A&A 1942 SE – Common Novice Mistakes for Each Country – Strategy Guide
The following are basic guidelines for climbing to high gold and low platinum in the Beamdog online version of Axis and Allies Spring 1942 Second Edition. As a player improves, details given below are sure to be adapted. Nevertheless, if the main goal of a player is to climb in rank and skill level, fixing the below holes in gameplay are a straightforward way to go about it. At a more advanced level, a player who understands the general rules/meta will be better equipped to break them. This guide is meant to be accessible for newcomers and beginners, but they would still do well to learn some of the jargon. I am hoping that his guide will help the player base improve, and decrease the number of games I see where the game is basically over within the first two rounds.
Overall allies strategy summary: Do KGF, which stands for “Kill Germany First.” This is the most straightforward way to win. Again, if you are a beginner and want to climb, save the other strategies for when you have more experience. Kill Japan First (KJF) has some serious potential for overcoming the axis advantage, but learning to climb with KGF first is still advisable. Finally, after you master the standard KGF and start to encounter better players, consider learning how to incorporate strategic bombing raids in your KGF strategy.
Overall axis strategy summary: Gang up on the Soviet Union with Japan and Germany. Most allies players will go for KGF, so you want to play a defensive game with Germany (you need to survive!), and a rapid expansionist game with Japan to the mainland, not the pacific.
Required reading: Don’s axis and allies essays – main point here is understanding the importance of infantry (http://donsessays.freeservers.com/)
Mistake #1: Buying anything except infantry and artillery – Your job is to put up a mass of bodies to slow the German and Japanese advance. Against a competent German player, inefficient buys such as tanks and fighters will cause your front line to collapse.
Mistake #2: Buying only infantry – It is easy to think that you must simply turtle and stack up a wall of infantry, but this is a mistake. Instead, what you need to understand is that your resupply lines (Moscow/Caucasus) are closer than the German resupply line (Berlin), so having artillery on hand to strike back at opportune times is critical. Impatient German players will stack right next to you, so having artillery gives your infantry mass the much needed THREAT of being able to wipe out anything next to it.
Artillery allows you to strafe more effectively, which means attacking in greater force with the intent to retreat to avoid a counter-attack - YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THIS MECHANIC AS USSR (https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/topic/19845/strafing/2)
Mistake #3: Putting stacks in positions to be wiped out – a clear example of this is on the Siberian front with Japan – avoid putting your 5-6 infantry on the coastline! It may be tempting to attack/defend Buryatia or soviet far east, but Japan can bombard and use its airpower to remove your entire stack, leaving you with nothing left to defend. In general, Japan will only lightly invest in this theater, but if they do push hard for Siberia, just fall back a space every turn.
As the USSR, become comfortable with trading land for time – time for your allies to help you. Round 1 always buy 4inf 3art, and attack Ukraine with everything in range including the tanks and planes. Use all other units to attack West Russia, and then during non combat land planes in caucuses and move your anti-aircraft guns to West Russia. In non-combat, send all eastern units to the west, with the exception of one infantry in Buryatia and one infantry to support the US fighter in China.
(In the future, you can consider doing a STRAFE on Ukraine if you manage to kill key units there (bomber) and want to keep your heavy hitting mobile tanks. Also, the occasional luxury buy on USSR later on (tank and maybe even third fighter) can be very powerful in certain situations.)
Mistake #1: Losing tanks and fighters – As Germany you should only risk your tanks when you have a massive stack of infantry to back you up. If you lose your fighters needlessly, the allies will not be forced to buy an expensive navy. Air power is valuable because of the THREAT (+flexibility) it provides, not necessarily the follow-through of that threat. You cannot afford to be left without an air force (to guard your coastline and trade territories) or tanks (to support the infantry mass you should be producing).
Mistake #2: Buying anything except infantry and artillery early! This is the same idea as the Soviet Union section. The front is bloody and filled with casualties, and you need infantry to soak those casualties. Look at the starting board for Germany, you already have a mass of tanks and airplanes – you do not need more firepower early, only sponges to soak hits to prevent the first mistake. Your approximate ratio of inf/art can be around 3 to 1 after the first two turns, but this can be more or less depending on what fits your max IPC buy. Later on, create a “wave” by purchasing a few tanks to catch up with your infantry and eventually crash into the Russian front (with planes being the tail end of the wave). Versus a hard KGF, stick to almost all infantry, and let Japan put most of the pressure on Moscow.
Mistake #3: Over-investing in Africa or a navy. If you are beginner, I will just say never buy ships on Germany period. As far as Africa, play with the units you have (send over mainland units with the transport round 1), but after your transport is destroyed, just let Africa fall and focus on defending your capital and marching infantry towards Moscow.
