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Axis & Allies: WWI 1914» Forums » Strategy

Subject: CP strategy and game design rss

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Neil Willis
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I have played scores of AA1914 games now and I am certain that this game is superbly designed. I have read many posts here suggesting the game heavily favors the allies, but I disagree completely. Like most of these A&A games, it is like a puzzle for both sides that takes experience and repetition to solve.

The CP actually have a small advantage early (in my opinion)...but they have to play perfectly in the first 5 turns.

This opinion also assumes no more than two or three players and thus complete unity of command on the CP side (critical).

I have found that the allied player(s) will typically concentrate the French army on turn 1 (vs. the heavy German concentration in Switz) while mobilizing both Belgium and Portugal, mobilize Arabia and attempt Persia and TJ with the Brits, mobilize Romania - attack Mesopotamia, and concentrate the Russian army in either Belarus or Ukraine while attacking the Turk fleet, and land Libya in Albania to create a new front for Italy (assuming the Austrian didn't move the fleet to SZ17 and thus prevent the loading on Italy's first turn). Africa is up to a handful of early dice.

In my experience, a carefully crafted Austrian/German combo eastern offensive will put the Russians out by turn 4 or 5 (depending on the Russian movements - which can either intentionally avoid or contribute to the revolution).

Because all the reserves have to go east if the Russians are going to be beaten without the Germans running out of units, the German player has to play a perfect defense in the west, tying the front together by taking Switz turn 1 and transferring at least 6 infantry to augment the Austrian position in Venice on turn 2 (The Austrians can't hold Italy alone, especially if the Albanian thing happens). The German also must destroy the Brit fleet in SZ9 turn 1 to close the amphibious door to the Brits. The defense may require the German to shift forces and concentrations - even give up ground to quicken reinforcement from Berlin and extend French concentration time.

No one can get cute and purchase naval assets (especially the Turks - who can hold off the Brits for the first 4 turns in a contested Mesopotamia only with careful play and continuous reinforcement through Ankara EACH TURN). All CP powers buy inf and arty in max affordable quantity during the first 3 turns in order to feed the defense against France, Britain and Italy putting pressure on Mesopotamia, Venice and the Franco-German frontier.

By the fourth turn, the German / Austrian position in the West can stand up to anything the French or Italians can do, and the income situation after Russia is out guarantees that they can produce plenty of land units (and eventually tanks!) to crush even a concentrated defense with a 1-2 punch several turns hence (since Austria and then Germany will be taking back-to-back moves in the west). Paris is only a matter of time, especially if the Turks have been bolstered by the remaining German/Austrian units from the Russian campaign moving to their aid...

Usually, the CP can win a 12-turn game with the right dice...but, with this foundation, I have seen 16, 18 and even 20-turn games eventually go to the CP (so the idea that the CP have to achieve victory early is not necessarily true).

Wonderful game. Really lives up to the franchise IMO. I love global A&A 1940 and was so pleasantly surprised at the complexity, playability and challenge of this game!
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Neil Willis
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I should correct one part of my earlier post. I always buy two planes each for both Germany and Austria on turn one. The Austrians need air superiority for artillery effectiveness on turn two both for their attack and the Russian counter...and the Germans need a couple as well. I have found those German planes can be the difference at Moscow on Turn 4 or 5.
 
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Ronald Hill
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Great write up. Good to see you put the time you've spent playing into helping others maybe see this game in a different/positive perspective. It's good to see that this game has been such an enjoyable experience for you.
 
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Neil Willis
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I think the key is in the turn 1 Austrian move. Austria moves everything to Galicia that can get there except for 3 or 4 inf from Budapest (which have a mandatory attack to do in Serbia - you COULD use troops from Trieste for this, but I find the attack into Venice to be so important in neutralizing the Italian threat turn 1 that I always just pull the one arty I use in Serbia from there and that's it). Austria doesn't advance in the east on turn 1 - instead they create an unstoppable stack of 40 units in Galicia. No need to kick the beehive in Romania - it is a closed front and no threat for now. The Russians will mobilize Romania, yes, but those units won't be able to move until after the NEXT Austrian turn, when the purchased units from Vienna can move to hold Budapest.

In the meantime, the Russian has some serious consideration to give the Austrian stack. That force can easily move into Ukraine on turn two (with two planes from Vienna for a real arty effectiveness boost), or crush any size force in Romania with comparatively negligible loss. Just think of what it will do to a Polish forward defense! No defense the Russians can concentrate anywhere in range will keep it from living large...and remember this is not a campaign of annihilation, but one of movement. The rules on what "friendly units that begin the turn in contested territories" can do are the reason this is so important.

Even in the event of massive Russian concentration in Ukraine T1, the Austrian stack need not destroy the Russian concentration completely to achieve the purpose OF EFFECTIVELY FREEZING that Russian force for offensive action during Russia 2 and 3, with the only possible move back to a previously-controlled territory (usually Moscow - I smell the revolution coming T4)...

