I've been told by several people that different countries are statistically better choices for Axis and Allies?
Is there any evidence that one or more countries have a significant advantage?
Statistically, I think the Axis get the short end. I tried finding some web site specifically discussing stats on various countries, but came up empty, so you'll have to settle for qualitative data from me at least.
I havn't played this game in years, but I always like playing Russia. I would say Russia is the best in terms of fun to play, but it's not the strongest. Overall, A&A is an economic game & the Allies have the advantage. So from that perspective, the US & UK might be considered 'best countries', if there is such a thing.
If you like playing the Axis side, I would rank Germany as having a small advantage on the first turn, but it erodes quickly. If you haven't wiped out the British fleet early in the game and made solid progress into Africa by the time the Americans start showing up, well... lets just say a bunker suicide might not sound so bad after all.
A risky strategy has Germany taking Leningrad early. If you can hold it at the beginning of your turn, the game is basically over. You have to have plenty of luck on your side. A safer approach is to go for Africa & have Japan invade Asia
UK, US & Russia are all good late game countries. If you can keep a UK fleet alive through the early phases of the game, you can effectively pin Germany down in Europe build up major industry in India. Early in the game, the UK is mostly a punching bag.
As Russia, you can prevent an early assault by massing infantry on you borders, especially against Germany. You make attacks against you prohibitively expensive, but you are free to send waves of infantry into Germany if you see any weakness there.
Answering the question with AAMC bid statistics
Others have explained why the Axis have a significant disadvantage in the 2nd Edition rules. I'll attempt to provide hard evidence and quantify this advantage. The popular play-by-email (PBEM) site Axis and Allies Members Club (which I have no affiliation with and which I hadn't logged onto in years until I did some research for this post) keeps statistics on the games played by its members.
There's such a strong belief that the game is unbalanced in favor of the allies that the club has introduced a concept known as bidding to even out the game. Before the game starts, each player bids for how many extra IPCs they would need to be given to play the Axis. Then are then allowed to use this money to purchase and place additional units on the board prior to the start of the game.
Bidding can either be hidden (both bids placed in secret and low bid plays the Axis) or open, where players bid each other down over multiple rounds until someone calls uncle (like the old game show Name that Tune).
I haven't played in years and looked up my old game logs. I had about a 0.500 win percentage with an average bid of about 12. There is a (fairly vapid) thread on the AAMC message boards asking what bids are running now, the consensus seems to be the low 20s. Lastly, I logged on and checked the game logs for the club's top ranked player. The average bid over his last 20 games was something like 22. The difference in the bids is explained because I always played no first turn Russian attack, which is evidently worth about 10 IPCs to the Axis (because they can save the units in Finland, or at least the fighter).
So, among the very seasoned 2nd edition players over at AAMC, the consensus is that it's not fair to take the Axis unless the Allies spot them the equivalent of more than 7 infantry on the first turn to be placed anywhere on the game board.
That's a fairly insane unbalance in the game. I believe the only reason it didn't tank the game completely is because although the Allied advantage is large it is also hard to capitalize on if you're inexperienced: the Allies require more finesse to play (flawless execution of strategies like shuck-shuck), often much more than the novice A&A player has.
At the start of the game, the Allies have a significant advantage over the Axis due a variety of reasons, including:
Because the Allies have the best chance to win at the start of the game, it would seem to follow that the "best country" would be one of the Allies. Of the three, the US has the most enviable position - they have the strongest economy and their homeland is far away from the Axis powers. Yes, Japan can sink America's Pacific fleet and take Hawaii or Alaska if they so desire, but unless the American player is really green, there's no way Japan should take Eastern or Western US. Therefore, I'd rate the US as the "best country."
