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Axis & Allies is a tabletop wargame designed in 1981 by Larry Harris and published by Nova Entertainment. A second edition, essentially identical to the first (and now titled Axis & Allies Classic) was published in 1984 by Milton Bradley, and was a smash hit. In 2003, a third edition was published by Avalon Hill, who have also published a number of variants, such as a version based on the First World War. Over the years, Axis & Allies has enjoyed immense popularity, with over 2 million copies printed.

The game has spawned an unofficial digital version known as Triple A: Axis And Allies.


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Playable factions include:

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This game provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Some editions of the game manual feature a timeline of World War II.
  • Alternate History – Nazi Victory: The game allows up to five players to reenact World War II from 1942 onwards when the United States joins the fray. Sufficiently adept (and lucky) players can end the war more favorably for Nazi Germany and their allies. It's incredibly rare for the Axis to Take Over the World however, both because of the logistical problems with any attempted invasion of the American heartland, and because by that point, the USSR and UK have usually been knocked out of the war already by losing their capitals, which is its own win condition.
  • America Won World War II - To an extent. There is an American faction, but the Axis most certainly is capable of defeating them. Often enough, this is invoked as a strategy by Allied players, who amass a huge invasion force in the US while using the UK and USSR to stall the Axis.
  • Anti-Air - Features in some versions of the game, usually represented by anti-aircraft guns that will shoot at any enemy aircraft that enter the territory. Some editions also allow rules for fighter escorts and interceptors to protect strategic bombing runs.
  • Armchair Military - Quite literally.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The standard game supposedly begins in the spring of 1942, but German and Japanese starting forces don't correspond to how they historically were. This is to allow game balance, giving both sides an equal chance to win.
    • A natural consequence of the game's title with the WW1 spinoff, since the opposing sides were the Central Powers and the Triple Entente. (Although the latter was typically referred to as "the Allies" in English, historians generally favor the more accurate "Entente".)
  • Attack! Attack! Attack! - Players can use this tactic, albeit not to great affect. (Usually)
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Battleships in early versions of the game. They cost a lot (to the tune of a single one demanding the Soviets entire economy to produce) and were fairly easy to destroy. Once they got their second hit point, a price cut, and their ability to support naval assaults, though...
    • Invading the US can definitely be done, but doing so is a logistical nightmare, requires Axis dominance of both Oceans and getting into such a position means the UK and USSR have already been steamrolled.
    • Researching tech; yes, you might get some cool things like jet fighters or ballistic missiles, but it's entirely based on luck and can eat through IPCs quickly if you're not careful ( IPCs that could be used to build more troops, for example).
  • Boring, but Practical: Russia can be incredibly unfun to play as, with such a bad economy and such a wide stretch of land to cover as Germany pushes east. And yet the Allies team often lives and dies by Russia, the anvil to the United States' hammer.
  • Color-Coded Armies - All pieces are made of a solid color plastic. They are:
    • Red- Russia
    • Black- Germany
    • Beige- the UK
    • Orange- Japan
    • Green- The United States
    • Later editions that have expansions for minor powers have added brown (Italy), light green (China), and blue (France).
  • Cool Plane - Multiple. All armies have fighters and bombers, which can't take territory but can fly over enemies to attack other territories land or naval units can't reach. Some versions feature tactical bombers, which act as the halfway point between fighters and bombers.
    • Interestingly enough, the Germans had a Stuka dive bomber as their fighter model in the third edition of the game, supposedly because it is so iconic. Later versions replaced it with a more accurate to the role Bf-109 while the Stuka model was reused for the Tactical Bomber model (in those editions that have Tactical Bombers).
  • Crew of One - Sometimes in play. One player can control an entire side in the war, but the game supports as many players as armies.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys - In nearly all editions of the game, France begins under the control of the German forces. Even in those editions where they are playable, the Germans have so much parked on their doorstep that a turn 1 knockout is almost guaranteed. Averted in the WWI spinoff where they are a major power on par with the Germans and Austrians they will be fighting.
