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Stacking Rules

Examination, Explanation, and FAQ


by Steve Winter

As of the 01/27/2009 Rules Update for Axis & Allies Miniatures, the game has a new, more rigid
stacking rule. The stacking rule is now simpler than before in most ways, but it has enough twists
and turns and makes enough changes to strategy to warrant in-depth examination.
You should, of course, download the entire update linked above, because it includes much vital
information beyond the new stacking rule. This article, however, is only concerned with stacking.
Here's the new rule:

Stacking
(The following Stacking rule supersedes the entire Stacking section of the Advanced (pg. 13) and
Expanded (pg. 18) Rules books.)
"Stacking" refers to the number of units in a hex. The stacking limit applies at all times, except as
noted below.
Stacking with Friendly Units: Three of your units can occupy a single hex. Only one of them
can be a vehicle.
Stacking with Enemy Units: A hex can contain up to three units of each army. Only one of
those six units can be a vehicle.
Aircraft and Obstacle Stacking: Aircraft and obstacles don't count toward the normal stacking
limit, but only one aircraft and one obstacle can occupy a hex. Aircraft and obstacles never
affect, and are never affected by, the stacking of soldiers and vehicles in the same hex.
Stacking While Moving: During your movement and assault phases, you can exceed your
stacking limit by one soldier or vehicle per hex, but never more. At the end of your portion of the
phase, after movement and unit placement are finished, all hexes should be within your stacking
limit. Units in overstacked hexes are penalized (see below).
Penalty for Overstacking: If a hex exceeds your stacking limit at the end of your portion of the
movement or assault phase, after all movement and unit placement are finished, then your
opponent places one face-down hit counter on one of your soldiers or vehicles in that hex. Any
soldier or vehicle in the hex can receive the hit, including one that already has one or two facedown hit counters. A hit counter is placed in every hex where your units are overstacked, not just
those hexes that became overstacked in the current phase.
Overstacking Vehicles: If a hex contains vehicles from both sides, then an overstacking penalty
applies to the player whose vehicle entered last. It also applies to a player who has two vehicles
(or more than three units) in the hex, if those are separate players.

The revised rule makes two significant changes in the way stacking is handled. The first has to do
with moving through hexes, and the second affects the penalty for breaking the limit.

The first thing to keep in mind is that a hex can never be overstacked by more than one of
your units. That applies even during movement. If a hex contains two soldiers and a tank, it's
legally stacked. Another friendly tank can drive through the hex, because that would cause it to be
temporarily overstacked by only one unit. If, however, the hex contains three soldiers and a tank,
it's filled to capacity plus one. No more friendly units can enter that hex for any reason, even just
to drive through. Something needs to leave before the hex becomes passable again.
It's important to understand that there are, effectively, two stacking limits in a hex. The first is for
total number of units (3), and the second is for vehicles (1). A hex is overstacked when either of
those limits is exceeded by 1.
The second thing to keep in mind is that, if you overstack a hex, you will pay a real penalty in
disrupted and damaged units. Overstacking is an option, and there may be times when it's worth
the cost, but it's never free.
Following are FAQs covering examples of the new rule in play.
Stacking with Friendly Units
Here are all the combinations you can have in a fully-stacked or overstacked hex.
Legally Stacked

Overstacked by 1

Soldiers
Vehicles

Soldiers
+
Vehicles

OR

Q1) A hex contains three friendly soldiers. Can a fourth friendly soldier, or a vehicle, enter that
hex?
A) Yes. Another soldier or vehicle will overstack the hex by one unit, which is legal during
movement. If all four remain in the hex at the end of your half of the phase, one of them will take
a face-down hit.
Q2) A hex contains 2 soldiers and a tank. Can another unit enter?
A) Yes. Another soldier or vehicle overstacks the hex by 1 unit.
Q3) A hex contains 1 soldier and 2 vehicles. Can any more friendly units enter?
A) Yes -- 1 more soldier can enter. The hex is overstacked by 1 vehicle, but it contains only 3
units. If 1 more soldier enters the hex, it's still overstacked by 1. The additional soldier doesn't
cause the hex to become overstacked by more than 1 unit, so it's legal for the soldier to enter. No
more friendly vehicles can enter, however, because a 3rd vehicle would create a situation where
the hex is overstacked by 2.
Q4) A hex contains three friendly soldiers. A truck enters the hex, and it's carrying two more
soldiers. Can they dismount?
A) No. The hex becomes overstacked by 1 when the truck enters. Nothing else can enter (and

