ALTERNATIVE AXIS & ALLIES
These are our "house rules" for playing Axis & Allies. We use these rules instead of the original rules, but you can adapt them to the original game or your own house rules. We use New Weapons Development on top of Alternative Axis & Allies. This is a game for two to five players. We use the same board and most of the pieces. The object of the game is to capture all of your opponent's capitals with infantry or tanks. Players who have lost their capitals cannot claim an income or buy new units until they recapture their capital. They can attack and defend as normal with any remaining units. If they lose all their units they are out of the game.
GAME BOARD The game board has land territories and sea zones. Each territory has a point value (called "Industrial Production Certificates" in the original game) printed on it. Sea zones have no point value. They split up the board for ship movements. The sea zones on the left and right sides of the board are considered to be next to each other. Moving ships through the Suez Canal counts as one move. Land forces and planes can cross over it from Egypt to Syria for one move. The Panama Canal region is drawn on the board as one sea zone and one territory, therefore no moves are needed to cross over it by land or sea.
There are five nations on the board. Each nation has a capital territory marked by its national symbol. Each nation's starting territories are a different color on the board. The nations should be divided fairly among the players. Neutral territories (Spain, Turkey, etc) are worth one point each, are not owned by anybody at the beginning of the game, and can be captured by anybody.
We made a few simple changes to give the Axis Powers more points. We use little squares of masking tape with the point number written on them to mark these changes. Eastern Europe is given a value of six. Wake Island, Caroline Island, and Solomon Islands are given one point each. This brings Germany up to 35 points and Japan up to 28 points.
Mexico, Panama, West Indies, Brazil, Sinkiang, and China are taken away from the USA and made neutral territories. They retain their value and can be captured by anybody. This makes the USA its actual size and brings it down to 25 points.
The total value of the territories owned by each nation at the beginning of our game is: Germany-35, UK-30, Japan-28, USA-25, and USSR-24. These totals change as nations capture and lose territories.
TURN ROUNDS The game is divided into "turn rounds" with three steps to be done in this order:
1) Payday: Players add up the point values of all their territories. The most recent player to occupy or capture a territory gets to claim it. Only one nation can claim a territory and buy units on it at a time. Players may not give each other points.
2) Shopping: Each player uses their points to buy units using the prices listed in the Unit Table. Players may buy units on any of their nation's claimed territories or in sea zones next to them. You don't need industrial complexes. No order is necessary when buying units. There are no required set-up positions.
3) Turns: Nations take turns moving units and attacking in the order of richest to poorest in points received. This gives an advantage to the poorer nations because they can use all their units without having to defend later in the turn round. Players with the same number of points should roll dice to determine the turn order.
Having everybody get paid and buy units at the same time instead of individually dramatically speeds up the game. You don't have to sit and wait five minutes for each player to figure out what to buy and where to put it. After everybody has had their turn, a new turn round begins. Players get paid, buy units, and take their nation's turns again. This continues until the game is finished.
UNITS We use four different types of units in the basic game: Infantry, Ships, Tanks, and Planes. Chips can be stacked under units to keep track of how many are on a space. White chips are worth one extra unit and red chips are worth five extra units. Each plastic unit on the board represents many "actual" units. We painted some of our white chips red on one side so they could be used either way. We also spray painted the UK units gold and the USSR units red (the "Red Army"). Each type of unit has a different Cost, Hit Roll, and Movement as listed in the "Unit Table" below:
Unit Cost Hit Roll Movement Features Infantry 1 1 1 Capture land Ships 2 2 2 Transport 2 units Tanks 3 3 3 Capture land Planes 4 4 4 Fight over land and sea
Infantry and Tanks are land forces. They can only be bought on territories. They capture territories by moving into or through them after the defender's units are defeated in battle. Unoccupied territories can be captured without fighting. Infantry are often used as pawns to take hits in battle.
Ships can battle ships and planes in sea zones. Players can only buy ships in sea zones next to a territory they claim. If two players both have territories next to a sea zone, they can both buy ships in it. They must fight over it on their turns. Opposing ships cannot remain in the same sea zone without fighting. Ships can hold or transport any two units in any combination. Units can be held on a ship without unloading if desired. Units can be piggybacked from ship to ship to move farther. Moving units from one ship to another in the same sea zone does not count as a move used.
