Essay #5 - Tactical Purchasing For The Knowledge Based Victory
By: Don Rae
If you have read all of the previous essays, you will understand the essence of the "infantry push mechanic" (essay #1), the successful manipulation of the Dead Zone to your advantage (essay #4), and some of the more important basic elements of strategy that can be utilized in your favor (essays #1, #2, and #3).
The next topic of discussion deals with a concept that centres around the true heart of the Axis and Allies mechanics of the game turn - the right way to purchase your offensive-based units, when to do it, and why!
This essay assumes that you understand all the points as contained by the previous essays, including the necessity of unit buildups, defensive strength, and the averages returned against the purchase value for each unit. Please review the previous material if you are not sure about any of this.
I now have a few points to make about purchasing and tactical play, now that you have reviewed the previous essays....lets just take a quick backward look at the definition of...
The Infantry Push Mechanic:
Always purchase infantry for your land-based fronts before you buy tanks (or fighters or bombers), take the time to develop your fronts, pushing your infantry out to them first, reenforcing them with attack capable units only after you have established a solid front (that is, one that is not in a Dead Zone - see Essay #4 for details). After you have established a sufficient infantry (defensive) presence, you can then buy additional (attack) units, such as tanks (or fighters, bombers) to suit your individual situation, without fear of wasting them needlessly or quickly on your front lines.
This is a fine and well established point by now.
Through utilizing this basic mechanic, you will eventually establish solid front line structures....and the means to start purchasing other types of units, eventually. This will have been accomplished by keeping your start-of-game and purchased units alive long enough to start thinking even more offensively than you were before, while looking for just the right kinds of opportunities to start purchasing units with more offensive potential.
So When Can You Start Thinking More "Offensively"?
"When" to go more offensive in your purchasing, is "when" you have achieved the better front line structures and tactical capability through the optimized use of dead zone management, after conducting your offense according to the guidelines as illustrated in the infantry push mechanic.
Considering this, there are a few general guidelines to be followed from both the Allied and Axis standpoint, in context against the style of play that you are faced against:
Assuming Good Play from your Opponent(s):
This kind of reasoning assumes that your opponents, as well as yourself and your allies, truly understand and utilize everything about all the concepts as described in all of the essays.
If this is really the case, and if you understand the essence of the "infantry push mechanic" and the "dead zone" concepts implicitly, you should be able to answer "when you should conduct your offense" easily, already.
The easiest answer to this question then is: as soon as your tactical positioning allows you to do this, when faced against the other player's tactical posturing and gameplay that is based upon all of the principles I've tried to describe in these essays.
In this essay, I will illustrate "the art of the tactical purchasing response", with some examples.
Assuming Poor Play from your Opponent(s):
Well, quite frankly, this should also be obvious if you understand the essay contents, and if you apply the strategical content of them directly to your game. Hopefully, you have obtained this understanding by now - because it is this understanding that will allow you to avoid the types of problematic tactical circumstances that arise from poor purchasing habits.
In game circumstances where both players are not purchasing correctly, you will find that these players will tend to compound their opponent's purchasing mistakes by making purchasing mistakes of their own. This kind of faulty purchasing most often results in lines that don't go anywhere very quickly (an example of a common enough situation that results from this is an "empty" Axis and Allies board, with very few units in play for both sides)...or one side that completely dominates the other (which tends to be the Axis in most circumstances, due to the nature of the game setup and startup).
I firmly state that this can only occur when you have poor purchasing habits, and when you do NOT follow the essay content guidelines in your approach to purchasing and tactics.
But, If your opponent does NOT follow the illustrated essay guidelines, and YOU understand all the tactical concepts and strategical elements as described within all of these essays, and use them to their maximum effectiveness, it is usually a frightfully simple process to take advantage of any situation that develops from your opponent's poor purchasing!!
If your front lines are developed properly, and your opponent has wasted their turns on purchasing offensive units that can carry out no realistic objective in face of your "infantry push mechanic" and "dead zone" based defensive/offensive structures, you then only need to do some or all of the following things:
1) Continue to set up Dead Zones, and wait for your opponent(s) offense to stall out on your front lines.
2) "Response purchase" more offense for your front lines after your opponent made a poor defensive purchase for their front lines to tip the overall balance on attack odds.
3) De-bottleneck or re-establish weak fronts that you need to bolster once again, allowing new fronts to develop more naturally
4) Perform an expensive, but beneficial purchase at this moment in time...such as an extra industrial complex, bomber, or otherwise tactically beneficial unit(s).
5) And so on!!!!???
