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A World at War

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A World at War
A World at War (2003) by GMT Games
Publisher(s)GMT Games
Players1-8 (2-6 considered best)
Setup timeLong
Playing time50+ hours
Random chanceMedium-low
Skill(s) requiredStrategy

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A World at War is a board wargame published by GMT Games, simulating World War II in Europe and the Pacific. It is a descendant of Avalon Hill's games Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, Advanced Third Reich and Empire of the Rising Sun.[1] Over time the emphasis of the game system shifted from ahistoric and sometimes far-fetched strategies (pre-1992 versions of the game) to diplomacy (Advanced Third Reich). Empire of the Rising Sun, the Pacific companion game, increased the level of naval detail.

In A World at War the basic core of the land game remains similar to previous versions: quarterly turns, corps sized units, strong emphasis on air power and armoured exploitation, with major powers needing to accumulate and spend Basic Resource Points (BRPs) to pay for most game actions. However, almost every aspect of the game system was overhauled, with major new subsystems added to allow players to study the effect of oil consumption and of changes in a country's armed forces and production strategies.

A World at War is exceptionally complex - articles on previous versions should be read for a fuller explanations of some game system concepts.

Basic Mechanics & Map[edit]

The Axis always move first, whatever the BRP (Basic Resource Point) total, so the double turns which played an important role in strategy (often more in the threat than in reality) no longer take place.

Forest has been added to the map in Scandinavia and parts of northern Russia, impeding movement and armoured exploitation. Other minor alterations to the map - the river Elbe has been added to Germany, whilst the Rhine has been shifted one hex east so that the map can depict the Rhineland, containing Cologne and Mannheim - have less effect on play.

Land Warfare[edit]

Winter effects now apply on the Western and Mediterranean Fronts as well as the Eastern. In the West, including western Poland, winter overruns and exploitation are forbidden, similar to Spring on the Eastern Front. The Mediterranean (except for Africa) has a mild winter, in which armoured exploitation movement is sharply reduced. The severity of the Russian Winter is decided by die roll as before.

The game now distinguishes between fortifications (+1 DM (combat odds modifier) to land and air defence) constructed by players in jungle, city or coastal hexes, and fortresses printed on the map (+2 DM except for the German WestWall). If unsupplied (Malta may be “besieged” by Axis air units) they degrade by 1 DM per turn, but units in a fort are never eliminated due to isolation and always defend at a minimum of face value.

Besides the traditional results (attacker or defender completely eliminated, or an exchange) the combat results table now permits some new results: “a” (attacker loses half the modified value of the defending units), “d” (defender loses half their factors), “Ex-1” (defenders all eliminated, attacker loses strength equal to that of the defence with DM one less than what they actually had) and “Ex-2” (as for the previous, but with DM reduced by two).

Countries now have a Combat Training Level (CTL). Germany and Japan start with CTL 2, the Allies and Russians start with CTL1, and minor countries CTL0. Armour needs CTL1 to exploit half its movement allowance, and CTL2 to exploit fully, whilst paratroops and commandos need CTL2 for use. CTL 2 allows an attack to be renewed for a second round (with a +1 DRM); CTL 3, if obtained by research, would allow attacks to be renewed for a third round.

As before, a faction may still opt for attrition combat, counting up the ground factors (only) in contact on a given front and rolling a single die, but these rules have also been modified. The relative CTL is used as a die roll modifier, as is the difference in the level of Winter Preparation in winter turns. Separate supply zones are attritioned separately (so a country can no longer increase its attrition level by opening up unconnected combat zones), and no nation may lose more units to attrition than she had at the relevant front (i.e. a faction may not take many losses from units held in reserve despite that country only having a few units at the front).

Air Warfare[edit]

Air factors are still inverted after use, counting for zero in combat whilst inverted. However, they are uninverted at the end of each player-turn, not game turn (except newly built air factors redeployed on the turn they are built), making it easier to use air factors to defend key hexes just captured but increasing the amount of air combat which takes place. Replenishing its air force remains one of the most serious drains on a country's resources.

