1941 Balance?



  • My friend and I have been playing 1942 set up. I’m much better than he is just because I’m more experienced with 1942 (1st ed) and Revised.

    1941 seems very popular, and I want to try it, but I’ve heard it’s skewed heavily toward the Axis. And also the Allies.

    So if we play 1941, which side should I (as the more experienced player) play if we want a balanced game? Or does it matter?

    We don’t use NO or bids.


  • 2020 2019 2018

    1941 without NOs is more balanced than 1942 scenario.

    People are saying 1941 scenario is broken because with NOs turned on Axis catch up to Allied economy extremely quickly while maintaining their huge advantage in starting forces. This is mainly because within the first two turns Axis will achieve most of their NOs while locking the Allies out of theirs.

    When you play without NOs, the gap between the Axis and Allied economies becomes much larger, making it much more difficult for the Axis to catch up.



  • @Afterword:

    So if we play 1941, which side should I (as the more experienced player) play if we want a balanced game? Or does it matter?

    You should play the allies, they need to coordinate their efforts more efficiently in order to have a better chance of winning.  Your greater experience with the game will enable you to do this much better than the player with less experience.



  • I see people talking about the Axis being heavily favored in a 41 scenario with national objectives….I played my first game with this and I am having trouble seeing how the Axis can be so favored. The game seems quite balanced so far, I played as the Axis and had my first advance into Russia stopped completely. I actually lost all the Russian territory I gained because I ran out of troops. Russia and the UK took Finland and Norway from me and I had no way of replacing that income easily. The US actually landed on France for a turn because I was trying to push as hard as I could into Russia and understaffed The Western front.

    Japan was able build, but not quickly. I ran out of men to use to take over Indonesian territories and since the UK built an Indian factory turn 1 they were churning out three units a turn which again I ran into the problem of not having enough troops fast enough to push the UK out of Asia. China fell but that took a while.

    I wasn’t able to finish the game…but my GF and I were about 4-6 turns in and it felt like a 50/50 match at that point. to sum up where we finished at:

    Germany: having to rebuild from the first Russian offensive falling apart. Still in a strong position but definitely up in the air.
    Russia: weakened by Japanese incursions in the far east but holding strong in the west after regaining all original territory from Germany
    Japan: getting quite strong, eliminated the Chinese, pushed into East Russia, having to deal with a UK factory in India still
    UK: Being a pain in Japan and Germany’s neck, building ships in the Atlantic and churning out units in India.
    Italy: weak still, pushed out of Africa by the UK and a US incursion into Africa, but gaining steam because US was pushed out and UK troops from middle East and Egypt almost exhausted.
    US: had a large fleet in Pacific, about to have a showdown with Japan. Bulding bombers to run bombing raids on Germany and Italy.

    Also the Axis were not even close yet in money to the Allies, still basically only making half what the Allies were making total.

    I felt our dice rolls were pretty even, no one had bad luck really. I am finding it hard to see where the Axis are supposed to just jump ahead and have an advantage really.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    It sounds like you had a fun first game, maverick_76! It’s not unreasonable to feel like the game is balanced while you’re still learning it; after all, if the imbalances were obvious, they would have caught them during playtesting!

    From your description, it sounds like there are two major areas where you could improve your play as the Axis: (1) stockpile the resources you will need to achieve your goals, even if that means letting some of your attacks slow to a halt for a turn or two, and (2) focus on and crush the most important Allied threats, even if that means temporarily ignoring some opportunities in other parts of the board.

    You describe Britain pulling troops west from Egypt and the Middle East to harass Italy – but you also say the UK built a factory in India. That means the UK has nothing to reinforce the Indian factory with other than what the UK can build in the factory itself…which means the factory is a huge target for the Axis! You should have been thinking about how you can crush that factory and seize it for yourself at virtually all costs. Instead, you killed every last infantry in China, and occupied a bunch of $1 territories in eastern Russia. That’s fine if Japan has nothing better to do, but the troops you sent up north or into central Asia could have been used against India and gotten you better results. Seizing a British factory is a huge deal. Knocking China down from two infantry to zero infantry is not a huge deal.

