The Bright Skies above Russian Counter-Atttack/Chinese Guerrilla



  • For the axis there has been a revolution in playstyle with the JDOW1 with a concentrated German push in Russia. Unfortunately, the concensus of Allied warfare seems to remain based on out-dated strategy, leading to the calls that the game is unbalanced, the allies need a bid, etc. Out-dated concepts are an infantry based Russia, invasion fleets of USA, UK focused on producing fighters for Russia, Siberian forces moving to Russia, and focus on containing Japan on sea instead of land.

    I present to you the Bright Skies/Russian Counter-Attack doctrine reloaded.

    Russian Doctrine: Counter-Attack
    Instead of the defensive infantry mindset, Russia should always be able to counter-attack, or relocate fast to different positions. It has a lot of starting infantry, and with a defense perimeter around Novgorod and Bryansk, both reinforced by artillery stacks, you can start massing mechanized infantry with some tanks. Due to Russian geography, you can become a lot more effective and dangerous with the bulk of your forces mechanized. This also fits more with the historical Russian doctrine, which has developed around the concept of the counter-attack instead of defense.

    Although the mechanized Russia thread and the Allied playbook focus on Gargantua’s approach of buying armor and mechanized infantry, I do not think this is the best approach. You have lots of infantry at the beginning, and will buy lots of mechanized infantry to build a mass of troops. What reinforces infantry best: artillery and air Support. Especially artillery will double the offensive capabilities, therefore I focus on building artillery in the first 2-3 turns, after which I switch to mechanized infantry with some tanks in the mix based on how Germany/Italy are doing.

    The second rule of Russia is to never allow Germany to attack a big stack with combined forces of land and air troops. The Luftwaffe always makes sure Germany has superiority, so divide your forces in the force of an attack (stopping Italian can opener). For example, you have an equal land stack as Germany and he is about to attack Novgorod. Divide your forces in five smaller forces, so when he obliterates your 1/5 group with his complete army + luftwaffe, you can counter-attack with 4/5 of your forces with your aircraft (while he has not luftwaffe).

    Focus on defending the northern route better than your southern rule, to lure the Germans to the south (as this takes more time and is more lucrative for Germany). This gives you also two options: retreat towards Moscow when German push is too strong, or ambush and destroy the Germans and start advancing on Europe/Scandinavia with UK/USA support.

    Chinese Doctrine: Guerrilla Warfare
    Guerrilla Warfare is about attacking where the enemy is weak, and not defending where the enemy is strong. Japan is an interesting enemy as it has even more overwhelming airforce than the Germans. Contrary to Germany, it is much harder for Japan to attack at all sides. It has to choose and commit, or perish due to stagnation. Whatever Japan chooses, the allies should be so aggressive that Japan loses ground in those 1-2 undefended areas.

    One of the more fragile areas for Japan is China. When China remains isolated, it can be easily destroyed within four turns without too much investment. Because it also generates little extra income for Japan, Japan is much more interested in capturing more areas at the same time, such as Spice Islands, Hong Kong/Malaya/Philippines, or Sydney/India. This last fact really helps China, as it just has to achieve 1 thing: survive.

    I found that the greatest support of China is it’s location, it can be easily supported by Siberians from the north, Russian armour and planes from the west, UK troops and planes from the south-west and ANZAC fighters from the south-east. Besides possible support from all sides, I really like the guerrilla rule of China that it can build anywhere, and has great attack possibilities with the Flying Tigers. A single turn of opened burma roads often spells doom for Japan in China, forcing him to abandon pacific victory due to difficult victory cities.

    The philosophy should again to never think defensive, but offensive. Never let the plane or crucial troops be attacked to defend an area, rather make sure you are able to conquer that specific area again in your next turn. The only moment the allies should commit to the defense is if they overwhelmingly can stack Yunnan, to empower China and make it independent enough to go on the offense. I personally always perceive those 18 Siberian Russians to be ‘Chinese’, destined for the survival of China. From that perspective, it means that China starts with 29 infantry + 1 fighter (assuming Yunnan/Hunan was destroyed J1) against 33 initial land troops of Japan in China.

    Why is China so extremely important for the allies? First of all, it defends Russia. This is the biggest advantage, as it enables Russia to focus 100% on Germany, who ideally also has to defend Europe from all sides that UK and USA are attacking. Secondly, it makes life for Japan hell on the mainland, as it needs to commit expensive and slow resources (factories/land troops) it can not invest in transports with troops for the important capital cities. Without the Chinese victory cities, Japan can not win on the Pacific against an focused allied front.

