• 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17

    It’s not that I have a whole lot of experience at the game, but from a general strategic point of view, I’m a little surprised at the options offered for Germany in the poll, because all of them are possibilities that seem suboptimal for Germany.

    My reasoning is:

    1. There seems to be a consensus that overall, “Kill Germany First” (KGF) is a more promising Allied strategy than “Kill Japan First” (KJF).
    2. If Germany doesn’t do very well in round 1 (for instance, because several of the options mentioned in the poll, actually happened), then it stands to reason that KGF becomes even more promising. So why go KJF in that case?
    3. Conversely, if Germany is very successful (as in: destroying the SZ2 UK fleet; inflicting heavy losses on Russia; taking Egypt with strong forces remaining), then KGF would become more difficult.
    4. The situation that then exists, on the UK’s first turn, may indicate that KJF could be a viable alternative as compared to the KGF possibilities that remain.

    So basically, I would consider KJF only when the Allies ended up in a situation where it looks better than KGF.


  • @Herr:

    It’s not that I have a whole lot of experience at the game, but from a general strategic point of view, I’m a little surprised at the options offered for Germany in the poll, because all of them are possibilities that seem suboptimal for Germany.

    Well, I don’t see them as options that G would take but rather the most favorable G1 results for a KJF - that’s why they look suboptimal, because they favour the Allies for KJF. If you invert those conditions favoring G then you’ll see those optimal options.

    My reasoning is:

    1. There seems to be a consensus that overall, “Kill Germany First” (KGF) is a more promising Allied strategy than “Kill Japan First” (KJF).
    2. If Germany doesn’t do very well in round 1 (for instance, because several of the options mentioned in the poll, actually happened), then it stands to reason that KGF becomes even more promising. So why go KJF in that case?

    Absolutely true but the consensus seems to be that Allied players will want to try something different, rather than the same old KGF.

    1. Conversely, if Germany is very successful (as in: destroying the SZ2 UK fleet; inflicting heavy losses on Russia; taking Egypt with strong forces remaining), then KGF would become more difficult.

    In most KJF scenarios the key is to hold out with Russia/UK against Germany until the US can clear Asia/Pacific and switch towards the Germans. The trick is that a good German player can push the Russians, specially if they are focusing also in pressuring the Japanese on Asia, and take Caucasus.
    If the Germans manage to get the 3 results you mentioned then it will be very strong on Europe, specially if they manage to retake West Russia on G1. You’ll have then a Case Blue scenario, where G can take Caucasus on round 3-5 and the Allies really don’t have an option other than KGF, otherwise Russia will fall quickly.

    1. The situation that then exists, on the UK’s first turn, may indicate that KJF could be a viable alternative as compared to the KGF possibilities that remain.

    The problems for the UK going KJF are too many on that situation:

    • They’ll lose most of Africa soon and it will be harder and time consuming to liberate it.
    • They’ll lose needed income on Africa that will be used by G against Russia.
    • If they invest on an IC or planes that will mean that there will be no amphibious attacks in Europe/Africa until round 3 or 4 and those will be quite limited.
    • Without the UK/US harassing G it will be free to switch completely their initial forces and production to deal with the Russians, eventually overwhelming them in production and number of units.

    So basically, I would consider KJF only when the Allies ended up in a situation where it looks better than KGF.

    So far the general reasoning points the other way - the Allies should only try a KJF when KGF seems certain to get them a quick win, allowing for the US to switch to the Pacific and using the UK and Russia to contain Germany on Europe. It is counterintuitive but from my experience so far it seems the best shot at KJF.


  • 1.  My opinion is that it isn’t so much that KGF is more promising than KJF.  It’s that there’s more documentation and practice on how to go KGF than KJF, especially for later rounds of play, so players tend to favor KGF.

    2.  There’s a novelty value in some strategies.  The novelty factor appeals to players that don’t want to do the same KGF plan they’ve used for the past few games.  The value factor comes from opponents that do not respond appropriately to the novel strategy.

    3.  It isn’t so much a matter of KGF being more or less difficult that determine whether KJF is viable or not.  I think there are certain key factors that determine whether or not KJF is feasible.