Land forces move directly onto a ship from a territory next to the sea zone it is in. The ship may then unload them on any territory it can get next to with its available moves. This counts as one move used by each infantry or tank. Any enemy units in the sea zone must be wiped out before land forces can be unloaded onto enemy territory. Land forces cannot fight or take hits in battle while they are on a ship. If a ship is hit, any land forces on it are sunk automatically.
A bridge movement of land forces from one territory to another using the same sea zone counts as one move used by the ship. A ship can use its two moves to bridge four units into or out of a battle at one time.
Planes can fly over territories and sea zones and battle all types of units. Planes cannot claim land or capture capitals. They can be bought on territories or ships in sea zones next to the player's territory. All planes must land at the end of each player's turn. They cannot land on water or remain in the air. They can land on any friendly or neutral territory or ship. They can only land on enemy territory if it is unoccupied. Players cannot buy units on territories if enemy planes are on them, but they can still claim the territory for income.
Planes can land on or take off of ships if they are bought in or flown into the sea zone. Landing and taking off does not count as a move used by the plane or ship. Planes can fight and take hits in battles at sea. If a defending plane has no ships remaining in a sea zone on which to land after a battle, it may fly to the nearest friendly or unoccupied territory with its available moves. This is the only way that any defending units can ever be moved in our game.
MOVING AND ATTACKING Units may be moved until they reach their maximum movement number in the Unit Table above. The game is faster and easier without the original "combat zone" rules. A move is used whenever a unit enters a territory or sea zone. Units can move in any direction except diagonally across corners. All units are considered refueled at the beginning of each new turn round. Moves cannot be saved from previous turn rounds. Units from different nations may occupy a space at the same time if they are on the same side. Units cannot move through spaces with undefeated enemy units on them. Players cannot move their units on other player's turns.
A battle begins whenever a player moves units into a space occupied by an enemy's units. Both sides roll one die for each of their units on the space. Each type of unit is announced before rolling the dice. The unit hits if the number rolled on the die is equal to or less than its Hit number in the Unit Table. After all units have been rolled for, each side removes one unit for each hit scored against them. Each side chooses their own casualties. This is the end of the "battle round". A new battle round can then begin.
The battle continues on the space until one side is wiped out or the attacker retreats back out of the space. The attacker can move units into or out of the space between battle rounds. Planes can retreat onto ships if they have moves left. Units that run out of moves on an enemy-occupied space must fight to the death. Tanks cannot retreat from an amphibious assualt (from a ship to land). Infantry can never retreat because they only have one move. Defenders cannot move units. After the battle is resolved, the attacker can continue attacking or moving units to other spaces as long as they have moves.
The attacker captures the territory if the defender's units are wiped out and the attacker has an infantry or tank unit left over or can move one to it. The defender retains the territory if both sides are wiped out, if the attacker is wiped out or retreats, or if the attacker wins but has no land forces to capture it. Whoever owns it at the beginning or the next turn round gets to claim it for income.
STRATEGIES Because you can set up your units any way you want in this game, you can get much more creative with your strategy. Each nation's unique position on the board determines which units you will need and where to put them. Obviously, if you are the UK you will want ships in your capital sea zone, and if you are the USSR you will need infantry to cover all your land. Germany and Japan need tanks to grab lots of land fast. The USA can relax at first and build up a big Air Force and Navy.
The general idea for each nation is the same: Keep your capital fortified with a mix of powerful weapons and cannon fodder. Focus on your opponent's weak spots. Use overwhelming force when attacking to minimize your casualties. Grab as much land as you can without spreading yourself too thin. Use tanks to blitz across Europe and Asia. Use infantry to take hits cheaply in battle.
MORE OPTIONS Here are more options players can add at the beginning of the game if everybody agrees to the choices.
Assisting Teammmates: Teammates can give each other units by moving them to the other player's territory or adjacent sea zones on the owner's turn. The receiving player can then use them like their own units. They may attack with them if they have any moves left. The receiving player chooses casualties in battle and gets to claim any territories captured with the borrowed units. The original owner can roll dice for them and can reclaim the units on his or her next turn if desired.
