Before getting into strategy and tactics, consider that your group may have read the rulebook differently to other groups. The rulebook (at least in English) is poorly organized and written.
How do the Germans effectively take Moscow? How do the Japanese manage to defend themselves against the Americans? What of losing appeal because the games are always quite the same? Those are not simple questions.
Re: games always the same. The map is static; the same territories always in the same positions relative to one another. You can spice this up by using technological advance rules (look up other editions of Axis and Allies, like Revised), or using house rules (look up some of the national advantages in Axis and Allies Global, which is the combination of Europe and Pacific, for inspiration.)
The Axis should not overextend. It’s very easy for new players especially to attack in force, get wiped out by the opponent’s counter, then a couple turns later wonder what went wrong. The “logic”, so I understand, is a unit is “fighting”, so it must be “doing something”, and the more one “fights”, the harder one makes it for an opponent. But that is very much not the case.
I recommend getting TripleA (it’s free) so we can play a game over the computer, and perhaps you could get some friends in on a Discord call so we could all have live chat while playing out a game.
You might ask questions like “If overextension really is a problem, why doesn’t it affect the Allies? Shouldn’t it balance out?” or “Could you give an example?”
Consider G1 (Germany’s first turn) following a USSR1 West Russia/Ukraine open. Suppose USSR captured Ukraine and West Russia, and Germany sends all the ground forces that can reach into Ukraine, the rest hitting Karelia. Then what?
Germany has, I forget, something like 9 tanks starting in Europe. Those cost 6 IPCs each. It is VERY IMPORTANT to NOT think of things only in terms of IPC outcomes. Position, mobility, and unit density, and other things I won’t get into here are better ways to measure which side is winning. But for beginners, raw IPC count is a useful measure, and one I’ll use here.
So let’s say Germany sends 5 of those tanks into USSR’s reach at Ukraine. On USSR’s turn, it could place up to 4 units on Caucasus, and had whatever forces survived at West Russia (probably considerable). So on USSR2, USSR smashes 30 IPCs of German tanks, which cost the same as 10 German infantry, and Germany can hardly counter as unless Germany had done very accurate moves it just wouldn’t be in any position to do so.
Let’s say Germany loses some infantry on G1’s attack, and some more infantry on USSR2’s counter. That’s okay. USSR will lose some infantry on the defense against G1, and more during its USSR2 counter. But that 30 IPCs of tanks that Germany lost is NOT okay. If Germany loses 6 or 12 IPCs worth of tanks in exchange for destroying a chunk of USSR tanks, it’s not great but it’s acceptable. But 30 IPCs of tanks is overpayment by 24 IPCs, which is more than half of an entire turn of Germany’s income. So imagine what happens if Germany tries to jump down USSR’s throat, gets smashed down, then has no reply. Germany’s going to lose.
The same thing can happen with Japan, in other ways.
- How does Germany effectively take Moscow?
Almost the whole point of the game design is to make sure this question CANNOT be answered simply. If there were a simple answer it wouldn’t be much of a game.
Also, remember the comment about overextension above. (Or there could be inefficient use of Axis IPCs, or something else). Plainly, if the Axis player is sabotaging themselves so they’re effectively at half strength (or worse), then they will lose.
Effectively, Germany does NOT take Moscow, because it’s very improbable/impossible unless the Allies screw up. Moscow has to be bled out, and this is how it’s done.
WITHOUT losing too much of its forces, and concentrating heavily on production of ground units - no navy, no air, just ground, Germany pushes into Karelia. Local production of 2 units improves German logistics, this is NOT trivial. Axis-controlled Karelia also cuts off easy UK/US reinforcements coming from Finland/Norway into Karelia. Moscow is cut off.
If Germany can get income from Africa, it should do so. Wherever Germany can get income it should, and Japan should help, PROVIDED AGAIN, THAT THE COST IS NOT TOO HIGH (and the cost can be subtly too high but I won’t get into detail here.)
Japan presses into Asia and captures India, USSR is bled out through attrition, trading with Germany in the west and Japan in the east. If USSR chooses not to trade, great, Germany/Japan sit on more income unchallenged and reinforce their central stacks.
