Axis & Allies: Classic - Gemmell House Rules (Micheal Gemmell)


Remember when you first played Axis and Allies? There were so many options, and you didn't know just what was the exact way to win. Then as familiarity with the game grew, you began to realize that there was a set pattern to victory or defeat. Game mechanics repetitively determined the pattern of victory, and your interest in Axis and Allies ebbed. To restore the fun to Axis and Allies, a group of players designed a few "house" rules in the summer of 1987. These "house" rules, for use with the Axis and Allies game by Milton Bradley, were originally conceived as corrections to perceived mechanical problems with the game, such as the introduction of Retreat by Defender. Subsequent additions have been designed to correct historical inaccuracies, such as the Japanese-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty, and to add additional historical depth to play, such as the Atomic Bombs and Prisoners of War rules. The mechanical changes pose some degree of fluctuation to the game, and as such should be treated with care. If players feel that they unbalance the game too much, such as the Retreat by Defender rule, they should be disregarded. The new IPC values should have the effect of broadening the game to include areas which are generally ignored in a 'regular' Axis and Allies game, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but which were quite significant historically. One rule which should be treated carefully is the Lend Lease. Allied subsidies to Russia can wreck any possibility of German victory. This is one rule which must be agreed to in advance. In conclusion, it is hoped that these variants expand the game's frontiers and recreate the sense of fun which we all first experienced when we played Axis and Allies for the first time.

Gemmell House Rules

Retreat by Defender

This rule corrects a major flaw in the Axis and Allies combat system, allowing for the retreat of outnumbered defenders.

Historically, tactical retreat was a crucial element in Russian and German strategy, and it seems odd to be prohibited from saving one's forces for a counterattack. During the campaign, both sides surrendered space in exchange for time to rebuild their forces. The retreat to Stalingrad in the summer of 1942 provided breathing space for Soviet units to regroup in the winter of 1943 for example. When the Germans retreated across Eastern Europe in 1943-44, they traded space for time, and so were able to constantly create new defensive lines and slow Soviet advances time and time again, in a series of brilliant delaying tactics. Lastly, every World War II history student wants to recreate the 1940 Battle of Dunkirk, so the retreat-onto-transports rule has been included.

During a combat situation, the defender has the option of retreating his forces from the country under attack to an adjacent country. However, there must be at least one round of combat before such a retreat can be made. The retreat is made after both sides have absorbed losses from the combat round. A force may only retreat into a friendly country. Furthermore, if the defender has transports in an adjacent sea hex, the forces can be retreated onto said transports, but only in sufficient numbers that the transports can carry.

Atomic Bombs

Anyone who knows anything about World War II knows of the role played by the Atomic Bomb in ending it. It has always seemed unfortunate that "Secret Weapon" development in the game did not include such crucial elements as atomics. This rule is designed to allow limited creation of atomic weapons. They are difficult to get, and expensive to build, but can be very damaging.

Atomic bombs are developed through secret weapons development. If a secret weapon is received, on a roll of a six, the die is re-rolled in an Atomic Bomb Roll. The player may choose to spend additional 5 IPC sums to gain additional Atomic Bomb die rolls, as per normal. If another six is rolled on the Atomic Bomb roll, the player receives atomic bomb technology. If the Atomic Bomb Roll succeeds, he does not receive a "regular" secret weapon. If the Atomic Bomb die roll fails, the player still receives a regular secret weapon, which is rolled for normally.

Each Atomic Bomb costs 20 IPCs to build, and are not subject to Industrial Technology. They may only be transported by Strategic Bombers and dropped during a Strategic Bombing Raid. During Atomic Bomb Raids, one specific bomber must be selected to carry the bomb. If the bomber is shot down by Anti aircraft guns, the atomic bomb is lost.

Raids may carried out against all land territories, including those without industrial complexes or Anit-aircraft guns. However, no atomic bombs may dropped in water territories.

