The Portland/Vancouver Axis and Allies Meetup Group Message Board › Axis and Allies 101

Axis and Allies 101

D.K.Maclaren
D.K.Maclaren
Group Organizer
West Linn, OR
Post #: 16
this is a discussion board devoted to explaining some of the basics of A&A strategy and gameplay.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 42


Principles of Axis & Allies Warfare, With an Emphasis on AA50


While the title of this discussion is Axis and Allies Warfare the Principles are true for most, if not all, war games and can be used in virtually any war game to increase your chances of victory.

1) The Rush – A quick knockout blow!
I start with an exception to the general principles that I am going to discuss. The reason being twofold, one to avoid the “Yeah, but what about this?” line of questions and two since a Rush occurs early in the game it seems appropriate to address it early here too.

A Rush is when one side (the Attacker) chooses to do an all out attack to eliminate the other side (the Defender) before the other side has time to build up his defenses. The idea is to attack the defender with all of your original troops on the board that can get to the defender very quickly and to focus on building offensive units that can get to the defender very quickly too or, better yet, at the same time as the original units on the board to overwhelm the defender before he has time to build up his defenses. Hopefully, to further increase the effectiveness of this strategy, the defender will be surprised by this strategy and will have been working towards a long term strategy and will be overwhelmed by this quick knockout blow.


In AA50 there is a chance to Rush Russia in the 1942 version. Basically the idea is for the Axis to take Eastern Ukraine with Germany and have Italy and Japan reinforce that territory so it can not be counterattacked by Russia. Then Germany, using Eastern Ukraine as a linchpin, forces Russia to defend both the Caucasus and Russia while Japan and Italy threaten the Caucasus; because of this Russia is forced to abandon the Caucasus. Then the 3 Axis Powers gang up on Russia with Japan doing mostly an SBR (Strategic Bombing Raid) campaign and overwhelm Russia before the US and UK can do anything about it.

This strategy does not work in the 1941 version as the Russians go immediately after the Germans. However the Italians and Germans can still try a Rush mainly via the Caucasus.

The most effective counter is for the Russian Player to always assume the Axis Player may try a Rush, even in the 1941 version. Thus Russia should be an aggressive defender and fight for Eastern Ukraine, consolidate his defensive forces and build nothing but Infantry on R1. Then if it turns out the Axis Player is doing a Rush the United Kingdom should be very aggressive on the Western Front. Pouring land troops into France and/or Poland is going to mess up any follow on forces the Germans may have. Also, since any Axis Rush must ignore Africa, the money difference should be huge and England should use the extra money to pound Germany with land forces while the US bombs it with every bomber it can get to Europe.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 43
2) Money and Attrition – He who has the most… wins!
The basic concept of Axis and Allies is money, pure and simple. The game starts with so many units on the board. These units are basically your starting money already bought and paid for and placed on the board. Usually the Axis is even or ahead with these starting money units and has the advantage of theater position. Normally the Allies have a greater value of territories to start the game thus they collect more money than the Axis does each Round to start. So the goal of each side should be to gain or maintain a monetary advantage. The overall mantra is simple; he who uses his money wisest will win. Basically the general concept to gauge how well you are doing is if the value of units you destroy is A and the value of the units you lose is B and the money you collect is C then A minus B plus C needs to be greater than your opponents A minus B plus C equation for you to be winning the game.

Wait a second. Based on this formula, A-B+C, if Power A is collecting $48 and buying 4 bombers a Turn (for AA50) and Power B is collecting $36 and buying 12 infantry a Turn and neither side is losing any troops then Power A is winning. In reality we all know that is probably hogwash; Power B is being much more effective in the value it is getting for its money. So while you should use the formula to gauge how well you are doing the mantra is, again, he who uses his money wisest will win. So there are other things that must be taken into consideration to ensure the formula works. Those other things are the value of the units you are purchasing, your position on the board and who has the momentum.