How does Germany pry apart the Allied position? An Axis stack (can be German ground with Japanese fighters) on Ukraine pressures the Allies to defend TWO key territories; West Russia AND Caucasus. The Allies should only be able to defend ONE territory, then Germany moves into whichever territory was NOT heavily defended. Now look at the map and follow along.
If Germany moves into Caucasus, it gains 4 local production, which is amazing. But if USSR prevents Germany from moving into Caucasus by fortifying, then Germany moves into West Russia.
If Germany is at West Russia, then USSR must defend Moscow and Caucasus. As important as Caucasus is, the capital is more important, so Moscow is defended and Caucasus lost.
Once Germany has control of Caucasus, it gains 4 local production, and (long complicated explanation omitted. I will say sometimes Japan should control Caucasus, not Germany, and there’s a lot to this that I’m not getting into here.)
That gives you some idea of how to pry apart the Allied position, but if you’re asking “well how does Germany defend Karelia, push to Ukraine, and prevent the Allies from establishing a beachhead at France all the while protecting Berlin?” - a valid question, which I will answer briefly by stating the Axis do NOT try to prevent EVERYTHING, they only try to control the TIMING of WHEN certain things happen.
- How does Japan effectively defend against US?
Uff, just throw this question out. There’s a load of 1942 Online players that think they know the answer, then there’s some GenCon players that think they have the answer, but I suspect none of them REALLY have the answer. 1942 Online has lots of rules changes that cripple how the game is properly played, and GenCon has real-time constraints and games there are played with heavily modified rules.
The REAL answer? In 1942 Online, I’d say there’s two branches of play. Either UK successfully does a UK1 attack against the Japanese East Indies fleet, if successful Japan may want to buy a J1 carrier. Otherwise Japan typically buys 3 transports and cheap ground on its first turn, and if US buys a Pacific fleet on US’s first turn, Japan starts buying 2 submarines a turn starting Japan’s second turn (provided Japan correctly prevented US interdiction of Japan’s sea zones), then Japan continues dropping ground into Asia, captures India, uses India as a fallback naval base, switches to fighter production on Tokyo when Japan’s sea zones get interdicted, Moscow falls, Germany comes in to save the day. BUT all that is under allied fighters NOT being able to land on carriers, which is one of 1942 Online’s rules changes (along with those awful defensive profiles, which are another whole nightmare.)
I asked about GenCon, and a couple surprising things to me (and a couple less surprising.) First, because of adjudication by victory city depending on real time spent which also limits the number of turns, it’s not surprising to me KJF was used. Also not a surprise to me was the fact UK uses a submarine to stabilize the dangerous UK1 attack against East Indies. But what WAS a surprise to me was when I commented on the inability of allied fighters landing on carriers and was told apparently that wasn’t a thing at GenCon. But really, the projections are super simple, you can readily see how UK fighter range extension and change to key Allied fleet Pacific timings change. I mean, really. I mean, think on it, you can effectively apply a full 140 IPCs worth of UK/US against Japan’s navy in Pacific by the second turn, which is a huge difference compared to 80 some.
The core of the answer is
A) Japan can’t let itself be pushed out of Asia easily. In fact, Japan should bring huge pressure against India, pressuring the Allies either into heavy defense of India (which collapses Allies’ defense in Europe as the Allies have to bring all that power from somewhere), OR Japan captures India and uses it as a rear naval base which stretches US logistics horribly.
B) Japan can’t let itself be pushed out of the Pacific easily. If Japan loses control of the sea, Japan has no flexibility in terms of repositioning ground units using its transports, which means Japan loses position in Asia (see previous point)
C) As with Germany, Japan can NOT pull off a perfect or eternal defense, Japan’s defenses WILL crumble. The question is HOW, WHEN, and WHERE Japan CHOOSES to let WHICH PARTS go.
Once Moscow falls, PROVIDED THE AXIS HAVE NOT GIVEN UP / PAID TOO MUCH ELSEWHERE, the Axis reverse course from Moscow, push the Allies off the coasts, then consolidate control to win.