Just got done with playing my first game yesterday. It’s a wonderful game and was a blast to play. The Central Powers won the game in the 17th turn, after conquering Paris and Rome, and forcing the Russian Revolution. Ottoman was within one infantry of losing Constantinople, but hung on. Here are some lessons learned, and then a summary of how it happened:
First of all, tanks are tremendous weapons in this game, particularly for the Central Powers. More than any one thing, the Germans purchasing tanks beginning in turn 4 turned the tide of the war. Combined with artillery and infantry, they were simply devastating against the French. The Germans eventually got around 9 tanks, then never really had to purchase anymore. It was just wave after wave of infranty coming from Berlin towards Paris.
The Allies have a huge naval advantage in this game. The Axis navy was completely destroyed by the end of the 2nd turn, and they were never able to build a big enough navy to challenge the Allied navy until very late in the game.
Along with that, mines were devastating against the Axis, especially in the London and Wales sea zones. Once it was obvious that the Germans were going to take Paris, they spent several turn’s worth of income to build up their navy and try to challenge the Allied armada in the London sea zone. (In this game the Allies put all their warships in the London sea zone from Italy, France, and Britain, so it was quite formidable.) At any rate, the mines would always seem to take out one or two German ships to the point that even after building up the German navy over a couple turns before moving it over, and clearing that sea zone was quite an arduous task. They eventually did. (In case you’re wondering why Germany bothered to do so, it was twofold: 1. With the goal of destroying/blocking the American fleet and keeping them from continuing to reinforce Italy. 2. To put more pressure on Britain.)
The Russian Revolution happened at the end of Russia’s 6th turn, and despite popular opinion, it was a great thing for the Central Powers. Yes, they lost the potential 6 IPCs for taking Moscow, but it closed down the eastern front, and Germany and Austria-Hungary could send everyone they had after Paris and Rome, respectively. And they didn’t have to worry about the Allies trying to liberate a capital that they just captured (and would have been very difficult to reinforce from Berlin or Vienna). For Germany, this was huge. (The Russian Revolution allowed them to spend nearly all of several turn’s worth of income on building up their navy, all while still sending troops from the Russian front to the west.)
This game is much more balanced than Axis & Allies WWII 1942. One of the criticisms of that game is that with any Allied player worth a damn, the Axis are practically doomed from the start. Not so with this game. Germany is very strong from the start, can easily pick up additional IPC’s in Africa, and not only is the U.S. not nearly the economic juggernaut it is in WWII, it’s not even involved until the 4th turn. (In this game, the Central Powers smartly were happy to keep the U.S. neutral until then.) Russia is also fairly weak, and Italy is almost worthless - they are just trying to survive. Still think the Allies will win more often than not, but the Central Powers player at least has a fighting chance.
Key neutrals mobilized: Switzerland (for Austria-Hungary, in turn 2); Holland (for Germany, in turn 2); Serbia (for Russia, of course in turn 1); Romania (for Russia, in turn 1); Bulgaria (for Ottoman, in turn 1); Albania (for Italy, in turn 4); and Portugal (for France, in turn 1). Neutrals actually played a huge role in this game, which I thought was really neat. Being able to mobilize troops far from your capital in a friendly neutral was a huge plus. France tried to take over Spain (to give a staging ground for landing U.S. troops, plus the 4 IPCs), but it almost backfired. All they could do was contest Spain, which gave Germany troops to the west of France all while Germany was pushing west. It took the U.S. cleaning it up to take over Spain and make this plan succeed. (Or not, since the Allies lost, but at least it was a viable landing spot only two turns from Washington, D.C.)
