Axis & Allies is a popular series of World War II strategy board games, with nearly two million copies printed. Originally designed by Larry Harris and published by Nova Game Designs in 1981, the game was republished by the Milton Bradley Company in 1984 as part of the Gamemaster Series of board games. This edition would be retroactively named Axis & Allies: Classic to differentiate it from later revisions. In 1996, Axis & Allies: Classic was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame. Games magazine also has inducted Axis & Allies into their buyers' guide Hall of Fame., an honor the magazine extends to "games that have met or exceeded the highest standards of quality and play value and have been continuously in production for at least 10 years; i.e., classics."
Axis & Allies: Classic was the most successful of the five Gamemaster Series of board games. Long after the Gamemaster name was retired, A&A: Classic lives on having been moved to the Avalon Hill lineup following the acquisition of Milton Bradley Company and Avalon Hill by Hasbro. The game itself has gone through several revisions, most recently in 2013. The object of the game and its spinoffs, is to win the war by capturing enough critical territories to gain the advantage over the enemy in a recreation of World War II.
After acquiring Milton Bradley (1984) and Avalon Hill (1998), Hasbro transferred the Axis & Allies: Classic (1984) board game from the Milton Bradley division to the Avalon Hill division in 1999. In 1999, Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast. In 2004, Hasbro made Avalon Hill a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast (WotC).
The Axis & Allies (1984–present) board game series is currently produced by WotC under the Avalon Hill label. Hasbro is the parent company. There are a total of 11 board games in the Axis & Allies series, 8 of which are currently available from many game resellers. The two out-of-print A&A board games, Axis & Allies: Classic (1984) and Axis & Allies: 50th Anniversary Edition (2008) can be found on various auction websites.
The original Axis & Allies: Classic board game has been followed by ten spinoff games using more or less the same mechanics: in 1999, Axis & Allies: Europe was released, with slightly updated rules and focus on the European theater of World War II; this was followed in 2001 by Axis & Allies: Pacific with similar rules and focus shifted to the Pacific theater. Axis & Allies: D-Day (2004) focused on the Allied liberation of France. In 2004, the first major revision to the core game, Axis & Allies: Revised was released, with elements taken from A&A: Europe and A&A: Pacific, also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Axis & Allies itself. Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge (2006) focused on the Battle of the Bulge in Europe while Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal (2007) focused on the Solomon Islands Campaign in the Pacific. In 2008, Axis & Allies: 50th Anniversary Edition was released as one of the three games celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publisher, Avalon Hill (the other two games were Acquire and Diplomacy). This was followed by Axis & Allies: 1942 in 2009, the second major revision to the core game, with mechanics taken from the anniversary edition, also celebrating the 25th anniversary of Axis & Allies itself. Axis & Allies: Pacific 1940 was released in December 2009 and Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 was released in the second half of 2010.
The 11th A&A board game in the series, Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 was released in August, 2010. The game can be combined with Pacific 1940 to form a Global game of World War II on a combined 175x80 cm (70" x 32") map. All nine major powers of World War II, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and the ANZAC forces, are represented in the combined global game with unique units and colors. To streamline the game and correct balance issues, Global 1940 was revised and a new rule set was released on the Axis & Allies forums in January 2011.
Axis & Allies is not a strict historical wargame, due to its streamlining for ease of play and balancing so that both sides have a chance to win. For instance, the economic model is simplistic, with each territory producing a number of Industrial Production Certificates (IPCs) for the purchase of new units. Moreover, the game is supposed to start in the spring of 1942, but Japan is immediately in position to attack Hawaii again, while Germany is pressed well into the Soviet Union with an initially superior force. If the game were truer to history, the Axis empires would be at their climax in 1942, about to be pushed back by the Allies.