For the lead-in, nicely said, and fair enough.
But discussion and actual play games don’t make my views clear.
With discussion, it’s something like
“Why did you leave an infantry at Buryatia?”
“To pressure Japan”
“Sure, but why won’t Japan just hit Buryatia with infantry from Manchuria and a fighter?”
“But that’ll tie up Japanese air”
“What else is Japan going to use it for?”
“Hawaiian Islands, cleaning up UK’s fleet”
“What does UK plan to do with its fleet?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.”
“What do you want?”
“I hadn’t thought about it”
“So you left an infantry at Buryatia without really thinking through the details. But if UK does this, and this, and this, then Japan cleans up UK’s fleet, hits Buryatia, and can counter any US1 push to Iwo Jima”
“Iwo Jima? Why?”
“US can interdict both of Japan’s sea zones from there, destroying any new unprotected submarine builds. Japan can unite its fleet at one of Japan’s sea zones to protect newly built subs but that locks Japan’s navy to that sea zone, meaning its transports aren’t free to develop Japan’s position in Asia. So Japan doesn’t want that to happen, but Japan can prevent it anyways.”
“But then US has a carrier and fighter and sub at Hawaii, that’s worth 30 IPCs”
“Yes, but Japan doesn’t care because 1942 Online’s altered mechanics mean UK and US can’t work together for KJF properly at all. Here, I’ll give you a link”
“This is a lot, I can’t . . .”
“It’s okay. So anyways, what was your projection on G4’s attack into West Russia?”
“I mean, you just completed USSR’s combat phase; we’re in noncombat now. What were the expected percentages and contingencies off Germany’s expected responses?”
“Germany’s fourth turn?”
“Yes, you know how many USSR units were lost at West Russia and Ukraine. You can project Germany’s builds and counter. It’s okay, you don’t have to do full builds, but you do need to have at least the most probable and an estimation of risk.”
“Germany knows you lost four units at West Russia and did badly at Ukraine. USSR’s defense is tight given regular dice, with unfavorable dice we know Germany will try to choke off USSR’s income quite early, because why wouldn’t they? If you keep that infantry at Buryatia, it’s not going to be able to reinforce West Russia on R4, which means you must have calculated the G4 projections.”
“What I think happens - Japan has no reason not to hit Buryatia, so it does, with enough that probably the USSR infantry dies and even if lucky doesn’t inflict significant losses to Japan. Germany tries to choke off West Russia, and who knows how the dice will go, but right now, just off what we’re seeing, we expect Germany to do well. The USSR infantry is wasted on Buryatia, and though infantry are cheap, it’s still 3 IPCs worth of unit that you won’t get back, in a bad-odds defense, for no positional advantage.”
“But I have three infantry at Yakut”
“All right, so let’s say you commit 12 IPCs of units to slowing Japan from conquering 1-2 IPCs worth of territory for perhaps one turn. You weaken your stacks in Europe for later, and you will want those numbers when the time comes. Even then, what is the opportunity cost of the units you commit to the east? Do you just keep that infantry on Yakut? If Japan drops more units to Soviet Far East and/or Buryatia, and again why wouldn’t they, how do you fight off even three Japanese ground units plus three air units? 3 IPCs of infantry were already lost at Buryatia, now another 9 IPCs of infantry at Yakut, and again, we expect Germany not to hit West Russia right about then because . . .?”
“Oh, I remember, you mentioned this, UK and US just fly in fighters.”
“Yes, and I also mentioned the more fighters UK and US build, the less transports and escorts they have in the Atlantic.”
“So I retreat from West Russia”
“Yes, so USSR’s position collapses, Germany gets more income to feed into its superior stack sizes and logistics, you used 12 IPCs of units to protect 3 or 4 IPCs worth of territory for 1 or 2 turns against Japan whose stack sizes weren’t the immediate threat, granting Germany which is the immediate threat 4 IPCs of solid income as Belorussia is no longer contested and West Russia is contested. I don’t say that’s wrong, but you see how that’s against just about every principle I explained about stack building and bleeding, the expected projections of KGF and anti-KGF, so what is it that USSR gains, precisely, with that infantry at Buryatia?”