    United States Doctrine: Board Control / Denying Axis Logistics
    The reasoning behind this strategy is that logistics are the main problem of the USA, to get their economic superiority to a place where it can attack the Axis. Western Europe is very easy to defend for the Germans, so is Scandinavia as long as the Baltic Fleet lives. Yes it can be overpowered by the USA, but it takes the USA a lot of IPC to build a strong enough invasion force, time that is used by Axis to advance and win the game. The moment Scandinavia permanently falls to the Allies, might also be the moment the Germans take Moscow. Also by focusing on 1 Axis, it loses threat to the other Axis, that can go rampage. So how to solve these two fundamental problems of the USA: logistics and threat?

    The answer is simple I think: Strategic Bombers. From airbases they can move 7 zones, which is simply amazing, They have the strongest attack value in the game and are relative cheap. Even better, they can bomb industrial complexes therefore hurting the Axis economies, which is crucial for them to maintain momentum. There is one particular target the Strategic Bombers excel against: fleet. While Japan has such a big fleet, it will still take many turns to build enough Bombers to take out its fleet, both Germany and Italy are no great sea-faring nations with only small effective fleets. Germany prefers to build up its luftwaffe instead of its fleet, as its fleet is useless against Russia. Therefore the logical focus of the USA should be to take out Germany’s fleet as soon as possible resulting in SGF (Stop Germany First).

    Even before stopping Germany, the Axis have a much weaker partner, Italy. UK alone is already able to take out this medium Axis player when played aggressive, but the USA can finish them off without any investment. The USA have 3 initial transports and a relative strong fleet based for the Atlantic side. One transport will remain in the Pacific with several blockers to slow down Japan if they decide to attack the USA, but the rest will move to the Atlantic. In the Atlantic they get into the Med, kill any Italians left and then convoy it to death. So actually without any investment, the USA will use its initial forces to SIF (Stop Italy First). This should not be any problem or need much consideration.

    The mission of this strategy is to kill the German Baltic Fleet as soon as possible, and to do this with Strategic Bombers. It can build 4 bombers every turn, more when in war. In USA4 it can attack the Baltic States with 8 bombers, 9 if the USA is at war in his second turn (and the minor complex becomes a major complex). Normally 8 Bombers should be enough to finish the small Baltic Fleet if the Germans have focused on Russia. As soon the Baltic Fleet is destroyed, the Allied have a big strategic advantage where both the UK and Russia will take advantage off.

    A bit more about the destruction of the Baltic Fleet. The Baltic Fleet is crucial for the Germans to keep its Reich intact, but it is also very easy to defend, that is why the UK is normally not in the position to achieve that with traditional aircraft. Germany is also likely to want to keep its Baltic Fleet alive at all costs, and have two tools to achieve that. 1. investing in airbase in Germany, this is the best thing Germany can do and very cost effective taking in account it is likely to have enough fighters to scramble 6 of them in this case. There is nothing the USA can do except for building up its Bombers until it is strong enough. If Germany wants to rescue its Baltic Fleet the only thing it can do is 2. build up its fleet for more hits. This is great as all those ships are IPC that is not invested in artillery and tanks against Russia. So in any case you win, as you give Germany the choice between two bad options: 1. lose the Baltic Fleet or 2. build useless fleet.

    The first thing USA does with it’s fleet, is to occupy the Med and uses it’s transports to force the Italians to turtle (and invest all their IPC in the defense instead of can opening). All those initial warships should be used to convoy Italy to death, forcing Germany to support Italy if it does not want to lose Southern Europe/the Balkans.

    Other Allies
    I play the USA/Russia/China combined with other allied player who plays UK/ANZAC/France so that is why this strategy is focused on those allies.

    This fits best with an aggressive UK/ANZAC player who in the Europe map conquers Africa as soon as possible while keeping Egypt. It should be the UK who is doing amphibious assaults every turn in Northern Europe/Scandinavia from London, forcing Germany to commit forces to the defense that are thus not used on the offensive against Russia.

    In pacific, it works closely with China and Russia in containing Japan or making Japan suffer from spreading out too thin or attacking one specific area.

    I would like to end with this disclaimer from Gargantie: This works better in F2F scenario’s, as players are less likely to be able to unit-focus above 90%. (unlike online when they spend HOURS planning each turn)



  • The reason for the “out of date” strategic deployment of USSR is because Germany has 100% win over USSR.



  • @Caesar-Seriona said in The Bright Skies above Russian Counter-Atttack/Chinese Guerrilla:

    The reason for the “out of date” strategic deployment of USSR is because Germany has 100% win over USSR.

    Although I agree Germany against allied players focused on landings in Europe while the baltic fleet is still alive, with a stable and active can opening Italy, can 100% win over USSR.

