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Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Counter to "Unstoppable" axis opening move rss

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Zak
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A while back, Michael Tan posted about a supposed unstoppable axis opening move. It got me a bit worried as I had just bought the game, and here someone is saying its broken. So I did some thinking and read all the posts, and think I've come up with a halfway decent counter move. Here is the link to the original posting: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/358741

OK, here goes:

Russia attacks Belorussia with 7 men (1 from Russia) and goes 1 round, probably losing 1, killing 1 or 2 germans, then the whole stack retreats to Russia. They also attack East Ukraine with 1 arty, 4 or 5 men, bomber and fighter. aacalc (5000x, low luck) says 100% chance to win, on average losing only 3 infantry. Move all tanks to Caucasus, bring up reinforcements from the east, land planes in Caucasus. Place 8 infantry units, (or 6 + 1 artillery).

Result: 12 or so men, 1 artillery in Russia. 6 men, 4 tanks, 1 fighter, 1 bomber in Caucasus. Caucasus can now withstand anything Germany would like to throw at it on turn 1, and will have time to move in 1 extra man and at least 1 or 2 fighters from Britain before Italy gets a chance to go.

Suppose Japan pulls that land 6 fighters crap in East Ukraine now. Germany can reinforce with a maximum of 3 men, 1 arty, 3 tanks. Cannot land planes as I took it over the first turn. Japan lands 6 fighters +/- bomber. I counter-attack with up to 18 men, 1 artillery, 4 tanks, a fighter and a bomber.

EDIT: using aacalc (5000x, low luck), I can send only 12 men, 1 arty, 4 tanks and the aircraft, and still have a 99.2% chance to win, having on average 2 or 3 armor plus my aircraft left afterwards. This leaves 6 men behind in Caucasus, plus 4 more after the place units phase, plus whatever materials Britain can funnel in there.

Essentially, this will likely force Japan to land all the fighters in Ukraine instead, and germany will need to use this as a staging ground rather than East Ukraine e.g. no longer on Russia's doorstep. If he does this, I move everything to the caucasus, and use the East Ukraine as a buffer.

Meanwhile, Britain is doing drops in Archangel and funneling those guys to Russia. Assuming Germany does the all tank strategy, I go naval, destroy his navy, and then do strategic drops on Europe either east or West of the Berlin depending on whether Italy chooses to reinforce France.

I am almost sure Moscow won't fall by turn 4 with this strategy, and maybe not even by turn 5. Turn 4 is the turn where USA makes its first 4 men/4 tank plus fighters drop onto Europe to reinforce a British drop. Germany at this point needs to shift its attention to the Western Front or its over e.g. no more waves of tanks heading at Russia. Japan has put themselves way behind by junking their fighters and/or navy. I would even consider an India factory a good option if Japan has no fighters, and especially if they went for the proposed 2 bomber first turn buy. India can pump out 3 tanks per turn into Caucasus.

*****************************************************************

Rereading some other posts, here are some extra thoughts. If Germany turn 1 moves all/part of its navy to block British transports from getting to Arch, then I kill the whole navy easily, drop troops onto France or that small territory north of France turn 1. I would build 2 transports, men, and tanks so turn 2 I could maximize the drop onto france. Either Germany or Italy (or both) will need to deal with this immediately which means either a) germany diverts some of its planes/tanks west or b) italy counterattacks in which case the Caucasus attack described at the beginning of the thread won't work. Suppose they both ignore the turn 2 drop (4 men, and a mixture of artillery and tanks). Turn 3, Britain hits Berlin with another drop of the same, plus the guys sitting in france, plus their aircraft. If Germany only keeps a few token guys there to defend, the game is over.

Any thoughts?

Zak
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Mike Bauer
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Impressive!
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Fox Mulder
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Nice work.

Any strategy that requires all your eggs to be put into one basket is always risky in that such a strategy will likely be strong but also devastating to its user once it's been broken.
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Trent Garner
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My thought is the same as it always is with a new version of A&A and someone's attempt to "break" it so soon after release. Certainly they may have found a strong opening, but that doesn't mean the game's broken. It just means nobody has found the best answer to this strong opening move yet. Perhaps these claims of "unstoppable opening" should be further investigated before being written in stone. It is very doubtful anyone has played enough times to figure out every possible opening move by every country in play, much less having broken the game. And no two poeple play the same way, so...

