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Subject: Tips I've learned from repeated plays rss

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Michael Ptak
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So I finally have it. Fortress America. After getting it with my friends and playing a few games, I also played against myself for a number of sessions to learn how the game works and to pick up some pointers on what works. Most of these are tips for the invader player.

Use multiple territories to attack one:
Not quite flanking, but this is a clear advantage of being able to attack with more than five units into an enemy territory and so have superior numbers. When an invader is planning his/her movement, care must be taken to see how the American player can respond. Aside from a bomber response, it could be that the American moves troops into an adjacent territory and attacks your just-taken territory with two area's worth of troops. You should be trying to use this strategy against the American player if possible.

Hit him where he isn't:
The situation is bad with partisan cards, but at least in the early game all of the invaders have a pretty wide open front with clusters of American defenders located in far-in-between points. One tactic is to concentrate your first assault on one cluster of troops to neutralize it before reinforcements can come up and support the battle.

Alternatively, if you let a turn pass where the American is moving troops to respond to your first invasion, drop troops into the vacated areas and make a second push to take cities.

Cities are Landmines:
Paradoxically there is no little advantage to the invader for taking cities. If anything it is in the American player's interest because it's an open chance to get another partisan card and so increase the number of reinforcements they can deploy. Avoiding these cities has been nicknamed the "Tourist sightsteeing" strategy of moving in but taking no cities until later in the game.

I counter-argue that you still have partisans to deal with, and en-masse they can cause trouble with supplies and units WILL die as the American is trying to stem your assault. But I digress...

When attacking cities be mindful of how the American player can respond to them. If you take X city, how many adjacent territories can the American player fill with troops to attack your just-taken city and get another partisan card out of it? If it's still in the early game you have the benefit of patience in order to take one city at a time, fortify, and then concentrate on your next target glob of enemy units.

One observed enemy tactic is to move a token infantryman into a city after re-taking it. This is a trap... remain mindful of how the American player can attack with that same force that defeated you, plus nearby reinforcements, the turn after the city is taken again by the invader. It might be more prudent to attack other, weaker targets, or reposition your forces, before launching an attack against the city. Besides, the single infantryman or partisan won't be too important unless it begins cutting your supply lines. However, you have your entire next turn to solve that problem and it's only a serious issue if you aren't making an active effort to reconnect your supplyline.

*I have to amend this only slightly. Taking cities does give the defender an advantage in defense by requiring combined for some of the dice results. Personally, I haven't seen enough of these results to make a difference when attacking and defending into a city. Moreover, cities are typically flanked by two territories that are likely to be occupied by American units. When you take a city, you're likely to face counter-attack by the units piled up behind the city, poised to reinforce or re-take the city. This is especially the case for cities rigged like landmines... the American will farm them for partisan cards by letting you take it easily, then take it back. Expect loitering Bombers to come out of the background and hit you on that counterattack as well.

Never leave your backdoor open:
Some partisan cards can target your troops adjacent and within cities. Never ever leave them unoccupied for the American player to enter with just one popped-up Partisan! About the only place you can remotely risk this is in Flordia, but even then there are cards that drop troops in the south. Vacate only in tough situations. Usually I leave a mobile troop and an infantry unit in a captured city territory to prevent the American from completely retaking the city territory.

Bombers are Amazing:
These units fly over enemy airspace to attack any territory 4 spaces away and ignore space limitations to do so. If a glob of troops must die, get out your bombers and concentrate your attacks on that area. If there are no helicopters/bombers there and you are wise enough to bring other troops, your bombers can't be touched unless all your other ground units are dead. It's a beautiful thing to attack an armor column with all six of your bombers and troop backup. However...

Never attack alone with Bombers:
For all their luster all that needs to happen is a glob of 5 infantry units all roll hit dice. With no other targets they are obligated to kill, your bombers will die in a most embarrassing fashion. Bombers MUST be used in a combined arms attack if for no other reason to protect them from stupid ground fire which, ideally, they shouldn't have to face.