    One key in my opinion is Africa.  Germany’s in ideal position to attack Africa with a quick offload from Southern Europe.  The earlier and more Germany puts in Africa, the more the Allies will need to counter; if the Allies don’t counter, Germany maintains a high income while UK’s income is slashed.

    There’s a huge bag of tricks the Allies can use in Africa/India, most of which I have not seen in serious play or discussed recently.

    4.  The real decision on KJF is made on US1 unit placement phase, no earlier.  Sure, there are indicators of whether KGF or KJF is favored in earlier rounds, but it comes down to in the end where US decides to place its US1 buy.

    I mentioned earlier (maybe another thread) that I think there’s two ways to go KJF.

    1.  UK India fleet.  Optimistically, the Jap fleet is forced into battle or at least is completely locked out of the Pacific very quickly.  Russia collapses like a house of cards.  The Allies take control of all the island income from Japan.  US can maintain a flow of infantry into Soviet Far East and Buryatia from Alaska.  Once Moscow falls, Germany has a huge invasion threat against London that must be guarded against.  Otherwise, Germany takes control of the Suez Canal and tries to unify with the Japanese fleet to start pushing the Allies out of the Pacific, also trying to push the Allies off the Asian coast to regain Japan’s income, while surviving Russians ally with UK/US forces in the area.

    2.  UK reinforcement to Europe.  Russia is used to keep control of Africa out of German hands.  Germans take control of Caucasus around G3-4, reinforced by Japanese fighters, while UK starts dropping reinforcements to Archangel/Karelia.


  • @Bunnies:

    1.  UK India fleet.  Optimistically, the Jap fleet is forced into battle or at least is completely locked out of the Pacific very quickly.  Russia collapses like a house of cards.  The Allies take control of all the island income from Japan.  US can maintain a flow of infantry into Soviet Far East and Buryatia from Alaska.  Once Moscow falls, Germany has a huge invasion threat against London that must be guarded against.  Otherwise, Germany takes control of the Suez Canal and tries to unify with the Japanese fleet to start pushing the Allies out of the Pacific, also trying to push the Allies off the Asian coast to regain Japan’s income, while surviving Russians ally with UK/US forces in the area.

    My last game the Allied player tried to pull it off, since G didn’t attack Egypt on G1. UK with 1 AC, 1 CA, 1 DD and 2 FTRs. I attacked it on J1 with 1 AC, 1 BB and 4 FTRs and still did the Pearl attack and China.
    I got 3 hits off India (UK got 2) and retreated the fleet after sinking all the UK ships, with the exception of the transport (which was sunk on G2 by a German fighter from Libya). The Allies stopped Japan on Asia afterwards with their 2 ICs and Russian help but Japan held the Pacific and Germany quickly moved into Africa and then Russia.
    I don’t recommend an Indian fleet because Japan can focus on defeating both it, SZ52 and China (and it still had the advantage of the DD from SZ15 joining it). Afterwards it’s a matter of retaking Asia. Even if you pull back the UK fleet off to Africa it still is too risky.


  • @Hobbes:

    My last game the Allied player tried to pull it off, since G didn’t attack Egypt on G1. UK with 1 AC, 1 CA, 1 DD and 2 FTRs. I attacked it on J1 with 1 AC, 1 BB and 4 FTRs and still did the Pearl attack and China.

    That isn’t like the setup I had in mind at all.  UK shouldn’t leave a fleet in range of a J1 attack, particularly the Japanese battleship, for precisely the reason that you described.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17

    Thank you for the responses, gentlemen.

    I’m afraid that my primary approach to this game, or any game, is aimed at winning it. So when a situation arises where a certain strategy looks good, I will pursue that strategy, even if it’s the same strategy as in earlier games. Case in point: when certain events have occurred that seem to weaken the German position (be it through their own choices or through misfortune), then this would encourage me to try KGF, rather than look the other way. Maybe my point of view would be a different one if I had played the game more often, but generally speaking I’m not adverse to a quick win.

