This is a reference to the Classic edition of Axis and Allies. One "alternate" (house) rule is that Russia is not allowed to attack the first turn. (But she does get her "income" of,say, eight infantry units.)

What if the rule were extended so that Russia were not allowed to attack Germany or Japan for one or more additional turns (unless attacked)? That would allow the Axis (32 IPCs for Germany, 25 IPCs for Japan) to initially concentrate on the U.S. (36 IPCs counting China), and UK (30 IPCs), making for a pretty balanced game. (The Axis do have the advantage of superior board position to compensate for fewer IPCs.)

1) Does this rule change accurately portray the "real life" dilemma faced by Hitler (and the Japanese) as to whether or not to concentrate on beating Britain and China respectively, before attacking Russia? Apparently, Russia was willing to refrain from attacking Germany for "some time," though not "forever." And she signed a 5-year peace treaty with Japan in 1941.

2) The original one-turn rule cuts the Allies' advantage by almost half (to 12 IPCs vs. 22). Could further limitations on Russian attacks on subsequent turns make the game an "even money" proposition?

  • Question on your proposed house rule: if Russia could not attack until attacked by the Axis, would Russian troops moved into a US or UK-held territory (e.g., China/India/etc.) that is then attacked by the Axis count as an attack on Russia? – Scott Mitchell Jan 28 '15 at 22:17
  • @ScottMitchell: Yes. That's a viable strategy for Russia, to provoke an Axis attack. A variation is that the wire is tripped if the Russian unit is eliminated (last), meaning that the Axis can "strafe," but not capture. As a practical matter, the restriction might be removed after say, the fifth round. – Tom Au Jan 28 '15 at 22:19
  • This idea intrigues me. When I get some free time I'll add it as an option to the Axis & Allies game at GamesByEmail.com. – Scott Mitchell Jan 28 '15 at 22:27
  • I have this variant up at GamesByEmail.com - gamesbyemail.com/Games/WW2. Would you care to play a game with me to try this out? – Scott Mitchell Feb 6 '15 at 4:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Note that the following assumes that all players are playing a perfect game with no mistakes. In real games every player will make occasional mistakes so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. For the details on optimal play check out http://donsessays.freeservers.com/

The Russia first turn restriction does nothing to change the balance of classic Axis & Allies. This is because Russia should never attack on the first turn. A&A classic offers very little margin for error in its economy. If Russia produces 9 infantry a round it will survive, if it produces 7 a round it will die. In order to keep up production Russia must conquer Norway during the second round. No other ally may take Norway; it must be Russia. It can't do this if Karelia falls. The only way to prevent Germany from taking Karelia on the very first turn is to place literally all of your defenses in Karelia except 1-3 infantry in the Caucasus (to prevent a blitz through to Russia) and 7 infantry + 1 tank in Yakutia (you can't defend the Russian Far East at first so don't try.) Attacking Manchuria on the first turn will cost you the game. You must slowly build up a large stack of infantry in the Yakut SSR to prevent Japan from breaking through.

On the other hand extending the restriction to turn 2 would mean certain doom for the Allies. Yakutia must pose a second turn attack threat to Manchuria so Japan reinforces it instead of throwing everything at India. Russia must also be able to take Norway and Ukraine on turn 2 or else it won't have the money to crank out 9 infantry on turn 3. Eventually the US will take pressure off and you'll have more of a margin for error, but the first five or six turns are critical.

This house rule might work in some other edition of Axis and Allies, but in Classic it would break the game. The 1-turn rule does nothing but prevent Russia from killing itself prematurely, but more than 1 turn would change the game fundamentally.

A two-turn restriction would not make sense from a historical standpoint because the beginning of the game represents a moment when Russia and Germany were already at war. You'll notice that the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic is already occupied by German forces. In real life the USSR did not go to war with Japan until three weeks before Japan's surrender. Of course in real life Japan never posed a real threat to the USSR, and they certainly weren't capable of marching across Siberia and attacking Moscow from behind.

  • I'm not sure I agree with you, but an upvote for a very interesting answer. – Tom Au May 2 '15 at 17:23

You can play this variant at http://gamesbyemail.com/Games/WW2 in which one option is to have Russia unable to attack until attacked. Having played 1 game this way, I believe it gives too much power to the Axis. The Germans can focus on Africa and can hold E. Europe and Ukraine for several turns, while Japan pulls all forces from the Russian northeast front and just pounds the Brits in India without resistance. It means Africa falls quickly, and the British have no hope of holding an Indian factory. The Axis can also afford to not need the 2 Pacific planes and carrier and can go on a Hawaiian and Australia/New Zealand conquering vacation. Then, when they have together nearly 80 IPC points, they can finally come in and use it all against Russia. The Russians only trick they can play against this is to push Russian forces forward into Allied Zones (Sinkiang, ride with Allied convoys), because attacking them would release Russia from its obligations and frustrate the Axis wait and gain strategy. It isn't very effective, though, because Russia can't project into already-Axis areas. It can only maybe save China for a little while and protect a few Allied unprotected fleets (like the British home fleet on turn 1).

Totally overkill in my view. The 1-turn restriction is much more reasonable. If you need a bit more Axis help, maybe try extending it to 2 turns, but not indefinitely. Puts the Axis player in control.

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