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Gerd Von Rundstet

OVERVIEW

Germany

Adolf HitlerGermany starts with the most powerful army of all. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be quite enough as all three allies will converge on Fortress Europe with everything they have. The first turn is the one that makes or breaks the game for the Axis: you have to sink as many allied ships as possible (with your priority on the british), retake any territory that the Soviet Union may have captured, take as much as you can in Africa before you lose the Mediterranean fleet, and fortify the European mainland. Since you don't have enough forces to do all that, you will have to make some difficult choices and push your luck some. On subsequent turns, you will have to adopt the same general attitude as the soviets: stay on the defensive, and pile up the infantry. Rebuilding a naval force would be ideal, but since about all your revenues goes in infantry and armor, this is usually nothing more than a daydream. Try to conserve your fighters, they will be capital when the landings start in Europe. Germany's greatest asset is their great number of tanks, which should be used to maximum efficiency by using strafing tactics.

Japan

Hideki TojoThe name of the game for Japan is expansionism. Your first task is to wear down the US forces, both on the sea and in Asia. Then you buy both infantries and transports, and undertake the conquest of Asia. This have to be done as quickly as possible: the sooner you put pressure on the russian capital, the sooner you will relieve some pressure off Germany. Later, an industrial complex or two will be needed to provide armor to the front, but make sure your position in Asia is firmly secured first. When that's done, your revenue will have nearly doubled, and you will want to start building bombers to wear the russians down. Make good use of your fleet, by expanding in the Pacific and then eventually in Africa, so as to build an economic base and force the Allies to face the threat of Magic 84. Once you have taken all you can in Asia and started to build some bombers, your fighters won't be much use there, so you can move them to Europe to help Germany in defending their mainland

BIDDING

Bidding is a variant conceived as a means to determine who plays the Axis and the Allies (instead of just drawing lots or flipping a coin), but also and more importantly to even out the odds for the Axis. At the start of the game, both players secretly decide how much value in industrial certificates they want to bid for the Axis: say one bids 10, and the other bids 15: the bid can be either extra units and/or certificates. The bids are then sent to a third party (generally an auto-bid server) and then compared: the player with the lowest bid gets to play the Axis, and places his bid units right at the start of the game. Another method is open-bid: one player proposes a bid (“I bid 18”); the other decides then either to play the Allies, or to lower the bid. You can only bid units on territories you control at start, or on sea-zones adjacent to those territories; no cross-bidding is allowed (i.e. german units on japanese territories).
The trick is then to balance your bid between how much you think you need to assure victory and how much you think you can afford to give away to your opponent. There is no limit on the amount of the bid and negative bids are perfectly legal (but quite foolish, I might add), but experience shows that the odds tend to even out between the Axis and the Allies with bids numbering around between 16 and 21. Bids can be placed just about every which way you choose, but the majority fall into four categories: african, asian, european and naval bids. Which particular course depends largely on the style of your strategy, but all-european bids (Eastern Europe or Ukraine) are the most widely used and are generally considered the safest option. There is no such thing as an ideal bid in my mind, but my personnal favorite is 4 or 5 infantries in East Europe, and 2 infantries in Libya, adding one or two extra industrial certificates according to the spur of the moment; the most common bid around tends to be 6 infantries in Eastern Europe though.
One final word: beginning players will have a tendency to try to cover everywhere at once and scatter their bid around, i.e. 1 infantry in Manchuria, 2 in Libya, 1 in Finland, etc. Avoid this at all costs: your bid will be much more efficient if you concentrate it. Try to think of a general goal when you place the bid: if your plan asks for a rapid overtake of Asia for example, place the most of your bid in Manchuria or Indochina-Burma. As a rule of thumb, your bid should be placed all on one or split between two territories.

STRATEGIES

The Axis have little choice but to strike early and put their all their faith in a few rolls at start. Time is against them, so they basically have to avoid being drawn in a war of attrition. They have two basic approaches: Kill Russia First (KRF), or try to expand as fast as possible on the expense of the British and go for Magic 84 (KBF).

The Karelia Crusher (KRF)

The most reckless approach, without a doubt. The idea is simply to make a strong bid in Eastern Europe, then send everything but the kitchen sink against Karelia: planes, tanks, infantry, anything within reach. You then hope that enough of your units will survive to attack Russia on round 2; if not, prepare to retreat your armor back to Germany. This strategy should only be considered if the soviets have stacked all their forces in Karelia after their initial turn.
Pros: The only real advantage is you can win the game right on turn 2. If all goes well, UK will be unable to deplete much of your invading forces in Karelia, and Russia will have but 8 or 9 inf at most to try to hold on to Russia. What's better, your opponent will be powerless to stop it no matter how good is strategy is; the only help he can have is from his british planes, which you can try to deplete with your own Japanese fighters in Manchuria and Indochina-Burma, as well as the bomber in Japan. This strategy is a great equalizer, enabling a beginner to surprise a more experienced and higher ranked player.
Cons: The drawbacks are numerous and obvious: you can lose the game even faster than you were trying to win it. Even average rolls can put your plans in jeopardy: sure, you will have secured Karelia, but you won't be able to follow through with your attack on Russia for lack of infantry; worse, the british will have weared them down. Even worse, you will have nothing much left to protect the homeland, and will have to contend with a powerful fleet ready for the invasion right away. This whole scheme is a flip of the coin, and most experienced players will tend to avoid it (unless USSR had terrible dice on their initial attack, making the odds right), preferring to rely more on strategy than blind luck.

