Axis & Allies is a classic board game that lets you replay the battles of World War II on your dining room table. You might even change history.
The primary nations depicted in Axis & Allies are Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain and the U.S. Some versions of the game allow players to control French, Chinese, Italian and ANZAC forces as well.
Infantry units are relatively weak, but they're also very inexpensive and effective at defending territories. It's impossible to win without them.
Their long ranges make aircraft powerful, but very expensive. Their primary benefit is their ability to strike territories behind enemy lines, or make attacks from protected territories far from the dangerous front.
Victory in Axis & Allies is determined by control of a certain number of victory cities, depending on the length of game you want to play.
Axis & Allies was designed by American Larry Harris, although he was living in France when he first developed the game.
The rules have been updated and revised numerous times over the games' publication history, using information from thousands of play sessions to fix rules that weren't working or made the game less fun.
At the game's start in 1942, the Axis was at the height of its power; this allows the player controlling Japan and the U.S. to immediately jump into the action. Some variants, such as 1940 Europe and 1940 Pacific, start the game earlier and restrict hostilities for several turns.
Milton Bradley purchased Axis & Allies several years after the original release.
The in-game currency is the IPC, or International Production Certificate, which represents economic and industrial power.
There are many neutral territories on the map. They don't belong to any faction, and cannot be conquered.
You can only attack on your own turn, so two nations can never join their units together for a single attack.
Defenders can't retreat, but if things are going badly the attacker can withdraw units into friendly territories.
Infantry, for example, are stronger when attacking with artillery.
Weapons research gives players the ability to spend IPCs and possibly develop advanced military technologies like increased aircraft range or more powerful submarines.
German infantry units have the same statistics as American, Russian and British infantry (even though the miniatures might look different). There are optional rules that give the nations functional differences, however.
While you do need to be flexible, building and moving units can take several turns, so you need to plan ahead and have units prepared and in place ahead of time.
High-value territories can provide a boost to your economy -- if you can hold them. They're usually so hotly contested that you end up losing more IPC in casualties than you gain.
There are many historically accurate aspects to Axis & Allies, but many things have to be simplified or abstracted to keep the game understandable (and playable within a few hours). Some historical inaccuracies are also needed to keep the different nations balanced.
The distinctive four-engine B-17 is easily recognizable, even at such a small scale. The British bomber depicted is the Handley Page Halifax, while the German bomber is the Junkers Ju-88.
Tank and infantry units in the game represent thousands or even tens of thousands of individual soldiers. Naval units come close by representing a certain class of vessel, but the miniatures aren't specific.