    On the other hand, if it is indeed true that KJF is not necessarily more promising than KJF, but merely the better explored option, than that would be excellent news, and an indicator that the game is fairly well balanced and that more than one strategy is viable. So it’s good that this thread exists for doing some of that exploring.

    I tend to agree that going KJF all-out on UK1 would be too early, but if I believed that the circumstances were favorable to a KJF strategy (quite apart from what those circumstances would be), then I would at least try to purchase units that I could use in KJF while not being entirely useless in KGF either. An India IC on UK1 would be too much of a commitment before Japan has moved, but I’d consider buying at least one fighter and some ground forces, and postpone Atlantic fleet purchases.

    Africa – I agree that you wouldn’t want that entire continent firmly in German hands for the remainder of the game, but I suppose that you can still try to sink the German Mediterranean fleet early while aiming for KJF as a general strategy. With no more German forces going to Africa, it wouldn’t be too much of a drain on Allied resources to counter what’s already there.

    So, in general terms, if Germany looks strong after its first round, I would lean towards KJF as the UK, without fully committing to it. Then, suppose that Japan would be less successful in its first round, the decision could be finalized on US1.


  • In chess, some moves, such as castling, capturing en passant, and moving pawns forward two squares instead of one, are fairly recent innovations.

    In the game of Go, komi is now almost universally accepted, though it did not start to become standardized until around eighty years ago.

    When the rules change, new lines of thought are necessary to find the best lines of play.

    But even when the rules do not change, the perception of what the “best line of play” is still changes.

    The rules of chess haven’t changed for about five hundred years.  But the popularity of the King’s Gambit has waxed and waned over time.  A few hundred years ago, it was thought of as one of White’s better options, sacrificing a single pawn to give White a lot of early tempo and attack openings.  Later, though, more extensive analyses showed Black to be able to defend its position with accurate play, but also that Black would often have to give up a pawn in return, balancing the material.

    What was once considered a flashy but still powerful and dangerous attack is now simply one of a series of openings/systems (such as the Ruy Lopez/Spanish game, the Stonewall Attack, etc. etc.) that high level players must be prepared to face.

    Using the King’s Gambit against high level players will probably not result in any particular advantage.  In fact, if the player using the King’s Gambit has not studied the analyses thoroughly, it could very well be that the opponent will have the advantage.

    But a player that has studied the King’s Gambit can do quite well with it against low to intermediate level players that have not studied the King’s Gambit.

    The King’s Gambit sums up how I currently feel about KJF, and a lot of other lines of play in Axis and Allies.  It’s less about “right” and “wrong” than it is about having a wide arsenal of strategies and tactics that can potentially see an opponent unprepared.

    If you’re a intermediate chess player that has thoroughly studied and prepared for the Ruy Lopez, you could still be caught off guard by the Sicilian Defense.

    Advanced chess players study the Ruy Lopez, the Sicilian Defense, the Caro-Kann, and all sorts of other openings, so they don’t get caught unprepared.


  • @Bunnies:

    In chess, some moves, such as castling, capturing en passant, and moving pawns forward two squares instead of one, are fairly recent innovations.

    KJF has been the ‘holy grail’ since Classic… it appears easier with each edition but it’s very hard to repeat a win.


  • @Bunnies

    I fully agree with the chess analogy.
    The best strategy will change over time, even though A&A has less possibilities for variants than chess IMO.

    HKL brings up the dilemma of the UK1 commitment.
    Buying an IC and placing it on India UK1 is the point of no return, and gives Japan full knowledge of what the Allies strategy is.
    Waiting untill UK2 with the India IC is very difficult. Since this would mean India is missing the units from the UK2 (and UK3) purchase.

    I was hoping that Hobbes with his KJF analysis, could come with a suggestion on what to do (or not to do).
    Is an India IC in general poor play?
    Is it possible to wait one round - maybe buying air UK1 and still establish the IC?
    Should an India IC be used to build up a UK navy in the Indian Ocean to join with a US Pacific Fleet?
    Or should the IC produce ground units and try to push Japan of the Asian mainland, along with UK air from London?
    Which UK1 attacks supports this strategy the best (Egypt or FIC, Bury stack etc.)?
    How should the US build up a strong pacific navy fast enough to come to aid?


