The Axis & Allies series: how and why each game is [or isn't] different
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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This is in a sense a follow-up to my previous Geeklist on the Risk game series. Axis & Allies is in a sense the first step up from Risk in complexity of play but shares the dice mechanic. Yet, as I stated previously, although one cannot know the outcome of any individual dice roll, such random events are strictly governed by a Gaussian probability distribution and so taking the probabilities into account becomes part of the strategy of the game.

The main draw-back practically to this series of games is the relatively large set-up time. I also have found for example that a couple of neighborhood boys I was trying to introduce to the game, although they were of normal intelligence and of an age the box says appropriate [13], just really couldn't understand what was really going on in the game. This is to say that these are not the first games I'd introduce a non-gamer to; they might well be the second however.

Update
I just did a purge of this list, deleting the Europe at War series, added onto it my the same BGG user who added Grand Army of the Republic. Strictly speaking, by the criteria I'm using-- being any of an actual official A&A game, an unauthorized A&A game or an expansion of the same, authorized or not-- I ought delete that game too. The reason I do not is that the comments provide useful info about A&A miniatures. This is not a comment on those games deleted, but the A&A system is arguably used or modified and used in countless games. This Geeklist therefore is confined ot ACTUAL A&A games and expansions-- official or otherwise-- and not just A&A-like game, with the one except and the reason for it noted.
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1. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1184]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This is the original in the series. Many have claimed that the game is seriously unbalanced to the detriment of game-play but this is strongly not my experience.

The Axis start out militarily geared-up but economically relatively weak. Germany is second in income only to the US player admittedly, but Germany also faces all three Allied powers because each can attack Germany. What I find is that the game reproduces WWII quite well in the aspect at least that if the Axis is to win, it must be daring in attacks and move quickly. The Allies on the other hand need only hold their own against the Axis and then slowly, slowly strike back; the longer the game goes on, the more probable an Allied victory becomes.

Of course, I have found playingthe Axis much more fun, especially Japan. One thing I should note though is that I always played for economic victory; it gives a strong tactical importance to territory acquisition that victory conditions based on specific territories just can't have.
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2. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1038]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This revised edition of the original game is, in my opinion, far from being just the original with new bells and whistles; far from it, this is better described as a new game designed from the same idea as the original but developed along slightly different lines.

I'm not so much interested in the fact that the board is less attractive, especially due to the dark seas, and could be bigger, nor is it that big of a deal that the box is less easy to organize the pieces in. I took care of that right away by using some plastic bags.

The new board does have a profound effect on strategy though, as well as the new victory conditions. The absence of economic victory as a possibility now makes sub-Saharan Africa virtually irrelevent. Germany also has much less ability to strike at the British fleet, with all this implies.

So far, I've not won this game playing the Axis; I'm sill working on the over-all strategy and specific tactics needed. Nevertheless, I've noticed that each side needs to work together much more closely in this game than in the original. At first, I didn't like this game so much to be frank, but I never disliked it enough not to want to play. The more I play it, the more I like it. One just has to not let the similarities to the original fool one into playing this game as if it were just a new "version" of the original game; this really is a new and different game-- not better or worse but different.
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3. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1184]
Paul Denhup
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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First edition from NOVA games. Because: it had some wild terrain (land bridge between Ireland and the UK) along with murderous AA fire (roll 1-3 hits!) AND it had Atomic bombs (talk about some R & D)!
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4. Family: Axis & Allies
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This is the family of Axis & Allies games and as such is useful to have on this list.
 
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5. Board Game: Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:750]
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This is another item added to try and keep this Geeklist up to date.

Although announced, as of this writing, I understand the game is not yet released. Frankly, at the reported US$100 price-tag reported, I'm hesitant ot order this, but then again the US dollar is down dramatically from what used to be its normal level and the sheqel is strong currently. Still, I want something to justify shelling out more money. Italy as an additional Axis player is good; I'd always thought it odd Italy wasn't included in the first place. The addition of cruisers is also good. Yet, I ask myself realistically if this is enough? Frankly, I have enough A&A pieces to jury-rig an Italian player. Not only due I now list Italy as owned because it's just A&AE using Japan to represent Italy, but I can always use Chinese infantry from A&AP with other substitutes for other units. Cruisers are also nice, but again, I could substitute something to make these for myself.

