KAF (Kontrol Asia First) – Workable in 2nd Edition?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    KJF Doesn’t Have to Mean Kill Tokyo First

    Strategy for the Allies typically gets divided into two groups: KGF (Kill Germany First) and KJF (Kill Japan First). For the most part, KJF strategies focus on building a superior Allied navy, getting the navy across the Pacific, and capturing the Japanese capital in Tokyo. Some KJF strategies might include some strategic bombing to weaken Tokyo’s defenses, and/or a quick detour to capture the ‘money islands’ – Borneo, East Indies, and maybe the Philippines.

    There are several problems with trying to build a superior navy that can reliably sink the Japanese fleet: (1) it’s bloody expensive, because naval units are the most expensive units in the game, (2) it’s risky, because the Japanese navy is centrally located, so when you try to link up the British Pacific fleet with the American Pacific fleet, there’s a good chance that the Japanese navy will be able to pick them off one at a time, (3) it’s a full turn slower than a land invasion, because first you have to destroy the fleet and then you have to take the Japanese home island chain, (4) it’s unrewarding, because you don’t get any IPCs for taking Wake Island, the Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima, or other Pacific staging grounds, (5) it weakens Russia because it gives Japan a free hand to send tanks to capture Russia’s territories in Siberia, Vologda, and Kazakhstan, and (6) it’s inflexible, because once you finally win the naval battle it’s hard to find another way to put all your Pacific boats to a good use.

    So what if, instead of going for the Japanese capitol or the Japanese money islands, the Allies try to drive the Japanese off of mainland Asia? Mainland Asia has 21 IPCs (from India up through China to the Soviet Far East) and 2 Victory Cities (Calcutta and Shanghai), which is at least as good as any other contestable region. For example, Oceania has 15 IPCs and 1 VC (Manila); Eastern Europe (from Poland to Archangel) has 21 IPCs and 1 VC (Leningrad); and western europe (including Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, and Northwest Africa) has 16 IPCs and 2 VCs (Paris, Rome).

    Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Shore Bombardment?

    One reason why the Allies have traditionally avoided mainland Asia is because it’s a good spot for the Japanese fleet to score some bombardment casualties – the Japanese can unload troops from Japan onto the Chinese coast with their transports, and use the same battleships and cruisers that are protecting those transports to score a few extra hits. This is a noticeable downside to invading east Asia, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. For one thing, cruisers and battleships are a very inefficient way of scoring hits – a fighter costs 10 IPC, rolls a die that hits on ‘3’ or less in every round of offense, and rolls a die that hits on ‘4’ or less in every round of defense. A cruiser costs 12 IPC, rolls a die that hits on a ‘3’ or less, but only in the first round of offensive combat, and can’t roll at all when defending land territories. You would almost never choose to build a cruiser – so why would you run away from a region just because the enemy has cruisers there? If you wouldn’t avoid a whole region to avoid a medium-sized air force, then you definitely shouldn’t avoid a whole region just to avoid a medium-sized navy.

    Another way of looking at the bombardment problem is to notice that a large-ish fleet of 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 1 carrier, 2 fighters, and 2 transports together cost about 90 IPCs. That fleet will let you deliver 4 land units a turn, plus rolling 4 ‘bonus’ dice that hit on 3 or less (2 ‘bonus’ dice from bombarding cruisers, and 2 ‘bonus’ dice from fighters). But for only 70 IPCs, you could build 2 Industrial Complexes and 4 Fighters. You’re still delivering 4 units a turn plus 4 ‘bonus’ dice that hit on 3 or less, but now the bonus dice have more staying power, you can use your bonus dice on both offense and defense, and you can build any land units you want instead being forced to buy 50%+ infantry.

    How do you get Allied land units into east Asia?

    Another reason why the Allies have traditionally avoided attacking mainland Asia is because it’s very hard to get a foothold there unless you already have naval dominance – the US can’t build a factory in China because it gets captured after only one turn of production, the USSR doesn’t have any plausible build sites for an eastern factory, and the UK can’t afford to both build a factory in India and ship over enough troops to defend it against a determined Japanese attack.

    Fortunately, in Second Edition the British start with an Industrial Complex in India. This means you can start dropping troops in India on the very first turn (instead of having to wait for a factory there to come online), and it also means that the UK can (maybe) build a second factory in the east without going totally bankrupt.

    Here is one potential build order that I’m toying with:
    UK Turn 1: build IC in Egypt, 2 inf / 1 art in India (25 IPCs)
    UK Turn 2: build 2 tanks in Egypt, 2 inf / 1 art in India (22 IPC)
    UK Turn 3: build 2 tanks in Egypt, 2 inf / 1 art in India (22 IPC)
    UK Turn 4: build 1 bomber in Egypt, 3 tnk in India (30 IPC)
    UK Turn 5: build 2 inf / 1 bomber in India (18 IPC)

    Depending on how well you do in Africa, that should leave you about 30-40 IPC for reinforcing London and Moscow, preferably with infantry and fighters.

