German bomber strategy - How to play and How to counter

  • Aber nein, mein herr JDOW, I am not confused :-D.
    I agree with you for a very big part, ofc. But I still do think that Germany is more dangerous with the bomberstrategy unchecked (because the USA goes JF), than it is with a ‘land units only’ barbarossa strategy unchecked.
    The ‘unchecked’ part is very important as far as I’m concerned. Hence my remark about the bigger need for the USA to put stuff into the Atlantic (not necessarily an abnormal amount of stuff)!

  • '15 '14

    I am btw sorry I have said “confused”.

    I guess we just have different opinions here.
    I am very certain that the threat on Russia with a Barbarossa way higher thatn against bombers. This is a mathematical thing. With Arty G1 and tank/Mech only G2/G3 and Tank/Mech or Air G4 Germans have without any doubt more hitpoints and firepower against Moscow compared to bombers.

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    But with the bombers, Germany can pound on the Moscow IC…

    It does seem like buying bombers on G1, G2, and maybe even G3 is suboptimal.  After that they’re great

  • I wholeheartedly agree, Gamer.
    It indeed seems like buying bombers early is suboptimal, untill you play Germany against a USA that ignores you during the early 3-4 rounds. Try it out yourself with the condition that the USA ignores you. It is a good laugh :lol:. Ofc, if the USA does not ignore you it is a whole different story…

    Some things in this game are just very conditional, being anything between very good or very bad depending on what the oppostion is doing against you.

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    ? Why would you want extra bombers really early when the USA is ignoring you?  As opposed to getting cheap ground units started towards Russia

  • Hmhmmm, if going for Moscow first and as fast as possible, land units are much better.
    If Germany wants to reduce Moscow to an economic non-factor, but is not interested in taking it as fast as possible but rather expand their economy first, the bomberstrategy offers great flexibility!
    With it, Germany can take the Middle East, threaten all of London, Cairo, Moscow, Calcutta, the allied fleet in the Atlantic and any landing sites mostly at the same time during the mid- to late game. Very clever positioning of the bombers may even result in threatening all these targets all at once. Something I don’t think Germany can do if going for Moscow first (more land units) asap.

    But, I think you have a point in that it doesn’t really matter in what order Germany builds its units anyway, if largely ignored (first bombers or first land units). The effects are probably really the same.

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    I would have said this earlier - this morning - but I was rushing out the door to get to a 4th of July parade -

    You are making some very good points

    I think the bigger question isn’t the bomber strategy but the Allied strategy.  You basically just said, and I agree, that Germany has loads of options and is very hard to stop without really good luck.  (Germany is often stopped cold on G1, especially by over-aggressive strategies, like not taking every land unit at France, or not replacing land units with aircraft if cheating a few away for something else)

    I mean, pretty much everyone agrees you can put Germany or Japan in check if you focus on them, but of course the question is can you stop victory in the other theater.  According to hundreds of games played in the league this year, it looks like you have to be lucky and good to win as the Allies, or, of course, have the opponent over-matched in skill and/or experience.

    You are right.  Germany doesn’t need to get Moscow fast, all Germany needs to do is stuff Russia so that Russia is not a threat, and merely go South, going for India if Japan is threatening to win, or for Egypt.  Since Larry added the complex in Ukraine that wasn’t there before, it is pretty easy for Germany to build 6 to 9 units a turn in Russia for cheap, which is more than Russia can build.  So it’s up to the Allies to make big things happen elsewhere before Russia folds.  If the Axis player knows what he’s doing and doesn’t take unnecessary chances, I think other quality players like Zhukov and JDOW have already said so I will merely echo - it is dang tough to win with the Allies.

  • I’m not an American but I believe people then say “happy 4th of july!”.
    A little belated but hey, I live thousands of miles away 😉


    Zhukov and JDOW have already said so I will merely echo - it is dang tough to win with the Allies.

    It makes me so sad, but Amen to that. I’ll sadly join the echo.

    The axis are so much harder to defeat if they stop seeing time as their enemy and instead use it to first (try to) get their total economy overpowering the allied one.

