All the Russian openings: For Begginers
So you just bought the Axis and Allies game 1942 second edition, the latest 5 man world theater game… Congratulations, good call!
Perhaps you’re returning to A&A from one of the older games, or maybe this is your first time. Either way, now that you’ve studied the map, got the pieces all laid out, and have finally puzzled your way through the rulebook, its time to dive in and start thinking about the Russian opening! Maybe you’re pre-gaming it, looking to get a match with one of your friends face to face, or are playing WW2 v5 in tripleA vs the HardAI, to get a feel for the map. We’ve all been here at one point, looking at those Russian units and those 24 ipcs and trying to figure out the best way to make use of them. Right about now, you might be thinking to yourself that the Soviet starting position looks kind of ugly, what should you buy? and what is it you’re supposed to do with these Russians units anyway? ha!
Well, here are some ideas about various openings that you might find helpful for the 1942 sec edition game when playing as the Soviets. What follows assumes OOB conditions, (if you know what a bid is and how to play with bids these conditions can be changed), but often times, if you’re starting up a new game with newer players in your group, explaining what a bid is can take more time than its worth, and this is already a fairly involved game. Instead, you, as the more experienced A&A strategist and the one who bought the board, can just let your buddy play Axis while you take the Russians. Sure it’s a challenge, but you’re up to it right!
But what to buy in the first round? This Russian planned economy gives you 24 ipcs out the gate, and this doesn’t allow a whole lot of room for error. Maybe infantry is best? Lets consider it for a moment…
At a cost of 3 ipcs a pop, 24 ipcs gets you 8 infantry, and we know that boots on the ground are always important for the Russians right? I mean just throw more bodies at the problem, that’s one ready solution isn’t it? And surely infantry have the best defensive value for the cost of any unit, and provide the most hitpoints for the least amount of money. Another way to think about it is the total power that your purchased force can project: the cumulative attack value and defense value of the units in the force and how far it can move. We often call these attack or defense ‘points’, or ‘pips’ for the purposes of fast calculation, and try to think about how much attack or defense power the units can bring to bear.
24 ipcs in infantry = 8 hit points, with a total attack value of 8 points, total defense value of 16 points, and it can move 1 space.
In two out of four dimensions, the 8 infantry buy does pretty well. 8 hit points, or hits that you can absorb, in terms of “fodder” with cheap infantry to protect your more expensive attacking/defending units. On defense 16 points, since each individual infantry unit hits at 2 on defense. Taken together, that’s a solid 2 hits on defense reliably, and probably 3 hits or more if the infantry is grouped together and all “dug in.” Rolling a lucky deuce or two, and that kind of infantry stacked together can be quite potent!
But in the other two out of four dimensions, the 8 infantry buy is somewhat lacking. 8 attack points doesn’t sound all that bad at first, but when you start to crunch the numbers, you find that this only gives you a reliable 1 hit, and a “long shot” (1/3 chance) to grab a second hit on attack. And this only when the whole force is attacking at once. Sure there’s always a chance you might roll a bunch of ones, but its not a great chance, and there is of course a chance that you could completely “dud” in your attack. A lucky “one” is just harder to come by than the “lucky deuce” when you’re playing a game with six sided dice. This sort of thinking and logic has given rise to a style of play called “Low Luck” which you may want to familiarize yourself with at some point, just for reference, but similar principles apply in a normal dice game, when you’re trying to figure out what the likely chances are that you’ll get “X number of hits” in a given round of combat. Basically what you’re doing is adding up all the “hits at” values for each unit, the number you end up with shows you how many hits you’re likely to achieve with these units when rolling the six sided dice, by dividing that number by 1/6. This gives you the likely number of hits on average in a dice game, or the auto hits in an LL game, and any remainder left over can likewise give you a sense of how likely it is to pick up an “extra hit.” For a regular dice game these are just rough averages but they’re helpful when thinking about the attack/defense value of the force you’re buying.
Finally there is the aspect that involves movement or range, which for infantry is just 1 space from where they are placed. Now when you look at the map and the production spread for Russia, you’ll see that with an 8 infantry buy, some of these units won’t be able to get into the fight immediately, because the factory in Caucasus can only produce 4 units at a time, and the factory in Karelia is indefensible in the first round, and inf units placed in Moscow will be two moves from the front during the second round. So having surveyed the situation on the ground, for the purposes of attack, buying 8 infantry doesn’t really get you the full 8 attack points the very next round. Instead you end up with just 4 attack points “at the ready”, from the infantry out of Caucasus, and the other 4 infantry units placed in Moscow will take at least one more round to move out “into position.” To defend against German counter attacks in the second round you still get 16 on defense, but from the perspective of an early Russian offensive, the 8 infantry buy nets you just 4 attack points and 4 attack fodder hitpoints “at the ready” in the second round.
Now lets look at some other ways you could spend that same amount of money for different units beyond just “all infantry.” These are all max placement buys, where you spend every ipc with no remainder left over. Listed below with the total hitpoints, total attack points and total defense points for each buy, and finally the number of units with effective range to the front, for immediate counter attack, and the max attack power they can project the following round (during the opening salvo of the combat phase).
Buy: 4 infantry and 3 artillery =
Total: 7 hitpoints, 13 attack, 14 defense
Range: 4 units to the front (1 inf, 3 artillery from Caucasus).
Projected Power: +8 counter attack points against Ukraine.
Buy: 6 infantry and 1 tank =
Total: 7 hitpoints, 9 attack, 15 defense
Range: 5 units to the front (4 inf from Caucasus + 1 tank from Moscow).
Projected Power: +7 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 3 against Karelia/Belo.
Buy: 2 infantry, 3 artillery, and 1 tank=
Total: 6 hitpoints, 13 attack, 13 defense
Range: 5 units to the front (1 inf and 3 art from Caucasus + 1 tank from Moscow).
Projected Power: + 11 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 3 against Karelia/Belo.
Buy: 6 artillery
Total: 6 hitpoints, 12 attack, 12 defense.
Range: 4 units to the front (4 artillery from Caucasus).
Projected power: +8 counter attack against Ukraine. But this build is sometimes more about the +12 against Caucasus itself, when you plan to give up the factory and then re-take it the next round.
Buy: 4 infantry and 2 tanks =
Total: 6 hitpoints, 10 attack, 15 defense,
Range: 6 units to the front (4 inf from Caucasus +2 tanks from Moscow).
Projected power: + 10 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 6 against Karelia/Belo.
Buy: 3 artillery and 2 tanks =
Total: 5 hitpoints, 12 attack, 12 defense
Range: 5 units to the front (3 art and 1 tank from Caucasus + 1 tank from Moscow).
Projected power: + 12 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 6 against Karelia/Belo
Buy: 2 infantry, 2 artillery, 1 fighter
Total: 5 hitpoints, 11 attack, 12 defense
Range 5 units to the front (2 inf and 2 art in Caucasus + 1 fighter in Moscow).
Projected power: +11 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 3 against Karelia/Belo *extra advantage in light trading of territories/total unit value over time, provided by the third fighter.
Buy: 2 infantry, 3 tanks
Total: 5 hitpoints, 11 attack, 13 defense
Range: 5 units to the front (2 infantry and 2 tanks in Caucasus + 1 tank in Moscow).
Projected power: +11 counter attack points against Ukraine, or + 9 against Karelia/Belo.
Now that’s a lot of numbers I’ve thrown around, but when you see them all laid out, you’ll notice that when you opt to buy more expensive units, what you’re doing is trading Russian hit points and defense points, for Russian attack points and a greater effective range on counter attack. There is some flexibility here and a little room to pick and choose, depending on how aggressive you want to be with the Soviets, but there is a point at which it’s simply no longer worth it to exchange hit points/defense, for power projection on counter attack. I would suggest that if you go lower than 5 hit points in the opening round purchase with Russia, its likely that you will lose control of Moscow to the Axis during the endgame (if your opponent is fairly competent.) Even 5 hit points is rather low, and what I would consider a “gambit,” meaning that you’re counting on a fairly lucky roll with your Russian openings and counter attacks to make up the difference on hitpoints by killing German units and just losing a couple pawns.
A 6 hitpoint purchase will allow you to project some power with counter attacks in the second round, without giving up too much defense later on. This is what I would consider an aggressive Russian purchase, meaning that you will have a decent offensive capacity if the rolls go your way, but still retain an alright defensive capacity if the rolls go poorly. The 6 hitpoint purchases are all about threatening counter attacks against an early German stack in Karelia or Belo. Trying to buy yourself one more round of trading territories, before you have give them up to the Germans.
A 7 or 8 hitpoint purchase is what I would consider fairly conservative, meaning that you plan to play a primarily defensive game with the Russians, giving up ground early in exchange for a slightly better defense later on, and relying heavily on the Western Allies to make up the difference for you.
Why does all this matter? You might rightly ask.
Well basically, because what you buy with Russia will determine how many attacks you can realistically run in the first round, with decent odds of success, and how quickly your friends the Anglo-Americans will have to send you assistance to prevent your capital from being captured by the Axis.
Now that we’ve thought about purchases for a minute, lets look at the Russian production spread, and see how the starting factories factor into things.
Karelia: Forget about it! There’s just no way you’re going to keep the Germans from taking this territory in the first round. Seriously, its a lost cause. Even if you took Belo and Baltic states, even if you somehow managed to sink the German transport in sz5 with a risky double fighter attack, even if you took W. Russia light, and then blitzed all your tanks to Lengingrad on Non Combat, even if you bought 2 fighters and placed them in Karelia… its just not going to happen. Sadly the Germans will still have you beat, and the Total Unit Value (TUV) trade is terrible, not to mention costing you the whole Eastern front in the process. So just resolve in your mind right now, that Karelia is toast for the time being. Eventually you might be able to liberate it, but holding this factory at the outset is hopeless. The best you can do is trade the territory back and forth for a couple rounds, and keep the Germans from using your own factory against you! And that’s the real key, because what you’d really like to avoid here, is Germany stacking the territory on the first round. In addition to all the German units in the neighborhood, the Japanese can even reach Karelia with their Tokyo Bomber (6 moves) to put an extra defensive pip on the territory. That’s a lot of Axis units for the Russians to overcome!
It means that you either need enough units of your own stacked against it, or you have to shave off some of those German units in your opening attacks to prevent them from going north. The latter option is particularly risky, since its hard to predict how many hits the German defender might put up in W. Russia itself, let alone Belo, or Baltic States. There’s also Caucasus, that other all important factory territory you have to consider in your opening…
Caucasus: Don’t forget about it!
Now that Karelia is off the table, and you’re firmly resolved to just grin and bear the loss of that northern factory for a while, its time to look at that other factory down south! Caucasus is arguably the most important Russian territory after Moscow and W. Russia, not because you need the production per se, but because its very important to deny this production to the Axis. Letting the Axis gain control of a factory that boarders your Capital is just an all around nightmare for the Allied war effort, so you should do everything you can to avoid this for as long as possible. Fortunately, unlike Karelia, it is possible to defend Caucasus in the first round. Its also possible to trade this territory and recover it quickly, owing to the fact that the British are in the area and can lend a hand with their tanks/fighters if need be, but its still a good idea to keep Caucasus under your thumb. Even if you can’t hold it forever, you at least want to threaten it on counter attack with enough force to prevent the Germans from stacking there and then flying in Japanese fighter cover. Once that happens, it becomes very hard to control the center of the gamemap and your Russians will be more or less pigeon holed into an entirely defensive “turtle up” posture. This is something you might be able to manage during the endgame, once the Western Allies have some units nearby to help prop you up, but its a disaster to let happen in early rounds. Caucasus is the main objective of most Axis drives early on, and what they will try to do is force you out of this territory (often by making you choose between Caucasus and the Capital Moscow.) For your part, you’ll want to push this decision out as far as possible. The best way you can do this is to either stack Caucasus itself, or stack W. Russia and Moscow with enough troops, that any German units that move into Caucasus will be immediately destroyed the following round on counter.
