Against alot of opponents stacking Karelia is great, because UK keeps a firm grasp of SZ 5 and can attack Western or Germany and puts major pressure on EE. However, when up against an Axis using massive inf stacks, the amount of troops necessary to hold Karelia can mean being too weak vis a vis Japan. Against an Axis with these tactics, I have to consider what I wouldn’t do against lesser players…ie land my Brits in Arch and have them filter down into the warzones, rather then block off Karelia. For example, did you have alot of Russians dedicated to defending Karelia, even though Japan succeeded in stacking Novo? If so, had you pulled those Russians back, you probably would have deadzoned the territories adjacent to Moscow a little longer.
A Jap stack on Novo isn’t a catastrophe per se, since you have ample tanks and fighters to shift back to defend Moscow. You just have to watch out and plan these shifts with a watchful eye re. turn order so you don’t leave Allied troops behind in Karelia.
As Russia, my chief worry vis a vis Japan would be the threat to Cauc once the Jap army is stronger than the Russian. If Japan stacks Kazach, it would be hard to hold both. Once the Jap fleet is in the Med and Japs control Cauc, then Axis has the upper hand.
Re. wars of attrition, as long as the Allies can hold on to Cauc and Africa and keep the Germans pinned down (max of 35 ipc after G turn) then they should have a good chance of winning the war. The key in this context is stopping Japan from either getting Africa or using maneuver to secure Cauc.
Re. not stacking Karelia…I’m not necessarily going to stack anywhere…rely on counterattack as much as defense. For the first part of the game, Russia alone is dead zoning Karelia… then UK + Russia are dead zoning Karelia. Against a really elite Axis, I may eventually have to shift my Russians to deal with Japan, and thus may allow Germany to stack Karelia (if they have the balls that is…if UK is big enough and Russia has enough tanks this could be very dangerous), but then I can continue to land in Arch, and I divert enough Russians to prevent Germany from attacking there. All of this of course depends on my USA strategy…am i going through Africa or taking the northern route? If I’m taking the northern route (probably combined with a Nor factory) a Karelia stack makes more sense…If I’m taking the Southern route, a Karelia stack is frequently too costly…the Allies have a good chance of wearing down Germany by landings on its soft underbelly (ie keep trading Balkans, Southern, Western etc), while also using the Americans to help keep the Japs out of the critical Persia/Kazach/Cauc area.