The One Round Attack and Withdraw


  • 2007 AAR League

    There is a small but important number of situations where you want to attack for one round and then withdraw.

    The goal is to inflict more damage to your opponent then they inflict on you.

    Typically a defender will cause 33%-50% damage (with 33%- 40% being most likely, as infantry and artillery are likely to make up most of the defense force).

    As an attacker, you want to cause as much damage as possible, while limiting your probability of taking a country (to 1 in 10, or even 1 in 20 if your stack would be really messed up in a counter-strike if it won the battle).  You most likely don’t want to take a country because you cannot hold it, because it would be a move closer to the enemy and they would be able to hit you with more units, and/or if you are able to substantially reinforce the place that you’d retreat to.

    So an attacker must balance out the desire to destroy all of the attacker units but one, with the desire to make sure you don’t destroy all the units.

    Your best odds of doing this is when you have 10 or more units in the battle (this is a rough figure).  As the number of units in the battle increases, the outcome is more predictable (see law of large numbers - statistics).

    For instance, I recently attacked French Indo China. The defender had 8 infantry.  But they had a massive stack of units on China, so I didn’t want to win because the China stack would crush me.  So I attacked the defender with the goal of eliminating 5 units (used a mixture of tanks, and enough infantry to take the expected casualties).  The defender would hit 2 2/3 units, so I was hoping to come out 2 1/3 units ahead.

    (The fact that the battle was a glorious victory/fluke and I killed 7 of their 8 units, and the defender missed completely is besides the point).

    The probability of me completely destroying them was around 8%, so I was taking a greater chance than I should have. Instead I should have downgraded my attack to around 4.5 units of damage.

    However, where this strategy becomes even more useful is with greater numbers of units.  If you had twice as many units, you could increase your margin of destruction without a serious risk of destroying all the units.  For instance, 20 attacking tanks vs 16 defending infantry have less than 1% of destroying them all.  60 attacking infantry  vs 16 defending infantry will have only a 3.2% chance of destroying them.  Thus with twice the units, the probability of failure decreases by a factor of three or more (depends where you are on the curve).  And in that case you can increase the number of attacking units, and increase the ratio of defenders killed per attacker killed.

    Note: the more low-power units you use, the greater your chance is of totally eliminating the enemy.  For instance in the first round of combat 10 attacking tanks are three times less likely to eliminate 8 infantry (4%), than 30 attacking infantry are (12%).  Has to do with a skewed standard deviation curve 😃

    Ultimately if you are attacking with an infinite number of units (or a very very large one) you can destroy 80-95% of the defense force, whereas they’d only get 33-40% of you - with little to no risk of taking a country.

    If anyone plays Civilization 4, there is a similar situation with stacks. You ideally want to fight a one-front war and have all your units in a killer stack.  Dividing the stack into two equally-sized adjacent stacks is generally a terrible strategy.  Don’t advance unless your stack is big enough to defend itself, or you are prepared to wipe out any attacking force on your next round (because you have a larger stack right behind it - this is more likely to occur in axis and allies where there are greater movement/supply line issues than civilization 4).

    Any Comments?



  • Great analysis, akreider2.  This is generally called “straffing”, and it is very useful in certain game situatiions.


  • 2007 AAR League

    yes straffing can be very useful, but remember on amphibious assults there is no retreat for ground forces. even if it’s combined  land and sea attack no ground forces can retreat, but planes can after defender fires.


  • Moderator

    In LowLuck strafing can be extremely deadly since you can all but eliminate your chance of accidently taking.  You can usually go beyond the one rd strafe and simply go until the defneder has only 1-3 units left and then retreat.

    Whether it is a one rd strafe or the potential for more attack rds I think you’ll find that good (or experienced) players won’t walk into a strafing opportunity for their opponent without having another reason for it.

    For Example, I wouldn’t expect Germany to go heavy to Ukr only to watch it’s army get strafed by Russia, however, if Germany makes this move while Japan goes heavy into Kaz it then becomes worth the risk for the Axis since most likely Russia could only strafe one or the other but still leaves a large army on their doorstep.  Now Russia has to consider is any strafe even worth it since you are losing some defensive “2’s” as attacking “1’s”.

