Axis & Allies

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Axis & Allies
Axis&Allies box.jpg
Wargame published by
Milton Bradley
No. of Players 2-5
Session Time 1-5 hours
Authors Lawrence H. Harris
First Publication 1981
Essential Books History of WWII

Axis and Allies is a board game based off WWII and is thus awesome. Through its many expansions, it covers most if not all theatres of the second World War.

If you enjoy strategy, battles and an extraordinary dose of awesome: PLAY THIS GAME.

If you don't, how the fuck did you end up on 1d4chan anyway?

Note - The information within this article applies mostly to Axis & Allies and Axis & Allies: 1942.

The Armies[edit]

Risk is for pussies

The full version of A&A is a 3v2 team game with the Soviets, British, and Americans allied against the Germans and Japanese.

Soviet Union[edit]

It is advised that you randomly distribute the armies among players rather than having players choose. This is because there will be nonstop arguments over who ends up playing Russia, or else the unfortunate player with last pick will end up getting stuck with Russia like that scrawny loser in gym class who'd always get picked last (i.e. probably you if you read this site) and if there was an odd number of total players both teams would try to coax the other teams into taking him. This is because playing Russia in Axis & Allies is not a game. It is a chore. A necessary sacrifice. The sweat of the laborer's brow that must be given up for the greater good of one's comrades and the communal whole. Somebody has to be the poor sod who says "I buy five infantry" turn after turn as he watches everybody else have a good time. The height of the Russia player's excitement is when he rolls lucky enough on those attack dice that he can afford a tank too.

While the most boring faction to play, it is also the most crucial. The entire metagame basically revolves around either protecting Russia (for the Allies) or crushing it (for the Axis). The Russia player has surprisingly little to say in this however, since all he can do is spam infantry and pray for the best *BLAM* Religious sentiment is a symptom of political unreliability, comrade. The player who willingly chooses Russia will be honored by other players for his noble sacrifice that allowed the rest of them to choose factions that are actually fun to play.

If the Axis somehow lets the Soviets mass-produce tanks at the rate other Allied countries can (anywhere between 2 to 5 a turn), they're doing it wrong. If the Soviets manage to deploy battleships and not lose the game next turn, the Axis war effort is lost as Stalin declares to abstain from alcohol and Hitler shoots himself in the head three years early.

As far as strategy goes, your main objectives should be to hold Karelia and Caucasus while not letting the Germans surround you, because if they get Archangel, you’re screwed.


You will start the game with a fuckhueg army, which is good because you're surrounded on all sides by people who want you dead just because you wanted to unite the world under the rule of the glorious master race. Poor Hitler, nobody likes you. Well, you'll show them for kicking you out of art school. You'll show them ALL!

Better get cracking right away stomping those filthy commie scum because the Axis player's strength is in their early-game advantage. If you allow the Allies any time at all their economic advantage will overpower you and the US will pull a D-Day. Sink those British ships and then get to work Panzer spamming. Roleplay as a /pol/ member. Playing Germany is a tense action-packed ride all the way through; not for everyone but then neither is liquor and Aryan whores.

United Kingdom[edit]

Arguably the most fun and desired faction of the game. This is the army for people who fancy themselves tactical geniuses as they start with units fucking EVERYWHERE on the map. The Brits probably have the most options available to them out of all the armies, with troops and economic power in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and Canada. The drawback is that while you have a presence everywhere, none of these forces are particularly formidable on their own, so it's especially important to be strategic and choose your targets wisely. Played wisely, the Brit player is the most hated and deadly foe of both Germany and Japan. Played poorly, their territories are just so much Nazi food. Not an army for nooblets, but very rewarding to master.

If you can hold Egypt, Australia, and India, you can win.


Has, like, all the navy pieces at the start of the game. So many battleships and carriers and subs you won't know what to do with them all. Despite going 4th in the turn order Japan is very difficult for the Allies to damage on their first turn, so you'll often have most if not all of your starting forces available on your first turn. On top of that most of your economy is in islands and with any luck you'll have undisputed control of the seas for the first two turns or so. As a result Japan, like the UK, gets quite a degree of freedom in deciding what strategies to pursue, but your overall goals should be "squeeze Russia like a vice between you and Germany" and “take India and Hawaii”. Japan is safe for the first two turns or so but Germany will die pretty quickly with all three Allied nations bearing down on them (which is what happened in real life), so you need to make like an MMORPG tank and draw aggro. Do this by eating away at Russia and Britain's economies by taking Siberia and island-hopping while forcing America to spend all their dosh on expensive-ass warships to stop you from doing that.