About the only time you should attempt this is if you have helicopters nearby to take the just-bombed-out territory you are attacking. Ideal targets for lone bombers are single infantrymen guarding cities. Again, beware of how the American player can respond to your assaults however.

Beam down a surprise attack into the invasion zones:
Remember that reinforcements of your choice can instantly appear in the invasion zones too late for the American player to counter-attack. So if you take a coastal space next to a city (Say south of Washington DC), you can tag-team this on your next turn with a full armada of four tanks and two infantry, or another scary force. The territory below that one you stack with bombers, which then move in to hit Washington while attacking with two provinces full of (ideally) five troops. Kudos if both of them have enough Mechanized and infantry armor to compliment the bombers and so have some redundancy when the defenders start knocking down your units.

Washington is not an ideal place to do this though, since the north-east is choked with cities and natural defenders to come out of the woodwork and use two territories to hit one of yours with.

Group your Most Valuable units together to protect them from lasers:
In other words, if possible try to put all of your bombers in one territory to prepare to strike out on your next turn. This is because the American player will be trying to knock down your Bombers first, and lasers are usually pretty good on how well they hit (speaking from practice, not statistically). If all of your bombers are in one territory he can only take down one of them per turn because of laser-territory limitations. Giving him only one roll improves your bomber's chances of living.

Quick support with Helicopters:
For areas like in the east, The red invader is likely going to do battle within two spaces of his invasion zone. Helicopters can provide great instant reinforcements to diminished areas and let you use the white die. Don't be too excited to use this however, since you only have so many flying bicycles.

Wipe out combined arms:
Sometimes it might be in your best interests to kill off units that aren't the most damaging targets. If an American counter-attacks with a lot of tanks and planes but a token amount of infantry, the defense-attack to wipe out the infantry removes their combined arms bonus. If you're defending in a rough or city space, this could end up denying the attacker the territory.

Strangle an enemy to turn retreats into defeats:
If an invader has invasion markers that surround an attacked territory and give no unit an area to retreat into, retreat results effectively become kills. There aren't that many corners to exploit, but if you are doing battle against an enemy with crowded surrounding territories, this could be possible. One example of this likely happening is florida, where retreats at the tip spell doom for the Americans if the rest of florida is under attack.

Kill Partisans before Infantry:
If they act on their own partisans get to use the white die. When declaring casualties among infantry, the grey troops should die first. If the attacker were to win the combat they can move in the single surviving Partisan and make it easier for him to kill one of your units. It may only be an infantryman, but remember, as the invader all of your units are limited while the American player can keep getting units... especially partisans.

Grind down units:
Though the American player will be getting every unit back from the partisan cards, the American does not necessarily choose which, how many, and where his reinforcements will be going. Targeting tanks in the western area and removing them means the western player won't have to worry about tanks for a while to come. Choosing to neutralize small groups containing important units with larger groups of you regular units might help you in the long run. Just be mindful of the timing.

All the time in the world:
Don't get ahead of yourself. Rushing as the invader can put your units out of position and make you vulnerable to counter-attack by the American. If you are grabbing cities, make sure to surround and capture them with a strong force before moving onward to other objectives. If you have a strong force that weathers attacks from paltry American units you can successfully take some hits while crushing theirs and forcing the American player to rely on the mercy of his or her partisan cards.

If the American player challenges you with a slugfest of units, consider deploying your next reinforcements to a weaker part of the enemy line to draw units away and force the American player to choose between potential threats.

Turn-limit is not so much a problem as laser-count. Instead of worrying how many turns are left in the game, consider how many lasers are being fired and at what.

----

All in all, it's a good game and refreshingly flexible compared to it's much more popular sibling Axis and Allies. Hopefully these tips will encourage other players to consider new strategies when playing as the Invader, or things to be mindful of as the American player.
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Mark Chaplin
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Very interesting read, Michael.

I like your advice of putting bombers in the same state to avoid laser fire.

Having only played the USA thus far, I've had a skewed perspective on the game, but all that you've wrote makes sense. It does seem to me that the rest of BGG has generally forgotten already about this game.