The Karelian Anschluss (KRF)

A variation of the preceding approach, and a more cautious one. As before, you bid in Eastern Europe and attack Karelia, but with ground troops only: you send your planes against the Royal Navy as usual; meanwhile Japan will install a pipeline into Manchuria and Burma. On turn 2 or 3 you move the tanks back in Germany, and start packing the infantry in Karelia. From then on you start to build up a sufficient force to try and overtake Russia, ideally with some help from Japan in Asia. Putting all this in motion might just not be possible if you had bad luck against the initial russian attacks, so you may have to consider another alternative.
Pros: While putting the pressure early on against the soviets and getting some extra revenues from Karelia, you're also able to delay the allied landing plans at least two or more turns, and they probably will devote much of their efforts in retaking Karelia, so they can start sending land troops to reinforce Russia before it's too late; that means defending Western Europe will be much easier. Also, this strategy gives you the opportunity to recover if things don't initially go as planned.
Cons: There will come a time if the game lasts long enough that you may have to consider surrendering your position in Karelia. This territory has a way of becoming a psychological trap for the Germans, giving them a false sense of security and making them commit everything to hold it at all costs, at the expense of other priorities such as the western front for example: I've seen the Axis fall down quite a few times because of that. The other drawback is that you're gonna need Japan to quickly overtake Asia, otherwise the Russian will be able to stand on their own.

Asian colonialism (KRF)

The idea is still the conquest of Moscow, but this time the job falls on Japan's lap. While Germany takes a defensive stance, stacking the brunt of their forces in Eastern Europe and trying to take as much of Africa as they can with the forces present, Japan will get to work early and unload everything they can in Asia: try to take Soviet far East and Yakutsk on the first turn. Thereafter you will keep on expanding as much as you can, investing your revenues into more infantries and transports to establish a pipeline. After 4 or 5 turns, consider a factory or two in either India, Burma or Manchuria according to the situation; those will produce armor. When Novosibirsk is secured, you start stacking your forces there. Ultimately, the last turn or two will see Japan purchasing only bombers (with possibly some tech rolls) in prevision of the final assault.
Pros: The main advantage of this strategy is that you either can win by taking Moscow, or by way of Magic 84. It also allows Germany to defend its mainland more efficiently as Allied revenue starts going down with each japanese conquest. It is a more low-risk course of action for the Axis, less dependant on the roll of the dice.
Cons: This will all come down to a race between the Allies on Berlin, and the Axis on Moscow: usually the Allies win. Without german presence in Karelia, the soviets will have much more leeway in their defensive actions, and will have access to reinforcements from both the US and UK troops. And this is another attrition-based approach, so the unit-lock bug will still haunt you.

African colonianism (KBF)

Here the plan is to spread your conquest as wide as possible before the americans had time to transport sufficient forces; the goal is economic victory. The bid will be either european or african, but a asian bid is also a viable option: try to put another armour and infantry in Libya, maybe more. Africa is the key to success in this approach. You have to storm it as early as possible, first by unloading as much german forces as you can before losing the mediterranean fleet, then establish a pipeline from Japan to Indochina-Burma to the Red Sea to unload as many forces as you can spare. At the same time, keep up the expansion in Asia (with one industrial complex in either Burma or India), and don't forget the Pacific islands as well. Ideally, Africa should be conquered mainly by Germany; that last surviving infantry or armour can do the job, with japanese forces providing cover. Germany will need to be very aggressive against english shipping; it is mandatory that the two battleships be sunk; the submarine in the mediterranean is another priority.
Pros: This is the most flexible approach: you always have the possibility to switch approaches if things don't go that well in the beginning. Even if you always come short of 84, the revenue will still be of great help, particularly for Japan, which will become powerful enough to become a big threat against Moscow. It also gives you the option to try to roll for weapon developments. And finally, you might force the americans to commit costly or even suicidal landings in Western Europe, draining their forces away. Because it gives many options and tend to favor strategy over the luck of the dice, this is generally the preferred approach for experienced players.
Cons: This strategy is somewhat more complicated than the previous ones: it depends on how well you manage your japanese transports for maximum efficiency; ideally, no transport should ever spend a turn without unloading some fresh troops somewhere. When to take Australia, when and where you build your first industrial complex, how much you spent for weapon developments if any will all be tough decisions. And even if Japan becomes an powerhouse, it doesn't mean that Germany will be immune to invasion.

Isoroku Yamamoto

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