Eric Wool (Axis) vs TGC (Allies) no bid
The_Good_Captain last edited by
Introduction: As with almost anything I write or record, the primary audience for this document is the future The_Good_Captain. In this case, I’ve decided to post this here to help plant a public flag on the points I have made in my YouTube series, specifically my “In Defense of Classic” video. Additionally, I’m doing this because of the embarrassingly large amount of classic games I have logged in the last three years, this opponent, Eric Wool, can be depended on to make few if any noticeable game mechanic or strategic mistakes through the course of a game. This results in games that can truly stress test the game engine and design.
This game started on 20MAY2021 and ended 20JUN2021. It lasted 22 complete rounds of play. I played as the Allies and lost. To date, this is the longest Classic game I have played. For reasons described below, this game was a write-off in favor of the allies fairly early on. This changed when Eric rolled tech on J8 and scored heavy bombers. From that point on it was not clear who might win until perhaps turn 20 or even 21. At the time of this writing, I attribute the allied loss to the hard thought decision I made on USA 8 and a desire to challenge what I understood to be the “normal” course of play when opponent scores this incredibly lethal tech.
Allied summary report: This game opened with highly disappointing G1 and J1 results. Germany hit the Allied fleet around UK and Japan hit the USA fleet around Hawaii in ‘mainstream’ fashion. Germany did not hit Egypt in G1 (built up instead and deferred to G2). Axis losses on the first round were absurd. Germany lost a bomber (against the Canadian transport) and Japan, in a 4 inf/2 ftr attack on China, lost everything save a single fighter and failed to capture the territory. Losses were so appalling for the axis that I contemplated offering a reboot but figured the game would end in a half dozen rounds or so anyway.
There were no notable changes to my preferred Allied strategy. The TUV and economy never tipped in favor of the Axis. On turn 8, both Axis powers threw for tech. Germany threw two dice and scored no breakthrough. Japan threw six dice and scored two breakthroughs. This resulted in HB and super subs. Japan immediately flew its only bomber against the Russian IC but incredibly was shot down by AA ON THE TURN IT BECAME A HB!
USA8 was the critical turn. These were my thought at that time:
I had read that once one side acquired HB the only recourse was to select the strongest power on your side and immediately start throwing for tech in order to acquire it yourself.
However – in this case, Germany was essentially an inert prison camp. The end of world turn 8 showed a TUV difference of 965 to 788 (+177 in Allied favor) and +11 economy in favor of the Allies. There were only new Japanese bombers on the board that would not be able to hit the USSR the next turn. Against the “conventional” wisdom, I elected to try to leverage economic advantage against the Japanese. The goal would be to leverage the short term loss of axis IPC used to acquire the tech against my game board advantages in TUV and economy.
Perhaps a fatal flaw at this point was in the execution I decided on regarding this strategy. It took five turns to kill Germany. This MAY not have been necessary. Perhaps it could have been done sooner. I had the USSR push EAST instead of WEST initially for two reasons: to deny the IPC rich nature of the Asian continent to the Japanese and in order to deny the enemy HBs landing zones. The size of the Japanese army on the mainland was substantial however and in a turn or two it became apparent that this strategy needed to change quickly. HB were pulverizing the USSR economy from Manchuria and there didn’t seem to be a sure way to stop them. I wheeled the USSR around and headed West.
Germany succumbed on round 13 to USSR forces after great loss to both sides. Incredibly, in what I thought was merely a “raid” into Alaska was actually the vanguard of an “Enders Game” style strategy against the USA. Instead of fighting on the resource rich continent of Asia and pulverizing the USSR economy, Eric sealifted HIS ENTIRE ARMY in chunks, turn by turn, through Alaska and into western Canada. Suddenly the USSR economy was freed up and the USA economy seized under HB flying from Alaska.
This was truly uncharted territory for me and perhaps I was a turn slow in reacting but I learned that in the shadow of 6+ HB flying every turn, with even a moderate screen of infantries, there is no proper defense to muster. All moves, decisions, and strategies became offensive in nature. The UK/USSR/USA economies were devoted to moving units from East to West across the Atlantic in order to strip Japan of the vital ground units that it could not replaced and that it needed to seize the USA capital. Whole allied transport fleets were constructed and lost in single rounds of play. The losses all around were incredible. Usually games end with one side conceding to the overwhelming might of the opponent but in this game, both sides rushed forces forward to their instantaneous elimination in a desperate bid to be the last man standing.
By round 18, I realized that it was probably better to just have dumped USA monies on tech back in turn 8. I felt strongly that, by this point (and perhaps a few turns earlier), I was now in the submissive position and that despite the TUV and economy, one too many battles would have to go the Allied way on too slim of a margin. Despite this, late game attacks into eastern Canada nearly did just that although Allied “hot dice” were matched by equally hot Japanese dice. Belatedly over the course of the last two soviet turns, I threw a total of 18 tech dice and scored 5 of 6, only not acquiring the rocket tech. But it was too little, too late. Once USA fell, Japan immediately put together an attack force and under cover of the HB, Britain immediately succumbed. The required series of 1’s needed to repel the invasion on the last turn never materialized but it was only at this point that the game could be said to be truly over.