This list can potentially be endless. These are only brief descriptions of what can happen in a given game situation, if your opponent does not leverage their purchases to limit your overall capability and/or potential advantages when YOU have capable defensive front lines and/or tactical flexibility.
This is all because your position will be naturally superior to your opponent(s), because you will eventually overwhelm them through the sheer force of your unit quantities and unit offense/defense averages, all due to the natural capability that was developed directly from your "dead zone management" and your use of "the infantry push mechanic".
In this essay, I will be illustrating some classic examples of poor play (just as I have done so in previous essays...after reading this one, you may wish to review some of these previous examples in the other essays....just for fun, I think I will use a few "first turn examples" taken at random from the various internet sources that exist), and some examples of player(s) poor purchasing habits....
....AND their responses.....
All of which should provide you with some very entertaining reading and many usable ideas that will vividly illustrate the "many methods of nailing the coffin shut on an inferior opponent".
Purchasing and Playing Against the Knowledgable Opponent
It is imperative that you ALWAYS assume a fairly high level of play competence in your opponent, in order for you to properly get your game up and running like a smooth, efficient invasion machine.
This means that you should never take unnecessary risks with your units (leaving them needlessly in potential dead zones), and you should never deviate from movement and purchasing methods that seek to limit your opponent's options, no matter who you face.
Chances are, if you happen to be the better strategical player, the other player(s) will be watching and learning from you from one game session to the next - so your purchase method must be the most effective one possible, right from the initial onset of the game. In other words, you can never make assumptions about your opponent's playing capability, because a wrong assumption can always be your ultimate undoing. Your purchasing and play, right from the beginning of game, should always reflect this philosophy....if you want to consistently win, that is.
Granted, it is sometimes highly entertaining to try and gamble with a strange first turn "gambit" approach...but this will hardly serve your ultimate purpose - defined usually as "always winning the game, every time you play".
So if you tend to waste a lot of your time, always trying to do something that "almost works" or "requires a lot of luck to win" - I can easily and confidently assure you that your tried approach is more simply defined as "bad play". These essays, after all, are designed to help the "competitive oriented" A&A player at every skill level, which can be otherwise defined as "someone who doesn't like to lose....period."
This is all an important part of the initial reasoning behind the development of the first turn purchase plan as described in the first essay. In that essay, I describe it as the most effective one available to get your initial game started.
Now, in addition to the comments I made about "why" this was the case, I will be illustrating some MORE of the tactical reasoning behind it, in context of the tactics and mechanics that surround the critical areas of the Axis and Allies gameboard. I will also be illustrating how to find weaknesses in the structures that have built up on the gameboard, and how to purchase to take advantage of them.
(During the remaining illustrations, I have to assume that you now fully understand the methods of the "infantry push mechanic" and the use of the "dead zone".)
The Required Focus for Utilizing Infantry Unit Strengths on Land Based Fronts
Infantry gives you the needed defensive strength, so that you may leverage this strength against waves of attackers. Infantry, just as importantly, gives you expendable units for your attacks into territorial areas of choosing.
Infantry, when stacked in large quantities, becomes a formidible defense force at your disposal, which suffers minor effects from attrition, and are more easily traded for more expensive units, if your opponent elects to attack the infantry defense structures. This fact alternatively also applies to any attack structure that you may wish to embark upon, due to the capability you may have within your dead zones.
To summarize what you are doing here - you are always trying to exchange units of cheaper value for units of more expensive value, and forcing this exchange whenever possible through your positional strength on the board and provide the constant threat of continuously accumulating forces and deploying them to create more and more Dead Zones in your favor.
After you have established a presence of strength, you will find that you have more and more capability to formulate Dead Zones - this focuses on the strengths and advantages that you may leverage through available infantry+available attack units.
Because the Infantry Push Mechanic exists as the most cost-efficient method of defense structuring and Dead Zone posturing, you must then always have to expect the types of tactical situations that result from it if your opponent plays the same way as you do......always accomodating for this in the way you play your game.
It's an interesting dilemna for both of these players.
Since you always have to assume that your opponent must be attempting to play the same way against you, the following tactical situation will develop, naturally, if both opposing sides are perceptive enough to remain in equal competition on any given front structure:
1) Both opposing forces will have relatively equal amounts of infantry being sent to their fronts, to keep the race equal on both fronts. This is usually a constant race on every front locale from the beginning of the game.
2) Both opposing forces will attempt to set up efficient dead zones with the available forces through redeployment, creating opportunities for terrtorial strikes or better defensive reenforcement.
3) Both opposing forces will be focusing their purchasing efforts on strengthening existing front structures and/or creating new front structures for the purpose of forcing an opponent into dealing with them.