a) Cost of units: An infantry unit costs 3, an armor unit costs 5 while a bomber unit costs 12. Each has a specific duty on the board but a good bet is the Power that is buying the lower cost unit is going to win the game because of the cost of doing battle down the road. So when you look at the formula, (A-B+C) it has to be viewed not only this Turn but the next one and the next one and the next one. If you are not buying the least expensive unit to get the job done now then it is a good bet that eventually your more expensive units are going to die in battle against your opponents less expensive units and suddenly the formula is going to take a turn for the worse.
b) Position on the board: For the Allies the US is going to account for anywhere from 35% to 50% of the money the Allies collect. However they have the hardest time getting their troops into the theaters of conflict. Thus if the money formulas are even then the Axis is actually winning since too much of the Allied money is “in the pipeline” still trying to get into battle. Basically those units are not really on the board until they are in combat and thus don’t count as much as a unit in combat. In addition the UK and USA need fleets to deliver their troops into the battlefield. Thus they must build expensive units to transport the troops and even more expensive units to protect the transports from the enemy. While Japan also needs a fleet they pretty much have one at the start at the game that requires very little in addition to make it serviceable.
c) Momentum: If the Axis or Allies are losing the money war but are in position to knock out a Capital then the formula is soon going to change in their favor. If the Axis knocks out Russia or the Allies knock out Italy then suddenly the formula is going to change drastically so as I said the formula is just a gauge to determine how you are doing but it is not the sole consideration.

Keeping in mind the cost of units, position on the board and momentum the Player that spends his money wisely, consistently kills a higher value of units than he loses each Round, and collects enough money to have an overall monetary advantage versus his opponent‘s formula is going to win the bulk of his games.

So how do you consistently kill more value in enemy units than you lose? That is the key to the game and the next few topics.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 44
3) The Value of Units – Buy the right troop for the right job!
LAND: As we all know infantry are cheap and are the best land cannon fodder. They have the best firepower in defense of any unit (1.5) based on their cost. Because of this any land defense should be based mostly on infantry. Due to their high cost when attacking (3) they should be paired with artillery, armor or aircraft when attacking. Armor is now an excellent buy as their offensive and defensive firepower are the same (1.66). Armor is almost always preferable to artillery and should be bought as your offensive ground keeper unit right after lots and lots of infantry.

A comparison of artillery versus armor:
Artillery defensive cost is 2; offensive cost is 2 (when alone), combined offensive cost is 1.75 (when paired with infantry), movement of 1. Armor defensive cost is 1.66, offensive cost is 1.66 (when alone), combined offensive cost is 2 (when paired with an infantry), movement of 2.
Armor is almost always a better buy for 3 reasons:
1) Projection of Force (see below): Armor can swing from one battlefront to another quickly both offensively and defensively.
2) Overall defensive value: Usually the Attacker can increase the attack value of a battle thanks to their additional air assets. It is in defense against counter attack that most successful battles hinge. An infantry and armor provide a defensive value of 1.60 while an infantry and artillery provide a defensive value of 1.75 therefore armor and infantry can withstand a counterattack better than infantry and artillery.
3) Artillery only outperforms armor when it is attacking and paired with an infantry. This advantage is lost as soon as the artillery’s accompanying infantry is lost during battle whereas the armor value is consistent throughout the battle.
Thus artillery gives you a small first round advantage over armor at the detriment of consequent battle rounds, is less mobile and does not defend as well. The only time artillery is a good buy is when you already have a large stack of infantry that suddenly needs to go offensive; then the purchase of artillery (as in 4-1 or 3-1 Inf vs Rtl) would be a good buy.

AIR: Fighters are best for defense (2.5) but suffer slightly on offense in comparison to the bomber (Ftr 3.33 vs Bmb 3). The main difference is projection of force. Bombers with a movement of 6 can provide greater projection of force than fighters can with a movement of 4. At sea fighters are the best unit available for defense by far. Which unit you buy will probably hinge on what Power, Strategy and Situation you are in.

SEA: Subs give you the same offensive power as a bomber dollar for dollar and are great cannon fodder but are limited to only the sea. Destroyers are the exact same cost as cruisers both offensively and defensively but can not bombard but are needed for sub offense and defense. The carrier and 2 fighters combo gives you a defensive firepower capability of 3.4; the next best option is a destroyer or cruiser at 4. At 5 the battleship is still the most expensive unit on the board for its firepower but the free hit can be very useful in small battles, or strafes to avoid any casualties at all. Which sea unit you purchase will depend on your Power and overall mission objectives.

