I agree, its hard for Germany to spam tanks, or at least, it’s a lot harder for them to do so in 1942.2 than it was in Revised or AA50.
The 1 ipc jump from 5 ipcs to 6 ipcs per tank, really adds up when compared to artillery purchases. But there are still a lot of cases where a tank purchase can turn the tide vs the Russians in the east. In 1942.2 the mass tank purchase is rather less common in the early game, but still fairly important during the endgame. In Revised you’d see people build infantry for the push for just a few rounds, and then start dropping tanks relentlessly. This worked for both Germany and Japan, and came to define the earlier game with Axis tank drives.
Armor is less potent in 1942.2, but the movement advantage across the ground is still pretty huge from a strategic point of view. Tanks should always be purchased primarily with the movement advantage in mind (more so than the attack/defense advantage at 3 for example). Knowing when to buy them to exploit the movement advantage is the trick.
I said I’d bring it back here, to start looking at G1 purchases for 41 ipcs… purchases to deal with the Russians. I’ve been swamped at work lately, but this might be a good random Tuesday to start delving into things. Lets think about some situations where G1 tank buys might be advisable.
Again its a little hard here to account for every possible Russian opener, but you can look at things in terms of “best case vs. worst case scenarios” or “better cases vs worse cases.”
Let’s just pick a place to start, and say Russia lands a near perfect strafe on Ukraine! ie. a worst case scenario for Germany.
Ok what does that look like? Well usually this is when Russia destroys all the German units in Ukraine down to just the lone fighter, and takes only a couple hits in the process. All 3 Russian tanks survive the Ukraine engagement to retreat safely to Caucasus, along with the artillery piece and maybe even some infantry. The West Russia battle goes as normal with around 3 hits taken, before the Soviets prevail and stack it with all units in range. The Russian Yaks can land safely in Caucasus, with 4 newly purchased hitpoints, making it impossible for Germany to take this territory on G1. Moreover, because the strafe went well and Caucasus is secure, the Soviets can afford to send their second AA gun to cover the stack in W. Russia. This makes a German attack on W. Russia rather risky, the AA guns providing at least some additional fodder and threat vs the full airstrike, to make the exchange a poor trade. Or so it would seem. You can imagine it looks something like this (image below) on G1 at purchase… What the hell is the German player to do now?
With your Ukraine ground forces smashed, you will be down on total hit points at the front.
One approach is to take your “free fighter” and head for the hills. Turtle up and spam infantry to make up the hitpoint loss. Another approach is to rush hitpoints back into the region and threaten counter attacks on the way. This is when tanks might serve.
A more average result for the Russian Ukraine strafe, (a slightly better case for Germany), can still be rather ugly. This is like when Russia still achieves the primary objective of strafing the Germans down to just the fighter, but perhaps takes more hits in the process. Maybe bringing 3 tanks but losing 1 during combat. Here Russia can still stack Caucasus with 4 new hitpoints (and the dude from Kazakh if need be) and still land the Yaks on the front line with confidence, but the Soviet forward hitpoints in the south are not as great.
Well in an opener like this Belo is probably the going to be the most important swing territory on the Eastern Front for the first few rounds. If Germany gets a chance to stack Karelia or Ukraine on G1 that is of course optimal, but usually a strong Russian player will make these territories too dangerous to occupy. Here the Russians purchased artillery, but an armor buy can make it even riskier to for Germany to move forward.
The Soviets will likely stack W. Russia to back down your options on Karelia and Ukraine/Caucasus G1, so this leaves you with just Belo, Baltic, or Poland as your front line German stack location. Of these Belo is optimal, since it can threaten “the whole line” from Karelia down to Ukraine from the same central location. Belo mirrors W. Russia, and from this position you can either push North or South, while still holding the opponents stack in your gravitation orbit. Whether you can afford to stack Belo on G1 will depend entirely on how many units survive the Soviet opening battle into W. Russia, how many Russian tanks survived, or whether the Russians purchased new armor. If Belo is threatened on Russian counter attack, it is still possible to defend it with enough fighters to make that a terrible trade for the Soviets.
