1) The Allies can’t seem to put a fleet anywhere effective against overwhelming Axis air power.
Let’s stick to the Atlantic for this one, since the Pacific situation is covered in another comment you’ve made. An air base on gibraltar, while very costly, helps much of this in the Atlantic. The issue I see after that, however, is that you’re either locked into violating Spain’s neutrality to get further into Europe, or your transports get blowed up when they try to move to the next point.
However, even just moving your transports in range of Europe puts a pressure on the Axis that cause them to lose a bit of steam in the east. This problem the Atlantic allies have does not exist in a vacuum.
2) Neither Russia nor UK-Pac nor China can defend itself effectively against straightforward Axis build-land-units-and-advance strategies so both will inevitably fall.
China very often does not die anywhere near soon if there’s a J1 attack and it wishes to keep pressure on Calcutta (so it makes 6 or less IPCs a turn or doesn’t just build nothing but mechs/planes and sends them to Russia). By the time the US/ANZAC pair up and push in a bit, China is also able to start pushing back against Japan somewhat. But China falling should not surprise you. Japan has a kill-death-destruction beam it can point at anyone it wants, and nobody can stand up against it. If Japan decides to point that at China, it should fall, but then UK Pac/ANZAC/US are there to make it pay for such a thing.
Russia can be helped significantly by large amounts of UK air in Moscow. I don’t see Moscow falling outside of the Axis getting lucky, them losing a lot of western europe to do it, Russia preemptively abandoning their capital to wall off the middle east with the UK, or late-game.
3) Axis lines of supply at all the major conflict points are much shorter than Allied supply lines. Axis therefore can see what the Allies are going to do far enough ahead of time to build a counter.
This is inherent to the game–so much so that it can’t be described as a problem, I think. The problem would be how the game fails to design the rest of itself around this intended feature. Moreover, this is a bit of an overbroad generalization. There are plenty of ways the allies can keep the axis guessing. A fleet on Gibraltar? Is it going to hit Rome? Land on one of (or both?) the French minor factories? Is it going to Norway? Western Germany to blow up the factory and suicide hit the Luftwaffe? In Sea Lion games, to liberate London? Be able to be in Sydney/Japan/Caroline 3 turns later (where it can meet up with produced units to become truly surprising in size)?
4) Games eventually get to a “midgame” point where Russia and UK Pac are ready to fall, Axis has equalized income and nearly equalized material, and the Allies still have no strong counterattack, after which it’s just a matter of playing out the Axis win.
I see this often as well in games with skilled Axis players and less skilled Allied players. In “good” games I’d argue that the Allies will know that this is a losing scenario, and play more aggressively. The game will already be statistically won or lost by “midgame” in that instance.
- UK Taranto raid (effective but even holding Africa with no additional investment doesn’t help all that much)
Taranto keeps Italy from an early Syria/Iraq, and keeps it from holding Gibraltar. It helps. How you’re not seeing it I don’t know. To take Egypt afterwards requires German assistance. For Germany to assist with the taking of Egypt, it must telegraph its intentions by placing its entire airforce in Rome or northern africa a turn early. This gives the allies information and time and sometimes opportunity.
- monomaniacal US focus on Pacific theater (no matter how much I build, Japan can always have enough fleet + air power to keep me away from Asia, even with healthy ANZAC and UK fleet units in theater helping)
This is my largest weakness when playing the game. I’ve started a thread about it as well asking for any input others might have, but didn’t get much good out of it. I will say I am getting better, and it takes incredibly careful planning between the ANZAC/US. However, the America fleet simply being there means less land units in Asia and on transports and more boats being built by Japan. Outside of great luck, assuming equal skill between the sides, there will come a point to where Japan will start to collapse. It cannot both push inland and against the money islands while it keeps up with ANZAC/US spending. Once that happens, turning around anything that can be turned around toward the Atlantic is required, and I struggle with being able to do this early enough to stop Germany in many (most) games. I have yet to hit a point to where I am out of seeing things that I can’t do better for the next game.
- Atlantic dominance (takes too long to build up enough of a fleet to land anywhere, and that Denmark strait block kills counter and counter-pressure opportunities)
The only time I see this working is very early where America drops the first 52 into some things that go over once, or if Japan heads west a bit too much America can sail a Hawaiian force to central america on a brand new naval base, then be in Gibraltar on the next turn.
- UK-Europe using its builds to help UK-Pac
I’ve never tried this. I can’t think of anything useful to come of it. UK Pac can be enough of an annoyance (and little more) on its own.
- Russia aggressive, and Russia defensive (both fail, the former fails faster)
The first only works during Sea Lion games, or if you’re quick about getting your planes out east to help trip up Japan a bit (and Japan’s activities are trippable) and then getting them back west before it’s too late. 100% infantry defensive is a guaranteed loss of the middle east. A good amount of artillery, if you’re not already doing that, helps Russia keep Germany honest, at least.
As of now, and everyone seems to agree, the Axis, most of the time, assuming equal levels of skill, has the game in the bag. Whether this is something like 90% of the time or 55% of the time, I’m not sure. With absolutely no good way to back this up, I’d guess, grossly, that it’s somewhere around 75% of the time with OOB rules.
This is made a bit worse-looking than it is because the Allies take a lot more long-term planning and thought to play at a top level, I think. The “good” players also tend to gravitate toward the Axis.
The game is not irredeemably broken, however. The balance is not so bad (say, like the WW1 version of the game) as to not be “fixed” by some pretty subtle adjustments. I, for one, tend to give the US a static +IPC income, and that makes a pretty substantial difference.