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Just played a 16 hour game of Axis & Allies (classic). I thought the guy playing Russia just didn't know what he was doing, but it turns out he had made a deal with Japan to just leave him alone. Thus it basically became Russia kept to himself while the UK battled Germany and the USA fought Japan. Needless to say the Allies lost handily.

Is this allowed? Can a player basically switch teams or have a truce with the other team? Without any other players knowing?

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Well, the win/loss rules don't allow you to "switch teams". So he still just loses along with the rest of the Allies. Most board games don't really support a player deciding to throw the game for the other team. –  Alex P Feb 19 '12 at 18:12
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Sounds like y'all should be playing a game with more fluid alliances like diplomacy or empires-in-arms! –  Pat Ludwig Feb 19 '12 at 19:42
    
The thing was Russia didn't make the truce to help the allies, he did it because Japan was his brother (in real life) and didn't want to kill him. IMO, Russia defected from the allies and went by himself as a third world power, albeit very sneakily with us knowing. –  jb. Feb 19 '12 at 22:20
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It looks as if your friend has read too much history and not enough of the rulebook. Russia did have a de facto truce with the Japanese, and I'm sure Stalin would have loved it if the US and Japan had pounded each other into shreds while the Red Army was busy. But Stalin, whatever else he may have been, was a good game player: the troops he transferred from Siberia to Moscow kept him in the game that turn, and allowed him to win on one front while keeping the other at status quo till the last turn, when he made a dash for the Far Eastern victory points.

Getting back to the question: of course secret inter-player agreements are 'allowed', if only because there's no way of stopping them. But they only work if both players believe it is in their interest to keep to the agreement. In A&A, it's a zero-sum problem; this Russian strategy benefits either the Axis or the Allies, and all the information to work it out is available to everybody. In your game it was a very bad plan; but in Stalin's game it worked like a charm.

A friend of mine summed up a similar situation as "Everybody's happy? Then somebody's miscalculated."

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+1 for the quote. There's really no win-win for enemies in a zero-sum game. :) –  Alex P Feb 19 '12 at 20:13
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SOMEONE goofed on the ALLIED side.

You can say that person was the U.S. player, who got bogged down in a war against Japan instead of concentrating on Germany.

But the other person that was slack was the Russian player. The WHOLE PURPOSE of making a non-aggression pact with Japan was so that Russia could work with the UK to concentrate on Germany. This country can't defeat both Russia and the UK (who start with 54 IPCs versus 32 for Germany) unless Japan is reducing the income of Russia and the UK in a big way. In this context, with Russia being "spared," Japan's conquering Australia, New Zealand, and India won't do it, especially if she has her hands full with U.S.

Unless Russia sat by and did nothing while Germany defeated the UK, Japan neutralized America, and the (enlarged) Axis powers finished the game by ganging up on Russia.

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It sounds to me like the USA player made the mistake here, not the Russians. Having Japan ignore/not attack Russia is a big boon to the Allies, IF they concentrate on conquering Germany as quickly as possible, and pretty much ignore Japan in the early going. Since concentrating on Germany gives the Allies the best chance of success regardless of what the Axis do, they should be doing that anyways.

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