Our first attempt was left unfinished after 15 hours and the onset of delirium. This time around we planned as a two-day game.
It was a six-player game, all were experienced A&A players. Two on each team had played in the earlier game of global.
I think this might be the best board game I’ve ever played. While I’m sure standard moves and builds will emerge, I don’t think we’ll see the set optimised attacks that characterised AA50 and Pacific 40. I also think that losses will nearly always be by ‘mistakes’, because the enormous fluidity prevents you planning with any precision. I also don’t think strategies as simple as “kill x first” really apply.
There were several mistakes made by different players, some quite silly but many perfectly understandable even from experienced A&A players. The game was no good for determining balance, but very educational nonetheless.
I was Germany. This game was played over two days and nigh-on twenty hours, so my memory is fuzzy on the details - I may get the odd one wrong.
The Axis plan was for Germany to invest in air to clear the Med, while Italy got as many boots on the ground as possible in Africa. Barbarossa and Pearl Harbour were planned for turn 3ish, depending on circumstance. The intention was to help Italy become self-sufficient so that Germany could focus on Barbarossa with Europe’s southern flank safe, threaten Caucasus / India, and perhaps most importantly pressure the key ‘swing’ income area: the sparsely-defended British Empire. Japan was to tackle China and India primarily, then turn on Russia, Anzac or America depending on circumstance.
I’m not sure what the allied plan was, but broadly speaking America focused on the Pacific whilst still doing some useful work in the Atlantic, UK tried to hold on to its empire and Russia turtled against Germany.
G1 - Sank most of the fleet around Britain (damaged battleship + cruiser off Scotland survived), took Paris, left Normandy in French hands. Took Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Finland. Built 1 sub 2 bombers
R1 - Took Korea, moved into Persia
J1 - Took Korea and Amur, standard moves against China, built transports.
UK1 - Taranto attack, leaving carrier in z96. Sunk the German fleet off Denmark, fell back in North Africa. Moved Canada fleet and army to Morocco. Took Ethiopia. Built in South Africa, built carrier off UK to consolidate with surviving fleet from Scotland. Placed a cruiser in a blocking position off Denmark. India took Java and Sumatra, built inf and art. ANZAC dropped troops in New Guinea.
I1 - Took Alexandria, Trans-Jordan, and Southern France. Withdrew from Libya. Sunk the british cruiser off
A1 - Dropped (almost?) all pacific
C1 - Retook Yunnan and fell back.
G2 most of the Luftwaffe sunk the channel fleet while the remainder supported a cheestastic one-transport Sealion. I think I built a couple more fighters and subs, most of the rest went on mech and tanks - I had decided to try a Barbarossa based on manoeuvrability. One mistake was not building another transport.
G3 Rommel’s infantry stormed the rock of Gibraltar.
As Italy was very sad about the Med not being cleared as I had initially promised, I dropped a factory in Yugoslavia to lend a hand. I was also forced to move my barbarossa army to defend italy against the threat of the UK med and canada fleets, this delayed the attack by one critical turn. Forgot to take Normandy G2, so Italy took it instead. Built subs, planes and more mech and tanks over two turns. Sent Rommel to collect the ark of the covenant bonus.
J2 Japan declared war and took half the DEI, phillipines, hong kong and hawaii (the american fleet was, oddly I felt, in sz15). Dropped a factory in FIC.
UK took back the UK and tried to scrape something together in Africa. The med fleet withdrew to Gibraltar. Formed up the various bits and bobs of Indian Ocean fleet.
Italy took Egypt, Greece and Iraq, sunk the French fleet, started to collect a proper income.
The US launched into a massive naval battle off Japan, and lost albeit with heavy Japanese air force losses. Intended landing in Korea was sunk - 3 transports carrying troops. Continued to mostly build pacific, but a small group of destroyers and transports moved to threaten Italy.
J3 Japan cleaned up the DEI and Malaysia, and was driven back slightly in China as British forces got involved. Java was a real fight, thanks to the ANZAC air force.
Russia deployed an ingenious web of infantry / artillery stacks with minimal forces on the border.
Barabarossa did not go to plan. For a start, I knew I had to keep spending about half my income on the Atlantic to keep the Allies from assembling an invincible naval stack. And as I expected an American shuck that never actually came, I had to build infantry at home - there would be no second wave. I resolved to deadzone from East Poland and try to spot a gap in the Russian counterattack web.
