G is just hard to stop on this board. So much hinges on the Russian opening. The only Allied victories I have been able to pull off involved either a solid Ukraine strafe (with the Tanks back to Caucasus) and getting into W. Russia with a solid 7+ inf, or else it was on a sweep of Ukraine and W. Russia where both spaces are taken with almost no casualties. Not a great situation to be in, where you either need a good strafe or a double sweep. I used to go 2 tanks to W. Russia (and hope for a solid fighter hit in Ukraine), for fear of heavy casualties and a German counter attack. But I now I go all 3 Tanks into Ukraine every time. It’s just too close otherwise, and 3 is the best shot you have to strafe solid.
For the buy I go 4 inf 2 tanks. Inf in Caucasus and tanks in Moscow. It still feels light on inf, but the second tank is the only way I seem to be able to keep the Germans from pushing forward immediately.
A safe strafe with 6 tanks into the second round gives you enough to cover a German advance, though it hurts to leave an extra German fighter alive. I don’t find that you can tank trap Caucasus round 1 in this game the way you could in Revised, e.g. stacking W. Russia with everything (and leaving Caucasus with 5 inf (4+ the dude from Kazakh), it just doesn’t really give you enough heat to counter attack effectively. It leaves G with too many attack options on the first round, and too many extra ground units in the east, and if you don’t at least strafe Ukraine, it makes it too easy for Germany to go all naval and threaten a UK sea lion (which completely screws India and any attempt to stall Japan.) So given all that, I find that I have to go summer offensive into the Ukraine, hoping for a good strafe, but prepared to fight a seriously uphill game if the dice go against me on the Russian opening.
That doesn’t even get into the tough position the UK finds itself in. The only saving grace here is that Germany has a few hard fights as well in the opening round. There is a chance to peel off a German fighter against the cruiser in sz 14 (unless G threatens sea lion, in which case expect the battleship to turn that sea zone on its head.) It’s possible to cover against Sea Lion, because Germany really has to go full naval and buy 2 transports if they are serious about it. Then UK is in a bind, because they have to send the royal air force against the German battleship, or risk invasion in round 2. USA can’t support the UK defense with anything but a bomber (Russia can’t really do anything to help UK directly, only indirectly by pressure on the eastern front, so it puts a lot of pressure on the UK air force to do something and avert disaster.) More often Germany will not threaten invasion, but just try to nuke the Atlantic fleets in the opening round and then position themselves to nuke any ships UK builds in the first 3 round.
I’m not sure you can do a whole lot to prevent the Germans from locking you off the home island in the first few rounds. It comes down to sea zone 10/11. If Germans go for both and win, the best you can do is build air and wait for the Americans to develop a fleet strong enough to cross the Atlantic. If the Germans go for one (all 10 or all 11), there is still a good chance they will lock you off the Island anyway.
Egypt can be a game changer too. If it swings UK and you keep the fighter in Egypt, you have options. If the space is deadzoned, but the canal remains open you could maybe pull something off. But if it swings Germany and they get in with 2 tanks, you have some hard choices to make.
sz 37 is a longshot without the second British fighter. I tend to favor a hit on sz 61, because letting that Japanese transport survive is just asking for trouble. Throwing the transport forward you have odds on Borneo. New Guinea as well, especially if the cruiser supports. 5 ipcs is hard to ignore, even if the Japanese carrier is still afloat as a result. You still end up with 3 inf on India (plus whatever you bought). If the fighter lands in Szechwan, there is a chance you can keep one (maybe two) fighters alive to help support Russia or India in later rounds. Whether to send the carrier forward as fodder, or to block, or pull it back towards Africa as a distraction for axis air, probably depends on the first battle in Egypt.
I will play this game without a bid, just because I enjoy the variability of dice. But against an evenly matched Axis opponent, its hard to get ahead. Given the option, I would bid like this
6 = 1 inf in Egypt and 1 inf in Caucasus
7 = 1 inf in Egypt and 1 art in Caucasus
8 = 1 aa gun in Egypt and 1 inf in Caucasus, or 1 inf in Egypt and 1 art in Caucasus (save 1 ipc)
or possibly 1 inf Egypt, 1 art India for full KJF. The problem with KJF though is that you have to bid before you see what G does, so it could force a different Axis game on you then you would otherwise face.
Anything 8 or higher gives you the option of maybe getting an extra destroyer, like if you want to secure sz 37. The attack on sz 37 only makes sense to me if you are going to support it with a US pacific play (and if you are going to hit the Japanese fleet, you might as well go for Borneo or Dutch East Indies while you’re at it.) Or you could bid a destroyer to give some extra protection to the Atlantic transports. Or maybe drop in sz 17 to give the Germans major headaches. But any destroyer bid leaves the eastern front really tight. I think its hard to justify not getting the extra fodder unit for Ukraine or W. Russia.
9 = 1 inf Egypt and 1 inf Caucasus and 1 inf Karelia, or all 3 inf to the Soviets, or 1 inf in Egypt and 1 sub in sea zone 35 (KFJ and canal cover, but again, this takes a risk on the eastern front.)
10 = I think with moderate luck, you should be able to hold your own as the Allies with a bid of 10. This is the cheapest bid that gives you a way to completely shut down any chance of Sea Lion. (Germany cannot pull it off without the starting transport.) A fighter bid with the plan to attack sz 5 is crazy expensive though. 3 fighters and you have to land one in Karelia, 2 and you have odds but one could be destroyed, and there is always the terror of a russian dud/german hit, which would basically negate the bid. Fighters can be fun though, just because they give some extra opening flexibility, and into the endgame (every round it survives is like a gift, and it usually survives longer than inf fodder.)
Still at 10 I would most likely go 1 inf Egypt and 1 artillery Caucasus and 1 inf Karelia,
or if you enjoy Tanks/Submarines, this is the bid amount where it becomes safer to drop one (since you have enough left over for an artillery unit somewhere else.)
My general notion of the bid, is that you are better off taking an advantage on 2 or more territories/battles, then putting everything into a single battle. But sometimes, with a solid strategy, or steady magnified builds, a heavy hitting bid somewhere can swing the entire game. You may notice the repetition of an Egypt bid, as pretty consistent. This is because the Egypt battle is the tightest in the opening round. 1 extra fodder unit here for the UK can change the odds substantially, which in turn gives UK an extra fighter and control of the Suez canal. If I was given a bid of 3, that’s where I would put it.
This is a lot of text, but let me close by echoing the final line of your original post.
If you want to win as Allies on this board, you pretty much have to Strat Bomb Germany. Its tough to do, especially for anyone with an aversion to risk, but in all my games where the Allies have won it has been through decisive joint UK/US bombings of Germany in rounds 2 and 3.
When in doubt, I buy a bomber with the US every round that I can afford one. I haven’t seen too many bomber bids, though I suppose it is an option at 12 or more (most just go 4 inf if they get a bid that high). But if I was to bid a bomber, I would probably give it to the UK, and put it in India.
Bids at 12 ipcs or more allow you to try more inventive openings. There is something to be said for the old bid rule, where you were only allowed to place a single unit (any remainder saved for purchase.) In games like that a bid of 6, or 12 can end up being more fun then the ones where you just bid inf, for a slight advantage in some eastern front opening attack. 4 inf, bid out to the Allies in the right places, can alter the flow of the game quite a lot. Its one of the reasons why people get frustrated with pre-placement bidding, because it can lead to less variability in the opening round. But if you do play Allies, I think it’s reasonable to to take a bid at 10, the Axis can certainly still win if they play effectively.