dismounting falls into that category) until something leaves. If 1 unit leaves, 1 soldier can get off
the truck. If a 2nd unit leaves, then the other soldier can get off the truck. At that point, the hex will
still be overstacked (1 of the original soldiers, 2 more soldiers who got off the truck, and the truck
itself).
Q5) A hex contains 1 soldier and 1 vehicle. A truck enters the hex, and it's carrying two more
soldiers. Can they dismount?
A) One of them can. When the truck enters, the hex becomes overstacked by 1 vehicle. No more
vehicles can enter the hex. It contains only 3 units, however. One of the 2 soldiers can dismount,
because adding 1 soldier to the hex doesn't cause it to become overstacked any more than it
already is. At that point, the hex contains 4 units, so the soldier still on the truck can't dismount
until something else leaves the hex.
Q6) A hex contains 3 soldiers and a tank. Can another unit enter?
A) No. The hex already contains 4 friendly units, which is the maximum.
Stacking with Enemy Units
Here are many of the combinations you can have in a fully-stacked or overstacked hex with both
friendly and enemy units. More combinations are possible when mixing soldiers and vehicles in
an overstacked hex. These examples show two possibilities, one with mostly soldiers and one
with as many vehicles as possible.

Soldiers

Legally Stacked

Overstacked by 1

Vehicles

Soldiers
+
Vehicles

OR

Other combinations are possible.

Q7) A hex contains 3 enemy soldiers. Which of my units can enter that hex?
A) You can move in 3 soldiers or 2 soldiers plus 1 vehicle without overstacking the hex. If you
bring in an extra soldier or vehicle, you will be overstacked in the hex and will take the penalty at
the end of your phase.
Q8) A hex contains 2 enemy soldiers plus 1 enemy vehicle. Which of my units can enter that hex?
A) You can move in 3 soldiers without overstacking. If you bring in a 4th soldier or a vehicle, you
will be overstacked in the hex and will take the penalty at the end of your phase.
Q9) A hex is already overstacked by 3 enemy soldiers and 1 enemy vehicle. Can any of my units
enter that hex?
A) Yes. Without overstacking your units (and taking a penalty), you can move in 3 soldiers. If
you're willing to take the overstacking penalty, you can move in 4 soldiers, or 1 vehicle, or 3
soldiers plus 1 vehicle.
Q10) Why am I allowed to move a vehicle into a hex where my opponent already has a vehicle?
A) Because the stacking rule always speaks in terms of "your" stacking limit. Both players can
exceed their limit by 1 unit. Your opponent's vehicle stacks the hex to its capacity for vehicles. At
that point, your stacking limit for vehicles in that hex is 0. You can exceed your limit by 1 unit,
which means you can bring a vehicle into the hex. You would then be overstacked, because your
vehicle was not the first one in the hex.
Q11) My opponent has 2 vehicles in a hex. Can I move in 1 of mine?
A) Yes, for the same reason as in Q10. The presence of any enemy vehicles in the hex ahead of
yours means that your stacking limit for vehicles in that hex is 0. You can exceed that limit by 1 if
you're willing to take the overstacking penalty. You can't, however, bring more than 1 vehicle into
the hex. Your limit is 0; you can move in 1 vehicle and exceed the limit by 1; but any more than
that would exceed the limit by 2, which is never allowed. Note that in this case, both you and your
opponent would be penalized for overstacking -- you because your vehicle wasn't the first one in
the hex and him because he has 2 vehicles in the hex.
Q12) What happens when enemy and friendly vehicles move in and out of the same hex? How
does the sequence affect which vehicle is considered overstacked?
A) A hex can contain only 1 vehicle without being overstacked. The 'legal' vehicle is always the
first one into the hex. For example (assume that there are no soldiers in the hex) -1. The hex in question contains a lone PzII.
2. An M3 tank enters the hex. The M3 is overstacked and will take a penalty hit.
3. The PzII leaves the hex. The M3 is now the lone vehicle in the hex, so it is not
overstacked.
4. A PzIII enters the hex. The M3 was already there, so the PzIII is overstacked and will take
a penalty hit.
5. An M4 enters the hex. The US player now has 2 vehicles in the hex; his units are
overstacked and will take a penalty hit. The PzIII was not the first vehicle in the hex; it is
overstacked and will take a penalty hit.
6. The M3 leaves the hex, leaving the PzIII and the M4 behind. The PzIII entered the hex
before the M4; it now becomes the legally-stacked vehicle, and the M4 will take an
overstacking hit at the end of the US player's phase.

