I agree, if you play with the same group of people regularly, it can sometimes be worth doing a G2 sea lion set up, just to keep your opponents on their toes. Or similarly you can do a G2 Barbarossa invasion. Even if the play isn’t always optimal, it prevents the enemy from ever being able to totally pin down your strategic habits. So maybe sometimes you buy a carrier, or sometimes you buy some armor or mech to hammer the east, just to keep them on edge at all times, and never quite sure what play you’ll adopt.
I’d say I buy a carrier maybe one game out every four, just to be unpredictable. Though the goal here is almost always simply to keep a fleet alive in the Baltic and use it against the Russians, rather than pressuring the UK. Adopting this posture, you get a little more power projected out of W. Germany, onto places like Norway, Baltic, Novgorod etc, and you force the UK to at least play safe. You figure, in order to keep your Baltic fleet safe and effective, you are looking at a total investment of around 30-40 ipcs on the water. This usually means 1 carrier, 1 destroyer (to protect the CV from subs) and then 1 or 2 more transports, just to keep the amphibious pressure on with your fleet. Basically you need a few transports, just to project enough force to justify the initial naval investment. If you do a move like this every once in a while, it prevents the Allies from reading you as player.
But I buy a bomber almost every game, like 9 times out of 10 now. Usually a bomber in combination with some other units, or a double bomber sometimes if I feel agressive, but a bomber either way, I keep coming back to it. Its just really hard not to exploit that combat movement advantage on G2. The big purchase comes on G2 anyway, as everyone knows, once you have the french purse. Its fairly easy to reserve your ground purchase until G2, and spend G1 focusing on units that keep the Allies guessing. “Where are they going to go? What are they going to do?” The bomber at 7 means they can go all over the place and do all sorts of things, so I feel like it is a strong buy from the perspective of obfuscation and misdirection and not quite revealing your full war plan until the G2 purchase is placed.
The only other buy I sometimes like to throw into the mix, is just the full slam on Russia, you know something that puts the Soviets on notice, like an all artillery or mech purchase. But its nice to have the 3rd bomber to coordinate with these too. So I just see the bomber as the standard.
The bomber can do about half a dozen things, whereas a carrier plus total naval build ties you down. I think the Luftwaffe wins out over the Kriegsmarine on average for me, even if you still want to drop the Graf Zeppelin, its possible to do that in later rounds. But a bomber can bomb in addition to whatever else it might do, it has that sneaky option to slam allied production on a gamble if the player so desires. When the force is strong with you, anyway, and you want to roll the dice. Which is something you don’t get for investing at sea or on the ground.
There is that old game play strategy that the player who manages to get the edge in the air early on, is the player who usually comes out on top, and bombers are the backbone of the air force, since they have the reach.
Airforce shifting is at the heart of the game. If you let the Allies shift all their air uncontested, and ever manage to shift your Axis air in response, you end up losing. In the older games the trick was generally to shift Japanese air to Europe as quickly as possible, in G40 perhaps the reverse is the case, and its Germany that needs to get to the middle of the board early on. Either way a bomber is the only unit that can get from W. Germany 7 spaces out, that you can buy in the first round.
I think its a winner