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Posted on Aug 19, 2010 in Boardgames

Axis & Allies War at Sea: Condition Zebra – Booster Set Review

By Paul Glasser

Axis and Allies: War at Sea, Condition Zebra. Collectible Miniatures Game. Wizards of the Coast. $14.95.

Passed Inspection: Several units are improved or updated

Failed Basic: Lack of depth and poor distribution

The newest Axis & Allies: War at Sea expansion set includes 40 new units but has received mixed reviews from players.

The set includes submarines, ships and aircraft from Canadian, French, British, Dutch, American, Russian, German, Italian, Japanese, Greek and Finnish navies. The size of each expansion set continues to shrink, down from 64 in the initial release, but the pieces are spread over an increasing number of countries.

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In "Condition Zebra" the Dutch (destroyer), Canadian (cruiser), Russian (battleship) and Finns (cruiser) receive only one unit apiece. The Russian battleship Arkhangelsk is even a reprint of the British Royal Oak included in the same set.

On the positive side, the French finally receive air support.

Commanders of the Marine Nationale may now deploy the D.520 fighter and V-156 dive-bomber on the antiquated carrier Bearn. The D.520 is a cost-effective interceptor but lacks the ability to escort the obsolete V–156—leaving it open to attacks from enemy fighters. Both units can be based on the slow, cramped and heavily armored Bearn. Other units include a cruiser and the battleship Provence.

The Greek armored cruiser Georgios Averof served as the flagship of the Royal Hellenic Navy. It provides an attack bonus to other Greek ships once per game, including the destroyer and submarine included in "Condition Zebra."

The Sunderland Mk 1 is the most popular new British unit. Armed with 18 machine guns, it was known by the Germans as the “flying porcupine.” Armed with bombs, depth charges and mines, the Sunderland can fill several roles but is costly to deploy.

Other British units include a destroyer, battleship and aircraft carrier.

The F4U Corsair is probably the most controversial American unit. Similar in strength and ability to the new Japanese N1K1 “George” fighter, the Corsair is cheaper and gets a one-time rocket attack.

Other American pieces include bombers, submarine, destroyer, cruiser, battleship and aircraft carrier.

The Kriegsmarine gets a torpedo bomber, destroyer and cruiser. The Gneisenau—an improved version of its sister ship, the Scharnhorst— is slightly more expensive but features “torpedo defense” and a one-time range-six attack. Game designer Rich Baker posted a statement on his blog saying the improvements are his way of making amends to the “ugly sisters.”

The Italian heavy cruiser Trento effectively makes its sister ship the Bolzano obsolete for the Regia Marina. Identical in firepower, armor and speed, the Trento is significantly cheaper and can dodge shells from enemy battleships. The Italians also receive a submarine, destroyer, patrol bomber and battleship.

The heavy cruiser Chikuma is a powerful addition to any Japanese fleet. Equipped with six scout planes, the Chikuma can target an enemy unit and give friendly ships, submarines and planes a bonus when making torpedo attacks against that ship.

Other additions include two destroyers, two cruisers, a carrier and a battleship.

However, a number of players have complained online about uneven distribution when it comes to Japanese units. When purchasing a case of 12 boosters many customers have complained they received no Japanese “rare” units.

Other players also complained of finding poorly made USS Lexington pieces.

Overall, some players may find it easier or cheaper to get the units they want by buying individual pieces online if they aren’t interested in a host of minor navies that crowd this set.

About the Author:

Paul Glasser is a newspaper reporter from Frankfort, Ky. His interests include miniature wargames, roleplaying and scale models.

Photos below include islands, smoke marker, explosion markers and similar items that are manufactured by a third party and are not included in Hasbro’s booster packs.

3 Comments

  1. Great review. I completely agree. I did enjoy some of the units but there was a lot of “so whats” in this expansion.

  2. This is a great game. Be sure to check out the Apple Iphone App Store and use the Axis and Allies Companion. This Axis and Allies Companion accurately estimates battle outcomes and odds of winning, takes you step by step through the die rolls in a specific battle and supports the latest Axis and Allies versions and units.

  3. War at Sea(WAS) is the best naval war game I’ve ever played. Set V is coming out Dec 7th,, 2010. I already ordered 4 cases. The previous set area available at most gaming stores. They are sold by the case/box or singie ships. THis is great is you are only missing a couple of ships. I have a complete set including the starter sets. Complete sets are not required for play. Their are also a couple of forums available where people talk about the game and WWII history in general. Trading sights are available there also.

    Great game with great people. Ten Stars!!!

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