Some (mainly Axis) players refuse to play Axis and Allies if Russia is allowed to attack on the first turn. Other (mainly Russian) players argue that Russia is unfairly hobbled if it has to play strict defense at that time.

Some would argue that if Russia captures a territory (Norway, Ukraine, Manchuria) on the first turn, the Axis have too few IPCs between them to have a fair chance. Others might counterargue that the Axis have a chance to capture them back and regain their income, which is calculated as of the end of their turn.

Perhaps a more important reason for the dispute is that Russia gets to "kill" a fighter in those territories with a first turn attack, at the cost of an infantry unit. That's a difference of 9 or even 10 IPCs (the fighter has only a 2/3 chance hitting the 3 IPC infantry).

My "fix" for this problem is to allow Germany to move the fighters in e.g. Ukraine and Norway back to, say, Eastern Europe, and likewise, Japan its Manchuria-based fighter back to Kwantung before the game starts, thus modifying the original setup. Then allow Russia a first turn attack. That way, the Russian player gets the opportunity to capture a territory, but not to kill a fighter.

No matter which side you are on in this debate, are you satisfied with this compromise? Would you still choose Russia if the Axis can now "protect" their fighters? If Axis, will you now play the game with a Russia first turn attack option? Or will this remain a sore point that could prevent certain players from playing the game with certain others?

4 Answers 4


Another option (in addition to the fighter option, perhaps) would be to prohibit (or limit) what German naval units can be attacked by Russia on the opening move.

When I play Russia and am allowed to attack on the opening move I aim to:

  1. Wipe out the transport and sub in the Baltic Sea Zone with my two fighters. This carries a bit of risk because if the transport hits I lose a fighter and Russian fighters are essential. Another downer for the Germans when I make this move is that their sub is pinned in the Baltic Sea Zone since the UK Sea Zone is occupied.

  2. Remove the German sub from the Span Sea Zone. If I'm feeling lucky I'll use just my Russian sub, but more generally I use my sub and transport.

With these moves, Germany is going to have a hard time taking out both the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets in the first turn, and will likely suffer some crippling loses if they attempt to do so. That means:

  • Less chance for Germany to take and hold Africa for any appreciable amount of time,
  • A quicker introduction of the "shuck-shuck" strategy, and
  • Less chance of any sort of counter-attack against the UK sea zone in an attempt to slow the inevitable.

In short, successfully weakening the German navy at the very start of the game puts even more pressure on Japan to break through to Russia before the US gets into full "shuck-shuck" swing.

  • You were the "alert" reader for whom I subdivided the UK sea zone into Norwegian sea (north) and UK zone proper (south) in another post to prevent the Russian sub from attacking the German sub. The followup fix is historical: Germany had the battleship Tirpitz and the two battle cruisers in the Norwegian sea. Move the sub and transport from the Baltic there and give Germany a battleship unit to prevent a "cheap" Russia attack. Then give the UK a second battleship in the UK sea zone to compensate. All in line with "reality."
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 4, 2011 at 17:46

No first turn Russian attack is more than saving the fighters

Finland has 3 infantry, 1 fighter and 1 tank, and they can all get killed on a first turn attack by Russia. The losses from that battle alone are worth (3*3 + 5 + 12) 26 IPCs. When I play as Germany, if Finland isn't attacked on Russia's first turn I usually attack Karelia using all available ground forces, just to retreat before round 2 to extract all but one infantry from Finland. Now of course this isn't always possible: if Russian really stacks Karelia well then even one turn of attacking can incur unacceptable losses, but you might be surprised how many people leave too many Russian infantry in the Caucasuses, which opens them up to my Finlandian retreat. So if we discount the 26 by the 1 inf being left behind we're at 23, then another fudge factor to account for the times when my little 1-round gambit is too risky and maybe the valuation is down to 12. That's pretty close to the spread between the bids on Russia attacks and no Russia attack games.

And we haven't even talked the risk that Russia can take Finland and kill the fighter in the Ukraine (although both European attacks might stretch Russia a little thin).

Finally, Asia. I don't count this one for much (in terms of Russian upside). Sure, Russia can take out the Manchurian fighter on the first turn if they really want, but to be safe that probably involves using the fighter from Russia, which isn't available if they attack Finland and/or the Ukraine. Plus, as Don Rae rightly points out, the Manchuria attack puts Russian troops in a dead zone where they can be directly attacked by the Japanese navy (see Turn 1 under the heading The Right Japanese Typical Purchases and Deployment Strategy). In fact, if Russia attacked Manchuria and left some tanks and armor there I would probably not attack Pearl Harbor just so I could use my battleships and extra aircraft in the battle to make sure I won. Wiping out the Russian tanks on the Eastern front pretty much opens up Russia to being dominated early.

