If anyone doesn’t want to read the entire game update thread, or if you want to skip my gaming buddy’s blatant pro-Allied propaganda, here’s the summary:
We played the first game out for five rounds, with axis_roll putting heavy Axis reinforcements into the Med via an early factory in France. As Britain, I built a factory in South Africa that didn’t quite pull its weight, and a US Pacific fleet that held the Japanese at bay but was not able to actually push them off of the core of their economy. axis_roll did a good job of shutting down Britain and Russia’s NOs, and Russia was so poor that even though German initially went south, Russia didn’t have the units to hold off the eventual German thrust, so we called the game when Russia’s position started to collapse. Germany also benefited from re-directing surplus African troops to Stalingrad via the open Dardanelles. The USA was earning slightly more than usual from the new NOs, but not nearly enough to compensate for Russia falling apart.
For the second game, to give Russia a bit more cash, we adjusted the Russian NOs to kick in on turn 2, and we switched sides. We are in the middle of round 6, and in my opinion, the game is still very much alive and kicking – fighting is hot in the Pacific, around India, and in eastern Europe. The Allies hold Scandinavia and are rapidly hoovering up Africa, but the Germans have western Europe locked down with big infantry garrisons – so the question is whether Moscow, Cairo, or the US Pacific fleet crack before the Germans and Italians run out of income after inevitably losing Africa.
We’re still struggling a bit to find ways to properly incentivize Pacific play – just giving the Allies money for holding territory in the Pacific doesn’t help much if holding the Pacific is impossible, so we’re not really seeing factories in India or China or Siberia or anything wild like that. There are too many d*** 1-IPC territories in the Allied Pacific sphere of influence, and too many starting Japanese transports and fighters to crush any initial pockets of resistance. It may be that just editing the NOs, by itself, isn’t enough to enable a truly competitive Kill-Japan-First strategy. Still, this game has seen a fairly convincing two-front war – the Pacific theater may be secondary, but it’s been a real front with meaningful losses and gains on both sides.