    I do not agree that when:

    • Italy is the target of both USA initial troops + UK in the first turns (especially with JDOW1)
    • USA uses its first rounds to buy bombers that kill the baltic fleet + start bombing Europe,
    • Combined with amphibious assaults of an aggressive London with maximum IPC income (+5 bonus and Africa/ME in firm control),
    • Russia has been building artillery followed by mechanized infantry + tanks

    Germany can win over USSR without being overwhelmed in Europe. I think the all-changing crucial element to make this happen is the USA approach: Kill Italy First + bombers asap for the German fleet effectively making Scandinavia and it’s 10 IPC undefendable.

    The other belief is that the allies can slow down Japan long enough without a lot of USA support when focused on China (with Russia as the main game maker instead of USA).

    I short, it was NOT the United States of America, but Russia that was the Protagonist in the WWII. I believe the game is balanced to materialize this historical result. The Allies were supposed to be favoured for victory, not the Axis.

    The most important thing the allies should achieve, is to let Germany spend less on Russia than it normally does, while Russia should be focused on gaining as much IPC as possible. When this is achieved, the Russian can hold, and then push back Germany.

    Remember the greatest fear of German strategists: German’s central location between strong enemies, it can not win a two-sided war. I have a new battle this saturday, I will try to make pictures and write a battle report.



  • USSR is the Anti-Hero.

    But with the game at hand, USSR is forced into defensive infantry is because of how the Axis is placed. UK must sink as many Italian transports as it can because in terms of location, Italy has the easiest NO’s with all of them only being at most five territories away from Rome. The Japanese navy must face an equal enemy because it’s incredibly easy for it to contain its army on the water. China ins’t a death trap for Japan because Japan could in theory just place defense with Chinese cities and it wouldn’t hurt them in long term. China cannot stop Japan from invading India though I wish Chinese forces could go past Burma. Another issue too is that the reason why US forces target Italy first because it’s the easiest Axis nation to attack for it, it’s only two turns away or if Italy is doing great, US can hit it right out of the gates. Literally US can break an Italian NO in one move. Just begin Operation Torch.

    The biggest problem with Bright Skies I have is that you are playing UK too loose with the Middle East. My experience has shown me that Middle Earth is almost always a must.



  • @Caesar-Seriona said in The Bright Skies above Russian Counter-Atttack/Chinese Guerrilla:

    USSR is the Anti-Hero.

    But with the game at hand, USSR is forced into defensive infantry is because of how the Axis is placed. UK must sink as many Italian transports as it can because in terms of location, Italy has the easiest NO’s with all of them only being at most five territories away from Rome. The Japanese navy must face an equal enemy because it’s incredibly easy for it to contain its army on the water. China ins’t a death trap for Japan because Japan could in theory just place defense with Chinese cities and it wouldn’t hurt them in long term. China cannot stop Japan from invading India though I wish Chinese forces could go past Burma. Another issue too is that the reason why US forces target Italy first because it’s the easiest Axis nation to attack for it, it’s only two turns away or if Italy is doing great, US can hit it right out of the gates. Literally US can break an Italian NO in one move. Just begin Operation Torch.

    The biggest problem with Bright Skies I have is that you are playing UK too loose with the Middle East. My experience has shown me that Middle Earth is almost always a must.

    I agree with almost anything you say. You are likely right about the ME for UK, especially since Germany usually waits with it’s DOW. Next battle I will not want Iraq for Russia, just Somaliland + the Italian islands. This enables UK to play it’s strongest game.

    Don’t you agree that when India defense is build optimally (mass so infantry), with maximum fighter inflow of Russia, ANZAC and USA, India can be stopped from Japan amphibious assault?

    I do not think Japan can hold their cities when China is given all that IPC and space, as they become a monster very quickly.

    Indeed, Operation Torch is gold. Destroy Italy and win the Europe game. A dead Italy means Europe falling down east, north and south for the Germans. Rich and powerful UK that can focus solely on hurting Germany (+ only a few USA transports to open up Denmark). This forces Germany to try help Italy, which is less resources on Russia = Russian victory.



  • I’ve been trying to find offensive strategic moves against Axis Europe that wouldn’t hurt Moscow in short term. The only solution I can come up with is the hopes that Germany and Italy spread themselves too thin too soon. In other words, I hope the players have no idea what they are doing.

    The problem with Bright and Dark skies shows one simple weakness, you don’t have an army and bombers can’t take land.



  • @Caesar-Seriona said in The Bright Skies above Russian Counter-Atttack/Chinese Guerrilla:

    I’ve been trying to find offensive strategic moves against Axis Europe that wouldn’t hurt Moscow in short term. The only solution I can come up with is the hopes that Germany and Italy spread themselves too thin too soon. In other words, I hope the players have no idea what they are doing.

    The problem with Bright and Dark skies shows one simple weakness, you don’t have an army and bombers can’t take land.