So as an Axis player, I put a high premium on the no Russia attack rule. I think it saves me between 12 and 23 IPCs as Germany. Granted, this is equal to the cost of the 1-2 fighters you suggest saving as an alternative ruleset, but I value the units I've saved more. Germany needs tanks and infantry early as much as they need planes, and I'd probably only lose one in a first turn Russian attack anyway (almost noise compared to what I might lose on Germany's first turn taking out all the navies). That is why I pretty much only play no first turn Russian attacks.

Now to consider the Allied perspective. The game is already unbalanced (see the link about bid spreads), so if someone wants to play me straight up with no bid, then not attacking as Russia is the least I can do (remembering that I don't consider giving up the Asian attack to be a concession at all; I wouldn't do it even if it was allowed).

As the Axis I would not take this deal

I would need more incentive that just saving my fighters to be okay with letting Russia attack in the first round. As the Allies I'd take the deal because it's not much of a concession (I'm not attacking the fighter in Asia and the one fighter I give up killing in Europe doesn't unbalance the game enough for me to be worried at having a chance to win).

  • "Dead zone" is the key concept. I did say that the fighter in the Ukraine also goes back to East Europe (at Germany's option). My theory was that saving the fighters in the dead zones represented most of the 10 IPC pickup, and the rest "cancelled." Also, if no Russia first turn attack reduces the "spread" from 22 to 12 IPCs, giving Germany jet fighters (8 IPCs) and Japan supersubs (2 IPCs) reduces most of the remaining gap (by 10 out of 12). Maybe one more Axis infantry makes it "square," or tilts the game ever so slightly to them.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 13:40
  • As the Axis I would probably take your deal to save my fighters and get the two techs. Jets increases the value of my German fighters and is going to make Eastern Europe and impenetrable fortress for a while, whereas the super subs can help Japan quite a bit in the early game in terms of sweeping the Pacific. In fact it could enable Japan to use their entire fleet to start harassing mainland America, because they know if America tried to counter-attack they'd have lots of warning and could just build a few subs to tilt any battle in their favor.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 13:57
  • Based on your post, my other alternative for letting Russia make a first attack is to allow the German player to move the fighter, armor, and two (out of three) infantry from Norway to either East Europe or the Ukraine at his option. This saves the Norwegian expeditionary force and may make the Ukraine prohibitively expensive to attack. I'm not worried about Asia either.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 23:39

This is more of my thoughts than an answer, though I am going to answer the question (since that is what this is for). I have actually never heard of the "Russia cannot attack the first turn too" rule until I began reading in this forum. I've been playing for near 8 years now and like I said, this is the first time I've ever heard this. I don't see why Russia can't attack in their first turn... that is how the rules were set up. To make it more historically accurate, I understand, but that isn't how the rules were set up. So if Russia attacks, yes, Japan or Germany may lose a fighter (woop-de-do) since they have more IPC's than Russia; who cares? Russia is spreading itself out by attacking the first turn anyways. I can see reasons for the rule change, but I'm indifferent either way. It doesn't matter to me.

  • The rule change is just to help game balance. It tends to save some units that would otherwise die in a first turn Russian attack and perhaps more importantly, it gives Germany and Japan a more stable board to start from, which allows them to script their first turns. As for No Russian Attack, it's a pretty canonical rule variant, given that is shows up in the official 2nd edition rulebook in Appendix IV Optional Rules, page 31.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 11:25
  • @rpather3: At the end, the game proposed three alternate rules to "tilt" the game (back) toward the Axis. They were 1) Russia can't attack the first turn (but gets its "income") 2) Fighter and sub "techs" for Germany and Japan, and 3) No factory building allowed. Some people on the site have "determined" that the first two rules together make it almost 50-50.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 12:48

There is no middle-ground. The reality is assuming optimal Axis and Allied play the allies should always win as shuck-shuck should effectively weaken/spread German fronts before Japan can sufficiently bring the heat on Russia. The "Russia no first round attack" house rule is necessary to limit this Allied advantage by preventing the 3-5pts of additional IPC's Russia can take in the first 1-2 rounds by aggressively targeting Finland/Manchuria. Keep in mind, this house rule should only be used if you have advanced players because the allies starting advantage can only be exploited by those with enough experience in setting up shuck-shuck under OPTIMAL axis play (too often Axis players attack too early w/Germany sealing their own fate. Proper axis play is for Germany to hold-out until Japan comes, thus only purchasing infantry and perhaps fighters if/when they need their last suicide on the navy in UK to delay the eventual shuck-shuck if only for 1-2 turns). Few points

  • Scott's allied play follows optimal logic (Russia's ability to wipe Axis navy before Germany's attack is crucial as it materially weakens Germany's Luftwaffe, allowing earlier shuck-shuck implementation). Thus Russia can't be allowed to attack land OR navy units. Either outcome is too great of an advantage.

  • Adam's Germany response to attack Karelia can only be based on non-optimal Allied play. Russia really only has 1 move, to move all infantry to Karelia leaving 1 piece in Caucas to prevent a blitz into Russia. In reality Karelia should be defended by 22 Infantry/tanks and 2 fighters thus Germany shouldn't attack in it's round 1.

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