All of these items are simply natural consequences of the Infantry Push Mechanic, combined with proper Dead Zone management. The complex tactical situation that develops from this kind of play is the deciding element that truly defines the difference between the novice and the advanced A&A game.
In order to accomplish adequate offensive leverage in such a situation, where the advanced A&A game is as such where the front line structures are built up solidly - it will take a little more than basic "brute force" or "purchasing leverage" to properly advance the situation at hand....
We Now Introduce the Concept of Leveraging the Law of "Cause and Effect" in the A&A Game
I think it was Sir Issac Newton who stated one of the more famous scientific laws: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Another law of science, probably attributed to nobody in particular, more or less states: "Every effect has a cause, and every cause will have an effect."
These laws apply themselves directly to the A&A session, in almost every circumstance of play, if you are playing in the advanced A&A game. Applied, the basic premise is:
If you initiate a tactical action against a front situation, there will always have to be a reaction to the resultant situation that presented itself. If this was not done, the first action will have set up a series of consequences to the opponent if it was not dealt with at all.
Cause and effect, cause and effect. This is always the essence of expert tactical play in Axis and Allies.
When trying to describe this situation to novice players, I tell them that it is easiest to think of the board situation as a grand theatre of "cause and effect", where every action by the players is noted by all the opposing players for their consideration, thus leading into appropriate and applicable purchasing and tactical responses.
Any threat that you set up in a tactical situation will then mean that the opposing player has to decide whether or not they will deal with that threat. This is an important chain of events that forces players to constantly deal with threat avenues, until they either run out of resources for that front, or they have to redeploy their forces to deal with a front situation, or they have to rely on their allies support to help them through a bad tactical situation. Of course, this will subsequently then entice the other players into using their resources to deal with the situation at hand...and so on and so on.
This kind of dynamic often occurs when allied troops (on either side, Axis or Allies) find themselves in close proximity of one another, or when someone changes their purchasing method slightly to open up a new avenue of offense or defense, or when redeployment of the unit forces happen....and so on.
In such a dynamic "theater", the idea of the diversion is the often needed circumstance that can tip the tactical situation to your favor.
In order to create an adequate diversion with your available forces, which should have been adequately built up by the infantry push mechanic (plus any necessary fleet accumulations), you will need to focus on the following items in conducting your overall strategy, in the following order:
1) Never allow your units to be sacrificed within a dead zone without due reason or cause, such as opening up an obvious tactical benefit of some kind (see point #4 below).
2) Never allow an important non-sacrificable front (or "stage area"...this is defined later) to collapse due to inattention
3) Create new advancement opportunites by shifting your forces around if you are able to do so, thus creating new dead zones or thus threatening to create them.
4) Use any spare forces you have available, through purchasing or redeployment or otherwise, to set up a new front that must be dealt with as a possible diversion....preferably surrounding an opponent's forces with the intent of forcing a reactive event from your opponent, or causing them to retreat in some fashion (through the creation of a new dead zone), or deployment (perhaps a sacrificial move, if this is what it takes to easily add pressure to a dead zone in some relevant tactical area) with the intention of receiving some needed tactical benefit or relief from a pressured situation.
Again, you are still using the "infantry push mechanic" and "dead zone management" methods as the tools to deliver these objectives.
This brings us to the next point, if we need to focus your purchasing and tactical efforts against the grand "theater" of the boardgame structure:
Where should we be focusing our primary reenforcement and deployment efforts, if at all possible?
In the overall game "theater", I would like to point out that there are several important "portions of the stage" or "stage areas" to consider when assessing the overall tactical situation for both Axis and Allies, and when assigning your purchasing appropriately and efficiently, and when deploying these purchased resources!.
Before you conduct your purchasing, the situational conditions existing in each of these "stage areas" needs to be focused upon, before anything else.
To really understand the situation on the overall board, you must know the overall importance of that front area in the grand scheme of the game mechanics. Once you have this understanding, you can then apply your purchasing and "response purchasing" appropriately.
Any failure to properly deal with the primary front, or "stage area #1" - results in immediate disaster...death or obvious resignation within 2 to 4 turns.
Failure to properly deal with the secondary and other stage areas leads to rapid containment of a country and/or overwhelmed front structures...the affected country's death may be prolonged, but it is certainly inevitable. (That is, unless someone else will lose a country first. I've seen plenty of games where Russia and Germany both fell on the same turn...)
So here they are - these are the most important areas to focus on, during all your gameplay, from increased to decreased order of importance:
Stage Area #1 - The Karellia/East Europe/Germany Conflict
This isn't hard to figure out, as it is easily the most important balancing stage for both Axis and Allies. The game can be won or lost here, almost immediately, in one decisive stroke of action!
