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Axis & Allies: Europe» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Burden is on Germany rss

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Mike Barton
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Here are some observations after playing several games.

First, the summary.
I think this is a very good game because winning it requires a 'big picture' strategic view while providing possibilities for some very dramatic tactics as well. Either side can win, though after playing a lot of different strategies I think the Allies have a slight edge.

It is up to Germany to come up with an effective plan that can be put into action quickly. Time is almost always against the Germans since they have a deficiency in income compared to the full weight of the Allies. The Germans must act, and the Allies must re-act appropriately. In a three or four-player game, I might even favor the Germans, since the Allies' advantage depends on sacrifice and coordination.

In fact, the Allies' advantage lies in knowing what all of the possibilites are for the German strategy and knowing the correct counter-strategy. This makes it a great game since there is no standard Allied strategy that always wins.

The Germans, on the first turn, have to decide what their basic strategy will be. The one consistent thing I saw was that when the Germans are forced to change plans they almost always lose.

The following are the German Plans that work, and the Allied counter-plans that usually succeed.

1. Direct Assault on Soviet Union:
For this plan to consistently work, it must be executed quickly and carefully. The concept is that the Germans hit the Soviets with a giant mass of infantry and armor in one sweeping attack. Basically for the first two turns of the game the Germans build nothing but infantry just like the Soviets. Why infantry? Because infantry are slow. The technique is to time everything so the new infantry and armor hits the Soviet defenses simultaneously. After many games it becomes clear that just building armor is not enough. The German Army can't absorb enough hits to make it to Moscow with enough to defend.
On the first turn, the Germans use their subs and the Luftwaffe to destroy the British navy and grab the convoy zones. This renders Britain and the US basically impotent for 3-4 turns.
Turns 1 and 2 Germany builds infantry and turns 3 and 4 Germany builds armor. Starting turn 5 it gets more tactical. If the Alies have not countered the strategy correctly hopefully it won't matter too much what happens after turn 5 or 6. There shouldn't be a turn 7.
Tactics are deeply involved in this approach. The German milestones are A) Taking the Baltic States, Vyborg and Leningrad to cut the USSR off from Brit and US Air power transfers, B) Avoiding a meaningful counterattack from the USSR Armor - NEVER leave German armor vulnerable to a Russian counterattack. ALWAYS stack lots of German Infantry with the armor. The USSR can usually amass a formidable force of Infantry, armor and artillery, especially if they stick to the 'run away' counter strategy. In fact, maintaining this striking force is a major part of the Russian plan. Nothing demoralizes the Germans like losing a big chunk of unprotected armor. Lastly C) Take any 'gifts' the USSR gives you with an appropriate force. If the Soviets 'run away' too fast then you have to take what you get. It only works out for you in the long run. Just remember that the main objective is to get to Moscow as quickly as possible with 4 turns worth of infantry and armor.

There is an effective Allied counter-strategy for this. First let me say that if the US and UK do nothing to help the USSR and spend the first turns of the game building up the Navy to fix the inevitable disaster in the Atlantic, the Allies will lose the game. If the Germans use the above strategy they will win consistently UNLESS the UK and US send aid to Russia in the form of fighters. The Russians build infantry and the UK and US build fighters and airmail them to Russia via the Baltic. The Russians meanwhile give ground slowly, never risking the entire army, reacting to the tactical moves of the Germans, preventing the immediate fall of Leningrad. As stated above, if the Germans end up leaving a stack of armor without infantry in the front lines, its a good idea to trade the Soviet armor for the German armor, simply because the Russians don't really need the armor to win, and the Germans absolutely do. The Russians do not attack at all, except in the case above. The fighters are purely defensive. There is nothing more devastating to the Germans than a giant stack of infantry backed up by 8 or 9 fighters. This is very important... IF YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE LURED INTO AN ATTACK USING THE FIGHTERS AND INFANTRY YOU WILL PROBABLY LOSE THE GAME. The infantry/fighter combination is the best possible defense, but it is mediochre in the attack.

As with all of the strategies, after the main German attack fails, they begin the long, slow slide into defeat. The difference in industrial power begins to tell. The Allies just have to react to German builds in-kind: German subs beget Allied destroyers, German transports and bombers beget Allied fighters, German infantry begets Allied armor and transports, meanwhile the Russians build infantry and armor at about an equal split, forcing the Germans to build infantry for defense.