In general the Luftwaffe has the responsibility of either defending against western Navies/Naval builds out of UK, or advancing on the Eastern front. They will probably have to choose which of these is the top priority in any given game round. Its sometimes possible to split the difference in Europe (with a few air in the West and some in the East to cover both areas) but it is harder to gain an overwhelming advantage in either region when you land your air that way. Additional purchased fighters, and especially additional bombers, can really help to cover both areas and rapidly transition between West/East, but for the most part, at the beginning of play, German air tends to concentrate in one region or the other during any particular round.
Fortunately in this case, the Soviets elected to let the 6th German BF109 escape! But even if it died, Germany still has several fighters and the bomber that can be used for stack defense on the Eastern front on G1. It all depends how many hits you are willing to risk in your battles with the Royal Navy, but often times holding Belo into G2/G3 is reason enough to send some fighters east.
This means 1 round out of commission vs the Atlantic for any fighters you land in Belo, but if you are willing to buy a few tanks, what you can do is transfer out fighters for tanks from Germany, maintaining you defensive advantage, but allowing your fighters to “attack out” of Belo the following round, and land in France or Northwestern on G2 to cover the UK.
How much risk you are willing to take in sz 7 and sz 14 on G1? Lets set the tanks aside for a moment and make a quick detour back into the air. If the Russian’s put their sub in sz 7 (as they should) Germany still has very strong odds on this fight, provided they bring the cruiser.
Germany vs. the British battleship and Russian sub in sz 7.
2 subs and 1 cruiser = over 50% odds to the attacker, with 1 unit remaining.
2 subs and 1 cruiser + 1 fighter = over 90% to the attacker with 2 units remaining.
2 subs and 1 cruiser + 1 bomber = over 95% to the attacker with 2 units remaining.
2 subs and 1 cruiser + 2 fighters = 99% with 3 units remaining.
2 subs and 1 cruiser + 1 fighter and 1 bomber = 100% again with about 3 units surviving on average.
2 subs and 1 cruiser + 1 fighter and 1 bomber = 100% with 4 (just shy of 5) units surviving on average.
If you choose not to bring the cruiser, then the amount of air you bring can be more significant, but there is still a diminishing return in sz 7 after a certain point.
2 subs + 1 fighter = over 65% with 1 unit remaining
2 subs + 1 bomber = over 80% with 1 unit remaining
2 subs + 2 fighters = over 95% with 2 units remaining
2 subs + 1 fighter and 1 bomber = 98% with 2 units remaining
2 subs + 2 fighter and 1 bomber = 100% with 3 (just shy of 4) units remaining.
This is just to point out that if you already plan on bringing the cruiser, then bringing a ton of air into this fight could easily be overkill. Even if you decide not to bring the cruiser, you really don’t need all that much air to get the job done, and the difference in surviving units is usually just one more surviving sub on average. The survival of Atlantic uboats might not be super critical to your Warplan, in which case you could pull air off this attack to go east instead.
The situation in sz 14 is very similar. If you’re willing to bring the Battleship its virtually a shoe-in.
1 Battleship vs 1 cruiser = over 85% odds to the attacker with 1 unit remaining on average.
Any fighters you bring with the Battleship is just hedging your bets on the first round combat, or shoring up that 15% chance that the battleship goes down. For example, 1 battleship and 1 fighter vs 1 cruiser = above 90% odds. Even if you don’t bring the battleship, 2 fighters or 1 fighter and 1 bomber = above 90% odds. So again, Germany has more starting aircraft than you really need to clear the UK ships on G1, which means the rest could be used in support of a tank drive on the Eastern Front.
Tanks from Germany can reach Ukraine, Karelia, or Belo in one move.