Finally, Moscow: the Center must hold!
Losing Moscow early on, is basically losing the whole game. During the endgame it is possible to trade Moscow for an Axis capital, but in order to even get to the point where something like that is possible, you need to hold Moscow for a pretty long time. Lets put it this way, if you give the Axis a shot on the Russian capital anytime before round 7, things are probably going to end badly for Allies. So what does this mean? Well basically it means keeping Axis units more than 1 move away from Moscow, while at the same time keeping Allied units close enough that they can reach Moscow in 1 move if they have to. And frequently, it means sending US/UK units (esp. aircraft, but also ground) into Russian territories to ensure this.
OK, that was all background and a fairly long winded way to arrive at…
All the Russian Openings!
The rest of this thread below will be for descriptions of specific Russian openings, from basic/general stuff to the more complex, and I invite anyone else here who has thoughts on the subject to post those here as well. TripleA saves would be nice if you want to share examples. I’ll start us off with one of the more popular…
There are two basic versions of the Ukraine opener, we can call them Ukraine “Alpha and Beta.” Or Ukraine “Heavy and Light”, or whatever you want, but it comes down to whether you bring 3 tanks or just 2 tanks into the Ukraine fight. In previous games, this opener was often described as “the Summer offensive” but whatever the season, it is a fairly standard issue Russian opener in A&A, and a good one to be familiar with. Here is the move…
Alpha: Hit Ukraine “Heavy” with everything in range, then send everything else to attack W. Russia!
3 infantry, 1 artillery, 3 tanks and 2 fighters to Ukraine.
9 infantry, 2 artillery, 1 tank to W. Russia.
In Ukraine retreat after the first round of the combat phase. This is what we call a “Strafe” in A&A. With any luck this will allow you to peel off a good portion of the German ground forces in Ukraine, but still allow you to retreat your tanks safely to Caucasus where they can defend the Russian factory, while simultaneously threatening Karelia on the blitz, and supporting the British position in India (both 2 moves from Caucasus.) Note that attacking beyond the first wave is a little dangerous, it runs the risk that you will “sweep” Ukraine entirely and be forced to occupy the territory. Its also possible with 3 tanks that you might get a strong opening roll and take the territory outright. This is rather less desirable than a solid strafe, since it leaves your tanks exposed to German counter attack, but its still workable. If that happens be prepared to send UK assistance to Russia immediately, in the form of UK fighters and Persian infantry. Otherwise, if the strafe succeeds as planned, what you want to do is continuously stack W. Russia with infantry and artillery, and use the Tanks in Caucasus to threaten larger scale attacks against the Germans. In other words, you don’t want to use these tanks in minor combats, but instead save them for the really large engagements. They can also be used to defend or liberate India in a pinch, should the UK find itself in trouble and desperate for Stalin to sacrifice a tank or two on their behalf.
Beta: The same as above except here you hit Ukraine “Light” with just 2 tanks, and send the other tank to W. Russia.
3 infantry, 1 artillery, 2 tanks and 2 fighters to Ukraine.
9 infantry, 2 artillery, 2 tanks to W. Russia.
If you have a brilliant first round of combat in Ukraine, or a catastrophic first round of combat, it is still possible to strafe/retreat your tanks at advantage, but ideally what you want to do is take Ukraine and destroy that German fighter. The advantage to this approach over going heavy, is that you are only putting 2 tanks at risk to the German counter attack in Ukraine, and the second tank in W. Russia increases the likelihood that you will take the territory in fewer rounds of combat (e.g. taking less hits from the German defender in the process) and a stronger defense in W. Russia, should the Germans go crazy and attempt to counter attack here.
The Non-Combat move for both these openings is essentially the same, with a couple important options depending on the results of the battles, especially in W. Russia.
1 Sub from sz 4 to sz 7 (remember to take as the first casualty if possible)
1 AAAgun from Moscow to W. Russia
2 fighters land in Caucasus
2 inf from Evenki to Archangel
1 inf from Novosibirsk to Moscow.
1 inf from Yakut to Evenki
2 inf each from Bury and Far East to Yakut
Then, if the battles went poorly consider sending the Caucasus AA gun to W. Russia, and1 Kazakh infantry to Caucasus.
Otherwise you can send the 1 Kazakh infantry forward to Szech (optimal) to save the Chinese Flying Tiger, which can then be used to support W. Russia on defense.
This opening supports most of the Russian purchases I highlighted in the post above, though I definitely prefer the 6 and 5 hitpoint builds that include some additional Russian tanks to maximize the armor advantage, especially in the case of a strong strafe.
Follow up: expect to receive immediate British air support in W. Russia, Archangel, or Caucasus depending on how the British wish to respond to Germany’s opening moves. Ideally you want the British bomber to be in Caucasus or Kazakh to provide the maximum threat against Japan, and you want to get the two British spitfires from UK into a position where they can fly to India if they have to which means either W. Russia or Archangel. The US fighter and infantry in Szech should pull back to protect the center. I consider a sz 61 attack on the second Japanese transport fairly critical, though it is possible to focus on Egypt instead if you wish, in the later case be prepared to evacuate/trade India somewhat earlier and as the Russians you may have to use your armor to liberate India for the British.
There is a third Ukraine opener worth mentioning, which we might call Ukraine Gamma, or the Soviet fighter rescue. This looks exactly like the heavy opening with 3 tanks to Ukraine, except rather than sending the Moscow fighter into the Ukraine attack, you send it to Egypt instead (4 moves) to defend the British position from a G1 attack. This puts the fighter out of commission for an entire round, but some will go this route under OOB conditions for fear of a losing Egypt and the British fighter stationed there to German amphibious. I think this Soviet fighter to Egypt strategy works somewhat better in Russian games that don’t involve a Ukraine attack, but that’s a discussion for another post.
Next time, we can look at some other Russian openers. Such as moves and placement strategies that involve tank trapping Caucasus, and just stacking West Russia with everything (or almost everything). Or the merits of other strategies like the Belo Blast with the northern focus. Or the Baltic gambits. Or hardcore KJF positioning. But I’ve been typing for a while now and this at least gets us started. Hopefully some of this stuff will help the newer players to 42 sec Ed. I know many of us have been through this stuff before, but the threads get buried and can be hard for new people to locate, or they spiral into endless digressions and die off. So here’s a new thread, where we can just discuss Russian opening tutorial stuff again ad nauseam
Have fun and good gaming all!
Catch you next time
(Edit: I removed the outdated saved game attachments. If I get a chance I’ll update them with a current build of triplea.)
West Russia Stack:
This is another popular opener, and a good one to get your head around as a beginner. This is what I would consider an ultra conservative Russian opening, and it works a little better with some purchases than others. The broad strokes are pretty simple though, and might be laid down as follows…
W. Russia is the most convenient territory for all your Soviet forces to converge in at the outset. It provides the most coverage and the best counter attack potential of any forward space that you can reach in the first round. It borders the critical spaces of Ukraine, Karelia, and Belo (all territories which the Germans will want to stack and hold against you). It also covers Caucasus and Archangel on counter attack, and is adjacent to Moscow itself in the event that a rapid retreat proves necessary. Perhaps even more critically, it is an optimal “transit route” for fighters based out of UK to travel into Eurasia. Basically if you park it in W. Russia, you want to stay there for as long as possible, because it gives you a lot of flexibility to manage the Eastern front against Germany, and its also conveniently right next Caucasus, Moscow, and Karelia, in case you have to abandon W. Russia at any point to stack one of those other locations. And finally, W. Russia is at the cross roads for Western ground units, esp. UK tanks trying to race 2 moves or blitz around across eastern Europe. Often times in A&A, we will use a move called the “can-opener”, where one player tries to set up a blitz attack for a teammate on their side, clearing out a space and then letting the teammate blitz through with their tanks or race somewhere on non com. Similarly the enemy can try to “can-open” you, and clear out one of your spaces so their buddy can then blast through with tanks to screw you royally. W. Russia is a particularly advantageous territory to hold for this can-opening purpose, and to guard against the can-openers of your enemy. Allied tanks can strike out across a wide area when based in W. Russia, and Axis tanks, if they take control of this space can be a total nightmare.
For all these reasons and more, W. Russia is an extremely critical territory for the Soviet and overall Allied war effort. In fact, one could make the case, that W. Russia is so critical, that’s its actually more important than Caucasus… despite not having a starting factory on it, and being occupied by Germans at the outset. Its the first the territory you want to reclaim from Germany, and the last territory you want to give up to them, before going into full on “Turtle up” Moscow mode.
Unfortunately for the Russians there is a slight problem, and that’s the 3 infantry, 1 artillery and 1 tank unit that Germany has occupying W. Russia at the beginning of the game. Four German fodder units that hit at a 2, and a tank that hits at a 3. It might not seem like much, but if the Russians have a poor opening salvo, or the Germans put up a stiff resistance, or if the combat drags out too long, this can easily bleed down the Russian forces to a point where the Allies are completely screwed right at the outset. For some people, a dicey opening like that can really sour the experience. Some might quit and surrender then and there. Some might request a reroll, or might ask for a bid to compensate for this possibility (A bid, for those who are unfamiliar, is a kind of balancing tool for A&A, that awards extra opening IPCs/Units to the underdog). Still others might look to change the game with house rules, or find different ways of rolling the dice altogether, which is basically the Low Luck approach I mentioned in the earlier post. All this to get around the issue of being totally diced at the outset . There are similar dicey battles in the first round for 1942.2 but few quite so critical as this opening battle for W. Russia. Considering all that, some people favor an approach that just says conserve as many Russian starting forces as possible! Don’t make risky attacks in the opener, and instead throw everything at W. Russia, to make damn sure you take it in force!
With 12 infantry, 3 artillery, 4 tanks and 2 fighters, taking W. Russia is a given.
Taking it in the first round of combat is also much more likely, which can help to cut down the total casualties you sustain. This large force, with all the infantry fodder, the 4 Tanks, and both Russian AA guns will surely back down any German attacker.
But the issue then is, “how to manage the defense of Caucasus” against all those other German units in Ukraine and Belo that you didn’t destroy? And what is the best purchase you can make to support the play? And which non combat moves, and what kind of assistance is necessary from your Allied teammates, once you’ve committed to an all out W. Russia attack? There a few different ways to answer those questions, but using what we know about unit values and production from the analysis above, a couple clear realities present themselves. First, you can’t land your fighters in Caucasus or attempt to hold the territory with force, because there are just too many German units in range. Just like the Karelia situation, any units left here will likely be destroyed by Germany in the first round, since you sent so much into W. Russia. The territory itself is worth 4, if you leave it open to a walk in, the Germans might send just a single infantry unit to take the money (trading 3 ipcs in TUV for 4 ipcs in income, and shutting down the factory.) This would leave them vulnerable to a British counter attack out of Persia though, so its also possible they might send 2 infantry, risking a net loss of 2 ipcs to shut down the factory for a round.
Any Soviet infantry you place or move into Caucasus, is another inf unit Germany will likely bring in as fodder, just to shore up the risk of taking an unlucky hit. If they take the territory with less than 2 infantry, then the British can bomb in immediately with a single Persian infantry unit + air support to reclaim the factory and restore it, before Russia’s turn is even up again. So here its really a question of how much German TUV you want to try and draw into Caucasus and then destroy on counter attack. Some people think its best to just abandon the space entirely, and leave no defending units there. They let the Germans take the income, for one round but then immediately reclaim the territory destroying whatever forces the Germans committed with a large stack. Other people think its better to leave behind some more units, basically baiting Germany to commit more than they can afford into the attack and then counting on your vastly superior numbers to crush them with mass force, the same way you rocked into W. Russia initially.Other tricky tactics might include, leaving one AI gun behind, to possibly draw in a German tank or two, or draw the med battleship to the Black Sea (away from Gibraltar or sz 17). Or you might just want to move infantry there with no AA cover to draw fighters away from other battles.
