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Rules Clarifications

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Axis and Allies Rules Clarifications


This is an electronic copy of the Rules Clarifications Sheet provided in newer copies of the Axis and Allies board game, published by Milton Bradley. This is an unofficial copy of this document and is in no way a challenge to the copyright owned by Milton Bradley, but is just intended to get a copy of the Rules Clarifications to those gamers who bought an earlier copy of Axis and Allies that did not have the Rules Clarifications included in it. You cannot play a game of Axis and Allies using just these Rules Clarifications, you must obtain a complete copy of the game (available at finer toy and game stores). The Axis and Allies board game is copyright 1986 by Milton Bradley Co. All Rights Reserved.

Note: A few corrections and clarifications have been added to this document from the original. These are marked in the text with brackets, ex:[Clarification: ....]

Balance of Power

Many players have written to us about how the game seems slanted in favor of the Allies. Our best advice is the following: Very experienced Axis players have their best chance for victory if they play aggressively in the first few turns. The Axis powers, especially Germany, must attack swiftly before the Allies can use their strong economic backing to buy land and sea forces. Defensive play cannot be the watch word for the Axis powers if victory is to be theirs!

More About the Gameboard Map

The following clarifies some of the adjacency questions about land territories and sea zones. See pages 7 to 9 of the Rules Booklet for complete details.

  1. The large Hudson Bay sea zone on the top left side of the board is adjacent to the Western Canada land territory on the top right side of the board.
  2. The two Gulf of Mexico sea zones on the left side of the board are adjacent to the one sea zone surrounding the Mexico land territory on the right side of the board. [Clarification: This should read, The two Gulf of Mexico sea zones on the left side of the board are adjacent to the one sea zone surrounded by the Mexico land territory on the right side of the board (the Texas sea zone). ]
  3. The Japanese Kwangtung land territory is NOT adjacent to the sea zone surrounding Japan and Manchuria.

Additional Map Notes:

  1. Unnamed islands like Sicily cannot be landed on.
  2. Because the water surrounding Panama is two sea zones, it takes 1 movement to pass through the canal.
  3. The blow-up boxes on the lower right side of the gameboard cannot be moved on or off from adjacent sea zones. For example, the sea zone surrounding New Zealand is adjacent to the two sea zones surrounding Peru and Argentina/Chile on the lower left side of the board - not to the blow-up boxes!

Weapons Development

Here are five important considerations:
  1. To develop weapons, pay all the "research" money you wish to spend to the bank, then roll the dice you bought all at once. Do not roll one die at a time until you get a "6" and then pocket any of the leftover research money.
  2. When you get a new weapon development, all of your present units of that type are immediately improved, not just the new ones you may purchase. [Clarification: Weapons Development will come into effect immediately for all games. For GM games the player will send in his/her request for dice for weapons development and wait until the GM sends the results back to him/her. For ADS games the player will send e-mail with the number of tech rolls and number of IPCs spent, then roll the dice and continue their turn, utilizing any new weapons. ]
  3. The industrial technology development does NOT reduce the cost of future development dice rolls from 5 IPC to 4 IPC.
  4. Heavy bomber development allows each bomber to attack with three dice instead of one die, either in a regular combat situation or in a strategic bombing raid against an industrial complexes; each heavy bomber continues to defend with one die. Jet power development allows each fighter plane to defend by rolling a "5" or less on the die instead of a "4" or less; each fighter continues to attack by rolling a "3" or less on the die. Super submarine development allows each sub to attack by rolling a "3" or less on the die instead of a "2" or less; each sub continues to defend by rolling a "2" or less on the die.
  5. Rocket development gives one of your antiaircraft guns rocket power once per turn. Unlike an antiaircraft gun, a rocket can move before combat and fire during combat. A rocket can also move during non-combat, if it has not just been captured, or if it has not fired. Rockets, like antiaircraft guns, cannot fire while on a transport and they are destroyed only when they are sunk on a transport. If you capture an enemy rocket, you cannot move it on the turn you capture it; also, if you do not own rocket technology yourself, then the captured rocket is considered just a regular antiaircraft gun.

Antiaircraft Guns

Six important AA gun facts are:
  1. If you capture an enemy AA gun during your combat movement, you cannot move that AA gun during the non-combat phase of the same turn.
  2. If you move an AA gun into an ally's territory, it is still your AA gun to fire and move. If your AA gun is in an ally's territory, and that territory is attacked , you defend with your AA gun. If you liberate an ally's territory that has an AA gun and an industrial complex, the gun, the complex, and the territory all revert back to the ally's control.
  3. Only one AA gun is allowed per territory.
  4. You cannot place a newly purchased AA gun directly on a transport - it must be placed in a territory that you owned since the beginning of your turn.
  5. An AA gun can be destroyed only if it is on a transport that is sunk. You cannot voluntarily destroy one of your AA guns - or any other unity you own.
  6. Your AA gun fires only during an enemy's combat movement phase, when an enemy plane either flies to or flies over the territory where your gun is. An AA gun cannot fire at a plane during an enemy's non-combat movement phase (that's when a plane returns from combat). An AA gun, like a rocket, cannot fire while on a transport.


