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How to counter Dark Skies+J1 attack?



  • Hello all.  I got a recent face-to-face game.  I played as Allies but lose to the Dark Skies plus J1 attack.  I brief my Allies plan below.  Might I ask for help on how to improve my plan?  (I already got 30 bid but still lost - I placed 1tank+2art+sub in North Africa plus Scotland fighter).  Attached are the pics at the end of turn 5 and turn 9.

    In early-game (turns 1-5), US1-5 KJF and fully builds in Pacific, aiming to coordinate with ANZAC for the money islands. UK2-3 builds MICs in Persia and Iraq.  Seeing US building in Pacific, after 2 bomber+1tank purchase in G1, Germany fully produces tank+mech in G1-G4.  Italy builds tank+mech to can-open Russia.  Japan stacks all air/naval in FIC (with MIC, AB, NB), and its land force marches towards India.

    In mid-game (turns 5-8), because UK fully produces fighters in Persia and land units in Iraq, by UK5, UK flies 16fig+2tact to Moscow, making Germany stopping SBR and Moscow is secured in the next few turns.  Middle east is secured too because of the combination of Indian retreat units and Iraq production.  From G6 onwards, Germany begins building 4 bombers+3tank per turn, protecting Europe.  Italy keeps producing tank+mech - not for can-opening anymore, but for combining its land force with Germany stack in Bryansk, making Russia unable to crack.  Japan keeps pushing Indian land forces towards Middle East, making the UK Middle East troops unable to go up to help Russia.  Japan keeps stacking carriers/transports in FIC and trades money islands with US-ANZAC.  Japan slowly builds up in China to prepare for late-game conquest.  US turns to produce fully in Europe from turn 5/6 onwards - basically buying all fully-loaded carriers.

    In late-game (turn 9), Germany gets ~20 bombers in W. Germany.  US just gets 6 full-loaded carriers safely sit at Gibraltar, but there are just 2 US transports+4land units.  It is impossible to do the landing in Europe.  And Germany is preparing to redo Moscow SBR soon.  Italy keeps pushing tank+mech to Bryansk.  Japan will be able to overwhelm China in a few turns.  The income for Germany-Japan-Italy at end of turn 9 is 64-72-23, while those for USSR-US-China-UKEurope-UKPacific-ANZAC are 9-76-9-36-0-22.  It is just a matter of time when Moscow SBR and conquest of China will occur.  Allies surrenders.

    How can the allies plan against Dark Skies and J1 attack?  It seems KJF fails as Japan can stack things in FIC; Japan can survive KJF by getting India and trading money islands.  It seems that, KJF can just secure Java in my above plan.
    turn5 end.jpg
    turn9 end.jpg



  • Well lets just talk top level strategy on this one, getting down to the tactical level will just muddy the water.

    Axis goes Dark Skies and a J1. The Axis have told you on the opening turns of the game what they are doing. Going straight line into Russia and all out push for India.

    This where the big hang up happened for the Allies. You broke one of the rules of playing the Allies: Hit them where they are weak and exploit those.

    Based on your report you spent all of UK’s money going all into Russia. Which is exactly where the entire german army is. You stacked the middle east to such a point that the UK could not do anything else but attack the axis in the north or the east where they where the strongest.

    Why again did you sail 6 fully loaded CV’s over to SZ91 with the USA and only have 2TRS?  So when you decided it was a good idea to maybe threaten the western side of Germany it was way to far gone at that point.

    Over in the Pacific I seems you did not go after Japan where they where weak either. Battling it out over the money islands. Did you drop 3 SUBS off the coast of Japan and 3 Subs off the coast of Manchuria and then 3 subs off the coast of Shangai? Did you take Iwo Jima and park 4 STR bombers on it? If the entire ��� navy is down in FIC battling it out they where begging you to convoy them into oblivion.

    Now the counter to dark skies is easy in theory but requires you to do something the Allies seem a little skittish to do in the early part of the game. Once Germany starts going almost all STR, they are not building land units in any numbers any more. ATTACK them and start killing German ground troops. Strafe attack and then retreat, especially in Russia. Once Germany loses all or the vast majority of their INF Germany has now lost all their fodder and will become more cautious.