Even a single extra hitpoint on attack or defense (when combined with the Luftwaffe) can be all the difference between the Soviets advancing or staying at home. With an infantry stack in Belo, you can hold the line and still put fodder on the critical territories of Karelia/Ukraine/W.Russia. If you have to pull back from Belo at some point (in order to hold Karelia or Ukraine say), you can still deadzone Belo with fodder from Poland or Baltic and just trade it with light forces, as long as you have tanks coming up from the rear. If you hold to the hard and fast rule of at least 8 or more total hitpoints, there is still a lot of build variety you can achieve, in the balance between total hitpoints (hp), total attack power (ap), and total mobility (i.e. attack power to the front).
Some Tank builds that can be fun in these situations might be…
5 tanks, 2 artillery, 1 infantry. (8 hitpoints, 21 attack power: +15 attack power vs front line)
4 tanks, 2 artillery, 3 infantry. (9 hp, 21 ap: +12 attack vs front line)
3 tanks, 2 artillery, 5 infantry. (10 hp, 20 ap: +9 attack vs front line)
2 tanks, 2 artillery, 7 infantry. (11 hp, 19 ap: +6 attack vs front line)
1 tank, 2 artillery, 9 infantry. (12 hp, 18 ap: +3 attack vs front line)
For an Tank build with a Destroyer block purchase I dig…
1 tank, 9 infantry, 1 destroyer (10 hp, 12 ap: 3 attack vs front line)
2 tanks, 7 infantry, 1 destroyer (9 hp, 14 ap: 6 attack vs front line)
3 tanks, 5 infantry, 1 destroyer (8 hp, 14 ap: 9 attack vs front line)
Going lower than this on infantry doesn’t really give you enough total hitpoints to advance in the East, since the destroyer doesn’t count towards your ground hitpoints or projected attack power against the Soviets.
Tank builds (which focus on a German mobility edge) can also work fairly well when supported by an overall air expansion. Again the trade off here will be total hitpoints and total attack power vs attack power mobility immediately to the front line during the following round.
Some Tank + Air builds I like are…
3 tanks, 1 fighter, 1 artillery, 3 infantry. (8 hp, 18 ap: + 12 attack vs front line)
2 tanks, 1 bomber, 2 artillery, 3 infantry. (8 hp, 19 ap: + 10 attack vs front line)
2 tanks, 1 fighter, 1 artillery, 5 infantry. (8 hp, 18 ap: + 6 attack vs front line)
1 tank, 1 bomber, 2 artillery, 5 infantry. (9 hp, 18 ap: + 7 attack vs front line)
1 tank, 1 fighter, 1 artillery, 7 infantry. (10 hp, 16 ap: + 6 attack vs front line.)
The key to any of these tank builds is in the ability to “rush defense” to your main forward ground stack, then conserve the tanks for counter attack positioning in order to deadzone Karelia or Ukraine until you are able take and hold those territories.
Usually a tank rush to the East involves cycling your tanks into your forward stack location, basically trading out G1 defensive fighters for G2 defensive tanks. Later on, you can cycle these same tanks back out again (to defend the West), in exchange for Japanese defense power… But basically the idea is to move forward early, and then hold the line with armor, while you bounce your luftwaffe back towards the west to defend against amphibious build ups by the Western Allies. Depending on the size of your airforce and the size of your tank wall, you can do this cycling move for several rounds without really giving up too much flexibility in either theater East/West.
The moment of truth with your tanks, comes in about round 6, 7 or 8, when Germany often has to decide whether it’s more advantageous to push forward and break Russia early, or just hold the line and defend the West until Japan arrives at the center.
If you want to push forward early, this usually requires a multi-round set up, where you buy more total hitpoints than Russia can purchase/receive in a given stretch, and then rush the armor forward with the entire Luftwaffe and all ground in the region, to break the main Russian stack or force it to retreat to Moscow.
