Axis & Allies 50th Anniversary Edition - Board Game Box Shot

Axis & Allies 50th Anniversary Edition

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Spring 1941, The World is at War!
Axis & Allies celebrates 50 years of Avalon Hill games with this Anniversary Edition of the classic World War II strategy board game. Designed by Larry Harris, A&A Anniversary Edition will utilize the standard D6 combat system found in Axis & Allies Revised, Europe, and Pacific. Italy will debut as the third Axis nation, China will be operated by the US player, and cruiser class ships will join the naval line-up for the first time. The largest board ever produced for an A&A game, along with deluxe components will ensure this is the granddaddy of all Axis & Allies board games. Deploy your forces and prepare for battle!

Axis and Allies 50th Anniversary Edition contents
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User Reviews (5)

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Rated 25 Games
140 of 149 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Best complete version out there.”

The first impression most players will have seeing the game played will be the map, and I think most everyone will agree the map looks gorgeous. The realistic feel, the mix of bright and dark colors, the new blue for the oceans, it all looks great. Breaking it into 3 separate panels is perfectly fine by me.

The addition of Burma is very exciting to me and has long been needed, as well as the new representation of China. Scandinavia being split into two, Eastern Europe being re-drawn, and the new Northwest Europe territory will all improve the depth of gameplay in the European theater.

National Objectives

The concept of National Objectives seemed familiar, and it took me a while but now I realize why. It’s essentially a page pulled directly out of RISK, where you get bonus armies for controlling all the territories in a continent. The biggest difference is that in RISK you had to control the continent at the start of your turn, while in AA50 the bonus is received at the end of your turn meaning you can acheive the requirements on your turn and then get the bonus before another player interferes. And of course, AA50 has thoughtfully tailored it to the WWII situation and every nation has multiple unique objectives but the basic idea is similar.

I find the National Objectives system a brilliant, elegant way to introduce numerous elements into the game that have been lacking in previous editions. Control of the sea in certain areas is now meaningful without the addition of convoy zones. Nations are encouraged to both attack and attempt to achieve their historical objectives while also defend and hold regions critical to them. Even Lend-Lease, which has been on a lot of people’s wish-lists for a long time, is nicely covered by this system. Best of all, the National Ojbectives system, combined with the new representation of China, makes an early Japanese attack into Russia even more difficult and less rewarding, finally killing this ridiculously stupid strategy that has been a trademark of the Revised Edition.

Of course the largest criticism of National Objectives is that the incentive for achieving them will be so large that strategies and gameplay will revolve around them and the variety of gameplay will decrease. Whether or not there is any truth to this remains to be seen.


The addition of Italy is a great feature and despite my fears was very well carried out. My greatest fear was that Italy’s industrial base would be vastly exaggerated but it turns out Italy only starts the game with 10 IPC which is an ideal value to represent Italy’s historical economic weakness in comparison to the other nations. The national objectives system will give Italy the chance to possibly get a lot more than this but they will have to earn it by accomplishing Italy’s historic goals of securing the Mediterranean and obtaining territory in Africa. Very well done. Italy’s starting forces will probably be exaggerated but this is acceptable for balance reasons. I also could care less about Italy’s shortage of unique sculpts.

My main and really only complaint about Italy so far is the choice of color. Brown is an acceptable color for Italy but I am disappointed to see how close it is to the Soviet brown. Having seen how dark they went with the German forces, I really wish they had gone with a light gray color for the Italians, perhaps tinted with blue or green. Oh well, we are stuck with the brown so I can only hope it isn’t as bad in real life as it is in the pictures. Even Larry Harris listed this as one of his largest complaints in the production version of the game.

Overall Italy should bring some much needed new dynamics to the war in Europe and Africa. It also provides a nice new player slot and the possibility of 3v3 games.


The addition of China is very welcome and was carried out splendidly. A Chinese army made up entirely of infantry very well represents the limited offensive and logistical capabilities of the Chinese army while at the same time allowing them to defend adequately and gain strength if ignored by Japan. The low value and large number of Chinese provinces also correctly represents the difficulty Japan had occupying large amounts of Chinese territory. This increase in Chinese strength and making China independent from the US in terms of IPC was a huge step forward in making the Asian land war more realistic. For the Japanese player it makes it much more challenging though probably less fun as he is now going to face the same issues with diffusion of strength as his historical counterparts.

Naval Balance

The new transport rule will have far more impact on the game than the new cruiser unit. It will make naval operations much more interesting and combat between fleets generally more bloody. I can’t wait to see how naval campaigns play out now.

The new cruiser unit is actually relatively unexciting, despite being touted as one of the game’s main selling points. I’m not sure it was even necessary, since its basically a mini-battleship. The main advantage of cruisers historically was their fast speed combined with long endurance which made them ideal for scouting and escort purposes. This is difficult to represent in Axis and Allies, but I think giving them a speed of 3 would have been the best way, and Larry Harris said he did consider this before rejecting it. I disagree but we will just have to wait and see.


