Let me explain in detail the major issue I see with game balance, and why 1941 actually has a bigger problem with the inf push than Classic did.
In 1941, the production is restricted and the overall cash is much lower than Classic, less than half. This makes max placement of ground units out of your existing factories all the more essential. In 1941 tanks cost 6 ipcs, the same as two infantry. In Classic tanks cost 5 ipcs (even though their defense value favored the inf push, at least here the cost of the tank allowed you to spend a remainder of 2 ipcs.)
Why is being able to spend the remainder important? Because it allows you to make basic game progress and feel like you are accomplishing something… by taking more territory, which allows you to place more units, or higher value units on the board. Now on the 1941 board almost all contested territories are worth just a single ipc. So what happens is you get stuck, even if you take more land, it doesn’t translate into progress. This can happen over multiple rounds. Take the most basic example, say Russia collects 7 ipcs. With this they can buy either 2 infantry or a single tank, but in both cases they are forced to save 1 ipc because there is nothing they can buy that isn’t divisible by 3 at the lowest (the cost of an infantry unit.) So say they save it, and next round they have 8 ipcs. Again, they are unable to place anything with the remainder, so they are forced to save again. But what if, as frequently happens they are now unable to attack anywhere which will get them that third territory and third ipc for 9? And they just languish at 8 ipcs saving the remainder endlessly, because they can’t attack anywhere without risking Moscow. Its the fact that you can’t effectively spend a remainder of 1 ipc, or 2 ipcs, that forces the game to last more rounds than it would if artillery were included.
Russia is not the only player that slips into this problem. It can happen to Japan, and UK as well, where they are unable to buy additional units even if they are taking territory, because the remainder does not divide into 3.
That’s part of the game length issue, the other is that tanks now cost 6. So in a game like this, where the stacks are comparatively small, the advantage of infantry over tanks is heightened. 2 infantry are better on attack against a single defending infantry unit than a lone tank would be. People who have played a few games, always pick up on the fodder aspect of infantry, and the ability of infantry to absorb hits and protect the heavy hitters, and how they can be pushed with fighters to trade and dead zone territories. Learning how to use infantry is important, I grant, but in 1941 the situation is more extreme even than Classic. The artillery unit smooths all this over. It allows you to spend the remainder of an extra +1 ipc, and makes infantry effective on attack. Even a single artillery unit, can make a large stack of infantry more effective. It allows them to move out, and be aggressive, which is what new players like to do anyway. Nobody but an A&A masochist, thinks its fun to just wait around stacking and pushing infantry all night. In classic at least there was more money, and tanks were cheaper, and fighters were more in reach due to the large purse, and more cash to spend. Here in 1941, there is no room for that. There is very little room for an error of any sort, whether in purchasing or attacking, or risking invaluable units for territory that doesn’t even translate into more purchasing power - unless you can take 3 at a go!
This leads to slow defensive play, where you buy infantry, and try to push them at the lowest possible risk. Artillery is an easy unit to understand for beginners and it has a built in way of teaching players to be bold and seize the initiative. Because on defense artillery is only as good another infantry unit, but on attack it can make any infantry unit twice as effective. Its probably the most entertaining unit in Axis and Allies. Even if it wasn’t in the original classic game, it was in the revised game. And it should be in 1941 too Note that this is pretty easy to do, provided you have purchased any of the other games that have come out in the last few years, since they all include artillery pieces. It would also be pretty easy to just make it official in the next reprint. I would suggest as a bid/modification for the set up, that instead of adding 3 infantry to Russia as suggested elsewhere, that you simply add 3 artillery to Russia (let everyone else buy them.) Including this artillery in Russia’s starting force puts the game on a much more even balance, especially if you do the extra US destroyer. But really, it helps everyone. Any nation can fall victim to the trap of being unable to spend the remaining ipcs, so they all players benefit by artillery getting added into the game.
Finally, I would just like to go on record and say I don’t like the idea that we should just always force the new person, or the less experienced person, to play Axis. What if the new player doesn’t want to be Axis? What if they would rather try their hand at supreme allied commander? Its stupid to force the game into a one dimensional direction. It needs to be balanced for both sides to be fun. First game, then switch sides on the rematch. That is how everyone usually plays. Don’t you agree?