Atomic Bombs are extremely destructive. If an atomic bomb is detonated on a territory, the following effects occur: 1. Industrial complexes and anti aircraft guns are automatically destroyed 2. Every land unit must roll a die. If a six is rolled, the unit is saved. Otherwise, it is destroyed. Air units survive on a 5-6. 3. The Production value of the country is halved (round down) for the duration of the game. (Ex.- If an atomic bomb were dropped on Western Europe, its Production value would become 3 for the duration of the game. If an atomic bomb was dropped on Manchuria, its Production value would become 1 for the rest of the game.) Countries with one Production value become zero. If a country is bombed more than once, its Production value drops to zero. Each major power may only build a maximum of three Atomic Bombs during the game.

Prisoners of War

This rule was originally developed before the Defender Retreat rule. It was designed to spare players from the carnage of having their units destroyed because they were unable to retreat. However, it also fits in nicely with the retreat option, and is still a good idea for isolated garrison, such as the usually stranded Japanese Pacific Islands' detachments. POWS provide a benefit for the captor, that of additional 'free' IPCs, while preserving the surrendering player's units for a potential liberation in the future.

If during an attack, the defender has no place to retreat to, or does not wish to retreat, he may opt to surrender his remaining units to the attacker. Such a surrender may only occur after at least one round of combat. If the defender offers a surrender, the attacker must then decide whether to accept it. If he does not, the surrendering troops are eliminated with no further combat rounds. (I.E. - the surrendering player does not get to have his troops "pick up their weapons" and keep fighting.) Surrendering units are converted into possession markers of the surrendering country, one for each unit, no matter what type, and become POWs. The chips are stacked face down.

There is a benefit to having POWs for both sides. If the player who surrendered his units later liberates a country with POWs in it, he receives infantry units. For every two POWs, one infantry unit is created immediately in that country, of the nation whose chips they are. Round fractions down. For the conqueror, there is also a benefit. For every two POWs the conqueror possesses, he receives one IPC (round fractions down).

POWs may be moved by conquering player like infantry, one country per turn, or by transport. Usually, it is wiser to concentrate POWs in your home countries, to prevent their quick liberation.


Lend-Lease, first introduced by President Roosevelt in December 1940, allowed the United States to provide munitions and equipment to the British, and later the Russians, without worrying about war debts. Such loans (really grants) were a key element to Allied economic strategy. There is no provision in Axis and Allies for such programs. This rule proposes to change that. The Lending of IPCs allows members of the two alliances to give each other IPCs. This may however be disruptive to game balance. Allied subsidies of Russia may prevent any successful German invasion. Generally, Lend-Lease favors the Allies, particularly Russia, over the Axis, who have little reason to give each other loans.

Members of each alliance may lend each other sums of money from their respective treasuries. Such loans may never exceed 25% of the lending country's Production Total. Furthermore, the loan must be made during the Unit Production phase, along with other unit purchases. Players are not allowed to collect Income and then make loans. However, the 25% limit is not cumulative for the Allied Side. Thus both Britain and the United States could each lend 25% of their respective incomes to Russia.

Revised IPC values

This rule corrects the lack of use for many of the Pacific Islands, which are worth zero Economic points. The additions are balanced by a reduction in other countries, usually the home industrial centre. The total value of each country at the beginning of the game remains unchanged, thus maintaining game balance.

New IPC Values

United Kingdom7
Wake Island1
Midway Island1
Caroline Islands1
Solomon Islands1
Western U.S.A.9

Now players have a reason to attack or defend the Pacific Islands and Gibraltar, which are usually ignored in a normal Axis and Allies game except for their usefulness as bomber bases. The lowering of the home country values should have little effect, as builds in home country industrial complexes are unlimited anyway, and conquest of the capital is disastrous in any event. (Whether the British player loses 7 or 8 IPCs for losing the United Kingdom is largely irrelevant, since he is likely crushed regardless.

Neutrals IPC values

World War II diplomats and statesmen constantly worried about the neutral states and tried to draw them in on one side or another. Hitler made a personal trip to see General Francisco Franco, leader of Fascist Spain, on October 23, 1940, in the first of a series of unsuccessful attempts to have Spain enter on the side of the Axis. The British government made numerous overtures to Turkey, whose presence as an ally in the Middle East would have been reassuring. In Axis and Allies, the valuable neutrals are ignored and worthless. Thus, values have been given to all neutrals. Although the cost may be high, both sides can now invade the neutral countries, both to gain their IPC values, or to gain a strategic advantage.