Most air functions - adding (offensive) ground support or defensive air support (DAS) to land combat - remain similar to before. The attacker may commit further air factors to intercept DAS, but other defending factors may now “escort” DAS against interceptors. Air-to-air combat has been revised and is now treated similarly to naval combat: each side simultaneously rolls two dice, killing or aborting enemy factors, with multiple combat rounds possible - the attacker may be reinforced between rounds, whilst the defender may break off after any round by evacuating to another base (and inverting there). Counterair - pre-emptive direct air attacks on enemy air at their bases - is less effective than before: air units defend against counterair even if inverted, and victorious defenders (except those aborted) are not inverted after counterair, and may conduct defensive missions later that player turn.

The game now contains air transport factors (ATP). These are used for airdrops or air supply (each may carry limited supply for one unit), can carry 1 infantry factor or a specialised unit, or 5 BRPs "over the Hump" from India to China. They do not fight back if intercepted, but may be defended by friendly air units in range. Paratroops are now reduced to division-sized units worth 1 combat factor, and can move before dropping. Defenders have +1 DM if solely attacked by paratroops, and paratroops are no longer automatically supplied after dropping.

There continue to be special rules for jet fighters - only available after a high research result - and kamikazes, which cannot defend against enemy aircraft and which pick targets at random (aircraft carriers, then battleships, in order of size and slowness, then light ships as a group, damaged ships first in every category) in the same way as submarines.

For activities at sea each Army Air Factor splits into search, cover and attack squadrons (a naval squadron is a third the size of a land air factor). The rules for air attacks on ports from sea or land have been rationalised. Naval Air Squadrons on carriers in port may be counteraired.

Naval Warfare[edit]

Units and missions[edit]

Rather than the generic naval factors of older versions, AWAW distinguishes between different types of ship. "Destroyers" (DDs) – single factors, representing any ship smaller than a cruiser - conduct most of the functions of the old naval factors, eg. carrying BRPs, oil or ground units - 1 DD per ground factor, or 2 for an opposed invasion. Cruisers - 2-factor counters, presumably representing a single heavy or pair of light cruisers - are used only for combat, sharing the losses with the destroyers. The game includes named battleships, rated between 5 (Yamato, Musashi, USS Missouri), and 2 (Graf Spee), as well as the aircraft carriers added in Empire of the Rising Sun.

Ports now base 50 naval factors (rather than 36 in previous versions). Base changing and offensive missions have a maximum range of 40 hexes in Europe (20 in the Pacific because of the larger scale); most missions must touch on a friendly port every 20 hexes in Europe (10 in the Pacific); 1-hex islands can no longer base naval factors or be used to measure range.

Defensive air support is tripled against seaborne invasions - making invasions beyond air support unfeasible.

Naval patrols continue to play a major role in naval warfare, taking out any enemy air within range of the patrol hex (and any enemy air they pass on their way there) and then giving support for invasions and other friendly activity. Units on patrol may not counter-intercept enemy forces which intercept friendly forces, but may move up to three hexes towards the interception hex before each round of combat. As before, patrols may remain "on station" in the opponent's turn, ready to intercept enemy naval activity.

The probability of interception depends on the activity which is being intercepted, e.g. extra dice are rolled to intercept invasions (especially in the invasion hex) or patrols remaining on station (of which interception is no longer quite automatic). Spotting air factors add extra dice, but slow ships, e.g. older battleships (marked with an orange stripe) and escort carriers, roll one fewer interception die. Whatever the result of the dice roll (halved in the Pacific), the interceptors move that many hexes towards the target and if necessary can roll again if trying to intervene in another naval battle, a single die after each round of naval combat. Naval units may now be intercepted after completing their mission as well as during it.

Naval combat[edit]

If an interception is successful, naval combat ensues. The game system permits large and complex naval battles, involving multiple taskforces and aircraft carriers, to take place - such combat is more common in the Pacific.