    It is a great tactic though, if your opponent doesn’t see it coming.  It can really set them back.


  • 2007 AAR League

    I remember reading some stuff I think at Caspian Sub about Kill zones and Dead zones. Kill zone means anything the enemy leaves there you can kill without much loss. Dead zone means anything you leave there yourself you are likely to lose. So on these concepts, your strategy is to keep the enemy in your kill zone while keeping yourself out of his or hers (your dead zone)

    My last few games against the TripleA AI (I know it’s weak but the only opponent that’s ready when I am) I’ve moved away from keeping a solid front (just 1 inf pickets to prevent blitzing) to keeping a huge stack in a position where it can strike at anything. It can be on the front, but doesn’t have to be, it can be one behind the line. Whatever the enemy takes as easy bait by killing my 1 inf, I take back by wiping out the entire occupying force. Of course, the AI has no strategy, so I don’t know how it would work against a human player.

    [edit] I guess what I’m describing is really a defence to strafing



  • The risk is such a defence to strafes is economic…
    Yes, you will get paid when you re-take (lightly) the dead-zone territory.  BUT your opponent is ALSO getting paid for it.  The advantage goes with the nation that made the initial forward push in such cases… or more accurately it goes AGAINST the nation that is the same color as the territory that is the dead zone.

    Deadzoning Ukraine leaves Germany getting paid for it yes, but it also means that Russia is getting paid for it too.  And that is a net benefit to Russia.

    Strafing as a short term strat to waste an opponent’s stack, or to build up your own force is a good thing… strafing against your own core territories forver in a game is a losign strat.


  • 2007 AAR League

    If both sides are retaking with 1 inf or whatever, I agree. But if each round he kills 1 inf and then I kill 1 Inf 1 Art 2 Tnk he’s still down 14 IPCs on each exchange (for example).

    But maybe only a really dumb opponent (TripleA) would keep doing that. I need a real game. That might happen Saturday. Cystic Crypt and I have discovered that we live within a mile of each other (and that I’ve met his sister) so I’m pumped to gear up the old war machine. Whatever that means.



  • Small unit battles are AF and INF, preserving ART and ARM.


  • 2007 AAR League

    what do you want to do with his sister?


  • 2007 AAR League

    Nothing, I’ve just met her, that’s all. Sheesh. Get your mind out of the gutter.

    It’s just weird to suddenly realize you have a connection to someone else on this board.

    Back on topic, Switch, I assume that AF means Air Force - good point. That way you can retreat your better units and just leave Inf exposed. But the guys I’ve played with don’t play that way - they try to hold everything they capture.

    And mojo, when I say “played with,” I mean - you know…


  • 2007 AAR League

    oh i know frood i definitely know.

    yea back on topic. you cannot hold every territory. i call it " buck mongering" where you both exchange a country using just enough inf. + planes.  this may go on for a long time,  thats where the money is so huge. can you continue to retake those countrys?  once you cannot & your opponet holds them your in trouble.

    don’t mind my sense of humor frood, i am a little raw.



  • We have not seen the sister, nor do we know her availability status.  So that is not really a question any of us can answer 🙂



  • @ncscswitch:

    We have not seen the sister, nor do we know her availability status.  So that is not really a question any of us can answer 🙂

    We can speculate, though.

    Hubbahubba.

    Yeah, strafing is good.  But if you know your opponent can strafe, you play differently.  Example - usually, I try to take Ukraine, Belorussia, and Karelia from West Russia with minimal forces, because even if Germany is stretched out, it can strafe me if I take heavily.  So I take lightly.

    I find that it’s the THREAT of strafing that I use and see, rather than strafing itself.



  • And the other side of the coin is…

    Threaten strafe and TAKE instead.  It just worked in my current game.  Jen was afraid of a German Strafe from Caucuses (I am guessing) making her Moscow force too weak to hold against the Japan.  So she evac’d instead killing the German force and surrendering Moscow.

    Strafe Threats CAN be very fun 😄


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