    Including your starting 3 infantry in India, this build allows you to link up your forces and drive on Shanghai in UK Turn 6 with (9 inf / 3 art / 7 tank / 2 bomber) – a well-balanced, powerful army. At setup, Japan has only (10 inf / 2 art / 2 fighter) on the mainland, and it’s spread out across a dozen territories, and they’re likely to lose at least half of it fighting the Chinese and the Siberians – so unless Japan spends a significant part of their economy building reinforcements for mainland Asia, they’re going to lose Shanghai. Even if the Japanese do reinforce the mainland, the balance of forces is probably going to stablize with French Indochina as a dead zone, instead of with India as the dead zone. With Burma under British control, the Japanese have to leave a garrison in western China, leaving little or nothing leftover to attack the Soviets from the rear.

    American Bombers and Subs

    Meanwhile, depending on how the Japanese are fueling the mainland, the Americans can devote almost all of their resources to a focused counter-strike. If the Japanese build ICs in mainland Asia, then the Americans can build nothing but bombers. With three ICs to target (e.g., Tokyo, Manchuria, and French Indochina), the Americans can make good use of (8 + 3 + 2) * 2 = 26 pips per turn of bomber damage, which is almost enough to wipe out the Japanese economy. With 8 bombers, America can deal 8 * 3.5 = 28 pips per turn of expected damage, and America can get those 8 bombers with only two full turns of production (2 starting bombers + 36 IPC + 36 IPC).

    If the Japanese build transports to get their units across the South China Sea, then the Americans can build a huge wolf pack of subs. This is a fun and ironic strategy. Normally, in KJF games, it’s the Americans who have to build a complicated combined-arms fleet with destroyers, carriers, fighters, transports, and land units to try to occupy Japan without getting sunk by subs or fighters – the Americans are trying to safely ferry a large land army to Tokyo, but all Japan has to do is stop them from getting there. That means that if all the ships crash into each other and kill each other, Japan wins and America loses – after a mutual naval wipeout in KJF, Japan can keep driving tanks toward Moscow, whereas America is sitting around looking stupid. But in KAF, if all the ships kill each other, then Japan has no way to get troops onto the mainland, so Britain can keep driving tanks toward Beijing and Kamchatka, and it’s the Japanese who have to sit around on their islands feeling stupid. All the Americans need to do to win in the Pacific in a KAF game is to destroy the Japanese transport fleet – and since airplanes can’t be used to take sub casualties, subs are a perfect weapon to achieve that goal. In the first two turns, the US can theoretically drop 13 subs into the Pacific.

    On any successful KAF strategy, even if the Germans take Moscow, that leaves them holding Paris, Rome, Berlin, Leningrad, Moscow, Manila, and maybe Honolulu – well short of the 9 VC the Axis need to win. Meanwhile, the Allies are significantly outproducing the Axis even without Moscow, and since they’ve already got a strong base on the Eurasian landmass, they’re in a good position to use that income to start rolling back Nazi gains.

    Weaknesses

    To get KAF started, you obviously will have to find a way to securely hold Egypt – that might mean placing a Infantry there on bid, or it might mean moving a Russian fighter there on Round 1, or both. The IC in Egypt also means that you need to keep the Med clear of significant German naval deployments, – but the resources you spend on attacking the Mediterranean German Navy probably mean that you have to let Germany have a big navy in the Baltic, so you have to keep an eye out for Sea Lion-style attacks on London.

    Another weakness of KAF is that the Russians will have to hold or at least trade the Caucuses to make sure the Germans don’t penetrate eastward, since India is being used as a vital center of operations rather than just a convenient place to stage a delaying action – if the Germans start poking at India from the northwest in KAF, it’s pretty much game over. The silver lining here is that the British should be able to send the occasional tank up to the Caucuses from India, since India won’t be fighting for its life.

    One last downside is that you have to be prepared to play a very long game, because even when KAF works, it doesn’t give you a capitol or even a majority of the victory cities – it just gives you a majority of the world’s IPCs, which you can then leverage into an official win over the next several turns. KAF might be inappropriate if you’re trying to finish the whole game in a short evening, and KAF won’t do you much good if you’re playing tournament rules where whoever has the most victory cities at the end of Round 6 or Round 7 is automatically ruled to be the winner.

    Conclusion

    I don’t pretend that KAF is an optimal strategy or even that it’s as likely to win as a more traditional KGF or KJF. There are some real risks here, from an early German breakthrough in Moscow, to a monster German Atlantic navy, to the possibility of getting some bad rolls and just having the Japanese hold onto Asia despite your best efforts, making you feel very silly indeed.

