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H.Q. Dispatches Pt. 1
Justin Webb

Hello. My name is Justin Webb and I'm the Axis & Allies Miniatures editor. This is the first in a (hopefully) regular series of columns about AAM topics. This column originated from a thread I posted in our forums last week. In that thread I advocated starting a regular column, where someone from WotC could regularly answer questions regarding the Axis & Allies Miniatures game.

The response was overwhelming, with questions covering a variety of different topics. It was clear though, that certain questions were popping up more than others. I want to talk about all the different topics that were brought up on the thread. However, I obviously won’t be able to talk about everything this first week. So, for this first column I’m going to address the Spitfire and Hellcat issues, as well as say a little something about maps and nationalities.

Now, unfortunately, the answer to some questions is sometimes going to be “I’m unable to answer that question at this time. Or even speak about it at all.” For example, I’m not in a position to be able to leak release dates or give “spoilers” for upcoming sets. It’s also not the intent of this column to provide full disclosure on brand management issues. And sometimes answers won’t be what a lot of you want to hear. But I’ll do my best to honestly answer your questions the best I can, even if the answer is “there is no answer”.

And now, Maps . . .

Maps

I don’t have any definite information regarding map packs per se, but we’re working on our 2007 plans right now, and “accessories” figure very strongly in those plans.

Also, in addition to the scenarios (with maps) that we regularly publish on our website, there are a bunch of newer map-related options in the works. For example, we recently released a Twin-Pack Starter, which contains two boosters, pulled from the Base Set, Set II and Contested Skies sets—it also contains an updated Rulebook and two new double-sided maps. OP also released a full-size D-Day map in June’s Combat Zone program.

Many of you have done excellent jobs in creating “accessories” for the game. Some of these look amazing! Feel free to keep posting your non-commercial user-designed maps.

Hellcat

As everyone knows, the Hellcat from the Base Set is strangely sized—it’s a little bit too big and a little bit too long. It’s especially strange since the first versions I saw of the Hellcat were all the right size. In fact, I remember playtesting with an unpainted early sculpt that had the correct dimensions. The photo that Bob posted a while back was of one of these early unpainted models, and not a fixed version.

When we got the first batch of finished product from the factory (we always check the first few boosters off the production line for collation issues), we immediately noticed that the Hellcat was wrong. At this point, full production was already just underway. We thought that we could fix it as a “running change” and that a corrected version would appear in a large percentage of the finished boxed product. It seems, however, that this was not the case, and that no versions of a finished, correctly sized Hellcat made it to stores.

As such, if you buy a Twin-Pack Starter, and the Hellcat is your rare in the Base Set Booster therein, it will not be a new corrected version.

There are no current plans to “reprint” the Hellcat. It could potentially appear in a future set, but this is speculation on my part.

Spitfire

The Spitfire in the D-Day set is unfortunately a Messerschmitt Bf109E from the Contested Skies set painted in British colors. We took a lot of flak on the boards for this mistake and rightly so. Some people posted on the boards that we used a Messerschmitt mold just to save money. This is not the case. It was just a mistake—albeit a mistake of colossal proportions.

Sculpting started on the Spitfire during the Contested Skies set (incidentally, at the same time as the Messerschmitt), because we knew we wanted to use a photo of it on the packaging for the D-Day set. For each set, these packaging minis are always produced with the previous expansion so that paint masters exist by the time we need to print the packaging. In fact, you can see a photo of the Spitfire paint master on the side panel of those boosters.

A correct Spitfire was modeled and approved. However, during final tooling, the factory made a mistake and used the Messerschmitt sculpt (which was being tooled at the same time) and applied the Spitfire paint scheme to it. Although clearly different, they do look similar. We didn’t notice that the sculpt had been switched, since, at that late stage, we’re predominantly checking for paint issues.

This is particularly frustrating for us, since a correct Spitfire sculpt exists. I was personally very excited when I found out it was to be included in the D-Day set (us Brits have a soft spot for the Spitfire), so to find out about a last-minute mistake like this was extremely disappointing. Everyone on the AAM team is extremely sorry about the Spitfire. We’ve instituted an extra step in our QC process as a result of this mistake.

There are no definitive plans on what we’re going to do next with the Spitfire. There is a chance that it might be released as a promo, or included in a future expansion. This is still being discussed internally and again is just speculation on my part at this time. In the mean time, if any of you still feel dissatisfied, please feel free to send in your Spitfire with its stat card to our Customer Service department. They will replace the Spitfire with a random rare.

On behalf of the AAM team, I’d like to apologize for the mistakes on the Hellcat and the Spitfire.

Other Nations

A lot of you asked about when are we going to flesh out some of the less-represented countries. Well, in each set we will continue to release units from countries like France, Italy, Japan, Canada (and some new ones, like Hungary in the upcoming Reserves set), etc. The thing to consider though is that each set only has 45 slots—for a collectable game, that’s not very many. We are of the opinion that each set should comprise mostly of units from the major powers, with a sprinkling from the smaller countries.

We also don’t want to “theme” any set too strongly—we wouldn’t release a set with 10 Polish units in it, for example. That could potentially make players who are not interested in building a Polish army not want to buy any of that set. We’d rather release sets with general themes and a good, wide selection of nationalities.

So, while during these early days of the AAM game, it can be quite tricky putting together a Polish or Italian army, rest assured that once we have a few more sets under our belt, it will become much easier to field single-nation forces.

Another result of having relatively small sets is that some countries are yet to receive some of their “staple” units. Once more sets have released and there are more units in circulation, some of the obvious “holes” will fix themselves—for example, more chance of seeing American and Soviet machine guns, German paratroopers, etc.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next time I’d like to talk a little bit about “bad” rares, point costs, the metagame, “fun”, and special abilities.

Oh, and yes, Kaufschtick, that is Clint from Where Eagles Dare.










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