• yeah, well in jen’s defense aabigdog initially referenced jen’s previous arguments for general high-bomber use and SBR, before posting his own specific strat that axis and i were responding to.  so she might have jumped to the conclusion that we were critiquing all uses of axis bombers for bombing.

    funny story, i played a way-too-long game of axis last night that relates to all this discussion of planes.  My Russia had a terrible round 1 opening, losing 1 plane and all other troops in this ukraine attack (3tanks, 3 inf, 1 art, 2 fighters vs german 3 inf, 1art, 1 tank, 1 fighter) while the german won with 1 fighter, 1 tank, and a artillery alive. I note that only to justify why the game took so long to win :)

    Anyway my opponent was very good and played well with both axis.  As germany, he went heavy on bombers (built 2 through the course of the first 2-3 turns, and another later when 1 was destroyed) and mostly infantry.  He didn’t put the squeeze on russia right away with these builds, but they set up a great long term push with very efficient land swaps.  As Japan, he responded to my KJF moves with a 3 transport build, and by dominating china and the british navy but leaving the us intact, while also guarding his fleet.

    Anyway, the game lasted a long time, and involved early IPC in india for me, and then later one in sinkiang (and then later, china) when the opportunities were ripe.  Russia committed the initial 8 infantry against japan and eventually a tank and occasional fighter support, but not much else.  The game took so long because the us and britain maintained  a really precarious balance against japan in asia, while countering but not stopping germany for an equally long time.  The japanese counter-moves were among the best and most careful I have played against.

    Eventually, german pressure forced the allies to shift back focus to europe, and after a long drawn out fight germany fell 2 turns ahead of when japan might have been able to take moscow.

    Anyway, having spared you most of the details, I noticed in this example a couple things related to this discussion:

    1. German bombers certainly are worthwhile, with a wide variety of uses, both threatening and fighting.  I would certainly agree (and always have) they can be worthwhile builds.  On the other hand, I still only had to build 1 UK carrier (along with the starting 1 UK battleship and 2 US destroyers in the area) to effectively defend my initially north-focused us and british transports.  The german player can’t actually afford to waste his 3 bombers attacking 4 trannies and a destroyer adjacent to england (back side).    The big air force does force the allies to be very careful around africa, but only so long as the german fighters can all afford to stay in western europe (a long time, but not without cost as then they can only be used against karelia effectively in land fights).  Any fighters landed in carriers are also not wasted, as the can assist in attacks.

    2. A good KJF set of moves is really challenging for the japanese player to counter in any rapid way, and in this example the opponent used transport builds followed by troops builds to hold his own to the best extent he could and eventually win through after at least 7 turns (though the game was over before india could fall).  So bomber builds obviously wouldn’t have been the right option for him in this case, which supports my sense that keeping japan “honest” and unable to invest in bombers and land them safely in asia is another way to negate any bomber-driven threat.

    I’ll post another thread with my KJF opening moves and would be interested to hear opinions on best counters.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    The reason Caucasus fell so hard is because he basically surrendered South Europe to defend against the German push along the North.  That’s just my opinion.

    My Axis was a SBR campaign coupled with a tank dash.  You may play it differently.

    Also, I fully agree, Kill Japan First is an extremely effective method to protect Russia and win the game.  Many players have gone to Kill Germany First because it can be a no-brainer.  It can be difficult and you can still lose, but over all, the procedure for KGF is pretty formulaic…

    Then again, KJF can become formulaic as well if people start doing it often.  I do remember Switch going off on me for months on how KJF was so impossible…I finally forced him to play a game against me and he surrendered by Round 5. He refused a rematch to confirm KJF was not only possible, but against someone who had, for all I know, only defended against KGF, very effective.


  • yeah, it’s easy to get into a rut in this game and focus only on a few potential approaches and lose the knack for the others :)


  • I also agree a KJF is very attainable.

    And i buy a German bomber r1 95% of my games now. Not only is the threat to allied shipping very useful, but the range is extremely useful as well in swapping russian territory, and still make France your home base. Fighters cannot reach all of the dead zone in eastern europe and make it back to France. I dont SBR with german bombers though, unless im almost ready to crack moscow, they are just too valuable.