Meanwhile the Germans advance into Poland T1 (no matter what) and move the complete reserve form Hanover and Berlin into Silesia (fighter goes to Poland to boost arty in case of any Russian counter). The large German reserve will advance to Poland on GT2 while the Vanguard will take ground appropriately, based on what remains of the Russian army not engaged with the Austrian stack. Both the Austrian and German forces dedicated to this offensive must complete it without distraction. Don't pull a Moltke and peel off Corps for another front at some critical moment...

You should discover that this level of force will cure all Russian ills. Russia can only die proudly.

Now, you must hold the west with what you have and what you can build for 4 turns. It should be no trouble as long as you remember to DEFEND. Your inf corps roll at 3 on defense and this is important. Let the French run into the meatgrinder if they choose. Keep the front small and don't advance into any traps or outrun your reinforcement source (Berlin). Transferring the Germans to help the Austrians is only going to happen if you move everything (Munich, Alsace) into Switz T1 and the French are too intimidated to make an understrength attack into that force (the French are not concentrated T1). Then the desired 6-7 German units can shift over to Venice on T2 and, depending on the French disposition, you may choose to concurrently concentrate in Alsace and leave a single inf to hold Switz...
 
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Willem Vermeer
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I have enjoyed playing the WW1 game. However, I do think the balance is in favour of the Allies. I am optimistic and hope a few extra starting troops for the Central Powers would balance the game, perhaps about an extra 30 IPC worth of troops spread over the three capitals.

I'm not sure that I agree about the attack on Russia that Neil Willis descirbes. On round 1 I would stack 26 inf and 11 art in Ukraine. If the 40 Austria units attack Ukraine on round 2 both sides lose about 18 units leaving Austria with 14 inf, 8 art, 2 planes and Russia with 8 inf and 11 art. However Russia can now counter attack with an additional 17 inf and 4 art which includes units from Moscow and Romania. This obliterates the Austria army, they would be left with 6 units, Russia remains with 13 inf and 15 art. By the end of round 3 Russia would have over 40 units to fight against Germany's two stacks totalling 40 units. If Germany also commits its entire round 1 purchases it may be possible to force the Russian revolution on round 5 but it is no walkover and capturing Moscow by round 5 is not realistic.
 
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Neil Willis
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That is THE Russian counter to my CP approach. I have never had anyone do it. Most Russian players will not abandon Poland and fewer still will respond to the Austrian stack with a complete abandonment of Romania on the counter.

Even if someone is as sharp as you and sees the play, the key to the attack is that the Austrians are still in Ukraine at the end of Russian turn 2, tying up the Russians for their turn 3 move (cannot attack the Germans from a contested territory, so they have to back to Moscow). As long as the Germans bought a transport and can land in Karelia (a move that only has to be considered if I happen to be playing YOU)- and have enough to survive an attack into Moscow from Belarus or Livonia on their 3rd turn (just one inf left - which is why the planes matter so much), the Russians can only win a battle in a contested Moscow for the Turn 4 move, regardless of how many troops they still have in the fight! This means the Russian has to offer the treaty. The CP have to accept, closing the east, for they can't actually destroy the Russian army with what they have left. It has to be carefully planned and done - but it works. Comes down to the last die roll.

You are totally correct when you advise that the Russians are nothing to be taken for granted, but my experience is that no one ever plays them that well.

In fact, most of the Russian players I have observed are trying to advance vs. the Turks, attack East Prussia, reinforce Serbia, concentrate in Belarus, maintain conservative dispersal, or avoid the Austrian threat by vacating the Ukraine altogether! The only time I have faced a real problem in the east is in solo play.

I have had some absolute BEAT DOWNS against the Russians with my approach, not having to settle for the revolution, but getting Moscow and all the money almost every single time.

I said this in my fan post for the game: This game is one where every move on each side has a counter for the other side - meaning that even the most experienced players will find a challenge.

 
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Peter Magro
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I have not played A & A 1914 over and over but in the early games the Central Powers (CP) has the upper hand.

If the USA comes in and Russia and France remains though the CP lives on borrowed time. Turkey starts the game with a mark off deah on it and only by securing one front can Austria & Germany hope to stand up to the Allies.

To enable any Westen offensive for Germany we let them build units in Haonnver, one step closer to the west. We do not allow for taking Switzerland though (mpassable).

Russian revolution in my opinion helps the allies.
If CP conquers most off Russia they start getting their incme up to "allied levels". If Russian IPC doesnot end up in Austria or Germany the Western powers win any war off economy/arms race. France is after a few turns on defence a powerhouse with one short front only and good incomes.
 
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Willem Vermeer
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It is an intereting question about the Russian Revolution and which side it favors. For the Central Powers to win the game they need to capture Paris and one other capital. There is a lot of income in the Russian territories and once they capture Moscow it gives them options for threatening to bypass enemy troops and try to head straght for Paris even at the expense ofone of their own captials.