  • @jiman79:

    I was hoping that Hobbes with his KJF analysis, could come with a suggestion on what to do (or not to do).
    Is an India IC in general poor play?
    Is it possible to wait one round - maybe buying air UK1 and still establish the IC?
    Should an India IC be used to build up a UK navy in the Indian Ocean to join with a US Pacific Fleet?
    Or should the IC produce ground units and try to push Japan of the Asian mainland, along with UK air from London?
    Which UK1 attacks supports this strategy the best (Egypt or FIC, Bury stack etc.)?
    How should the US build up a strong pacific navy fast enough to come to aid?

    India IC in general is poor play; it must first be protected against Japan, then after Moscow has fallen, against Germany.  Waiting a round for a UK India IC usually serves little good purpose.  I think there may be lines in which a UK1 India IC may be useful with careful play, but I am not at all convinced.  Players will think about the immediate situation at India, but complications like a German Baltic transport buy threatening invasion of London also need to be considered.

    The UK1 India IC is useful as it contains multiple threats, one of which is the unified UK2 fleet at India sea zone.  But UK should not put itself into a lockstep mentality where it is determined to build a UK2 fleet regardless of the Japanese move.  If the opportunity presents itself, UK should switch to a ground push fueled by the India IC.

    Which attacks complement a UK1 India IC depend on the situation.  Sometimes it is best to hit Egypt, sometimes best to hit FIC, sometimes it is best to have a Buryatia stack.

    The US needs at least one carrier on US1; any less slashes US’s ability to project power early.  The rest is discretionary.  Subs, destroyers, and transports each have a particular role to play (when I write this I am not thinking of generalities either; a player should not just start randomly buying a mix of units; a player should think about early attacks on the Japanese fleet, defense against Japanese air attack, and threatening invasion of high IPC islands and Japan itself, as well as the 9 VC win condition), as well as the ability of destroyers to block enemy fleet movement (Germany should send a fighter to the Japs if it looks like there’s a KJF in progress for this very reason).

    On US2 and US3, US should buy a mix of carriers, fighters, subs, destroyers, and transports.  A carrier a turn is very useful because it lets new fighters be placed closer to Japan, which seriously increases US’s ability to project power.

    The typical US threat involves moving the US1 fleet to Solomon Islands, from which it threatens Borneo, East Indies, Phillipines, and Japan.  This is why US1 transports can be particularly useful; they set up a wider US3 threat.  From there, US just keeps cramming more power in Japan’s direction.  It’s not too difficult to push Japan’s fleet into the Indian Ocean area.

    What happens next, though, is questionable.  I think if UK built an India IC that UK has to end up controlling the Pacific Island income to compensate for Africa and to allow UK to project power to the region through another IC.  If UK built an Atlantic fleet, US may try to funnel reinforcements from the Alaska-Buryatia route.


  • @jiman79:

    I was hoping that Hobbes with his KJF analysis, could come with a suggestion on what to do (or not to do).
    Is an India IC in general poor play?

    Bunnies post covers the matter of the Indian IC, although I’ll just in conclusion that the move simply switches the main target for the Axis (and the main territory to defend) from Russia to India.

    KJF is a very demanding strategy because you need to defeat/stop the Japanese on Asia while eliminating the Japanese fleet from play or rendering useless to contest US landings on the money islands.
    That’s why it is so attractive at the same time - you need to take a calculated risk when some of the above conditions are met and hope it doesn’t turn into a gamble.


  • I see the problem with the India IC being very difficult to defend.

    Perhaps a KJF strategy article should start with the role of the US.
    A guide to building a pacific fleet, when to move it etc…
    In order to call a strategy KJF, it must require full focus on Japan from the US.
    If US divides its forces it is my experience, that it ends up being ineffective.

    UK has options in which role to play in a KJF scenario.
    India IC (Or maybe even SA or Australia IC). (This is what I would call a pure KJF move)
    Atlantic fleet (shuttling through Norway/Karelia/Archangel or Africa). (A balanced KJF stra
    Or maybe even extensive strategic bombing of Germany.