Combining Nations: Two or more nations may be combined together at the beginning of the game. A combined nation gets one turn and one income from all its territories. Units from the combined nations may be used together. One of the capitals of the combined nations is chosen as the real capital. The other capitals are normal territories.
Fair Buying: Players take turns placing their units on the board one unit at a time until everybody has put down all their units. This prevents players from waiting to see what everybody else has bought before deciding where to put their units. Players may also monitor each other's purchases to discourage them from buying "extra" units.
Limited War: Players do not have to use all of the nations. They may play a "limited war" and declare some nations or territories "off limits". Territories that are off limits cannot be entered, flown over, or claimed. Ships can move past them. For example, North and South America can be declared off limits and Germany and the USSR (35+24=59 points) can be played against Japan and the UK (28+30=58 points). This gives a more balanced game. An interesting three-way limited war can be played with Japan (25 points, no extra points), the USSR (24 points), and the USA (25 points). Continental Europe and Great Britain are off limits.
Making New Teams: Players may make up new teams or play each nation independently. This must be decided at the beginning of the game. When playing independently, there are no permanent teams and each player is free to make or break alliances with other players at any time.
New Capitals: There are two ways we let players move their capitals. At the beginning of the game, your government can be "relocated" to any other territory within your nation's original territories. The new capital is given a value of eight points, while the original capital territory is lowered by whatever number of points the new capitol was raised. You cannot do this after the game has started. The second way to move your capital is to capture another nation's capital and use it as your own. If you lose your original capital you can then "switch over" to the captured capital.
No Capitals: All capitals are "normal" territories (they retain their original value). Players win when their opponents surrender or are completely wiped out. This is like playing Risk with modern weapons.
Random Turn Order: Instead of using income to determine the turn order, players can roll dice or draw national markers at random to determine a new turn order each round.
SAMPLE GAME This is a game we played at Kevin Smith's house on October 31, 1998. There were four of us, including Kevin and I and two new people who had never played A&A before. It took us about fifteen minutes to teach them the basics and about two hours to play the game below. Later, we showed them the forty-page rulebook that came with the game and they thought it was quite amusing...
We used the Alternative Rules above with no weapons development. We played with Germany, Japan, UK, and USSR with no set teams. For options, we made North and South America (except Canada) "off limits". The UK got to keep Canada and its points. Germany and Japan did not get extra points. (In retrospect, we should not have given Canada and its points to the UK).
ROUND ONE Payday:
Germany 32, UK 30, Japan 25, USSR 24. This gave us the turn order for the round.
Germany: 3 infantry & 3 tanks on Germany, 3 inf on Western Europe, 1 inf & 1 tank on Southern Europe, 3 inf & 1 tank on Eastern Europe, 3 inf on Ukraine, 2 inf on Norway, 1 inf on Algeria, 1 inf on Libya.
UK: 3 inf & 1 tank on UK, 2 ships & 4 planes on UK sea zone, 2 inf on Egypt, 1 inf on French West Africa, 1 inf on French Equatorial Africa.
Japan: 3 inf & 1 tank on Japan, 1 ship on Japan sea zone, 2 inf & 2 tanks on Manchuria, 2 inf & 2 tanks on Indochina, 1 inf on Kwangtung.
USSR: 3 tanks & 3 inf on Russia, 2 inf on Karelia, 2 inf on Caucasus, 1 inf on Novosibirsk, 1 inf on Kazakh SSR, 1 inf on Yakut SSR, 2 inf & 1 tank on Soviet Far East.
Germany: "Operation Barbarossa" repeated itself. Germany invaded Caucasus with 2 inf from Ukraine, 1 tank from Eastern Europe, and 2 tanks from Germany. In the battle, USSR lost both inf and Germany lost nothing. Germany left 2 inf in Caucasus, then invaded Karelia with 3 inf from Eastern Europe and the 3 tanks from Caucasus. In this battle USSR lost both inf and Germany lost 1 inf. Germany left its 3 tanks and 2 inf in Karelia. Germany made no other moves. Eastern Europe was left empty.