Most CP players seem to prefer the revolution because it is much easier to achieve and with much less loss of troops.

I suspect there might be a thrid option, which is to just hold and gradually wear down Russia and going mainly for France and Italy. We tried that in one game that ended due to time limitations after 12 hours with both sides quite even.
 
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Neil Willis
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I will say this about the revolution: The CP player would rather have Moscow, the treasury, the six points, and all the money that comes with Russian territory still being open for conquest after the capital has fallen.

But there is a good reason to consider the treaty, if that becomes an option...for I have had games where the allied player, having built a significant transport fleet in SZ9, at a moment when the CP seems to have tipped the scales - suddenly executes an amphibious assault into sz6 and Karelia, re-animating Russia and changing the game completely!

Sometimes it is done as a 1-2 punch with first the Brits and then the Americans moving land units via transport out of any number of eligible territories.

Never mind the avenue through Persia or Afghanistan from India...

The rules for the revolution prohibit the allies from entering any Russian-controlled or contested territory once the treaty is signed. This means that the front is now 100% closed - which is what the CP want. Russia is out of the war - NEVER TO RETURN.

And there is one more consideration with the treaty...and that is time. It takes time to close out the Russian front - defeat the whole Russian army in Moscow and wherever. That time may be crucial in getting units to other fronts and to relieve pressure on the Ottomans (who, by turn 4 or 5, may be really feeling the strain of a full-court press by the Brits)...
 
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Moshe Callen
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As the CP, I initially concentrate on Russia but with enough forces in France to drive the front westward. Either I take the Moscow or I cause the Russian revolution. RR has advantages and disadvantages to both sides. If RR happens, as the CP I've effectively eliminated the eastern front at least as far as Germany and Austria are concerned. So I send those forces elsewhere, mostly westward.

Then I push for Paris before the Americans or British can make an impact. Both the US and Britain I manage by constantly attacking their ships. No matter how large their forces may be, they can only move as many as their number of transports allow. Therefore it is a priority to destroy any ships.

The obvious Allied second capital to go for though is Rome. Typically the Austro-Hungarians have been pushing at it from the beginning.
 
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Randy C

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Neil:
I agree -- I love A&A 1940 but 1914 is really equally satisfying (and easier to set up).
I have played 6-8 times and I play with people who play it a lot more.
We play with Switzerland having 8 armies -- it is essentially impassable
as it really was (that is a strange aspect of the official rules and I'm glad we've modified it.)
We think the game favors the CPs, and the standard CP strategy is Germany/Austria full tilt against Russia and Ottomans full tilt against India. Germany takes Belgium and simply blocks in the West.
Russia reliably falls on turn 4 (unless they can get advanced trenches)and America is just not significant on the Western Front -- they sometimes go to Med vs Austria or Turkey.
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Willem Vermeer
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Randy C:

Yes, the 1914 game is great and in some ways I like it even better than the 1940. However, I do think it favours the Allies. To balance that we have tried giving the Central Powers more starting units, 1 extra plane for Germany, 2 artillery and 4 infantry for Austria, and 1 artillery and 2 infantry for the Ottomans. The additional units went into the capitals so it doesn't affect the starting moves. That does seem to even things out a bit.

I don't know how you can get Russia to fall on turn 4. The last two times I played as Russia even with the extra troops for the Central Powers the game was won by Russia by turn 5. In one case I managed to capture Vienna and in the other case Russia managed to smash both a German army and an Austrian army so they conceded.
 
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Neil Willis
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After playing scores more games with various allied strategies, I must confess that I believe the game (with standard rules and errata/FAQ) does favor them significantly. However, this is not terminal for the CP. Even with a strong allied Russian player (rare) there is still a good chance for the CP to win in 4 or 5 turns in Russia.

The CP strategy I am now the most fond of anticipates a serious Russian concentration on T1 (if they fail to do this, Russia will be easily defeated). I think the turn initiative has to change to combat a concentrated Russian. Here's how:

Use the Germans as the lead CP advance force.

After the Austrian concentration T1 in Galicia, the turns go Russia, Germany, Austria. So you have the Germans lead-off into Poland and follow them with the Austrians INTO POLAND. This now requires the Russian to react. I find that this level of CP concentration prevents a Russian from effectively attacking the combined force, especially since the large German reserve is there to add serious firepower to the counter.
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Willem Vermeer
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Hi Neil,

Just a question about your last post. If you move the Austrian stack into Poland to support Germany what would you do about the Russian stack going into Romania with the intention of letting Moscow fall but taking out the Ottoman capital? The Russian stack would have about 12 artillery and 33 infantry and would be near unstoppable. Even if the Ottomans survive they would be extremely weak, and the UK would become extra strong.

An alternative might be for Austria on round 2 to only put about 5 infantry into Poland. That is enough to make sure that if the Russians attack the territory it will be contested and that army can't help if the main Austrian force goes into Ukraine and then Moscow.
 
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