Remember; always use the least cost unit to perform the job you want. At a minimum make sure you are trading low value units at the same value as your opponent and hopefully for higher value units of his. Always protect and conserve your high value units. When in doubt infantry is almost always a good buy and will reward you if you are patient enough to use it.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 45
4) Overwhelming Attacks – Die Sucker Die!
Kill them quick. That should be every gamer’s motto. Wherever possible you should always use overwhelming force to attack with for three important reasons.
1) The faster you kill the defender the less times the defender’ units will be able to fire back at you. Since the defender chooses the casualties you can bet the last units you will face will be his most accurate ones. If you are attacking 4 units and hit just 2-3 of them on the first round you are probably costing yourself an additional troop because of it. Remember those troops cost money; don’t let them die for nothing.
2) Overwhelming odds negates bad dice. How many times have you heard someone say, “Dang, that roll went bad, that should not have happened.” What the person should have said was “That was not the most likely outcome of the many outcomes available.” Most gamers look at the average odds and determine what they should attack with, and then maybe they add a tiny bit more. But averages are just that, averages. That means sometimes they will roll more and sometimes they will roll less. And guess what, the fewer the dice you roll the more likely an unlikely outcome will occur. By attacking with overwhelming odds you still win even when the dice roll badly. If the defender has 3 units and you attack with enough firepower to get 6 hits on average then even when you roll badly you probably will still get 3 hits and win the battle quickly. If you attack with only enough firepower to get 3 hits then I promise you many a time you will only get 1 or 2 hits and cost yourself some casualties and that is not bad rolling, that is just the dice doing what dice do; they roll high, low and average.
3) High value units cost more. During any battle since you probably are attacking with only so many cannon fodder units if the defender gets more hits than you expected than you have increased the chances of losing a high value unit like an armor, fighter, bomber or cruiser. The longer the battle lasts the more hits the defender will get and thus the more the battle is going to cost you in money.

Kill them quick.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 46
5) Projection of Force and Mobility – Hit ‘em where they ain’t!
Projection of Force is the ability to threaten more than one area with the same troops. Mobility is the engine that drives that ability. An attacker that can smash his troops into 3 or 4 areas has a huge advantage over the defender as the defender must dedicate many more troops than the attacker must dedicate to defend all of his territories. A perfect example of this is a strong UK fleet in the Baltic. The UK, with 4 transports, can deliver 4 infantry, 4 armor, a bomber, a battleship and a couple of fighters against the German Player. The UK Player is attacking with 12 units. The German defender has to worry about France, NW Europe, Germany proper, Poland and perhaps Karelia. Since it may take as many as 15 troops to hold against this attack the German Player would have to dedicate 75 troops to stop the attack on all of these territories.

Since this is not reasonable a smart German Player would use his own Projection of Force to counter the UK landings by building a counter force in perhaps Poland. A strong contingent of armor and fighters in Poland can reach not only all of the previously mentioned areas but can also reach the Russian Front. Thus Germany can not hold against a determined British landing but they can destroy it once it lands and still threaten Russia from encroaching against German territories. Using the principles of overwhelming force and attrition the British Player now is in a quandary because the amount of troops they would lose to land in a weak or unopposed area will probably not pay off for the troop cost disadvantage they will face when the German Player annihilates their landing force for a low cost of their own troops.

Other examples are: Bombers in Germany can Project Power to the Russian Front, Western Front and Africa making them the most useful air purchase to Germany. Russian armor in Eastern Ukraine threatens not only the German Eastern Front but any Japanese troops coming from behind Russia. It will take Japan a while to build up enough force to leave China and enter the Russian territories if there is a lot of infantry in Russia with armor in Eastern Ukraine.