If you like the idea of gradually expanding from a small but secure position into a huge empire, Japan is the army to play. Your economy starts off on the weak side but you have the most potential for growth. Sadly you cannot kamikaze except when using the optional rules.

United States[edit]

You have the strongest starting economy and are basically immune to direct assault apart from your holdings in China and the Pacific. The two massive oceans on either side are a mixed blessing. On one hand, any serious effort by the Axis to attack you is going to be a futile waste of resources. On the other hand, it's going to be a couple of turns before you can even seriously participate in the game. Don't think you're going to do something clever with those troops in China or those ships in Hawaii because chances are Japan will wipe them out before you've even have a chance to move. Sounds unfair, but so is being a president with polio in the middle of a world-spanning war.

US can bring some serious firepower to the table, but only after they've built some transports and shipped them to where the action actually is. (Read: Africa and Europe) Continuing the MMO analogy, if Japan is tanking the boss (Russia + UK) for Germany then America is the boss's enrage timer; if the Axis haven't crushed Russia and/or crippled UK before America thinks it's had enough time to build up, then it's pretty much game over for the Axis, barring some mad dice luck. There's no taking you on directly until the game's pretty much decided, so America is the perfect army for people who like long-term planning, or for girly-men who don't like being attacked.


Infantry: Your basic soldier who exist only to get slaughtered in droves to protect the more valuable tanks and artillery. Cheap and disposable. Victory goes to he who shows no regard for the lives of his men. Has only one point in attack and two in defense, and so are better at holding ground than taking it.

Artillery: Buttbuddy with Infantry units to increase their attack power. Russia can build a couple so they can actually counterattack for a change. Always hits on a 2 or less.

Tanks: Notable for their ability to take two territories in a turn if the first is undefended. Strong, versatile, and reliable, no army is complete without a few (unless it's Russia). With three points in attack and two in defense, they're both much better than infantry on the attack and worse on the defense when accounting for costs. (Hence the Russian player's lack of them.)

Fighter: Air units are a bit pricey, but luckily your cheaper land units can take hits for them. With 3 attack, 4 defense, 4 movement, and the ability to land on carriers, there's not much these guys can't do. Germany will make you hate the shit out of them since they start with like 6 of the buggers and they're impossible to kill if the Germany player is halfway smart with them. Luckily though, if you're Britain, you won't have to kill all of them. You just need to take out enough of them to stop them from relaxing and building enough bombers to crush you and pull an Operation Sea Lion the turn after.

Bomber: More fuel and attack power than fighters, but can't defend worth shit and can't land on carriers because they're too obese. They can attack factories to destroy an enemy's moneys without directly engaging the troops--only AA guns can harm them when they do this. Heavy Bombers tech used to make them stupidly broken since they could kill 3 units in one round of combat and average 10-11 damage to industrial complexes per strategic bombing run. 3e nerfed the shit out of this so now Heavy Bombers is more trouble than it's worth, just like all the other tech upgrades.

Transport: Move land units across water. Nothing else to say.

Submarine: Trash mobs of the seas. They only have a 2 in both attack and defense; every other ship is better except the transport. They have a number of weird special abilities which you will never use because subs are only good as cannon fodder for better ships and they don't share their special abilities with attached fleets. They are also wonderful for hunter-killer missions to take out pesky transports loaded with high calibre rounds on tracks that can't shoot you, if left unguarded.

Destroyer: Can nullify the sub's special abilities, which is useless because the sub's special abilities are useless. The destroyer is not; it's a solid 3/3 (2/2 in 1942) fighter which can be upgraded to attack land units with the right tech.

Carrier: CARRIER HAS ARRIVED. Up to two fighter units can land on one. Bombers can't because of their obesity. With two more defense points than attack points (not in 1942) and their fighters having one more defense than attack, carriers are the reason why large naval confrontations generally consist of two fleets staring at each other endlessly wishing they had more attack than defense.

Cruiser: 1942 thing. Combines the cost-effectiveness of the destroyer with the combat power of the battleship. Gets a 3 up and can also bombard during amphibious assaults like the battleship. Take these instead of destroyers.

Battleship: Was an overpriced piece of garbage until 3e came along and gave it an extra hit point, the only unit in the entire game with the privilege. Since damage is always allocated by the victim, this means you can stack multiple battleships in a sea zone and the enemy has to hit you several times before you lose even one ship. Auto-repairs after combat for extra lulz. Natural buddy for transport ships as it gets to fire on land units when part of an amphibious invasion. The drawback? Just one of these costs as much as the entire economy of Russia. Another way to measure the closeness of Allied victory is how much Russia puts into naval resources. As mentioned earlier, if they can build battleships and not break a sweat, the Axis are likely doomed.