There are four big things to remember:
  1. Only an attacker can retreat.
  2. A retreat can be made only after a defender defends - after ANY round of combat.
  3. An attacker cannot retreat from NOTHING - that is, if all the defending units are destroyed in the embattled territory or sea zone, then the attacking forces are stuck there - no retreating allowed.
  4. Partial retreats are never allowed except for subs. All attacking units must retreat together BACK to one adjacent friendly territory from which any one of the attacking units came. What follows are special retreating issues with submarines and air units.

Submarine Withdrawing

Subs may retreat as above, or they could "withdraw", which allows for some exceptions to the normal retreating rules.
Submarine withdrawal rules are:
  1. In combat, both attacking and defending subs can withdraw.
  2. Attacking subs can withdraw after any round of combat, and they do not have to retreat with other naval units.
  3. If an attacking sub destroys the enemy in a sea zone, it cannot retreat or withdraw. It is stuck in that zone.
  4. Partial retreats are allowed for attacking subs, because they do not have to retreat at the same time as other naval units nor to the same space.
Here are more details:
  1. If retreating with other naval units, the attacking sub must withdraw BACK to one adjacent friendly sea zone from which any of the attacking units came it does not have to retreat to the same sea zone as the other naval units.
  2. If there are several attacking subs in the force, they do not all have to withdraw at the same time on the same round. However, if several attacking subs do withdraw on the same round, they must all withdraw to the same sea zone.
  3. If several defending subs withdraw on the same round, they must also withdraw to the same adjacent friendly or unoccupied sea zone. Note: At the beginning of the game, the German sub in the Baltic Sea is trapped and has nowhere to retreat or withdraw. Subs cannot retreat of withdraw to a sea zone that is or was battle site on the same turn!

Air Units Retreating

Bombers and fighters follow almost all of the standard rules of retreating. Some interesting cases follow:
  1. Attacking air units can retreat only after a defender defends. However, if an air unit attacks a sub, the sub cannot fire back. If the defending sub survives the first attack, it should withdraw. If it has nowhere to withdraw to, it will eventually be destroyed because it can never counter attack the air unit's attacks.
  2. Partial retreats are not allowed for air units. If other units in their attacking force retreat, they must also retreat. They do not, however, have to retreat BACK to one adjacent friendly territory, nor do they retreat at the same time as the other units! Retreating air units retreat only as many spaces as left in their flight range movement. Their retreat is considered the landing phase of their movement and must only be done in the non combat move phase of their turn. Also, retreating air units can NEVER land in a territory that has just been captured this includes "blitzed" territories.
Additional Notes on Air Units
  1. A) As a defending unit, if a fighter plane is on a carrier that is attacked by an enemy sub, any hits made by the sub must be taken by the carrier since the sub cannot fire at any air unit. The "hit" carrier cannot fire back because of the sub's special first shot attack, but the fighter does get to counter attack. The sub should then withdraw. After the battle, if the carrier is sunk, the fighter must then try to land somewhere in the same sea zone either on another carrier or on a friendly island there. If it can't, the fighter is considered lost at sea.
  2. B) The Suez Canal rule, which allows sea unit to move freely through the canal only if friendly, does not apply to air units flying over or through the canal.
  3. C) If a fighter lands on a carrier, the carrier cannot move after the plane lands because this would extend the plane's movement.


Here are two important things bout transports:
  1. Transports are the only ships that can "bridge".

    BRIDGING: If a transport is in a sea zone adjacent to two coastal territories, it can transport land units from one territory to another without moving. This is called "bridging". The maximum number of units that a transport can bridge in one turn is 1 tank or 2 infantry. You can bridge with a transport after it moves; once a transport bridges, however, it cannot move again on that turn. You cannot use an ally's transport to bridge your own units in just one turn! Your units can, with permission, board an ally's transport on your turn. Then, on your ally's turn, the units are considered "carried across the water". ON your next turn, the units may be unloaded. Just remember, your cargo on board an ally's transport is always "moved" on your ally's turn, not on your turn.

  2. Transports are the only ships that cannot attack.

    NO ATTACKING: Even though transports cannot attack, they can be moved into an attacking situation with other friendly attacking ships in order to take hits. Transports should not be moved into enemy sea zones by themselves they have no attack capability and would be wiped out.