Air attack and naval gunfire have been consolidated onto a single table, with two air squadrons more lethal than a normal-sized battleship. In a simplification from Empire of the Rising Sun, a hit result greater than or equal to the number of a ship's factors sinks it, a result one less damages it, whilst any lesser result is disregarded. Large ships are hard to sink but may suffer critical hits - loss of the ship on a freak combat result.

In naval combat, each separate taskforce forms a combat group - taskforces do not split up. Each side rolls one search die for each land-based searching air squadron (up to three, even if all based in the same base), each friendly combat group and each round of fleet combat which has occurred. Each search die rolled “finds” the enemy combat group, if any, to whose number it corresponds (i.e. a roll of “3” finds enemy Combat Group 3). A combat group must be “found” at least once in order to be attacked; if “found” by two or more dice information about its composition must be revealed. Groups which were not found may launch airstrikes first – rolling for surprise if they consist entirely of fast ships - at any found enemy group. Surprise is more likely the more search dice the enemy group has been found by, and less likely the more airstrikes it has already suffered, and if it has radar. Once the hidden groups have finished their airstrikes, found combat groups may each launch airstrikes at any found enemy combat group, the side with the more search results first. Land-based air then attack; land-based air and CAP may defend even if they have already fought that round.

After the first airstrike, a found combat group must engage in fleet combat with the enemy combat group with the same number, if that too has been found. Hidden groups, provided they did not launch a surprise airstrike, may engage any found enemy combat group, although a hidden group containing slow ships may only engage the enemy combat group with the same number, if found. In each fleet combat, battleships face off in order of size, so the side with more battleships may use the surplus ones to fire at light ships before they have a chance to retaliate. Escort carriers are treated as destroyers in fleet combat, their combat factor representing emergency airstrikes. Fast carriers, transports, damaged ships and DD carrying cargo are screened, and may not be fired upon until all other naval units in their group are sunk.

Neither side may withdraw until at least one airstrike or round of fleet combat has occurred, although withdrawal is compulsory after three rounds of combat without a naval unit being damaged or sunk.

Strategic Warfare[edit]

Countries now have force pools for Strategic Warfare (SW) units (submarines and anti-submarine warfare ships (ASW), bombers and interceptors), which are built each turn like any other unit. All available SW units, not just 25% of them, may be used each turn.

Besides SW, submarines (but not ASW) may also engage in normal naval operations on the map. Onboard submarines may operate from ports, may patrol, or may accompany naval units, although they roll 2 fewer interception dice than surface ships. Submarines may attack light ships or a named ship, in which case each submarine factor picks a target at random, being most likely to pick a fast carrier, then a battleship, biggest then slowest first, and damaged ships first in every case.

Strategic Warfare combat is resolved by simultaneous die roll, and the net modifier is applied to each side (in opposite directions). After combat, each surviving SW factor then inflicts further loss on the enemy, increased or reduced by the net SW modifier (or a fraction thereof if no SW factors survived combat).

Only Germany, Japan and the USA (the latter two limited as to the number they may use, increasing throughout the war) may use their submarines for SW. Britain must now trace a convoy route, which may be attacked, from the US to Britain on the European map. Submarines do not reduce enemy BRPs directly, but instead sink Allied and Japanese transports - counters which represent ocean-going shipping. Most naval units do not directly participate in submarine warfare, but Allied (not Japanese) destroyers may permanently convert to ASW or transports. Loss of transports to surface raiders and submarines, besides the cost of rebuilding them, inflicts a BRP penalty for falling below minimum transport levels in the relevant ocean box, and reduces a country's ability to move units and oil through ocean boxes (only some of the transports in the relevant ocean may carry oil).

Strategic bombers require a high research result to build, but Britain and the USA qualify from the start. They must bomb a specific target on the map, inflicting direct BRP damage. Interceptors, jets and air factors in range may escort bombers to share the losses from combat, while defending air factors within range, using radar if they have it, may engage the bombers before they reach their target. 25 BRPs bombing damage on a hex creates a firestorm, which gains a Diplomacy Point for the attacker and, if inflicted on Japan, increases the chance of that country surrendering.