Just keep it simple and buy 11inf 2art round 1. Send everything in range to hit sz7 (you can spare 1 sub for the other UK destroyer if you prefer). Land your fighters in Finland or northwest Europe. Attack trans-jordan with inf/art from Italy and battleship to clear destroyer. Do not get your large stacks within striking range of the Russian inf/art stack until your units have enough defensive power. This should avoid some of the danger caused by a USSR player who knows how to hit back (i.e. calculated strafes and trades). In general, the game plan (more so in KJF where you need to force the win with Germany) is to stack Karelia round 2, Belorussia round 3, Ukraine round 4, West Russia round 5, Caucasus round 6-7, and capture Moscow round 8-10. Consider SLOWLY growing your air power after G2 as you spam out inf/art. The switch to tanks may come later than you would like, as you will usually always need infantry back in Berlin to defend. Versus a KGF, be patient and let Japan win the game for you. Your win main KGF win condition is keeping allies stuck in the Nordics by stacking Karelia with infantry and preventing allies from safely stacking France or NW Europe
Mistake #1: Focusing on the wrong part of the map. Stop building factories and buying planes for India. Understand that India will likely fall to Japan turn 3-6, depending on how much your opponent wants it. (Note: India is a sideshow compared to Moscow, and better axis players will not go all in for it. That being said, intermediate Japan players love the India grab, and it may be wise to learn the timings to properly defend India, as allies can theoretically hold it much longer. UK planes plus Russian inf, tanks, and/or planes can save India.) You can mix in some tank/art with infantry buys in India, but in general only lash out there if Japan completely ignores it. At the same time, you need to invest enough to make sure Japan cannot easily take India. If Germany is building ships and transports to take Africa, let them, it is their loss, as USA/UK can easily recapture Africa later. As the allies, you should be thankful when you see Germany building anything but all infantry and artillery. Build a navy to ferry units to Finland in conjunction with the USA. Look up shuck-shuck strategy. (https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/topic/29805/noob-questions-on-kgf-shuck-shuck/3)
Mistake #2: Losing a massive stack of transports. You cannot afford to lose track of how big Germany’s air force is compared to your navy. You should not only be even, but slightly ahead, as you may face a desperation attack and do not want the fate of the game determined on one dice battle. Use some destroyers as fodder, but the bulk of your navy should be carriers and fighters, with the US supplying the most. Do not be afraid to buy all ships/planes one round (usually a sin to spend on ships) if you realize you messed up and an impending Germany suicide run is coming. Any US ship reinforcements take longer to arrive.
Mistake #3: Not helping USSR when you can. This is hard to give details on, but if you have a few units nearby and an important battle is coming in Caucuses or Moscow, send them. This is very applicable for fighters. Some who criticize the balance of this game and other versions say that it is all a game of “how many fighters can I send to Moscow.” Understand this idea and the fact that keeping Moscow alive is a top objective, right up there with crushing Germany.
Buy 3 infantry for India one carrier + destroyer for sz7. If you calculate this is too risky, buy 1-2 fighters for UK instead and save the rest (send original fighters to West Russia or Iceland -> Moscow). Take out the German transport to prevent Operation Sealion. Turn one you need to destroy the Japanese transport. Send aircraft carrier + fighter/cruiser/both. Do not do the risk navy attack at sea zone 37, especially since we are not doing KJF. Turn two you create navy if you could not turn 1.
Mistake #1: Not doing pearl harbor. The full pearl harbor attack is when you send everything in range and take low defending units as casualties. A better option for this game version is known as pearl harbor light. Send the fighter and bomber from mainland, sub, cruiser, and fighter on the nearest carrier (1 sub 1 Cru 2 fig 1 bom). For casualties, take the fighter with the least amount of fuel left, as you will be losing that one regardless. For all other casualties take ships. Do not put your aircraft carrier on the combat zone. KJF (kill Japan first) is becoming more mapped out by players, so in the future learning to defend against it will be important. Not doing pearl harbor light encourages a strong KJF.
Mistake #2: Over focusing on Siberia. Just take the free territories and focus on the China route to Russia or taking India. I will leave out the debate on whether to run the quick India focus strategy or not, as it depends on how heavily the UK invests in India. If the USSR makes the mistake I mentioned of attacking a coastal territory, then crush them in one swift blow and enjoy your tank blitz through the Russian countryside.