Amphibious Assaults

The only time a naval unit can fire at coastal land units is when a battleship takes part in an amphibious assault. The battleship must be in the same sea zone as the assault force to do so! Several battleships can be in the same assault and each one will have a special firing privilege called a one shot support attack. This means that each participating battleship gets one and only one shot! Not one shot at each defender, and not one shot on each combat round. Once a battleship fires its one shot, it cannot be counter attacked by the defending land units! A battleship can be part of the assault force, be legally moved into the sea zone adjacent to the embattled coastal territory along with the accompanying transport(s) and land unit(s) and NOT be able to exercise its one shot privilege. This will happen if there are enemy naval units in the sea zone adjacent to the coastal territory. All attacking naval units in the assault force must first battle the enemy units in the sea and defeat them before the transports can unload the land units for the land battle. Once any battleship in the assault team is involved in a sea battle before the land battle, it gives up its one shot privilege! Note: You cannot willingly keep a battleship out of the sea battle so it can take part in the amphibious assault!

Can You Retreat During An Amphibious Assault? No! There is no retreating for the amphibious assault force. It is a fight to the death. This is an exception to the normal retreating rules. Any air or adjacent land units supporting the amphibious assault cannot retreat either. If your battleship fires and misses in a one shot support, you cannot abort your assault because your land units are already considered "landed" before your battleship fires!

Carriers and Fighters

Four important considerations:
  1. If an ally's carrier is attacked when your fighter is on board, you defend with your plane on the carrier. In a multi force defense, each defending player always rolls for his own defending unit(s).
  2. If you have a fighter on one of your own carriers and it is flying out to attack, you must launch it before your carrier moves! Otherwise, if the carrier moved first with fighter on board and then the fighter moved, the plane's range would be extended illegally; the same rule applies during the non combat phase. A carrier cannot move after a plane has landed on it, for it would extend a plane's range illegally.
  3. You can land a fighter on an ally's carrier. To do so, you must land there on your turn, and you can take off on your next turn. While on the carrier, the carrier with the fighter can be moved by your ally on his turn. This does not illegally extend your plane's range, because the carrier is being moved on your ally's turn.
  4. Kamikaze attacks by planes are NOT legal. The rule to remember is that you can always launch a plane if there is ANY legal possibility that it can return to a safe landing place by the end of its turn.
Here's and interesting situation of a landing plan gone awry: You plan to move a carrier in your non combat move into landing range for one of your attacking fighters. During battle, your fighter is destroyed. In this case, you do NOT have to move the carrier to the intended rendezvous zone.

Captured Capitals

If your capital is captured by the enemy, remember the following:
  1. You lose all your IPCs, you must surrender them to the capturing player.
  2. Any territories that you still own do not produce any IPCs for you until your capital is liberated by you or an ally.
  3. When your capital is liberated, you do NOT get back the IPCs you originally surrendered!
After your capital is liberated, either of the following will happen: Most likely, you will have no IPCs on your post liberation turn, so you cannot purchase units now! You may, however, collect IPCs at the end of this turn, and then on your next turn purchase new units. In the rare case that you captured an enemy capital while your capital was under enemy control, you would collect all the captured enemy's IPCs. This is the only way you could have any IPCs on your post liberation turn (since you surrendered your). With the IPCs you could purchase new units on this turn, if you wish.

You And Your Allies Who Owns What?

Situation: Your ally captures an enemy territory or a neutral territory and then the territory is recaptured by the enemy.

If you recapture the territory, you control the territory, not your ally who first captured it! You cannot capture a neutral territory or an enemy territory that is now controlled by an ally. You can never give an ally anything: units, territories or IPCs.


  1. You can attack the same territory with bombers making both a strategic bombing raid and a normal air strike. You cannot, however, use the same bombers to do both attacks! Of course, you would conduct the strategic bomber raid first.
  2. A tank can blitz through a territory with an enemy AA gun and or industrial complex on it. Such a territory is not considered enemy occupied.
  3. Submarine's first shot attack: By following the naval sequence listed on your country's Reference Card, you will see that subs get the "first strike" attack at the beginning of EACH round of combat, not just the first.
  4. A captured enemy territory with an industrial complex will give you limited unit placement capacity on your next turn. It will be equal to the territory's IPC value. This rule applies even if the complex was an original one that is, one the enemy started the game with.
  5. You can put industrial complexes in a neutral territory on a subsequent turn, and it can produce 1 unit on the following turn.
  6. 6. You can move non-air units into a just captured territory during the non combat phase of the same turn, provided that these units did not engage in combat on that turn.
  7. If a country's IPC value goes over 45, place two markers on the board. For example, if your IPC value is 48, place one marker at 45 and the other marker at 3.
  8. More Markers? You can add additional chips or make more control markers, if you wish. You cannot add more plastic units, however! Therefore, the number of groups of units you have is limited not the number of units per group. [Note: This rule is not applied to games played in the Axis and Allies Members Club. You may have as many of any type of unit in any number of groups that you wish.]
  9. Varying units? Yes! There is some slight variance to the number of infantry units per country found in each game.

End of Rules Clarifications.