That aside, Germany has the strongest position of any one country at the start. They have a good ratio of infantry to tanks to fighters and bombers for offensive maneuvering, and they control the very rich European heartland. Unfortunately, their naval strength is in the Mediterranean and the German player must decide whether to leave them there to reinforce Africa or whether to move them to aid in delaying the Allies controlling the Atlantic. Also, because Russia gets to go first they can greatly reinforce their Western front, thereby slowing any German advance toward Moscow, giving the UK and US an opportunity to build, supply, control the Atlantic, and reinforce Russia via Finland.
All said, I'd rank the countries as follows from strongest to weakest:
I actually rate Japan higher than Germany because traditional Allies strategy is to have the US abandon the Pacific and focus 100% on supplying troops to Russia and aiding UK in taking and holding Africa and, ideally, Western Europe. In that scenario, the Axis's chance for victory hinge on Japan. If Russia is to fall, it's usually ideal for Japan to take out Russia's capital rather than Germany, since it's not uncommon for Germany to be under siege by that point in the game. With too little IPC and with the US and UK in Europe, Germany's possession of Russia does it little good. Conversely, if Japan holds Russia she can build tanks and infantry to reinforce Europe, hold southern Asia, or breeze through Africa, depending on what's needed.
It depends on how you define "best" country.
If you mean, "easiest country to play," probably U.S.A.
If you mean "most multifacted," perhaps Japan.
If you mean "most vulnerable," and like the adrenalin of an early brush with "death," before coming back from behind, then Russia.
If you mean "most challenging" (in terms of difficulty of finding a clear strategy), I think the U.K.
If you mean "king of the hill" that (almost) everyone wants to knock down, then Germany.
In the 50th anniversary edition you have two starting layout to chose from. The other answers seem to discuss mostly what is called the 1941 start in 50th ann. ed.
We found that in the 1942 layout, Germany starts out MUCH stronger and is often able to wipe out Russia if they are not careful enough.
I think that it depends on the version you are playing and strategies each player attempts. The UK is always spread out and therefore is relatively easy to destroy or make useless, but in an Anglo-friendly atmosphere can attack almost anywhere. Statistically, the USA obviously has a superior economy and can basically choose an enemy to destroy, but has few units, especially near to action. Russia is mostly average in all aspects, but are often forced into bad situations. Japan has a very poor economy to try and take all of Asia, but initially have a large force, especially navy, so can possibly remedy their IPC problem. Germany, meanwhile, has a large starting force, esp. ground forces, and a formidible economy, so are arguably the best.
As often as I play this game, there seems to be one single truth that emerges. There is no "one country" that is better than another.
The game is solely based on who you're playing, their skill level, the luck of the dice, and your own strategy. I have been playing this game for a number of years (roughly 7) and I have seen every outcome of the game. I usually play total domination, that is, you must conquer two enemy capitals. I've played the 'monetary victory' and the 'victory city' victories, but I enjoy playing until there is nothing else to do.
I have seen Russia conquer Berlin and Tokyo. I have seen U.K. take Tokyo, and I have seen Japan conquer the U.S. I have also seen Germany conquer Russia in 2 turns and then focus on London and take it within two more rounds.
Like I said, it all depends on the above things. My best friend and I play about once a week and every time there are different results. I win, he wins, we call a tie, whatever. We always randomly pick our countries and everything.
If you honestly think about it, the Russians have a lot of ground units, the Germans have tons of ground and air units. The U.K. has the most annoying position in the game while Japan has the best navy to start. The U.S. has too much money and is too far from the fight to immediately do anything. That's just my opinion though...
My favorite country, as well as my best country, is Japan... hands down.
Best for what? I think people have replied nicely in terms of strategies, but there is also whether or not you like to play that kind of strategy. America, though not the hardest, is boring to play to me. Japan, kind of boring, too. But it really depends on how you like to play!
It is possible (although you need luck on your side) for Germany to take the UK capital on their first turn....
Ultimately, each country has its own strategy, so my thinking is that it ultimately comes down to choice and style of play. I personally like going Russia for the additional challenge...