  • Ok, so so after reading much of this thread Dark Sky’s should make Germany the focus of the allies because it is a tough nut to crack. So allies (USA) should go heavy Europe to get the Luftwaffe to engage them basically to reduce the German air superiority. As allies you want to entice the bmr wing of the Luftwaffe into battles they should win, but at a cost. Probably want to do this as early as possible before they are at 10+ bmrs (critical mass at what 15+).

    Ok, so before an effective allied strat was KJF to cripple the Japanese navy/econ as fast as possible making them irrelevant (but this takes time), then switch gears to Europe. Now I’m hearing that with Dark Sky’s neutering Japan first will allow Germany to become impregnable because of the dominance of the air force.

    Now when the game starts you may not know what the Germans are going to do (well you shouldn’t anyway), but you can assume they will go one of 3 ways.

    1. Barbarossa
    2. Dark Sky’s (heavy bmr strat)
    3. Sea Lion

    Sometimes Germany will tip its hand w/G1 purchases. If they buy a couple bmrs, it could be Dark Sky’s, or maybe a Sea Lion (want to SBR UK before the invasion). If they buy mostly inf/art it could be Barbarossa, unless they also bought a couple transports …… If they buy a carrier they might be thinking Sea Lion depending on how UK reacts and so on…or they may save the bulk (or all) of their IPCs to hide their intentions.

    So in light of this I’m hearing the allies need to focus on Europe early, and defend the 4th map (Hawaii/Sidney) from Japan. It is expected that the Japanese will become Godzilla and dominate the Pac side generating to what 90+ IPCs? But at some point the US will need to deal with them as well.

    So the USA (with a few UK ships) is the power that needs to push the Germans and over load them. They need to delay/stop a Russian onslaught by forcing the Germans to refocus the Luftwaffe to the west as early as possible (thinking that with heavy bmr buys the Germans won’t have the land units to push to the heart of Moscow w/o the air power. Maybe creating a naval situation that favors the axis air, but will be costly if the Germans engage, and maybe attempt some landings to boot.

    Assuming there is no J1 attack, what should the US do from the get go?

    A) Buy ships for the Atlantic US1, and start moving part of the Pac fleet (sz110 start-up) through the canal.

    B) Start moving everything you got towards the Atlantic side (including the Pearl ships), and drop a couple capital ships off DC .

    C) Build at San Fran adding to the sz110 fleet with intentions of moving through the canal us2 . Leave Pearl Harbor ships on the Pac side that can be added to a couple turns later to delay/defend the Japanese (keeps you a bit more flexible).

    A & B defiantly lets the Germans know you mean business (but Japan is licking its chops), not sure if it would change effect the German strat though?

    Even if you move/build Atlantic, the Japanese could delay attacks and you don’t get to use your pretty new Atlantic fleet until turn 4.  The idea is to get the Germans to engage as early as possible so the Luftwaffe takes a hit, but it is up to the axis as to when the US comes into the war, and if/when they want to hit the Western Fleet.

  • '15

    My understanding of how Dark Skies works is that it’s always paired with a J1 DOW on the Allies.  Why wouldn’t it be?  With a J1 DOW and the Germans working to stack those bombers, the USA is forced to deal with two things at once, which is good for the Axis.

    Hard for me to say, though.  I’m an awful Axis player.  But when I do win with Axis, it’s often with a Dark Skies strategy.  I think that’s the main effect of the Dark Skies strat - it takes those who would normally be bad and makes them win anyway.  I mean, we aren’t seeing a lot of heavy bomber builds in the Tier 1/E levels, are we?

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    Excellent posts, gentlemen, I enjoyed those very much and I think you know what you’re talking about - summarizing the thread pretty well.

    A thought or two for you

    There isn’t really such thing as critical mass for German bombers.  I don’t care if Germany has 100 bombers, the worst they can do is sink you in 1 round.  So you get one round of defense.  You most often can use an airbase or two to help with defense.  If your defense is mainly destroyers, carriers, and fighters (hopefully mostly fighters, obviously the most effective), then the Germans should lose significant #s of bombers no matter how many they have.

    You are right that Germany may be tipping their hand with G1 purchases but it doesn’t have to be that way.  G1 is 30, G2 is 66-70, so Germany can change directions pretty quickly and effectively on G2.