    Then again, most Allied strategies have some very serious problems in Second Edition with no bid. I also think A&A 1942 2nd Edition makes it easier than ever before for the Allies to try a credible ‘third way’ strategy that breaks out of the old familiar routines, and that’s a big part of what makes Axis & Allies fun for me. You need a little something beyond just the starting setup to make KAF work – some lucky rolls, or the right Allied bid, or a German player who neglects the Mediterranean, or a Japanese player who overextends himself by buying three transports or 2 ICs on the first turn – but if the situation is right, then I think KAF can be a heck of a lot of fun.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!



  • I like this idea.  It’s a different approach that works on variables.  At a quick glance i’d say the main variable is what to do with Russia.  Making them stall the Germans is an art form.  A delicate balance of the right amount of strafing/counter attacking/retreating.

    I like the Asia idea because i usually land a US force in the Soviet North and harass from there.

    Very nice in depth post.  Thank you!


  • 2018 2017 '15

    A very good write up, i have found the games i play always seem to drag out, there is no quick victory.



  • The only way I think a KAF can work is if you get a 9 bid. Infantry for Egypt, and a sub off India. This makes the battle against Japans fleet off Indonesia an almost lock. Even then it is still tough, and the game will drag out a bit. The hard part is that Japan can stall for a long time, and Germany will be a bloody monster.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15

    This is a cool article.  I like alternative:lol:

    I think the key challenge here is to build and defend an Egypt Complex at the beginning.  When the right moment comes this can be executed.

    One help to this strategy, IMHO, is to try ways to split the Japanese naval forces and find opportunity to crack it one by one.  When they are centralized it’s hard to break into but then Pacific is so big that I think there are times they have to split to deal with multi-national naval force.  That’s when opportunity comes.  Not doable for a perfect Axis player, but how often could an Axis player have perfect execution?

    :mrgreen:



  • The problem with building a factory in Egypt is that UK really needs to build fighters to defend West Russia and India. In a KJF strat UK should build only fighters for UK and infantry/arty/ and maybe 1-2 tanks in India. The real key with a KJF is that UK needs to see how many turns Germany is away from taking Moscow and pull the troops out of India in time to defend Moscow. By that time US should be in a dominant position in the pacific.



  • Well written article. It seems that you have a solid grasp of the A&A mechanics. Below are some of my thoughts as an experienced player (800+ games of revised, probably one of the top 10 players on revised, winner of 2014 Kublacon 1942 2nd edition tournament). I’m not saying this out of arrogance, but just to indicate that I’ve thought through this map pretty thoroughly.

    Random thoughts:

    • The territory structure of India & southeast asia makes it very unrewarding for Allies to push beyond India. Japan can very easily deadzone any stack attempting to move beyond India.
    • for similar reasons, Japan can project so much influence on all coastal territories with navy and air that they are essentially japan’s.
    • Keeping India is very rewarding for Allies.
    • A move that most A&A players aren’t aware of it attacking pearl with 1 sub, 1 cruiser, 2 fig, and 1 bomber. Japan can guaranteed sink pearl profitably in Low Luck settings. With dice, it’s a 14.92 expected value battle. Take the fighter as a loss, so that Japan doesn’t need to move a carrier to sz53. This sets US behind on any all-in attempt to pressure japan through naval.

    If i were to pressure Japan:

    • Russia places every land unit in reach in Wrus. Seek to deadzone germany off karelia as long as possible.
    • either bid 1 inf to egypt or place 1 rus fighter there.
    • UK takes out japan dest/trans with cruiser/fig.
    • build 3 land in india, 2 fighters in uk. fly uk fighters UK->Wrus-> india. This stack of fighters can become quite scary, accumulating to 20+ by round 10. Fighters achieve the same goal of egypt IC of defending India, but have additional flexibility to deadzone japan navy and landing on US carriers. Egypt IC allows more land units, but this aspect is largely wasted based on the territory structure of india/SE Asia.
    • US builds carriers/subs/fig. Goal is to build a navy stack with UK fighters that can overcome Japan’s naval deadzone and take FIC/Borneo. US splitting bombers and navy is a mistake. Navy accumulation is an all or nothing proposition because Japan’s navy can indefinitely deadzone a US navy with only partial investment.
    • More generally, I feel that US bombers directed towards japan is suboptimal. It’s more difficult to land bombers in safe places that can consistently hit Japan every turn. There’s a very real risk that Japan with land units pushes allies out of all safe bomber landing locations. In comparison, US bomber towards germany can hit germany production centers safely. Bombers have a 3.5 * 5/6 - 12 * 1/6 = 0.92 expected value gain per bomb run. It’s a high volatility, low profit choice even with complete safety of the bomber landing spot. I’m not saying bombers are terrible, but that a mix of subs/carriers is probably a better choice against solid axis play.

    –----
    Note, I’m writing this with an advanced A&A player in mind who is also familiar with the 1942 2nd edition map. I’m using a fair amount of jargon. If you have any questions, feel free to reply for clarification or PM me : )



  • How does UK build 3 fighters in UK and 3 land units in India with just 31 IPCs?