Now above I said move “Everything to W. Russia” but there are also other forms of the opening, which have you still bringing all the Tanks and Artillery to West Russia, but leaving a certain amount of infantry behind in Caucasus this time. The more infantry you leave behind the more options you have to set up a Caucasus defense and to tank trap the territory, depending on how many you leave and how many you place.
For purchases with this kind of strategy, you’ll want to consider going heavy on the hit points. This is not a great time to be playing a 5 hitpoint purchase, you’re going to want at least a 6 hitpoint buy for the opener. I find going artillery heavy is best in this situation. The following round, depending on what Germany did, you may want to go heavier on attack units. Even a third fighter can be advisable at some point if you have the income and a position of relative safety, but its not something you want to do for the opener. For the opener you want to buy a lot of hit points to try and maximize the fodder advantage of stacking W. Russia early and not risking any units in other attacks.
Here the magnified aspect comes from having just way more boots on the ground than Germany, and trusting in your friends the British to fly in sufficient fighter assistance to make that fodder effective. If UK goes all out they have 4 starting fighters in the area to back up your W. Russia stack, and any fighters purchased in UK can transit to your aid in one move. Its also likely that you’ll be able to engage in light trades if you want to, putting pressure on Caucasus, Karelia, and Belo, while you keep Archangel and W. Russia secure with large stacks. Its hard to overstate the value of artillery in this kind of situation, if you can double the attack value of all your infantry units, it makes it that much harder for Germany to go “all in” to any one of those territories. And once they do decide, it will often take a round of set up, which gives you as the Russians a little more time to plan your final defense against the German drive. I’ve seen these W. Russia stack games go different directions depending on what the UK and USA decide to do. It can work with a focus on either theater, but the main advantage is for Russian stack defense. Meaning that they will make less progress initially and collect less income over all, but will also be harder for Axis to kill at Moscow, because of the stack sizes involved.
Another interesting aspect of this strategy, is that it doesn’t require you to land your fighters anywhere in particular for defense, the only territory you are defending in the first round is W. Russia itself and you can’t land the fighters there anyway, so the fighters are free to move farther afield. The Moscow fighter is not necessary to take W. Russia in force, so here is another gamma example, where you could send it to Egypt if desired. Or you could position your fighters for a more KJF oriented game in a territory like Kazakh. Or you can land them in Archangel and give yourself some northern flexibility and an emergency route to England in the unlikely event that Germany goes after UK instead of you.
All units will likely be placed in Moscow, unless the British make a Caucasus liberation move, so this sort of strategy can be fun if you buy 6 artillery in the first round, or 4 inf 3 artillery, 6 inf and a tank, or even just 8 infantry, basically going heavy on the ground.
You can decide how many infantry from Caucasus you want to bring into the attack in W. Russia, and whether or not to include the Moscow fighter in this attack. They are not strictly necessary, but will of course help to ice it
For non combat the Russian sub goes from sz 4 to sz 7 (first hit as usual) but it is possible to some different things with all the other units on non com. For example, you can bring the Kazakh unit to Caucasus for fodder or send it to Szech. The far east troops can be stacked together in Yakut or dropped into Sinkiang for KJF. Or you can just bring everything “home” as most will, and consolidate your forces around Moscow/Arch.
Baltic Gambit: and the 30 IPC Russian Opening!
30 ipcs! You know you want it! Who wouldn’t? There’s just something about that nice round number, 30, and the prospect of getting 10 infantry, that is hard to ignore. Sometimes greed and the desire to fan out and be aggressive early just trumps all other considerations. I’ve been there too. Haven’t we all?
Unfortunately in 1942 sec Edition, there is really only one reasonable way that the Russians can come up with 30 ipcs on the first turn, without being just totally reckless, and that’s the Baltic Gambit. The gambit part is this… Russia attacks Baltic states with 1 infantry 1 artillery and 1 fighter vs Germany’s 1 infantry and 1 tank.
Basically you’re trying to “trip up” the opponent by trading one of your weaker units for one of their stronger ones. In this case it’s trading a Russian artillery unit for a chance to kill a German tank at odds. Here the Russians have a very strong chance (close to 75%) to destroy both German defending units, with their artillery surviving to take Baltic States. The fighter can fly all the way home to Moscow once the job is done.
Its a trade of 7 ipcs in total unit value from Russia, to destroy 9 ipcs worth of German TUV, with a good chance to pick up +2 ipcs for taking the territory. But more importantly, it destroys one of Germany’s precious tanks and likely nets the Soviets 4 in the total exchange. The downside risk is that other 25%, because in a dice game there is always a chance that you dud completely in the first round of combat, and Germany hits, and then those Soviets units just died without netting you anything. It can definitely happen, but most times you will prevail, and there is no way to lose the fighter in the first round of combat, so as far as gambits go, its pretty solid.
Another downside is that, in order to do this Baltic attack, you’ll be bringing one less infantry and one less artillery unit into W. Russia, which means, in turn, that Belo is now a bit of problem as well. You don’t want to see those 3 German infantry counter attacking your slightly weaker stack in W. Russia, and you still want that 30 ipcs don’t you? hehe of course you do! There’s that greed again. Fortunately you still have a tank, 3 infantry, and another fighter that you can use to blast Belo!
Of course, if you’re content collecting 28 ipcs instead of 30, its still possible to destroy that German tank with the Baltic gambit, and then send everything in Archangel to W. Russia instead of Belo. This will conserve all your tanks, and give you more fodder to absorb hits, but it also leaves those 3 German infantry units to escape. The sort of purchase you make for a 28 ipc opener might be a little different than the 30 ipcs opener. Here I would suggest going for some more forward attack units out of Moscow. Or if you go for an all infantry buy, this might be one of those instances where you consider placing some infantry in Caucasus to bait the Germans and then destroy them on counter. Whether you elect to “Belo Blast” or not, it would still be advisable to rush British fighter assistance over from UK asap, as nearly every solid Russian opening requires fighter cover to exploit early gains on the eastern front.
Sure, by the same token, there are other less expensive or more certain ways to achieve the “Belo Blast” alone, that don’t involve also hitting Baltic States at the same time! Like brining in both fighters instead of the tank, or adding an artillery unit to the Belo Attack.
But since the original plan is the bold 30 ipcs at collect income, the 3 inf 1 tank and 1 fighter combo is the best you’re going to get if you’re trying to hit Belo and Baltic. Its basically above 90% that you’re going to take Belo with at least the tank surviving (and likely an infantry unit too.) So it’s doable, but the risk is that you’re spreading out your favorable odds across 3 separate battles, and that clearly decreases the likelihood that all 3 will go according to plan.
If you do go for the triple hit, there is still W. Russia to worry about, as always. Provided you bring everything else from Moscow and Caucasus into W. Russia, (because as I tried to show in the post above W. Russia is a major priority), then this leaves you with a total of 8 inf, 2 artillery, 3 tanks for the West Russia attack. On average that gives you odds to take W. Russia with 10 surviving units. You might get in cleaner, and hopefully you don’t get in too much dirtier haha, but as long as 5 infantry survive, and you send both AAguns to back them up, there is a strong chance you will back down any wouldbe German attacker.
Do all this in one go, and you will collect 30 ipcs at the close of Russia’s turn and be in a strong forward position against Germany. But be careful, this sort of move will definitely extend your forces. Germany has a lot of heavy hitting counter attack units, and he may still eject you from all this land right quick. You may wish to use all your non combats to support your position at Moscow, and make a buy that has you maxing out your hitpoints 7 or higher. But hey, at least you’ll have 30 ipcs the next round. Maybe you can buy that 10 infantry, or more tanks, or artillery, or a fighter. I’d say if you’re going to make a large investment in forward attack units then the second round is the best time to do so, as you won’t be this rich again for a very long time
Thank you for these ideas, i have just started playing this edition, so far i keep getting diced in the first few rounds and it all goes downhill. i must be a real novice because i am losing to the medium ai……
That’s a really nice article about Russia opening!
For the W Russia stack, I love to vote for 1 more variance….destroy Germany Baltic Sea force gambit! This hurt’s the Germany’s plan to rip the whole British Navy at 1st round.
A yes good call innohub! That opener is probably worth discussing as well, even if its a bit dicey. Two if by sea, or maybe just 1?
choppy seas in the baltic! Haha
In case anyone is curious the gambit move he’s referring to is an air strike by the Russian fighter from Karelia against the German Cruiser and transport in sz5.
It’s fairly high risk but the potential payoff is one less German cruiser that the British have to deal with and one less transport = 2 less ground that Germany can unload into Karelia or Baltic states in the first round. If successful this basically eliminates any potential that Germany might buy a carrier or destroyer to try and save the Baltic fleet for another round (it’s debatable whether Germany should be trying to buy ships here anyway, but this move will definitely shut it down.) It also gives Germany a somewhat more challenging attack in sz7 since they only have the subs and air to bring against the British battleship. This could result in G bringing the bomber into the sea zone 7 battle rather than flying it somewhere else.
Now the trick for Russia is this, if they bring both fighters into the attack and both survive, then the Moscow fighter must land in Karelia. If one dies then of course it’s the fighter with less range, but either way it’s probably a loss of 10 Russian TUV to destroy 19 German TUV and shut down their Baltic fleet ambitions. It is possible to run this attack with just a single fighter, but then it’s not quite 50/50 shot, because you need to hit and you need the Germans to miss, otherwise you don’t get to kill the transport. You might just find yourself in that situation bringing both fighters too, if you miss in the first round of combat, and G hits, then things could get pretty ugly. Trading 10 ipcs to kill 19 is pretty reasonable, but losing 20 and the whole Russian airforce is a different story. So I would say consider this strategy carefully and understand that you’re making a gamble. It’s basically like spinning the roulette wheel, and you’re betting the farm on Red! If it comes up Black you’re bummin’ haha. Losing that Yak might make you yack, but don’t let it get the better of you. Just a game after all, it’s not like you just lost World War 2 or anything
But we know when we’re gambling, so adopt the right mindset for it, and let those dice roll. Keep in mind that Karelia is still impossible to defend against the German advance, though if you have to land a fighter there anyway, it might be worth providing some fodder cover just to make the Germans pay a bit more for it. Its still possible for G to hit sz7 even without the Cruiser, so you’ll want to keep that in mind too on non com. Definitely don’t forget to send the Russian sub.
From a purchasing perspective I’d consider a tank buy, and perhaps expanding the airforce again in the second round, since you’ll be down a fighter.
Whether to bring the Moscow fighter into the attack to ice things is up to you, but if you do bring it just know that it must land in Karelia. As with the other W. Russia openings you can decide whether to bring all the infantry from Caucasus into W. Russia or leave a few behind, which way to send the Kazakh and eastern infantry. It’s also worth remembering, that you don’t necessarily need all 4 tanks in W. Russia. If you decide to just bring 3 tanks to W. Russia, you might try using the Archangel tank against Japan, since it has a decent amount of range on an interesting path. Or you can do the same with one of the tanks from Caucasus in a different direction. To run an effective W. Russia attack you want at least 2 tanks in it though, and as much infantry and artillery and air as you can afford, given the requirements of your strat. That said, some strategy tweaks involve sending a fighter or tank somewhere else to try and set up some broader game plan for the other Allies.
At this point I’d like to discuss how Aircraft can be transited into or around Russia. Its not a Soviet opening, but it is information which is relevant to the Russians, since they will require Air support to stay alive into the endgame. Some of these may be more apparent than others.
Bombers from E. USA can reach Archangel in one move.
Bombers W. USA can reach Yakut in one move.
Bombers from England: can fly over Karelia or Archangel to reach Yakut, Kazakh, Persia or Sinkiang in one move.