  • Bumping this so newer players can see it.

    I still stand by everything I said in this thread. As with any other strategic discussion I do, my posts are based on observations. I am sure anyone new to this and reading it will notice the 3 pages of “opinions” not backed up by testing.

    Also it it seems that every time the topic of Strategic Bombing comes up it gets into a cost analysis. I can say again from experience, this is a bad way to view things. Just because I may have spent say 60 IPCs with Japan in bombers it does not mean I have to do 60 IPCs in damage to Russia for it to “break even”. The units Russia it is not able to produce and the necessity for Allied assistance negates this.  Also with a strategy like this that is unorthodox there is the added benefit of confusion on your opponents part in how to counter it.


  • @a44bigdog:

    Bumping this so newer players can see it.

    Thanks for bumping it.  I read it, and looked at a couple of your games when you have used it.  It certainly looks like a viable strategy, but for some reason, I have always been too risk averse to SBRs.  Perhaps it is irrational, but I always seem to find a better, risk free, use for the bomber unit in normal attacks.

    Also, there is always something about SBRs that did not sit right with me as a game mechanic.  It is completely luck based, and you cannot really defend against it by stacking forces, etc.  You just have the AA gun, which is such a crapshoot, though I suppose that buffering zones with AA guns could in theory work.

    Looking at it, if you do want to station additional AA guns, you would need 4 or 5 more.  Depending on where Japan puts its bombers, you only need 2 in east, Kazakh and Novo (if Japan puts bombers in Bury, just shift an AA to Evenki).  In the west, you need AAs in Arch and WR.  You can’t protect Cauc because of the sea zone, and it is only 4 damage max anyway.  I don’t know how well USSR and other allies would be able to protect those territories, but it seems like they would have a shot at it due to the heavy air buildup by the Axis resulting in fewer ground forces.

    It’s worth trying in a game, if I can put down my aversion to the diceyness of SBRs.


  • I would recommend giving it a try as I find the number of useful Axis strategies to be rather limited and they do tend to get old after a while.

    A few things to keep in mind and this applies to any SBR campaign. Bombers are bought to bomb with. There will be losses to AA and there will be rounds where they do not do much damage. That is just part of it, however with regard to the lost bombers that is what they are being bought for. There is a big difference in a dedicated SBR campaign and just sending out a starting bomber to do SBRs. The last will leave a bad taste in your mouth as the loss of that one bomber really hurts. Also as was mentioned several times on the preceding pages, just because one is buying bombers, and conducting an SBR campaign, that does not mean the bombers can not be used to convincingly win a Naval or Land battle.

    And I should have re-read this before the last time I used it, as I made a complete mess out of Japan with my transports and got myself all out of position.

    Also to all the new players here. There are a lot of good strategies buried here in the Revised section, and I would highly recommend browsing through the old posts to find them. While some are better than others, I find it is quite nice to have a “bag of tricks” so to speak to pull things out of and break up what can become a stale approach to AAR.

  • '16 '15 '10

    This seems like it could work with favorable rolls.  But particularly in a nt scenario, I would share eaten’s concerns about this being rather dicey.  2 bombers for Germany G1 and G2 are nice tactically for keeping the Allies from landing early….but not buying the 10 inf one could have bought might cost Axis down the line when it comes time to lurch for Russia.  If BOTH Axis are buying bombers, if the Allies player is experienced I wonder if Axis will be strong enough to penetrate a Russian stack reinforced by Allied landings.

    This strategy will be much more effective in the new Spring 42 version, where bombing Russia to oblivion will probably be a bread and butter tactic.

    Worth a try in any case!


