I had previously written about everyone’s favourite boardgame of world domination, Risk.

This week, I’m going to introduce ya’ll to something called Axis & Allies.

While Hasbro’s Risk takes the more generic approach to world domination, Axis & Allies takes a slightly more complicated route to strategy boardgaming, without feeling overwhelmingly difficult to newbies.

There’s resource management, emphasis on optimal unit placements and variety in combat. It’s not meant to be an accurate simulation of conflict, as balanced play and quick battling is emphasized.

A&A Anniversary Edition boxshotSet in the last great world conflict, World War II, Axis & Allies pits the two major Axis powers, Nazi Germany and Japan, against Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth allies, and the United States.

Every turn, players buy and build armies and / or conduct research for unit / technology upgrades, and move and battle across the land, sea and air “territories”.

The armies are beautifully represented by plastic miniatures – it’s small scale toy soldiering as you get soldiers representing infantry, tanks representing armor, battleships, fighter planes, strategic bombers and the like.

And to enhance the realism, each nation’s key units have different molds. So for Germany, you do get a Tiger 1, the Americans have Shermans and the Soviets really do have T-34s.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Now, since it was first published back in 1981 by Nova Games, the game has been tweaked and reinvented numerous times. Mind you, the very first edition did not have minis, only cardboard counters and a paper map!

Closeup of Central EuropeI’ll still recommend the 2004 Revised edition, which is still available in selected game stores everywhere. The 2008 Anniversary edition adds in a sixth player and the third Axis nation, Italy, but for the price you’re paying, might be less of a compelling buy considering that the additional complexity isn’t really that big a deal.

With playing time stretching from several hours (unlikely, unless one side collapses all the way) to a more realistic 8 to 10 hours, Axis & Allies can be formidable but satisfying slugfest.

More quickly digestible options have been produced in recent years – these range from the oversimplistic Axis & Allies: D-Day to the more Axis & Allies-like expansions, Europe and Pacific.

I heartily recommend the last two as intro games if you’re keen on something that you can finish in a single evening.

Once you’ve started to get into the swing of things, head over to Axis &, the de facto portal to all things Axis & Allies.

Tell us what you think!

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