The two biggest take-aways I have following this game are that I feel justified when I say in my YouTube series that Classic is truly unique and stands out from all other versions because of exactly this concept. Tech dice should be thrown in every game by the side that has begun to lose the game. Though the outcome is unlikely, the odds of scoring HB when throwing for tech on a “I’m starting to lose this game” decision is far from zero. It is the only version of this game that has a legitimate hail Mary that keeps everyone screwed into their seats. It is something that unfortunately does not exist in future version of the game. It is difficult to forgive the obvious –that this was done by the game designers in response to the misplaced protests of player feedback.
The other take-away is that it seems that the question of what to do if your opponent scores the lethal tech has been answered to my satisfaction. Certainly it is best to take stock of the board and your opponent but unless a clear path to victory is visible (in the next 3 rounds or so), its highly likely that it is simply best to chase the HB tech with your strongest power until it is attained. Again, this game saw terrible axis rolls in round 1, a TUV and an economy that never fell in favor of the axis and the destruction of the only HB Japan had on the turn it was acquired and STILL the result, though close, was an axis win.
The_Good_Captain last edited by
@ericwool I just went ahead and posted. Good game my friend and congratulations. Well earned victory to you. I am happy the axis could pull out the W in the face of such adversity. This game will give me hope when things go topsy turvy for me in the future. Again, good game an well played!
This game was remarkably low-stress through the first 8 rounds for me. While the J1 dice were frustrating, they set up a game in which I had nothing to lose and could feel free to take major risks. I didn’t see any traditional path to victory after round 1, and so I was thinking about weapons development from then on. I figured that if I timed it right, I could turn the tide with either Industrial Technology or Heavy Bombers. I also hoped that a situation might arise where Long Range Aircraft could create a mismatched battle. I’m not sure if you were consciously avoiding that type of situation, but it didn’t materialize. In retrospect I don’t think the Industrial Tech development would have been sufficient. It was heavies or bust.
One big lesson for me from the early mid rounds was your use of AA guns to prevent Japan from dominating the Middle East. I haven’t actually seen that before, and it seems to be the perfect use for some otherwise unusable assets for the allies.
It’s interesting to read in your write-up that you question your immediate response to my tech roll. I’m questioning my own read of the board at that point, as I was convinced I needed to put offensive pressure on Karelia with Germany to keep allied units away from Japan’s IPC base. When you shifted west to march on Berlin, I ran some numbers and immediately wondered what in the world I was thinking buying anything besides infantry with Germany. It wasn’t until I saw just how unlikely a march on Moscow was that I took a serious look at crossing the Pacific with Japan’s full fleet.
The dice were utterly remarkable in this game. It was like they were programmed to keep things competitive at all times. My tech roll is the obvious case. Your attacks on Eastern Europe were also remarkable for just how closely they matched the median outcomes of those battles. I would guess that at least 50% of the time those EE battles would skew far enough in one direction or the other to effectively end the game. And then the AA guns…from your very first British bomber getting shot down to all of my raids with heavies, it was like they assessed the board and only shot down planes of the player in the lead.
Gosh, it’s late. I’ve plenty more, but I’ll leave it there.
Thanks for the very thorough write up on your end.
Some further thoughts:
I believe you made the correct decision in not rolling for tech immediately on USA 8. Japan really needed Germany as a landing pad for its bombing. Otherwise it was out of range of UK/USA and was in danger of needing to fly over 2 AA guns to bomb Russia. If you hadn’t added more USA ground units for your invasion of Germany, it could have easily failed. In my opinion you had grabbed about an 80/20 advantage in the game by the time you sacked Berlin. One extra AA gun hit in those rounds would have done me in.
I think your only error was in responding 1 round too late to the invasion of North America. I was beginning to wonder if you ever make mistakes, so it was relieving to finally see one! I say all this with the caveat that I really don’t know how many rounds of failed attempts at Heavy Bombers would have doomed the allies. My sense is that you would have been in the driver’s seat if you rolled for heavies in the first three rounds after I got them and that you would have been in trouble if it took 4 or more rounds. I could be WAY off on that, though.
An area of surprise for me was the substantial effect of our optional rules in the late parts of the game. The hard neutrals rule was a small hindrance to my Japan strategy, as Mongolia was a logical spot to consolidate all my forces. The big influence, however, was your lack of ability to build a factory in Asia. It must have been maddening to have no UK or USSR naval option in the Pacific besides sailing boats all the way around the world.
Very well played, as always. I’m definitely looking forward to flipping sides and starting our next game here in a couple of weeks!