On to the strategies and recap:
Germany: Two front war with France and Russia. The Germans developed a pretty nice supply line along the coast from Poland all the way to Belgium. Although Berlin is far from both capitals, it was a formidable line for much of the game. Once Russia revolted (with a big assist from Austria-Hungary and a small one from Ottoman as well), it was on to Paris. The Germans managed to contest Paris in Turn 6, but soon their supply line was interrupted as Britain successfully contested Belgium and eventually took it over. The guys in Paris and Picardy behind enemy lines were done for. It looked like Britain, France, and the U.S. might be able to start pushing east from Belgium, but soon the tanks arrived and the tide of the war changed. The bloodiest battles of the war were fought in Belgium, for all sides, although the Germans began to make progress once the tanks showed up. (Germany lost Belgium in the 5th turn, and it did not become theirs again for good until the 9th.) After finally taking Belgium, Germany continued west and finally took Paris in the 13th, which they would hold for the rest of the game. The game almost ended after the 13th turn, but America was able to liberate Rome during their turn, prolonging the game for a few more turns. As mentioned earlier, Germany left the U.S. alone so that they wouldn’t have to deal with them until the 4th turn, and unrestricted submarine warfare was never declared at any point in the game (because Germany never got subs to sea zones 2, 7, or 8 after they were destroyed in the 2nd turn!).
Russia: They were on the defensive from the start, and the Central Powers managed to contest both Poland and the Ukraine during the first turn. Mobilizing Romania helped, and although they were able to get Poland, Ukraine, and Romania back or at least contest it a few times throughout the game, they could never really get on the offensive, having to ward off not only Germany, but Austria-Hungary and Ottoman as well. The goal was just to survive until the Brits and French (because by the time the Americans joined the war, it was frankly a little too late for Russia - they were already down to 17 IPCs by that time) could put pressure on the Germans and Austria-Hungary. Unfortunately for Russia, that didn’t happen in time, and by turn 4, they were in full retreat mode. The Russian Revolution occurred at the end of turn 6.
Austria-Hungary: Their number one task was to kill Italy, although they sent troops to Russia as well. They were able take Tuscany in their first turn via a transport from Trieste, immediately dividing the Italian forces and putting pressure on Italy from the start. They took Venice and Switzerland in the 2nd turn (Switzerland would prove VERY useful when the war turned towards Paris), and Piedmont and Romania in the 3rd. Italy managed to stay alive for a few more turns, but Rome fell in turn 9. Austria-Hungary left a nominal force behind in Italy (2 infantry) and turned all their attention towards the west. Germany was still bogged down in Belgium at this time, so Austria-Hungary putting some pressure on France, particularly southern France, was a godsend. Between turns 10 and 14, they picked up additional income and put further pressure on France by taking Marseilles, Lorraine, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. In turn 13, the U.S. managed to liberate Rome, staving off execution for the Allies for a few more turns. But America’s distance from Italy and divided forces (i.e. reinforcing Italy, attacking Germany, trying to liberate Paris by landing troops in Spain, etc.) combined with Italy’s weak IPC production (only 6 at that point) and Austria-Hungary’s strength ensured this would only be temporary. Austria-Hungary took back Rome in the 17th turn and held it, ending the game. Incidentally, although required to attack Serbia, Austria-Hungary made only a nominal attack there, enough to contest it but no more. (Attacking Serbia is as stupid and pointless a move in this game as it was in real life.) Serbia was contested between Russia and Austria-Hungary for the first two turns (which was really fine by Austria-Hungary, as they wanted to devote more resources towards, Italy, Russia, and later, France) until Ottoman came in the 3rd turn and settled things.
France: In a bad position from the start, France very rarely had the chance to make an offensive towards Germany or Austria-Hungary. Germany took over Belgium during their first turn, immediately bringing troops to France’s doorstep. They got a little bit of a breather beginning in turn 5, when Britain managed to contest Belgium for the first time and continued landing around 8 troops every turn, but this was to be short-lived. By that time, they had already lost income in Lorraine, Burgundy, Picardy, and Marseille, and were just trying to hang on to Paris. Meanwhile, it still took a couple turns to eliminate all the German troops behind enemy lines, even with American help. Although the French were able to take back Picardy, Burgundy, and Lorraine, the German tanks soon arrived (as well as the reinforcements from the east) and it was all downhill beginning in turn 10. The Germans (with an assist from Austria-Hungary) would march into Paris on turn 13, knocking France from the game.