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Michael Ptak
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Hmm... maybe I can understand why. Compared with Ikusa and A&A Fortress America feels like a middle child. Your setups are not as rigid as they are in A&A, but you're still restricted to a handful of strategies unlike the nearly free-play of Ikusa.

I still don't understand why A&A has the lingering popularity it does. I dislike the game because of how it takes about an hour of dice rolling to play out the scripted first turn. FA at least has the variety of choosing which side of a front to concentrate on.
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Marcel van der pol
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I've played the new release of the game 10 times so far. I've played the US twice and won twice, and played with the Invaders 8 times and lost once.

I fully support the OP statements, but he thinks only of the Invader side. From the US side, here are some hints:

1) Be patient!
2) Be patient!
3) Be patient! (those are 3x Be Patient for the first three turns).
4) Never let your units be attacked by a superior force of enemies. The maths are simple: you start with 60 units, the Invaders start with 60 units but get 24 units every turn which outstrip the reinforcements you get from Partisan cards. Every 1-on-1 trade is a bad one for the US, unless you destroy a vastly more qualitative unit (shooting down a bomber with a partisan for example). Later in the game when replacements for the invader arrive far away from the front lines, trades can and will become more even.
5) Rather than standing on the beaches to fight, you should retreat units away from the invasion zones and those area's that cannot be defended properly (Los Angeles and surrounding area for example). However, when retreating you should setup the units in such a way that they can counter attack an Invader should he take a city by force. The threat of the counter attack will slow down the invader even more.
6) Use lasers well; you don't get a lot of shots so make them count. Target a bomber where possible, but prioritize lasers as support for attacking a city if that would help your own air force survive.
7) Watch for opportunity attacks against cities; it is well worth the effort to spend a partisan card on reinforcing and then attacking a city, even if success is not 100% guaranteed. If you win, you will get a replacement card for the card just spent and you will have destroyed some units as well as causing the invader some headaches.
8) Grab the initiative where possible; do not let a lax invader get away with a slow pace. Attack area's defended without air force and use overwhelming force when you do attack.
9) Do NOT take unneccesary risks with hovertanks, helicopters and bombers; their replacements are few and far between. Instead, use plenty of infantry and partisans as these are much more common reinforcements.
10) Don't get dishearted by the fact that its 3-vs-1. The invaders have to work well together in order to win; its a lot easier to come up with a united 3-front battleplan on your own than it is for a 3-player invader side to come up with one.

And above all: have fun and enjoy the fact that New York is burning!
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James Jenkins
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I played the original version extensively.

I just got the new version this evening, and we'll play it at noon tommorrow.

A&A is popular bwecause it's pseudo-historical based.

Fortress America is a good game for Red Dawn, or Amerika fans.

Fortress America is more balanced, and more dramatic.


Tips for U.S.

Slam the beaches if you can kill high value units, but oiverall your strategy is typically going to be pick and chose, ive ground, hit where they are weak, and guerilla warfare.

Use cites and mountains to force the enemy to use combined arms. That extra edge will make a big difference long term. Try and coordinate atacks so that you are breaking up their combined arms.

Partisans are great for breaking enemy supply lines.

It's not always the best idea to immediately retake a city, or try to unless you can guarantee siginificant losses or a partisan card.

Lasers, I usually target inveder bombers, then helos or spaces where I can aid partisans or regulars in retaking a city.

Tips for invaders:

I agree with the keep bombers together idea in general, but sometimes you will need to spread them out for that extra special kaboom.

Try to garrison areas so that some partisan cards are more difficult to play.

Take cities when you have enough to take and hold them. Use pin and wheel and flanking maneuvers to grind enemies to powder.

Keep your bombers in areas where you will need them to destroy stuff on the front lines as close air support.

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Michael Ptak
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If I may counter-comment...

"Partisans are great for breaking enemy supply lines."