  • @a44bigdog:

    Bombers are bought to bomb with. There will be losses to AA and there will be rounds where they do not do much damage. That is just part of it, however with regard to the lost bombers that is what they are being bought for.

    good read, a44bigdog.  i also agree my “break even” idea is not best.  i’d like to propose 2 statistics for reasoning about SBR: bomber lifetime, and damage over lifetime.

    it appears that most of the reasoning is over probability of being shot down (1/6), and expected bomber damage given the bomber survives AA (3.5 IPCs), but those are not as useful numbers for reasoning about an SBR campaign.

    these are more reasonable metrics IMO since you are buying bombers for the primary purpose of bombing.  yes, as jen points out, you can use the bombers for other purposes other than SBR.  you can also use them to win land or navy battles (direct damage).  you can also use them to forcing US/UK to buy a carrier or other capital ship (indirect strategical effects).  you can also use them to prevent unescorted transports to the karela sea zone (indirect tactical effects).  these are hard to quantify, so let’s just consider that flexibility a bonus.

    assumptions

    1. each bomber will endure 1 and exactly 1 AA shot on each SBR.  if the allies position AA guns so a bomber would take 2 or more shots, the the bomber does something else other than SBR.
    2. an axis power shall have 3 bombers for SBR.  2 bombers shall SBR moscow or UK, with a max combined damage of 8.  1 bomber shall SBR caucus with a max damage of 4.  the axis powers could station a single SBR base in EE to hit all 3 targets.

    bomber lifetime
    let the lifetime of a bomber be the random variable N.  from assumption (1), the probability of a bomber being shot down on exactly the Nth SBR is
    p(N=n) = (1/6) * (5/6)^(n-1)     for n>=1

    so
    n p(N=n)
    1 0.1667
    2 0.1389
    3 0.1157
    4 0.0965
    5 0.0804
    6 0.0670
    7 0.0558
    8 0.0465
    9 0.0388
    10 0.0323
    11 0.0269
    12 0.0224
    13 0.0187

    or, to phrase the distribution a different way, here’s the probability of a bomber successfully completing n or more SBRs before being shot down.  
    P(N>=n) = (5/6)^n      n>=1

    n p(N>=n)
    1 0.8333
    2 0.6944
    3 0.5787
    4 0.4823
    5 0.4019
    6 0.3349
    7 0.2791
    8 0.2326
    9 0.1938
    10 0.1615
    11 0.1346
    12 0.1122
    13 0.0935

    i’m only interested in the first moment (mean) of this distribution, and it can be shown that the expected value is E[N] = 6.  so each bomber is shot down on the 6th SBR on average, so it makes 5 successful SBRs on average.  yes, i know it can be shot down in the first round, but it is equally likely that the bomber is shot down on the 11th or higher round.  so i’m sticking with 5 successful SBR per bomber.

    SBR damage over lifetime
    let’s consider caucus first, since that’s easy.  let the damage to caucus given a successful SBR be C.  it can be shown that the average result E[C] = 3.0.  
    c P(C=c)
    1 0.1667
    2 0.1667
    3 0.1667
    4 0.5000

    now let’s consider the damage moscow/UK, which is will be the random variable W.  if we send only 1 successful bomber, then E[W] = 3.5.

    if we send 2 successful bombers, then E[W] = 6.44
    w P(W=w)
    2 0.0278
    3 0.0556
    4 0.0833
    5 0.1111
    6 0.1389
    7 0.1667
    8 0.4167

    conclusion
    the caucus bomber will do an average damage of 3/round and will survive for 5 rounds.  therefore, the caucus bomber is expected to deliver 3*5=15 IPCs worth of damage over it’s lifetime.  that means for each bomber purchased to SBR caucus, the russians should expect to lose 15 IPCs.  a $ for $ trade is advantageous.

    the moscow/UK bombers will do an average damage of 3.27/round each and will also survive for 5 rounds.  therefore, the moscow/UK bombers are expected to deliver 5*3.27 = 16.34 IPCs worth of damage over their lifetimes.  that means for each bomber purchased to SBR moscow/UK, the allies should expect to lose 16.34 IPCs.  this is better than $ for $.

    so this seems like a perfectly viable long term strategy.  if you couple this with the bonuses mentioned earlier, this becomes very tough for the allies.

    defense
    IMO, the best defense for the allies would be to work out a 2+ AA route against one of the bomber bases.  we’ll have 4 AA defending russian territories–2 under R control and 2 under UK control.  can’t afford more than 4.  and 4 can really help slow the bleeding.

