I'm gonna start out with my thoughts on NAs, feel free to discuss I'm probably wrong in a lot of circumstances, but I want to learn. If I take a
1. Russian Winter-
. What kills it - it is too defensive, and not particularly good at it. AARE appears to have a lot of focus on the many first skirmishes in a scramble for victory cities. Russian Winter is basically saying that you're waiting for the Axis to come all the way next to Moscow before you can use it, and that usually doesn't happen as the game is usually determined at some point before that. You may also get no further benefit from it than one extra turn from it, because the Axis can dance around active zones for a turn. A free turn is good don't get me wrong, but it would seem to come at an awfully late part in the game while the Axis could be dictating it far before then.
Suggestion: Russian Winter can be declared at the beginning of the Russian turn. At least this way you could use it on R1 to boost a Russian Triple attack, or at least it would take away the warning the Axis players get in the current embodiment declared at the end of your turn.
2. Mobile Complex =
Good for a KJF strategy, or in a KGF, as a second NA. In some respect it is already as good as Russian Winter because it delays the Axis for a turn in which they have to rebuild the complex after they get the territory like Caucasus/Moscow. What makes it better than Russian Winter is that it is very flexible and hard for the Axis to avoid, you can move your complexes to areas where reinforcements are needed, and you can continue to do this as opposed to Russian Winter. You also get a free complex and inf, nothing to sneeze at.
3. T-34s =
Requires a big tank building session for Russia, and defensive play. However, the best defense comes from infantry, and infantry also provide fodder for future offense. It might be good if coupled with Lend Lease to nab a couple extra arm per round from your Allies, but it's a little bit too defensive and not great at it either compared to the infantry you could build instead of the arm.
Suggestion: Give Russia a free arm at the beginning of this NA.
4. Lend Lease =
Solid all the way around in any strategy as first or second NA. Over some rounds Russia could feasibly accumulate the cash to develop a rocket tech, or in any case you can nab some fighters from your Allies to trade with Germany/Japan easier, which is great, since Russia already has a lot of men on the frontlines, just needing some expensive gear which it otherwise would not be able to afford.
5. Russian Rail
A great NA. Russia can easily hold Karelia by itself, which is sometimes a big problem with the other NAs. You can zoom infantry from Mos/Cauc directly to Karelia, and zoom a lot of infantry from Asia towards Germany as well. Big pressure on Germany limits their build options, which is good since Germany is difficult in AARE.
6. Siberian Conscripts:
You must plan a way to maintain the territories for a few rounds, otherwise it's not worth it, but if you do plan it right, it's worth a lot of IPCs and delay to Japan. It's horrible if you allow Japan to expand to Yakut in 2-3 turns, because you have no NA anymore.
1. Atlantic Wall -
Not bad, but not always the answer. It gives you a superior defensive position, but you have to watch out for mass bombardments on W. Europe, which will eventually cave it in.
2. German 88's -
Not bad, but it's limiting in the sense that the way to take advantage of it is to do a huge infantry/artillery push, which may not be the best way to win in AARE.
3. Divebombers -
Not bad. It forces the Allies to build a carrier or two, and gives you more leeway in trading territories. What I like is that it's flexible, since fighters are flexible.
4. Panzers -
Good. It lightens the load of trading territories in two ways; you can now take those annoying zones where someone pickets 1-3 inf + aa (normally risky to send aircraft in), and you can also take the territory even if your inf screen burns off. But you have to send the panzers en masse because it's really not good if they dont' instantly kill the opponent, so it might only help you trade 1 territory per turn if you want to be very certain of the results. But then again, 1 territory per turn helps a LOT.
5. Wolfpacks -
Good. What better way to annoy the Allies than with subs? The UK isn't going to be happy at all when it starts off of -8 on its very first turn, and it likely won't let up for a good while due to how difficult it is to tag subs and also the UK's rapidly diminishing income.
6. Afrika Corps -
. IMO it's not terribly difficult to counter if you're in the least used to AAR's method of cleaning Africa out with the Allies; those few units don't tend to make a huge difference because the Allies usually have air superiority in Africa, making it hard to trade/push there. But if you suspect the Allies' strategy has a huge weakness in Africa, there's no better way than to start off G1 with a truckload of units there and watch the Allies scramble with both that and the German navy.
1. Radar -
For $8, you get a $5 aa gun, turn your bb into an AA gun that shoots at a 2, and get your destroyers to bombard. Or you get all your fighters immune to AA guns and defend on a 5. Radar is good because it gives you the flexibility to deal with any combination of German naval/air assaults.
2. Royal Airforce -
I think usually the best way to deal a simple carrier reinforcement of the Baltic is to overpower it with air. With Royal Airforce, you can have a total force of 7 figs 1 bom ready to attack the Baltic on G2, forcing them to give it up or build even more boats. Although air alone can't hit subs, figs are a great way to clear a sub-heavy navy by removing all the support units in an efficient manner.