One important reminder of a force that projects power is that it can only project that power while it is alive. I have seen many a Player tie up a Japanese fleet due to the presence of a UK or US fleet only to see the Allied Player move the fleet into position where the Japanese Player can finally destroy it. As long as the Allied Fleet lives then the Japanese Player must tie down more ships than the Allied Player is using to ensure they win any sea battle. Once the battle is over those ships are freed up to perform other duties. Any units projecting power that tie up a larger force to defend against it are already doing their job and do not need to actually engage the enemy.

Key Areas by Game: (For Projection of Force and Defensive Consolidation)
Classic = Eastern Europe for Germany and Karelia for Russia
Revised = Eastern Europe for Germany and West Russia for Russia
AA50 = Poland for German aircraft and armor, East Poland for German Infantry and Eastern Ukraine for Russia
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 47
6) One Big Army versus Two Little Ones – Don’t waste a unit Pardner!
One key concept is the amount of force a single army can generate in comparison to two smaller yet overall larger armies. How many of us remember in Classic Axis and Allies Germany finally punching into Karelia and Japan coming up the back road only to be stifled by a mound of Russian infantry in Russia proper. Germany was not powerful enough to take it out alone and Japan was not able to capture it either. Yet Russia could destroy either army and only didn’t because if she did then the other Axis power would capture the vacated Russian territory. Even though the two Axis armies combined were much stronger than the single Russian army since they could not attack together the Russian army would hold Turn after Turn until weakened by a loss of income the tide would finally turn or Germany was forced to turn about and defend itself from the UK and US amphibious landings.

Because of this concept you want to avoid weakening your main army whenever possible. If you can kill enemy troops with a secondary power do it. An example is British forces helping defend Russia. They are usually too weak to threaten the main German army but they can be of great use fighting in dead zones or against advancing Japanese units to avoid bleeding Russian troops required to hold the Third Reich at bay. Be frugal with every single troop; don’t waste even one, it is amazing what a single troop can do.

As an example here are the results of a battle between 75 German units (25 Inf, 25 Rtl, 25 Arm; worth $225) and 75 Russian units (50 Inf, 25 Arm worth $175):
Attacker wins 49.9%
Defender wins 49.9%
Both destroyed 0.2%

Now add a single German armor unit, worth another $5 or barely more than 2% of the total cost of the troops already involved in the battle for the Germans and:
Attacker wins 59.1%
Defender wins 40.6%
Both destroyed 0.3%
A difference of just 2% in troop value resulted in an 18% swing in results.

Add another single German armor unit, again just barely another 2% more in cost than what is already involved in the battle for the Germans and:
Attacker wins 67.6%
Defender wins 32.1%
Both destroyed 0.3%
Again the difference of just 2% in troop value resulted in a 17% swing in results.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 48
7) Consolidation of Defensive Strength – Determine the area of battle!
The attacker is the one that usually chooses where to fight a battle. The attacker will look for weak spots in the defender’s position and assault that location with overwhelming strength. The reason the attacker normally wins the battle is the attacker can usually bring more firepower and troops to a given area than the defender can defend with as the defender can not defend all areas equally strong due to a lack of troops.

The key to a proper defense is Consolidation of Defensive Strength. Do not spread your troops around. Allowing your opponent to destroy your units in detail is a sure way to lose the game. It is usually wiser to allow your opponent to move into uncontested areas then to defend weakly everywhere. The goal is to have so much force in one key position that you force your opponent to a) not be able to capture that key position from you no matter what and b) to threaten a counterattack into any of the areas your opponent may move into that you left unopposed purposefully.

Thus it is now the defender, and not the attacker, that is determining the areas that the attacker can attack. The defender denies the attacker the ability to assault their key defensive position and forces the attacker to choose from one of the purposefully weak or uncontested areas to attack. Then the defender can counterattack in force and destroy the attacker’s troops that are now within striking distance (if the attacker attacked in strength) or, more likely, the defender has forced the attacker to attack in limited strength to simply “trade” for the uncontested areas as the attacker does not have enough force to actually capture and hold the contested territory.

The defender now is forcing the attacker to lose as much money in troops as the defender loses money in troops to conduct battle. Thus the defender, by consolidating their units, has removed the attacker’s advantage.