I thought I had identified a weakness in the north, and attack Leningrad and Belarus. This was a huge mistake, for several reasons. I should have identified the overall weakness of my position and withdrawn- every attack needs a second wave behind it. Alternatively, a more limited offensive to strafe Belarus might have been possible. I took both - Leningrad was an overly tight fight that ate into my mech infantry. I put slightly too much into belarus and ended up with a about 5 tanks and several mech infantry exposed to a counterattack from bryansk and smolensk that could not be counter-counterattacked.
G5, the turn of the Leningrad attack, I sunk my second british carrier task force with air and subs, at massive cost to the Luftwaffe. Expecting the losses, I built two bombers and a sub at the expense of boots on the ground.
Russia pushed into Bessarabia and East Poland, and utterly crushed Belarus. My 7 precious remaining tanks couldn’t retreat out of range of the Russians! After considering a retreat into Finland or a desperate attack on East Poland, I retreated to Poland and met 3 inf and a mech inf. This was just barely enough to discourage Russia from an attack - the withdrawl was successful.
I was forced to withdraw to Berlin itself, and Russia concentrated about two thirds of its entire army in Poland. I managed to scrape together enough to make Berlin safe while taking back Leningrad with finish forces and transported troops. I did not hold it. The Russian army did however withdraw from Poland, and a period of border area infantry trading ensued that would last for the rest of the game.
Somewhere in all of that I was also repelling small allied raids in France, and trading subs and destroyers with the UK every turn. The battle of the atlantic, while a side-show, felt very worthwhile and was always exciting (more than one attacking destroyer was sunk by a defending german u-boat!). Russia rarely collected its lend-lease bonus.
Africa and the Med
While all this was going on, Italy built a factory in Egypt and pushed out as far as Persia. Tanks and mech inf from Egypt eventually overwhelmed Britain’s stretched income, temporarily clearing Africa of allied forces. Gibraltar was traded back and forth to keep Italy safe. An American fleet sat off Gibraltar, and some transports shifted about, but no determined shuck emerged with most of the US income going down in the Pacific.
Germany dropped subs off Yugoslavia engaged in some trading with American destroyers. The main American fleet eventually left for the coast of the UK, where it met some new British destroyers.
Italy began to exceed the UK in income.
The US spent heavily to rebuild its fleet, but Japan was forced to try and match this. Japan pushed out across Siberia and generally lost ground in China. There was heavy fighting with the British in Burma and the surrounding area - the American infantry from the Phillipines even chipped in. The Indian RAF was destroyed in one of these battles.
Japan dropped a naval base in FIC, allowing a two-turn move from Japan to India. Threatened, British forces withdrew, but with China getting back on its feet Japan was forced to divert FIC builds north.
the End Game
It felt anticlimactic, as Germany, to be coming into the end game still several turns from having a fresh push into Russia. With most available funds diverted to build an army capable of doing so, bombers were no longer an option. Two subs a turn - one to trade, one to build up the main stack - was the cheapest way to keep the issue alive in the atlantic. I never assembled quite enough to hit the main UK/US stack in the channel.
Italy pressed on and took South Africa, built a factory in Iraq and invaded the Caucasus. In my play group, an Italian invasion of the Caucasus is known as “pinching the bottom of Russia”. They also took and held Gibraltar - vitally, as it would turn out.
Japan traded back and forth until China and India had both fallen - the tipping point for China only coming when a force landed in Amur finally made it round the far side of Mongolia.
The US took the Carolines, then lost them again. ANZAC took the Philippines and a large US navy assembled. They had missed the possibility that Japan could build carriers off FIC and 6 extra planes from Japan into the fight. The second large US fleet of the game hit the bottom, although they had a third off Hawaii and reinforcements coming from San Francisco.
The game was ended by an Italian transport moving from the Mediterranean side of Gibraltar to the Irish Sea, and two Italian bombers. Operation “leone marino”
That was a pretty big mistake on the UK’s part, but at that point in the game the Axis had reached income parity with the Allies, Africa was half-captured and undefended, China and India were wiped out, and Russia had been forced to resume turtling - by the Italians as much as anything else! So the game was over regardless.
Finally the remaining US Pacific fleet had a crack at Japan, but it was a desperate move that was never expected to work, and did not.
All in all, absolutely epic. A couple of the other players read these forums so hopefully they’ll chip in with their take - I know mine is very Germany-heavy.