    move the india AA gun to caucus, and move the UK gun to moscow.  the UK AA gun can be replaced by the EUS AA gun.  the russians would then position their AA pair to take away at least one japanese bomber base.

    for the japs the 3 most likely bomber bases are bury, china, india.  evenki/novo defends against bury.  kaz/novo defends against china.  kaz defends against india.  if the japs spread out and have 2+ bomber bases, then the only thing russia can do is just block the base with the most bombers.  can’t block everything without a 3rd AA, and russia can’t afford it.  for the germans, the most likely bomber base is EE.  arch/WR defends against EE.

    if the russians get into the position where they are trading these territories (evenki/novo/kaz/arch/WR), then they’re screwed.  they can’t afford to leave an AA gun there, so there will be at least 1 bomber base that does not have a 2+ AA defense.  the russians are probably screwed anyways if they are trading territories next to moscow.

    -c


  • This thread is interesting, but I’m not convinced that this is the optimal strategy for the Axis (granted, there can be ONLY one optimal way to play). However, it’s solid and people here seem to have some success with it.

    I have a few problems in strategies bombing Russia:

    1. The Axis player’s expected earnings is by bombing Stalingrad is 0. You’ll get shot down 1/6 of the time and 5/6 of the time you’ll bomb on average 3 IPCs a turn (not 3.5, because of the 4 IPC limit of Stalingrad)
    2. The Axis player’s bombing of Moscow with two Bombers also does less than 3.5 IPC’s per die because of the 8 IPC limit.

    basically, The Axis are at an economical disadvantage. This strategy does have a positive return on investment, but so does every Axis strategy because of their superior tactical starting position. The Axis have to close the economic gap fast, and this method isn’t as fast as other methods. However, it is always fun to find new ways to win. This is a solid strategy. I will give it a shot against some of my lesser foes.

    Have any of the top players tried this strategy? I haven’t been on here in awhile, so I don’t know who is the best player anymore: it seemed like this thread was mainly a debate between two or three players. I would be curious to know what the premier players thought of this strategy…

  • '16 '15 '10

    Theoretically, the potential net IPC loss of bombing is offset by the tactical advantage of crippling Russia’s economy using both powers.  But the Allies have options.  If they see a SBR campaign in combo with an oncoming tank rush, they can shore up Moscow with Arch drops.


  • I have tried this a couple of times, and I do not know if I am just not pulling it off properly, but I find the shortage of ground units really tough to deal with.  The extra money USSR gets in from being able to better hold some European territories sort of makes up for the bombing.  And shielding Moscow with additional AA guns, forcing the Axis to bomb only Caucasus, also puts a damper on things.


  • I’m curious to know…has anyone has tried this strategy with the AARe rules?


  • eatenbyargue, are you doing it as I lined out in the first post? That is the best way I have found to conduct an Axis SBR campaign through quite a bit of testing. Germany is not that much shorter on land units than normal. Not bombing Moscow because of additional AA fire is a mistake, only bombing Caucasus will not eliminate enough of Russia’s income. Remember that Germany only buys 2 additional bombers and uses these until they are gone. With Germany’s 3 bombers and all of their fighters stacked in Eastern Europe it requires a sizable Navy for the Allies to drop in Archangel. Japan is free to purchase as many bombers as they feel the need to execute this strategy however there is a point where Japan will want to shift to tank production, this is generally after Japan has 5 or more bombers on the board.


  • @a44bigdog:

    eatenbyargue, are you doing it as I lined out in the first post? That is the best way I have found to conduct an Axis SBR campaign through quite a bit of testing. Germany is not that much shorter on land units than normal. Not bombing Moscow because of additional AA fire is a mistake, only bombing Caucasus will not eliminate enough of Russia’s income. Remember that Germany only buys 2 additional bombers and uses these until they are gone.

    Surely it is better to bomb Caucasus.  Mathwise:

    2AA Moscow:  Average 2 successful bombing runs per bomber.  Average raid is 3.5 IPC damage.  Cost of 2 runs = 15 IPC for the bomber lost.  So you are losing 8 IPC per bomber invested.