UK: "D-Day" began. UK sent its 4 planes off the 2 ships in its sea zone to the German capital. The 3 inf and 1 tank on the UK capital were picked up by the 2 ships and transported to the German capital. Germany had 3 inf and 1 tank to defend with, and they were crushed in the battle. Germany then said that the UK was supposed to have invaded Eastern Europe, not his capital, which was why he had left it empty as a diversion! UK lost 2 inf in the invasion of Germany. The UK left 2 planes, 1 inf, and 1 tank on Germany. The other 2 planes were flown back to the 2 ships in the Baltic Sea, which used their one remaining move each to return to the UK sea zone to defend the empty capital.
Japan: Japan sent 1 inf and 2 tanks from Manchuria against the 2 inf and 1 tank in the Soviet Far East. The Soviets defended well, but Japan won with 1 tank surviving to claim the territory. This tank then retreated back to Manchuria. Japan walked 1 inf from Indochina into China. Japan sent one tank from Indochina into India, Persia, and ended in Kazakh. The second tank from Indochina went through Sinkiang, Afghanistan and into Kazakh. The two tanks crushed the 1 inf defending Kazakh. Japan left the 2 tanks in Kazakh since they had used up their three moves.
USSR: The Soviet player sent 1 inf from Yakut into Soviet Far East to reclaim the empty territory. USSR sent 2 inf and 3 tanks from Russia against the 2 Japanese tanks in Kazakhastan. USSR won the battle, losing 2 inf. The 3 tanks then split up to grab territory with their two remaining moves each. One tank took Persia and Syria/Iraq. Another took Afghanistan and India. The third tank took Sinkiang and waxed the 1 inf on Indochina to take it.
1) Germany left too many units in the east and not enough in the west. Germany moved tanks off his capital, opening himself up for the UK invasion. By buying most of its units in the capital and its sea zone, the UK was obviously prepared to invade Europe. This should have caused Germany to defend his capital better. The UK could have spread his units out better so as not to "telegraph" his moves, but this would have left his capital weaker. The UK player was erring on the side of caution.
Germany tried to direct the UK's attack by leaving Eastern Europe open. This may have worked if he had beefed up Germany with units from Southern Europe, making Germany a less attractive target for the UK. UK may instead have chosen to attack Western Europe and then send the tank into Southern Europe and around to grab Eastern Europe too. This would have been bad for Germany, but Germany would still have its capital.
Germany did better at defending its gains than Japan. Germany left 2 inf in Caucasus, and a mix of inf and tanks in Karelia. Germany expected the USSR to attack through Karelia into Europe, so he left more units there. If the UK had invaded Eastern Europe as Germany had hoped, the USSR might have attacked the UK units there. This could have drawn the UK and USSR into a war that would take pressure off Germany.
Germany has the disadvantages of being sandwiched between two enemies and having the most valuable real estate on the board. Europe draws other nations in like a vacuum. If Germany moves units against one enemy, the other one tends to invade from the weaker side. Without adding options or weapons development, it's very difficult to win with Germany.
In one respect the German "sandwich" is worse than the USSR "sandwich": the USSR can buy a mountain of infantry and tanks on its capital and use them on both of its enemies. Germany needs a navy and air force to fight the UK, and tanks and inf to fight the USSR.
One strategy I've seen work in the first round is for Germany to put everything into a sneak attack on the UK. Very little is left in Europe- maybe two infantry on the German capital. If the units are bought carefully and spread out well, the UK player may not anticipate it and may not buy enough units to defend the capital against a first round blitzkrieg. This is basically the reverse of what the UK did to Germany in this game. This only works for Germany if Japan is prepared for a similar blitzkrieg against the USSR. If Japan strikes Russia hard enough, the USSR will not be in a position to invade Germany. I've seen Japan capture Russia on the first move with tanks and planes on the coastal territories.
If you play with the option of using captured capitals, it becomes much easier to play Germany. Simply grab either UK or Russia on your first move and use it as your capital when the other enemy grabs the German capital. You can survive the first round and reestablish yourself as the captured nation, then go back and fight for Germany.