“It can’t make that much difference.”
“Well, here you see in the sixtieth percentile it makes a twelve percent difference in expected outcomes for a major stack battle of 250 IPCs. Now you see how close this is to what I said was the general tipping point, and how the two-peak model and Germany’s being able to retreat then move up reinforcements is not the same as USSR’s having to defend a major stack and if losing it probably lose the game outright. The projection supports Germany attacking, even if Germany gets bad dice it can still retreat and expect to win the game, if Germany gets good dice then the game basically ends right there. So why would Germany not attack? What advantage do we gain from leaving an infantry in Buryatia that offsets that twelve percent swing in projected outcomes?”
(Fudging the numbers, but it can actually be calculated.)
“I’ll move that infantry out of Buryatia.”
Long and meandering, yes. But it’s all relevant (and by the way, far from complete). And that’s if you have a player that already knows all the basic theory and some simpler applications.
If it’s not discussion but actual games, players only see what happens after the fact, not the reasoning. That game where US bought six battleships and blew Japan out in the Pacific, people don’t understand battleships are bad, they don’t think about Japan spending 60 IPCs on industrial complexes it didn’t even use, they judge by results. “Wow, battleships”. I don’t like calling it post hoc as that comes off as dismissive, and how else can players judge results except through their experiences? But it is what it is.
Keep it short? But that leaves things unaddressed.
Suppose I just kept it short and said UK1 eleven ground units, no consideration of UK2, G3, whatever. Just boop, G2 London probably doesn’t happen, left it at that. Short. Simple. But also inadequate.
What if I then say UK1 eleven ground units, UK2 three ground units save 19 IPC, UK3 fleet drop carrier, destroyer, transports, US3 reinforces, UK4 the Australia transport makes joins the rest of the fleet. Then I say UK transposes out of excess land units on London with five transports offloading from London a turn into a slightly altered version of the same basic KGF used against a 11 inf 2 art buy, only of course now Germany’s down a load of ground units. Doesn’t that seem plausible?
But it’s not. Because when UK doesn’t put the pressure on Germany, Germany has any number of options including Baltic fleet reinforcement and unification of the Baltic and Mediterranean fleets. G2 control of the Atlantic means the Allies cannot be certain they can hit the Baltic sea zone with destroyers, as Germany has a load of navy and air in range to blow up any destroyers in range. So Germany can safely build cheap subs at the Baltic sea zone which prevents the UK3 fleet from being built, because even with US3 reinforcement it’s still a losing stack battle for UK/US. And yes, Germany doesn’t want to trade with UK/US, yes, Germany wants to bleed out USSR’s stacks, but where in this projection are the Allies slowing Japan? They’re not. There’s no easy obvious Axis victory, but at least the game proceeds exactly as the Axis could reasonably hope for; UK/US are delayed in Europe, Germany continues to fight off USSR in Europe, though USSR has more income in Europe, Japan starts bleeding out USSR and grabbing income from Africa and the Pacific and masses its air in Europe. We can’t say the Axis win, but they’ll certainly have an opportunity. We can’t say the Allies lose, they’ll have counterplay, but it’s by no means assured Allies will win either. Eventually UK/US can overpower Germany in the Atlantic. But when Japan flies in a monstrous air force with Germany maintaining a fair-sized air force of its own, the Allied fleets get locked unless the Allies lock themselves to the Finland/Norway sea zone (preventing UK from trading Baltic, NW Europe, and France) or UK/US build even more defensive escort, both options work for the Axis. It’s not that the massive Axis air armadas are cost-efficient against USSR ground units, but with UK/US cut off, USSR is alone. Using Axis air to threaten UK/US at sea while also beating down USSR on land is ideal for Axis.
Why give the Axis the possibility of winning in the long game when you can crush them in the short game? I’m not saying the Axis have fantastic chances in the long game, everything I wrote about Japan not being able to help Germany properly with 1942 Online’s altered mechanics still applies.
