AXIS TACTICS: AGGRESSIVE PLAY FOR THE DEFENSIVE-MINDED AXIS PLAYER
by: Don Rae
What follows is a treatise of the traditional Axis playout paradigm. I have broken this essay into two sections:
1) "A Review of Axis Traditional Play Characteristics" (IMPORTANT)
2) "The Basic Axis Grand Strategy" (IMPORTANT)
3) "The Advanced Axis Grand Strategy" (Not as important - this is very hard to utilize in a typical game).
The core reading material consists of sections #1 and #2. These sections contain the essence of the BEST OPTIMIZED AXIS PLAYOUT POSSIBLE (which I use for 95% of my own gameplay).
1) A REVIEW OF AXIS TRADITIONAL PLAY CHARACTERISTICS
The Axis have to attack aggressively, expanding rapidly, in order to expand their base of income quickly.
Any Axis play strategy that does not adopt this principle, will die an unfortunate death to the Allies. The question of "the best way to accomplish this" is detailed in various ways, and most Axis players tend to choose one gambit or another, hoping to get the good start that will propel their forces to victory.
This is not necessary at all, since the Axis have several open play routes available to them....but it's really a case of optimizing that route to its fullest advantage.
I will now describe the overall Axis situation, of which the Axis strategical method(s) will attempt to address:
Let's Describe Germany's Traditional Basic Objectives:
1) Attack and Re-enforce Africa, Expanding Germany's income base, and Decreasing Britain's Income Base
2) Build Offense/Defense on the Russian front, in order to wear down the Russians and keep them at bay.
3) Keep U.S. and British forces at bay through preventative measures, placing defensive infantry on African and France based fronts to prevent this eventuality.
These are all fine and noteworthy objectives. They are all absolutely essential to keep a consistent income base for aggressive and defensive operations. Germany is capable of expanding into Africa in a variety of means or manner, quickly, in the early turns of the game.
However, after turn 3, it seems that the U.S. player is threatening on every almost front, limiting your expansion; this fact is further emphasized by the (Essay #2) "Shuck-Shuck" move that is inevitably going to hit the German shores, on all fronts. Once the U.S. player gets into the game, it becomes a "race" to achieve the "better front capability" for both sides.
It is a very noteworthy fact that German infantry is "absolutely necessary in France", to maintain a capable defensive front against both the British and the U.S., and are considered otherwise absolutely useless to the German player, as they are effectively paralyzed by their own entrenchment. This required investment grows over time, while the U.S. player begins to mount more and more capable forces, further decreasing the capacity Germany has to defend against Russia, as well as their ability to hold territory within the African continent.
This is the effect that the U.S. (and later, Russia and Britain) always causes on Germany through proper optimized play, eventually and gradually overwhelming the German player through patient and consistent buildup of force along the Euro-Atlantic fronts. This is a force that Germany has traditionally not been able to stop effectively (they are left with an air force sacrifice to get rid of one U.S. fleet, usually) due to the ability of the Allies to simply "re-build what they lost, and carry on", while Germany is scrambling for resources.
All of this, unfortunately, is a real problem for the German player, who has to be able to defend against 3 Allies that are capable of producing units on all of it's fronts (all of whom can potentially hit Germany's fronts on the next turn after a build), as opposed to Japan, who really only has two fronts that have to be considered (with only one of which can attack Japan's front on the next turn after building units, and only if an Indian factory is built by the British).
This is why the Allied players, if they're perceptive enough about the A&A game, will ALWAYS play strategies to squeeze and defeat Germany first, as it is the sole Axis country that can be pressured early, quickly, and EVERY turn, from all angles; one German mistake, and it's usually "Game Over for Germany". In traditional play, this event also means that it's usually game over, period. This is especially so if the Allies play the U.S. "shuck-shuck" strategy, no matter what the Axis player(s) attempt to do.
So the real issue for the Germans is summarized as thus:
The U.S. player must be delayed significantly, or stopped entirely, in order for the Germans to expand and/or keep themselves alive in all stages of the game. The Germans must always be cashing out big, and diametrically preventing the other Allied players from cashing out big in the process, to prevent the forthcoming death brought from the sheer force of the U.S. economic base and it's optimized deployment (Shuck-Shuck) strategy.
This objective should be carried out, somehow in some manner, to be able to defeat the Allies.
Now let's describe Japan's Traditional Basic Objectives:
1) Rapidly expand the Japanese economic base, through invading Asian-based territories.
2) Address mainland pressures brought about by a British-built Indian Factory, if it exists.
3) Push the Russians back, taking more and more of their territory, as soon as possible, minimizing their economic ability to deal with the German front. Take away Russian income as often as possible!
4) Destroy all Pacific based U.S. fleet within striking distance of Japan's island base.
These objectives are fairly broad in scope, and have a timing factor built in because of the "default German situation" on the other side of the continent...if you run out of time, Germany is defeated. If this happens, Japan is not likely to bear the burden of war alone, because of the economic superiority it will face - "game over", in other words.