    You describe running out of troops with Germany, and running out of Japanese men to take over Indonesian territories. That means you need to establish a pipeline ahead of time. Anticipate your losses: how many Axis infantry will die on turn 2? On turn 3? How many infantry will you need to build to replace them? Where will you build them? How will you get them to the front lines? Do you have enough transports to ship them there? Do you have enough factories near the front lines to build them nearby? If not, how will you get some? Germany can often take and hold Leningrad, which is a major source of infantry reinforcements. If you take central Russia but don’t hold Leningrad, Stalingrad, or Moscow, then (much like the real life Germans) you’re vulnerable to attacks from all sides and far away from your supply lines. You need to take and hold either Leningrad or Stalingrad (or both!) early in the game so that you have a way to resupply. For Japan the issue is less about factories (although one new factory can still be useful in French Indochina, Burma, Borneo, or Shanghai) and more about transports and infantry. You need to be building an average of about 4 land units a turn in Tokyo, and you need enough transports to continuously cycle back and forth from Tokyo to Indonesia. That probably means a minimum of 4 living transports in your core sea zones: 2 to return to Tokyo each turn, and 2 to drop off troops in Borneo / East Indies / Indochina. If some of your transports are dying each turn, or moving to far away regions like Persia or Australia, then you need to build new transports to replace them.



  • Heavily favored for one side or the other always assumes equal skill/strategies as well as “average luck” of players involved in all sides… obviously if one side is just using better or worse strategies than their opponent or someone gets really “diced” in important battles this “heavily favored” factor can be nullified or reversed…

    In the end, no matter who is favored,  that’s why you play the game.



  • I agree that because it was my first game playing it, that my strategy wasn’t strong. I tried to push too hard with Germany and not establish a strong supply line. Tried to achieve all German Objectives with the first strong push I could make.

    With Japan I had all of my transports alive still, and I was building ground units. I decided to push by landing units in North Asia and sweep across the continent, picking up income as I went. I also had bad luck with the Philippines, took me two turns to take that, having to waste units that normally would have been in Asia pushing for the Indian factory. Japan though is pretty sparse for ground units to start out, I didn’t feel that they came on strong until at least turn 3 on the ground at least.

    You are right that it would be a better strategy to attack South Asia first and ignore China, but they could become pesky still if you let them linger too long.



  • I think the important thing is to set yourself up for a 3rd turn India if they make a factory Turn 1. Axis > allies 1941 🙂



  • The Axis advantage is indeed noticeable in the 1941 scenario (and even the 1942).  The major problem is that the Axis can smash whatever early plans the Allies have.  A careful German invasion of Russia will neuter the Soviets, and Japan can virtually take the whole Pacific with minimal resistance.  An Indian factroy is really important to take out as Japan.  Always position yourself to claim India early.

    After that, its usually a battle between how quickly the Allies can halt Japan or crush Germany and Italy.  Quite amusingly, in my opinion, the Axis usually win by Japan invading the USSR and taking Moscow (or letting the Germans do so).  One of the small yet major issues is China.  After Japan has taken India, it can plow right through China and eastern Russia to take Moscow for the win.



  • This is interesting. What do you feel the advantage is for the Axis in terms if you play 100 games, how many would the Axis win if both players were equal skill?


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    With no bid for the Allies, no tech, national objectives on, no fighter interception, and the Turkish Straits closed? Axis win 85 out of 100 games. With Turkish straits open, Axis win 95 out of 100 games.



  • Wow, if it was 60/40 or even 70/30 I’d say that isn’t too bad…but 80-95% success for the Axis is crazy.

    Well I have definitely not played enough or are skilled enough to be able to see the unbalanced nature yet. Also we played with tech and that actually sucked some money out of both sides trying to get a leg up.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    It takes a while to see how to use optimal Axis strategies! If it were obvious after one or two plays, then the playtesters would have found it. When people are relatively new to the game they inject a bit of randomness into the strategy – instead of always making the best play every turn, sometimes they’ll use a ‘good’ tactic or even a ‘mediocre’ tactic. Even when those so-so tactics show up equally on both sides, they tend to delay the game a bit and make it run longer. Ruthlessly crushing Russia, for example, requires flawless play. If both Germany and Russia make a few mistakes, then Russia will probably survive for a bit longer, on average. But the longer the game goes, the more the Allies have an advantage: the larger Allied income has more of a chance to make up the difference against the bigger starting Axis armies, and the Allies have a chance for their investments in transports, factories, etc. to start paying off.