  • @MarineIguana:

    Well written article. It seems that you have a solid grasp of the A&A mechanics. Below are some of my thoughts as an experienced player (800+ games of revised, probably one of the top 10 players on revised, winner of 2014 Kublacon 1942 2nd edition tournament). I’m not saying this out of arrogance, but just to indicate that I’ve thought through this map pretty thoroughly.

    Random thoughts:

    • The territory structure of India & southeast asia makes it very unrewarding for Allies to push beyond India. Japan can very easily deadzone any stack attempting to move beyond India.
    • for similar reasons, Japan can project so much influence on all coastal territories with navy and air that they are essentially japan’s.
    • Keeping India is very rewarding for Allies.
    • A move that most A&A players aren’t aware of it attacking pearl with 1 sub, 1 cruiser, 2 fig, and 1 bomber. Japan can guaranteed sink pearl profitably in Low Luck settings. With dice, it’s a 14.92 expected value battle. Take the fighter as a loss, so that Japan doesn’t need to move a carrier to sz53. This sets US behind on any all-in attempt to pressure japan through naval.

    If i were to pressure Japan:

    • Russia places every land unit in reach in Wrus. Seek to deadzone germany off karelia as long as possible.
    • either bid 1 inf to egypt or place 1 rus fighter there.
    • UK takes out japan dest/trans with cruiser/fig.
    • build 3 land in india, 2 fighters in uk. fly uk fighters UK->Wrus-> india. This stack of fighters can become quite scary, accumulating to 20+ by round 10. Fighters achieve the same goal of egypt IC of defending India, but have additional flexibility to deadzone japan navy and landing on US carriers. Egypt IC allows more land units, but this aspect is largely wasted based on the territory structure of india/SE Asia.
    • US builds carriers/subs/fig. Goal is to build a navy stack with UK fighters that can overcome Japan’s naval deadzone and take FIC/Borneo. US splitting bombers and navy is a mistake. Navy accumulation is an all or nothing proposition because Japan’s navy can indefinitely deadzone a US navy with only partial investment.
    • More generally, I feel that US bombers directed towards japan is suboptimal. It’s more difficult to land bombers in safe places that can consistently hit Japan every turn. There’s a very real risk that Japan with land units pushes allies out of all safe bomber landing locations. In comparison, US bomber towards germany can hit germany production centers safely. Bombers have a 3.5 * 5/6 - 12 * 1/6 = 0.92 expected value gain per bomb run. It’s a high volatility, low profit choice even with complete safety of the bomber landing spot. I’m not saying bombers are terrible, but that a mix of subs/carriers is probably a better choice against solid axis play.

    –----
    Note, I’m writing this with an advanced A&A player in mind who is also familiar with the 1942 2nd edition map. I’m using a fair amount of jargon. If you have any questions, feel free to reply for clarification or PM me : )

    This! Well said on every point.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Hi Marine Iguana

    As you say you are happy to answer questions can I ask you to explain the bomber 0.92 calculation.

    Thanks
    PP



  • Very nice reply from MarineIguana and I agree completly that is the way to pressure Japan. However even with optimal play KAF or KJF is a way worse approach than KGF and I dont see myself ever winning a game using that strat against a good Axis player.
    I have a question regarding what to do with the India and ANZAC transports? In KGF you normally use them to pressure Germany T4 and onwards, but what do you use them for in KJF/KAF?



  • @Private:

    Hi Marine Iguana

    As you say you are happy to answer questions can I ask you to explain the bomber 0.92 calculation.

    Thanks
    PP

    5/6 times a bomber avoids AA fire and strategically bombs. The expected value (i.e. average) of a d6 is 3.5. (1+2+3+4+5+6)/6
    5/6 * 3.5 = 2.91666

    1/6 times a bomber is hit by AA fire, is lost, and fails to bomb. 1/6 * -12 unit loss = -2

    2.91666 - 2 = 0.916666

    –—
    detour into math for intermediate players who want to take Axis & Allies to the next level

    Imagine a scenario where Germany and UK is trading Belorussia. Belo is worth 2 IPC, 1 uk inf is currently in belo, and 100+ unit stable stacks are in west russia and eastern europe respectively. Assume UK and Germany has 6 fighters free to trade. Should Germany trade with 1 infantry 2, infantry, or not trade at all?

    2 ger inf:
    2/3 uk inf fails to hit: +2 territory + 3 uk inf killed + 2 (2/3 * 3 uk inf killed in counter) - 6 (2 ger inf lost in the overall exchange) = +1
    1/3 uk inf hits: +2 territory + 3 uk inf + 1 (1/3 * 3 uk inf killed) - 6 ger inf = 0
    2/3 * 1 + 1/3 * 0 = 0.666 expected value

    Let’s try this with 1 ger inf:
    2/3 uk inf fails to hit: +2 territory + 3 uk inf + 1 (1/3 * 3 uk inf) - 3 (only 1 ger inf) = +3
    1/3 uk inf hits: +0 territory + 3 uk inf + 0 (0/3 * 3 uk inf) - 3 ger inf lost ) = +0
    2/3 * 3 + 1/3 * 0 = 2 expected value

    not attacking at all:
    0 expected value

    The overall conclusion is that fighters allow you to trade territories more profitably, and that you should use a minimal amount of infantry to maximize your expected value. If your opponent trades 2 territories for 10 rounds sub-optimally with 2 infantry while you trade with 1, you will come out with a ~ 30 IPC advantage. This advantage translates to a 10 infantry edge.