They can also attack sz 14 landing at Caucasus or sz 17 landing at Egypt/Transjordan.
Bombers from Caucasus: Can SBR Germany and return to Caucasus or UK after. From this position they also cover all the sea zones surrounding the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the India ocean, and Africa.
Bombers from India or Kazakh: Can hit sz 62 and land in Yakut.
Bombers from Szech: can hit sz 62 and land in Evenki.
Fighters from UK can reach W. Russia and Archangel in one move.
Fighters from a carrier in sz 7 or sz 6 can reach Moscow in one move.
Fighters from Iceland can reach Moscow in one move.
Fighters from Gibraltar or sz 13 can reach Caucasus in one move.
Fighters from Greenland can reach Karelia or Arch in one move.
Fighters from E. USA can reach Russia in 2 moves (Karelia/Arch) from Greenland or 3 moves (W. Russia, Arch, or Caucasus) from UK/Gibraltar. Fighters placed on a carrier in sz 11 can reach these same territories in one less move. Fighters in Eastern Canada can likewise make similarly shortened transits.
Fighters from India can reach Moscow, Karelia or W. Russia in one move, or vice versa.
Fighters from Karelia can reach Buryatia in one move.
Fighters from E. USA can reach Persia in 2 moves, via french W. Africa (this can be helpful in a pinch if you lack Atlantic carriers or the North is shut down.)
Some KJF (Kill Japan First) novelty: whether its advisable of not, who can say, but…
Both Russian starting fighters can reach Buryatia in one move.
The UK starting fighter in sz 35 can reach Buryatia in one move after a sz 61 attack, or it can do the same but go to Szech.
The US starting fighter in sz 53 can reach Buryatia in one move. It can also reach Eastern Canada or sz 11 to transit across the Atlantic towards Russia 3 moves altogether. It can reach India in 2 moves via W. Australia.
The US starting bomber in E. US can also reach Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in one move.
Some Axis Perspective…
If Axis hold Karelia:
Japanese Bombers from Tokyo can reach Karelia in 1 move.
Axis Bombers there can cover the North Atlantic, the Channel area, and the Mediterranean. German Bombers placed in Berlin can hit Moscow and then land in Karelia. Bombers in Yunnan can cover more Russian territory and Pacific sea zones than one might realize at first glance, while retaining the option to SBR Moscow and land in Karelia. Axis Fighters from Karelia can hit sz 8, provided there is a landing spot available in either N.W. Europe or France.
If Axis hold Ukraine: This is ugly, it allows Japan to bounce fighters between Europe and the Pacific with ease. As the Russians this will be problems for you. Its ultimately pretty hard to avoid this situation, but if you can push it out another round, or at least match the German stack to keep them out of Caucasus for a while, that’s definitely helpful.
If Axis hold Evenki: they can race tanks towards Europe from Asia across the northern route, and have another flexible landing spot for Air at the Russians back door.
If Axis hold W. Russia: This is a very bad scene, just like Ukraine, Germany can take the territory and then receive Japanese air cover for defense. If Axis stack it, they can force you from Caucasus to defend Moscow, which is one of the principle objectives for Axis against the Russians, to link up in Caucasus and then crack the center.
If Axis hold Kazakh: This is a bad scene too, Kazakh for the Japanese is a lot like W. Russia for the Germans. If they can stack it against you, there is a chance they can force you out of Caucasus to defend Moscow, since the territory of Kazakh borders both. Expect to see Axis landing fighters here.
If Axis hold Caucasus: They can do all the same great things with their fighters and bombers from this location that the Allies were trying to do initially! Not to mention a factory, a line on Moscow, and the ability to move their ground forces freely between Asia Europe and Africa. It’s all bad from the Allied point of view. Which is why, as the Soviets, you really want to do everything you can to prevent this, mainly by flying your aircraft around to places where those fighters and bombers can do the most good!
and thoughts on the 3rd Fighter
Thinking more long term, with the endgame in mind, it’s probably good to discuss a couple other aspects of the Russian situation. One of the most critical things to keep in mind as the Russian player is the fact that you occupy the main Axis target on the board!
Moscow isn’t strictly necessary for the Allies to win in the end, but it is almost certainly necessary for the Axis. There are all sorts of reasons for this, the production spread, the distribution of ipcs on the gamemap etc, but just going with most intuitive, you’re in the middle! Right in the space where the Axis are trying to meet up, and then exploit the turn order to support each other the same way the Allies do. Fortunately as the Russians you’ve got one thing going for you, and that’s Moscow itself. This territory is worth 8 all by itself (that’s 2 artillery units right there.) But it also borders six territories worth an additional 12 ipcs.
That means altogether, Russia can potentially collect 20 ipcs just by trading the territory immediately surrounding their capital! Provided you stack up ground early, Russia doesn’t require all that much money to stay in the fight. At 18 ipcs they can still place 6 infantry a round. At 16 ipcs they can place 1 artillery and 4 infantry. Drop down to 12 ipcs and that’s still 4 infantry units. If you can take just one other 2 ipcs territory that gives 10 ipcs which is enough to buy a fighter! All this when added to an already large force can become increasingly difficult for the Axis to match, especially if their supply lines get stretched, or if the western Allies can stall or distract the Axis for a round. As the Russians your main job is to build up ground early, and not throw it away in minor trades, but instead to build up a big wall, that you can park on Moscow during the endgame. Once supported by Western Fighter defense, the giant wall at Moscow serves as an anchor and the principle Axis objective/distraction while Allies set up their final drive in one theater or the other. This feature of Moscow is what we call the Red Turtle, or the ability to fight minor battles around Moscow, for income but then retreat to the safety of that defensive fighter Shell. Basically you snap out with your Infantry and Artillery trading the Germans or Japanese for light units. Trying to keep your income high enough to buy more units than the Axis can reasonably attack, and then just drag things out as long as possible.
To do this, it can be very helpful to have a 3rd Russian fighter, or even a 4th or 5th!
Expanding the soviet Air force
It can be hard to play the trading game with only the 2 starting fighters. With just 2 fighters you end up committing more ground forces in the trade than you can sustain long term. Or you end up taking more risks with your fighters splitting them up, and counting on that fighter to hit at a 3, when often times you roll a dud! Everyone has cursed that Yak dud! The one that just screws you time and again. So this gives rise to the question should Russia buy a 3rd fighter? And if so when? I think a 3rd Russian fighter can be a very smart play, so long as you’re not being threatened and can afford the investment. The safest time to do this is during the second round purchase. For 26 ipcs you can get a third Yak with 16 ipcs left over to buy ground. With 28 ipcs you can get a third Yak and 6 infantry. This is likely the richest you’ll be for a long time coming, so if you want to make the buy, now is a good opportunity. By waiting until the second round, you get to see what Germany buys and then decide if you can pull this off comfortably. Rather than buying in the first round and encouraging Germany to rush you. There is also the intimidation factor! Sure some Axis players might see the fighter buy as a novice play, but if they’ve suffered a set back or two of their own, they probably won’t be in a position to do much about it right away. And that third fighter, just by existing, can change the calculation in the light trading game. Over time it will pay for itself many times over in destroyed Axis tuv or an extra ipc on income here and there. If you want, you can also enter the air game later on, I usually do this when Russian income starts dropping off down to 10 ipcs. Provided your infantry/artillery wall is substantial enough, and extra fighter might be more advantageous than 2 inf and 1 artillery. There are some definite times when buying a third fighter is not advisable though. For example if you sustained several casualties in W. Russia during the first round, don’t buy a third fighter, it will leave you too light on total hitpoints. But if you are in a comfortable position with your friends the Anglo Americans flying in aid, and extra Yak can be good for business.
How to deal with SBR (Strategic Bombing Raids)
There is one surefire way that the Axis can disrupt your Turtling tactics, and that is SBR against Moscow! It can turn Moscow from a turtle that snaps and swims around, to one that just hangs out on his rock hiding in his shell. If you want to stack like Yertle and run this pond, you need to keep your income at a working level!
If you do get bombed down consider restoring the minimum damage and buying a heavy hitting unit like a fighter instead repairing the full damage. There’s a good chance you can’t max place 8 units anyway, so this is one of those later game situations where you might consider expanding the Soviet air force. Finally, along these lines, it might just be a good idea to buy one more AAAgun. You start out with 2 and if you can keep them both alive to hang out at Moscow during the final hours that is optimal. There is also the British AAAgun in India which might be able to lend a hand, but that one is harder to count on. If you see the Axis going very fighter or bomber heavy, it might just make sense to invest in anti-air.These units are expensive and fairly useless under most circumstances, but they do have one decent use and that is in the final Axis attack on Moscow. I say don’t buy it until you really need it, and even then only in the final hours.
The main thing you want is hitpoints at Moscow. You want to stack tall as the Soviets, and as the Western Allies you want to be ready to fly in as much support at possible. At some point, it may no longer be possible to hold Moscow. Here you have to decide whether to evacuate the air and try to trade Moscow for an Axis capital within one round, or else leave them in place and trust in the dice gods. There is no telling what a bunch of infantry rolling 2s, and a bunch of fighters rolling 4s might do, if the stars align. As Allies, try to keep your Air near the center, or one move away from the center, just to give yourself as many options as possible. Even bombers can be used in a defensive roll, and give you an extra chance back down an Axis attack, or even to prevail in a key battle like one for control of Moscow.
Russian Bomber bid
OK its time to switch sides!
You’ve been playing Allies for a couple games now, and your buddy decides he wants to give them a try. But maybe your friend isn’t quite as experienced as you? He hasn’t read through this small mountain of text I’ve posted like you just did ha.
And now you’re just a slight bit concerned that the match up won’t be a very even? Well, here’s something fun you might try…
Give your friend a Bomber at Moscow!
In A&A this what we call a bid, or a preplacement bid, in this case the value of the bid is 12 ipcs. There are other ways to bid as well. One of the most popular is for each player to bid a certain number of extra ipcs for Allies, then they go back and forth lowering the number until one player decides its too low and just plays Axis. The Allies take their extra ipcs and spend them on additional units. It’s a way to playbalance the game, and to choose sides, where extra units are introduced onto the board at the outset. Often times there are other rules associated with this bid process too, like only one unit per territory, or only in territories that are already occupied by other units etc. But that’s all a bit complicated for now. Instead you can just give your friend the extra Russia bomber and feel confident that it makes up the difference!
The bomber sculpt itself is nice and large, its outsized even when compared to the other Nation’s bomber sculpts, so seeing it at the Russian capital should inspire confidence!
And it brings Russia on a more even playing field when compared with the other 4 four nations. Now each major power has a starting bomber!
What this extra unit does, is allow the Russians to be a bit more secure in their attacks and light trades. It has the reach to adapt to conditions as they change, and gives some much needed flexibility for creative opening attacks and strategies. The effect isn’t too huge though, because it is only a single unit, and one which has the weakest defense value of any unit in the roster. So it doesn’t do the Russians a whole lot of good on defense, just attack. It also gives them an opportunity to make risky bombing runs, which are always entertaining.
Bombers are a great unit all around, some would say too great haha. But bombers are also prohibitively expensive for the Russians, and their poor defense value makes them an unlikely purchase (esp. When fighters are cheaper and give you the strongest defense). So that’s why we just give our friend the bomber outright. This makes for a somewhat more entertaining game on the eastern front and a more enjoyable Soviet experience all around for your friend. Sure its harder on Axis, but not quite as hard on them as say, a pair of British Submarines would be! Or a bunch of infantry, or artillery, or armor scattered around all over the gameboard. This is set bid, just the one extra bomber, and it goes in Moscow for game balance.