    My current favourite UK strategy in a KJF scenario is to establish a navy endin up in sz12 shuttling british troops through Africa.
    The threat of a landing in Europe should keep Germany honest. Possesion of Africa and Australia through most of the game should keep UK at a solid income.
    SZ12 should be reasonably safe, since its a KJF the Japan planes do probably not end up in Europe, and if Germany purchases air or navy to threathen the UK fleet, it is possible to reinforce it from Washington.


  • Bunnies’ KJF/counter strategy article!  (or sort of anyways - I’d do more editing on a proper article . . .)

    US1 builds carrier, minimum, and probably destroyer, leaving it 20 discretionary IPCs.  If you don’t build at least a carrier, US can’t count on going anywhere useful on US2 because of a Japan air threat.  If you don’t build at least one destroyer (even considering the destroyer US starts with), you won’t be able to set up destroyer blocks.  The idea is to move to Solomon Islands on US2 to threaten Japan, Borneo, and East Indies.  This is why a transport or two extra on US1’s build is so useful; it allows a 3-transport threat to Japan, or attacks on a lot of high IPC islands.

    It isn’t normally possible to set up a drop into Buryatia via Alaska with US - or at least, I should say, to do it quickly enough to help Russia.  The problem is there is no pressure against Japan’s fleet, so it can move its entire fleet plus air into range, plus US has no mobility as it’s locked to just a few sea zones to maintain the drop.  (The Solomon Islands US2 move at least threatens multiple targets).

    Counter KJF - Germany sends a fighter to a Japanese carrier to stop US destroyer blocks, Japan builds subs and infantry.  Japan doesn’t try to take on the US fleet head on; it typically is setting up its counterattacks, like “oh, okay, you can HAVE Borneo and East Indies and whatever, then I’ll just kill your whole fleet and retake the islands - if I even want to bother retaking the islands instead of just crushing Moscow”  The one thing Japan should not do is to try to sit at Borneo building up defense.  Just no good.

    UK1 India IC is usually icky.  Just remember this slogan - “If you build a UK India IC, be prepared to trade Moscow for Calcutta”.  I did say it MIGHT be possible to do things with the threat of a UK2 fleet (not necessarily an actual fleet, mind you), but there is no doubt that there is little point in building an India IC in the first place if it can’t be defended long enough to make a real difference in the game.  Considering the threats Germany poses against both Moscow AND LONDON, things can get nasty quick.

    Australia and South Africa ICs are not worth building.  Too far from the action.

    The problem with a UK Atlantic fleet is if Germany starts building air, and control of Africa.  First, if Germany locks up Karelia/Archangel with German fighters, UK will typically not be able to drop to the northern route to quickly reinforce Moscow.  (In fact, UK will have a tough time dropping to Europe at all).  Second, Germany can typically snatch control of Africa early, which cuts vital UK income early (and late).  Sure, it pulls away from Germany’s operation in Europe, but if Germany maintains control, it’s quite a bother.

    A US Atlantic fleet typically solves both problems one way or the other, with US and UK potentially combining fleets.

    Strategic bombing is a dicey strategy.  If you luck out, great.  If you don’t luck out, too bad.  But you really need to luck out.  With German tanks pushing for control of territory on a permanent basis, and Japanese infantry pushing from the other end, things get ugly for Moscow really fast.

    Shuttling British troops through Africa leaves Russia vulnerable, plus so long as the German fleet survives in the Mediterranean, things will remain problematic for UK in Africa.

    Conclusion: (Bunnies’ puts on serious academician face)

    There are a lot of different flavors of KJF, each of which has its own problems if the Axis counter appropriately.  A big big problem is maintaining UK income (aka Africa).  There’s a bunch of possible Allied fixes, the easiest of which is use of UK transports in the Indian/Pacific to grab control of high IPC Jap islands.

    P.S.  I almost always send Jap fighters to Europe, even against a KJF.  If the fighters die, Germany should be in such a great position because of the added Russian casualties needed to kill the Jap fighters that Germany will be able to heavily pressure Moscow.  If the fighters don’t die, Japan can retreat them after Germany has established a strong position at Caucasus.

