The Karelian Gambit (Plz help my room-m8 win)


  • So, my room-mate and I play Classic sometimes. We use the rule variation where the U.S.S.R. cannot attack first turn, in an attempt to balance the game a bit for the Axis (Since the U.S.S.R. could take out a significant amount of Axis material T1, especially Germany).

    HOWEVER, he can’t beat me. I utilize turn one to place everything (except my tanks which go to Moscow, the 4 Infantry on Moscow which move to the Caucuses to prevent a blitz, and the troops in the East which move to Evenki and harass Japan) onto Karelia. The purchase of 8 Infantry is also dropped on Karelia (Final count is 18-ish Infantry and 2 fighters).

    There appears to be three possible responses, none of them good, for the Germans.

    1. An all in, single round strafe on Turn 1 in hopes of annihilating the Soviet infantry, and preventing a counter attack. However, this only has the affect of the U.S.S.R. wiping out the German infantry (about 10) on casualty rolls. Which is devastating to the German IPC count, and their ability to sustain attacks on subsequent turns.

    2. Try to hold Eastern Europe and wait to Strafe until Turn 2. Ideally, you bait the Soviets into an attack. Otherwise, the numbers on Karelia grow by at least 8 and possibly another tank.

    3. An all out attack Turn 1 that the U.S.S.R. wins on average rolls. It leaves both powers crippled, and gambles that the Germans can hold off the U.K. This also creates the possibility that the Americans can forgo a D-Day strategy (Or delay for a turn or 2) and instead focus on a fleet to destroy Japan’s navy, and hamper transport movements.

    Am I missing something? My room-mate is tired of losing. 🙂

    (When we switch sides, I usually strafe, and try to bait the U.S.S.R. into ill advised attacks. It usually works, but even with the rule change, the game does not seem more balanced.)


  • @kyle47 True story, I’m the roomate. I go all in, I lose aircraft better suited to taking out the British navy. Or I can bring my land forces in but have to determine how much I’m willing to lose, but there is no good answer. Or I can gather in a defensive formation, but lose the 2 Eastern territories, but then Russia has a large IPC count that can’t be dealt with.

    When the Russians gather their forces on Karelia, I can’t find a way to be successful as the Germans.


  • @radar Usually you only lose one Eastern territory and Finland, but the IPC swing is still devastating.

  • 2022 2021 '20

    Are you playing with a Bid?

    2nd Edition OOB usually has an Axis bid of around 20-22. This is either placed as a Power Europe strategy or an African Conquest strategy.

    Russia Restricted drops that bid down to about 6-8 since about 15 is saved in Eastern Europe.

    Standard R1 OOB is hit Eastern Europe and the Baltic Fleet.

    It is normal to stack Karelia and usually the entire game is Germany trying to get enough firepower to knock Russia out of Karelia. Usually this occurs once Japan puts enough pressure on Moscow that the Russians have to divert significant forces against the yellow horde. Japan is the key, not Germany. Japan must put massive amounts of ground troops on the mainland heading towards Moscow.


  • @andrewaagamer No Bid. That answers the balance piece of this. LOL.

    Is 6-8 really enough? Where does that type of bid usually go?

    I can usually still win as no bid axis, but I’m not sure everyone I play stacks Karelia as much as I do.


  • @andrewaagamer Thanks, I didn’t realize that Russia using Karelia like that was a standard practice for players.

    We don’t play with bids, perhaps we should start.

    Thanks again.

  • 2022 2021 '20

    I would start with 6 and drop two infantry in Libya and see how much that helps. That will allow you to take French West Africa, blitz French Equatorial Africa and hit Anglo Egypt Sudan with 3 infantry, an armor and a fighter. That makes life tough on UK and they usually have to abandon India to save Egypt , making life easier for Japan.

    It won’t be enough to really fight hard for Africa but it will gain a few bucks for Germany in the short run and give Japan a boost.


  • @andrewaagamer So basically, I stumbled into the standard opening, and even with a bid, my room mate’s chances are slim to none?

  • 2022 2021 '20

    Not at all. The point of the Bid is to make it a toss up. Both sides have the same chance of winning. Again, taking Karelia is really hard and is not how the Axis win the game. The Axis win by Japan pouring troops onto the mainland and forcing Russia to abandon Karelia to save Moscow.

    It is not unusual to see a large German army in Karelia and a large Japanese army in Novosibirsk and a huge Russian army holding Russia (Moscow). The two smaller armies have a tough time taking out Russia and Germany eventually has to turn and fight UK and US pounding on the Western front.

    Just like Russia had to abandon Karelia to turn and face the Japanese the Germans have to turn and face the UK/US. Thus Japan is the one building the army to eventually take Moscow while Germany fights alone against UK/US… Exciting!


  • @andrewaagamer I think there is a counter to this meta (with the bid) that still favors the Allies. However, that’s out of scope.

    Thanks for the input!

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