretty nifty. Players also get a random government type (fascism, monarchy, democracy, or communism). All government types are to be represented, if possible. Counters are placed in all neutral regions randomly, to display the governmental preference of that region. A deck of technology cards, a deck of political action cards, and several new economic cards are added to the game, while the ship cards are removed - not being needed. Players start the game with four political action cards. Production Points (PP’s) are now added to the game in the form of paper money and can now be saved from turn to turn.

3.) Actions: Actions now cost “oil certificates”; a player can do as many actions as they can afford each turn. The first action costs one oil, the second two oil, etc. A few new actions have been added, and some of the old actions modified.
- Move: The same as the original game, except players can now move ships one to two sea zones.
- Research New Technology: The player can attempt to research, by investing PP’s. The player must then roll a “10” or higher, reducing the target number by one for each 5 PP’s invested. If successful, the player draws the top technology card, receiving the benefits from it. These cards will often then determine the player’s strategy, for they are fairly useful. For example, Heavy Tank Guns allows a player to roll three dice for their tanks in land battles, which will probably cause that player to emphasize amour; and Parachute Infantry allows a player to jump over regions with their infantry if air units are involved.
- Blitzkrieg Move: Is no longer in the game, unless the player has the matching technology card.
- Diplomatic Blitz: To attempt a diplomatic blitz, a player must roll a “6” or more on two six-sided dice. If they succeed, the nation “converts” as usual, and they may try again as a free action. On the second attempt they must roll a “7” or higher and an “8” on the third attempt, etc. If the region is not adjacent, there is also a +2 modifier. There is also a +1 modifier for each space the government of the neutral region is away from the attacker’s government on a chart (Communism - Democracy - Monarchy - Fascism). Once the player fails, they can no longer diplomatic blitz that turn, unless they fail on their very first roll.
- Play Political Action Cards: A player can play as many cards as they like if they take this action. Cards range from good (gain one free submarine), to very good (you and a player of your choice gain control of one minor neutral each), to the obscenely powerful (pick any region owned by another player. (Not capital) Up to four army units in that region switch to your color. (If a battle results, fight it immediately.) I like the cards, but they do add a bit of chaos to the game. The last card I mentioned is especially powerful and can really throw off someone’s game if played in the beginning. Some cards have an eagle symbol on the bottom of the card. Once thirteen of these cards have been played, the game ends.
- Begin auction for a Trade Route Card: A player can bid 20 PP’s or more, starting an auction to acquire a trade route card. These cards are new economic cards that act as “wild” cards when completing sets and are worth three to six PP’s. They’re extremely useful cards and will be widely sought after. Each card matches a specific trade route on the board, making them susceptible to submarine raids.
- Trading: Players must be able to trace a path from their capitol to the other player’s capitol to trade.
- Commerce Raiding: A player can attack another player’s trade routes with their submarines. They must choose what trade routes they will attack, as long as they have a submarine in the area(s). One six-sided die is rolled for each submarine attacking with a “6+” giving them a hit. A hit “knocks out” the trade route for one round with two hits destroying the trade route. The defender can attempt to eliminate the attacking subs if they have aircraft carriers or destroyers in the trade route zone. I really enjoyed this part of the game, as the attacking and defending of supply routes becomes crucial to victory, and it makes the game more thematic.
- Strategic Bombing: A player may “bomb” another player’s economy. They decide how many players they want to use (on the board) and put them in two rows: fighters in front, bombers in the back. The defender may use as many defending planes as they have available on the board. The defender rolls first, rolling one six-sided die for each plane with “6”’s scoring hits, eliminating the attacking planes. The attacker’s fighters then fire back in the same way, after which the bombers attack with their hits “knocking out” one non-Trade Route card from the opponent.

4.) Battles: The order of units eliminated is now changed. The attacker now chooses the unit eliminated by a hit, with some restrictions. Infantry must kill infantry units first, then tanks, then artillery, and then planes. Tanks must kill tanks or infantry first, then artillery, then planes. Artillery units can kill two infantry units, then one tank, then one artillery, and then one plane. Planes can kill whatever opposing unit they like. Ship battles occur just like the basic game, except that plastic pieces are used instead of cards, and submarines don’t have to get involved.

5.) End of Round: After all players have taken their turns, a round ends. Each player then takes the amount of PP’s in paper money, just like in the basic game, except that Oil economy cards can be used to get Oil Certificates or PP’s. This puts a high demand on oil economy cards (just like real life), and players will go to war over them. Players also receive one more political action card, and the player who went second in the previous round begins the next round.

6.) Victory Conditions: The game still ends when one player is eliminated or when thirteen eagle cards have been played. The player with the most victory points wins the game with each player scoring victory points, depending on what government they are. All governments score two victory points for each region they control, plus...
- Communists: 1 victory point for each communist minor neutral.
- Democracy: 1 victory point for each democracy minor neutral, -1 victory point for each minor neutral they invade.
- Monarchy: 1 extra victory point for each region they own that’s not on the same continent as their capital.
- Fascists: 1 extra victory point for each region they capture in battle where their opponent lost 3 or more units.
I have seen arguments on the internet, where people complain that one government is too powerful, or too weak; but on the contrary, all are fairly well-balanced, as long as all players are equally aware of the differences and strengths of the governments.

There are several other minor changes, but this covers most of the big ones. It’s worth noting that all the pieces from the expansion fit easily into the original box. So is it worth it to buy the expansion? If you like more complication (it’s not too much, but it does complicate the game a bit) and more options, then this is a must-buy. Basically, if you didn’t like Attack! because you thought it was too simple, this might change your mind. However, if you love Attack! because of the simplicity and ease of play, perhaps then you should just stick with the original game. If you want hundreds more units, and like the feel of paper money and the slight chaos of political cards, then the expansion is right up your alley. Either way, I get to play with hundreds of little army miniatures, and that always makes me happy.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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