2. The second main German strategy is SEALION - the Invasion of England.
In this one, the Germans throw everything they have into an attack on England. Not surprisingly, the first turn sees the erasure of the British Navy and the convoy zones, but instead of building infantry the Germans build transports and maybe destroyers or fighters. Fighters are a better choice since they get repeated attacks on England. This can be a very dangerous strategy for the Allies unless they know exactly how to handle it.
Remember this one simple rule: No Transports = No Invasion
Wage War on German Transports with fighters and bombers.
This means American, British and Russian fighters and bombers. Really it's that simple. Whenever the Germans build transports, attack them. The Germans have a long way to go to be able to defend their transports. The only way to defend any sea units except subs [which can submerge] is with destroyers and battleships. I have never seen the Germans build a cost-effective battleship. Needless to say any new German naval builds should be replied to with fighter/bomber builds and should be stamped out 'whack-a-mole' style.

This is a much bigger gamble for the Germans. Unfortunately every once in a while it pays off and the Brits get really bad naval battle rolls followed by ineffective attacks by US fighters from England. I have seen it work a couple of times but the vast majority of these attempts end in abysmal failure. Usually if the Germans only build naval and air units the USSR tends to bleed them dry of everything else. Also, if the attack fails the Germans are done for quickly because they have not maintained a steady stream of increased IPCs from USSR territory captures.

I have never seen strategic bombing really work well for either side. It is too unpredictable and subject to huge losses of attacking aircraft that always seem to occur at the worst time. It is better to use the bombers as part of an attack. Think of it this way:
Bomber used for strategic bombing does 1-6 damage (average is 3.5)
Bomber used for attack will hit 2/3 of every round. Each hit is at least destroying 3 IPCs worth of units, much much more in naval combat. If the bomber is attacking alone then there is more risk. The greatest payback for the bomber is to be involved in a fairly major land battle in which it is unlikely to be a casualty, and may get to fire for several rounds.

I think the US and UK should hold enough bombers to immediately destroy any new German naval builds (at most maybe 3 destroyers or 5 transports) and send the rest to Russia. Bombers have no trouble reaching Russia and add MASSIVE punch to the Russian offensive. This is much more effective than piddling them away in mostly ineffective strategic bombing raids.

Again, the game probably won't last long enough to build up a fleet of bombers that will have a decisive effect on the game. Also they are too easy to counter with fighters.

Attacking the USA is absurd. In the time it would take to build up enough of a force the Germans should be able to take the UK.

3. A mix of the two.
Sometimes the Germans can pull off a feint. The feint will involve 1 or 2 turns of full commitment to one strategy then a complete changeover to the other. The feint is MUCH EASIER to pull off if the Allies spend too much on solving the Atlantic problem too early. As the Allies, if you do not recognize the pattern, plan for both strategies and be patient until the Germans commit. This means the Russians build infantry and the UK and US build air units. Because of the situation in the Atlantic, it will be tempting to build a Navy. It is far more important to be able to destroy German surface Naval units with air power than it is to free up the convoy lanes. You cannot let the Germans amass a surface Navy. If the Germans are spending wildly on destroyers and transports then build fighters and bombers and keep destroying them as they are built. Eventually you will come out ahead and then you can worry about the UK and US Navies. The basic equation is that the Allies ONLY need air units to defend against an invasion while the Germans need Destroyers [to protect the transports], Transports [to carry the invasion troops] and air units [to support the invasion]. An even spread of fighters and bombers works best since bombers hit as good as a battleship and have much longer range, and fighters are a little easier on the pocketbook and can be used to absorb the inevitable lucky hits.

As the Allies I don't worry too much about the Middle East. It takes a long time for the Germans to be able to make the southern invasion route [of the USSR] worthwhile, and by that time the Russian Air Force [brought to you by your favorite Western Allies] is the dominant factor. The Allies should treat a massive invasion of the Middle East the same exact way as a direct invasion of Russia. Once the Russian front is safe you can have some fun scooping up the Middle East with an adequate Russian mixed bag if you have time before the jaws snap on Germany.

Like I said in the summary, if the Allies work together and understand the threats and how to recognize and counteract them I think the Allies have a slight advantage. It may not look like it soemtimes because if the Germans win they usually win fast and furious. The game can be decided in the first 3 turns! The problem for the Germans is that if the Allies know how to size up the situation and buy time there isn't much to be done. The Germans have to win by keeping the Allies discoordinated.
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Justin S.
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Lol, agreed. My bro used to be Germany all the time, and I used to be allies. I kept wanting to figure out how to win against his all out attack on Russia. Kept losing.

Then I saw this, and I was curious, so I tried it out.

In the battle of Moscow, I lost some 15 units and he lost some 30 units before he retreated realizing he was screwed.

Eventually he surrendered, making the first allies victory in a long time. Then, when he found out I got it online, he got pissed calling me a cheater.

Great plan on your part.
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