Construction & Redeployment[edit]

Major powers, apart from China, have a Unit Construction Limit (UCL) of 1/3 of their economic base. A third of BRP grants each turn are added to the UCL of the recipient country and deducted from the grantor's. The relevant UCL is reduced for BRPs lost to Axis attritioning of the Australia, India or Urals box, or to bombing, flying bomb (V1) or rocket (V2) attacks, or to British (not US or Japanese) transport losses below required levels.

Units which were eliminated voluntarily or due to isolation may be rebuilt in the same turn for double BRP cost. Specialised units (e.g. paratroops) may be rebuilt after a 1–turn delay.

Countries' force pools are increased by "mobilisations". When a major power conducts a mobilisation, it receives BRPs and also chooses units up to a certain BRP value to add to its forcepool (some types of unit, e.g. armour, take a year or two to appear). Britain and Italy each mobilise once, early in the game. Other powers mobilise several times, before and after they enter the war: Japan mobilises four times, Russia five, whilst the USA mobilises twelve times in each theatre. Countries may also augment their forcepools by spending research points on "production". These additions to the forcepool are a distinct process from spending the BRPs to bring units from the forcepool onto the map.

There is no production or mobilisation of naval units, of which construction is limited only by shipyard capacity (which may itself be increased by either mobilisation or production). Each shipyard is tracked separately. Each generates shipbuilding points (SBP) each turn, needed to build or repair a naval factor on top of the BRP cost. For each SBP generated in a port each turn, an equal number of naval factors may be stored “under construction”. A named ship may be delayed (perhaps indefinitely as Britain did with the Lion class battleships) to use SBP on light ships instead, or scrapped altogether to free up capacity. Only half, rounded up, of US and British SBP, tracked separately for each theatre, may be spent on light ships. Big ships take several years to build, but may be accelerated by paying extra. Before she goes to war the USA may lay down one fast carrier for each one carrier under construction which is launched, or each new one laid down by Japan (or Germany, who begins the game with the Graf Zeppelin under construction).

National limits on Strategic Redeployment (SR) have gone – instead each country may send and receive 2 units and 5 air factors each turn from each objective it controls. Major powers (but not France or China) may build one railhead per turn on a non-objective city to use it as a base for SR; the railhead may not be moved or destroyed, and may be used by the enemy if captured. Before SR any supplied air or ground unit not adjacent to an enemy may tactically redeploy (TR) up to its movement capability (reduced by terrain and weather) irrespective of front boundaries, and those which SRd may TR a second time afterwards. This gives players much more flexibility, whilst limiting SRs to remote parts of the map.

Oil & Economics[edit]

Besides those in Rumania and the Dutch East Indies, oil centres – each with a printed number, showing how many oil counters they produce each turn - have been added in the USA (unlimited), Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus. Each faction (Allies, Russians, Germans and Japanese) must expend one oil counter to offset each of the five oil effects: full use of air, naval, or armour units, UCL halved except for BRP grants received from another power, and economic (10% of the base permanently lost). A faction thus needs at least 5 oil counters each turn to operate at full capacity, and another 3 for full use of land, sea and air units in each separate supply zone – the Allies need to transport oil from the USA. Major powers may keep off-map oil reserves, which they may increase by voluntarily taking oil effects.

Much of major powers' economic bases are linked to Key Economic Areas. Germany's entire starting base of 150 BRPs consists of KEAs (50 of them in Berlin), so Germany can no longer continue the war after losing all her major cities.

Unlike in previous versions of the system, Strategic Warfare losses no longer reduce a country's base, but deficit spending (only allowed for Germany, Japan, Britain and the USA) does. Most countries now start the game in Fall 1939 with less than a full year's supply of BRPs. BRP gains and losses from diplomacy and conquests each turn are pro-rated: 75% in summer, 50% in fall, 25% in winter. In the construction phase a power may "scorch" the prorated BRPs of a conquest, leaving it worth 0 BRPs until the start of the next year.