The Basics[edit]

  • Buy infantry: Lots of infantry. This what makes and breaks your army. Not by virtue of its stats but by being cheap cannonfodder to protect your expensive hitters like tanks and airplanes. If you build up infantry in one region you force the enemy either to enter a stacking contest or to abandon the neighboring region; this is why you end up with a fuckton of Russian and German infantry on the Eastern front every single game. The same is true for navies, with subs/transports and battleships' extra HP playing the role of infantry.
  • Buffer regions: Regions you conquer for one turn to get the IPCs, then the enemy will re-conquer it in turn. Will develop primarily on static fronts, Caucasus being the classic example between a German held Eastern Europe and a Soviet held Karelia. The MO is to keep your force as economical as possible, attacking with airplanes and the minimum amount of infantry.

50th Anniversary Edition[edit]

Yet another edition of the game, but as it combines a lot of the minor changes of the past editions while throwing in a few big new features, the end result is an actually well-designed game rather than a hodgepodge of patches like the other expansions. Highlights include:

  • "2" new playable countries
    • Play as Italy, the unloved junior member of the Axis and recreate history by being completely ineffectual in North Africa and just serving as a mass of poorly-trained infantry that the Allies target first because you're a pushover compared to Germany. Despite this, a clever player can do a lot with them as having an extra player in the turn order can shake things up a lot, especially by launching well-placed amphibious assaults and taking weakly-defended provinces for the sole purpose of allowing Germany to blitz through with Tanks next turn.
    • China, although technically they are controlled by the US player. Doesn't have an economy or build units but simply spawns free infantry every turn depending on how many provinces they control (though these can't leave the country). Also, they have a single plane that they start the game with. Not good for much other than being a minor bump in the road for Japan.
  • Redesigned map that actually makes sense. Eastern Europe is no longer a huge vertical column from Poland through Greece. China is no longer just 2 provinces that can be crossed in a single turn. And deserts and huge mountain ranges are impassable so no more tank excursions from the Congo into Algeria.
  • Units stats and prices have been balanced, meaning there is actually a reason to get more than one type of naval unit and that Russia will actually produce more than literally just Infantry every turn.
  • Better game dynamics. Changes in the units and map means a good Russian player with a mixed army can actually counterattack Germany if well-supported by the UK rather than just delaying the inevitable. Japan's initial territory being smaller means the UK has a lot more flexibility in Southeast Asia and can totally turn the game around if Japan is lagging. And the inclusion of Italy and the change to how Industrial Complexes work means North Africa is now a valid front rather than either completely useless or gamebreaking if you can set-up a factory there as in previous expansions.

All in all, probably the best edition as it balances giving players more decisions on how to play rather than the exact same moves while avoiding the absolutely insane cheese possible with some of the other versions. Hell, the Allies may even win for once!

Other editions of the game include the Australians and French, which tend to lose France almost every first turn of Germany and stay in the game on obscure parts of the map. Play the French if the USSR wasn't hard enough for you, and you're happy to have your troops from France sit in the U.K., brooding, waiting for the Americans to show up for D-Day. The French Resistance is not included, which, if this game had a secret service side to it, would make France and Britain exponentially more powerful. Essentially Britain as the player is split into three, though the one with the U.K. still controls the economy of all it's colonies and commonwealth nations (the player in South East Asia commands the troops there) except Australia and New Zealand. Australia actually has a nice Navy for it's size, and is so far away and unimportant for Japan that it will become a problem later in the game if not dealt with in a manner miniature to how Japan would go about invading the USA (historically, the Japanese military never even planned such a thing, and assumed that if the conflict with the U.S. took more than 12 months they would lose). The neutral countries actually have armies, such as Switzerland and Mongolia. There is also a WWI version and a miniatures battlefield focused version that is no longer in production, that actually had Greek forces and others. In this game, one side or the other winning is incrementally more difficult and can take as long as the original version of Risk. There is a downloadable version, which, unless you want to chase down two different board games no longer in production to make the full version of the map (they are separated between European and Pacific Theatres) and spend over $120, can be downloaded here, with over a hundred different other maps, like LOTR and so on.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Mousetrap - Snakes and Ladders - Risk
Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - The Duke - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly - The Duke
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium - Wingspan