I would lay good money on Larry Harris and company to playtest before release to the extent that it is unlikely the game is so easily undone. Mr. Harris learned much from the original game design, not to mention the half-dozen or so other A&A games designed and released since then.

Meantime, nice anlysis and good counter-opening, Zak. Time will tell, eh?
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Christopher Halbower
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I think you missed the point of the "Unstoppable strategy" post. While Michael Tan's title was a bit over the top, his analysis is still not refuted with your post here.

What you have constructed here will counter the unstoppable strategy if Russia conducts its turn precisely the way you state. However, at the time that Russia conducts its 1st turn, only Japan has moved. And Japan has not tipped its hand that the Axis are necessarily using this strategy. But for the sake of argument, let's say the Russian player is precient.

On Russia turn 1, the Russian player does exactly what you state above. However, Germany has yet to conduct its first turn. Now, look at the board after Russia 1 and before Germany 1; is Russia going to survive, having pulled off the move you posted? Germany is free, at this point, to conduct whatever strategy it wants, not just the "unstoppable strategy". Is Russia in a tenable position? If Germany can still take Russia quickly--not necessarily using the "unstoppable strategy", then your counter to the "unstoppable strategy" is pointless.

Per Michael Tan's "unstoppable strategy", Japan's turn 1 is not all that extreme. Some of those who applaud your post state that Tan's strategy is extreme. It's not extreme at Japan 1; it becomes extreme at Germany 1. Your counter, however, is very extreme. What you have posted is a Pyrrhic victory: you can defeat the "unstoppable strategy" by losing to the Axis in some other fashion.

Tan's point was: the "unstoppable strategy" puts the advantage so squarely in the Axis corner that only an extreme defense can defeat it--and then the Axis still wins (they just win in a different fashion).

All of Tan's points appear (at least to me) to be valid.
1. Japan moves first. This means that Japan takes its 2nd turn before Russia. This is crucial. After Russia answers with your counter, Germany and Japan can take a different course of action. And Japan moves before Russia!
2. The expanded eastern front favors a short game. The initial impression is that an expanded eastern front means Germany has more territory to gobble up before taking Moscow. However, the expanded eastern front means Russia has more territory to defend, lest Germany has easy access to Moscow.





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Zak
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Thanks for your feedback.

Regarding Christopher's reply I have a few counter-points.

1/ I don't think I've missed the point but maybe you have missed mine. I went into a lot of detail to fully illustrate my idea, not because my strategy should be followed to the letter. Pretty much any decent player will buy all or mostly infantry on R1. I think attacking Belorussia and East Ukraine R1 is fairly standard as well.

2/ I do believe I have successfully refuted the "unstoppable opening move". The beauty of my opening move is, in distinction to what you say, a moderate Russian move rather than an extreme one. Just because I went into a lot of detail does not make my strategy extreme, and does not mean I meant it to be followed verbatim. Besides that, I went over some possible options for later turns depending on what the other axis player does. I would have liked more concrete examples from you, rather than telling me my counter is extreme, therefore I am going for a "Pyrrhic victory". So let me give you a more concrete reply:

Russia is in a very strong position regardless of what Japan or Germany chooses to do. One mistake a Russian player makes early on is committing its tanks to take territories it can't hold the following turn, thus allowing Germany to strike back at Russia's more valuable units. Another Russian mistake would be to take too many territories the first turn, allowing Germany to divide and conquer it all back. What I have done is taken key territories back from the German player, then concentrated my forces where they can't be counterattacked the first turn. This allows me another turn to build up.

If Japan on turn 2 decides not to send the fighters over, great news. I now have a stack of 18 men, 4 tanks, an artillery and my 2 planes that can wipe the floor with anything Germany chooses to move up to the front lines. If Germany holds back another turn to build up some more, great as well. I have another turn to add another stack of men to the pile, and can push out a little bit into the buffer territories in Eastern Europe to make back some cash, and further create a buffer.

Russia does not have to defeat Germany, they only have to delay them until the USA can arrive on turn 4. This game DOES make it harder for the Japanese to move in on Russia as there are now more territories making this a less viable strategy, so while it may be that Germany has an easier time with Russia, Japan is less able to pressure them from the other side.

I belive my opening move leaves Russia in one of the strongest possible positions, able to respond to a variety of opening axis moves. If you have any concrete counter-points, I welcome your feedback.

