Boardgames rarely turn into video games without some design concessions along the way. Usually these are to reduce playing time, or to make the game suitable for a single player.
They tend to lose some of their charm in the transition. In the case of games like Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Axis & Allies, the thrill is in outwitting a bunch of opponents who are sitting at the same table as you, wearing the pain of defeat on their stupid faces.
With 1941: Axis & Allies, ElectroWolff has taken the popular boardgame series and turned it electronic for Android.
A war on two fronts
Playable by up to five people on a single device, 1941: Axis & Allies has you controlling one or more nations during World War II as you battle for survival.
You can pick to be either the Allied powers of Britain, Russia, and America, or instead opt to play as the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. Either way, this is a worldwide conflict where you'll have to learn to play strategically across two fronts, no matter who you’re playing as.
Russia faces a threat from both Germany and Japan, while the US is engaged in combat with Japan and Germany. The UK is caught up in a conflict in Europe and on the Atlantic, and Germany is caught between the UK and Russia.
Thankfully, it's wonderfully easy to navigate thanks to Google Maps-style pinch-zooming and simple finger-panning.
With five nations playing all at once, turns take a long time to complete - just like in Risk or Axis & Allies itself. Thankfully, there’s a Short Game option if you don't fancy being in it for the long haul.
This mode is still quite lengthy, but instead of having to capture two key cities for victory you only need to snag one of them, significantly cutting down game time.
Learning the ropes
Of course, the first few games you'll play will take far longer than you expect, as you’ll be guessing your way through every move you make.
ElectroWolff has included a tutorial video that irritatingly redirects you to YouTube (so make sure you're playing over wi-fi if you don't want to rinse your data-plan) as well as an in-depth manual.
The only way to truly master the nuances of 1941: Axis & Allies is through experience, but even so it would have been nice to have a step-by-step playable tutorial for those who aren't seasoned Axis & Allies players.
ElectroWolff hasn't watered-down the gameplay in this boardgame conversion, and that's to the developer's credit. Despite its shortcomings, 1941: Axis & Allies gets the important things right - it's deep, complex, and playable with friends.