Axis & Allies is a popular series of World War II strategy board games, with nearly two million copies printed. Originally designed by Larry Harris and published by Nova Game Designs in 1981, the game was republished by the Milton Bradley Company in 1984 as part of the Gamemaster Series of board games. This edition would be retroactively named Axis & Allies: Classic to differentiate it from later revisions. In 1996, Axis & Allies: Classic was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame.
Axis & Allies: Classic was the most successful of the five Gamemaster Series of board games. Long after the Gamemaster name was retired, A&A: Classic lives on having been moved to the Avalon Hill lineup following the acquisition of Milton Bradley and Avalon Hill by Hasbro. The game itself has gone through several revisions, most recently in 2009. The object of the game and its spinoffs, is to win the war by capturing enough critical territories to gain the advantage over the enemy in a recreation of World War II.
In 1984, Hasbro acquired Milton Bradley. In 1998, Hasbro acquired Avalon Hill. In 1999, Hasbro transferred the Axis & Allies: Classic (1984) board game from the Milton Bradley division to the Avalon Hill division. In 1999, Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast. In 2004, Hasbro made Avalon Hill a subsidiary of WotC.
The Axis & Allies (1984 - Current) board game series is currently produced by WotC under the Avalon Hill label. Hasbro is the parent company. There are a total of 11 board games in the Axis & Allies series, 8 of which are currently available from many game resellers. The 2 out of print A&A board games, Axis & Allies: Classic (1984) and Axis & Allies: 50th Anniversary Edition (2008) can be found on various auction websites. The 11th A&A board game in the series, Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 has a scheduled release date in the second half of 2010.
The original Axis & Allies: Classic board game has been followed by 10 spinoff games using more or less the same mechanics: in 1999, Axis & Allies: Europe was released, with slightly updated rules and focus on the European theater of World War II, this was followed in 2001 by Axis & Allies: Pacific with similar rules and focus shifted to the Pacific theater. Axis & Allies: D-Day (2004) focused on the Allied liberation of France. In 2004, the first major revision to the core game, Axis & Allies: Revised was released, with elements taken from A&A: Europe and A&A: Pacific, also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Axis & Allies itself. Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge (2006) focused on the Battle of the Bulge in Europe while Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal (2007) focused on the Solomon Islands Campaign in the Pacific. In 2008, Axis & Allies: 50th Anniversary Edition was released as one of the three games celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publisher, Avalon Hill (the other two games were Acquire and Diplomacy). This was followed by Axis & Allies: 1942 in 2009, the second major revision to the core game, with mechanics taken from the anniversary edition, also celebrating the 25th anniversary of Axis & Allies itself. Axis & Allies: Pacific 1940 was released in December 2009 and Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 will be released in the second half of 2010.
The 11th A&A board game in the series, Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 has a scheduled release date in the second half of 2010. Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 (2010) can be combined with Axis & Allies: Pacific 1940 (2009) to form a global game of WW2 on a combined 70" x 32" map. All 9 major powers of WW2: China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and USA plus the ANZAC forces are represented in the combined global game with unique units and unique colors.
Axis & Allies is not a strict historical wargame, due to its streamlining for ease of play and balancing so that both sides have a chance to win. For instance, the economic model is simplistic, with each territory producing a number of Industrial Production Certificates, (IPCs) good toward the purchase of new units. Moreover, the game is supposed to start in the spring of 1942, but Japan is immediately in position to attack Hawaii again, while Germany is pressed well into the U.S.S.R. with an initially superior force. If the game were truer to history, the Axis empires would be at their apex at this time, about to be pushed back home.
In every edition of Axis & Allies, players play as the major belligerents of World War II: Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, or the United States. The A&A: 50th Anniversary Edition also includes Italy as the third Axis power and China as the fourth Allied power. The A&A: Pacific 1940 edition includes China and ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand armed forces). The A&A: Europe 1940 edition includes Italy and France. The players playing the Axis powers team up against those of the Allied powers in an attempt to conquer key territories, represented by regions on the map board. In earlier editions, this was done by capturing and holding until the end of a round of play certain territories where the opposing alliances' capital cities are located. In later editions, this also includes other territories on the map, where victory cities are located. In the original Milton Bradley edition, A&A: Classic, the Axis powers could also win by capturing and holding until the end of a round of play enough territories to gain an economic advantage. This economic victory, was dropped in later editions of A&A.
Each round of a game involves each of the powers moving in turn according to a specified order; the game ends when either the Axis powers or the Allied powers complete their objectives. When each power takes its turn, they must first declare how they are to spend the IPCs ("Industrial Production Certificates", an abstract currency representing one million man-hours of labor) in their possession: this may go into buying new units, improving units through research (in earlier editions), or repairing damaged structures (in later editions). Players then declare any movements made that would result in combat, moving their pieces as appropriate, and after resolving combat, declaring any non-combat movements. At the end of the turn, players then place any units that were purchased at the beginning of the turn and collect IPCs based on all territories that they control at the end of their turn.
Combat is typically divided into several types: in all of them, however, combat is divided into rounds. In each round, attackers and defenders roll dice to determine which of their units deal hits on the opposing side: if the number rolled is less than or equal to the unit's attack or defense rating (where appropriate), the unit scores a hit on an opposing unit of the opponent's choosing. Some types of combat, such as strategic bombing raids, naval bombardment, or anti-aircraft defense, last only one round, though in others the attacker has the option of either continuing with another round of battle or retreating. Combat is fully-resolved when either side loses all their units or the attackers choose to retreat. Though combat in different territories may be resolved in any order of the attackers choosing, combat in one territory may affect the number of combatants in another territory for later battles, as in the case of an amphibious assault or when attacking units withdraw.