Must all details be explained? If not, why would a player think a UK1 infantry buy should be avoided? A player might think they can just cleanly transpose out of excess infantry on London, except they don’t know that maybe they can’t.
But though you’re absolutely convinced there must be a counterexample, you can’t come up with one? Okay. But the farther you get from using actual numbers, the more nebulous things get. It’s no longer a discussion, it’s just people venting their personal opinions in others’ general direction. No change, no growth, just people firmly convinced they’re right.
If someone said UK1 all infantry buy means Germany successfully captures Washington, I’d say that was wrong, but absent evidence, and respecting everyone’s opinion, that opinion has got to be given equal time. And if only top platinum players can talk the discussion is limited, and who’s even to say that the top platinum players are really good anyways?
Better outcomes and more wins. Details detracting from insight.
The obvious analogy is an engineer that explains actual practice to an academician. The “simple” guide being less confusing.
But engineers don’t disagree with academicians on principle. They have real practical reasons or they wouldn’t object.
How do you get “more wins”? In a weak meta? You know your opponent will mess up. All you need is wait it out, they overextend over and over, you smash their stack or bleed them out, the game ends. Easy. Just go for 99.999999% defenses all the time, you’re still going to win. And if you go with 95% defenses? In theory that means you lose more because your opponents were either smart enough to realize at least they had one chance and they took it, or the opponent is so bad they didn’t understand the odds and took a bad attack but won, but whatever, you lost. So just go 99.999999% all the time, every time. Unless you can stick more 9’s at the end.
But what happens if you have a strong meta? Your opponent isn’t going to mess up. You can’t wait it out. Your opponent is going to try to choke out your income, they’re going to threaten a win by attrition, or they’re going to block off your stack unification and ram stack building / bleeding mechanics down your throat until you choke. If you try to go 99.9999%, or 99%, or even 90%, you’re committing a load of units to one area; your opponent WILL drive into the opening that leaves elsewhere, and you WILL lose as income and attrition put the squeeze on, 90% becomes 85%, then 75%, and so on, until retreat, then the position keeps deteriorating. So instead of trying for 99% all the time you have to do things like 85%, 71%, look at the tempo of the game, the projections, think about your best chances. You just don’t have the luxury of surety.
If you want to focus on wins, all right. But what’s the target audience? What’s the expected scenario? If a genuinely strong player plays a scrub, is the game really decided by a scrub’s bad-odds reversal, like the “theory” might say? Or in practice will the strong player probably punish a scrub’s overextension first, then the scrub’s position deteriorates, then the stronger player wins in the end anyways?
If players want better outcomes and more wins, should they train to handle stronger opponents, or not?
When I put it like that, the answer seems pretty clear. But -
The simple guide being less confusing? Simple is good.
But what insights are really gained from keeping it simple? If it can be kept simple, okay, but what if it can’t be kept simple?
You saw the complications I addressed about just one infantry in Buryatia, but I could go on for fifty pages explaining the exact significance of that single Buryatia infantry, and when I say fifty, I mean that’s just where I’d stop, feeling I made my point. No need to actually write out another five hundred or even five thousand pages.
By the time you really understand the significance of a single infantry on Buryatia, you understand Axis and Allies itself.
But if I make references like “judge a lone infantry on Buryatia by its IPC value, do you? And well you should not.” “I don’t believe it.” “That . . . is why you fail.” - simple, memorable, even funny. But is it entertainment or insight? What of that tells you to leave the infantry at Buryatia or not?
“Hypotheses are empirically tested through actual games”. Sounds impressive, and true to boot. So why not.
It sounds impressive, the same sort of thing professionals write. But cutting and pasting phrases from a professional document doesn’t mean whoever’s doing the cut and paste job is a professional on the cut and pasted subject. Yes, they might be. But they might not be.
Who’s formulating the hypotheses? How does the process of formulating hypotheses work? What are these hypotheses, exactly? Why is it those hypotheses and not others? What is the acceptance or rejection process? What is the procedure for testing hypotheses? What are the acceptance criteria? The rejection criteria? What is the system for peer review?