    The Allies can’t be afraid to take negative TUV trades with the German airforce, and this definitely includes UK1 with the scramble decision.  It’s pretty simple - German air has the optimal position on the board and has UK, USA, and Russian enemies on all different fronts, so German air is the most valuable in the game.  A German fighter costs 10 to build and so does a UK fighter, but the German fighter is significantly more valuable.  I would be happy to trade 3 UK fighters for 2 German fighters in most instances, because now the German force is weaker against all enemies.

    I know it’s simple, but I see over and over again that players think that 10 = 10, but it doesn’t.  Oh, and UK fighters are generally much more valuable than USA fighters because the UK fighters can immediately bolster USA takes.  And, of course, London has a smaller economy.

  • '20 '16 '15 '14


    My understanding of how Dark Skies works is that it’s always paired with a J1 DOW on the Allies.  Why wouldn’t it be?  With a J1 DOW and the Germans working to stack those bombers, the USA is forced to deal with two things at once, which is good for the Axis.

    I personally do not do a J1 DOW, in fact I usually will play for a J4 (J3 sometimes).  No reason to get the U.S. into the game that early.  Japan’s purpose is to play positionally, and if Allied forces do not reinforce in sufficient numbers, then Japan is ready to perform a slow crush win in the Pacific.


    But when I do win with Axis, it’s often with a Dark Skies strategy.  I think that’s the main effect of the Dark Skies strat - it takes those who would normally be bad and makes them win anyway.  I mean, we aren’t seeing a lot of heavy bomber builds in the Tier 1/E levels, are we?

    Well, bmnielsen seems to be an adequate player, and he’s the one who played it against me and gave me the inspiration (it’s not a new concept, it was just new to me).  As far as making those who would normally be bad win, well, there it depends.  If you are playing an average Allied player, I can agree with that.  If you are playing a good Allied player, however, I very much disagree.  It is MUCH more difficult to calculate out which battles you should take on against an Allied player who keeps giving you “sucker plays” for those bombers – buying 175 infantry per turn and pushing them East just isn’t as tactically challenging.  But, I will say this.  I think the bomber strat is the best chance that a good Axis player has against a good Allied player – this is just my opinion.


    The axis are so much harder to defeat if they stop seeing time as their enemy and instead use it to first (try to) get their total economy overpowering the allied one.

    LeClerc, the more I stop and think about that statement (I know you’ve made it before), the more I realize that it may just be the most profound one in the entire thread.  You see, since the early days of playing first and second (and third) edition, time has always worked against the Axis.  Even when using tech strategies, there was only a small window for Japan to roll (in an even game), whereas it seemed like the U.S. had forever to roll and hit.  Is this (Global 40) the first iteration of the A&A series where time works in favor of the Axis over the Allies?  If so, that is strange both from a gaming standpoint and a historical one….

  • Is this (Global 40) the first iteration of the A&A series where time works in favor of the Axis over the Allies?  If so, that is strange both from a gaming standpoint and a historical one….

    Very strange, yes.
    It is my personal experience that an axis rush is much easier to defeat with the allies. I was even beginning to think the allies were unbeatable because all I ever saw was axis rush strategies (which I found rather easy to defeat). So yes, imo the axis will be much stronger if they take their time with taking VCs, provided they do work on progressing their combined economy.

  • '15

    Time is still the enemy of the Axis for the first four or five turns, for sure.

    You must be in a position to begin enacting the neutered Russia tactic, hopefully having at least two of their mICs and in range to SBR Moscow. This requires that you get your units into position as quickly as is possible. Every turn you’re not SBRing or you leave Russia’s economy above 20/turn is no bueno. If you’re lucky, or the Russian player is not so great, or you focused on it and don’t mind the big risk, killing russia is even an option on or before turn 8 (though I haven’t seen this in any game since the first half of 2014).

    You must either have already taken Egypt and be making 24+/turn or be full-swing into the Russian can-opener. Some early shenanigans with Gibraltar could cause exceptions.

    Whether it’s J1 DoW or waiting all the way to J4, you must either be prepped to blast out and cause massive casualties when the time comes, or have a strong positioning of your fleet to where it is clear there is literally nothing the allies can do to stop you, ore even slow you down, for several, several rounds to come.