Permitted US pre-war BRP grants to Britain increase with the level of US-Axis tensions. The Allies may send oil and up to 50 BRPs per turn to Russia: 20 BRPs via Murmansk (5 BRPs after the first full Axis offensive against Russia and rising each turn thereafter), 10 BRPs via an Allied-controlled Turkey, 10 BRPs via Persia, and 10 BRPs via Alaska (halved if Japan is at war with Russia or controls Vladivostok or Dutch Harbor). The Persian and Alaskan routes each need 25 BRPs to open.

Research & Production[edit]

All major powers except China receive Research Points (RPs) each year (including 1939) - both a basic allowance and extra for their BRP total and growth.


Each faction (the European Axis going first then Allies, Russians and Japanese), may roll for one project in each category (air, naval, land, intelligence or atomic) each turn, provided it contains at least one friendly RP; as RPs expire with use, this means that a faction cannot roll twice for the same project in a single year. Research projects are rolled for by code-name; to increase the chances of steady research progress rather than a wildly lucky or unlucky result, the middle of three die rolls is taken, whilst in the Second Edition, under certain circumstances a poor result may be increased by reallocating unused RPs from another project in the same category. A player may also conduct "General Research" in a category, which may generate a positive modifier for all projects in that category. No more than half of a faction's Research Points (RPs) may be put in a single category each year, and no more than 3 RPs (increased by 1 for each general research breakthrough in that category) in a single project.

Some results prevent further research in that area, whilst others generate a modifier for future research. Some must be announced to be effective (so atomic rockets or super-subs cannot be unleashed entirely without warning) and are normally implemented immediately, although some projects generate results which must be implemented a turn at a time (e.g. V1 flying bombs, then V2 rockets – the bases for these are secret installations, which may not be bombed or destroyed until revealed by espionage). In order to prevent the game being skewed by a wild result to the Battle of the Atlantic, there are restrictions on the numbers of RPs which may be placed in ASW, torpedo and submarine research early in the war, whilst players are also restricted as to how quickly they may begin atomic research.

Land, Sea and Air[edit]

Research categories include CTL, winter preparation, German occupation policies in the Ukraine, heavy armour, the German National Redoubt in Berchtesgaden, torpedoes, submarines, harbour attacks, air DRM, air range (which affects submarine warfare), radar, bombers, synthetic oil, rockets and jets. Germany starts with a research advantage in jets and rockets, Japan in torpedoes, and the Allies in air range, strategic bombers and radar.


Intelligence Research includes communist subversion of Balkan countries, which may cause a German reaction roll for the other potential targets. Pro-Axis Russian, Chinese and Indian units may be obtained by research but may not be rebuilt if lost (Indians may also be added for control of Indian and Burmese objectives). Moslem unrest may allow Germany to build partisans in Egypt (Wafdists) or the Middle East. Allied and Russian research may increase their partisan force pool for a region, up to the limit in the Minor Country force pool (Russia may build 2 partisans per turn, including in Eastern Poland, 1 of them for free).

Espionage allows each faction to place one spy ring in each research area for each enemy faction, where it reveals information about research projects and secret installations. A spy ring in a minor country reveals all enemy Diplomacy Points (DPs). Spy rings may be eliminated by an opposing spy ring. Germany, Britain and Russia (only) may conduct covert operations against a diplomatic target (so a faction should spread its DPs thinly to allow some presence in key countries) - to negate but not eliminate enemy DPs. Research may also negate an enemy covert operation, or reduce the effect of a harbour attack.

Britain and Germany (Ultra) and the US and Japan (Magic) each have 8 codebreaking cards, and may get more by research. Each draws 4 cards per turn – a Magic draw also happens after war breaks out between the US and Japan. Cards may give an advantage to: submarines, ASW, fleet combat, naval interception. Some are wild cards (US Magic only – may be used as any other) or blank. Some cards may be negated by the enemy playing an opposite one (ASW after submarines), or a similar one (fleet combat or naval interception).


