Five players this time, who decided to play one sociable game.
We missed a number of regular players who, for a variety of reasons, were unable to join us on this occasion. But a warm welcome to Andrew (h0lym0nk) who joined us for the first time.
It was decided to play Anniversary (1941 set up). Sides were allocated randomly, but with a 15 bid to the Allies:
Mark (Credulous) - US & China
Mike (Aftertaste) - UK
Dave - Russia
Adam (Private Panic) - Germany & Italy
Andrew (h0lym0nk) - Japan
The 15 bid was used to add a US aircraft carrier to the Atlantic.
Both Germany and Japan started well. Germany captured Egypt turn 1 and gained Leningrad and moved its eastern stack adjacent to Moscow by the end of turn two.
Japan captured the Philippines and the money islands in turn 1 and quickly then took out China and captured India.
The cloud on the Axis horizon was an unassailable allied fleet off Norway. The Allies also built a factory in South Africa, which eventually lead to the recapture of Egypt, as the Axis decided it should focus its resources against Russia.
Germany and Italy were able to stack both France and Germany sufficiently to deter Allied landings, but Norway could not be so easily defended. Significant battles in Norway and later Finland were probably “honours even”, with the advantage to Germany that no US ground units remained in the ETO. The US supply line was cut by the Italian navy venturing into the Atlantic and German bombers in France. But all of this took a lot of German units away from Russia.
Meanwhile, however, Japan used factories in FIO and India to advance upon Caucasus from the south. At the same time the IJN gained total mastery of the Pacific. 8-)
Despite German SBRs on Moscow, when Russia abandoned Caucasus and consolidated in Moscow the German eastern stack was forced to retreat. Russia used this opportunity to retake Caucasus and advance west against Germany. This lead to a defining battle in Belarus in which Germany killed 23 Russian units at the cost of just 11 of its own. Japan also had sizeable forces to bring to bear against the smaller Russian stack in Caucasus.
At the end of the day it was agreed that the Axis had the advantage, with Russia looking decidedly vulnerable to combined Axis assaults. However, that advantage was insufficiently clear to represent a clear Axis victory and the game was declared a draw.
Until the very end to game had been poised on a knife edge with the advantage moving from one side to the other. A really enjoyable game.