I consider the 1942 sec Game map to be Axis advantage OOB. Meaning that if you pit the best Allied player against the best Axis player, most would put their money on Axis. The bomber bid is my ready solution. It fixes the game balance by giving Russia a stronger opening and more flexibility to be aggressive for the duration. There are alternative bids to balance the game, but I think this one is the best for overall player enjoyment and relative fairness. It restores the overall balance by sides in my view.
Notice that Russia has a significantly better chance to pull off all those Opening moves discussed above, because now they have a Bomber!
Thx for some nice posts! I completly agree with your idea to give a bomber to Russia instead of a bid, we do that in all our games. Bids, or rather good bid always seem to end up with unbalanced local strength, like adding 4 inf to eqypt or something.
I’m glad you’ve also discovered the merits of this Russian bomber bid approach. And I’m glad you bring up Egypt!
Why the Russian Bomber bid at Moscow is best for game balance.
Lets consider for a second the situation in Egypt. Because honestly Egypt is one of the most critical territories in the early game. Any bid that messes with the Egypt opening really does throw off the balance in a disprortionate way. Ever consider how nearly every bid on every board going back to Classic, seems to gravitate there?
This is why I believe the Russian Bomber bid is the single best bid for overall game balance, because the Russian Bomber only defends at a 1. And that matters for Egypt.
With this set bomber bid, the Allies still have the option to fly this Russian unit to Egypt, for 1 added hit point (and a very expensive hit point at that!). But, even more importantly, it adds just a single defense point.
In order to achieve this boost to Egypt’s defenses, Allies have to actually make a risk! And the defensive effect is short lived too, because the bomber is likely to fly away on the second round, since it is desperately needed for trading territory on the Eastern Front. As Allies, in this one respect, the Russian bomber bid actually has less influence on the Egypt round 1 defense balance than a single extra Brit infantry unit would! The bomber is Russian, which means it can’t immediately coordinate with British ground or air in Africa (the way a UK inf bid unit can!)
Moreover the bomber can be used in a first round Russian attack, in W. Russia or Ukraine and still reach Egypt for defense. This means that in the first round infantry trade with Germany, Russia is likely to come out slightly better than they would otherwise. Also unlike the Russian Moscow Fighter, which is out of commission for 2 rounds if you send it to Egypt, the bomber can be back in action on the Eastern front immediately, for key second round counter attack options against Germany.
Egypt controls the canal and is the gateway to Africa and the guardian of British ipcs! If you give the Allies too much of a boost in this area, you dramatically undermine the Axis starting position. This is why I feel that a Russian bomber bid is “more fun” and “more fair” for both sides. It’s puts the power where it’s needed for gameplay enjoyment (with the Russians! Who can be somewhat lackluster to play). The Russian bomber gives a slight leg up to the British in Egypt if desired, but it does this without the same huge distortions you see with a UK bid.
The Moscow Bomber gives Allies a potential high risk attack against the Japanese transport in sz61! And this is really what the board needs for a good KJF option. Some way for the Soviets to mess with Japan. This set Russian bomber bid preserves the traditional ability of Allies to choose a theater of focus early on, Either Africa and Europe, or against the Japanese. A hit on sz 61 by the Russians could take presure off the India factory and free the British Indian Ocean Fleet to attempt other things, like a dicey hit on 37, or an even better quick move towards Africa, with more heat, if the Brits don’t have to deal with the second Japanese transport directly. Again though, the Russians can’t give the British this India advantage without taking some risk themselves.
A Russian bomber can also be used against the German transport in sz5. Once more at a risk, though better odds and at less cost than trying to pull it off with just 2 fighters. This use of the bomber could make for a more entertaining Northern focus game.
So that right there gives you 3 very interesting openings that the Russians might try (Egypt defense after an Eastern Front attack, or sz 61, or sz 5), but a single bomber unit can’t do all 3 at once! And that’s the critical point. You have to decide how to make the best use of it. All this gives the Allies a little bit more initiative and a better vehicle for trying out new and different strategies, but without departing too much from the OOB model. I find that the bomber alone vastly improves the 1942.2 Russian player’s experience and increases the entertainment potential for all nations.
Basically the Russians should have had this bomber all along, is what I’m saying. It makes the game a lot more fun and lot more dynamic
How the Russian bomber bid benefits the Multi-Player game:
One final thought, if you ever get the chance to actually play a 4 or 5 person game, this extra Russian bomber at Moscow is a great way to ensure that the Russian player still has an enjoyable time. The Moscow bomber allows the Soviets be more potent on their own in a multi-player game, and this offsets the added difficulties of trying to coordinate a Grand Allied strategy with other people. It’s always easier to play Allies in a 1v1 situation than a Multi, but with the right group the Multi is the best sort of A&A experience. If you manage to grab one, then you can definitely expect that the Axis side will have an easier time coordinating than the Allies will in 4 or more person game. In this type of situation, the Russian bomber can help ease the frustrations that your Soviet player might feel, at being too dependent upon the the UK and American player, to do anything at all.
With the bomber they can at least make a bolder opening, or run one more attack in a given round than they might otherwise be able to. They can even try for a vengeance strat bomb against Caucasus or India! during those situations when there’s just nothing else they can do, because the Axis are the gates of Moscow.
And again, the bomber has a defensive value of 1 (and 1 is still better than nothing), so the Russians now have a kind of “run around unit” joint defense of their own, that can be helpful to the UK or USA in some situations where the balance of forces is narrow. It allows the Russians to play an Air “support” role of their own, in the same way all other player/nations get to, which really helps the Russian player to feel relevant to the action. Something to do beyond just spamming infantry at their capital and not much else. It gives them another Run around unit (sort of like the red October in Revised, where the sub sometimes made a really important block). Now that special unit role “Russian Roaming unit” can be restored in 1942.2, but now with dynamics at a range of 6 spaces and an influence on land and at sea too. All these enjoyable aspects of the Moscow Bomber will keep your Russian player engaged in the game, and give them a meaningful sense of purpose each time their turn in comes up in the sequence.
I just think the Bomber bid is good for balance all around, which is why I wanted to recommend it here again.
Yes that would help KJF a lot. Though I think it would that more than that to make KJF viable I maybe extremly bad at it also and I find it easy to defend as Japan for a veru long time using lots figthers and subs You should make a guide for KJF for beginners!
Cool… these are great openings. I hope to use them this weekend when I will get my first live game against my friend that says no way the Allies can win. I plan on building 3 arm for the Brits and go for a full KJF strategy to take the high IPC islands. Of course, I fully expect him to destroy the USA fleet which puts a significant damper on this strategy. How about some openings for USA? In my opinion, they are one of the most difficult to play because it takes them so long to be able to bring any sort of presence to the battlefield. Or how to have the Allies play as a single team and use their 1-2-3 punch against the Axis (Germs are the only real viable option)…
If he goes full attack on Hawaiian Islands, you can easily respond by destroying everything.
Another way to force him to move the Carrier with the Cruiser (at least, in NCM) is to immediatly submerge your US Sub. So there will be 3 units remaining. And hope you hit nothing, so the Japan’s Zero would need the Carrier to land on.
Then, you would be able to obliterate this fleet on US turn.
Some people have been asking about how to manage a KJF as the Allies, and what this means for the Russians.
Which Russian opening is best for a KJF set up?
Or What is a KJF anyway?
OK, a brief “Kill Japan First” (KJF) digression from the perspective of the Western Allies, which I will then try to tie back into the Russian situation down there at the bottom
First of all, remember that KJF is a “catch all” sort of phase. Whether you’re actually trying to “Kill Japan”, or just beat them back during the early rounds and then take their money to redirect it, the gameplay is pretty similar. I would say your main goal in KJF is to keep India effective for the British until the USA can bring force to bear, and this is where the Russians come into play. But first lets think about the USA itself, since they are the player that has to do most of the heavy lifting under such a strat. I agree with Baron’s plan mentioned on the previous page regarding a Pearl opener, if Japan tries to hit Pearl light in the first round, its better to submerge your sub, and hope for a strong counter attack. Assuming he doesn’t attack Pearl though, and leaves you with your carrier, then the first few rounds in the Pacific game are more about building than actual combat moves.
United States Navy (USN) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN):
“The Cat and Mouse…” Or is it “the Mouse and Cat”?
Who’s moving who here? And who’s still playing with that dead mouse!
The important thing to remember with the USN, is that you don’t need to actually move out immediately to still mess with Japan. Just by having a fleet in the Pacific you will be tying the Japanese down, and forcing them to buy ships, and stalling them somewhat from moving on the Med too quickly. This can also be a boon for the Soviets, if you can keep Japan focused more on Tokyo than they are on Moscow, so there is definitely a Russian dimension to all this. I’ll get there eventually.
But as the USN you really don’t have to move beyond sz 56 to achieve this pressure on Japan in the first three rounds. In fact your chances of taking the money Islands are ultimately much better if you wait until you have 3 or more stacked carrier decks, with enough subs/destroyers to protect them, and enough transports to make them effective.
Until you’re ready to fully move out with the USN, there are a couple things you can do to give Japan some headaches without moving very far from sz56. One of them is to launch up to sz 64 Alaska, when Japan goes south. This forces a decision on Japan, by removing their “safe zone” in sz 62, and it is the quintessential “Cat and Mouse” opening maneuver. The last thing the Japanese player wants, is a big ugly US fleet parked in range of Japan itself, that they then have to defend against or destroy. Just by moving to Alaska for one round, you can often hold a lot of Japanese naval units in place. This is what our friend YoungGrasshopper has aptly called a “Yo Yo” play. Where you bounce up and down with your Navy like a YoYo. Maybe you can make it a trick Yo Yo, and “walk the dog”? but basically it’s a back and forth, between two large Navies that hold each other in a mutual gravitation pull, where neither side has an attack advantage, so they instead just try to pull the other fleet out of position.
Another thing this cat and mouse threat can do is force Japan to keep their fighters in the Pacific, to deal with the USN, rather than just sending them against the center/Europe. To keep the Japanese player guessing about how committed you really are to the fight in the Pacific, one way to do this is to feint like you’re going to dash through Panama in the first round, but then return the entire fleet to sz 56. This might seem like a wasted round of movement, but its really not much different than just parking it in sz56 the whole time. Here you have the advantage of getting to decide in the second round (based on where Japan moved and what they bought), whether a full Pacific commitment is really worth it. I like to buy fighters before Carriers, if you want to bluff, so you can decide whether you want to use them in the Pacific or the Atlantic, without tying them down immediately on decks. Otherwise, if you’re going hardcore KJF with no misdirection, then I like to buy a carrier and support ships right away.
My favorite positioning for this is to fly the Pearl fighter to W. Australia, and Pearl fleet itself to sz 41 (then you can choose whether to move to sz 22 Brazil, or remain in the Pacific). Another place the Pearl fleet can go is sz 55, with plans to move to sz 18 W. Indies or remain in the Pacific. For a full Pacific commitment, where you are not trying to feint or bluff, but clearly putting Japan on notice by being all brazen about it, then you can go to sz 64 with the Pearl fleet to pressure Japan/Manchuria.
Another potentially interesting location for the Pearl Carrier, if Japan goes “way south” to Burma push, would be to converge your whole Pacific fleet at Iwo or in sz 58 (with a loaded transport just floating). Here the Szech Flying Tiger fighter can dash off to land on your Carrier deck from sz53. This last move only works if the Japanese fail to buy warships and move all the way down to sz 63/Burma rather than their usual spot in sz 61. And it only works if their fighters are out of range. Its debatable whether carrier duty the best use of the Flying Tiger anyway (since it is usually needed in India, W. Russia or Archangel during the second round) still its another option to put naval pressure on Japan directly, and put some heat on Manchuria at the same time. Again, this move only works if the Japanese player goofs their fighter landings and fleet positioning (landing all their fighters in FIC rather than Kwangtung for example), but it can be a fun way to punish a Japanese player who doesn’t yet understand the importance of sz 61.