    After the first 4-5 turns? Then yes, you’re right. Time is no longer a necessarily bad thing for the axis, then, but you still must get your shit done early on. That being said, the earlier simple idea of “if you don’t win by turn [9 +/- 2], then you never will” for the axis is indeed no longer something I follow.

  • With all these Bomber buys with Germany. Where are the Ground troops to build its economy and push into USSR? SBR on Russia IC’s is fair enough but surely the Germans are going to lose bombers to AA and Soviet and Allied fighters intercept. Am i missing something?

  • '20 '16 '15 '14


    With all these Bomber buys with Germany. Where are the Ground troops to build its economy and push into USSR? SBR on Russia IC’s is fair enough but surely the Germans are going to lose bombers to AA and Soviet and Allied fighters intercept. Am i missing something?

    Yes, I think a lot of people are missing two basic points here.  One, remember that in global each AA only fires at three planes each in a ground war.  Two, you need a lot less ground troops to take Russia with 20+ bombers than without.  And, mech infantry are fast for one extra IPC.  So, if you can buy 3 bombers per turn at 36 and you are earning 68 (just pulling a number out), that’s 8 mech infantry.  You don’t really need artillery at that point (for the same cost) since your strike force is from the air (and artillery are slow – perhaps purchasing them from the Ukraine IC is OK).  Any other German ground that you need is already on the board at the start of the game.

    Do the math.  Bombers only cost 12 IPC’s and can hit Moscow THE NEXT TURN (key emphasis).  This is much more efficient than purchasing ground forces only.

    Please note that my original posts do not subscribe to all of the other noise in the thread (but I think I was the inspiration for the post lol).  I purchase about 3-4 bombers per turn, and put the rest into fast ground units.  It’s this balance that is difficult to stop, not bombers only.  This balance threatens all theaters, and can be in Egypt as well as Moscow (or both) along with threatening Allied shipping.

    If the Allies are doing nothing but stacking boats in Gibraltar, that’s not much support to Russia, imho.

  • What you may be missing, BulwFi, is that the German plan is to build land units by the dozens later on (when they need them more urgently) among others at the ICs they take from Russia. Germany has enough starting land units to push Russia back into Moscow, and it is not that they are producing 0 land units prior to taking the Russian ICs.

    At the same time, the bombers make it harder for the allies to focus on Japan, because they will need a bigger-than-usual presence in the Atlantic to achieve anything there.
    On the upside (for the allies), I think that if the allies do this, the bomber strategy means that Germany shoots in its own foot.

    And still, this may be a very hard strategy for the allies to counter, because the USA can very easily overdo it in the Atlantic so that Japan can win in the Pacific…

  • My first thought to counter this would be to match each bomber buy with a purchase of 4 infantry. Germany buys 3 bombers, you buy a minimum of 12 infantry. Haven’t played against this but will try it as Germany next game  :evil:

  • Ok Thanks for the feed back. Seems like its cheating, not in the literial sence of course, but cheating the game out of its epicness if you follow me…

  • 2007 AAR League

    I have never played against the Dark Skies Strategy yet.
    What is the German Success rate at the moment using this strategy? from what I’m reading almost 100% or something?

    My quick thoughts as the allies would be to keep Germany focused on the Western side of things as much as possible.
    I would place a NB on Iceland and use it as a staging ground to hit 2-4 Germany territories a turn forcing more land purchases and attacks on the West and less focused on the East.

    While at the same time maybe purchasing just tanks each turn with Russia and maybe get a good strafe or attack at the German East Force to remove the bomber’s “buffer” and make them purchase even more land units and make them pay dearly to march East.

  • Ok I’m doing a Dark Sky’s strat (or variation of it), and I’m planning on buying 1-4 bmrs/turn w/Germany. I’m also doing a J1 attack, and mixing in some bmr purchases with J & I . My allied counterpart is a good player, but I didn’t outright tell him of my plan. We have discussed Dark Sky’s in the past, and he gathered that I wasn’t going to do a traditional Barbarossa.