  • See that is what I noticed, even though the game was 50/50 when I stopped, I felt that unless I could knock Russia out within the next 2-3 turns that the Allies would have been able to steamroll me with superior income, they were hitting on most of their objectives still so the disparity was 2:1 in income ratio.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Yes, knocking out the Allied national objectives is definitely a key part of optimal Axis play! Because objectives get collected based on the state of the board at the end of each player’s turn, you have to be able to take and hold a key territory to shut down each objective.

    To shut down Britain, you can take and hold Egypt or Australia. Taking and holding Gibraltar is usually harder, but can work if the Brits build a factory in Cairo and don’t build much navy. You also need to make sure to leave enough infantry in France (along with maybe an AA gun or a fighter) so that Britain can’t trade with you in France. This can sometimes mean building mostly infantry as Germany on turn 1!

    To shut down Russia, you can either take Leningrad early and then move into Archangel, or you can just put so much pressure on Moscow that the Allies are compelled to send in foreign units (usually fighters) to defend the Russian capital. Sometimes you can also pressure Stalingrad, forcing Britain to bring in infantry reinforcements from Persia, but that’s less common.

    To shut down America, again, you need to leave plenty of infantry in France, and you also need to make sure Japan takes and holds the Philippines no later than turn 2. Taking Wake Island or the Solomon Islands to shut down America’s Pacific Islands objective is a nice addition, but it’s not always a cost-effective use of your resources…it depends what America is doing. If America is going heavy into the Pacific, you’ll be hard-pressed just to defend your starting territory as Japan. But if America abandons the Pacific, don’t let America collect Pacific income for free!



  • I’ve actuallly never played Anniversary with NOs.  What is the general opinion on how it affects balance?  I always thought I looked too good for the Axis.



  • From my one play through, I thought it was quite balanced to be honest. But people that have played the game much more say it slants even more in favor of the Axis because they claim that the axis can meet their objectives quickly and also block allied objectives quickly…making the Axis have parity in terms of income early in the game which makes it almost impossible for the allies to win.



  • Agree with Maverick, as the National Objectives are easier to obtain for the Axis and harder for the Allies to maintain/achieve.

    My play group modifies the bonus from 5 IPCs to 4 IPCs to minimize the difference/impact



  • One thing that I think can level the game is if the allies can invest in tech and hopefully get it early in the game. Heavy bombers especially can devastate the Germans if the UK or USA can get that.



  • @maverick_76:

    One thing that I think can level the game is if the allies can invest in tech and hopefully get it early in the game. Heavy bombers especially can devastate the Germans if the UK or USA can get that.

    Yahtzee!

    Sure, this is a good way to win with OOB rules.  However, you may win by the dice or die by the dice… rolling 4+ dice for ones (as in Germanys AAA flak shots at your bombing runs) has an inherent great variability in the results.

    Germany could try for increased factory tech to offset your bombing run, so there is that counter o an allied bombing strategy (albeit not a very strong counter)


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Yeah, it’s important to keep track of what question you’re really asking.

    If the question is “Can I imagine a way that the Allies can win against a competent opponent using out of the box rules?” then the answer is “Yes, sure, that’s possible; there are strategies that give the Allies some chance to win.” Specifically, they give the Allies a chance to win of about 25%. Even getting odds as good as 25% for the Allies requires using very luck-dependent strategies like rolling a lot of dice for tech…at which point the game starts to feel much more like Yahtzee (mostly luck) than Power Grid (mostly skill). Personally, I’d rather not play a four hour game that’s mostly about luck and that gives one side a much better chance of winning…but to each their own. If you and you friends enjoy that sort of thing, then more power to you.

    On the other hand, if the question is “Do the Allies have a roughly even chance to win using out of the box rules?” then the answer is “No, no, they don’t.” This second question is usually what people are talking about when they ask if a game is balanced. Out-of-the-box Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition 1941 setup is not balanced.



