Board Game Reviews Axis and Allies

Axis and Allies is a terrific board game, but it’s not for everyone. For the hard-core wargamer, it’s little more than what used to be called a “beer and pretzels” game. For those who feel that Monopoly is a complicated game, it is too difficult. But for the casual gamer, it has a lot to recommend it, and just a very few subtle disadvantages.

Axis and Allies is a broad simulation of the two Axis powers, Germany and Japan, and the three Allied forces, America, England and Russia. The pieces are molded plastic airplanes, bombers, tanks, submarines, soldiers, and a variety of other tokens. The board is huge as board game boards go, but rather compact as traditional bookshelf wargames go. The game is turn based and involves broad strategy and no tactics, economic production control and territorial conquest on a large scale. The game mechanics involve lots and lots of dice rolling.

Here’s what is to like. The game is fun. There are a lot of option on how to play your strategy, and there are lots and lots of really cool manipulatives (plastic soldiers). The game mechanics are rather simple for a strategy war game and won’t involve a tall learning curve for those who are already familiar with wargaming. Let’s face it, watching Russia play an aggressive strategy and walking into Berlin is cool. Or watching the U.S. develop some super weapon can change the tenor of the war. And what would have happened if Japan had landed in Alaska and socked it to Canada? That can be very entertaining.

Here’s what’s not to like. The set up is tedious. There are a whole bunch of chips that clutter the board. The dice rolling mechanics are silly and require a lot of standing around the box lid yelling “Six, Six. Daddy needs a new pair of bombers.” The game may be too simple for some, and too difficult for others. There is a lot of down time when it isn’t your turn, except for rolling dice when you get attacked.

Finally, it is a ridiculous simulation. Any relationship to reality and realism is very tenuous. It bears no relationship except the very most basic to actual conditions.

Neverthless, this is a very fun game, if you can get the right people playing.