"Like the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka “flying bomb,” the Kaiten torpedo had a human pilot inside. Once the pilot closed the hatch, he would never open it again."
-- from the "Kaiten Torpedoes" optional rule in the revised Operations Manual
First and foremost, Axis & Allies is a game about World War II. With the exception of starting position and IPCs, however, all the powers have the same options throughout the game. Over the years, dedicated players have created thousands of optional rules to highlight individual aspects of the war. With the advent of the internet, websites became a communal repository for these caches of home rules.
The new Axis & Allies learned from this revolution. To reflect the fascinating flavor of the war and to increase the variety of the play experience, Axis & Allies has as many optional rules as we could put in the game.
Appendix 3 of the new Operations Manual contains thirty "national advantages" for you to try out. They're called national advantages because only one power can use each one. You can roll them randomly (there are six for each power) or choose which ones you want to use. They're nice balancing tools, so if one player isn't as experienced as another, give the newbie a couple of national advantages to level the playing field.
Each country gets a particular flavor of rules. Many derive from the new concept that territories have "color." The Germans may be stretched all over but certain of these advantages only work in "gray territories." That means they don't work in territories the Germans take but they do work in territories that the Germans have to take back.
The Soviet Union: Resilience and Versatility
Bad things happen to the Soviets but they survive. The Russian Winter optional rule allows the Soviet player's infantry to defend on 3 for one round. The Salvage rule lets them turn destroyed enemy tanks into their own. Lend-Lease relies on the kindness of the other Allies; when an Allied unit sets foot in a red territory, it becomes Russian. (Axis & Allies Europe fans will recognize this as that game's Soviet Patriotic War rule.)
Staggeringly, the Soviets moved their industry away from the front in the early 1940s, so the Russian industrial complexes can move using the Mobile Industry rule. The Trans-Siberian Railway allows even greater movement through the eastern half of the country. Though such activity might threaten the Japanese, the Nonaggression Treaty will punish them with fresh defenders if Japan attacks Mother Russia first.
Germany: Cunning and Resolve
The Wehrmacht has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. U-Boat Interdiction lowers Allied production through submarine attacks. The Wolf Packs rule makes German subs more powerful in groups. The Luftwaffe Dive-Bombers option gives German fighters a low-power ability to make strategic bombing raids.
Meanwhile, the Germans retain an iron grip on Europe. The Fortress Europe advantage raises the defense of German infantry in Europe, while the Atlantic Wall helps those infantry defend against amphibious assaults. The Panzerblitz option gives German tanks that take a territory the disheartening ability to move again.
The United Kingdom: Espionage and Colonialism
The last free superpower in Europe uses its spies and collaborators to its advantage. The Radar option powers up UK antiaircraft guns on British soil. Enigma Decoded gives a one-time move to avoid or intercept a German attack. When Western Europe is liberated, the French Resistance rule gives the British a strong new group of infantry.
Colonial Garrison allows a free industrial complex at the start of the game (Australia? India? South Africa?). Mideast Oil gives UK aircraft a waypoint to move incredible distances. The UK's former colony can ally in a Joint Strike which can bring a stout combined force to German soil.
Japan: Speed and Sacrifice
The Japanese are quick. Lightning Assaults allows them to offload in multiple territories per turn. The Tokyo Express lets Japanese destroyers carry infantry.
Nippon also benefits from a near-fanatical willingness to do anything to win. The Banzai Attacks option increases the attacks of infantry but only if they attack alone. Kaiten Torpedoes lets submarines attack with greater force by guaranteeing their own destruction. Kamikaze Attacks allow Japan to send planes to their doom, ignoring the rule that an air unit must have a safe place to land. With the Dug-In Defenders rule, Japanese infantry sacrifice themselves to better repel invaders.
The United States: Know-How and Manpower
By the time the USA gets into the war, it's the most impressive military on the planet. Mechanized Infantry lets US infantry blitz. The Fast Carriers rule lets US aircraft carriers move an extra sea zone each turn. The Island Bases option allows the USA to treat islands as if in their sea zone, increasing their air units' range. The Superfortresses rule lets US bombers ignore antiaircraft fire.
The USA can also rely on sheer manpower. The Marines advantage gives American infantry an edge in amphibious assaults. The Chinese Divisions option also gives the USA more allies in the Far East, if the player can marshal them.
How to Speak Like a Veteran Axis & Allies Player
Inside Brian Dumas's rulebook covers are 40 pages of new vocabulary. To get ready for the new release, why not practice retraining your speech patterns? It took me months, and I still don't have some of these new terms down. Here's a primer for the new Axis & Allies.
|Instead of saying...
|land (or naval) combat sequence
|combat sphere action
|attack capability or attack factor
|defense capability or defense factor
|enemy-controlled or enemy-occupied
|an infantry unit
|an artillery unit
|an armor unit
|round of combat
|first shot attack
|make a support attack
|National Control Marker (NCM)
|country or world power
|place on the board
Yeah, I forget that last one myself.
That ends my previews of the new Axis & Allies. Look for the game in a store near you. Pick up a copy, play it, and post what happens on the message boards. I want to know.
Now if you'll excuse me, I must control the fate of the world.
Catch up on any previews you missed!
Mike Selinker has been playing, designing, developing, and just plain loving games of every variety for many, many years. He is a gamer in the very best sense of the word. Mike lives in Seattle.