For the axis there has been a revolution in playstyle with the JDOW1 with a concentrated German push in Russia. Unfortunately, the concensus of Allied warfare seems to remain based on out-dated strategy, leading to the calls that the game is unbalanced, the allies need a bid, etc. Out-dated concepts are an infantry based Russia, invasion fleets of USA, UK focused on producing fighters for Russia, Siberian forces moving to Russia, and focus on containing Japan on sea instead of land.
I present to you the Bright Skies/Russian Counter-Attack doctrine reloaded.
Russian Doctrine: Counter-Attack
Instead of the defensive infantry mindset, Russia should always be able to counter-attack, or relocate fast to different positions. It has a lot of starting infantry, and with a defense perimeter around Novgorod and Bryansk, both reinforced by artillery stacks, you can start massing mechanized infantry with some tanks. Due to Russian geography, you can become a lot more effective and dangerous with the bulk of your forces mechanized. This also fits more with the historical Russian doctrine, which has developed around the concept of the counter-attack instead of defense.
Although the mechanized Russia thread and the Allied playbook focus on Gargantua’s approach of buying armor and mechanized infantry, I do not think this is the best approach. You have lots of infantry at the beginning, and will buy lots of mechanized infantry to build a mass of troops. What reinforces infantry best: artillery and air Support. Especially artillery will double the offensive capabilities, therefore I focus on building artillery in the first 2-3 turns, after which I switch to mechanized infantry with some tanks in the mix based on how Germany/Italy are doing.
The second rule of Russia is to never allow Germany to attack a big stack with combined forces of land and air troops. The Luftwaffe always makes sure Germany has superiority, so divide your forces in the force of an attack (stopping Italian can opener). For example, you have an equal land stack as Germany and he is about to attack Novgorod. Divide your forces in five smaller forces, so when he obliterates your 1/5 group with his complete army + luftwaffe, you can counter-attack with 4/5 of your forces with your aircraft (while he has not luftwaffe).
Focus on defending the northern route better than your southern rule, to lure the Germans to the south (as this takes more time and is more lucrative for Germany). This gives you also two options: retreat towards Moscow when German push is too strong, or ambush and destroy the Germans and start advancing on Europe/Scandinavia with UK/USA support.
Chinese Doctrine: Guerrilla Warfare
Guerrilla Warfare is about attacking where the enemy is weak, and not defending where the enemy is strong. Japan is an interesting enemy as it has even more overwhelming airforce than the Germans. Contrary to Germany, it is much harder for Japan to attack at all sides. It has to choose and commit, or perish due to stagnation. Whatever Japan chooses, the allies should be so aggressive that Japan loses ground in those 1-2 undefended areas.
One of the more fragile areas for Japan is China. When China remains isolated, it can be easily destroyed within four turns without too much investment. Because it also generates little extra income for Japan, Japan is much more interested in capturing more areas at the same time, such as Spice Islands, Hong Kong/Malaya/Philippines, or Sydney/India. This last fact really helps China, as it just has to achieve 1 thing: survive.
I found that the greatest support of China is it’s location, it can be easily supported by Siberians from the north, Russian armour and planes from the west, UK troops and planes from the south-west and ANZAC fighters from the south-east. Besides possible support from all sides, I really like the guerrilla rule of China that it can build anywhere, and has great attack possibilities with the Flying Tigers. A single turn of opened burma roads often spells doom for Japan in China, forcing him to abandon pacific victory due to difficult victory cities.
The philosophy should again to never think defensive, but offensive. Never let the plane or crucial troops be attacked to defend an area, rather make sure you are able to conquer that specific area again in your next turn. The only moment the allies should commit to the defense is if they overwhelmingly can stack Yunnan, to empower China and make it independent enough to go on the offense. I personally always perceive those 18 Siberian Russians to be ‘Chinese’, destined for the survival of China. From that perspective, it means that China starts with 29 infantry + 1 fighter (assuming Yunnan/Hunan was destroyed J1) against 33 initial land troops of Japan in China.
Why is China so extremely important for the allies? First of all, it defends Russia. This is the biggest advantage, as it enables Russia to focus 100% on Germany, who ideally also has to defend Europe from all sides that UK and USA are attacking. Secondly, it makes life for Japan hell on the mainland, as it needs to commit expensive and slow resources (factories/land troops) it can not invest in transports with troops for the important capital cities. Without the Chinese victory cities, Japan can not win on the Pacific against an focused allied front.