Top platinum players? That presupposes platinum players have high competency. But I question that. What of high initial k-values and low k-values later? What of the 24 hour limit on ranked games? What of the awkward UI that means player skill doesn’t necessarily directly translate to performance? What of players that drag out their turns trying to get an opponent to miss a login? Or what if a platinum player decides simply to lie, and not only lie, but to get others to lie, to spread disinformation that weakens the meta - not necessarily because they’re pathetic losers that place too much importance on rank, but just for the fun of it because they’re trolls.
How are hypotheses formulated? People just come up with whatever idea? Players will disagree over what is and what isn’t a valid hypotheses. For one player they’d say “it works, therefore end of discussion”. Another would say “but what of opportunity costs”, yet another “what happens to the position four turns from now”, and yet another “nothing of value is being tested because this should never happen in the first place”. Then say four others will agree with the first player because they’re “friends”, four others disagree with the first player because they’re “enemies”. No method, just madness.
When is something accepted, when is it rejected? Is everyone responsible for their own findings? No pretense of quality control, everyone rules over their own personal fiefdom of empirical truth? Or is it a matter of votes so a popularity contest?
Or say everyone’s trained, everyone agrees to abide by a code, everyone agrees to record proper documentation, there is regular peer review, no corruption - how does that happen?
Dealing with numbers has issues, but so does not dealing with numbers.
Back to the original topic. Germany “sealion” attempting to take UK capital early (rounds 2-4) is a weak strategy that has a low axis win rate. This is because germany pays a high opportunity cost of less pressure on Russia and because Allies can powerfully repel this line. Starting with buying 8 inf into UK round 1 and following up with merging us and UK fleets round 3. By round, germany’s fleet is dead barring extraordinary circumstances.
By what round Germany’s fleet is dead? Which? The Baltic? Mediterranean? Both?
Also would you care to specify USSR’s first round?
Yes, I know 🙄
If USSR first round is specified then it goes against “keep it simple”.
But if USSR first round isn’t specified I can have USSR do whatever stupid thing. I probably wouldn’t leave two fighters sitting alone on Karelia or build a USSR battleship, but USSR triple attack, bomber buy, Buryatia fortification, all fair game.
Similarly, I can do UK and US battleship buys. I can have the Allies abandon Africa, I can bleed USSR units to the east.
Straw man army? Not at all.
Suppose we’re talking “highly skilled” players, whatever that means. Germany could capture London, the player at least notices that much and defends. But then you don’t need to tell that player to build on London. They know. Merging UK and US fleets on UK3/US3? Again, they know. If Germany gets lucky or does Atlantic shenanigans that’s just when the Allies unite their fleet in KGF, hard for the Axis to stop but not impossible.
So we’re not talking highly skilled players as they didn’t need to read that in the first place. We’re talking intermediate players that have some idea of what’s happening? Raw beginners?
Intermediate player pulls a USSR triple attack. Why not? Maybe they heard about W Rus / 9 to Ukr and don’t like it. Doesn’t USSR have to weaken Germany’s stacks? Doesn’t USSR want income? A triple attack can secure that income. They’re not thinking about USSR producing 7 units a turn and Germany 13, how a triple attack into failure or even German counter simply cuts USSR’s numbers to threaten off Germany’s stack on later turns. Stack building and bleeding, timings, projections with numbers, they’re not there yet. Heck, maybe even “advanced” players aren’t there yet. Who says when someone’s advanced? Me? You?
Or the beginning player sends units into China and east Asia. Hopefully not. One would hope. But why not? Nobody said they shouldn’t. And let’s face it, Flying Tigers, pretty cool, yeah? Don’t want to just let Japan walk all over east Asia unopposed. So why not.
Battleships? I put up a couple guides on Steam, in one I wrote don’t get battleships, there were so many helpful players that popped in to tell me how GOOD battleships really were. Have I ever considered you can absorb hits with battleships round after round? Saves a lot of IPCs, you know. (They can naval bombard too.) In a way, it’s touching. It’s a testament to the faith people have in themselves. And it’s always nice to see sincere players wanting to help one another. Doesn’t that just make you feel more positive about life in general?