This tactic pretty much forces the attacker to only attack those unopposed areas determined by the defender ahead of time and then the defender recaptures them in turn. This trading back and forth of uncontested areas or dead zones is a key concept of playing Axis and Allies.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 49
8) Dead Zones – A fundamental of the game!
Dead Zones, as defined by Don Rae’s essays, is an area that neither side has the strength to attack, capture and hold with no fear of counterattack by their opponent. The key to game victory in regards to dead zones therefore is to force your opponent to spend more money fighting for these dead zones than you spend and thus their attrition of troops (aka money) is greater than yours and you will, assuming money collection rates are close, eventually win by overwhelming your opponent as he gradually is weakened by this burden of troop loss.

So the key is to capture these dead zones using as limited a land force as possible backed by air power that can leave once the battle is over. Any unit(s) that is left behind can be assumed to be destroyed when the other side counterattacks. THE SIDE WITH THE GREATER AIR POWER IS AT A HUGE ADVANTAGE FIGHTING FOR DEAD ZONES! Thus in Revised and AA50 Germany has the advantage over Russia when it comes to dead zones. That is why Britain must help Russia to fight for dead zones as Russia is limited in air power.

In Revised the dead zones are actually more important to capture as their values are higher. In AA50, since the dead zones are not worth as much I would recommend using the most limited attacks possible as the occasional failure is not as large a blow as in Revised. One caveat to keep in mind is it is easier for the Germans, with their greater air power, to retake an area that has 2 units in it than it is for the Russians. So for the Axis it may not be a bad tactic to use more troops than necessary to force the Russians into a greater troop loss over time.

Here are the most likely scenarios you would encounter and the appropriate amount of firepower required to recapture the dead zone most of the time:
1 Inf = 2 Inf, Ftr = control 93% of the time
1 Inf = Inf, Arm, Ftr = control 97% of the time
1 Inf = 2 Inf, 2 Ftr = control 98% of the time
2 Inf = 2 Inf, Rtl, 2 Ftr = control 96% of the time
2 Inf = 2 Inf, Arm, 2 Ftr = control 96% of the time
2 Inf = 3 Inf, 3 Ftr = control 98% of the time
1Inf, 1 Arm = 2 Inf, Rtl, 2 Ftr = control 95% of the time
1Inf, 1 Arm = 2 Inf, Arm, 2 Ftr = control 95% of the time
1Inf, 1 Arm = 3 Inf, 3 Ftr = control 95% of the time

Basically you need one more land unit and one more aircraft of firepower (aka 2 fighters or an Arm/Ftr combo) than there are defenders to ensure a 90+ chance of controlling the area once the battle is over.
Andrew
user 3078346
Tacoma, WA
Post #: 50
9) Logistics - The Defender’s Friend!
An important concept to remember is that it is easier to defend than it is to attack. One reason for this is that the cost to defend with infantry is 1.5 while the cost to attack with armor is 1.66. But a more important reason is logistics. Logistics refers to the cost to purchase units and bring them to the front lines. As an attacker moves the battle line towards the defender’s capitol their newly purchased troops take longer and longer to get there.

Germany is four spaces from Russia in AA50. Therefore any infantry purchased and placed on Turn 2 will not arrive there ready to attack Russia until Turn 5. While any troops purchased by Russia on Turn 2, 3, 4 and 5 (in the 1942 version where Russia goes before Germany) are all available to defend Russia immediately. So it is very hard for an attacker to actually take a capitol until they can build up an overwhelming force. For this reason the defender should retreat before an overpowering army instead of fighting it to the death as any retreating troops can join up with any reinforcements to present an even larger army to the attacker whereas the attacker only has the same troops he had before unless any mobile troops, such as armor and aircraft, have joined his original army.

This is not true just for taking capitols but trying to control the Pacific. The US must move towards Japan with its most recent builds and the Japanese Player now has two full Turns to buy ships before the US Navy can attack it. Unless the US Navy started out with an overwhelming Fleet to attack Japan by the time they get there they will be facing very poor odds of actually sinking the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The important point to remember is as a defender never throw your troops away in defense from a larger army. Retreat and save those troops for when they join any newly purchased units they will prove there worth again.
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