Axis and Allies is a grand strategy board game which allows you and your friends can re-fight all of World War Two in a single evening. Players act as the leaders of the major warring nations - the Allies: the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union; or the Axis: Germany and Japan (a recent version adds Italy). If fewer players are present, some will control more than one country.
Axis and Allies is very similar to Risk or other strategy board games. Play takes place on a large world map/game board. The board is divided into historically relevant territories, each with a value based on the income it can produce. Play proceeds in rounds representing six months of World War Two. During a round, each nation takes a turn collecting income, building new playing pieces, moving its playing pieces, attacking, and developing new technologies.
Unlike the more specialized strategy board games, Axis and Allies is very intuitive and three-dimensional. Income is represented by Industrial Production Certificates (which look like Monopoly money). These can be exchanged for small, highly detailed, color-coded plastic figurines representing soldiers, tanks, planes, ships, submarines, and other assets. Once purchased, assets are placed in territories on the board just like armies in Risk, and land, air, and sea pieces each move according to their own set of rules. When one player moves pieces into a territory occupied by an enemy, a battle ensues. Battles are fought using a simple set of rules that account for the different strengths and weaknesses of the various weapons involved. The forces of the winner remain in the territory, and the territory then changes ownership. Winning the game occurs when either the Axis or the Allies occupy two of their enemy's capital territories.
Axis and Allies is one of the most popular historical tabletop war games in the world. It has gone through numerous versions, including an original version (now out of print), a Revised Edition, and the new Anniversary Edition. Each version had slightly different rules, and the later versions add a few new game pieces and play options. A series of "vignette" games have been released, each with a set of rules slightly modified to more faithfully represent individual battles or operational theaters of World War Two. Also, there are two series of highly detailed, collectible miniatures that may be used interchangeably between games, or with their own set of stand-alone rules for tactical combat.