In short, the reason I bought the games I have in this series is they 1. are different enough games to warrant it and 2. just playing out the new game on the same old board with substitute pieces was not a real option. Thus, the question is: what makes this anniversary edition a differnet enough game I should buy it?
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6. Board Game: Axis & Allies Enhanced Realism Rules [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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Billed as an "expansion" of the original or possibly the revised game, since it refers to artillery but seems to pre-date the revised game, this is just a book of different rules by which to play the game. The author intends these to be more historically accurate, but then this series is only WWII-themed; i.e., it's not intended to be historically correct entirely.
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7. Board Game: Axis & Allies Europe 1940 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:826] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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This is a modified version of A&AE. I don't know much about it yet except that it's supposed to connect withthe Pacific theatre game of similar name.
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8. Board Game: Axis & Allies Miniatures [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2390]
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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I have deleted wrong info quoted in the comments below.

As pointed out below, I thought I remembered looking at this game but clearly I was confusing it with another game. So this has to now go into the category of games in the series about which I am seeking information.

Comments?
 
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9. Board Game: Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1957]
Rich Croton
United Kingdom
Reading
Berkshire
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This one seemed to be missed from the list. This is a nice lightweight game with good quality minatures.

The basic missions are based on acheiving points, either by sinking enemy shipping or by controlling objectives. The range of ships available allows for a range of tactical styles, including: carrier groups, wolf packs, and battleships with destroyer escorts.

This is fun to play but sadly the game is weighted in favour of the US navy - Fine for a Battle of Midway scenario, but too unbalanced for tournament play.
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10. Board Game: Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:984] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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This is a modified version of A&AP. From what I've been able to find out, it incorporates neutral powers and Japan and the USA do not start at war with one another. It's also made to connect with the European theatre gamewith a similar name. Thissounds very cool.
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11. Board Game: Axis & Allies: A & A Accessories [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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This is just new units and rules for the original or revised game.
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12. Board Game: Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2329]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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Same question as with the other battle-specific games in the series: how does the system adapt?
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13. Board Game: Axis & Allies: 1942 [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1306]
Moshe Callen
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This seems to be a fusion of some aspect of the limited edition 50th Anniversary game into Revised.
 
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14. Board Game: Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2279]
Moshe Callen
Israel
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This one continues the concetration on specific battles. I've not played it but am looking for input from those who have. The basic system of these games does not seem well-suited to specific battles rather than grand strategy. Comments?
 
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15. Board Game: Axis & Allies: D-Day [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2095]
Moshe Callen
Israel
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This seemed to have been the first game in the series concentrating on a single battle. To those who have played, how well does the system of this series adapt? What I've read about this game-- including its rules-- doesn't make it sound attractive.
 
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16. Board Game: Axis & Allies: Europe [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1725]
Moshe Callen
Israel
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I've not played this one yet but am thinking of ordering it. The key question is though: what makes this more than just the revised game played on a close-up map of Europe?

I've downloaded the rules from Avalon Hill and must say that without looking at the game itself, it's a tough call to say if this is different enough to warrant a purchase. Comments from those who have played this and the revised version?

Update 03/2008

I am editing this to try and keep this Geeklist IY"H up to date. Based on my reading of the rules, comments here and elsewhere on BGG, etc., I went ahead and purchased this game. I'm glad I did.

Two things make this game different than the other games in this series. First, although a convoy mechanism also exists in Axis & Allies: Pacific, which is still my favorite in the series incidentally, it is done differently. In this game, except for the one Russian convoy, convoys are not associated with land territories as are all but the "Biritish" [as opposed to Australian or Indian] convoys in A&AP. Instead, certain regions within the Atlantic can be used by the Germans to deny IPCs to the Allies, although the Germans do not gain any IPCs this way themselves. Since the Germans really MUST deny the Allies as many IPCs as possible if they hope to win, this forces the Germans to make the Atlantic a primary battlefield, even if the main attack is concentrated on Russia. Second, the territories of the Middle East [including Egypt] if taken by the Germans force the Allies not just to lose IPCs themselves but to give these directly to the Germans.