British Empire: Britain’s main strategy early on was to try to knock out the Ottoman Empire from the game. Being able to mobilize troops in India was a huge aid in accomplishing this objective. By turn 2, Britain had taken over Persia and mobilized Saudi Arabia. Mesopotamia fell in turn 4, and by then Ottoman was on the run. They took Trans-Jordan and Syrian Desert in turn 6, Smyrna in turn 7, and Ankara in turn 8. Beginning in turn 9, they would contest Constantinople. Unfortunately for the British, by then Ottoman troops who had been fighting in the east as far as Ukraine had returned to reinforce Constantinople. Undeterred, the British kept building infantry, artillery, and occasional planes in India and sending them towards Istanbul, although as time went on the Western Front demanded more and more of their attention. The distance from India to Constantinople (4 turns) was another obstacle. Still, the Ottomans were holed up in Constantinople, and came very close to elimination. In turn 16, the Brits got the Ottoman down to one lone infantry that survived the battle. However, in turn 17, Austria-Hungary managed to land reinforcements (they had since built up their navy and cleared the Mediterranean) in Constantinople, ending the British threat once and for all. Still, it was a close one for the Ottoman Empire. Meanwhile, British did not ignore the western front. In early turns they landed troops in mainland Europe to reinforce Picardy, and later, Paris, but with only mixed results in the face of German aggression. Beginning in turn 5, they landed troops in Belgium and managed to constest it. Typically 8 men per turn landed in Belgium to fight the Germans, but they were eventually overwhelmed by the German tanks.
Ottoman Empire: They activated Bulgaria in the first turn and made some early offensives into Russian territory by taking Sevestapool and Serbia by the 3rd turn, and sending troops to support Austria-Hungary in Romania and the Ukraine, but it wasn’t long before they were on the defensive against the British Empire. By turn 9, they were holed up in contested Constantinople and only producing two infantry a turn. They were happy to just survive (barely, as detailed above) and luck out by being on the winning side, with really minimal thanks to them.
Italy: They were hurting all game, and with the lowest starting IPCs (14), they didn’t have a lot of buying power to do much. Austria-Hungary took over both Tuscany and Venice the first turn. Activating Albania and taking Ethiopia the first turn gave them a few more IPCs, which helped. But mostly it was all about survival. Tuscany would be contested a few more times during the game (mostly due to its distance of 3 turns from Vienna and Austria-Hungary simultaneously fighting the Russians), but Rome would eventually fall in turn 9. The Americans would succeed in liberating Rome in turn 13, once Austria-Hungary had turned their full attention towards France, giving Italy a little life. But only being able to produce 2 infantry a turn, it wasn’t long before Austria-Hungary threatened again. Rome would be contested again in turn 15, and ultimately fall in turn 17, ending the game.
U.S.: The U.S. is an interesting power. Their limited economic might (only 20 IPCs) took some getting used to in this game. Also the fact that while they are building up their military while neutral, they can’t attack anyone or even load units onto a transport until the end of turn 4. Also, recall that in A&A 1942 they are only 2 spaces from the London sea zone, allowing them to drop troops off in western France in one turn. Not so in this game. The best they can do is Spain, so that became their primary staging ground for the western front for most of the game. So they are limited in what they can do. They did send quite a few troops to the front (typically 8 infantry a turn, with occasional artillery and planes mixed in). This helped reinforce Paris after the first German scare (see above), but they would ultimately be overwhelmed by German tanks in Belgium, Picardy, and even Paris. Saving Italy for a few turns (see above) helped things, but it was too little, too late. Note that by the time the U.S. entered the war, the allies were already in bad shape. In the east, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, and Livonia were either taken over or contested by the Central Powers, and in Italy, Venice and Piedmont had been taken over with Tuscany heavily contested. The Central Powers had also already taken over Belgium, Holland, Lorraine, and Switzerland, and were already only two steps away from Paris. Unless the German player is stupid and goes after the U.S. prior to turn 4, they can’t do much but sit on the sidelines and watch. Given their distance, they really can’t help western Europe until turn 5 or even turn 6 at the earliest provided their neutrality is not violated first.
Well, there you have it. It is a great game, and I’m looking forward to many others in the future. Any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up. But I think this game should answer three important questions (it does for me at least):
- Can the Central Powers win this game? Yes.
- Is there any benefit to buying tanks? Absolutely, especially for Germany.
- Is the Russian Revolution worth the risk for the Central Powers? Yes! It eliminates one of the Allied Powers from the game and allows the Central Powers to redirect all their attention to the western front.