The primary Objective for the USN is Borneo. It is two moves from sz 56 W. USA, via Solomons. Ideally you want to hold Borneo for a round and establish production there, but this might not always be possible. At the very least you want to take the Borneo money from Japan and put it into your coffers. It may be advisable to sacrifice transports for the taking of Borneo, and sacrifice destroyers to block, while you sail the main fleet further along to position against East Indies. Snatching “the other rich island” often proves a bit easier for establishing production long term, even if it takes a round longer to get there. Its also possible, if Japan has Borneo blocked, to sail south around Australia, and still reach East Indies with your main fleet.
From a purchasing perspective, you’re going to want 3 transports, 3 carriers, and 3 destroyers to make your Pacific fleet effective, and many more once you actually establish a foothold. It may be technically possible to snatch Borneo with just 2 of each, but this is very high risk, you face a greater threat of being destroyed by Japanese air. Plus you can end up stalling yourself if you move too early, stuck trying to “re-converge” with newly purchased naval units out of sz56.
Your main attack/defense unit is the fighter, your main fodder unit is the sub (which can then be used with Fighters to deadzone key sea lanes.) And, most critically, your main blocking unit is the destroyer. I say “most critically”, because what you’d really like to do is prevent the IJN from ever being able to hit your main carrier group, so you only have to defend it against aircraft. To do this, you’ll need to sacrifice 2 of those 3 destroyers in blocking maneuvers to set up on Borneo and East Indies. Again what you’d like to do is take the islands, and block Japan, without having to put your Carriers at risk. Often times it is much better to sacrifice transport units to take the islands, while leaving the main fleet in Solomons until it is strong enough to move anywhere it wants.
USA starts with 42 ipcs, but they will lose China immediately, that leaves them with 39/40 ipcs the following round. (note: Russia can almost ensure that its 40 ipcs and not 39, by sending the Kazakh Infantry unit to Szech.) Assuming that you won’t be taking much land for a while as USA, that’s basically going to give you ~80 ipcs of purchased units going into the third round. And ~120 ipcs going into the fourth.
What can you buy with 120 ipcs?
Conveniently you can buy: 2 carriers, 2 transports, 3 fighters, 3 destroyers, and 4 submarines.
Your starting Pacific units are 1 carrier, 1 transport, 3 fighters*, 2 destroyers, 1 submarine, 1 cruiser and 1 battleship.
*Notice that there are 2 more fighters in the US arsenal, the flying Tiger and the E. US fighter, but these will likely be needed elsewhere. Either in Europe or (if you are switching out the sz53 pearl fighter to Australia, then the E. US fighter takes its place on a Pacific deck.) There are also 5 pacific infantry units you can grab (along with the tank or other ground from E. US).
Add it all together, taking no loses until this point and that gives you a combined force of…
with 5 Submarines and 3 transports to make the USN effective on Attack!
Total Hit point value vs an “All Air” attack by Japan: 16 hit points +1 absorption from the battleship
Total Defense value vs an “All Air” attack by Japan: 44 defense points in the first round of combat
Notice that in terms of defense, that’s 7 hits on average in the first round of combat. Lucky 7! Meaning that Japan must commit at least 7 fighters = 70 ipcs at risk in the first round of combat, if they want to take a crack at you from the Air! You’ll have 6 hitpoints as fodder (5 destroyer units and the Battleship absorption) before Japan is into your heavy hitting fighters and warships. A very expensive proposition, and the deterrent you’ll be counting on.
That’s just one build I like. Now if you take away the 4 subs I recommended buying for naval fodder/attack, you’ll see that you can achieve an even stronger defensive value vs a Japanese airstrike if you want. 4 subs not purchased, leaves you with 24 ipcs to spend. You can get 3 destroyers for that, or a Carrier deck with 1 fighter on it, or a pair of fighters, or pair of bombers, or a battleship, or more transports and ground etc. I like subs though, since they are good for destroying Japanese blockers, and serving as cheap fodder in case you have to back down the IJN itself (and not just their airforce.) I suggest buying 4 Subs as a good amount, but some will go up to 7 or more purchased subs. It depends how hard you want to gun for the IJN and actually destroy it, or if you just want to defend your own fleet and snatch the islands.
There are plenty of ways you can play with the basic USN force a little bit, a few more subs or few less, one more fighter or destroyer here and there. There are also different ways to think about the exact order in which you buy this stuff, or if you want to save and drop, but basically what you want is a force that has at least 3 carriers at its core!
3 carriers, fully stacked with just a little fodder cover, becomes very hard to destroy. Even if the last carrier isn’t fully stacked, and you’re only bringing 5 fighters when you move out initially instead of 6, that third carrier is still worth its weight in gold vs Japanese air attack. Just by allowing an extra fighter in the water on defense it pays for itself on coverage. Now if 3 stacked carriers are that potent, 4 stacked carriers are surely better right?
But its a question of managing the rest of the board at that point. Sometimes you can’t wait that long to move out, or sometimes a fourth carrier is more necessary in the Atlantic than the Pacific. It can be a hard call, but I say 3 is the minimum for an effective Pacific fleet vs the IJN.
This situation could change if the British elect to hit sz 37, but that is a high risk attack. It is trading the British Pacific fleet for the second Japanese carrier and battleship, and puts the whole KJF strategy down to a single opening battle. I believe it is better to destroy the second Japanese transport in sz 61 and preserve these forces to do stuff later on. But if you do hit sz37 and prevail, then the move out for the USN can be more rapid. Otherwise I think you should stay safe and build up for 3 rounds.
Judging your chances based on the Japanese purchase: If you see Japan buy a factory in Manchuria during the first round round, then KJF is optimal! Take this as a sign that the Japanese player might be somewhat inexperienced. If they don’t buy a factory, but buy transports and naval/air instead (which is what they should really be doing!) then you might want to take the KJF plan with America under advisement.
One last thought along these lines, if you see Japan buy a factory in East Indies in the first round, then consider your KJF aspirations carefully! A Japanese a factory here can be a major pain in the ass for the Americans to overcome. This is one reason why some players feel that a sz 37 hit (and taking East Indies) with UK is necessary for a KJF to truly work in 1942.2, especially to prevent this opening buy from Japan. I’m not sure I’d go that far, since I’m not a huge fan of high risk sz 37 hit, but I definitely agree that a Japanese East Indies Factory on J1 can be a nightmare to deal with! This sort of build by Japan means that you will have to forego the Southern route and the Money islands, and instead threaten Japan directly with a dead drop across the Northern route. It can still be done, but its much trickier, and requires the USA to invest a lot more in the Pacific. Just like with Manchuria, it is still possible to “make Japan pay” for buying a factory in the first, but to do this you have to become a fleet destroyer navy. Forget about the money islands for now, you probably won’t need many transports, so you can send your starting transport in sz56 to the Atlantic if desired, and just invest 100% in destroying the IJN along the northern route. For that same 120 ipcs I discussed earlier, you can buy another carrier deck instead of the two early transports, and consider more subs as well. Here the goal is to wipe the IJN on attack first, and transport later against Japan directly, instead of the usual method of transport first, and defend, to take the Money islands.
Overall Japanese strength vs USA:
Japan begins the game with a stronger navy and airforce than you do, but is not making nearly as much cash in the first 3 rounds, so if you spend your first 3 rounds on a Pacific fleet, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to match you. Any money Japan has to spend buying warships, is less money they are spending on ground against India/Russia.
This stall means that Japan won’t be making as much money after the 3rd round as they might otherwise. Now that’s a big investment right there on a Pacific fleet, but the question from here on out is, continue spending in the Pacific, or start redirecting your focus. Usually by 4th round, it is becoming necessary for the Americans to support their British and Russian counterparts against Germany. Africa is critical to the UK economy, and its possible to sweep across it very quickly on a recovery with the USA. Its one move from E. USA to sz 23 with Atlantic transports, and there you can push against Cairo overland in 2 moves, or the rest of the continent down to S. Africa transporting out of sz 23. Its a fairly cheap investment on the part of the USA to keep Africa under British control, and this is something you may consider doing even earlier, if you can stand waiting until after the 4th round to fully develop your Pacific fleet. Allowing Germany to control Africa will totally undermine your KJF. It jacks up UKs income advantage from retaining control of India, and it makes them much less effective in terms or purchasing for a late game entry into the Atlantic/Europe, once the Pacific is plan is underway. That’s why it is a good plan for the USA to provide at least some Atlantic assistance even under KJF conditions. This is one reason I really like to shoot that sz 53 pearl fighter down to W. Australia in the first round if it survives, so it can be in India at the end of the second. In a similar way, US forces brought into Africa can also push across to India, or sail around to the Pacific side of the board. If sz 23 isn’t an option, Brazil can be a good second choice, since you can still cover a good swath of Africa, but you can also sail around S. America if desired. From sz 22 to sz 40, from there to sz 38, and then on to East Indies or India. If pearl hit is standard then of course there is more work to do, and a round delay for repurchase.
Last but not least, whenever you talk about USA, its good to talk about bombers. A US bomber Armada is one of the fastest ways to secure you early gains, in either theater. A couple rounds of solid bomber builds can have you with a major attack force either against Japan itself, or covering the area around Europe, the Med and Africa. And it can rapidly transition back and forth wherever its needed. The bombers are excellent fleet destroyers, and if you plan to actually Kill Japan, it may also prove necessary to run bombing raids against Tokyo. On the other hand, if you plan to just stall Japan, it might prove just as necessary to bomb Berlin, so that Germany doesn’t achieve economic dominance over Russia/UK. Either way, its good to have bombers at the ready! These bombers can also be used for “Emergency Defense” of India or Moscow, in situations where every hit point and defense point matters. And on that note…
Lets finally bring it back to Russia…
What should Russia do in a KJF?
Russia has two main jobs in a KJF: priority number one is to hold the line against the Germans, especially W. Russia and Caucasus. Priority number two is to secure India for the British against an early Japanese advance.
This later point is key, because, as discussed above, its very hard for the USN to actually move out before the 4th round. Until the US arrives, Russia is the only Nation that can do much to help the British in India. Since they are under so much pressure to match the USN in the Pacific, Japan will have a somewhat more challenging time getting into position on the mainland vs India. If they don’t buy any warships, or if they move too far too fast, the USN can clip their wings, and undermine all the gains they’ve made on the mainland. A smart Japanese player may want to play it conservatively once they see the US buying in the Pac, and push through Yunnan from sz 61 rather than dropping down to sz 36/Burma. This buys you an extra round as UK to build out of India.
As the Russians, you will have to stack W. Russia very heavily to prevent an all out German drive, but in a KJF set up its always good policy to leave at least one Tank, preferably 2 or more Tanks in Caucasus to protect or liberate India.
Stacking Buryatia against Japan in the first round is generally a poor trade for the Russians. Even if you bring in UK fighter coverage, Japan can still smoke this territory with their own Air. Its better to have 4-5 infantry in Yakut, or else wheel south towards Sinkiang with the units, rather than risking them in the first round. I think the infantry units in Evenki are best used to reinforce Archangel, even in KJF. But some will use the Evenki inf to stack 7 deep in Yakut, or send 3 inf to Sinkiang. Having Russian Fighters or Tanks at the ready (in a territory like Kazakh) can make those moves effective, but otherwise, you need to maintain the line against the Germans.
It will be very important for the Russians to coordinate fighter coverage with the UK, for example, whether the Russians want UK to land in Archangel or W. Russia is a key consideration, and it might help to have a wink or a nod worked out beforehand. Likewise, its important to know whether India is strong enough to deter an all out attack from Japan, or whether its better to withdraw for one round and trade it lightly, in order preserve the Russian position at the center. Its possible to recover India and reinforce it after light trading, but its very hard to recover if Japan takes it with force and destroys a bunch of defensive fighters there. This is something you want to be especially careful about in rounds 2 and 3. After round 4 it will usually be pretty clear, what the situation at the Center is going to look like, and how much aid Russia needs to prevent total collapse.