    Attack Normandy or Southern France, threaten Italy with bodily harm on the “boot”, STR bomb Italy into oblivion, does not take much.

    So, your are doing 2 things at the same time. Killing off ground units so Germany has to switch off of Dark skies to rebuild land AND you are hitting him where he is not at his strongest. You have to make the Axis do things that take them “off script” of Dark Skies and J1 drone attack.



  • Lets look at the how to counter dark skies.

    Why no love for AAA Guns? why? Oh, they cant attack/defend, cost 5 IPC, man they just stink.

    Well, Iam here to tell you that is why Dark Skies is beating you like a drum or 500lb bombs falling on your head as you hide in a underground bunker.

    Every unit in the game has a role. AAA’s role is to defend against a Dark Skies scenario.

    Now, here me out before you fly off the rails.

    Every nation starts with these non descript pointless CAS units called AAA. Once they have been thrown into the meat grinder of WWII “we” never replace them and call good riddance to those pointless units.

    That is why Dark Skies works.

    You have placed no value in the one unit that can actually counter dark skies on the battle field.

    Now lets define Dark Skies. Dark Skies is a approach of overwhelming STR bombers, not primarily used for STR bombing BUT to tip the odds in land combats. Now this plan of attack is not just STR but also the use of TAC/FTR but the main point of it at some point later in the game, usually around T8 or so you have a HUGE STACK OF STR bombers to obliterate any one in front of your attacking hordes.

    Well, how did it become so grim? Well, it is because the poor fools getting blown up from T1- T7 never purchased any AAA, the pointless land unit. Thus the victim of Dark Skies is taking almost 0 CAS on their air force. The German air force just keeps getting stronger and stronger every turn because they never take CAS. In fact one of the tenants of Dark Skies is not to STR bomb and give them free AAA fire from IC on your planes and just use them as offensive weapons. So a compounding effect takes place.

    German STR are not taking CAS. Every turn for 4 turns they build 1. On turn 5 they build 4, turn 6 they build 4. Right there they have, what, 14 STR bombers? They have not taken 1 CAS because they never STR bomb and use the FTR/TAC as CAS on any lone AAA gun that stands in their way on a regular ground attack.

    So, here is what I propose. Lets just talk about Russia.  Russia every single turn buys 1 AAA. They start with 4 AAA in the Euro board and 2 on the pacific board.

    You make sure that every front line area has at least 1 AAA in it, starting from turn 1. If they kill off 2 AAA, then next turn you build 2 more.

    The power of AAA is that it is the only unit that bypasses the normal combat rules. They send in planes, you roll for AAA, you remove their air units and then proceed. Thus, it is the only unit that gets free shots on their air power before land combat. If you hit just one air unit and you lose 1 AAA you will slowly start grinding down their air force, 1 unit at a time. The only way they can increase their air force is if they lose one unit last turn they need to buy 2 the next turn.

    Dark Skies works because it becomes a compounding math issue for the Allies. Every turn they gain strength and you are losing strength. Coupled with the fact you are no longer purchasing the one unit that can directly attack their growing strength, AAA.

    It is a #1 priority for the Allies to purchase AAA on the Russian front when faced with Dark Skies and make sure every front line territory has at a minimum 1 AAA. Now, lets say you have a large stack in Leningrad. You know for a fact that Germany is going in with 9 air units to take it. Make sure, you have 3 AAA in there.

    The AAA will most likely hit 1-2 air units and if you are luck maybe 3. The AAA are 3 CAS that cost you 15 IPC compared to at minimum, lets say you hit 2 FTR, 20 IPC for Germany. They did their job. Furthermore you are not letting Germany just attack with airpower all over the place in ground attacks with almost 0% chance of taking air power CAS. Thus the Russians in this example are compounding their own problems by making no attempt to kill off air power.

    Thus on T7 they are despondent as Germany goes into Moscow with 12 STR/4 TAC all attacking on a 4 and 6 FTR. Why? because Russia made 0 attempt at killing off any German air power and let them just keep building up STR every single turn.