United States Doctrine: Board Control / Denying Axis Logistics
The reasoning behind this strategy is that logistics are the main problem of the USA, to get their economic superiority to a place where it can attack the Axis. Western Europe is very easy to defend for the Germans, so is Scandinavia as long as the Baltic Fleet lives. Yes it can be overpowered by the USA, but it takes the USA a lot of IPC to build a strong enough invasion force, time that is used by Axis to advance and win the game. The moment Scandinavia permanently falls to the Allies, might also be the moment the Germans take Moscow. Also by focusing on 1 Axis, it loses threat to the other Axis, that can go rampage. So how to solve these two fundamental problems of the USA: logistics and threat?
The answer is simple I think: Strategic Bombers. From airbases they can move 7 zones, which is simply amazing, They have the strongest attack value in the game and are relative cheap. Even better, they can bomb industrial complexes therefore hurting the Axis economies, which is crucial for them to maintain momentum. There is one particular target the Strategic Bombers excel against: fleet. While Japan has such a big fleet, it will still take many turns to build enough Bombers to take out its fleet, both Germany and Italy are no great sea-faring nations with only small effective fleets. Germany prefers to build up its luftwaffe instead of its fleet, as its fleet is useless against Russia. Therefore the logical focus of the USA should be to take out Germany’s fleet as soon as possible resulting in SGF (Stop Germany First).
Even before stopping Germany, the Axis have a much weaker partner, Italy. UK alone is already able to take out this medium Axis player when played aggressive, but the USA can finish them off without any investment. The USA have 3 initial transports and a relative strong fleet based for the Atlantic side. One transport will remain in the Pacific with several blockers to slow down Japan if they decide to attack the USA, but the rest will move to the Atlantic. In the Atlantic they get into the Med, kill any Italians left and then convoy it to death. So actually without any investment, the USA will use its initial forces to SIF (Stop Italy First). This should not be any problem or need much consideration.
The mission of this strategy is to kill the German Baltic Fleet as soon as possible, and to do this with Strategic Bombers. It can build 4 bombers every turn, more when in war. In USA4 it can attack the Baltic States with 8 bombers, 9 if the USA is at war in his second turn (and the minor complex becomes a major complex). Normally 8 Bombers should be enough to finish the small Baltic Fleet if the Germans have focused on Russia. As soon the Baltic Fleet is destroyed, the Allied have a big strategic advantage where both the UK and Russia will take advantage off.
A bit more about the destruction of the Baltic Fleet. The Baltic Fleet is crucial for the Germans to keep its Reich intact, but it is also very easy to defend, that is why the UK is normally not in the position to achieve that with traditional aircraft. Germany is also likely to want to keep its Baltic Fleet alive at all costs, and have two tools to achieve that. 1. investing in airbase in Germany, this is the best thing Germany can do and very cost effective taking in account it is likely to have enough fighters to scramble 6 of them in this case. There is nothing the USA can do except for building up its Bombers until it is strong enough. If Germany wants to rescue its Baltic Fleet the only thing it can do is 2. build up its fleet for more hits. This is great as all those ships are IPC that is not invested in artillery and tanks against Russia. So in any case you win, as you give Germany the choice between two bad options: 1. lose the Baltic Fleet or 2. build useless fleet.
The first thing USA does with it’s fleet, is to occupy the Med and uses it’s transports to force the Italians to turtle (and invest all their IPC in the defense instead of can opening). All those initial warships should be used to convoy Italy to death, forcing Germany to support Italy if it does not want to lose Southern Europe/the Balkans.
I play the USA/Russia/China combined with other allied player who plays UK/ANZAC/France so that is why this strategy is focused on those allies.
This fits best with an aggressive UK/ANZAC player who in the Europe map conquers Africa as soon as possible while keeping Egypt. It should be the UK who is doing amphibious assaults every turn in Northern Europe/Scandinavia from London, forcing Germany to commit forces to the defense that are thus not used on the offensive against Russia.
In pacific, it works closely with China and Russia in containing Japan or making Japan suffer from spreading out too thin or attacking one specific area.
I would like to end with this disclaimer from Gargantie: This works better in F2F scenario’s, as players are less likely to be able to unit-focus above 90%. (unlike online when they spend HOURS planning each turn)