Only Germany, the US and Russia may research the atomic bomb, and this takes several stages, including controlled reaction and either plutonium production or uranium separation. Success creates a bomb 2-6 turns later, and another every 2 turns thereafter. An atomic bomb may be delivered by bomber, or alternatively by rocket or by a German submarine (for either of which a very high research result is needed). An atomic attack on an objective does at least 25 BRPs damage; under some circumstances tactical attacks, where the bomb is deemed to be used on the ground in a battle, may also be made.


Production (increasing a country's forcepool by RPs - a distinct process from spending BRPs to construct the units and place them on the map) involves no luck, but the cost rises incrementally if several increments of the same thing are produced at once, reduced for each general research breakthrough in that area. Later in the game, as breakthroughs accumulate, force pool additions by production get larger. By late in the game, the Western Allies may have 25-30 RPs per year, enabling them to develop the atomic bomb, as well as increase their air DRM (which is affected by a favourable radar research result, giving the Allies a further advantage) and CTL and produce huge fleets of strategic bombers.


Diplomacy takes place in 1939 as well as in subsequent years. The USA receives extra DPs as US-Axis Tensions rise. Each country may allocate 1/3 (rounded up) of its DPs to a single target. Allies, European Axis and Russians (there is no diplomacy in the Pacific) may roll for a single country each turn, provided a friendly DP has been placed in it (a country can normally be named only once in a year) – in addition to activating one DP in US-Axis Tensions each turn (DPs may not be placed in Russo-German Tensions), and making reaction rolls for Norway, Spain (the Germans get a favourable modifier if the Allies attack Portugal), Vichy France and Balkan countries as appropriate. Russia may only allocate DPs to Balkan and other neighbouring countries.

A small random element has been added to US-Axis Tensions and US-Japanese Tensions (but not Russo-German Tensions) so it is harder to keep the USA neutral by “gaming” the table. Germany may declare war on the US, as in reality, for free, gaining a two-turn “happy time” for her U-boats. Japan may declare war on the US for free, but if so must pay to declare war on Britain (if she declares war on Britain alone this sharply accelerates USJT and US mobilisation). The USA may declare war on Japan for free, if allowed by US-Japanese Tensions - this puts Britain at war with Japan as well.

The minor country diplomatic tables have been standardised, with high numbers for pro-Axis results. Favourable results may gain the relevant major power BRPs, hex control (a limited number of the major power's units may trace supply through and remain in the minor country), association (which also results from an attack by an enemy major power), or full activation as a minor ally. The controlling major power may now only rebuild 1 armour unit and 1 AAF each turn; minor allies and associated minors may rebuild a single infantry unit of up to 2 factors each turn for free, so the Rumanian army is harder to rebuild if lost in Russia. Minor countries may still switch sides by diplomatic roll, as Rumania did in 1944.

Iraqi and Persian forces (like those of Egypt) now consist of partisans rather than infantry, easing Britain's Middle Eastern defence burden somewhat.

Anybody may declare war on Belgium and Luxembourg, or Denmark and Norway, as single entities. Denmark no longer has any units, and is deemed to have surrendered at the start of the turn on which she is attacked, so the attacker (i.e. Germany) may place an airbase on her soil. Iron ore shipments from Sweden to Germany are disrupted if Sweden becomes anti-German (a loss of 5 BRPs from her UCL), and are shipped via Norway in winter and spring (because of ice in the Baltic Sea) so are disrupted if the Allies control Bergen, or mine Norwegian waters - if done against Norway's will this reduces US-Axis Tensions (i.e. making the USA less likely to join the Allies), increases future Norwegian rolls by 1, and allows Germany a reaction die roll. This disruption ends if Germany gains diplomatic or military control of Norway. Norway is also important for German atomic research. Finland may be a German diplomatic target at any time, even if no DPs have been placed there.