So what can the Japanese accomplish here?
Objective 1 can be accomplished rapidly, for sure, using the "first turn purchase and strategy" outlined in essay #1 - Purchasing the Right Units for the Long Term War
Objective 2 can be accomplished, but only if Japan has enough survival time bought by the Germans in keeping themselves alive until then.
Objective 3 can be accomplished if the Russian player is forced to divert more resources to their German front lines, especially if they are not supplemented by Allied support (specifically: U.S. infantry support).
Objective 4 can be accomplished rapidly, as the Japanese strength in the Pacific is unparallelled by the U.S. equivalent forces, with more than enough strength to dominate the Pacific early.
So the real issue for the Japanese is summarized as thus, after considering Germany's weak positional and tactical related problems, and Japan's own relative weaknesses and strengths:
Japan must divert Allied pressure off of Germany somehow, by utilizing the strength of its resources to threaten Allied targets as appropriate.
2) THE BASIC AXIS GRAND STRATEGY
I use this basic strategy 95% of the time when playing 2nd edition rules....this play method is usually good enough against most opposition, and it offers the best OPTIMIZED deployment oriented approach to the axis-centered A&A game.
For most players, including myself....the following play method should almost always apply if you want to win consistently as the Axis:
1) Use the "basic build" as described by the first essay, for both axis players. Follow all the attack guidelines for the basic strategy notes in the first essay (if this is possible, otherwise...you can just revert to using the infantry push mechanic and the Dead Zone to their fullest advantages).
2) Above all else, preserve your Axis airforce on your first turn attack, and do NOT lose more than one fighter as Germany, 1 fighter or bomber with Japan. I won't get into the detailed reasons behind this....but I will simply summarize it as such that if you do lose more than this, you won't have a hope of winning against Allied gameplay which is almost-to-fully optimized. Preserve those fighters and bombers....they are your long term strength when using the infantry push mechanic!
3) Use the Infantry Push Mechanic as described in the first essay, and build infantry to reinforce and build up your fronts, use your available fighters to supplement offense when possible, and to help hold fronts (by preventing them from becoming dead zones - see essay #4).
4) Germany should concentrate on holding its european fronts, building vast quantities of infantry for several turns to hold their european core territories (france, s europe, e europe, germany) without risk of unwarranted allied invasion.
5) Japan should take out Soviet Far East and Yakut as soon as possible, while concentrating primarily on the India factory (if it exists). If the India factory does not exist, reinforce the mainland with a few turns of infantry, then start building an occasional tank here and there to supplement mainland offense. You may have an opportunity to build a 3rd turn factory in Manchuria or elsewhere as the case may warrant it. (try to do this while "not interrupting your infantry flow to the mainland").
6) Always try to take out Soviet occupied territories whenever possible according to the dead zone and IPM guidelines to reduce the overall russian income base as much as possible. The more of this that can be done....the better off the Axis play position will be in the mid-to-endgame.
7) Japan builds the infantry push mechanic to the point where it overhwhelms any India factory, then turns it's full attention to the Russians, by conentrating their forces on Russian occupied territorites.
8) Japan attempts to split the Russian front by threatening the Russian eastern flank, while the Germans begin to bust out of their hole on the Russian western flank.
9) Either Japan or Germany ends up invading Russia with superior or overwhelming force, if possible, after building up this force over several more turns. It's often easier to accomplish this with Japan, but sometimes you can set up a one-two punch with Germany strafing Russia first, while Japan finishes them. Whatever the situation warrants, for sure.
Loosely described, the game playout that usually happens is this (if the India factory has been built, and if the die rolls don't screw up your game 3 turns in a row, or something like that):
Germany takes out most of Africa, maybe transporting an extra tank to assist in this endeavor.
Japan eventually overwhelms an India factory through the use of the infantry push mechanic.
Germany sits and waits, patiently building resources, until Japan can afford to split up Russia's front.
Once Japan has mathematically secured the India factory on their turn, they should be building another factory to bolster the offense on the mainland on that same turn. They can now concenrate on the core Russian territories that surround Russia itself. By now, the Japanese should have sufficient infantry built up to assist the purchase of tanks for their buildup and assault on Russia....and Africa is falling or has fallen back under Allied control.
Once sufficient pressure has been placed on Russia's eastern flank, the German front line should be prepared for an assault on the western Russian flank, or to put more pressure on any other allied forces waiting there.
The Axis offensive buildup is meant to become unstoppable, eventually.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? It's the most optimized path to victory available to the Axis. It will probably lose consistently to Allied play that is PERFECT. But, it really has to be perfect, and is anyone really ever that good?
This Concludes this Essay on
AXIS TACTICS: AGGRESSIVE PLAY FOR THE DEFENSIVE-MINDED AXIS PLAYER
Have fun, and please let me know how your Axis games turn out in the future.
Regards - Don Rae (c) 1998, 2000, 2002
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