Axis & Allies: Mistborn Edition

What if Mistborn existed during WWII? How might a Mistborn's special abilities turn the tide in the military conflicts of 1942?

The answers may surprise you.

What the heck is a Mistborn? Find out here.

First allow me to preface that our family could not be accurately characterized as war-buffs. We are a bunch of board-game nerds and our son and I in particular enjoy strategy games. What game cupboard is complete without a copy of Axes & Allies? It affords a pretty much endless variety of gameplay, so we’ve been playing on and off for several years.

One day our son asked me: what if there was a Mistborn unit in the game?

We had a blast designing the unit’s capabilities:

  • Attacks and defends at 5
  • Takes 2 hits like a Battleship
  • Can blitz and move like a Tank
  • Takes an infantry slot on a Transport but can participate in sea battles that involve the transport

These are the most radical:

  • Once, before each conflict, even before bombardments and AAA rolls, each Mistborn unit rolls 3 dice representing its "Emotional Allomancy". For each hit (remember they roll for 5) a single enemy unit must retreat to a friendly territory. In the absence of any territory to which it could conceivably make a legal non-combat move, it is eliminated from the game.
  • Before any attack roll within a conflict, the player controlling a Mistborn may elect to withdraw the Mistborn to a friendly territory within legal range.
  • Cost 100 credits

How does it play out?

Each power begins the game with a single Mistborn deployed at its capital. Unsurprisingly they are very flexible units and can be used in a variety of ways, but they are not invincible.

In one game, I tried a strategy of saving up for a bunch of Mistborn units. This turned out to be ineffective. At 100 credits, the opportunity cost of the other units you sacrifice, is too great. Plus, I lost 3 Mistborn in a manoeuvre we call the "Mistborn Trap".

Note that a Mistborn is very hard to eliminate from the board, due to its special ability to retreat during a conflict. However, it is a land unit. If you can remove all exit routes prior to attacking the territory on which it is currently deployed, then it will have no legal route to retreat.

Our son did this when, playing Axes, I had sent a group of Mistborn and Tanks blitzing around deep into North America. The US’s ability to deploy large forces at its industrial complexes allowed it to catch up with me. After recapturing all adjacent territories I got hit with enough firepower that I lost all units, including the Mistborn, despite their powers. It took many turns though, and was a blast to experience!

Tips and Tricks

The most powerful feature of the Mistborn units has proven to be the "Emotional Allomancy". A conflict can easily be turned with the reduction of 2 or 3 units. Post the Mistborn on a transport and you have entirely novel ways to maintain a sea presence. For example the ability to force 2 or 3 attacking vessels to retreat is more impactful than one might first guess.

They can be paired on a transport with a Tank. Rolling at 5, they contribute to all kinds of new possibilities in terms of amphibious attacks. Solo, they can go blitzing about collecting credits practically for free, because they can withdraw if attacked.

Watch out for the "Mistborn Trap" though ;)

If you haven’t read the Mistborn series, I highly recommend it. If you also enjoy Axes & Allies, this modification will make you love the game all over again.