    Ditto over in Asia. Why do you not build 1 AAA every turn in India?


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Without reading through all the walls of text… I do find the solution to Dark Skies is to call it’s bluff; and dogpile in.

    Too often multiple allied armies/navies on the board are afraid of being obliterated by the bomber stack at the same time.  Even though the bombers can only attack one force at a time;  what they “could” do; and living in fear of it, is what hampers the allies.

    SO… the only response is to accept that fate, especially with america, and dogpile in.  Go to Gibrlatar,  go to places where you give them the option of attacking - with just bombers whenever possible; give them choices.  Attack Russia?  or Attack USA/UK fleet?  Once they start to spend the trump card, the whole house of cards usually falls apart.

    It does suck because you will have some battles where you pay through the nose…  but sometimes its the only way.


  • 2017

    Gargantua has the best advice here, even if it’s challenging to follow.

    Also it sounds part of the problem is that Japan is too resilient, in which case, perhaps some of that bid could go towards the Pacific?



  • I haven’t yet been hit with Dark Skies however I thought the correctly response should be AA guns and infantry. You need men to chew up bomber attacks and AA guns can do that and target those on defense. I am not sure why people can’t get the idea of offensive attacks against Dark Skies is necessary. Germany didn’t buy enough infantry or artillery so once they run out, they are going to be very protective of their bombers and fighters.



  • Thank you for reply and suggestions!

    Thanks for PainState who patiently read my game and pointed out my problems - the UK troops and planes stacking at Russia and ME doing nothing.  There are various places that I can attack where the Axis is weak: China, Japan sea, Med, Russian Far East.  My opponents successfully exploited my “defend Moscow first, Middle East second, KJF at all cost” mentality and won!

    Thanks for Gargantua and wheatbeer’s advices.  I wonder if KGF first is a valid strategy in face of Dark Skies+J1?  For example at least to seize Scandinavia as a MIC production base for US in Europe.

    Caesar: In my previous game, because of Germany bombers protecting Europe, Italy was very safe to fully produce 1tank+4mech from turn5+ to reinforce Germany land stack at Brysank, making Russia (with income~10) impossible to crack the Germany land force.  This gives me a lesson that even in KJF, there must be UK/US subs conveying Italy to v. low income!



  • Aaa are not that overpowered against dark skies. You will spend 5 PUs to destroy on average 5 PUs of planes.  Yawn. Meanwhile you lose offensive capabilities. A couple might not be a bad investment but beyond that is not wise.

    Dark skies is so powerful because the Germans can project so much power into so many theaters of operation. In a traditional G40 match with no bid and no bizarre dice, I have yet to lose as Axis. Patience is one key. Also having some cannon foster troops in W Europe and Scandinavia make the bombers so much more devastating.



  • I personally don’t like Dark Skies simply because the Allies already have GDP and numbers on their side and I am too afraid to try it myself.



  • He got bombers so call him out.
    round 2 move your 2 carriers +4 air in US turn to gibraltar ( with the standard destroyer + cruisers and 2 transports )
    UK put destroyer in 110 if need be to block german navy. If italy tries to remove with his 3 air full 3 air scramble and unless he rolls really well just take air hits.
    Or let him clear the destroyer but make sure US has enough to clear SZ 91 of german fleet.

    Bring it on germany your 5 bombers vs 2 loaded carriers.
    Bring more air fine with me only place you land is algeria which my followup troops next round will invade and kill of landed planes.

    Just ensure that round 2 you buy stuff to make sure that if he manages to get his fleet off gibraltar ( which you should block )

    1 on 1 trade with US money vs german money is a good thing.

    And hit japan where they are not to slow them down. Try to kill the land forces nice if he has a navy but with empty transports he is no problem.


  • 2017

    @Caesar:

    I haven’t yet been hit with Dark Skies however I thought the correctly response should be AA guns and infantry. You need men to chew up bomber attacks and AA guns can do that and target those on defense. I am not sure why people can’t get the idea of offensive attacks against Dark Skies is necessary. Germany didn’t buy enough infantry or artillery so once they run out, they are going to be very protective of their bombers and fighters.