    1AA Caucasus:  Average 5 successful bombing runs per bomber.  Average raid is 3 IPC damage.  (It is 3, not 2.5, because 5 and 6 also count as 4, so (1+2+3+4+4+4)/6=3.)  Cost of 5 runs = 15 IPC for the bomber.  So you are breaking even on the investment.


  • Axis and Allies is NOT an accounting game.

    A bomber in an SBR strategy (Axis or Allied) does not have to do its purchase cost to be effective. It merely has to do enough damage at the appropriate time to strangle your opponents production capability. That last part is the entire purpose of an SBR campaign, shut down your opponents ability to produce and move in and mop up.


  • @a44bigdog:

    Axis and Allies is NOT an accounting game.

    A bomber in an SBR strategy (Axis or Allied) does not have to do its purchase cost to be effective. It merely has to do enough damage at the appropriate time to strangle your opponents production capability. That last part is the entire purpose of an SBR campaign, shut down your opponents ability to produce and move in and mop up.

    OK, but you are only doing .5 IPC less in damage bombing Caucasus.  Surely that little bit of difference is not worth double the AA risk?


  • You are missing the entire point. The Axis specifically Japan needs to be bombing both the Caucasus and Russia. Now Japan may need to increase the number of bombers being sent to Russia due to the increased AA guns, but the goal of the strategy is to choke off Russia’s production ability. Germany will probably have lost some of it’s bombers before additional AA guns are a factor since Germany should only buy 2 additional bombers and send 2 to Russia and 1 to Caucasus as long as they last. Japan can continuously buy bombers if they feel like it, although around 5 or 6 on the map is sufficient. Not all of these need to be sent to bomb Russia, that number is recommended so that losses are immediately replaced and the pressure can be kept up.


  • @a44bigdog:

    You are missing the entire point. The Axis specifically Japan needs to be bombing both the Caucasus and Russia. Now Japan may need to increase the number of bombers being sent to Russia due to the increased AA guns, but the goal of the strategy is to choke off Russia’s production ability.

    I do not think I am missing the entire point, just because I choose to bomb Caucasus over Moscow.  Well obviously if Moscow is only protected by 1 AA gun, you bomb that while you can, but I am just not going to come over to the idea of bombing through 2 AA guns while Caucasus is still available.  It’s just a bad gamble, and sure, it can pay off sometimes, but I do not like bad gambles as a strategy, unless things are truly desperate.  And I cannot see a situation where getting 16% more SBR damage justifies doubling the risk of getting shot down by AA.  If times are that desperate, 16% more SBR damage is not going to save you.

    Also I am curious, have you ever won with this strategy against an opponent of equal skill or better?  In my games, victory seemed a bit out of reach, so I am hesitant to keep trying it.  USSR was losing money to SBR alright, but the extra territories it was able to keep due to the much slower Axis ground build-up seemed to make up for it.  Maybe I did not buy enough bombers with Japan, not sure.  I stayed at about 3 with them.

  • '16 '15 '10

    I’m not sure how Moscow can successfully shield Moscow via AA guns.  Lets say the Russians plop down on a 3rd gun and move another out to Arch, while the Brits move theirs to Cauc.  That aa purchase victory in itself for Axis, and Germany can still bomb Cauc and land in India or China.  Is diverting the bomber worth the aa purchase?  I doubt it but maybe.

    Re the ability of the Luftwaffe to contain Arch drops, if Germany moves their figs out to EE, then the UK fleet is pretty safe in SZ 2 with 2 fig 1 ac 1 bb 4 trans 1 (russian) sub against 3 bomb 5 fig….  It could be bad if Germany got really good dice but that’s an extremely risky attack for the Krauts in a KGF scenario.  USA can eventually move up a destroyer to help…given that they will be able to mass in 12 if Germany’s figs are in EE.

    I think stuff like this is what steered people away from German air buys in Revised…bombers are the only unit with the range to threaten sz 2 and 12 simultaneously but they are economically unfeasible.  The situation has clearly changed in AA42 and AA50.

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