Mistake #3: Buying ships and losing fighters. Do not buy ships unless the US clearly signals it is going KJF. In this case buy 2-4 submarines and reposition a few planes to create a deadzone in the sea. Learn what a deadzone is if you do not know already – this is a key concept for land as well. (http://donsessays.freeservers.com/deadzone.htm) Remember, the seazones closest to japan offer far more mobility, so if you did pearl harbor light the you should be able to stay ahead in the pacific. On Japan, your airforce serves as a force multiplier for your long supply lines and spread out ground forces. Axis powers especially cannot afford to needlessly lose fighters.
Buy 2 transports, 1 destroyer, and 2 artillery. This is a safe buy, and your goal is to solidify your position against crazy openers that weaker opponents often try against Japan. Build up to 4 transports as soon as possible. Your goal every turn is to seamlessly ferry 8 units (mostly inf plus some art) to Yunnan. On round 3, only when you are certainly facing a KGF, you should buy a Manchuria factory. Round 4 you can buy a 5th transport to sail around with some extra warships to take Australia/NZ and Hawaii. Round 6, if everything is going well you can buy another factory in Kwangtung. This will allow you to output maximum units at the Russian front. Eventually, you will have the power to stack Kazahk and then Caucasus. From there you build 4 artillery per turn in Caucasus until you can take Moscow.
Mistake #1: Not doing shuck-shuck. Look up what this strategy is. Ignore the pacific and spend all points to safely ferry infantry over to Finland to support USSR. Any fleet (plus transport w/ two infantry from west USA) that survives japan pearl harbor should be transferred over to the Atlantic. Watch out for a sneaky west USA attack. Losing Alaska is not a big deal – just buy some infantry to secure west USA, as east Canada will be walled off from the units funneling into shuck-shuck.
Mistake #2: Same as England – take enough precautions to defend your transports. The TUV (total unit value) trade for Germany goes through the roof when you lose 8+ transports even if Germany loses most of its air force. You cannot afford for Germany to buy that much time for itself.
Mistake #3: Not helping Russia when you can. See UK tip #3.
Standard round 1 buy is 1 carrier, 1 destroyer, 2 transports, and 2 inf. For future buys, make sure your infantry to transport ratio is on point – don’t have infantry sitting around waiting for transports or transports waiting for infantry. You can consider keeping your navel units in the pacific and even buying a very small amount of ships if you notice Japan is getting away with spending nothing to guard their shores. This will only work at lower levels, but making Japan waste money on ships is less money funneled at USSR.
Mistake #1: Buying factories – rarely buy a factory on any nation. Most factory purchases are extremely inefficient. Only buy factories when there are production limitations with Japan in a KGF.
Mistake #2: Buying battleships or cruisers. If you are building a navy in the first place you better be the UK or US (once and a while japan), assuming you followed previous tips. Cruisers and battleships are hopelessly outclassed by destroyers and carriers + fighters. Do not ever buy cruisers or battleships unless you are trolling or have a rare production limit problem.
Mistake #3: Fix and be aware of your defense profiles. You need one profile that is defend territory at all costs, which does not prioritize based on unit value but rather defensive value. You switch to this before a game changing battle happens such as a Moscow invasion. Your other standard profile can be close to default with anti-aircraft taken as first casualty and cruiser taken before fighter (I recommend taking aircraft carrier before fighter in many cases). This profile needs a clone of it which is different in one way – submarines submerge. Change to submerge profile as the first thing you do on axis and make sure you do not submerge as allies. These three profiles are good enough for most players.
Mistake #4: Not understanding the impact of the turn order. Be aware that post Germany’s turn, the allies can deliver a triple punch with UK-US-USSR, and against Japan US-USSR-UK. This is also a factor on the Axis, for example after USSR moves, Germany can take new territory and then have Japanese fighters land on the territory for support. Related to this, make sure you know about the can-opener technique, which can cause tanks to blitz to areas you thought were guarded. (https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/topic/24454/blitz-units-can-openers-and-turn-order/6)
Mistake #5: Not using 3rd party statistical tools. Calculate important battles ahead of time, and start to define what probability ranges you are comfortable with. When players talk about what they “offer” on something, they are referring to the percentages calculated from a tool such as this one: http://calc.axisandallies.org/
Thank you for reading. Feel free to critique this guide. My in-game name and steam name is Tahweh (#1223), and I finished top 100 platinum with axis and allies in season 1. During season 2 I was excited to earn a spot on the top ten leaderboard as allies, but did not hold it for very long. More accurate was the best rank where both factions hovered, which was top 20.
Join player discord: https://discord.gg/wZ8TY7J
Here you will find truly elite players (top ten on the plat ranked ladder) with great advice
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