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I had just recently bought the game and I was wondering if we needed more than two players to control all the countries. We had already decided that I would take the UK and USA while he would take Germany and Japan. Do we need somebody to play as Russia or could we just play without Russia?

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Axis and Allies only works well if all five countries are in play, on their correct teams. If you have five players, this is easy to do. If you have fewer than five, here are the recommended sets:

4 Players

  • Soviet Union, United States (Allied)
  • United Kingdom (Allied)
  • Germany (Axis)
  • Japan (Axis)

3 Players

  • Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States (Allied)
  • Germany (Axis)
  • Japan (Axis)

2 Players

  • Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States (Allied)
  • Germany, Japan (Axis)

If you insist on playing without one of the countries in the game, you'll be in for quite an unbalanced game. Assuming that unplayed countries cannot be entered, here's some of what you're in for:

Soviet Union

With the Russians out, most of Germany's industry is freed up to:

  • attack Britain itself,
  • maraud the Atlantic,
  • and take out all of Britain's colonies in Africa, India, and further east

This would be a devastating game for the British player in particular and the Allies in general.

United States

Without the industrial might of the Americans, Britain would face Japan alone, leaving them no resources to throw against the Germans. (This one I've actually tried -- it's a mess.) The war tends to break into two separate wars: Britain vs. Japan in the east, Germany vs. Russia in the west. Both of those wars are imbalanced in favor of the Axis Powers.

United Kingdom

This might be the closest to a balanced game with one power removed. Taking Britain out of the game would remove the entire rim of the Indian Ocean: Africa, India, Australia, and all the various places in between. The US would miss having a staging point in Great Britain, but they can use Morocco or Norway instead without too much difficulty. Japan wouldn't have the British harassing their southern flank, but they also wouldn't have as many production points to gain in the south, either.

Germany & Japan

Removing either Axis Power completely unbalances the game. Without Germany, Russia has nowhere to go but east into Japan's holdings. Without Japan, Britain has no threat to their eastern territories and can easily focus all their firepower on Germany.

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You always need all the countries. With 2 players, one should be all the allies and one should be the axis powers. So you will need to play Russia as well.

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