Cheers,

Zak
 
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Christopher Halbower
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Sweet! I reread the original thread. Michael Tan said he found a counter. I wonder if his counter is similar to yours.
 
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I don't think for a second that there is an unstoppable axis strat for AA50 42 w/o NOs, even if most of the games I play is in LL setting, and LL favors the attackers, that is Russia in 42, the statistics and general matters will be the same. Allies are favored in 42 w/o NOs.

There is no need for any hypothetical counter for a hypothetical "unstoppable axis strat" in the 42 setup w/o NOs, b/c it is allies who are favored. Possibly less in regular dice than LL, but the main factors applies. I think it is fully possibly for axis to win though, both with LL and regular dice, and even w/o any bids.





 
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Greg Dorn

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Larry Harris intended the game to be played WITH the National objectives, and using "low luck" rules drastically skews the combat results from the actual odds when rolling multiple dice. If Larry wanted a game where only one die was used for combat, then he would have changed the rules over the last half-dozen installments of the game.

Here is the "problem" with low-luck: suppose 3 attacking infantry. Using low-luck, there is only two possibilities, each with a 50% chance: 1 or 0 kills. The actual odds of getting exactly one kill is 42% and 58% to get zero. "Low-luck" is not only boring, but statistically inaccurate.

So, in summary, I don't think it is fair to contradict someone when they are playing by the standard rules and you are making up an entirely different game.
 
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The LL vs ADS issue is less relevant in 42 than the 41 scenario.

But the OP in the "unstoppable axis 42 strat" said that this was w/o NOs and tech.

Yes, we are discussing the strats and moves with regular dice, but w/o NOs and w/o tech, Am I right?

B/c this is crucial for the effect this factors have on the playing balance. I guess most players have already found out that axis are favored in 41 and 42 with NOs, but allies are favored in 41 and 42 w/o NOs. And tech should be disregarded when discussing balance, and strats.
 
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If anyone wants to prove me wrong, then I suggest a game, or even several games. The setup is: AA50, 42 scenario, regular dice, no tech, no NOs, noEDIT, and no other optional rules.

I'm allies ofc.

It will be a TripleA live game, I can host outside the stable lobby, b/c the 1.0.3.4 version with AA50 is not fully stable yet, and AA50 is not yet available in the stable version of TripleA.
Not too slow gameplay, but I'm not demanding "lighting A&A" either.

My guess is that I will win much more than 50% of such games, b/c allies are favored in this setting.




 
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Mike Davis
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I would argue that Japan's first turn IS extreme in the plan that was laid out..


IIRC, Japan was to buy 2 bombers - which means NO navy and NO additional ground units (though, I suppose they could buy a tranny which would give them some flexibility).

Second, Japan is to attack all the navy and air it can - losing navy first over fighters, since they all need to be in Burma. This not only means possible losses of naval units in the attack, but likely the loss of additonal naval units when the UK and US get their turns. Naval units that Japan will not be able to replace very quickly.

Third, this means little, if any attacking on China. And while China is not a huge player, they can be a problem if Japan ignores them.

Lastly, it assumes that all your FTR go to Burma, which is fine, except that it also means they are not in position to do much of anything in turn 2 of use. So - if the Russians do as noted and the Axis decide NOT to do the unstoppable strategy, then Japan has just wasted their first 2 turns doing things that are less than optimal.

In general, I think the game is pretty balanced - in fact, in tournament play, I have seen a slight Axis advantage - but very slight.

MM
 
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Zak
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I was assuming no NOs. As for balance, I need to get more games under my belt for this new version, but I have heard mixed things. Most people seem to think the axis is heavily favoured in the 1941, and slightly favoured in the 1942.

And yes, I agree the Japanese plan is extreme. If I were going to try it, I would use some of the planes to attack brittish fleet and take some of the Chinese territories.

I also noticed that in this new setup, the Axis have 2 subs positioned to sucker punch the canadian/British ships in Hudson's bay (why are they there in the first place?) This would of course hinder Britian's naval plans slightly.
 
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Michael Ornelles
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I have only played the new version of A&A twice but....in the old version the common strategy to defend against a japanese attack on eastern russia was to have Brittain send as many air units and other units to Russia to help them hold out in the west. Then, any Russian tanks moved east to deal with the Japanese threat. Also, as America I would create a bomber base in Alaska to assist Russia. Not sure if this would work with the new game though, since again, I have only played it twice.
 
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