    A deep understanding of averages calculated for every battle will make you stronger than 90+% of the players I play with. You can analyze the profit from every battle and just vacuum up profit across the board.

    *** end math detour ***

    To Oddbjoern: By KAF, do you mean US forcing Germany out of Africa? I feel that the default way I play is to do this first, then pressure Germany. This reduces Germany’s income and prepares US to land/trade in the mediterranean territories. A good German player will not allow US to land a stack directly in Europe. Germany must be first weakened through prolonged trading.

    I honestly haven’t played enough against top players on 1942 2nd edition to conclude that KJF is materially worse than KGF. I can definitely make such a statement for the Revised map. 1942 2nd edition has added two features that makes KJF potentially more rewarding:

    1. India IC. Pressuring Japan to prevent it from taking India is viable and is a +6 net income gain. In revised, India was hopeless to hold. In the Revised edition, the only real income Allies can gain from the Pacific was when Japan naval defense collapses and US can stack East Indies, Borneo. FIC would follow soon after. Against a good Japan, this collapse can take 10-20 rounds to happen, if ever.

    2. Subs at 2 attack, 1 defense, 6 cost makes direct naval attack attractive. US by massing subs can force Japan to buy an equal amount of navy. In revised, subs were 2 attack, 2 defense, 8 cost so it was more expensive to amass attack. Japan could use the starting force and spend less in navy than the US for many turns to advance in asia, while US was stuck accumulating navy that provided no immediate profit.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Thanks very much MI for the maths answer. I had not worked out the 1 vs 2 inf trades myself.

    Cheers
    PP



  • @MarineIguana:

    To Oddbjoern: By KAF, do you mean US forcing Germany out of Africa? I feel that the default way I play is to do this first, then pressure Germany. This reduces Germany’s income and prepares US to land/trade in the mediterranean territories. A good German player will not allow US to land a stack directly in Europe. Germany must be first weakened through prolonged trading.

    KAF=Kontrol Asia First, which is the strategy outlined in the OP of this thread.


  • 2017 '16

    @MarineIguana,
    Interesting demonstration about trading 1 Infantry or 2 Infantries.

    Your Maths are pretty interesting for the operations required to evaluate the cost of trading.
    However, it is still an approximate calculation.
    And, this doesn’t consider the risk of loosing a plane with a lucky defense score with both Infantries if you only attack with 1 Infantry.

    It is quite a good thing to make a 1 Inf for 2 Infantries exchange over a 2 IPCs territory but things get sour if you loose a precious 10 IPCs Fighter because you didn’t bring enough fodder.

    (Many times in my games, lucky Russians rolls either a 1 or 2 for defense.)

    So, a cautious player will tend to bring at least the same number of fodder than the enemy to back up his planes against such drawback.

    I don’t know how to calculate such things, but in game this kind of intuitive rule prevail usually.



  • I think the example has only 1 British inf defending. If there were 2, bringing in 2 German inf should be fine, since you’ll almost certainly kill the 2 British inf, and you will lose at most 2 inf (the allies may lose even more if the German inf hits on a British counterattack).



  • @Baron:

    @MarineIguana,
    Interesting demonstration about trading 1 Infantry or 2 Infantries.

    Your Maths are pretty interesting for the operations required to evaluate the cost of trading.
    However, it is still an approximate calculation.
    And, this doesn’t consider the risk of loosing a plane with a lucky defense score with both Infantries if you only attack with 1 Infantry.

    It is quite a good thing to make a 1 Inf for 2 Infantries exchange over a 2 IPCs territory but things get sour if you loose a precious 10 IPCs Fighter because you didn’t bring enough fodder.

    (Many times in my games, lucky Russians rolls either a 1 or 2 for defense.)

    So, a cautious player will tend to bring at least the same number of fodder than the enemy to back up his planes against such drawback.

    I don’t know how to calculate such things, but in game this kind of intuitive rule prevail usually.

    Expected value is an exact calculation. By “approximate calculation”, I think you mean variance. The probabilities are known and outcomes deterministic. Since Axis and Allies contains finite pieces, you can simply plot a Bayesian tree in conjunction with the expected value calculations to evaluate whether the battle is an acceptable risk-reward trade-off. For example, maybe a large naval battle has a +20 expected value, but 18 of 216 outcomes lead to unacceptable outcomes. If you are 95+% confident you will win without the battle, there’s no need to risk the battle.