    In fact, (Bunnies gets all teary eyed reminiscing about games past and starts speaking in old crochety rabbit voice) in my last multiplayer game, I sent four Jap fighters to Caucasus, figuring they would die, but would account for about seven additional Russian infantry OR would allow Germany to keep Cauacasus (allowing Russia to establish a better economic position at Archangel).  It turned out Russia killed all the Jap fighters; Russia even got a little lucky and kept one more unit than projected.  Germany then smashed the Russians at Caucasus (Russia didn’t have enough to retake it, in part because Japan industrial bombed Russia) and moved a bunch of tanks up to Ukraine.  In the meantime, Japan had been kept mostly to its starting territories thanks to Allied pressure, plus US had a large fleet at Western US (it had just built it), but with a J1 2 IC build, Japan was about to send a chunk of tanks plus infantry off its islands to start grabbing territory in Asia.  The game progressed with moderate pressure from Japan from the east (pure tank builds coming out of the ICs) and plenty of German pressure on the west.  Allies ended up resigning.  They could start grabbing islands, but Germany would certainly crack Moscow and be along in plenty of time to maintain Japan’s territories on the coast, plus Japan’s main fleet was still intact.


  • A quick summary after 15 votes have been cast:

    • Soviet Union (12 votes total) - 3 votes go to moving 2 INF to Sinkiang, followed by 2 votes each on massing 6 INF on Buryatia and/or losing less than average on its round 1 attacks on German forces.
    • Germany has a smaller impact (9 votes total), mostly split into a failed Egypt attack, a naval buy, not stacking Karelia/Ukraine and/or not attack West Russia on G2.
    • For the UK (18 votes), 7 votes were cast for an Indian IC, with an attack on Indochina being the runner up with 5 votes.
    • Japan (17 votes) has a failed China J1 attack with 6 votes, followed by loss of a capital ship or loss of 1 fighter with 3 votes. With 2 votes there’s no J1 attack on SZ52 and losing minor naval units on J1.
    • US (16 votes) - full build up of the Pacific fleet (winner with 6 votes), followed by IC on Sinkiang (4 votes) and landing on Algeria (2 votes)

    About the results I’m surprised at how many people voted for the ICs in Sinkiang and India… either they never played against me (very rare to work) or I’m missing something. I’m also surprised at No J1 attack on SZ52 having only 2 votes. UK1 attack on Indochina is a solid move but at the possible cost of no UK1 Egypt counterattack. Moving 2 INF to Sinkiang I’m getting more convinced but only those 2.


  • I have tried KJF with some succes. How I play it is that I never decide to go KJF until J1 has passed. That means I will usually not devote any Russian or British forces to fight Japan in the first round. Instead I will focus on the European theater and Africa first, building a UK navy and trying to sink the Med Fleet ASAP. The reasoning is that even with a KJF, you can’t let Germany just run rampant. KJF often means a long game, so keeping the African IPCs out of German hands is very important. With UK that will always be my number one priority, so it’s safe to say that I will never build an Indian IC on UK1. Of course, the Japanese transport will still be sunk in 99% of the games.

    For me, the most important KJF triggers happen on J1 and can be summarized as Japan failing to take a critical objective (China, Pearl) or losing a lot of air and naval forces across multiple battles. If Japan does ‘big Pearl’ and takes heavy losses, exposing a battleship and carrier to a promising US counterattack, I will often go KJF. Same goes for ‘small Pearl’ and losing that battle. For losing China it’s a bit less clear-cut, since Allies often don’t have the units in that area to press on an advantage. In other occasions Japan could lose a BB in SZ59, or fighters in any battle, giving enough incentive for US to build a Pacific fleet.

    After round 1, even if US went Pacific, I will mostly use UK to fight Germany and assist in the defense of Russia.

    The sad thing about this form of KJF is that it is contingent on bad dice for Axis, and not used as a general strategy. The question is whether in those scenarios where Japan has bad dice, KJF might be viable but KGF could still be strictly better.

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