    To throw him off a bit, G1 I bought 1 bmr, and a carrier (saved 2 IPCs). My G1 attacks went well, Paris and Normandy fell, and I kept my mobile units and a even some art (left S France for Italy). Took Yugo activated Finland/Bulgaria and moved inf stack to Poland. I also got lucky and sank the Canadian mini fleet in sz106. I sank UK navy in sz sz110 (he did no scrambles) and used my BB and air for a hit and run on the sz111 leaving him w/damaged BB and and a cruiser. Yeah I only got 2 hits in the one round battle, but did sink the rest on G2 when I overloaded sz109 w/air and a left over sub (he didn’t scramble then either).

    Because of my carrier/bmr purchase, he thought maybe Sea Lion? His UK1 turn was very conservative, meaning a home def purchase and most of the Italian fleet was left in tact. He also pulled back to the Red Sea to regroup/add ships and clean up the Italian Africa/Mid East etc…… Not sure if preserving the UK Med fleet was right or wrong (TBD), and there has been many debates on this forum with good points on both sides. Because I still have my Italian fleet I thought about going for Egypt or Gib but would have lost those gains to immediate counter attacks, or risk the Italian fleet away from port (possible UK air strike). So I did some basic stuff w/Italy killing the French fleet, taking Greece/S France and consolidated on Tobruk. I was planning on a can opener tactic in Russia w/Italy (buying mech to go with my tanks). On G2 I bought 3 more bmrs bringing them to 6, so because Italy stayed in port (now having 3 tpts) they could have easily opened up a landing space for the Entire Luftwaffe in Morocco. Plus my German fleet was also in sz112. This kept the combined US/UK fleet in their North American ports on turn2. I ended up invading Russia on G2 and should be able to push to the their minor ICs w/starting German units (to start building more ground units on Russian soil for the push on Moscow). Need to get some bmrs in range to start SBR on Moscow.

    On the Pac side I did a J1 attack, and built 3 transports (which went to Phil J2). I killed the Brit BB (rolled like crap though so it got to fire 2 shots that both hit lol). Besides invading China, I also took Kwangtung, FIC, Phil, and Wake Is. Sank the US ships in sz 35 (Phil), and sz26 (Haw). Used Wake as a staging point for my loaded carriers and BB (my surviving ships in sz26 worked as a blocker from the US coastal ships).

    The US has purchased all Europe turn 1&2, and his Pac fleet isn’t too scarey as it cowers out of range (I killed 5 US support ships J1). J2 I took Malaya (Anz NO), Shan State, and pushed deeper into China, also dropped IC’s on FIC and Kwangtung to get some mobile units into Asia to possibly push into Russia later (I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t have built on Kwangtung though?). J3 I was in position to hit an evacuated Queensland with 6 loaded transports (all my fleet in range from Phil, Caroline, and Malaya), but decided to go for the money islands instead (didn’t want to get into a pissing contest w/US/Anz that far from home plus he wasn’t in good position to challenge DEI (maybe get one island back, and sink a transport at best). Plus I would be looking to take a weak India as early as J4 if I stayed south. I plan on getting Japan involved on Russia’s back door, and maybe mess w/UK in Mid East.

  • TripleA

    Pray you roll 1s, roll lots of 1s, that is the best counter.

    Roll like a champ.

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    It’s a dicey strategy

  • I just want to stress two overlooked points: (edited for brevity)

    1. German Bombers in the Pacific (only need 3 and they don’t have to fire a shot) to prevent Japanese navy blocks with less than 5 destroyers or equivalent force endurance to assure the “block”. This prevents a 1 destroyer screen to allow the allies to advance on money islands/homeland.

    2. You cannot “force” Germany to engage its bombers to “whittle them down”. I don’t care if you put Roosevelt on the flight deck to entice me, not going to happen. Make them land troops against Germany. This holds for taking Russia, when you can just take them out of the game. Remember, you don’t need to produce only bombers, and after turn 4 or 5, you likely won’t need many more.

    Optional comments below, don’t read unless you are bored: (just a silly personal rant or two, some history and comments, if you don’t want to waste time, skip it)

    1) continued: One experiment saw massed German bombers leave Europe strafe Austrailia for the VC win as they “can open” for Japan. Name a strategy where you can redeploy turns of production to another board in 1 turn.