3. Royal Navy -
Destroyers is a good strategy in AARE due to combined arms. More destroyers out in the sea means more defense against naval/air assaults, and eventually mass bombardments.
4. Commonwealth -
An inf per turn is nothing to sneeze at if you can manage the long term game. In fact, it's easily one of the strongest NAs if you can do the long term. This NA alone can make Africa invincible to all the most brutal of Japanese/German expansion tactics, and those tactics are extremely costly to other theaters of war. Putting an inf per turn into an inaccesible place like South Africa helps a ton.
5. Colonial Garrison -
Personally, I don't think the UK can manage to put up units at an IC and also deal with Germany's navy. The other problem is that complexes you set out there are vulnerable to convoy raids, and you may not be very happy if both Japan/German y have subs along the Indian coast. Commonwealth is probably better if your only goal is to maintain some pressure at India/Africa. But if the Germans are hamstrung or don't care about their navy, garrisoning India/Australia can create a headache for Japan as the subs/inf stream out.
6. UK Lend Lease -
If the Germans are going with a massive massive navy, this can be used as a second NA to recruit American figs as well as give the UK some cash to play with as convoy raiding takes its toll. The UK can assemble a huge airforce on its own with royal airforce + lend lease, allowing it to cleanly wipe out the Germans without the hassle of a 1-2 strike from UK/US which has a lower success rate.
1. Banzai -
Gold star NA. I would recommend this 100% as Japan's first NA. On J1, it frees up a significant portion of your airforce to do other things. On further turns, it allows your infantry to become quite the fighting force; each infantry has a 16% higher chance to hit on round 1, the most important round. Since the infantry is a cheap unit, that's amazing. Really frees up a lot of equipment and gives you a huge battering ram to break through any pressure that the Allies are throwing at you in Asia.
2. Kaitens -
Good NA. If America's going after you, the free sub and cheap sub are quite welcome for fodder. If American's not going after you, you can manufacture 5 subs much more cheaply to convoy raid the US.
3. Tokyo Express -
It can be a very quick win by grabbing Australia on J2, and then holding Hawaii/Karelia/India, which is not out of the question the way some people play. Otherwise, it's probably better as an anti-KJF tactic, since transports in KGF are getting you a more varied force to the frontlines at less cost. If you're fighting off the Americans though, it helps a ton to build TE destroyers because they do a lot of things for their cost - offloading 2 inf per turn just like transports (in noncombat), sub detection, and reasonable attack/defense rates.
4. Most Powerful Battleships -
Not sure about this one. It feels like it needs a permanent cost reduction of 1-2 IPCs. Look at NAs such as Royal Airforce, Navy, Divebombers, Kaitens, Kamikazers, Wolfpacks. Those NAs do 3 things - improve the unit, give you a discount on the first unit, and then give a further permanent cost reduction. Why is this one different? Two other NAs break the mold as well, but those are understandable - 88's is understandable because a permanent reduction would make it way too good, it'd be the 100% replacement for infantry (not to mention you get 8 IPCs of free units as opposed to 5 or so on the above mentioned NAs). Reinforced carriers doesn't necessarily deserve a permanent cost reduction because the US has another NA that can do that too.
5. Kamikazes -
I just haven't used this enough. I suppose it's good vs KJF because you can snipe out transports, but using that ability isn't economically sound, and is severely dampened if the US builds redundancy like having 3 transports with them. Plus the US might not even care about transports and simply look to convoy raid you to death. Also the US can easily counter this with reinforced carriers, so their carriers are no longer so vulnerable.
6. Tech Advantage -
Basically a quick +16 IPCs to the Japanese. Probably most useful in a KGF to give the Japanese Jet Power to lend some more defense to Germany, help their tech out if they need it, and also to help overcome the common AA gun in Caucasus.
1. Reinforced carriers -
Possibly a requirement for KJF, otherwise your carriers are fodder for kaitens/kamikaze.
2. Naval Industry -
Very likely a requirement for KJF, gives you a big economic edge. Every naval unit you buy is $1 earned, so if you're buying 4-5 subs a round, you're making an extra 4-5 per turn. Awesome!
3. Tech Advantage -
Not only does it save on you a tech, but it takes out the 50% risk factor in rolling partial tech. That really makes a huge difference; failed techs hurt doubly because they cost you more to finish and they also take another turn to implement. This can quickly get you some rockets into the game against Germany, or any other tech you can think of.
4. Pac Divisions -
Basically +3 IPC per turn. That's even better than naval industry if you build less than 3 boats per turn. Gives you flexibility in defending the W. Coast as well as shucking units. Combine pac divs + naval industry to make the US a monster to fight against.
5. Marines -
Haven't used enough. If you plan it right you could get a huge payload into W. Europe on turn 3 or so, but I think it's a better idea to slowly ramp up destroyers with combined arms to wear out W. Europe then Germany.
6. Mech infantry -
Infantry aren't supposed to move at 2, but now they do. That makes retaking Africa with the US a cinch, as well as operations in Europe. It would of course be worth a lot more with a nation like Germany or Russia, but it still is good for the US.