All neutrals now have Production values. However, the rules governing invasions of Neutrals are changed as follows:

If a neutral state is invaded the offending player must pay five (5) IPCs immediately. The neutral may not be invaded if the player has insufficient cash. After neutrals have been invaded by one player, they may then be entered freely by all players. There are also several special cases where extra fees are required.

Spain: If Germany invades Spain, it must pay 10 IPCs for all the negative publicity of invading a friendly Fascist state.

Note that Spain makes an excellent and easy entry port for Allied attack on Europe.

Argentina: If Germany invades Argentina, it must pay 10 IPCs for attacking a friendly government.

Saudi Arabia: If the United Kingdom invades Saudi Arabia it must pay 10 IPCs for invading a friendly government.

Turkey: If either side invades Turkey, the invading country must pay 10 IPCs for attacking a potentially valuable ally.

The values of the Neutrals are as follows:

  • Ireland-1
  • Sweden-3
  • Spain-3
  • Switzerland-1
  • Venezuela-1
  • Peru-1
  • Argentina-3
  • Rio de Oro-1
  • Angola-1
  • Mozambique-1
  • Turkey-3
  • Mongolia-1
  • Saudi Arabia-4
  • Afghanistan-1

Saudi Arabia is valued highly because of the oil reserves located under the Arabian desert, which are not properly valued in Axis and Allies. Sweden, Spain, Turkey, and Argentina are rated higher than one because they more modernized nature. The remaining neutrals have a minimum value of one (1). Ireland, which could also be rated higher, is not because of its proximity to the United Kingdom. Even if it was captured by the Axis, it is unlikely that the Axis could make effective industrial use of the island, as it would be severely blockaded by the Royal Navy. Consequently, Ireland's value is minimal.

Salvage of Units

This rule has the least historical basis, and is largely a product of tinkering with game mechanics. Although scrap domestic metal drives were common throughout all countries involved in the war, large scale conversion of military equipment was not common. The best historical justification for this rule is the scrapping of captured enemy wreckage for use in industry. Salvage allows players to relieve themselves of unwanted and undesirable units and to get some return on their investment, albeit at the unfavorable rate of 1/2 to 1. After all, we can't just give full value for second hand goods...

Players may turn in units during the Purchasing phase for half value to get cash. However, they may not spend this new wealth until next turn. The money is added to their IPCs collected at the end of the turn. All fractions are rounded down. (Example - a tank is turned in. The player receives 2 IPCs at the end of his turn.) Industrial Complexes may not be salvaged.

The modified Phase I of the Action Sequence should read:

  1. Develop special weapons, purchase units, salvage units, or lend IPCs.

Japanese-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty

One of the glaring historical inaccuracies of Axis and Allies is the inattention towards the Japanese-Soviet Non- Aggression Treaty. In 1941, Japan and the U.S.S.R. signed a non- aggression pact, which was not broken until August 8, 1945, when the U.S.S.R. launched an invasion of Manchuria, after the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. Japan did not attack into Siberia during the war years, and the treaty allowed Stalin to move a quarter of a million troops from the Far East to the European front at a crucial time in 1941. The reinforcements prevented Germany from capturing Moscow. This is not reflected in the game. In fact, it is usually Japanese invasion of weak Soviet defenses in the Far East that gives Japan victory on mainland Asia, a historically grossly erroneous situation.

To reflect the treaty, no Japanese or Soviet troops may invade each other's territory, without paying 10 IPCs, the cost to declare war on a neutral power. If Russian troop enter British or American countries in Asia, Japan is partially restricted from attacking them. If the Soviet unit is the only force in the country, Japan may not attack it without first declaring war and paying the 10 IPCs. If the Soviet unit is stacked with Allied units, Japan is free to attack as normal, and the Russian unit may not participate in the combat, and must retreat to an adjacent square if Japan is successful in capturing the country.

The advantage for Japan and U.S.S.R. is that it frees up one front's worth of troops to fight elsewhere, although it does make possible some Russian defense of Allied territories, where Japan cannot attack.


We hope that you enjoy these variants on a classic game. After all, Axis and Allies has been around since the 1960s in various forms. While these rules will never be part of the "official" Axis And Allies game, they can make it more interesting and playable for the casual gamer. Let's make Axis and Allies fun again.