    2) continued: I’m glad to see others discussing the economics of this strategy long term. And you will know I am attacking your fleet when I spend a turn dropping subs to support the bombers, hope you have enough destroyers. Just like a turn of dropping mechanized infantry when Russia gets feisty.

    I’m back. (Sorry for my absence, change of careers and time)

    Been a couple of years, but I’m glad to see the “Dark Skies” concept shows its merit.
    I have given up trying to beat this one myself.

    We disbanded our meetup group and haven’t really returned to live play since 2013. (still a bit frustrated they changed the aagun rules which made this viable, but my comments were disregarded and that is why I explored this concept to demonstrate the folly of design by committee, committees ignore fringe concepts as unlikely or unnecessary to consider just ask allied generals of 1939).

    When we showed that you could take the US with operation “Hollywood” back in revised, I found it odd, they redesigned the game board to prevent the concept in later editions. Later in global they changed the neutral rules for US to prevent Japan from stacking its air force in German occupied Canada on turn 3 (when US can enter the war, i.e. Japan strafes Washington, Italian starting transport captures empty Washington). I hope this serves to point out the value of fringe thinking, as it is often a form of exciting and rewarding game play.

    I reviewed half of this thread, but haven’t checked other’s games. (I make it a point not to look at games I am not in, as I prefer to develop as independently as I can, helps me to not develop a static way of viewing the game. Don’t want to become the WW1 Generals that scoffed at the “blitz” concept.)

    I was first inspired to test bomber stacks when a 12 year old showed up with his friend at a game store we were hosting a session at, he retook Asia against his equally inexperienced friend with 1 Japanese infantry and a stack of bombers) I didn’t want to ruin his fun and tell his friend to snip the troop (plus I was playing Germany 😉 ).

    I later explored the concept of tactical trading of bombers (at a loss) for troops to revive China using US bombers to trade Japan and thus increase the tactical value and board position (to steal from chess) of standing allied forces against empty Japanese territories. In one game I cleared 13 Japanese infantry (across 5 or 6 territories) for only 2 bombers lost.

    Anyway, I know my thoughts don’t carry much weight with veterans here, (been playing since the 80’s, first gencon tourney was in '93 pre-internet influence when we changed the style of play from stacks of massed infantry to allied transport fleets with carrier builds by UK or Russia for the “allies always win” “need a bid” concept in classic A&A).

    I’ll declare the test game that I never finished a loss, so that you can say this isn’t unbeatable. It wasn’t a good example anyway as I was trying to overdue it and show both Japan and German bomber builds. (I later found that Japanese bombers are not necessary, Japan is best used as a resource to keep the allies honest/handicapped.)

    If this isn’t unbeatable, it sure seems hard to stop both Japan and Germany when this is employed. Surely we can agree that if chosen, it sure limits the allies more than the “sea lion” concept that encouraged the AAgun rule change, that permits this air unit travesty. Again 20 years of AAguns make all air strategies bad, removed overnight to kill a sure thing sea lion early on, and no one else thought to ask what void will this make. Sure, limit them to 3 shots each and we can remove them from the board for the cost of 1 or 2 air units, LoL, open skies for the rest of your air force. Plus they can only fire at you if you attack them, he he he.(In the old days you got shot at flying over them.)

    Viva classic AA gun rules! And let strategies survive committees, the best counter is another strategy, not a rule change.

  • 2023 '22 '15 '11 '10 Official Q&A Moderator

    Great point about German bombers in the Pacific, but

    from my own experience I only need ONE to cause havoc with the Allied player, and TWO to be almost SURE that he won’t try any blocks.  Three is overkill.

    Also, this tactic is independent of “dark skies”, that is, you don’t have to have 16 bombers to be doing that.  I never go with “tons” of bombers, but obviously they are a very good buy for Germany and I usually have 3-5 or so

    To your other point, I never said you can force the German player to attack anything to whittle down the bomber fleet.  But you are a very rare person if you can lay off a lot of these targets.  There are very few players who would turn down a very positive TUV trade - say I put a transport and a carrier and a fighter out there in the Atlantic and you have plenty of bombers to annihilate it in one round, so you expect to only lose 1 bomber for a carrier, fighter, and transport, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t attack that.  So no, it’s not forcing, but you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll happen.

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