Typically the German tank drive will focus on Baltic States or Belo on G1, then move to a focus on Karelia. Once Karelia is locked down, the Germans can push infantry stacks with a couple tanks a round until they can stack either Ukraine, or optimally W. Russia itself, in order to force a full Soviet withdrawal from Caucasus. This usually when that moment of truth arrives, and the German’s must choose whether they want to lead the assault on Moscow, or simply beat the Russians into submission and provide coverage for Japan they look instead to the long term defense of Europe. To get something like this up and running, its nice to have armor column stacked tall with a dozen or more tanks, to ensure you have enough flexibility to go “either way” when this fork in the road invariably arrives.
In the Russian opener below, you can see how under Ukraine strafe conditions, a few German tanks puchased on G1 can really help prevent the Russians from moving forward in the second round.
German air attack options on the Eastern Front:
Before we conclude here for the day just take one more look at the Soviet numbers in W. Russia. I chose that number of Ruskie defenders in these sample games for a reason…
6 infantry, 2 artillery, 1 tank, and either 1 or 2 aaguns.
The first image attached below shows 2 aaguns and is still a pretty close call (at 11 total hitpoints).
The second image is meant to show the clear danger of putting only 1 aagun in W. Russia (10 total hitpoints), even when the Ukraine strafe works more or less as intended!
With this number of total hitpoints for the Soviet defender, there is the potential for a dicey G1 Airblitz!!!
This is where you use the entire Luftwaffe and all available tanks, for an audacious attack opener - to put the whole game up for grabs in the opening round! In these examples, if Germany has 3 infantry, 3 tanks, just 5 fighters, and 1 bomber in range of W. Russia, they can basically wipe out the entire Soviet stack at above 80% odds and only lose a fighter or two, and perhaps not losing any fighters at all. If the Russians bring only 1 aa gun instead of 2, the odds for G jump to above 90%, and they still come out of it most of the Luftwaffe still intact!
A 6th fighter surviving in Ukraine can ice this Airblitz play and really make things unpleasant for the enemy. Taking it to above 90% with an average of 5 (just shy of 6) attacking units remaining. If a tank survived in Ukraine, the ability to airblitz W. Russia is even more potent! This can be a huge set-back for the Allies, and very difficult to recover from, as its much harder for Russia to replace lost hitpoints than it is for Germany. This is one of the reasons why many Russian players will not take any unnecessary risks in the initial W. Russia battle, (and also why they often want an extra bid unit somewhere near W. Russia hehe). Without a bid unit somewhere on the eastern front, the Ukraine strafe can easily backfire on the Allies!
Now imagine how much uglier the situation might be for Allies, if the Russians did even worse in their initial battles and took even more hits? Less than 10 hitpoints and they are pretty much smoked. Just something to keep in mind, since the airblitz on W. Russia can be used to train your opponent to really fear the G1 Luftwaffe (even if only used like this on occasion). It’s worth considering especially if the Russian player purchases no armor in the first round. If you do go for the W. Russia airblitz, you should stack Belo with the remaining tanks from Germany to cover it as a landing spot, and push hard on Karelia too, so Russia cannot recover it in the second round. In the same way that I would always suggest always smashing Karelia on G1, if the Soviet player is foolish enough to stack it in the opening round, I’d also suggest smashing W. Russia on G1 if the Soviet player can’t see the wisdom of stacking it with enough units to deter the Airblitz. You gotta teach 'em to fear your Messerschmitts!
More often though, and more conservatively, if Allies go for a Ukraine strafe, then G has the option just stack Belo on defense and go from there. In either case, if time and early pressure is a factor, armor could work to your advantage as G. Of course, an even safer approach might be to just buy a ton of artillery at the outset, and give yourself some more time (and more income), before you start making tank purchases. But if you don’t have the time or the patience to wait it out, early tank buys can still be a lot of fun as an alternative to the infantry slog. It usually just means that your critical combats will come sooner rather than later in the game, so better hope they go well!
Next time we can look at possible German responses to Allied openings that are more predictable (and, in my view, potentially stronger for that reason) than the Ukraine strafe opening. We’ll also consider how Allied bids will jack up all these opening calculations, and how to manage some of the more common Allied bids on G1. Take care all, catch you next round.