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Axis & Allies: 1942» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The Great Russian Gamble (First Edition Session Report) rss

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Christian Kalk
Canada
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NOTE: This session was played using the 1st Edition OOB map and rules. I played the game solo in order to test out some strategies, and to that end, I "fudged" the rolls from time to time (details in the report) when the luck seemed to be running too strong in one direction or the other.

Also, I played through a couple days ago, and I didn't take notes or pictures, so I going from memory. Hopefully I don't forget any important details!!

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Round 1: The Gamble

This was the key strategy that I wished to test out: the Russians open the game with an all-out assault on the German position, invading Eastern Europe with the Infantry from Karelia, the Tank from Archangel, and both Fighters; invading Ukraine with all forces from Caucasus, plus the Tanks from Russia. Remaining forces from Russia and Archangel all piled into West Russia. The multi-prong attack was a calculated risk; each battle had a fair chance of success, but a loss in ANY of the three fights could have been disastrous.

The Gods of War were smiling on the Russians, however, and frowning on the Germans. West Russia was taken with a decisive victory, a single Tank was left to hold Eastern Europe, but the devastating blow fell in Ukraine: even after re-rolling the German defense twice, I still felt compelled to award an additional casualty against the Russians, leaving only 2 Tanks, rather than 3, to hold the territory.

One fighter landed rather precariously in Karelia, the other found safety in Caucasus. Russia produced a mix of Infantry and Artillery, which were divided between the two factories.

Germany began in a very unattractive position, with nearly all his forward troops annihilated by the brutal Russian assault. In particular, the loss of 2 fighters was painful. Still, there was essential business that needed to be taken care of. Egypt had to be taken, and the UK Battleship had to die; both operations succeeded as planned. The fighter from Western Europe was less successful, failing it's gamble against the Cruiser in SZ13. Ground troops poured into Karelia (including troops transported from Germany) to execute the stranded Russian fighter and pose a significant threat on the current'y-undefended Northern route. Eastern Europe was easily liberated, but once again, Ukraine was nothing but a death march for the Germans, and they limped a Tank and a Fighter back to the Balkans after failing to inflict a single hit against the fearsome Russian Tanks (once again, after re-rolling the German attack and failing to improve the results).

At this point, the war appeared to be pretty much decided. Germany was in tatters after only 1 turn.

UK was not at all shy about kicking a downed enemy. Declaring total commitment to ending the European conflict as quickly as possible, UK chose not to reinforce India, focusing all available production on Europe. The Canadian transport dropped troops in Norway, supported by RAF fighters to destroy the defending German planes (and so avenge the loss of the navy). Meanwhile the Bomber made the long flight to join the SZ13 Cruiser to assault the Battleship in the Med, essentially ending German naval operations. Once again, German performance was abysmal, and both UK units survived the fight. The Indian navy was put to good use, recapturing Egypt while the Carrier went suicidal against the Japanese Transport in SZ59, stalling Japanese operations on the mainland. An amphibious assault on New Guinea failed, but no one really cared. A couple destroyers appeared in the Atlantic to combat the roving German U-Boats, and protect the new Transport.

Japan's first turn was probably my worst tactical blunder of the game. In an attempt to discourage US from adding too much pressure to the conflict in Europe, I opted to invade Alaska on J1, rather than using all available power to overwhelm Asia. The attack on Pearl Harbour was successful, but the invasion of China resulted in the loss of all ground units, Japan choosing the preservation of a valuable fighter over the gain of the territory.

US responded by recapturing Alaska, eliminating the Transport and Battleship that had made the assault, and also dropping 2 full loads into Algeria, landing with no losses. Additional Transports for both coasts, and a swarm of Subs for the Pacific, and the US was ready to join the effort on both fronts.

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Round 2: The Big Squeeze

Russia chose not to attack on the second round, other than to send a fighter to eliminate the German Transport in the Med. Instead, Ukraine was strengthened with reinforcements from Caucasus, and Archangel was fortified against the northern advance. Massed infantry held the line in the East, and Russia rested with another large stack of cash.

With Ukraine essentially unassailable for the time being, Germany attempted to put together a significant threat. Archangel was overrun, and the front line advanced to Belorussia, but Africa and the Atlantic were lost for the time being, although U-Boat attacks did manage to sink on of the 2 UK transports.