A collapse of the front on either side, Russian or German, most often results in the game being won or lost, immediately, for either Axis or Allies. This is entirely due to the close proximity of the production centres, each producing unlimited units (save for cash on hand) which are within immediate striking distance of each other - a fact that should not be lost on ANY player, no matter what happens anywhere else on the gameboard!
Since this is always the case, it is then easy to conclude that both the Russians and the Germans need to focus on this front as their foremost primary goal when conducting their defensive spending, and it is ALWAYS their FIRST effort to deal with this front structure, every turn, ALWAYS maximizing the capability to defend this front structure, and eventually and gradually, to set up a capable attack on it (through the laws of the Dead Zone).
The goal of "defensive spending for this front", then, must ALWAYS be reflected in the purchasing and deployment that both of these nations must do every turn, without any exception, whatsoever.
Any ignorance of this front, such as purchasing units that will not end up dealing with the direct defense against the interaction of the opposing forces on this front....will simply lead to your ultimate doom. It is the primary expectation of both Russians and Germans to defend it to the maximum, to prevent an early invasion (like, oh...say turn 4 or 5) and subsequent early occupation of either side.
The essence of the Allied strength on this front is formidible, especially if the following sequence of situational events are allowed to occur:
1) The Americans or British reenforce Karelia steadily over the course of several turns.
2) Any available British, then American forces invade and take East Europe with significant force, any applicable Dead Zone factoring is combined with the next event:
3) The Russian player, before the German player gets their turn, reenforces East Europe with all of their available forces, all the while they have made sure that they are not moving these combined Allied forces into a German Dead Zone (which is based upon the calculated loss averages for any possible attack on the East Europe territory).
These are the crucial events that the German player is ultimately trying to prevent, somehow, in order to prevent the overall collapse of this front which will most likely lead to their eventual defeat and elimination.
Don's Personal Notes:
I can't believe how many times I see players ignoring these facts. You cannot afford to ignore this front, ever! Certainly not early in the game, and certainly not later once the other Allies are there and are generally available to help out the Russians directly!
If the Russians are smart enough to buy infantry every turn, keeping their unit defense averages up to maximum, the Germans should then be forced into having to match the amount of that infantry with a relatively equal amount of their own, so that they don't fall behind in the "dead zone" race!! If the Germans do not prevent this from happening, the Russians can time an offensive oriented purchase, which can allow them to often launch an invasion on their own a few turns later without really needing too much help from either the U.K. or the U.S.!!
I've seen this happen time and time and time again, and there is simply no excuse for this.
German players...take NOTE:
If the Germans do not buy the infantry they need, to hold this front for "now "and for "later on when the rest of the Allies show up to help reenforce in and around Karelia", the German front structure will eventually be outnumbered easily, and will be subsequently crushed by pure strength of numbers against them.
Between the two players, the German player is more likely to make the most mistakes when it comes to the first turn purchase, and any later subsequent purchases, in reflection of these facts. The German player needs to be constantly aware of the problems that this front always creates, especially after any U.K or U.S. forces begin to arrive to reenforce Karelia!
If Germany falls behind in this "infantry defense race", it is then a simple matter for the Allied forces to advance upon East Europe, take it, and hold it, and then on the next turn or a few turns later, Germany is thus invaded and defeated.
Why? All because Germany probably did not reenforce this front right from the beginning of the game, foolishly buying non-essential (to this front) fleet, aircraft, or other such nonsense instead of the infantry they needed!!
When this happens, this is the most basic mistake you can make on this front. If playing Germany or Russia, and if you purchase anything less than "solid infantry" in "relatively equal quantities" against each other on this front structure, you can then simply expect to lose that front structure, eventually. This will always happen, due to the averages on defense odds, no matter what kind of offense you purchase!
These events are obviously labelled as "purchasing and deployment mistakes", if you do not defensively reenforce these lines to their maximum capability, every turn. In more general terms, this would be simply defined and referred to as "poor play".
Yes, this is a real problem for Germany, and I guess I can sympathize with the Axis player on this one. The Germans have a lot of fronts to defend, namely France, East Europe, Africa, Germany itself, etc...and the temptation to spend too much on their other fronts is great, indeed. Yes, it is tough when you are watching yourself lose your overall offensive strength because you need to hold your front on the Eastern Europe side of things...but if you lose this front, the game is simply over. (The Germans really have to rely upon some kind of Japanese effort against Russia, or some other form of support assistance, in order to help them alleviate these problems!)