Defensive Fire
Q13) The enemy has a vehicle in a hex. I enter that hex with one of my vehicles. The enemy
disrupts my vehicle in the hex with defensive fire. Does my vehicle back out of that hex, as
before?
A) No. Your vehicle is disrupted in the hex with the enemy vehicle.
Q14) Can I move another vehicle into that hex, now that the enemy tank has already used its
defensive fire?
A) No. The enemy had a vehicle in the hex first; you brought in a 2nd vehicle, which means that
you're now exceeding your limit for vehicles in that hex. You can't bring in a 2nd vehicle, even to
try to drive through the hex. That hex is impassable to your vehicles until either your other vehicle
gets out or the enemy vehicle leaves.
(Note that entering an enemy vehicle's hex with your own vehicle is very, very risky. If your
vehicle is disrupted by defensive fire in the enemy's hex, your opponent can trap it there and
destroy it with nothing more than overstacking-penalty hits. For example, the enemy disrupts your
tank in his own hex with defensive fire in your assault phase on turn 1. At the end of that phase,
he places a face-down disruption marker on the tank because it's overstacked. That marker flips
face-up in the casualty phase and your tank can't move on turn 2. During turn 2, your opponent
places a face-down disruption marker on the immobile tank at the end of your movement phase
and a face-down damage marker at the end of your assault phase. In the casualty phase, your
tank becomes disrupted and damaged. On turn 3, it will again receive face-down disruption and
damage markers, and in the casualty phase, it will be destroyed. All of this happened as the result
of a single defensive fire attack. No additional attacks were made against your tank. Think hard
about the risks before driving into enemy-held hexes!)
Penalties
Q15) I have 3 soldiers in a hex at the start of my movement phase. During the phase, I move in a
vehicle, so that the hex contains 3 soldiers and 1 vehicle at the end of the phase. Which unit
takes the face-down hit?
A) Whichever one your opponent wants to place it on. The order in which units entered the hex
doesn't matter (except in the case of enemy and friendly vehicles in the same hex). Likewise,
there's no distinction over which units are 'causing' the hex to be overstacked. A hex either is or is
not overstacked. If it is, then your opponent chooses which unit takes the hit. There are no
restrictions on that choice. For example, consider a hex that contains 1 soldier and 2 vehicles.
The hex is overstacked because it contains 2 vehicles -- the soldier isn't 'contributing' to the
overstacking. Your opponent, however, can place the face-down hit on either vehicle or on the
soldier if he prefers.
Q16) Do overstacking-penalty hits stack the same as other face-down hit markers?
A) Yes. A hit from an overstacking penalty is identical to a hit from any attack. For example, a
soldier that receives an overstacking-penalty hit at the end of the movement phase and another
hit from an attack in the assault phase is destroyed in the casualty phase. Likewise, a soldier that
receives 1 overstacking-penalty hit at the end of the movement phase and a 2nd at the end of the
assault phase is also destroyed in the casualty phase.