Here’s the scenario: The allies have amassed a significant force in Norway, and it’s about to move into Karelia because Germany had to pull out. Should Germany:
a) Start stacking everything into Eastern Europe, to try to defend Germany
If the Allies have a stack in Norway, then there are probably at least 4 UK transports and 3 US transports able to transport units to Europe. (Another 3 US transports are likely at E. Canada shuttling units to London). If the Germans can disrupt the Allied transports by using the German Baltic fleet and/or German air, then Eastern Europe is fine; the Allies can even be pushed out of Karelia. If the Germans cannot disrupt Allied shipping, then in most games Eastern Europe cannot hold, considering the incoming mass of Allied units. In brief, I believe that in most games the Germans will not be able to hold Eastern Europe.
b) Start moving Germany’s stack toward Russia, to draw the stack away from Germany, and have a standoff farther east than west (more territory for Germany this way?)
There is no standoff in the east. Once Germany’s forces are split, Germany or Japan must capture Moscow. When Karelia falls, the Allies can proceed to Archangel or Eastern Europe (either way, receiving reinforcements from the Allied Atlantic fleet).
If the Allies proceed to Archangel, then the Germans are free to move through Eastern Europe (but the Allies can reinforce Moscow next turn).
If the Allies proceed to Eastern Europe, Germany must soon stand on its own without the eastern German stack. If the Germans cannot move through Eastern Europe (which they cannot because of the Allied forces there), then they must attack West Russia/Caucasus to have a chance at Russia. Assuming Karelia is still lost (a good chance of that), then the eastern German stack must eventually move to West Russia and/or Caucasus - but that is too far from Eastern Europe for any German infantry in that eastern stack to threaten the Allied forces.
What else would you want to consider in making this decision? In my game, the Germans never made any headway in Africa, and Japan is just starting to control Yakut / Sinkiang / India.
1. Do the Axis need to crack Moscow soon? This depends on the board situation. If the Axis have a greater income than the Allies, and the Allied Atlantic/Pacific fleets can be held off, the Axis do not need Moscow soon.
2. If the Axis need Moscow soon, are the Germans definitely needed to crack Moscow? If the answer is yes, then Germany has to go for Moscow. Since it’s a given now that the Axis have bad board position, the Axis will definitely lose if the Axis don’t get Moscow.
3. If the Germans stall the Allies in Europe, can Japan handle Moscow on its own? If Germany retreats, then is Japan strong enough to crack Moscow? The answer to this is often “no”, because if the Allies have landed in Karelia, then they can go to Archangel then Moscow, possibly giving up their offensive in Europe, but if the Axis have bad board position, the Allies can stall until their economic advantage becomes overwhelming.
4. Will the Germans even be ABLE to stall the Allies in Europe? If Japan CAN crack Moscow alone, and all Germany has to do is keep the Allies from reinforcing, the Germans have a far different strategy than heading towards Moscow. The Germans will not want to bulk units on Moscow’s doorstep, but close to Germany - close enough that German reinforcements will reach the front line quickly, but NOT so close that the Allies can make a run to Moscow while the Germans try to catch up. Far easier said than done, though.