    Axis and allies is at its essence a statistical optimization wrapped in a pretty WW2 theme. Sure you can “go by the gut”, but it will consistently lose to someone who actually does the math. I totally understand if people want to play the game casually and don’t want the game to be work. I thought some people might appreciate what play at the highest levels involves.

    Dynamics of a near perfect game by both sides:

    • Among top players, there are surprisingly few battles. Defense is cheaper than offense in Axis & Allies because infantry are consistently the most overpowered unit in every official Axis and Allies edition.
    • Both sides accumulate large stacks and seek to project offensive and defensive power efficiently. Exchanging of valuable border territories will happen where the battles have positive expected values for each side.
    • If both sides are accumulating units in the same proportion, axis is favored because concentrating units in 2 powers is better than 3. To maintain balance, allies usually need a 10 income edge over axis.
    • The winner will accumulate defensive units until it can move adjacent to the enemy stack. If that enemy stack is forced back, the aggressor gains additional income without any battle. This can happen iteratively up through moscow/Berlin falling. The winner is able to bully the loser into retreating up to the point that the income differential is too large to come back from without a single large battle. I’ve both won and lost games where I had a stack of over 200 infantry and 100 tanks. I think my record was over 200 tanks at one point.

    ––

    Hobbes with respect to if 2 defending infantry. It’s more profitable to send 1 infantry, but just barely. Theres additional consideration such as the opportunity cost of the fighters, the number of enemy fighters to efficiently trade, whether it’s acceptable to risk leaving the territory in enemy control if attack fails to capture it (e.g. enemy could stack with fighters).
    send 2 inf to a 2 ipc territory:
    2/3: +2 territory, +6 2 enemy 2 inf killed, + 1 (1/3 *3 inf counter) - 6 two of your inf lost = +3
    1/3: +2 terr, +6 2 enemy inf, +2 (2/3 * 3 inf counter) - 6 two of your inf lost = + 4
    2/3 * 3 + 1/3 * 4 = 3.3333

    send 1 inf to a 2 ipc territory:
    2/3 +0 territory, +6 2 enemy inf, + 0 counter - 3 your 1 inf = +3
    1/3 +2 terr, +6 2 enemy inf, + 1 (1/3 * 3 inf counter ) - 3 your 1 inf  = +6
    2/3 * 3 + 1/3 * 6 = 4.000

    My point is to describe the framework I use to evaluate the profitability of each attack. Memorizing all the small scale trading situations is useful, but one can always calculate it if the framework is understood.


  • 2018 2017 '15

    Dynamics of a near perfect game by both sides:

    • Among top players, there are surprisingly few battles. Defense is cheaper than offense in Axis & Allies because infantry are consistently the most overpowered unit in every official Axis and Allies edition.
    • Both sides accumulate large stacks and seek to project offensive and defensive power efficiently. Exchanging of valuable border territories will happen where the battles have positive expected values for each side.
    • If both sides are accumulating units in the same proportion, axis is favored because concentrating units in 2 powers is better than 3. To maintain balance, allies usually need a 10 income edge over axis.
    • The winner will accumulate defensive units until it can move adjacent to the enemy stack. If that enemy stack is forced back, the aggressor gains additional income without any battle. This can happen iteratively up through moscow/Berlin falling. The winner is able to bully the loser into retreating up to the point that the income differential is too large to come back from without a single large battle. I’ve both won and lost games where I had a stack of over 200 infantry and 100 tanks. I think my record was over 200 tanks at one point.

    Wow, that must be one heck of a long game……



  • Most games that are played perfectly will see round 20 in Low Luck. That is just the name of the game. Like Marine said, most experts don’t have large battles ever unless they are necessary.


  • 2019 '15 '14

    Well I suppose anything is possible with a large enough bid, but 42.2 seems like it would take a lot longer to boot the Japanese off the mainland. In Revised, if you wanted to try for the admittedly suboptimal KJF endgame, this usually involved splitting the Japanese in like 4 different directions at once. Driving east towards the coast with Russian armor, stacking Bury, building Factories all over the place, and then hitting them from the backside with the USN. The logic being that Japan didn’t have enough income and starting units to cover a full press from all three Allies out of the first round. For the most part this only worked if Germany just got smoked in the opening. Like a full sweep on W. Russia and a perfect Ukraine strafe. The trick was usually Russian fighter/armor positioning. Then, provided Germany did poorly in their opening attacks, the British would have the option whether to pursue the KJF or double back to cover Europe. Basically the British bomber was positioned so that it could strike Japanese transports and then have a place to land (eg Bury) backed up by the USA.

    In 1942.2 however, the India IC is hard to use against the mainland. This is mainly due to the map design. There are extra speed bumps to stall the Allied advance all over the place. More spaces in Coastal China, more spaces in the Chinese interior, more spaces in Southeast Asia, and a weaker Russian force in the far East.  Solomons is also 1 more space from East Indies via the water, which means you can’t threaten Borneo and East Indies at the same time (to split the Japanese.)