Country Notes[edit]


The three pocket battleships, including the Graf Spee, may start the game already at sea raiding and she gets an automatic harbour attack in Fall 1939 - the one which sank HMS Royal Oak in reality. Germany has the advantage of higher CTL in the early years, and suffers reduced losses from combat exchanges ("Ex" treated as "Ex-1") against Poland and in her first two offensives in the west (no later than Summer 1940). However, some of Germany's other attacking potential in the early years has been curbed: Germany may not attack in the West or Mediterranean, nor declare war on minor countries, in Fall 1939, and must now pay for her opening offensive against Poland. All replacement units begin the game on the map, making other countries less vulnerable to unanticipated attacks on their opening setup. Winter effects in the West and Mediterranean will stymie a German attack on France in Winter 1939, and effectively prevent a quick German conquest of Spain & Gibraltar in Winter 1940 after the Fall of France.

The 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions are shown as separate units, giving more flexibility in North Africa. Germany starts the game with a 10 BRP economic interest in Russia, which ends when Russo-German Tensions reach 45; this does not affect the Russian BRP level. The pockets of encircled units which play so large a role in the game have their situation eased somewhat, as any supplied unit may now move one hex per turn regardless of terrain, oil or weather, and encircled units, even if unsupplied, can now make a free counterattack and be rebuilt in the same turn even if lost to lack of supply. The BRP value of many conquered territories has now been reduced, whilst BRPs from conquered countries do not directly increase Germany's UCL, putting great strain on her ability to rebuild destroyed units.

Germany surrenders if Berlin (or Berchtesgaden if the National Redoubt has been obtained by research) is occupied or under an atomic attack marker – not a firestorm - and her surrender level (her DP level less the number of firestorm and atomic attack markers, as well as -2 for the first atomic attack, -3 for the second, etc.) is less than zero, or else if all her hexes are Allied- or Russian-controlled or under an atomic attack marker. Germany now “wins” the game by surviving longer than in reality, rather than conquering Britain or the USSR as in older versions.


Italy may not enter the war in Fall 1939, or after the USA enters the war. Whilst neutral, she may only declare war on Greece, Yugoslavia and Vichy French colonies. Her forces – air, armour and infantry – are weaker than in previous versions. She may not grant BRPs to Germany, nor may Italian units be lent to Germany (so Italy must pay to use her small forces on the Eastern Front). Ethiopia, conquered by Italy in 1935-6, is shown as a mapboard box (worth 0 BRPs) containing Italian infantry at the start, and surrenders if it contains three times as many Allied factors as Axis. Italian surrender is more likely if Italy entered the war in 1941 or later, and less so if the Allies declared war on Italy; the Italian Surrender Level (ISL) determines whether Germany or the USA gain surface ships and (unbuilt) Italian infantry, and can be influenced by Allied DPs.


France has only five air factors, but a few more infantry units than in previous versions, and may surrender voluntarily after Fall 1940. The French Surrender Level (FSL) will be higher (i.e. a stronger Vichy and weaker Free France) the more French objectives Germany controls, the bigger the French fleet, or the earlier it happens, and is reduced for the size of the French army still on the map, or if Anglo-French co-operation is in effect. The British get a Free French infantry corps for each liberated French colony and a Free French armour corps after Paris has been liberated.


British forces are weaker in the early war than earlier versions of the system - her main armour corps arrive late in the game and, like Italy, she is limited in the number of infantry units she may produce each year - but is required to build lots of strategic bombers. Canada, South Africa, Australia and India have distinct counters. Australia has her own UCL, and is restricted as to the forces which must be used in Australia, elsewhere in the Pacific, or sent to the Mediterranean or Ethiopia. Similar rules apply to India, where Britain must also deploy a garrison until Japan enters the war.