  • Defenseless Transports: Troop transports had no attack power whatsoever and a pitiful 1 defense... up until the Anniversary edition when they lost that and will be immediately destroyed if an enemy unit moves into their sector and there are no combat ships to defend them.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield - Quite literally. Territories can be controlled on all continents, with the obvious exception of Antarctica. Especially prevalent in the global versions of the game. (Read: Most of them)
  • Escape Battle Technique: The submarine's special power, being able to strike first and slip away rather than get into a protracted fight with more powerful surface vessels (unless a destroyer is present, in which case they have to stand and fight).
  • Invaded States of America - As the Axis, a player can attack and occupy the United States. Good luck mustering the forces to do so, though.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Exactly this with players who just decide to attack without any further plans.
  • Magikarp Power: Italy, in those editions where it is playable, starts with a tiny army and the worst economic base of the powers. However, its position makes it difficult to be attacked by strategic bombing that might cripple its economy, and the only immediate threats are from some thinly spread British forces in Egypt and the Middle East. A good Italian player can easily sweep Africa and build a respectable defense long before being put under threat from Allied forces who may be trying to deal with the much more powerful Germany to the north.
  • Mighty Glacier: The US has the largest ICP at the start of the game, and is hard to invade, at the same time, any force they send takes its time getting to the enemy.
  • Multinational Team - The Axis and the Allies, both made up of multiple nations.
  • Neutral No Longer - All versions had neutral nations that could be occupied, either by paying some IC cost or fighting the local armies. Later versions made some of these neutral nations pro-Axis (such as Bulgaria or Finland) or pro-Allies (such as Brazil or Yugoslavia), meaning rather than having to fight them during the combat phase to take control a country of the correct side could simply move a unit into that space during its non-combat phase, and the territory (along with its industrial production) and all the local units would fall under its control. If a true neutral (those that don't lean either way at the start, i.e., Spain or Turkey) is attacked, all true neutrals on the board would immediately become pro-whatever-side-didn't-attack (for example, if Italy attacked Switzerland, all true neutrals would become pro-Allies, so Britain could just move a unit into Spain to take control of its IP and 6 infantry there).
  • No Swastikas - The games have the balkenkreuz as the emblem for the German forces. It's not just the Germans either - none of the countries are identified by their national flags (save Japan, which does get the Rising Sun).
  • Promoted to Playable: Italy and France become playable factions in some editions of the game. They're generally weaker than the other five powers (France is especially vulnerable to a turn 1 knockout by Germany), but played well they can be just as strong as their more active neighbors.
    • Played with regarding China. Originally China was represented by a few American units in two small (and easily conquered) territories, but in the Anniversary edition China was expanded into a subfaction for America, complete with it's own unique infantry sculpts. However, China has no factories and does not generate income for the U.S. or itself, instead being gifted a certain number of infantry units based on the number of territories China controls at the end of a turn. Chinese units cannot leave Chinese territories (with a few exceptions) and there is generally a limit as to how many new Chinese units can be placed in one territory.
  • Pyrrhic Victory - Throw lots of troops at an invasion, your enemies get very lucky on the dice rolls, and you take the land with one infantry left.
  • "Risk"-Style Map - There's been quite a few.
  • Tank Goodness: A staple of the game, being powerful, fast moving (albeit relatively expensive) land units that are capable of taking and holding territory with relative ease.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines - Can occur if an enemy is able to break off one of your territories from the rest of your land.
  • Washington D.C. Invasion - Can be done by the Axis, albeit with a large navy and many, many troop transports coming across the Atlantic.
  • We Have Reserves - Pretty much a core component of the game. Lost 20 infantry units in a failed attack? It's okay, just make more and send them out.
  • You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again - If a nation loses its capital, it cannot purchase more units or really participate in the war effort to a great extent. However, if the remaining units of that nation, or one of its allies, retakes the capital, they can jump right back in and take the fight to their enemies.
  • Zerg Rush - Can be done if a player accumulates enough ICPs to build up a large enough military. Also a core aspect of many Soviet strategies, which involve as many infantry and tanks as you can possibly build being flung at the Germans.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The spinoff Axis and Allies and Zombies adds zombie hordes to the mix as an independent faction that can pop up in any territory at will, preventing the controlling player from collecting income or utilizing facilities until the hordes are cleared.


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