Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Axis & Allies Works


How to Play Axis & Allies

The rules for Axis & Allies have changed somewhat over the years. The changes generally revolve around set-up changes, different rules for weapons research, the addition of "combined arms" and changes to the victory cities. Modern versions of the rules offer more balance between nations, but many players prefer the classic rules. Some of the variant Axis & Allies games, such as Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge and Axis & Allies: Miniatures differ significantly. We're going to talk about the rules common to the original Axis & Allies and revisions derived from it.

Setting up the game takes a few minutes, as each player chooses one or more nations, then lays out the plastic pieces in the appropriate territories according to the rulebook. Each nation also receives a set number of Industrial Production Certificates (IPCs). IPCs are the currency of Axis & Allies, representing the economic and industrial power required to manufacture weapons, train soldiers and research new technologies.

Play is divided into turns, each turn made up of seven phases. Each nation plays through an entire turn (all seven phases) before the next nation goes. Nations can't take action during other nations' turns, which means that even allied nations can't perform joint attacks. The game uses standard six-sided dice.

In the first phase of the game, players develop weapons. The active player spends IPCs to purchase research dice. When rolled, these offer a chance at discovering a potent technology such as longer range for aircraft, more powerful submarines or heavy bombers. This aspect of the game has changed significantly with each revision, and many players substitute their own home rules.

Players purchase units in the game's second phase. The active player spends IPCs to acquire new units. Each unit has its own cost, reflecting its strength and special abilities. Core units include infantry, tanks, fighters, bombers, aircraft carriers, battleships, transports, submarines and industrial complexes. Later versions add artillery, destroyers, cruisers, anti-aircraft guns, naval bases, tactical bombers and mechanized infantry. Note that units aren't placed on the board at this time, only purchased and set aside for later in the turn.

What happens when it's time to fight? Find out on the next page.