If you’ve played previous versions of AxA, you know that when you are assigned Germany, that you have at your disposal a Cadillac team that win or lose, is going to have a variety of units, strategies, and resources at its disposal. Later versions that emphasize a “42” scenario often give the strategic initiative to the Allies, so that Germany has to take some early knocks to represent the Eastern Front battles in real life before they can recover and rage.
The second situation seems more apt to AAZ. The Russian player can open by moving all of his forces into West Russia. Bring it all; after a few casualties, this should be 10 infantry, 2 arty, 2 armor. Germany, having only 1 bomber, 6-7 tanks and 2 fighters cannot reliably dislodge this stack–each time I’ve tried, I regretted it. Nine Zombies. Six Zombies. Eleven Zombies. Then Russia simply backs up and continues its defensive war with a wall of zombies between Germany and Moscow.
Russia has a very low income in this version, and the US has a very high one, in proportion to other versions. I think this is because the zombies make a direct assault impossible–give more money to Russia and it cannot be taken. Give less money to the USA, and it cannot build the navies it needs to intervene on either side of the world. The more you attack Russia the more zombies you have to deal with, and then you are just hoping that the Allies don’t get to move the zombies around, creating dead zones or walls over most of Germany’s territory and attack lanes.
Germany starts on the defensive, and after G1, all of my land and air units are in the Balkans. I don’t want to expend my precious units as blockers or killing zombie stacks. Backing my existing fleets is difficult; the BB in the Baltic would need a carrier, but I don’t have the fighters to stock it. I don’t have the money to buy numerous DDs as cannon fodder. Even if I spent all my money up there, the fact that there are no Straights of Denmark means that the UK and USA units can come right in.
The med isn’t more appealing. I start with one DD and one TT. Most of my money would be required to protect this, it has to stand completely still, so I can’t invade Egypt. Attacking Egypt is pretty appealing considering how easy this German fleet is to pick off, because once it’s lost, Germany has no navy and typically, for the rest of the game. With 2 tanks, 1 infantry and 1 artillery, I can start taking over some money to make up for what I can’t get in Europe, at the end of the last game, I was up $6 in this region.
If the dice go well, Germany can eliminate all the Allied transports on turn 1, buying some time. If they don’t go so well, Germany will be looking at a very early invasion threat.
In my practice games, I tried some splitting, building 1 USA CV off the east coast, but putting all my UK assets with a purchased UK CV off Australia. This ended up being a horrible move, as Japan can easily checkmate you by moving in close and separating you from the USA. This is possible pretty much any time the USA doesn’t go 100% KJF. The map is small enough that the UK can’t hide from the combined Japanese fleet…even though Japan only starts with modest forces in comparison to other versions, that doesn’t recognize how powerful the one fleet it can field from the game start is.
On the other hand, going 100% Atlantic is a great idea. Russia is much harder to bowl over, and the coordination between the US and UK is pretty easy to accomplish. there is no quick way across the Atlantic as in other editions, but I can start moving from Canada to the west coast of the UK and go from there. Cutting off Scandinavia with Russians or zombies isn’t too hard, so this would be a fine landing place, and the UK can contribute 2 planes to this goal. By ALLIES 4, Germany should have some difficult choices–Kreigsmarine navy doesn’t appear viable, a stack of tanks or planes will take Germany time to build with an average income around 20-25.
To sum up, Germany is left with difficult choices. The scaling of this map and reduction in rules complexity means there are few sanctuaries or places to hide. By G3, your navy should be mopped–a further commit, even to subs, seems folly when both the US and UK should have Grand Fleets off Europe by ALLIES 4. Africa is a safe place for Germany to play, but the party is short. The normal solution to all of these things would be—attack Russia and defeat it quickly, but good luck with that–you will primarily be fighting zombies and you lack the early game strike capability to ward off or deter the Allies.
Given that armor has been discounted and improved, and doesn’t morph into hordes of zombies, that is what I will be buying the next game with Germany. Some of the techs encourage diverse unit purchases, some of the techs don’t help Germany very much as it is situated from the game start (transports, air strikes, artillery…). The two techs that are game changers for every team IMO are ZIBRA and mind control–the ZIBRA suits alter the balance to make infantry cost-effective and appealing, and the ray lets you manipulate zombies regardless of what units you currently have or would like to buy. The other techs are fun but if you get randomized, they may not help any given team at the moment you get the tech.