    Why do you want USA/ANZAC to have either an army or take Axis land? What do the Allies overall benefit from them having an army/taking lands?

    My whole philosophy is: play towards your strength, not your weaknesses.

    Russia, China and UK excell in building land troops due to their location. Leave the land troop building to these powers.

    Russia: use the geography to play torched earth strategy, you have the space and factories to produce a lot of cheap land troops. Don’t waste IPC on fleet, factories and lots of expensive stuff such as planes/tanks.

    UK: you are one of the most interesting players in the whole game, as compared to everyone else, you can be anywhere, at any time. You can play with land troops, RAF and Royal Fleet. Capitals can be well defended while close to the action.

    China: build lots of cheap infantry, a trade of 1 chinese for 1 japanese is a good deal. As you as you are not wiped out, you will survive and annoy Japan as long as possible.

    ANZAC and USA are not based in Eurasia, therefore, it takes a lot of effort and IPC to get their land troops to the coast, and even more difficult to capture/hold mainland factories. Why try to do something Russia, China and UK do much better?

    What Russia, China and UK are unable to do, is providing overwhelming airpower that hunt fleets, negate any safe landing spots for German / Japanese aircraft (bombers) and bomb factories. It is the purpose of both USA and ANZAC to lower the Axis income and logistics, so it becomes an equal match for the other allies.

    In summary: the purpose of USA/ANZAC is not to fight the Axis, it is their purpose to damage and hamper the Axis to such extent, that it becomes an (un)equal fight for Russia, China and UK. For every IPC that the Axis lose due to actions of USA/ANZAC, is a big plus, and it is enough to secure victory. I’m not sure if I am able to bring this message accros, maybe I should say it this way.

    Without USA/ANZAC hampering Axis, the Axis overpower the Eurasian Allies.
    With USA/ANZAC leverage, the Axis become overpowered by the Eurasian Allies.

    If you start realizing this, the Allies will experience the same enlightenment as the Axis once did.



  • ANZAC needs to build a defense for otherwise Australia will be taken at some point, and US needs an army because you want France back in the game as soon as possible. France building an army helps Moscow.


  • 2018 2017

    @Afrikakorps @Caesar-Seriona The Germans have so much money and air power, moscow is screwed–in plenty of versions you’ll need fighters to stop that from happening. Russia starts with nothing–the Axis start with over 30 planes. Your plan of crossing the atlantic and forcing the Germans/Italians to get ready to stop that is great, but America isn’t calling that part of the plan, Japan is.

    Its a great game, a great setup, and a great map. What is missing is that the Axis get a bit too much power/money so that they have .5-1.5 turn more time than the Allies can afford. The Global map and plane plies give them too many advantages for the Allies to overcome that in any situation or time frame. Taking away 1 combat air pair would be game changing. Giving russia a bit more air/armor or Germany less money would be game changing. Any other approach fails to recognize that the Axis are too flexible for any 1 attack approach to work and that why the game feels so chesslike.

    In preparation for Gencon 2021, Dave and I have returned to playing G42 and that version is even faster, more chesslike, and emphasizes these factors even more but the Axis have to attain a very specific set of territory goals (all original territory, all china, all spice, all the 2+3+4 value territories to attain economic victory after 7 hours and 7 turns of regulation play). That game is very closed to being balanced and its up to great play, luck and endurance.



  • @taamvan I personally think that 1940 simply wasn’t play tested correctly or not play tested enough. It really bugs the crap out of me that Germany has a 100% win over USSR thus forcing USSR to get help from the Allies or hope that Germany plays dumb. Point being is that the bid allows some flex ability for USSR. It helps even more when the bid is directly put into USSR which I’ve done in my last two games as the Allies. Only then can USSR flex some muscle.


  • 2018 2017

    @Caesar-Seriona Most of the AxA games have balance/geometry issues. Most wargames do. As a community, we’ve playtested the map+setup for 100000s of hours. That can’t possibly be expected of the designers/original playtesters. The core Global map is a masterpiece–you can make custom games and setups for any era from 1936-2020. HBG has gone even further and made a more complex map and setup. I’ve also laid out my tweak, there’s G42, BM, Sired’s setup. I’m not a huge fan of events, new units, and other house rules in general but there is a myriad of choices out there–as some have pointed out these variations would all need to be vetted and playtested to death to know if they are balanced.

    I really like the G42 setup and the 7 hour/7 turn environment, and hope to repeat in 2021. Same Siredblood–I don’t think that ruleset is well playtested yet but its well thought out and its a good new environment to try.



  • I don’t buy it. It doesn’t excuse USSR to be this weak. The only conclusion I can come up with is ether they didn’t test Germany vs USSR enough OR they wanted USSR to be this weak.


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