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AXIS & ALLIES

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Avalon Hill, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 2 hours or more; $45)

 

Had you been a game player with an interest in war strategy games and active about 20 years ago, chances are you would have had on your game shelf at least one of the games in the Milton Bradley Gamemaster Series. These games covered such diverse topics as pirates (Broadsides & Boarding Parties), Roman conquest (Conquest of the Empire), feudal Japan (Shogun and the renamed Samurai Swords, which appeared in the Winter 1988 GA REPORT and Summer 1996 GA REPORT respectively) and the invasion of the United States (Fortress America, Spring 1987 GA REPORT). But, without question, the game in the line enjoying the most success and greatest longevity is Axis & Allies . In Axis & Allies, players command forces from the five major powers in World War II and re-fight that global conflict. Now, this venerable game, under the Avalon Hill imprint, has received a new look and design.

Axis & Allies is the brainchild of Larry Harris who designed this revision with development by Mike Selinker and contributions by Richard Baker, Stephen Baker, Rob Daviau and Mike Gray. The game comes large boxed with 366 molded plastic playing pieces, a large 20″ x 33″ mounted board, Industrial Production Certificates, Information Cards, Marshaling Cards, 12 dice, plastic chips and a 40 page rulebook.aanew

The game begins in the spring of 1942. Each player controls one (or more) of the five combatants in the game: England, the Soviet Union, Germany, Japan and the United States.

The board is a map of the world divided into areas called territories (land areas) or sea zones. Most territories have an income value ranging from 1 to 12 to indicate how many Industrial Production Certificates (IPCs) the area will produce for the power controlling it. Each player begins with a bunch of IPCs which act as the currency of the game. (The Soviet Union begins with 24, Germany 40, the UK and Japan with 30 each and the United States with 42. These totals will change and are tracked on the National Production Chart.) At the start, the Allies control six cities: Washington, London, Leningrad, Moscow, Calcutta and Los Angeles. The Axis powers control Berlin, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, Manila and Tokyo. Depending on how long you wish to play (or whether you’re aiming for a minor, major or total victory), the side controlling 8 or 10 or 12 cities wins the game. Each power begins with some forces in controlled areas (as shown on their reference charts).

Axis & Allies is played in a series of rounds with each country taking a turn in the following order: Soviet Union, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, United States. Seven phases complete a turn.

1. Develop Weapons – In this phase, players may spend IPCs (at the rate of 5 IPCs for one die) and roll the dice to try to develop a superior type of weapon, ranging from jet fighters to heavy bombers.

2. Purchase Units – Now players may use IPCs to buy units for use in a future turn. In addition to land units (at a cost of 3 IPCs), air units (fighters at 10 IPCs and bombers at 15 IPCs), and sea units (ranging from transports for 8 IPCs up to battleships at a costly 24 IPCs), players may also buy industrial complexes (15 IPCs) which serve as gateways for new units to enter the fray.aanewboard

3. Combat Move – Units already in place may move into territories and sea zones controlled or occupied by enemy forces.

4. Combat – Resolved by rolling dice. Attacking and defending units are considered to be rolling simultaneously (although some units can “open fire” and destroy the enemy before they can fire back). Most units are destroyed with one hit. Combat continues until either all units of a side are destroyed or the attacker retreats. If the attacker wins and still has at least one surviving unit, the territory comes under the attacker’s control. If all units are destroyed, there is no winner and control of the area remains as it was.

5. Noncombat Move – All units that did not move during the combat move phase or were not involved in combat may move, generally into friendly territory.

6. Mobilize New Units – Units purchased during phase 2 may now move onto the board to territories containing industrial complexes under your control. (The number of units allowed in an area is equal to the income value of the territory.)

7. Collect Income – The National Production Chart is used here and you collect that number of IPCs from the bank. If your capital city comes under enemy control, you collect NO income!

Should any power control the number of cities necessary for victory after all have completed the seven phases, ending a round, the game is over and that power (or side) is victorious!

Changes abound in this new edition of the game, some major, some minor. The board looks different with new sea zone configurations and some new territories. The Soviet Union and Germany are configured differently too. In the new Axis & Allies, the winning conditions, which varied depending on which side you were on, are now the same for BOTH. To improve the “ambiance”, pieces have been designed to more closely resemble the actual military units e.g. German tanks now look like Panther tanks and American tanks like Shermans, UK fighter planes look like Spitfires and American fighters look like P-38 Lightnings. Land and sea combat, once separate actions, are combined into one phase while artillery and destroyer forces, absent from the original, are now included, all positive improvements. The optional rules provided can change the game dynamics by giving certain advantages to each of the powers. (Using them is a matter of personal taste.) A nice touch is the timeline appearing on the edge of the rulebook which gives you a feeling for the flow of the conflict. There is still a heavy luck factor due to the presence of all those dice rolls but that is the same as in the original. And, of course, set up of all these pieces can be time consuming.

Axis & Allies is, and remains, a classic in the light wargaming genre. The new edition gives new pieces, a new look and some new decisions to a keep players involved and interested. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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Fall 2004 GA Report Articles

 

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