The Russians always set the pace for this race, because they always purchase first! This always forces Germany into a defensive front situation here, so recognition of this situation always needs to take precedence in your purchasing and deployment, no matter what else happens!!
If the Russians decide to not build infantry on this front line structure, it conversely provides the Germans with the opposite situation - it will be Germany who will be able to leverage the advanatages on this front, if the Russians build anything but infantry for this front structure on the first turn.
All of this reasoning is factored into why I say: "If you are purchasing anything but a significant quantity of infantry every turn, purchasing other units that would not enable you to leverage defensive capability normally against the creation of dead zones against you....then you can simply expect certain death for yourself sometime later within the next few turns".
I often say this to players who make this mistake, immediately after they have finished deploying their forces: "You're dead in a few turns. Do you really want to play this out?" They usually never believe this until they lose, very decisively, a few turns later (and they then often complain about "their bad luck" or "my good luck", or some other such nonsense).
It is this very type of situation, among the many others on the gameboard, that amplifies entire essence and necessity of the "infantry push mechanic" and the recognition of the "dead zone factor".
Stage Area #2 - The Assault on the African Continent Front(s)
The Axis and Allies game is also heavily centered upon the occupation of the African continent, as this area tends to determine which side, Axis or Allies, will have the most income for their purchasing and subsequent tactical operations.
In light of this fact, Germany's main aggressive-based attention should be focused on taking over this continent, so that it's income value can be added to Germany's based income, and be subtracted from Britain's base income. This is the first priority on all "attacking fronts" for the Axis, because the British have a lot of potential to cash out high for too many turns if this isn't done quickly enough, thus causing all kinds of grief for the Axis in the obvious form of "plenty of extra Allied units on the gameboard".
The German player should be seeking to occupy as much of this continent as possible, quickly, while balancing the attack structure against the need to defend the African shores from a possible U.K. or U.S. attempt at liberation, while not losing any significant units in the process. If possible, occasional reenforcement into this area can keep the German income base high over subsequent turns.
The U.K. and U.S. should try to keep pressure on the Germans in order to liberate this territory in order to increasethe U.K. income base, invading and forcing the Germans into counterattack (dead zone) responses on any invaded West African nations. The deeper into Africa these Allied forces go, the less capabilty that Germany will have overall, economically, to defend their other front areas (such as the important East Europe front area).
Don's Personal Notes:
While observing games of Axis and Allies, there is truly nothing worse than watching someone playing Germany, who is not reenforcing Africa with their first turn transport in the Mediterranean. This mistake is a tremendous error, and has incredible reprocussions on the Axis gameplay:
1) The Germans will probably never cash out higher than 28 to 32 after the Allies start counterattacking their occupied territories in Europe and in Africa, for the remainder of the game. By then, it will be too late to reenforce this area or start an offensive. Germany will then die, quickly, because they will not have enough infantry defense available, due to lack of income, by the time the U.S. and U.K start building up forces and invading their shores.
2) The British are allowed to cash out incredibly high, every turn. I've personally seen games where this total has hovered as high as 35 (!!!) for the British, by around turn 3 or 4. What can't the British do with their income if they're allowed to cash out this high, every turn!!?
It is also a strange and perplexing event to witness a German invasion of Egypt on the first turn, using a tank and an infantry...
If the Germans lose even one unit in this battle, which they should on average, it will cripple their advancement capability severely, depleting it almost to the point where the African advance stands a good chance of failing. Not only that, but these forces are left in a U.K. "dead zone" - the British player may decide to counterattack this territory, using the infantry from India and Syria/Iraq, with a fighter to spare for the battle. Combined with a response of a first turn British South African Factory, and the northern advancement of the South African Infantry, this blocks off any further advancement into British African territory for a number of turns - probably too many, because the U.S. will probably be mobilized enough by then to deal with the German units, wherever they are. The Germans are thus choked off from an income base rather rapidly, very early in the game, most often resulting in death for them sooner, unless they get lucky somehow. This whole analysis reduces the status of this overall approach to a "gambit".
Notice that I said: "get lucky" and "good chance of failing" and "gambit" in the previous paragraph. These are obvious indicators that this move is the very essence of "poor play".
Instead, if the Germans utilize the "infantry push mechanic" - the Germans should deploy two infantry from Southern Europe to Libya (or Algeria) on the first turn (during the non-combat phase, after only taking two territories in Africa on the combat movement phase with infantry). This will force the British into either consolidating their African forces (not very likely, because this is eventual suicide for these forces), counterattacking (if they're foolish), or retreating them towards the direction of India (so they can safely build a factory there, in order to start putting pressure on the Japanese front). Then later, you can then try to add more "attack capable" units into the area later, to help clean things up...