    I’m still new to this game…even newer when I played ABH about 6 months ago. Germany does buy enough ground units. He did Dark Skies on me both of the two games I played against him. The 2nd game he did a G1 purchase of 2 infantry / 6 artillery. It isn’t spamming bombers and no ground. It’s more like buying 2-3 bombers a turn starting G4 or G5 plus lots of mechs/artillery everywhere else (and a sub or two now and then for good measure). Also, in Dark Skies they might buy more mech than tanks because they’re a little cheaper and therefore can get more of them. Add a few tanks you already have and now that stack can defend. If the UK sends 16 fighters to Moscow, a nice German stack could go south…no worries though cause the Luffwaffe nuclear bomb is there to help them. Then the UK is forced to make a decision to try to air attack mechs/tanks which is costly or defend @4 which is costly. If the UK managed to get 16 fighters to Moscow then the middle east is lacking ground fodder. Oh by the way, when the UK air leaves Moscow, the next turn Germany bombs the Moscow Major back to the stone age.


  • 2017

    @hcp

    Gargantua is probably right and the only person here who has the wherewithal to defeat this type of stuff.

    The problem for me is that Germany doesn’t spam bombers right away in a well played Dark Skies game. Therefore, I don’t know the best formula for winning as the Allies. I suck at this game, even worse as the Allies.

    I’ve had a little luck with a KJF strategy I do. The best thing I could say is don’t let up on whichever side you go for. I don’t think you should respond to the Dark Skies unless you intended to do a KGF strategy.

    I’ve noticed that better players than me play slow and methodical to stall on whichever side I’m attacking. It’s annoying because they put themselves in a situation where their income is higher, they can defend, and then increase their TUV to the point that the Allies are just out built. If you let up against Japan because you’re scared that Germany is getting too powerful, still don’t let up. You won’t build enough US stuff in time to make a difference (hence your loaded carriers but not enough transports because you spent so much money on defense).

    It’s a race. You have to knock out one or the other when playing against a better player. If Germany first, the US needs to still spend a little to keep shucking-troops to Hawaii the whole time to guard that Victory City or risk all and spend 100% against Germany. If KJF, the UK has a tremendous task to try to hold onto the Middle East while supporting Moscow as long as possible. When Moscow falls, that hast to be the same turn that Japan has been shut forever ably out because now the US has to start flying a crap ton of fighter stacks to Cairo.

    In 1914 right before the Battle of the Marne, Russia attacked East Prussia. Moltke got scared and transferred two corp to the east. Those two corp were enroute in rail cars during the Battle of the Marne while at the same time the Russian offensive was stopped. Essentially, those two corp were not at either location at the critical moment. Just like in that 1914 real life example, don’t let up.



  • This seems like an easy strategy to counter.  According to odds calc, a bomber at cost 12 only beats 1inf + 1AAA about 28% of the time while costing 4 IPCs more.  2 bombers only beat 2inf + 1AAA about 38% of the time while costing 13 ipcs more.  So, this is not a great tradeoff for axis if other players make lots of inf.  The counter is for US/UK to go to Spain round 3.  Germany should only have 4 or 5 bombers in range so they cant attack the fleet on round 4.  USSR should be making all inf + 1 or 2 AAs per round.  Germany is in trouble as they have low ground units in Europe to counter because of the early bomber buys.



  • @aagamerz13:

    This seems like an easy strategy to counter.  According to odds calc, a bomber at cost 12 only beats 1inf + 1AAA about 28% of the time while costing 4 IPCs more.  2 bombers only beat 2inf + 1AAA about 38% of the time while costing 13 ipcs more.  So, this is not a great tradeoff for axis if other players make lots of inf.  The counter is for US/UK to go to Spain round 3.  Germany should only have 4 or 5 bombers in range so they cant attack the fleet on round 4.  USSR should be making all inf + 1 or 2 AAs per round.  Germany is in trouble as they have low ground units in Europe to counter because of the early bomber buys.

    Unfortunately, I don’t like the idea of giving Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey with a back door for Middle East oil if you do the Spanish Beachhead.