    The only upside for Allies on the 1942.2 board is the high risk hit on sz 37, but to do this means leaving the japanese transport in sz61 alive, which is a total nightmare. If you fail to handle sz61, you risk an early sweep on India as Japan can just push Burma and force you out.

    I think the Major issue with the push against the mainland, is the extra distance to Manchuria. But also the lack of a 2 ipc factory location for the US in China, and the increased cost of armor (which makes a US tank stack strat less profitable), and ultimately the lack of solid 3 ipc territories on the coast at which to build additional US production, if everything else worked haha.

    Germany is also more formidable out of Karelia now, and the map design that allows Arch to reach Evenki is problematic as well. In Revised the Russians could hold a wedge in the north just by stacking Moscow but now Axis have a way to sneak around the north. Cheap bombers also give Japan a nice way to cover the coast.

    The only viable way I can see to make it work is to clip them in 37 and then bring the USN north, with the goal of forcing Japan to defend the home island so they can’t push Burma. But again this leaves a second Japanese transport (certain doom), and ultimately if Japan controls sz 61, they can still shuck with ease. You’d have to park an American fleet on the coast somewhere, to rely deny them this option, and at that point it’s probably easier to just gun for the money islands.

    I don’t know though, if you can prevent Japan from hitting pearl light (ie no carrier, and taking their first hit on the fighter from the home island) maybe there is a way to pull it off? Seems like it would be very tricky though, to do this without giving up Moscow early to a German artillery crunch + tank drive. If I saw Russia diverting their starting forces towards the east, I’d probably buy a ���� ton of artillery on G1, followed by tank stacks on G2 and G3, with the aim of cracking the center. Then just stack Japan with a bunch of zeros or bombers and hold out while Germany goes monster.

    Would probably be a fun game to play though. How would you bid to set this up I wonder?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Some big-name commenters here! I�m honored by all the discussion. I didn�t expect to draw any attention from a national champion, and Black_Elk�s high-quality articles are what inspired me to write up the Kontrol Asia First strategy in the first place.

    To answer Black_Elk�s question about bidding, I recently played this strategy with an 8 IPC bid, and I used it to put one infantry in Egypt and one AAA in Sinkiang. I�m not sure that�s a great strategy – it worked out OK for me, but the AAA offers zilch on offense, which is a problem given how few units the US has to work with in Asia. With 9 IPC, I might have put one infantry in Egypt, one in Trans-Jordan, and one in Szechuan – if the Germans drop two units in Trans-Jordan while also stacking in Libya, that tends to greviously delay the Brits� ability to get tanks into Burma, and the second infantry in Jordan goes a long way toward making sure only one unit from the Afrikakorps survives. With 11 IPC, I�d go for one infantry in Egypt and one extra destroyer protecting the US Atlantic transports – being able to reliably drop 2 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk in Morocco on US1 is huge. Anyone have any other ideas for KAF bids?

    I think a G2 artillery build and G3 tank build is a solid response to KAF, but keep in mind that the tanks being built in Egypt can be redirected to the Caucuses without much trouble – the Egyptian tanks naturally stop over in Persia on their way east, and from Persia they can reach Ukraine, Caucuses, West Russia, or Moscow in one move, possibly with fighter support from India. If the Axis are staking everything on a one-shot punch at Moscow, then the British can switch to KGF, sinking the un-reinforced German Navy and then saving up for a carrier and two destroyers to support a US Atlantic invasion fleet.

    Another problem with a German artillery blitz is that it’s not actually that fast or that big, as blitzes go. Let’s say Germany is playing with 45 IPCs on G2 – that’ll buy 11 artillery. If you want to save your starting forces for the maximum assault on Moscow, you’re not going to get much past 45 IPCs in the early rounds, so let’s say you earn a total of 90 IPCs on G3 and G4, which buys you 15 tanks. A big chunk of Germany’s starting ground forces are either needed to defend western Europe, stuck in Africa, or likely to be killed on R1. The territories that can realistically contribute their ground troops to Barbarossa are Berlin, Finland, Baltic, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Southern Europe, Ukraine, and Belorussia, for a total of about 18 infantry, 2 artillery, and 8 tanks, depending on how you count. Add in the 11 artillery from G2 and the 15 tanks from G3/G4, and you’re looking at a ground force of 18 inf / 13 art / 15 tnk. Note that artillery purchased in Germany on G2 reach Poland on G3, Belorussia on G4, and West Russia on G5 if they move as fast as possible. The tanks you buy on G4 can’t hit West Russia on G5 because it’s 3 spaces away, so you might have to wait for your tanks to catch up. If you get delayed even one turn on your march to Moscow, that means your Moscow assault comes on G7 – giving Moscow 7 turns to purchase infantry with an average income of 21 IPC per turn, which means you’re up against a stack of something like 50 infantry, assuming Russia can use its starting troops to trade and hold most of its periphery. If Britain and the US reinforce that stack with a modest donation of 2 fighters each, then Russia has a defensive stack of 54 HP and 116 defensive pips facing off against Germany’s offensive stack of 46 HP and 102 offensive pips. Bring in the German air force of 6 fighters and a bomber and Germany’s stack is 53 HP and 124 offensive pips – not really enough for a decisive win. Germany could probably take Moscow, but there’s no guarantee it would hold it. Bring in a G5 buy of 4 bombers, and Germany’s stack is 57 HP and 140 offensive pips – finally enough for a decisive win. Meanwhile, though, Germany has devoted 100% of its IPC due east for five turns. Germany is going to lose Norway and north Africa, and it’s probably going to be (at best) trading France and Holland. Britain is going to be huge, because Germany never bought a navy or sent any troops to Africa, so Britain could even launch an amphibious assault on Italy from the Egyptian IC. I’m probably missing some of the strategy’s important nuances – I’m sure you could make good use of a G2 buy that’s heavy on artillery – but I don’t see a German artillery blitz as a strategy that can neutralize KAF all by itself.