Stage Area #3 - The U.S. Shuck-Shuck Manoever in the Atlantic Ocean (See Essay #2)
The United States' ability to push their infantry onto a crucial German frontline area on every turn (see Essay #2 for details), should cause great concern for every Axis player. This kind of play almost always forces Germany into a defensive "holding action" type of stance, and this nation in particular MUST consider the possibility of an eventual infantry-push-mechanic based advance with combined U.S. and Russian forces into E. Europe later on in the game - PREPARING FOR THIS EVENT MANY TURNS IN ADVANCE.
Getting too aggressive with Germany, when you don't have very good odds of winning your battles and holding your lines, DRASTICALLY increases the chance of an early Axis loss of game, before Japan's influence becomes a real factor against expert level players.
A lack of German infantry units often leads to an early invasion of France by the shuck-shuck, which is back-breaking to say the least. The German player must keep an eye on this U.S. troop deployment, and be VERY careful not to overdeploy into Africa, or waste their units needlessly.....preserving units to fight off or prevent an American advance is crucial to winning and surviving the long term game.
Don's Personal Notes:
When playing Germany, steps to "rid yourself of a large U.S. transport fleet" should be evaluated at some point in the game, preferably earlier, before the fleet can survive several attack rounds. It is NOT a wise idea to lose all your German airforce in any battle against a shuck-shuck fleet, since this air power is crucial in helping you beat back the Russian advance on the eastern flank, or even to hold a position from time to time.
The United States can also do a lot of damage by invading France at a crucial moment - this should be done to draw German infantry away from the E. Europe lines, if possible, so that American infantry and tanks, then Russian infantry and tanks, can take and hold E. Europe solidly - with the general purpose of breaking Germany's back, once and for all.
German players should be keeping a very close eye on how many troops they deploy to the African mainland.....if they deploy too many in the early game, they won't have enough a little later on to defend against the inevitable American/Russian push!
German players also need to keep France heavily fortified against the shuck-shuck invasion, at all costs. It's a very bad event to witness a lost battle in this territory, since you are probably always forced to take it back (to get your income back), forcing you to weaken E. Europe drastically!
If using some of the Axis advanced play notes (build extra bombers with Germany, swing a Japanese fleet over to S. Africa), keep an eye out for an opportunity to use the Japanese fleet as a distraction for the shuck-shuck....or to help rebuild German transports if they're required again at some point in the game. When combined with a well timed airforce sacrifice (leaving the "extra bombers" alive, it is possible to build a large round of (aggressive) tanks on the same turn to start pushing the Russians....and sometimes it's possible to launch a surprise attack on Britain after positioning the Japanese fleet on the shores of France, if the Germans somehow positioned their available transports correctly for this possibility!
Stage Area #4 - The Japanese "Infantry Push" to any British Indian or American Sinkiang Factory
If using the infantry push mechanic, the Japanese will eventually and easily overwhelm any India factory that is built down there. This should happen most often by turn six or so, or even sooner if the Allies blew the dead zone analysis somewhere in their turn sequences. Your purchasing should be reflecting this mechanic in its entirety, and should not shift until this factory has fallen conclusively.
The turn of "taking the factory" must also coincide with a turn of aggressive purchasing as well - maybe another factory on the board, or something like that....to help get the land attack/tank part of the Japanese game running!
If there is no India and/or Sinkiang factory, Japan is generally free to expand and increase their income levels- only the Russians will stand in their way in this playout. This kind of play is good news for Germany, who should be able to go more aggressive earlier on in the game if they manage their early turns well enough. The Japanese can also usually manage to build an occasional factory or two to help put more pressure on a chosen front area.
Don's Personal Notes:
People often forget about this when they argue against the India/Sinkiang factory as a valid playout option. In this kind of a playout, a very good German player can always hold out long enough for the Japanese to mount a quick offense on Russia (through buying a few more transports and some early game tanks to help out here, or maybe a factory when it can be afforded easily enough!). If the German player knows the dead zone well enough, this should always be possible.
Japan must not get impatient and deploy their forces into a marginal dead zone, hoping to kill the India factory a turn too early. I've seen far too many Axis games lost because of this very kind of initiative, when the British player takes everything they have, strafes Burma, then retreats with just enough force to hold it (and rebuild, etc etc)!
Going after the factory too early also puts the first turn Japanese transports out of position for optimal infantry push deployment, which almost always leads to Russia holding onto their territories longer than they should be allowed to. This is not a desirable alternative at all, for the reasons I'm about to state in "Stage Area #5".