We still don’t have the full list of technologies but already I think the method of obtaining them is improved. There is still a ton of randomness in the system overall which is annoying but I would much rather play with this sytem than any of the previous ones.

Some of the new technologies we do already know about are very cool. The Mechanized Infantry and Improved Artillery techs are especially clever, as they improve the value of tanks and artillery respectively while still maintaining the value of infantry as well.

Strategic Bombing

The strategic bombing system has already been the subject of extensive debate, especially in relation to the technologies that effect it.

Leaving out the discussion of technologies for a moment, I think the system has been greatly improved, and now has more meaning and more options for both sides. Whether or not to bomb, and where, combined with the decision to repair or not repair damage adds much needed depth to the system without overly complicating it. The reduced cost of bombers also makes strategies involving strategic bombing more viable. Capping damage at 2 times the value of the territory makes it costly to repair but also limits the effects of the bombing past a certain point and nicely represents how much more vulnerable dense industrial economies were to strategic bombing. I think the changes have all been for the better.

The technologies associated with strategic bombing complicate things substantially and I am going to have to wait and see how balance works with these.


Axis and Allies is very much a “Design For Effect” game. Very little of what is going on is meant to represent discrete, concrete actions taken by the nations, but the overall feel of the game is intended to loosely represent the flow of WWII as it could have been if the odds between the sides were more even. The single best example is the National Objectives which allows for the simple representation of a number of concepts without complex rules for incorporating them each individually (such as Lend-Lease). In this manner the Anniversary edition achieves this goal far better than any previous edition.

Hardcore wargamers may still not be impressed, and the ahistorical balance between the Axis and Allies is still going to turn away many people who are more historically minded, but overall AA50 has given the series a nice step up in complexity and a very large step up in historical detail.

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El Dorado
155 of 165 gamers found this helpful
“I REALLY love this game!”

This game was released to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its publisher, Avalon Hill and is more advanced than the standard Axis & Allies game.

Whilst there are many variants, this is the version that I would recommend to more experienced players as it encompasses all aspects of the basic game, and gives another level of depth and detail. If you want a medium level World War II strategy game, then this is the one for you. I own nearly all of the A&A games and this one is by far my favourite!

There are several optional rules for more advanced styles of play in this edition and new players may want to try them out one at a time, to avoid getting overwhelmed in the early stages.

There are many differences in the rules and appearance of this title. The map is very large and contains many more game spaces than the original. Battles on the Eastern Front between Germany and the Soviet Union are much more exciting due to the extra territories that can be fought over! Some of the units have changed in cost. There are also more Victory Cities on the map creating heightened strategic possibilities, as well as 3 different victory conditions for winning the game: capture and hold either 13, 15 or all 18 Victory Cities.

The Research & Devolpment phase has been very much improved: There are now twice as many different Technology breakthoughs than before (12 in total), and these have been broken down into two seperate charts: Chart 1 which contains 6x Air & Sea breakthoughs, and Chart 2 which contains 6x Land & Production breakthoughs. Players can choose which which chart they wish to invest in. A research die is still purchased for 5 IPCs (Industrial Production Certificates) and a Research Token is gained. The player can buy as many of these as he/she wishes and then rolls that many dice to try and get a 6. This continues every turn until a breakthrough is achieved. This is a better way of doing it because your money is invested for the future and not squandered as before.

There are now more ways players can earn their cash, and these come in the form of ‘National Objectives’. Each power has a certain set amount of National Objectives, which if completed, will earn that player a boost in income. I really like this new aspect to the game because, with the reduced cost of some of the units, means that players can buy a LOT more units on their turn!

The basic game mechanics are the same. Each player, on their turn, uses monopoly-style paper money (1′s, 5′s & 10′s) to buy their weapons of war – and you can buy everything from Tanks & Infantry right through to Bombers & Battleships – YOU decide what to buy and how to use it to bring about the defeat of your opponents. You can also use some of your cash to invest in and conduct Research & Development, where your units and economy could recieve a substancial boost, giving you that much needed edge over your enemies. But they can also gain the same advantages as you, so try to stay ahead of them!

There are more complex versions of Axis & Allies available, so this is more of an intermediate level experince. I would certainly recommend this title to casual, avid and fanatical gamers alike!

The quality of the board, pieces and components is second to none. First rate quality boards, charts, tables etc. Also, each power comes in its own box with National Control symbol on the front. All in all, a really nice looking product which I am personally very pleased to own!

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El Dorado
108 of 117 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Axis & Allies at it's Peak”

Axis & Allies is a game that needs no introduction. However, for the few who are not familiar with this classic, Axis & Allies is about the epic struggle of world powers during World War II. In this game the forces of the Axis (Germany, Italy & Japan) are in a struggle for worldwide domination with the forces of the Allies (Russia, Britain & the USA). The 50th Anniversary Edition of Axis & Allies (A&A50) game features a huge beautiful map and over 600 hundred playing pieces. The object of the game is to destroy your enemies’ armies and conquer their territory. A&A50 is for 2 to 6 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 5 hours.