2) UK benefitted from having air and naval superiority over Germany. UK could put overwhelming force anywhere in northern Europe. Since the infantry and tank are being moved by ships, it is difficult to anticipate exactly where they will be landed. This makes it harder to defend against them. They are most likely to be landed at the spot of least resistance. Germany knew this and offerred Eastern Europe as a "freebie". However, the UK saw the opportunity of the lightly defended capital and chose to strike there. After the capture of Germany, the UK kept his units together to defend his two key positions- the UK sea zone and Germany. If he had spread out to grab Western or Eastern Europe, he may have offerred an enticing target for the USSR. The UK used the German units left in the east as a buffer against the USSR.
3) Japan bought tanks in Manchuria and Indochina, allowing it to reach almost anywhere in Asia. This would have been an excellent set-up for a "pincer attack" on the USSR capital. Japan could have invested most of its points into tanks and used them to conquer Russia (three moves from both Manchuria and Indochina). Because the tanks are spread across two territories distant from each other, USSR is less likely to anticipate a direct assault on its capital. However, Japan did not consider taking Russia on the first move and instead tried to grab land.
Japan gobbled Southern Asia, but left his tanks in Kazakh, next to Russia with its infantry and tanks. USSR could then use tanks to score the hits with dice, and infantry to soak up the hits scored by the Japanese tanks. USSR lost 2 inf, while Japan lost 2 tanks and left Southern Asia wide open for the USSR.
4) USSR bought tanks and inf on the capital and sprinkled infantry on the surrounding territories. The USSR anticipated a beating from Germany and/or Japan, so the capital was fortified and other territories were lightly defended to draw the enemy near his capital. The idea is to get the enemy to attack the adjacent territories but stop short of the USSR capital. USSR knows that he will take his turn last. On his turn, he can counterattack with all of his units without having to leave anything to defend his capital. Enemy units next to Russia are especially vulnerable because the USSR can support its tanks with infantry to "soak up hits".
With Germany captured, the USSR did not need to commit itself to the usual "ignore Japan and counterattack Germany" strategy. It could go either way. Japan should have anticipated the possibility that the USSR would focus on Asia. Japan could have made smaller land grabs (India, China, Sinkiang) and kept its units concentrated in territories distant from the USSR capital. If Japan had not aggressively attacked Soviet territories, the USSR might have used its tanks and inf from Russia to mop up the Germans instead.
ROUND TWO Payday: UK: 35 (gained 10 from Germany, lost 5 from India, Persia, and Syria/Iraq)
USSR: 29 (gained 11 in Asia, lost 6 from Karelia and Caucasus)
Japan: 24 (gained 2 from China, lost 3 from Indochina)
Germany: 0 (cannot get paid without a capital)
UK: Planes & inf on capital territory, planes on UK sea zone (on ships already there), inf & tanks on Germany.
USSR: Inf and tanks on Russia, inf and tanks on Soviet Far East and Indochina.
Japan: Inf and tanks on Manchuria, China and Kwangtung.
UK: Invaded Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe in that order. Used tanks from Germany and planes from the UK and its sea zone. Infantry were moved into each territory from Germany as needed to soak up hits from the German defenders. Ended with tanks and inf in Eastern Europe. Planes used in the attacks were landed in Germany.
USSR: Invaded Karelia, Ukraine, and Caucasus with tanks and inf. Invaded Manchuria from Soviet Far East.
Japan: Counterattacked into Manchuria, Indochina, and Soviet Far East.
Germany: Suicided his last two inf from Algeria and Libya against UK inf in French Eq. Africa and French West Africa.
ROUND THREE UK bought lots of tanks and planes, which were scattered all over its territories and sea zones in Europe. Japan stocked up on inf and tanks in eastern Asia. USSR bought tanks and inf on Karelia and Russia in anticipation of an invasion from Europe.
UK invaded Karelia with tanks and planes from all over Europe, and inf moved in from Eastern Europe and shipped over from UK. Massive casualties were scored on both sides, but the UK won and kept most of its tanks and all of its planes. The UK then invaded Russia itself with its surviving planes and tanks from Karelia. Another meatgrinder battle fired up, and UK won with one tank and a couple planes remaining.
Japan attacks the eastern territories of the USSR.
USSR counterattacked against the UK tank and planes on Russia. UK narrowly survived by one tank. At this point we decided that the UK had won the game, having captured Germany and Russia.