Stage Area #5 - The Japanese North Asian Assault on the Russian Front
This is a very important area for the Japanese to invade and hold quickly, mainly to prevent the Russian income base from getting out of hand with their income base early on in the game. Infantry mechanic based purchasing will drive the Russians right out of this area, so it is important to stick to that basic gameplan, very early in the game!
The more income the Russia has earlier on in the game, the magnitude of difficulty in busting through the Karelia area front is drastically increased!
Don's Personal Notes:
One extra Russian infantry per turn, every turn for the first 5 turns, is a huge advantage for the Russians. The Japanese, if they don't try to knock out the two eastermost Russian territories earlier on, will have to contend with even more Russian defense later on! Even worse, Germany might be successfully contained because of this!, since that extra infantry can be deployed easily enough to Karelia without too much trouble, early on in the game!
Soviet Far East and Yakut must be taken away from the Russians as rapidly as possible, without leaving multitudes of Japanese units in the dead zone!
Stage Area #6 - The Balance of Power in the Pacific Ocean Islands and Shorelines
The Pacific areas are generally reduced in importance until the midgame, unless the U.S. has decided upon an anti-Japan strategy by building fleet in this ocean area.
The Japanese player who built transports in the early game should have mid-game opportunities to take out Australia, New Zealand, once the infantry push mechanic has successfully dominated the Burma/india/Sinkiang areas. Alternatively, a distracting invasion in Alaska or S. America may also cause some reaction from the U.S. player, potentially causing them to defocus for one turn of optimal shuck-shuck deployment.
The Americans always require three turns to deal with Japan's mainland over here:
1) Build sea units
2) Load land units and offload to an available island via transports
3) Try to Invade with the transports from the "island base"
This is a difficult kind of attack to carry out effectively, since Japan can invariably defend against this kind of attack well in advance - so the Japanese should always be encouraging and goading the Americans and the Allies into attacking them whenever possible (distracting their shuck-shuck deployment, if possible). If the Americans decide on trying this method of play out, Germany is generally given a LOT more breathing room to spare as a consequence!
The Pearl Harbor fleet should be attacked by the Japanese on the first turn, so that it cannot be used to help out the shuck-shuck in the Atlantic (the U.S. can simply drive this fleet through the Panama Canal, and have it ready and available for use by turn 3!)
Attempting a threat or invasion on the USA is often a completely useless Japanese initiative....more often than not, it takes forces away from the infantry push mechanic on the Asian area mainlands, where they could be put to better long-term use.
Don's Personal Notes:
I don't recommend trying out a Pacific War scenario at all:
1) a sophisticated American player should probably ignore the Pacific entirely, defend their shores using land units, and use any fleet they have to drive over to the Atlantic to help out the shuck-shuck deployment, which is the most optimal method of deployment.
2) the Japanese cannot afford a long term war in these Pacific areas, since they start off with an incredibly LOW amount of income at the beginning of the game, and must gain IPC momentum against the Russians early on! Most often, Japanese transports are best put to use in assisting the Asian mainland invasion.
This, and the reasons I've specified above, is why I generally rate this front area as not-as-important for detailed consideration. The income in the Pacific is not really worth defending, just as much as it is not as important to "take over" earlier on in the game, because this just detracts from the optimal infantry push deployment that is really required elsewhere, for more obvious and important reasons.
And don't forget: always kill off that damned Pearl Harbor fleet. It will haunt you, if you don't!
Stage Area #7 - A Japanese Threat on South America
Japan can sometimes provide a distracting influence through an invasion on the Middle or South Americas, but there's really only a few ways to play it out properly, if attempting this sort of thing.
You should consult Essay #3 for the applicable details on this subject.
Don's Personal Notes:
I wouldn't count on this scenario...since a sophisticated American player should try to ignore this, and continue to deploy their forces according to the shuck-shuck method.
The only way I've seen this kind of approach work, is when a player is using my advanced tactical method - and KNOWS how to apply it properly. Since this is a "twitchy" kind of Axis playout, this kind of appoach should be WELL PRACTICED before attempted!
The Art of the Response Purchase
The "response purchase" is defined as:
An offensive-oriented purchase that is designed to respond to a tactical leverage that is readily recognizable, due to any event in which the opposing player is forced to spend less on defense or otherwise purchase non-optimally for any given critical front structure.
"All the World's A Stage" When it Comes To The Timing of a Response Purchase
Keeping in mind that the previously described "stage areas" are relatively set in their strategy elements, and that "grand strategy" is relatively static in this sense, AND you know what your purchasing strategies should be like in the optimal game....you should be able to then easily time a "response purchase" to a poor purchase by your opponent.
