So, I have been developing a way to play A&A with two boards. You have the Axis on one and the Allies on the other.

Now, before you start saying that this is ridiculous and stupid and would prolong the gameplay 10 fold, let me explain...

On your board, you have your troops and you can see territories you don't own. Then, on your turn, you can choose to attack somewhere or you can do reconnaissance and send a bomber over an enemy area to see what is in it. Since bombers are a big part of attacking the enemy, this would be a free move. But, the more bombers you have, the more recon you can do. A bomber cannot do more than one territory per turn.

So, you recon or decide where to attack and write it down. Then, a mediator takes your paper into the other room where the enemy board is and they tell you what you're fighting or what you've spied.

So this is my VERY BASIC plan. I want ideas to help develop this a bit more.

Any ideas??? (<-- there is my question)

  • 2
    Sounds interesting. I have no further constructive comments, sadly.
    – lilserf
    Apr 27, 2011 at 20:18
  • If you want to have a moderator (setting aside Adam Wuerl's good answer), I have a simple suggestion: The moderator should use a phone to take a picture of the position of the enemy player. Then, when you need to recon the moderator can just look at his phone and tell you what you see. This will save you a lot of time and avoids errors.
    – Halvard
    Aug 11, 2013 at 12:16

4 Answers 4


My suggestion is very similar to Scott's, but with subtle variations to make it less burdensome to play in person.

  • This isn't a rule, just a suggestion: Play with someone you trust. There's going to be hidden information, and if you think the other player is going to cheat you're going to be paranoid about looking for malfeasance and not have fun. Two honest players can make this work without a moderator, which I think is important.

  • Two boards, one for the axis and one for the allies. If multiple players represent each side then they see their side's board; this models the sharing of intelligence amongst friends and reduces the need for more than two boards. The boards should be set up in full view of both players and then a divider put up between then. After setup, the army trays and money are set to the side in view of both players so that it's clear what's going into and coming out of the trays (doveryai, no proveryai). Having the players in two rooms would be a logistical nightmare; this is simpler.

  • Each player can see units in enemy-controlled adjacent land territories. The friendly territory only has to be controlled, not occupied. This models the ability to generally know what the enemy has on the front lines and eliminates the need to add a new surveillance mechanic to the game. (The bomber idea sounds cool but would be tedious and error-prone in practice. Imagine the time spend reading off all the locations you wanted to spy on and then adjusting the board--at the start of every turn).

  • You cannot see adjacent naval territories. This models the largeness of the sea and difficulty of conducting naval reconnaissance with WWII-era ships. The only way you know what is in a sea territory is if you try and move into it. This would require only a minor change to the current rules: all naval movements are combat movements, unless ships were moving into friendly-occupied sea zones.

  • Fighters and bombers can only conduct "reconnaissance" of sea zones if they attack. If aircraft attack an occupied sea zone then combat commences as normal; if it is empty then their movement is consumed, but nothing else happens. Overflying a sea zone reveals nothing; you must commit to attack it. This models that searching the sea for ships is harder than overflying territory on your way somewhere else.

    I like that this is similar to the original idea of using planes for spying but with less overhead. I also like that this enables submarines to become a more effective naval unit because they can "hide" in plain sight. An enemy has to use a fighter's attack to even see if they are there. I get excited thinking if Germany could use this rule to build a North Atlantic navy under the UK's nose.

  • Purchases are public knowledge; placement is not. Players must show their money and what they're buying. Purchases are placed in view of both players while the rest of the turn is conducted. This models the ability of nation to get a general idea of their enemies industrial capacity and capabilities. This also has the added benefit of reducing the opportunity to cheat because both players are verifying the amount of money being turned in and the units being purchased. (Also, honest math mistakes in purchasing are common.) Units are placed in secret, except for those placed on the front lines.

With these changes I think it would be possible to play with only two boards, in a single room, without a moderator. If anyone can think of any holes let me know.