Revisions would follow shortly after the game release as several faults became apparent in the rules. As it stands, submarines may not attack planes, but subs may be attacked by bombers. This followed the constant conflicts arising from the game's flawed rules. Eventually new rules were applied and all planes were given the ability to attack submarines in naval battles. These rules apply to all versions of the game.
Although not the very first edition, the Milton Bradley release was the first to establish the well known game mechanics. There were three versions of the rules for the Milton Bradley games, though only the first two were included with the game itself. The third edition rules were exclusive to a computer video game "Axis & Allies" by Hasbro released in 1998 and Axis & Allies: Iron Blitz with minor additional rules released in 1999. The three editions differed by minor details. There is also a newer video game, Axis & Alles: RTS released in 2004, a departure from the original A&A: Classic world map and introducing several tactical battle scenarios. The Axis & Alles: RTS (2004) was followed by Axis & Alles: RTS Collector's Edition (2006) with expanded strategy guide included.
The first major revision to the rules was designed by Larry Harris and Mike Selinker (who would later develop the board game Attack! based on the experiences learned working with Harris), who tried to address many of the Milton Bradley version's shortcomings, including removing the Axis economic victory condition and the requirement of capturing enemy capitals in favor of victory cities, which has been used in every revision since. With victory cities, the Axis and Allies start with an equal number of victory cities (specially labeled territories), and strive to capture enough victory cities to gain a majority of them (the size of the majority being agreed upon by the players prior to the game). This allows players to play shorter or longer games, depending upon the number of victory cities a power must control in order to claim victory.
With each revision, there were also balance changes in order to make gameplay more dynamic: in the Milton Bradley edition, infantry were cheap units that tended to be most useful as defensive cannon fodder, due to their token attack and slightly better defense. This had led to many areas of the game board being heavily fortified, bogging game play down to a matter of who could build more infantry faster. To counteract this, the tank, whose defense ability was equal to infantry in the Milton Bradley release, had its defensive capabilities improved in the revised edition, so as to encourage players to use combined arms. Other balance changes included altering the costs of the various units, and altering the transport capacity: in the Milton Bradley edition, transports could carry only two infantry or one of any other land unit; later revisions had transports able to carry one infantry in addition to one of any other land unit.
The variety of land and sea units was increased by introducing artillery and destroyers from A&A: Europe and A&A: Pacific to A&A: Revised edition. Artillery increased the effectiveness of infantry in attacks, while destroyers limited the usefulness of submarines and acted as a lower-cost substitute for the expensive battleship. Cruisers were introduced in A&A: 50th Anniversary Edition to effectively split the destroyer's many abilities. While destroyers continue to limit the usefulness of submarines, the stronger cruisers now act as lower cost battleships.
The game board itself was also reworked in each revision. The Milton Bradley classic release featured largely vibrant colors, while the revised version featured mainly darker tones. The 50th anniversary edition and 1942 edition has a more realistic terrain with only subtle hints of color to denote which power has initial control over a particular territory. The composition of territories was also slightly altered, for example, the number of territories between Berlin and Moscow had been increased for the revised edition, including adding many Soviet territories of strategic importance.
Strategic bombing was altered over the years. Until the revised edition, strategic bombing caused opposing players to lose the IPCs they had on hand. The 50th anniversary edition changed this so that industrial complexes were damaged instead. Damaged industrial complexes had less capacity to produce units and can be repaired at the cost of IPCs.
Later revisions have also included changes in research (which was generally not a worthwhile investment in the Milton Bradley edition due to its high cost and low probability of success) to have more of an effect, with mixed results, 1942 edition eliminates research altogether. Another feature that was implemented but was later dropped was the revised edition's "National Advantages", which represented tactics and technologies used by a specific power during the war. For example, a British ability allowed the British player to delay their combat movement until the American player's turn once per game, in order to have a coordinated attack.
Later editions had minor cosmetic changes in the playing pieces. In the Milton Bradley version, only the infantry pieces were unique to each power in appearance. Unique units was later expanded to include nearly every unit in later editions. Compared to the generic fighters of the Milton Bradley release, the Supermarine Spitfire was used in later editions to represent British fighters, the A6M Zero was used to represent Japanese fighters, while two different fighters (the F6F Hellcat and the P-38 Lightning) represented American fighters. The color scheme to associate units with powers was also standardized across all Axis & Allies series games, based on the colors used in A&A: Europe and A&A: Pacific, and is different from those used in the Milton Bradley release.
In 2009, an updated version of Axis & Allies: Pacific was released, entitled Axis & Allies: Pacific 1940. The 10th board game in the A&A series, A&AP 1940 introduced the ANZAC forces as a playable power, along with two new unit types, mechanized infantry and tactical bombers.
In 2010, an updated version of Axis & Allies: Europe will be released, entitled Axis & Allies: Europe 1940. A&AE 1940 will introduce France as a playable power, along with two new unit types, mechanized infantry and tactical bombers. Italy also appears as a playable power in A&AE 1940 after debuting in A&A 50. In A&AE 1940 and A&AP 1940 aircraft carriers and battleships are capital ships that are damaged with 1 hit and sunk with 2 hits. Damaged CVs & BBs can be repaired by moving the damaged CV or BB to a friendly naval base for repairs. Special rules apply for fighters and tactical bombers if a CV is damaged. A&AE 1940 is the 11th A&A boardgame in the series. A&AE 1940 and A&AP 1940 are designed to be played as separate games or combined into one game to create a 2-8 player global 1940 scenario, complete with separate set up and national objectives. The combined A&AE 1940 and A&AP 1940 maps will measure 70" x 32". All 8 major powers of WW2 plus the ANZAC forces will be represented with unique unit pieces and their own unique color.
Numerous spin offs of the board game, including a console video game, exist.
Chapters that PlayEdit