In my experience supply lines are hard to threaten. Smart invaders cut a swath at least two territories wide when breaking in, and then even if the US player manages to cut supply, the invader player has their entire turn to re-establish it. Unless you're facing a gung-ho stupid invader the invader is likely to have units they can call up to attack and occupy (or at least contest) the regions to maintain supply, which is checked before the invasion counters are removed.

By the time rear-action Partisans are a real danger against remotely guarded supply points, the game is nearly over.

"but sometimes you will need to spread [Bombers] out for that extra special kaboom."

Why? Where possible bunch your bombers together for maximum effect, especially against ground targets with no anti-air support. Half of the blue die is an instant-kill of your choice; you should be maximizing your potential where possible.

The only time you should split them is if you have two groups on two separate fronts. Even then, my advice is to attack with at least groups of two, and NEVER perform bombing runs with a solo bomber. Ideally place them in the mid-range of your territory so they don't come under counter-attack by desperate enemy bombers, but can rush forward and support an invasion or direct-bomb an enemy territory. Remember; the Bomber is the ONLY unit in the game that can violate space restrictions. If you have two territories full of five units attacking a single space, you would do well to also fly in every bomber you can into the territory to maximize damage. The only time you'd hesitate is if he has heavy anti-air there... then you could be sending your bombers to their deaths... or in the very least loosing one or two.
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James Jenkins
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"sometimes you will need..."

As the invader, you can completely bomb into oblivion one square. Or you can spread out some, especially among all the invaders, while lasers are not all that prevalent in the early game. Especially also if you are using the Invader reinforcement cards.

I think it can be argued that bombers are the most powrful units in the game. So I feel like using them for multiple axes of advance, all over the place. Send them in, lose some against enemy helicopters, replace them.

Once the americans are down to infantry and a few trucks, it's almost over, so I suggest using those bombers to kill the US Air support, especially since in some areas, you might have two invaders facing clumps of americans on the same shared front.

In the east, all of the forces are there as fodder for the line. Use the bombers to blow multiple holes in the line, covering all those poor slobs slated to die in the first three turns in the appalachians.



"Unless you're facing a gung-ho stupid invader the invader is likely to have units they can call up to attack and occupy (or at least contest) the regions to maintain supply..."

Everyone has a strategy. Unless they want to further lengthen their lines from the coast, they'll need to deal with the partisans, long term, lest one almost-cut line becomes cut.

How likely are they to have units ready to go? depends on the player. But if they are garrisoning supply, they aren't garrisoning cities or they aren't advancing.

Recently, I'm seeing all sorts of variations on (2 or 3) "partisans spread out, where possible."

Sure if every line is garrisoned, particularly in the west, it's not going to work. Set those up near Salt Lake City, or the southern Rockies.
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Marcel van der pol
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Quote:
I think it can be argued that bombers are the most powrful units in the game. So I feel like using them for multiple axes of advance, all over the place. Send them in, lose some against enemy helicopters, replace them.


They are. Not because they roll the "best" dice in the game, but because of their Bombing ability which allows you to attack as if the bombers were in an additional adjacent (ie non-existing) area. If the dice of Bombers and Helicopters were reversed, I'd still considder the Bomber the most powerfull unit in the game.

Quote:
Once the americans are down to infantry and a few trucks, it's almost over, so I suggest using those bombers to kill the US Air support, especially since in some areas, you might have two invaders facing clumps of americans on the same shared front.


This is why, as the US, I don't allow the Invaders to be able to directly attack my air units UNLESS they only bring their bombers (which is hard to prevent) and I never leave only two air units in an area; I always have support units (ie hovertanks) to guard them against a 5-bomber attack. During the first 3 turns this means the US has to give ground to the invader, but once the Eastern invader is down to 3 or less bombers I considder relocating the bombers to the southern front.

After three turns playing the US, my losses consist mostly of infantry and mobile units, with only a small number of helicopters and hovertanks lost and absolutely NO bomber losses. After all, the US has 6 bombers while the invaders have 18, so be conservative. After turn 3, the US needs to take more risks to stop the invaders from capturing key area's.