The trick of this is to always respond with a good defensive purchase first, before beginning to buy extra offense on any front line which is relatively even in both offensive and defensive strength, as calculated by the dead zone analysis.
Therefore, most often then - The best kind of response purchase to a "badly thought out land unit offensive/defensive purchase" is most often a complete infantry defensive purchase, or alternatively, at least as much IPC value of defensive units as what was spent on your opponents offense, PLUS whatever IPC's left over from this purchase drectly into offense!
On front lines that require
similar amounts of unit investment to "keep the infantry
balance going" - if you violate the infantry push mechanic
by buying too many expensive units, your opponent should be able
to follow up with a response of "some extra attack capable
units", during the round your opponent does. This, of
course, is leveraged against the value of the infantry push
mechanic, and what this money would have bought in "infantry
A good, simple example of this concept is a large fleet purchase by the Germans at the start of the game. Say they buy a carrier, a transport, and 2 infantry at the start of game....
The Russian player, who has looked at the overall value of infantry on their front lines, and examine the evenness of the dead zones around here, should probably response-purchase the value of the carrier and the transport in "attack capable" land units....which are more valuable in the long run. In other words, the Russians can safely buy some attack capable units, after examining the value of the German purchase that they "wasted" on "non-front-holding" units.
Carrier - 18 IPC's
Transport - 8 IPC's
2 Infantry - 6 IPC's
My analysis of this kind of purchase:
IPC's in "German infantry replacement value" that the
Russians do not have to contend with - evaluating to about 8 less
German infantry on that front line area - and now, since they
don't have to replace the value of these "lost German
infantry units" with a larger infantry purchase of their own.....(aka:
no additional dead zones were created when the Germans did not
purchase enough infantry)
Since the Germans blew most of their first turn purchase on fleet - they will consequently be short on land unit defenses - so there is a Russian opportunity here to account equally for defensive units, and add a bit of offense to help create Russian dead zones against the Germans!
Well, naturally - my optimal
response purchase for the Russians, who share their frontline
with Germany, would then be:
Russians with 24 IPC's: Buy 3 tanks and 3 infantry!
This purchase will create a few more dead zones in the Russians favor earlier on in the game, it generally leads to an earlier defeat of the Germans. They cannot hope to deal with this extra offense capably enough due to the power of the dead zone application of these extra tanks, along with the rest of the infantry push mechanic operating in full swing.
I hope this gives you the general idea clearly enough.....this kind of concept can be applied to several other kinds of fronts on the board when you can recognize a crucial event that weakens any front line area (another example might be - the Germans allocate too much infantry into Africa too early, or something like that, rather than piling them up against the Russian front line)...when potentially trading your opponent's unnecessary sea units, air units, etc etc for better "attack capable" units of your own!
Response Purchasing to Defeat The Poor (or Baffled) Opponent
Boy, oh boy...there's nothing more humbling than losing because you made a purchasing error. But even if your friendly (or unfriendly) opponent enjoys rubbing this in, my advice is: just chalk it up to experience.
Recognition of your own weak play, when and if it happens, then accepting it gracefully - is the entire key to improving your overall gameplay in the long run. You will learn, eventually, how to not make mistakes, and how to not take unnecessary chances with your front line structures.
Even if you attack and defend competently as a player, you can be sure of certain death if you make one purchasing mistake at any time. Purchasing mistakes can usually destroy your whole game in an instant...all because you missed an opportunity to keep the pressure up on your opponent in some key area of the board.
The same situation will exist, even more so, for your opponent - if you understand the essence of the infantry push mechanic, proper dead zone management, and direct all your purchasing to keep these tactical leverages alive.
There's a Lot of Truth In The Expression: "He Gave Up the Ghost"
This is very much the case, if applied directly to the poor purchasing habits that many players fall into, and the punishment that is available in the form of proper response purchases that directly leverage against any kind of foolish purchasing venture from your opponent.
Nailing That Coffin Shut, After the Ghost Has Left It Open
Response Purchases, of course, are the very heart of this ability to take advantage of poor purchasing, after taking into account the solid structures that resulted from your proper Dead Zone management and from your utilizing the Infantry Push Mechanic. These structures will have given you easily applicable strength and capability to set up for the old "one-two" punch.
It simply becomes a case of recognizing when you can create a dead zone where it didn't exist before, all due to an opportunity your opponent left open for you....in most cases, this should often mean "game over", especially if the front locale is one of the first four stage areas!
Just don't let this ever happen to YOU!
This Ends Essay #5 -Tactical Purchasing For The Knowledge Based Victory
I hope that you were able to derive some value from this, and I always appreciate any comments you might have. Thanks in advance.
Regards - Don Rae (c) 1998,2000
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