The components are very good. The ginormus 24 inch x 46 inch board is mounted and very appealing to the eye. There are over 600 plastic playing pieces consisting of infantry, artillery, tanks, fighters, bombers and various ships! The pieces are sculpted to represent the equipment used by each power during the conflict. Quite a nice touch! There are also thick cardboard tokens, plastic ‘poker chips’, plastic dice and paper money. The rulebook is roughly 25 pages and very well organized, and contains many examples of play.

Set-up for A&A50 will take some time. Each of the six powers starting forces must be placed on the map. Each power also receives its starting income and players must choose a nationality bonus for their respective power. A half hour later, you’re ready to play!

I’m going to skip my usual detailed write-up on the game mechanics. The mechanics in A&A50 have only been tweaked from earlier versions of the game. In a nutshell, players move military units from territory to territory engaging in battles with enemy units and taking control of territory to gain more income, which is used to purchase more units. Battles consist of rolling a die for each unit, with different units hitting on a specific die roll. The game ends when one side has lost all territories or a side controls a certain number of victory cities.

I will focus instead on some of the major changes between A&A50 and earlier versions.

1. The map includes several changes. Yes, the map is much larger. However, it is also broken up into many more territories as well. Eastern Europe has triple the territories which translates into more army maneuvering. An impassable Sahara desert is introduced in Africa confining game play for the most part to North Africa as in the conflict. China has been broken into many more territories making the game much more interesting for the Japanese player. An impassable Himalayan Mountain range now separates India and China which makes it difficult for the Japanese player to conquer India. Sea zones have also undergone some changes which bring about more strategic movement of naval fleets. All in all the map changes are excellent and enhance the game greatly.

2. There are more powers. Italy is its own separate power with units of its own instead of sharing the German units. China is also semi-autonomous and has its own infantry which it can build. I like the way China was implemented in this version as it represents the actual conflict better and presents a fresh angle to the game. On the other hand, Italy is rather boring to play because of their limited ability to purchase certain units and lack of multiple fronts. I usually have new players start with Italy in order to break them in to the game mechanics.

3. New units and revised rules on existing units. This version introduces Cruiser units to sea battles. It’s another ship to contemplate purchasing. While some earlier versions of the game contained Destroyer or Artillery units, this is the first version to include them together. Another major change is the submarine mechanic. Air units must be accompanied by a surface vessel to be able to destroy submarines. This makes submarines a bit more survivable and useful.

Other noteworthy changes include two-hit Battleships and a revamping of the strategic bombing rules. It now takes two hits to destroy a Battleship which makes them very tough. Bombers not only reduce income but also cause damage to factories. The damage must be repaired if the player wants to build future units in that territory.

4. Research & Development is revamped. There are now 12 technologies to obtain! The cost to develop these new technologies is not lost. The player continues rolling for any R&D attempts each turn until success is obtained. The purchase cost of an R&D attempt used to be lost on a failed roll, making R&D extremely expensive. This discouraged the use of the R&D mechanic. Not so anymore!

A&A50 is a relatively easy game to learn and play. However, because of the long playing time I would not recommend this game to casual gamers. It is a medium weight game which can scratch the wargame itch quite nicely.

A&A50 does have some minor issues. Luck rears its ugly head in all Axis & Allies games due to the sheer volume of dice rolled. However, with such volume of dice rolling, each player should see his share of good and bad luck, so it should even out in the long run. A&A50 packs a lot of goodness into one game but it comes at a price. This game requires 5 or 6 hours to play as opposed to 2 or 3 hours for earlier versions. Believe it or not, there are later versions of the game which could take up to 8 hours to play!

The major changes above along with other minor rule tweaks not mentioned makes A&A50 the best version of Axis & Allies. A&A50 is a solid fun game which would be an excellent addition to your collection.

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104 of 147 gamers found this helpful
“The best version of Axis and Allies to date!”

AA50 has to be the best version of Axis and Allies out there.

Approximately a 6 hour play time, technology options, national objectives, UNIQUE Italy sculpts (infantry and tank), 2-6 players and a great sized game board that might actually fit on your dining room table!

More complex than the 1942/revised/classic editions but smaller and shorter than the newer 1940 edition this one is somewhere in between. Not to mention, it’s probably the most balanced, right out of the box, of all the Axis and Allies games!

Sadly, it was a limited production run and has not been available in stores for nearly 2 years now. If you are lucky enough to find a copy for sale, unopened you’re likely to be paying $300+ for it!

There are, however, many ways to replicate this version of the game. Unofficial maps to be printed out are available, and the rules are posted in pdf format right on Avalon Hills website! All you need to do is get ahold of pieces, and you’re set!

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I'm Completely Obsessed
47 of 155 gamers found this helpful
“love this game ”

only one thing to say…. if u ever see it buy it… well worth it i got a copy and it’s awesome i think it’s better than the 1940 2 big maps


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