    Note that you do not have to literally boot the Japanese off the mainland to win in KAF – if the Japanese are bottled up near Manchuria and Kiangsu, then the British have a much higher sustainable income, and the Russians have the luxury of fighting a defensive one-front war.

    MarineIguana, I agree with you that the Japanese have a very easy time dominating the Pacific sea zones in A&A 1942 2nd Ed., but I�m not proposing that the US should build a superior Pacific fleet – the point is that the combined US and British threat is very difficult for the Japanese fleet to manage simultaneously.

    If Japan sends the whole fleet southwest, then the Americans can invade e.g., Iwo Jima and then the Phillipines, building a 3 IPC industrial complex if the Japanese don�t bring the fleet home. If Japan leaves the whole fleet near Japan, then the British can invade Yunnan and French Indochina because the Japanese can�t protect any transports near India. If Japan splits the fleet evenly, then the US can invest in a large, balanced navy and defeat both Japanese fleets one at a time.

    By round 3 of KAF, the British should have 2 fighters in India plus a bomber in the Caucuses (32 IPCs, 3 HP, 10 pips offense), which can be traded favorably against, say, one fully loaded Japanese carrier and one transport (41 IPCs, 3 HP, 10 pips defense). But if the Japanese draw off more than one fully loaded carrier fleet to protect an Indian Ocean campaign, then they no longer have an edge against an American Navy that goes all-out in the Pacific, especially if the Americans are building mostly 6 IPC subs against Japan�s 8 IPC destroyers.

    I do like MarineIguana�s idea of slowly stacking fighters in India that get flown in from London, but I�m not convinced that this is more useful than the Egyptian tanks. I also disagree that the structure of the east Asian territories makes it uninteresting for the British to expand beyond India – although there are several 1 IPC territories in the region, east Asia tends to be very lightly defended and expensive for Japan to reinforce. A pair of tanks in eastern Europe might buy you control of one 2 IPC territory for one turn, whereas a pair of tanks in east Asia might buy you control of four 1 IPC territories for two turns each.

    Finally, I completely agree with MarineIguana that bombers are high-variance and low-profit ways of gaining an IPC edge in general, but I do think they�re an efficient way of punishing Japan in the particular situation where Japan builds a pair of industrial complexes during the first two rounds. The USA has IPCs to burn, and any way that they project power over the ocean is going to be inefficient. If the USA can do enough strategic bombing damage to stop Japan from cranking out all 3 tanks in Manchuria, then the USA is accomplishing its objectives even if the USA takes a net IPC loss doing so, because the British 2 inf / 1 art / 2 tnk build is going to beat a Japanese 2 tnk build (or, for that matter, a Japanese 3 inf build) on the mainland. The British campaign to steal east Asian territories synergizes very nicely with a US strategic bombing campaign; not only does the British invasion have a tendency to provide the safe bases that American bombers need, it also further reduces the Japanese income, making it that much easier for American bombers to cause more bombing damage than the Japanese can afford to repair while also dropping tanks in Asia.

    Oddbjoern asked what to do with the Indian and ANZAC transports in a KAF game. I think the ANZAC fleet should go east around the southern tip of South America and circle up to London, just as it would in a KGF game – just because the focus is on east Asia doesn�t mean it isn�t useful to harass Germany. The destroyer and transport will often arrive just as the UK has some breathing room in Asia and can afford to drop a carrier in the Channel, which is very convenient. I usually need the Indian transport to help retake Trans-Jordan from the Germans, but if the Germans don�t invade the eastern Med at all, it can be fun to send the Indian transport to sea zone 51, off the coast of Kwangtung and Yunnan – that way you can stack both Yunnan (2 british inf, 1 british ftr, 2 american inf) and Szechuan (2 american inf, 1 american plane, 1 russian inf), making things extremely difficult for Japan in China. I�m not in love with either of these strategies, though – everyone please let me know if you have other ideas for how to use the British transports!


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