  • 1
    Wow! That's all I have to say thus far... You're answer is by far the best one (Scott, your answer was the best until this one came along, though it's still good). This makes the game so much more historical than I had imagined it could be. This literally models the exactness of the way that WWII was fought and won. I love your answer! As I develop this more and more, I am finding new and better ways to incorporate true history into it, as well as a little gaming twist. Thanks again for your answer!
    Jun 3, 2011 at 5:02
  • @RPRATHER3: thx, cool question
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 3, 2011 at 12:46
  • Wouldn't the naval movement be kind of difficult? If I move into a space without knowing if enemies are present, I'm forced to announce to them that 'something' is moving into the area, and they get that intel for free, while only answering me that there is "no conflict" in that square?
    – GWLlosa
    Jun 24, 2014 at 20:00
  • @GWLlosa You're right, naval movement would give away last known locations and routes of movement if playing without a moderator. This is historically inaccurate (for example, a significant Japanese fleet managed to make it all the way to Hawaii without anyone knowing), but I can't think of a good way to solve this problem.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 28, 2014 at 15:55

Sounds like an interesting variant that would be much more fun to play online rather than in person, since in person necessitates the need of a mediator and requires the two players to be physically separated so as not to see the other's board.

Although I have a slight suggestion - rather than having all enemy territories as unknowns, each side should see (in full) the strength of the enemy in territories that boarder friendly territories. For example, as long an Axis power held Manchuria both Germany and Japan could see troop levels in:

  • Soviet Far East
  • Yakut
  • Mongolia
  • China
  • Kwangtung

Likewise, a player could see enemy units in sea zones bordering their territories or sea zones where their side has naval units.

So what would be kept secret?

  • Enemy units in territories not adjacent to friendly territories
  • What units were purchased by the enemy at the start of an enemy's turn
  • Where purchased units were placed at the end of a turn

Also, moving into a "dark" territory that contains enemy units would require a battle, even if the movement happened in the non-combat phase.

  • I like your idea. The idea that I had was to keep it more dependent on gut feeling or on intelligence gathering (with the bombers as spy planes). Thank you for your suggestion!
    Apr 29, 2011 at 9:17
  • As well make the next step and play Civilization instead... :P
    – o0'.
    May 3, 2011 at 10:35
  • These changes give the game a flavor of "Kriegspiel" a "blind" variation of chess.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 1, 2011 at 16:24
  • How could someone "move into a 'dark' territory contain[ing] enemy units" during non-combat? All territories are either owned by you or the enemy and all territories that you can move into you can see the contents of. By definition, you cannot move into a territory you do not control during non-combat. The only possible exception is naval movement, which I agree is an issue. I think I resolve it in my answer, which assumes that all naval movement is combat unless it's into a friendly-occupied sea zone.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Jun 2, 2011 at 1:54

I'd suggest taking a look at Block Games, like Columbia Games' "Pacific Victory" for ideas, or GMT's "Asia Engulfed", or "Europe Engulfed". They allow you to have a very good fog of war, but play on the same map.

I've tried to do hidden-movement/moderated two-board stuff since the old days in 1984, when Axis & Allies was cardboard pieces on a plastic map. I always thought due to the large scale of move squares, and fluffiness of the dice-per-figure mechanic/defender chooses hits, it's not worth the extra effort involved.


Typically, this is done as a 3-board or more mode, not two, for the moderator's sanity.

  1. Board: Moderator.
  2. Board: Player A
  3. Board: Player B
  4. Board: Player C
  5. etc.

With the complexity involved in A&A, and the need for spotting rules to be able to play effectively, it will be a very different game that just happens to share a lot of mechanics with A&A...

And it sounds utterly dreadful to me, as do almost all such double-blind games... mostly due to the propensity for human error in presenting the data. (On the other hand, I've enjoyed multiplayer Sid Meyer's Civ computer games, and those are double blind.)

  • The Axis would have their own board, so Germany and Japan would see each others units. If Germany were to spy on someone, somewhere, Japan would see it as well. The same is true for the Allies. They have their own board in which they share it with the rest of their allies. The mediator could have their own board, but that would mean even more pieces and even more time. So I suggest the mediator just have a VERY LARGE notebook... Thanks for your comment!
    Apr 29, 2011 at 9:20

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