Quote:
In the east, all of the forces are there as fodder for the line. Use the bombers to blow multiple holes in the line, covering all those poor slobs slated to die in the first three turns in the appalachians.


Yup. One-on-One trades in the Eastern sector are good for the Invaders, especially if you can take down helicopters and/or bombers for which the US gets few replacements. Ofcourse, nothing is more frustrating than destroying two US bombers and then the US players drawing the "Commercial Aircraft in Mineanapolis" partisan card, but these sort of things are part of the game.

Quote:
Sure if every line is garrisoned, particularly in the west, it's not going to work. Set those up near Salt Lake City, or the southern Rockies.


Its quite hard to actually cut all supply lines, but some area's are more vulnerable to it than others. Taking back Los Angeles or Washington especially can really HURT as well as forcing the Invader to backpeddle in order to save his supply line, providing the US player with valuable time. I have NEVER seen a supply line being cut and causing significant unit losses; the best I've seen is losing two helicopters who used their Scout move when the Invader did not manage to conquer the area in between due to luck.
 
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Ryan Hanson
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A lot of great tips! Though I can't decide if the lame "don't take USA cities until late game" strategy is a sign of bad game design or not.

Norsehound wrote:
I still don't understand why A&A has the lingering popularity it does. I dislike the game because of how it takes about an hour of dice rolling to play out the scripted first turn. FA at least has the variety of choosing which side of a front to concentrate on.


I actually think the "scripted" opening for Axis and Allies games is part of their appeal, as it represents a vaguely historical starting situation and then allows the course of the game to quickly evolve down a number of different possible paths based on various player strategies and the results of early battles. It is somewhat similar to the way chess openings work, except with the additional unpredictability of dice-based combat.

It is true that depending on the version you play Axis and Allies can take an hour to set up and another hour just to play through the first turn. For this reason alone Axis and Allies isn't for everyone.
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Marcel van der pol
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Quote:
A lot of great tips! Though I can't decide if the lame "don't take USA cities until late game" strategy is a sign of bad game design or not.


The Invaders can try not to capture cities untill later in the game, but it does mean that certain avenue's of advancement are closed to them because they need to capture some cities for this.

Examples are Washington (opens up the avenue to New York and Boston), Los Angelos (needed for San Diego as well as being the shortest route to Colorado Springs) and New Orleans. If the Invaders decide NOT to take these three cities on the first turn, they spend an additional 2 or 3 turns maneuvering around the cities. This is time that the US can use to redistribute units, get additional reinforcements and using Lasers to destroy the most dangerous units of the Invaders.

As the US I usually setup strong counter-attack opportunities against these cities in order to slow down the Invaders and make them think twice about capturing them during the first few turns. If they do, I counterattack and capture the cities, destroying units and drawing extra reinforcements. If they don't, also fine, this will cost them extra time which I can also use.
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Xelto G
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Hansolo88 wrote:
A lot of great tips! Though I can't decide if the lame "don't take USA cities until late game" strategy is a sign of bad game design or not.

No, it's fine game design... it's just not-always-great strategy.

There are some advantages: you don't have to worry about the extra partisan cards showing up. However, it often means that your advance takes longer, since you have to go around key cities instead of through them. It also can leave valuable space open to partisan card placement in strategic areas.

For example: suppose, for a moment, that the invaders decide to skip conquering Atlanta. Come turn six, near the end of the invader reinforcements, the US player plops two partisans and a helicopter in Atlanta. Now, the US player doesn't gain a card from it, but the invaders are then stuck with a quandry: ignore the new pieces and concentrate on the midwest, or turn and fight.

Turn and fight will require, if they expect success, probably at least six units. If red still has bombers at this point, he risks them if he uses them in Atlanta because of the chopper. And pulling 6 or so units away from the front slows down that part of the fight.

Or he ignores them, and charges for Cleveland. Why not, he's close, might as well, right? Except that he's then down three cities: Atlanta, plus Tampa and Miami are risky to take unless he uses significant force-- meaning no reinforcements for the front line. Or if he already took the Florida cities (low risk, after all), then he has to defend them from a nearby force. Or he has to deal with partisans spreading out behind his lines. Probably either in the mountains, or cutting his supply lines, and attacking isolated pockets of his people.