If USA succeeds in taking the money islands, then they can take over the strategic defense of India, but until then it may come down to Russia. UK will be bouncing their fighters back and forth each round, to cover either W. Russia or India, and it is sometimes necessary to do something similar with your Russian tanks. Bouncing them between W. Russia and Caucasus to cover India.
So given all those considerations, what should the Russians buy and how should they move in the first round to help set up optimal KJF conditions?
I’ll that hang for a day, in case anyone else wants to offer some answers or suggestions. Its hard to really appreciate the KJF as Russia, without a full description of everything Japan and Germany can do under these conditions, but that’s at least something to get us started
Nice post again! I like your ideas and I think you analyze the situation correctly what to do and why.
The main pressure point in KJF imo is to free the indiastack as soon as possible to move east to help Russia before it collapses, which it will quite fast since Germany can throw everything east. So this means that USA needs Borneo asap (each turn shaved is huge). And imo this can only be done if the british attacks and have insane luck against Japan round1 in sz37. I completly agree that its a bad play but so is KJF to be fair and you need a great deal of luck.
What I mean is there isent a way to do KJF with odds on your side (at least against someone decent).
I tend to agree. I came at this game out of Revised and AA50 especially, and argued forever on the Larry Boards that India should have a starting factory if a new board came out. Part of the argument though was always to raise the total income of UK in order to make the India factory sustainable. That never happened. In 1942.2 we were given the starting factory, but British income is basically the same, and all the other conditions have changed in a way that doesn’t really favor Allies. This makes the India factory more of an Achilles heel than a boon for the British.
Thoughts on India
This board practically has the Japanese Operation “U GO” built in. Meaning that as Allies, if you don’t send literally “everything” to secure India as quickly as possible, then Japan will take the territory! They will sail against it from sz 61 or from sz 63 “Burma Push”, with just way more aircraft and bombardments than you can deal with as UK alone. I mean, from the very first round, the Japanese are hoping to crush Burma and foment revolution in India, to seize your starting factory and then use it against you! Their whole game is to sweat the UK player in south Asia, and make them guess at whether or not they really have enough force to hold onto this factory. They use India like a vacuum sucking up British IPCs that might otherwise be spent in Europe.
This is another reason why the quick KGF “Kill Germany First” plan doesn’t work very well in 1942.2. The fact that UK has to spend a minimum of 9 ipcs in India first round (ideally more) means that it’s just a lot harder to get the early line on Europe with Atlantic carrier buys. This ipc drain, combined with a weak UK Atlantic starting fleet, combined with no good Atlantic shuck transport moves for USA, presents a situation that is much different from the older KGF strategies. Those all involved “ignoring the Pacific” and trading India, in order to race across the Atlantic (especially Africa and the North.) In this respect India used to be seen as a mere speed bump, a territory that you could trade with light forces, and withdraw from, in order to set up a stronger position on Europe. Not so much in 1942 second Edition. That India withdrawal plan just doesn’t work anymore, because now UK is anchored in India with a factory. You have to purchase and max-place to ensure that it has enough hitpoints to hold for at least a couple rounds. The reality is that you need to “race” or “fly” in many more hitpoints to pull off this India defense…
In older world theater boards like Classic, Revised or AA50, a KJF often involved a factory purchase in India by UK. In Classic and Revised there was an option to be much more forward with the Russians, and then build factories with UK (and frequently USA as well) to split Japan. In 1942.2 this doesn’t work, because Russia is in a weaker starting position and the China redesign means the USA is several rounds out from being able to purchase a Pacific factory. China starting factory buy is out, and the Alaska factory doesn’t really work that well for the cost, so that just leaves the Rich Islands as possible factory locations. Those are much harder to get to right away with USA.
The key production difference between 1942.2 and older boards, is that now India is just as important to KGF as KJF. No matter what your overall battle plan, India has to hold for at least a couple rounds.
The way I approach India in my mind, is to say that every unit you successfully place in this territory is like a gift. I try to pretend that I’m back in Classic or Revised or AA50, where there was no factory and you had to build one. Back then, if you managed to get a half dozen units out of an India factory, then that was usually deemed “a successful” India factory purchase. You used it well for the money. For example, in Revised, if you could get 6 tanks out of an India factory, then you played your factory opening correctly and patted yourself on the back! Here in 1942.2 the factory can be seen in a similar way. If you can get half a dozen or more units out of it, then you’ve played your opening hand fairly well. Now given that India is just as critical to a late game Europe focus as a Pacific focus, how do you keep it going? There are 3 ways to hold India for 3 or more rounds, and you need to do all three really, if you hope to get any mileage out of India…
1. Max UK hitpoints and defense points on India:
This means purchasing 3 units in India minimum during the first round, flying in all available aircraft, or transporting in all available ground units to hold the territory against Japan during the second and third round.
2. USA direct aid for the defense of India during the second and third rounds, in the form of fighters or bombers. As well as indirect aid in the form of Pacific pressure against Japan.
3. Russian Tank coverage out of Caucasus.
I think if you don’t keep all 3 in mind, India collapse is inevitable, and likely to happen much sooner than you’d like as Allies. So this is my approach, and it’s basically the same whether I’m planning a KJF or KGF focus…
UK purchases 3 ground in India round one:
A popular buy is 2 artillery and 1 infantry in India + 2 fighters out of UK, or else 3 tanks in India + 1 fighter out of UK. The fighters from UK will transit either to W. Russia or Archangel. Archangel is more likely if UK wants to hit the Germans in sz 7 along the way. This means that you will have 4 starting fighters in range of India for defense during the critical third round + whatever you bought out of UK in the first round.
Round 1 India defense:
UK has 5 starting ground in the region and the AA gun for your starting stack in India. If you are willing to sacrifice a transport and early Egypt positioning, you can have 7 ground in India, plus whatever you bought there.
So at the end of UKs first turn, after placement that’s either 8 ground hitpoints plus 1 for the AA gun, or 10 ground hitpoints plus 1 AA gun, if you are willing to let your transport/Egypt die. But the problem is that Japan has enough units and aircraft in the region to match this, so you need even more hitpoints than this to provide a real deterrent.
Round 2 India defense:
There is a US fighter in Szech that can fly to India for round 2 defense, (if you cover Szech with Russian infantry from Kazakh and ensure that it is not destroyed.)
There are 4 UK starting fighters and a bomber, plus the Egypt tank that can reach India for round 2 defense.
Round 3 India defense:
There is a US fighter in sz53 that can be in India at the close of the second round (via W. Australia) for round 3 defense, and also a bomber in E. US that can be in India at this time as well (via a first round move to Archangel.)
Any fighters you bought and placed in UK initially, can reach India for this round 3 defense, provided they are able to land in Archangel or W. Russia at the end of the second round.
So that’s the situation for basic India defense, but here’s the thing, if at any point, Japan looks they are gearing up to airblitz India (e.g. attack India with everything and plan to take casualties on their fighters in order to ensure the territory is taken) then you want to be able to rush in a couple Russian tanks to back down the attack. That’s the advantage of having Russian tanks at the ready in Caucasus!
Even a single Russian tank, positioned on India, can be enough to make the Japanese think twice, if the battle is narrow.
To answer the question posed earlier about the best buy for Russia under KJF, I would say a Tank buy is optimal for that reason. Unless you plan to strafe Ukraine and return starting tanks to Caucasus after a round of combat. Absent a strong Ukraine strafe, Russia won’t have any tanks in Caucasus at the end of the first round, unless you buy them. And a strafe is never a sure thing, which is why I think its a good plan to buy at least 1 tank and place it in Caucasus if you plan to have a Pacific focused game. You might have to sacrifice a little bit of power projection against G by putting the tank in Caucasus rather than Moscow for example, but I think its worth it. The reason you want to have a Tank in Caucasus at the end of the first round, is so it can race down to India in the second round if needed. The same situation thereafter, though ideally you’d like to 2 tanks in Caucasus at the end of the third round, or 3 at the end of the third etc, just to make sure that India is covered by these extra potential hitpoints. After round 3 the Western Fighters should be able to secure India by themselves, and then its just a matter of how many fighters you really need in the area at any particular time, or whether to bounce them back out to cover other territories in Russia itself.
The goal is to keep Japan pushing through Szech rather than Burma, and to prevent a Burma stack, which allows Axis a multi-round set up to take India. If you see Japan drop a major force in Yunnan, then consider keeping all your Western Fighters fighters in range of India, so you can fighter stack in the event that Japan does the Burma push. Otherwise you will need the fighters in W. Russia or Caucasus or even Moscow to defend against G. But the idea is to have as much airpower as possible within on move of India, and as much air power as possible covering the surrounding sea zones. Whether you buy Tanks, or Infantry, or artillery, or some combination out of India with UK, the idea is to stack 3 ground per round, and then fly over fighter support. You should be doing this for the first three rounds regardless of whether you plan to KGF or KJF. USA purchasing and placement will determine which theater gets the real focus, but as long as UK keeps India active, it is possible for Allies to prevail. To ensure that UK really can hold India up to and beyond round 3, Russian tanks are very helpful. India holds the Russian south during the endgame, and is the most direct route for UK support to Moscow on this board.
I really like tanks in India, if you are going for a KGF, and even in KJF if you are trying to hold the center while USA gets into position. It costs 18 ipcs to place 3 tanks in India, which can be in Moscow in two moves. Whereas it costs, way more than 18 ipcs to sail 3 tanks into Russia via the home island UK. This isn’t Classic or Revised, where you can transport into Karelia or Archangel right away. Here you have to buy transports and carriers and destroyers, and clear the German subs, and do all the rest, before you can even set up that kind of logistics train. 3 tanks to Russia is way more costly to set up via the UK route, and way longer than two moves. So that is the way I think about it. How quickly can I get that Armor into effective range of Eurasia? The fastest route is out of India, and if you start doing it from round 1, it is possible to get at least 6 tanks in Russia before India is toast. Perhaps many more, if you manage to hold India for longer than round 3. If you haven’t tried it before, I’d say its worth a shot. The downside to Indian tanks is that you will have 1 less fighter a round coming out of UK. This can be problematic for coverage of sz 34. I like to try and make up the difference with USA bombers if I’m going with a tank plan. Piggy backing USA fighters off UK carriers takes a round longer than a bomber buy, and requires UK to make a large Atlantic investment, but the Bombers can race into range pretty quickly, especially if you can hold Archangel as the Russians.
Much as I like Tanks though, I think if you’re really trying to pull off a Pacific game, 2 UK fighters per round, plus Indian artillery/inf is a bit more flexible. The defensive value of 3 infantry + 2 fighters is better than the defensive value of 3 tanks and 1 fighter per round.
Max Fighter Build: 2 art, 1 inf + 2 fighters UK = 5 hitpoints and 14 total defense per round.
Max Tank Build: 3 tanks + 1 fighter UK = 4 hitpoints and 13 total defense per round.
The first build is better from a purely defensive standpoint, the tanks can be better from a late game attack and movement standpoint. That’s the trade off you’re looking at if you decide to go max tanks per round instead of max fighters for India.