  • I would love to get more games under my belt to see how much tech can influence the game. Also I’d love to see how viable my “bomb Germany to smithereens” approach is. That is how I won with the Allies the last game I played. Just forced Germany to have to repair factories every turn. And when the UK scored heavy bombers…I didn’t even have to use US bombers anymore.

    I agree that this game could have been just luck for me but that definitely stokes my fire to try it again and see if it was just a one hit wonder on my part.



  • Old topic, i know…just wanted to state my experiences here. In general, playing with NOs and out of the box, the axis seems far more favored than the allies. I modified some tactics, coordinating the axis-moves more than usual. First u can afford to buy some bombers as german too, if u do not press too hard to russia in the beginning. U still can press a lot, but russia can stay in the game for some turns without being a serious thread. Germany will always be able to secure the frontline. Bombers to attack UK for economy proved a great advantage. It brings the UK in a more defensive position. Japan can still attack China/eastern russia and make island-hopps in the pacifik (depends a bit on american strategy). So in general u can just “bleed out” russia. Africa i just land some german troops (if u can land 1-2 fighters, that makes it really hard for the UK). Just enough to be secure. I always let italy ignore africa, stocking italy with ground units to be able to invade africa, but using them mostly to counter-attack invasion of france directly. "After 1-2 rounds italy is strong enough to counter an allied attack on france, freeing the german troops to march east (depending how well it worked out for Japan it is often not even necessary to push with full force, freeing more german troops for africa). Axis win easy 80-90% of the time this way. Only working strategy against seems to go full pacifik with US, leaving UK in a really weak position (often pressed by Japan in asia, just able to hold india and perhaps parts of africa). The key seems (in my opinion) using the underestimated italian forces to secure the western part of europe and wait for the germans to sweep africa. I tried to stop that as ally-side once with a massive invasion of US/UK troops in africa instead of france. This meant, Japan grew strong really fast in the pacific. In this game the position of germany grew weak, but Japan was so strong it seemed unstoppable.
    To mark the point: Playing out of the box favors Axis totally, leaving them all opportunities. The allies mostly only can react to that, not really able to turn the game until they get a really good dice roll or two. Tech seems a good way to counter that but germany can afford tech too early in the game if it does not sacrifice too much troops in the beginning (easily makeable by not pressing to russia with full force).


  • 2018 2017

    @Seadog

    I find this discussion very unusual. In both versions, I find a MASSIVE allied advantage. That’s without tech or NOs, but the advantage is even bigger with NOs as I see it (because France is worth $11, $16 if its held over both powers turns, and even more $22 if they both capture it on one turn).

    This has to do with the geometry of the map–its an easy path to get fighters to moscow. Also, Russia has plenty of troops to start the game. KGF is devestating on Germany–even buying subs and infantry all game the fleet that comes is not going to be stopped by a cruiser and half a dozen planes and subs because both US and UK have strong fleets.

    The tournament has some different rules, but it still shows a 9-7 victory for allies at a <6 bid. I’d say a realistic bid is somewhere more like 13-22 for Axis and I still dont know how they’d win.



  • @taamvan said in 1941 Balance?:

    @Seadog

    I find this discussion very unusual. In both versions, I find a MASSIVE allied advantage. That’s without tech or NOs, but the advantage is even bigger with NOs as I see it (because France is worth $11, $16 if its held over both powers turns, and even more $22 if they both capture it on one turn).

    This has to do with the geometry of the map–its an easy path to get fighters to moscow. Also, Russia has plenty of troops to start the game. KGF is devestating on Germany–even buying subs and infantry all game the fleet that comes is not going to be stopped by a cruiser and half a dozen planes and subs because both US and UK have strong fleets.

    The tournament has some different rules, but it still shows a 9-7 victory for allies at a <6 bid. I’d say a realistic bid is somewhere more like 13-22 for Axis and I still dont know how they’d win.

    I would LOVE a bid of 14 in AA50-41, OOB rules, no tech, NO’s, Dardenelles open! Even with pure luck dice, Africa falls by round 3, at the latest, India J2 (trading is fine with Japan) and Italy gets both NO’s, and then some.


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