UK capitalized on the earlier success by launching D-Day, relying on devastating air support to overwhelm the defenders. Intended to soften the opposition for a US landing, the assault was more successful than anticipated, and, after sacrificing a Fighter, a single Tank remained to liberate France. With nothing left to oppose Allied troops in Africa of the Med, UK consolidated all available units in an attempt to hold India.

Japan finally got in the game properly on J2, consolidating naval power, moving taking China, and preparing to annihilate all Allied forces in Asia the following turn. A factory was built in FIC to support the push, and things looked promising.

US took a quick look at the situation in Europe, and, after moving their Algerian landing party to reinforce the Brits in France, decided their attention was more needed elsewhere, so the full turn's production was spent on the Pacific. A pair of shiny new Carriers eased out of drydocks, and the US Navy was loaded up to hunt some Japanese bear.

Round 3: Too little, too late

Russia continued their devastation of the Germans, smashing the northern threat in Archangel, making sure the Germans would remain on the defensive, while beginning plans to shift some troops east.

Germany finally had some success, recapturing France while also finally managing to push the Russians out of Ukraine, but their standing army remained pitifully weak.

UK, maintained the pressure, once again using air power to overwhelm France, adding a third Transport to their Atlantic fleet and a Cruiser for support.

Japan finally exploded this turn, capturing India and Sinkiang, and effortlessly demolishing the large Russian force in Buryatia. Africa was wide open to them, and it appeared Russia would now have to let up on Germany in order to defend themselves against this new threat.

Japanese dominance was an illusion, however, as the US Navy finally was able to take action. The Japanese navy was all but obliterated, Wake Island fell to the Marines, and US was well positioned to start knocking off Japan's Pacific income, a loss that would counteract most of their recent gains, while in the Atlantic, they prepared a new landing force to counter the Japanese should they reach Africa.

Round 4: Last Gasp

The last round was a formality. Russia turned some troops East to stall the Japanese advance, still being able to push the line West against the Germans, reclaiming Karelia and advancing to Belorussia and Ukraine.

Germany once again reclaimed France, but lacked the forces to do any more than brace for the next wave.

UK invade Normandy for the third time, landing the surviving fighters in Algeria in preparation for a new Egyptian campaign.

With no means of combating the mighty US Navy, Japan attempted to make good in Asia, but their attack stalled out against the defending Russians, and they failed to gain more ground there, although they did creep forward to threaten Egypt.

The US blow this turn was the last straw for the Axis. The Philippines and Kwangtung both fell to the US, and with additional transports loaded up to follow, there seemed no way to prevent a decisive US landing in Asia.

The Axis surrendered.

Analysis:
Russia's first-round attack pretty much guaranteed a short game, and is not a move I would normally recommend. Although the odds favoured the Russians in all three battles, only the West Russia invasion could be considered a sure thing, and a loss in either of the other battles could have been devastating. Russia basically gambled the entire game on the first turn.

Germany's risky counter was essentially forced. With so much ground they needed to recover, and their air force overworked after losing 2 fighters to Russian attacks, they had to trust to luck to achieve their goals and recapture the initiative. They were unsuccessful, but I think the results would have been just as dismal had they played cautiously instead. A successful counterattack in Ukraine, however, could have changed the game considerably.

Japan's blunder first turn meant they were a turn slow with all their threats. Would it have made enough of a difference if they'd done it right? Possibly.

Comments, observations, and independent analysis welcome!!
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MILLINGTON
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Japan attacking Alaska is a total waste of time and I would not do that. You should lose minimal forces to take parts of China. The US fleet in Hawaii needs to be destroyed.
 
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Christian Kalk
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USMMA95 wrote:
Japan attacking Alaska is a total waste of time and I would not do that. You should lose minimal forces to take parts of China. The US fleet in Hawaii needs to be destroyed.


I 100% agree...the attack into Alaska had a couple negative repercussions: first, it reduced the number of ground troops in Asia. Second, because I wasn't going to be landing fresh troops in Manchuria to hold it against the Russians, I had to go a bit light into China, meaning a bad roll forced me to choose to preserve my last Inf to take the space, it hang on to the Fighter. Slowed Japan down in Asia by at least a full turn. The Hawaiian fleet was destroyed on J1, but US rebuilt quickly.

As it turned out, Germany was crushed far too quickly for Japan to have mattered even with best performance and luck in their favour.
 
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