I’ve got a big pile of WWII minis laying around from the year or two I spent actively playing Avalon Hill’s Axis & Allies Miniatures game. This isn’t the huge-ass board game that takes hours to set up and many more hours to play; I’m talking about the collectible tabletop wargame that came out in the fall of 2005 and (to my knowledge) remains a supported product to this day.
Alas, Axis & Allies Miniatures had a fairly short life for me. The rules were somewhat dumbed-down (Avalon Hill is just another Hasbro brand, just like Wizards of the Coast) and each new release added increasingly goofy mechanics to the game. Plus it was collectible, meaning there was always something new to buy.
I’m proud to say I was part of the Historic House Rules (HHR) initiative that helped inject a little realism back into the game. Together with four other players (whom I never actually met in person; we just corresponded via the web) we gutted AAM’s rules and built a new framework from the basic structure of the game. I had a blast during those hectic months, discussing revisions on the Avalon Hill forums, editing PDF proofs and answering questions from enthusiastic gamers. I daresay the HHR rules improved AAM for a lot of people. (You can download the latest version of the rules from the good folks at Historic Battlefronts.) In an ironic twist, I never actually got to play the game with my own house rules; the one guy in Chicago I knew who played regularly turned up his nose at the HHR rules.
So I haven’t played the game since last summer, but I’ve still got piles of cool miniatures sitting around, all in more or less the same scale. And I love WWII tabletop gaming, owing in large part to my ongoing passion with WWII, particularly the Eastern Front. So I’m determined to find a cool set of rules to use with my minis — hopefully one that does away with AAM’s horrid hex maps. I’ve found a few free games and a few for-sale rulesets that look promising, and I’m actively on the lookout for more candidates. For now, I’m not looking to spend much more money — Crossfire’s $20 rulebook is about the limit of my budget and interest. But I dearly want an excuse to dust off my T-34s and take to the battlefield once again.