One last thought, if you fail to destroy the second Japanese transport in sz 61, it is nearly impossible to prevent Japan from pushing Burma, and taking India early. Given the importance of India, I think it becomes very hard to justify a hit on sz 37. The sz 37 hit without a UK bid, means not attacking sz 61. And for me that’s just way too dangerous to contemplate against a seasoned Japanese opponent. If you do decide to take a gamble and hit sz 37 with UK, I think it makes a lot of sense to go North with USA in the first round to split Japan, and make them pay in the North if they move south to push Burma. In that situation plan for the India pocket to collapse fairly quickly. Position UK and Russia to liberate and make sure to hold the Suez canal from transjordan! Even without a second carrier to contend with it takes USA longer to move out against Japan along the southern route in 1942.2. East Indies is a round farther away, and is also problematic for other reasons. If you try to take it with UK, like to prevent a Japanese factory buy, it requires pulling units off India and you need sz37 to work, then you’re basically just praying for 4 infantry to kill 2 Japanese defenders. Its kind of a stretch. Or if you think about trying a Revised style KJF opener with UK taking Borneo, that’s an even bigger gamble. If you take Borneo with 2 inf vs 1, clear sz 61 (with the cruiser surviving!), and then use your carrier to block at Philippines, it’s very likely that Japan will screw you in one of those battles with their defensive rolls. But even if you did pull it off, taking Borneo with UK can still come back to haunt you. Japan can usually manage the loss of 4 ipcs, and while UK benefits on income, they lose out in the long run due to weaker India hitpoints, and the fact that USA really needs Borneo more than UK for production. The Buryatia stack component of that opener is also different here than in Revised. Russia has one less infantry to stack Bury, and while both Soviet fighters and the UK fighter can reach, this put them all terribly out of position. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of KJF set up options for Allies, beyond just stacking India as deep as you can, and throwing everything the USA has into the Pacific, hoping for a break somewhere along the way to knock down Japan.
KJF on this board is a challenge. I think you have to really reflect on the Russian opening rolls before you even consider it. A good Ukraine strafe, and a sweep of W. Russia allows for some KJF style action. But take too many hits in either battle and a Japan strategy falls apart before it ever gets started!
Here is a save showing one possible scenario for a round 3 India defense, using the artillery and double fighter fighter combo with UK…
Fairly standard Axis gameplay, perhaps not the most deadly Axis openings, but still shows how Japan can stack up vs India, even when you’re sending pretty much everything towards its defense, and even if you’re building steady Pacific Naval with USA. If you take a glance at India under the conditions of this game, you’ll see that squeezing the right build out of the India factory in the first two rounds is really critical. Here UK was able to build for a third round. At this point they might have considered switching to max tanks, allowing a quick evacuation the following round. Or they might just continue with the artillery/inf combo in the hopes you prompt Japan to push Szech, overtake them in total hitpoints against Burma and then stack India deeper into the endgame. Or maybe even 2 fighters at India to secure the solid defense, and later help clear sea lanes for USA or shoot up to protect the Russians. But can they hold India if they do this? Its like a total tight rope walk for the whole early game, and helpful to see how quickly Japan can go south if India is not well covered, or if the Allies have no response set up beforehand. You can see how in this particular game, the British were backed out of India by round 4, on account of Germany pushing south into Ukraine. You can also see how quickly Germany can sweep Africa, if they’re allowed to take Egypt, especially when USA doesn’t spend any money in the Atlantic to secure it. Again not necessarily the best openings, but shows how delicate the India balance is with Japan, even under a KJF focus when USA is spending heavily in the Pacific to distract them.
The Grand Master last edited by
I nominated the first post of this thread for article status on the home page… Great job Black Elk.
The Grand Master last edited by
I asked IL to sticky this thread… Thanks Imperious Leader, and Thanks Black Elk for all these great posts.
Wow cool, good looking out guys!
Hopefully it will be helpful for people just coming to the 1942.2 game. I remember when I first started with A&A, getting a feel for the Soviets was one of the more challenging things to wrap my head around, so I thought it might he fun to revisit the subject and see if others might benefit from these ideas.
Thanks again to everyone who maintains this site and participates in the community. And thanks to all the many friends who’ve helped me to improve my strategies and my understanding of A&A over the years. Most of the material in this thread is just a rehashing of ideas I learned from other people, and of course, from getting worked in game by players with more experience and strategic vision than myself haha. Nods all around to the gang!
Best gaming, and catch you guys next round!
Ps. Oh yeah and one more thought on the Russians in Axis and Allies, remember to never give up! Even if you’re facing down the largest invasion in human history, and even if the Western Allies seem like they’re taking forever to open that “second front” there’s always a chance at recovery in the Great Patriotic War!
Next time we can discuss some additional rules options. Like how having sz 16 open or closed can tweak the opening, or how having the Intercept/Escort rules in play for Bombing can alter the Soviet situation. Maybe some other optional house rules too, like the Soviet Japanese Non Aggression Pact (NAP). See you then!
Black Elk you are an A&A Savant!
Well maybe not quite but its a lot of fun to read your stuff. Good work!
You should introduce a special course on sleight-of-hands to roll “1” most of the time.
Even in desperate situations, I often found that some Russian attack with Infantry only can do miracles.
Haha thanks guys! I swear everytime I reread these posts, I notice a million spelling and grammar errors. I’ve slowly been trying to clean it up a bit to enhance the readability, so I’ll keep coming back to see if I can improve things. Oh Baron, that’s actually a good idea and brings up something that should definitely be highlighted in the Russia thread!
It also ties back to where I started rather nicely…
Infantry: Total Power!
Here’s an interesting fact that might not be immediately apparent to new players…
2 attacking infantry vs 1 defending infantry: is better than 66.6% odds (more than a two thirds chance) to the attacker.
1 attacking tank vs 1 defending infantry: is just a little over 50% odds (half and half chance) to the attacker.
At first glance this probably seems crazy! ‘How could a pair of units that only hits at a 1, be better than a unit that hits at a 3?’ :evil:
This battle demonstrates the value of hitpoints and fodder on attack, when compared to just the attack value alone. Even though the tank has a stronger attack value, it can only take a single hit before the battle is over! 2 infantry have a weaker attack value, but they have the chance to prolong the battle, and absorb a hit before they go down, with more chances to roll that lucky 1.
If you are willing to send 2 infantry vs 1 infantry, there is a strong chance you will prevail, and in total unit value this is the same cost as sending a single tank. What does this mean for the Russians? Well for starters, it serves as a counterpoint to my first posts in this thread, where I was arguing for greater attack/movement in the first round purchase, over hitpoints and defense. This simple example of 2 infantry vs 1 infantry, really highlights the power of infantry overall. “Naked” infantry, infantry alone, without a heavy hitting attacker or defender to back them up, are still fairly strong, and infantry is cheap at 3 ipcs - the cheapest unit in the roster! Absent the movement advantage, 2 infantry is basically always better for the money than a single Tank, at least when you are just considering small battles like the one under consideration above.
In previous posts I have discussed these kinds of effects as “magnified” or I’d say a phrase like “the magnified build” of such and such unit. What I mean by that is the way a unit of a given type gains certain combat advantages when it is grouped together with other units of that same type (and especially if you continue to “magnify” for several rounds, by purchasing the same type of unit over and over.)
We should just get it out there right now, the most powerful “magnified” build of all, is the magnified Infantry build!
There is a purchasing phenomenon known as the infantry focus, or Infantry spam, or the overall infantry advantage. The sort of “heavy infantry” building strategy that facilitates a move known as the infantry push, or stack push, or the “infantry push mechanic” in Classic, a type of gameplay described in other articles which you can read on this site. http://www.axisandallies.org/p/infantry_push_mechanic_alive_and_well_or_dead_and_buried/
I guess if we need to update the thinking, what we have now is more like an Infantry+Artillery push dynamic. Where you’re still buying predominantly infantry, but now adding artillery into the mix (optimally at 1:1 or at least 2:1 inf per artillery piece.) But the main buy is still infantry here.
Just like Odysseus at Troy, we take our best machinations and mechanics in A&A, and try to put them to use during the War of plastic army men, for total cardboard world domination! The inf push is basically still around, even if altered somewhat by artillery, and the infantry push is acknowledged to be a potent general building strategy. The advantage of infantry, not just on defense, but in hitpoints specifically is huge for Russia. One could say that the whole Russian playstyle or design is geared to highlight this potency of the infantry unit. Russia doesn’t have a lot of money, so by default they are forced to discover the power of infantry. Or at least, that’s one way you can look at it. Trying to put a positive spin on Russia’s lack of cash.
If you are able to out-stack your opponent, and especially if you can stack a huge wall of Russian infantry at Moscow, that is basically optimal purchasing and positioning for the Soviets. The higher you stack the more potent you will be on defense, but there are also some cases where you will need to attack, to maintain at least some kind of income parity, or take a key territory in order to block German or Japanese tanks from blitzing you! Sometimes you have a fighter or two to spare. Sometimes not! If you take my recommendation and add a Russian bomber to the set up, you will at least be able to run 3 battles per round with air support if you want. But frequently there is not enough aircraft available, and in situations like that, always keep this simple rule in mind… Infantry are still ok on attack. And artillery for just a slight bit more invested makes these infantry even better. But infantry alone can get the job done, if you need them too in a pinch.
2 infantry units has a stronger cumulative attack value than a single tank in small engagements. If you double the numbers the effect becomes even more potent, so 4 infantry is much stronger than 2 tanks, in small engagements. The real advantage of buying basically any unit other than infantry or artillery, is just movement. Movement is huge though. In a turn based game, sometimes movement can be everything! The whole game! Because sometimes getting somewhere “next round” or a “few rounds from now” just isn’t good enough. Sometimes you need the units there “right now!”
More than any other player nation, the Russians will have to confront this problem right away. Movement into Moscow, out of Moscow, or against Moscow by the Axis, will all highlight the delicate balance this games strikes between movement and hitpoints/attack/defense for the cost. What you pay the most for in the end is usually movement. Transports move ground across the water, and all other ships basically just exist to protect them. So when players like US/UK/Japan invest in ships, they are really investing in movement across the water. Tanks are movement across the ground, and Fighters and Bombers over the land and sea. But when movement isn’t a huge consideration, Infantry will always be best for the cost. That’s why so many people say things like “don’t forget to buy infantry!” or “the dude who purchases the most infantry will usually win” etc. Russia is unique in that they can remain reasonably effective well into the game, without having to move very far from home. Their core is rich relative to their periphery, and they can just sort of hang out in the zone immediately surrounding their capital and still collect enough to be a threat. So its worth thinking about, when all is said and done, how many infantry units do the Russians really need to stay alive into the endgame?
I’d say if you are playing for keeps, the goal is achieve a stack upwards of 60 or more total units on Moscow.
Lets say about 1/3rd of that force should be heavy hitters, like tanks or fighters, the other 2/3rds is mostly infantry with artillery supporting it when possible. There is just something about that 60 stack, its like a magic number, once you achieve it you’r ability to be effective with a limited number of territories under your control becomes pretty out-sized compared to the Axis. The Axis have to push their units across a much greater distance from their main centers of production, where as you can just hang out in Moscow and stack and stack! This forces Axis to invest in movement, since its harder for them to match you hit point for hit point on the center otherwise. So even a single infantry unit produced by Russia during the late game, is really worth twice or three times its cost to the Russians, given what the Axis enemy has to spend to bring a unit in range that can destroy.
Once you achieve super stack status, whether on Moscow, or on any territory really, the power of infantry really becomes clear. All you have to do is buy a few dudes a round, and your teammates can fly in the rest to help you. (The same principles can also apply to Berlin, or in a territory like Western Europe D-Day.) When you super stack, the idea is to put more hit-points a territory than the other side can match over time, until eventually you have them driven back. You push the defensive value of your infantry out from these core stack zones, and win the war of attrition by putting up more defensive infantry strength (across several territories) than your opponent could reasonably attack in a single round. That’s you push out from the core, but the core itself is usually your capital territory (whatever nation you are playing.) You want a wall of infantry either to defend that core, or to march out from it eventually to mess with the other guys core. That’s how Russia fights Germany on this board anyway. So its good to remember, as Baron said that sleight of hand! Or pulling a Houdini, and escaping from the capital cage and running wild! That can be fun too. If your stack is big enough, you might not even need to hold Moscow to be a pain for Axis. If your wall is giant enough, it can just start lumbering around in Eurasia while the western Allies try to figure something out haha.