Infantry push is still important, but it is not the is all has all that it used to be. As well, you tend to not see the wars of attrition either… you know, the giant stacks of infantry where nobody will ever really move because its just too even.
Instead, tanks are far more viable as a purchase, which really opens up the board considering their greater mobility and increased defensive power as well. On top of this, if you do have two large, opposed infantry stacks, then one side can really tip the scales by adding a fair amount of artillery to the mix. Suddenly he has doubled his infantries attacking power, not just gonna sit around in the trenches anymore, are we?
The extra sea zones have helped immensely, it really takes the pressure off of germany (the classic US shuckshuck was impossibly broken), tho the allies can still set up a shuck shuck with relative impunity, it just takes longer and requires more boats. Offsetting this, the saharan desert makes it a bit tougher for Germany to take Africa, but as well it makes it harder for Allied cleaner troops to get back to the main theater of war.
Playing Russia Restricted would end with Moscow’s quick demise, you definitely want to and need to attack as Russia, who coincidentally has a real game going on this time, not just “I buy eight men and stack them in Karelia.” Tank buys and even a fighter or two are absolutely not uncommon for Russian builds.
As for Japan… hmm I think its the one country the least affected by the changes, tho the Royal Navy certainly can and should be used to hamper their momentum. The extra russian zones dont do a whole lot to slowing down the Jap advance, if you are swift and your opponent is dumb, you can be on Moscows door in like five rounds, as usual. What slows the Japs down this time is the fact that Moscow has teeth and can use them, sending tank squads against advanced and isolated japanese infantry divisions (check to see if your competitor pushes too far into sing without reinforcements after taking china, a common mistake), and eventually turning the entire might of the Red Army eastwards. I like to stage in Novo, blocking all the routes with deadzones, and hopefully making up for lost territories by land grabs in eastern germany.
As for bids, yeah people still bid axis in general. Its from maybe 5 to 10 ipc, tho 6-8 is def the most common it seems after reading these boards. Really depends on your skills and those of your opponent. I routinely thrash the allies with as little as a 0ipc bid (tho its nice to get at least 4 ipc for one inf and 1 buck to japan), whereas im not having too much trouble stomping the fascists into the mud with the same bids…