Had he taken Atlanta and left the standard two units in it, then those same two partisans and one chopper would spawn right next to it, instead. And if they attack, the odds of surviving one turn favor the invaders usually, unless the US player puts a laser counter there. Even with the laser counter, the invaders have a decent chance of holding for a turn. (40% chance of both units surviving, and even if one dies, there's a 50% minimum chance of disrupting one US unit, leaving a bit over 33% chance of surviving anyway.) And if the US player lasers Atlanta, that's one less laser for the rest of the board.

OK, the tl;dr version: there are reasons to not take cities at times*. But it's not advice to blindly follow all the time.


* If you can't hold it from an inevitable counter-attack, that's high on the list.
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Marcel van der pol
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I agree. Not taking cities is viable if you cannot hold the city, but even if you're sure you cannot hold it there are reasons why you should take it:

1) Taking the city back will cost the US player valuable units. The Invaders start with exactly the same number of forces as the Invader, but the Invaders get 24 units each turn while the US only receives (on average) 8-12 units. The US reinforcements are also random and its hard to build a strategy if you don't exactly know where they will pop up.

2) Taking the city will free up avenue's of attack and will open up new area's for the Invaders to threaten. For example, taking Washington on turn 1 with the Eastern invader will threaten the New York and Boston area.

3) By taking the city you force the US to respond to your moves rather than you responding to the US moves. If you give the US too much initiative, he can setup pretty nasty counter attacks with the bombers and the lasers.

As the Invader, you need to always feel the time pressure and always need to make haste. Wait too long, and the US will have reorganized his forces making those vital 17-18th cities much harder to take.
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Clay Berry
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Thanks for all the tips, well presented.
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Dan Zachary
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marcelvdpol wrote:
2) Taking the city will free up avenue's of attack and will open up new area's for the Invaders to threaten. For example, taking Washington on turn 1 with the Eastern invader will threaten the New York and Boston area.

3) By taking the city you force the US to respond to your moves rather than you responding to the US moves. If you give the US too much initiative, he can setup pretty nasty counter attacks with the bombers and the lasers.



Frankly, as the US player, I would love the Red Invader to take Washington on turn 1. I can setup a counterattack with a minimum of 4 bombers, 4 helicopters, 3 tanks, 1 infantry, and 1 mobile unit, not to mention include a laser attack for an additional good effect.
 
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Reese Henderson
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sharpe1813 wrote:
marcelvdpol wrote:
2) Taking the city will free up avenue's of attack and will open up new area's for the Invaders to threaten. For example, taking Washington on turn 1 with the Eastern invader will threaten the New York and Boston area.

3) By taking the city you force the US to respond to your moves rather than you responding to the US moves. If you give the US too much initiative, he can setup pretty nasty counter attacks with the bombers and the lasers.



Frankly, as the US player, I would love the Red Invader to take Washington on turn 1. I can setup a counterattack with a minimum of 4 bombers, 4 helicopters, 3 tanks, 1 infantry, and 1 mobile unit, not to mention include a laser attack for an additional good effect.


Thread necrology here, but as the Invader player, I say "bring it!" If you position your initial builds to set up this counterattack, it means you are neglecting other fronts. As the Red Invader, I get a minimum 5 reinforcements every turn right outside DC to continue re-taking DC. Even if the US re-takes DC and gets the bonus partisan card, it cannot sustain this level of losses for long, as the partisan units could pop up out west. You're simply not replacing your losses fast enough. And by turn 2, I can easily park 2-3 choppers in DC to give the US something to think about as to whether he wants to risk his bombers for the re-take. I'll trade choppers for bombers with the US all day long. To win as the invader, you need to bleed the US in the east.

Personally, I think this strategy buys the US 1-2 turns in the east at the cost of less firepower - and thus, more invader gains - in the South, especially in the Atlanta/Memphis area.
 
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