  • 2017

    @aagamerz13:

    Germany is in trouble as they have low ground units in Europe to counter because of the early bomber buys.

    This is the biggest misconnection about Dark Skies.
    Dark Skies purchases is:

    G1: 2 bombers / 1 sub. (G1 could also be 6 Artillery / 2 Infantry and it still be a Dark Skies Strategy)
    G2-3: All Ground (maybe 1 destroyer)
    G4: 3 Bombers / 3 tanks at Leningrad
    G5+: 2 Bombers / Ground (And maybe a sub here and there) - Enough ground units are purchased to push Russia back and move into Bryansk, then Rostov, and hold Stalingrad with the threat of Italian can openers.

    Italy also buys ground to help defend Europe too. If you think someone won’t maybe buy a stack of infantry right when 5 US transports make it to SZ 91, then yes, maybe you will have cracked it.

    I don’t know how to defeat it, but I do know it’s not as simple as you think.



  • Thank you for all your response!

    @Arthur:

    In a traditional G40 match with no bid and no bizarre dice, I have yet to lose as Axis.

    AB Harris: in your experience, how many bids do allies need to draw with the Dark-Skies+J1 strategy?  And for those  bid games that Allies, will the US focus more on Germany or Japan in the early games?

    @ShadowHAwk:

    He got bombers so call him out.
    round 2 move your 2 carriers +4 air in US turn to gibraltar ( with the standard destroyer + cruisers and 2 transports )

    ShadowHAwk: thanks for the advice - it seems your advice is an early-game full-KGF?  If yes, how many turns will you have before coming back to J1 Pacific?  and what would be the strategic objective to achieve in Europe before that?

    To: Ichabod
    Gargantua is probably right and the only person here who has the wherewithal to defeat this type of stuff.

    Yes, I treasure everyone’s advice in helping me to improve my next Allies games.

    The problem for me is that Germany doesn’t spam bombers right away in a well played Dark Skies game. Therefore, I don’t know the best formula for winning as the Allies. I suck at this game, even worse as the Allies.

    My last game seems to inform me that, we cannot over-protect Moscow - you see my UK-Russian/ME troops cannot do against strong German stack. 
    So I am thinking the allies are forced to make two decisions: first is to make Russia and ME “just enough” to defend, so that we can mobilize the largest amount of UK/US units to threaten Europe or East Asia.  And this comes the second decision: if you go for Europe, you will soon face crazy Japanese air+navy to take the last VC.  Otherwise, you face Germany bombers.  I am thinking which strategy will be better.

    I’ve noticed that better players than me play slow and methodical to stall on whichever side I’m attacking. It’s annoying because they put themselves in a situation where their income is higher, they can defend, and then increase their TUV to the point that the Allies are just out built. If you let up against Japan because you’re scared that Germany is getting too powerful, still don’t let up. You won’t build enough US stuff in time to make a difference (hence your loaded carriers but not enough transports because you spent so much money on defense).

    Yes, I will take your word of not to let up one side of the board.



  • @Ichabod:

    @aagamerz13:

    Germany is in trouble as they have low ground units in Europe to counter because of the early bomber buys.

    This is the biggest misconnection about Dark Skies.
    Dark Skies purchases is:

    G1: 2 bombers / 1 sub. (G1 could also be 6 Artillery / 2 Infantry and it still be a Dark Skies Strategy)
    G2-3: All Ground (maybe 1 destroyer)
    G4: 3 Bombers / 3 tanks at Leningrad
    G5+: 2 Bombers / Ground (And maybe a sub here and there) - Enough ground units are purchased to push Russia back and move into Bryansk, then Rostov, and hold Stalingrad with the threat of Italian can openers.

    Italy also buys ground to help defend Europe too. If you think someone won’t maybe buy a stack of infantry right when 5 US transports make it to SZ 91, then yes, maybe you will have cracked it.

    I don’t know how to defeat it, but I do know it’s not as simple as you think.

