Here is a generalized Axis strategy for those of you who like building naval units. My explanation of the strategy won’t explain every detail, mainly because I haven’t actually used the strategy so I don’t know all the details and secondly even if I did know most of the answers I still wouldn’t tell you because most of the fun is figuring these things out for yourself. I’m not sure of the best way to explain the strategy but I figure I will simply tell you what each of the Axis countries should be trying to do, either singly or collectively.
Collectively, the Axis players have some essential goals. In any strategy that involves primarily building a navy, the Soviet Union is going to be a real threat. But don’t worry, they won’t be unstoppable and they won’t be growing into a monster. The Soviet Union economy can be kept at around 30 per turn as long as the Axis players are sending around 30 IPCs worth of land units each turn towards the Soviet Union (and actually, it probably doesn’t even have to be that much). The rest of your money will go towards naval units, as well as the occasional transport and infantry to load up in those transports. Now, you won’t be playing totally defensively against the Soviet Union. In fact, your first few turns may be highly aggressive against them. I’ll go into more detail about that when I’m discussing each Axis player singly.
Another collective goal is for the Axis players to deny the Allies as much of an economy as possible by occupying sea zones with convoys each turn. Just look at the map. There are a ton of sea zones with convoys in them. But don’t overdo it with the surface ships. You’ll have to figure out the right balance of surface ships along with transports loaded with infantry. In order for this strategy to work, you must force the UK, ANZAC, and to a lesser extent the USA to build infantry to protect themselves from a possible invasion. You can’t do that without transports. The thing is, while they are building infantry, they most likely would really like to be building a fleet in an attempt to take out your navy and bring the battle to your shores. Your transports can then pick off small islands as well as places like Brazil. Your economy needs to be growing each turn while theirs needs to shrink each turn. Once you dominate the seas and are making more money each turn than the Allies are, then you can switch to building more land units to take out various victory cities.
If you are playing with the optional technology rules, then obviously you should be going for chart 2 technologies, Every one of these technologies will help you, even radar (to shoot down more Soviet planes). Don’t go overboard. Perhaps buy 1 dice roll per turn for each Axis player. Germany should not be greedy: let the Italian player pick up some of the neutrals so that their economy can get to around 25 so that even they can afford a tech roll each turn. The Italian player should be allowed to have fun too. With one tech roll per turn per player, statistically that is one technological advance every other turn. It should make for a different game every time. Of course, the Allies may be tech rolling each turn also but they won’t be able to afford it as much due to their convoys being disrupted. However, if the Soviets get some really good chart 1 tech advances, then they could very well turn the game into an Allied victory. Hey, there are no guarantees if you use tech rules.
This naval strategy actually makes it more likely that the Axis will violate strict neutral territory. As long as this strategy is working for the Axis, there is no way the Allies are going to be able to send transports to South America, Spain, or Sweden to activate them. The transports will get sunk as soon as they are built. The Axis can use their transports and infantry to take out one neutral after another while using their planes and bombardments for extra punch. Admittedly, the Allies would be able to easily activate Turkey, Mongolia, Afghanistan and all of the African neutrals, so I’m not saying the Axis should definitely violate strict neutrals. It really depends on the situation and how fast the Axis players think they can take out the neutrals to get extra income.
Ok, now for single objectives for each Axis country.
Germany. For the first four or five turns, buy nothing but naval units, including enough transports to force UK into building a lot of infantry to prevent an invasion. Build a few carriers and land fighters on them to protect your fleet. Build a ton of subs to convoy raid. With the plunder from France as well as your national objectives, you can afford a very large navy in four or five turns. It’s going to take the Soviets that long to finally match the tanks, planes, artillery and infantry that you have. Plus, since your goal is to dominate the Atlantic, you can send every land unit to the Russian front to try to stalemate them. Destroy as much of the UK navy as you can on turn 1 and prevent them from rebuilding their navy while you start taking out their economy by disrupting convoys in the Atlantic. You may even consider attacking the Soviets on turn 1. I read in another thread about attacking the Soviets on turn 1, not to conquer them, but to destroy enough of their infantry and force them to spend a turn or two rebuilding their infantry before they can get around to building up more offensive units. I’m not sure how many Soviet infantry you can take out turn 1 if you are also taking out France and the UK navy but it may be worth a try. Be sure to occupy SZ 125 to prevent the Soviets from gaining their national objective.