The similarities lie in the fact that the battle remains primarily between Germany and Russia in an eastern front back-and-forth war. Yet this must be true of a European theatre WWII game. Also, the division of the map into more territories does make things less repetitive in that the possible points of attack, by both sides, are greater. Plus, the strategic value of the ME gives Germany a viable reason to invade there, but once Germany has successfully invaded there, opening a second front with Russia becomes obvious.
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17. Board Game: Axis & Allies: Pacific [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1596]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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In the original game, in some sense naval and air combats play a somewhat secondary role, apart from strategic bombing raids in the middle and end game. In this game, all aspects-- land, air and sea-- combat play fundamentally vital roles.

Victory points act as an effective time limit to some extent but effective use of strategic bombing raids can stop the clock, so to speak. The Allies, i.e., Britain [India/Australia] and the US [which in Asia is aided by China by only on land] fundamentally HAVE to establish a base from which they can launch strategic bombing raids ASAP. If they don't or can't do it soon enough, the Allies will inevitably lose. This makes the Philippines in many ways a key territory to hold for both sides because only the US can build industrial complexes and only the Philippines is in range to bomb Japan and yet starts in US control. Fighters can defend against bombing raids though and also patrol waters to hold off naval assaults. This makes air combat key.

Yet because ship can only be build at a player's home territory, or in the case of the British players his two home territories, the US player must keep sending ships westward. The British also have to send ship north from Australia. Control of sea territories cannot gain a player IPCs but can deny them to the opposing player(s). Island-hopping is also a must in this game and so naval warfare is vital.

Of course gaining IPCs, to which victory points for Japan are linked, requires taking land territories. I have also found that the war in mainland Asia is key for both sides. Land combat matters.

The only two games where Japan won by conquering a capital [the US, India or Australia] was when the Allied player involved [once the US player and once the British player in India] got sloppy and didn't build enough defense. The Allies can win by taking Japan itself but they need only reduce Japan's income to below 10 IPC's and the Allies win.

So far, this is my favorite of the series.
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18. Board Game: Axis & Allies: WWI 1914 [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:2153]
Andrew Adey
United Kingdom
Wolverhampton
West Midlands
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Just to "bump" this list which is now a little out of date.

What do people think of this one? I know there are problems with insufficient pieces in the box. But the rules sound very good.

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19. Board Game: Central Powers, Axis & Allies Variant [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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New rules and pieces to be able to play the original game as WWI rather than WWII.
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20. Board Game: Enemy on the Horizon: Axis & Allies Expansion [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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New units and rules for the original game, many but not all superceded by the revised versions additional units.
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21. Board Game: Grand Army of the Republic [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:12003]
Frank Cunliffe
United States
Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I'm not sure if this item is what this geeklist's creator had in mind, as it uses the Axis & Allies system, but not its title. (IMO, the A&A Miniatures games do not belong on this list, as they use the title, but not the system.)

Grand Army of the Republic takes the Axis & Allies combat system and adds Leaders and Combat Cards to it. Otherwise combat works the same way.

Unfortunately it uses cardboard units (as did the original Axis & Allies) and an unmounted board. The board can be rectified with a plexiglass sheet. Infantry/Cavalry/Artillery units can be replaced by the plastic ones Battle Cry by Hasbro or The American Civil War by Eagle Games'. Three dimensional naval units require more ingenuity to acquire.

A more serious problem is that the rules were poorly written, a frequent problem with Task Force Games. Either play GAR solitaire or write down every rule interpretation you make.

But like most Axis & Allies games, it was a lot of fun to play.
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22. Board Game: Honor and Infamy: Commanders (Axis and Allies Variant) [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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New units and rules for the original game.
 
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23. Board Game: Italy [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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This seems to be an Italian unofficial expansion or variation on Axis & Allies: Europe. It introduces Italy as a second Axis power into the game. If one has A&A:Europe, this seems well-worth getting. Admittedly, I know Italian [not spoken it in years but can still read it fluently] but the card directing where to initially place Italian units should be self-explanatory.

Frankly, if one has the revised game, one should just be able to use Jpanese units for Italy.
 
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24. Board Game: Max's Advanced Rules for Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
Jeremy Fridy
United States
Kent
Ohio
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I always found that this was the best A&A expansion for the old game. All the rules were simple, well thought out, and usually explained in about 2 paragraphs. I highly recommend this one, and I have seen a lot of A&A expansions.
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25. Board Game: New World Order, Axis & Allies Variant [Average Rating:6.18 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.18 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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200 new plastic pieces are included in this expansion for the original A&A. The game plays out an imaginary WWIII. Lots of cool pieces by the way!
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