United States[edit]

The USA starts at 100 BRPs, but when fully mobilised her base will be at least 700 BRPs, and probably nearer 1,000 BRPs when growth is included. The USA must keep naval forces in the Atlantic until at war with Germany. A “US election”, affecting both theatres, occurs after the 1945 YSS (i.e. the November 1944 Presidential Election, which in reality saw Roosevelt comfortably re-elected, but which might have seen the USA call off an unpopular or inconclusive war). An “election”, representing a Congressional review of foreign policy and possibly only affecting the European theatre, also occurs after an atomic attack on the USA (which may cause the US to drop out altogether, or may galvanise US opinion and lift all restrictions on US participation), or a British or Russian surrender.


For her opening attack Japan may send a special taskforce to attack air and naval units in Pearl Harbor; a second strike (with the option of hitting the oil reserves), will have no surprise and runs the risk of interception. Now that the game system no longer permits double turns the opening Japanese double-turn is replaced by Allied paralysis in the following player-turn. Japanese surrender is now more likely if her cities have been firestormed or if she has many unbuilt units, possibly as her UCL has been reduced by oil shortage.

A Russo-Japanese Tension table was abandoned during development. The USSR may cut her Manchurian garrison (the old “Siberian” reinforcements of the winter of 1941-2) if Japan reduces hers, if Germany is at war with Russia or if the USA imposes an oil embargo on Japan. Russia may declare war on Japan if her garrison BRP value is twice that of Japan, if Japan's is less than 30 BRPs or Germany has surrendered.


A Russo-German Tension Table has replaced Russian Reaction rolls. German aggression in the west and penetration of minor countries bordering Russia increase RGT. Russia may now occupy Eastern Poland without a declaration of war. Finnish and Rumanian resistance to border demands is now determined by a die roll, so Russia should demand Bessarabia early in 1940 before tensions are too high. Higher RGT allow Russia to subvert Balkan countries, to declare war on bordering minor countries (if Germany has an economic interest she may require Russia to declare war on Germany or else back down and lose her interest), then stop sending oil, and ultimately declare war on Germany.

Like US-Axis and US-Japanese tensions, Russo-German tensions allow a window for the historical surprise Axis attack. Russia is required to deploy the bulk of her ground and air forces within four hexes of the border, making their destruction more likely. During the initial surprise attack their movement allowance is reduced, armoured zones of control inflict less restriction on the Germans and infantry attacked by German armour fights at -1 DM (i.e. at face value in clear terrain), whilst the air force fights at -1 DRM. The ground warfare restrictions do not apply to Russian units in the Finnish and Romanian border hexes, encouraging the Germans to make their main attack from Poland.

Russia's base grows by a percentage equal to the level of Russo-German Tensions (50% once at war) each year. Russia adds Industrial Centres from mobilisation and may add more by production - a new IC may be added as a Urals oil centre. ICs may no longer be redeployed, but Russia may destroy 1 per turn (not the ones in Moscow, Leningrad or Stalingrad), gaining 2 RPs towards the cost of producing the next one. They can be used for supply, losing 5 BRPs per turn until eliminated. ICs count as part of the economic base for unit construction, giving the Russians a huge Unit Construction Limit. The addition of forests makes the area between Leningrad (now a swamp instead of a printed fortress) and Moscow easier to defend. The late-war Russians are stronger than ever before, with ICs rising to a value of 25 BRPs (provided Germany attacked Russia), extra air factors and Guards Tank Armies as strong as US or SS armoured corps; the second edition allows Russian infantry "Shock" Armies to overstack.


Several small scenarios are provided: North Africa, the Battle of the Atlantic & Barbarossa in Europe; in the Pacific Coral Sea, Midway and Leyte are as before, although Pearl Harbor has gone. Further Pacific scenarios (Guadalcanal, Singapore, Imphal & Cartwheel) are available on the game's website, as is a 1941 scenario and scenarios for the Eastern Front after 1942, and the Spanish Civil War. Europe or the Pacific may be played separately (Allied BRPs are assumed to be infinite in Pacific-only scenarios) or linked to form Global War; any of these may be played with the historical countermix or with research and production. The scenarios starting in 1940, 1942 and 1944 have been dropped.


  1. World At War, A. BoardGameGeek. Retrieved on 9 November 2008.

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