After the first four or five turns, start building more infantry each turn to stalemate and/or trade territories with the Soviets. At first, you may be doing most of the sending of infantry to the Soviets, but as Italy builds up its economy they can contribute more. Use your naval bases and transports to pick off islands such as Cuba and bigger prizes such as Brazil.
Italy. You may have to totally rebuild your navy depending on what UK does. But with all those German naval builds, it may actually be a mistake for UK to destroy your navy. Who knows. At any rate, your primary goal is to activate/conquer enough neutrals to get your economy rolling and build one or two subs each turn. Your subs will mainly be used to disrupt convoys all around Africa while Germany is taking care of the Atlantic convoy territories. Like Germany, an occasional transport build here and there to actually take out territory will be useful. Try to relieve Germany by sending as many infantry as you can afford to the Russian front. I think this is a really cool strategy for Italy since they actually will get to do something.
Japan. You will probably have the hardest role to play in all of this. You have to get your economy large enough to really crank out the naval units and start disrupting convoy seazones in the Pacific. You also have to make sure that the Soviets ALWAYS have at least one original territory no longer in their possession or they will gain 6 IPCs for EACH original German territory that they control. You have to put enough pressure on India to make sure they don’t go through the Suez canal and crush Italy. And you have to do all this while putting enough pressure on the USA to force them to build infantry and/or fleet in the Pacific theatre so that they can’t use all their money to crush the German fleet.
Notice I haven’t mentioned Japan taking out China. That’s because I highly doubt they can do all the above AND still take out China. In fact, I doubt they can do all the above and even keep the original Chinese territories that they control. If you can, more power to you. But perhaps it’s more realistic to plan a slow retreat out of China as you gain other territories. Where should those infantry go? Probably, most of them should go towards India just to keep the UK from going wild against Italy. With a large enough navy, it should be fairly easy to take out Honolulu and Sydney, giving you an extra 10 IPCs in national objectives. The USA can prevent this by building mainly in the Pacific, but then Germany has an easier time in the Atlantic. Also, remember you will be sending a few infantry each turn into the Soviet Union in order to force the Soviets not to focus totally on Germany.
As Japan, you won’t necessarily be trying to take out every territory that you can. It may suffice to allow the Allies to keep a territory while your naval units are disrupting convoys and denying them from actually benefiting from owning the territory.
Ok, that is the summary of my strategy. I’m sure I’ve left out a few things that I’ve thought about discussing but it will have to do. If the Axis can actually pull off a win using this general strategy, then it will certainly make for a different game compared to previous versions of Axis and Allies. Also, there are many questions that need to be answered before anyone can say that this strategy definitely won’t work. Here are some questions I can think of off the top of my hat:
1. Should Japan attack UK/ANZAC/USA round 1? Or should they position their units better?
2. Should Japan attack the Soviets on round 1?
3. For all of the Axis players, what exactly is the ideal mix between attacking naval ships versus transports?
4. How many neutrals can Germany allow Italy to take so that Italy can actually do something without compromising its (Germany’s) position?
5. How much money should be spent on tech rolls?
6. Should the Japanese navy try to link up with the German and Italian navies if the USA invests heavily in the Atlantic?
There are many questions that need to be answered in order to perfect this strategy. I have no idea if this strategy can win the Axis many games but I do know that if you lose with this strategy, you will be able to ask yourself, “What if I had done this one thing differently? Would the Axis have won the game then?” It will take many games before you exhaust all the questions that can be asked about this strategy. And this is just one naval strategy that I’ve thought of. I’m sure there are many other strategies that will be thought of for both the Axis side and the Allied side. This global game will really take years to master.