    In my previous game, knowing KJF, my opponents purchase:
    G1: 2bombers, 1tank
    G2: 5mech+5tank, bomber
    G3: 5mech+4tank
    G4: 3tanks at Leningrad, 4mech+3tank at Germany
    G5: 3tanks at Leningrad, 3tanks at Ukraine, 2bomber
    G6+: 4bombers + some leftover land units

    Just a curious question: why many Dark Skies buy one sub in first turn?  Normally UK has ~0 ships in Atlantic after moving into Med in UK1.



  • Convoy disruption would be the only good reason at that point. However, most UK players I know don’t abandon the home fleet for Italian disruption though that isn’t a bad idea. In my case, if Germany loses there navy and a good portion of their air force, it would be wise for UK to build transports and try snatch loose German territories like Norway and Finland.



  • @aagamerz13:

    This seems like an easy strategy to counter.  According to odds calc, a bomber at cost 12 only beats 1inf + 1AAA about 28% of the time while costing 4 IPCs more.  2 bombers only beat 2inf + 1AAA about 38% of the time while costing 13 ipcs more.  So, this is not a great tradeoff for axis if other players make lots of inf.  The counter is for US/UK to go to Spain round 3.  Germany should only have 4 or 5 bombers in range so they cant attack the fleet on round 4.  USSR should be making all inf + 1 or 2 AAs per round.  Germany is in trouble as they have low ground units in Europe to counter because of the early bomber buys.

    As Ichabod shows, Germany will be buying heavy land in G2-G3+.  Plus its superior starting land force which are good at attacking and defending, Russia who starts with only a lot of inf has low chance to catch up with Germany, not to mention Germany also have tact+fighters helping their defense.



  • I think the negative about Dark Skies is while you have units that have great defense, you don’t have the numbers and while USSR tends to rely on numbers since they can only really afford to rely on infantry and artillery will eventually lead to them over run Axis forces with numbers instead of the other way around.



  • Bids have moved to the 40 range in many League matches using standard G40 rules.  I definitely would not want to be Allies for less than 30. Against weaker Allied opponents I have done okay with spotting them a 100 bid.

    Caesar: you have been playing too many weak Axis players!



  • @Arthur:

    Bids have moved to the 40 range in many League matches using standard G40 rules.  I definitely would not want to be Allies for less than 30. Against weaker Allied opponents I have done okay with spotting them a 100 bid.

    Caesar: you have been playing too many weak Axis players!

    It’s hard where I live. I don’t have a lot of players for AnA, and every single game I have played always have the Axis being pacifist until turn 4. I am the only Axis player that does a J1. I haven’t made my mind up yet on Germany or Italy.

    On the other note, I don’t like the bid system anyways because you’re not restricted to how much money you request to add on the board and under the only bid I have ever seen tend to place units on weak spots that greatly break the Axis such as adding more destroyers for UK, adding more infantry to China, and in my case, adding artillery in USSR east.


  • 2018 2017

    the bid works great, its just deciding whether you need to use it or not.    Our recent G40 games seem pretty balanced, but that’s a combination of factors (took a break, trying new things, adding new players).

    having played this so many times, at this point the most interesting challenge is the vanilla Ger vs USSR can Russia survive.    There are still new dynamics to work out on the critical path, at least for me.



  • @taamvan:

    the bid works great, its just deciding whether you need to use it or not.    Our recent G40 games seem pretty balanced, but that’s a combination of factors (took a break, trying new things, adding new players).

    having played this so many times, at this point the most interesting challenge is the vanilla Ger vs USSR can Russia survive.    There are still new dynamics to work out on the critical path, at least for me.

    Well you got dice which can change things a lot, and you got player skill that also factors in.
    Bids should be seen not as a must but more like a handicap in golf.


  • 2019 2017 2016

    @Arthur:

    Bids have moved to the 40 range in many League matches using standard G40 rules.  I definitely would not want to be Allies for less than 30. Against weaker Allied opponents I have done okay with spotting them a 100 bid.

    Caesar: you have been playing too many weak Axis players!

    How much do you reckon adopting the BM SBR rules would change the starting bid? I reckon it should go pretty close to halving it.

    Footnote: Axis are looking good in the 2015 League Championship game for victory in the Pacific after a 40 bid for the Allies! Although J1 was extremely rough for the Allies.


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