While I admit I do not follow all nine steps myself, I will also admit that nearly every game I have ever lost of Axis and Allies, Axis and Allies Revised, Axis and Allies Revised enhanced and the other flavors of Axis and Allies has been because I have failed to abide by the nine
laws of warfare listed below.

It should be noted that these are similar to the nine laws officers of the military learn to incorporate and the same nine laws that most businessmen learn when attempting to earn a business degree. However, they apply just as much to the game as they do in life.

I am going to try and avoid using acronyms or abbreviations in an effort to make it understandable to everyone, not just regulars. Smiley

Axis and Allies, the strategy:

1. Objective: Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.

In other words, do not get bogged down in inconsequential theaters of operations. If England builds an Industrial Complex in Madagascar, do not get into a war to capture it if your over reaching goal is to conquer Russia. I have seen too many games where some out of the way territory becomes the focus of the war and the players seem to have forgotten that the goal is to take the other team’s capitol territories.

2. Offensive: Seize, retain and exploit the initiative.

Easier said then done, I know. But true none-the-less. Basically, the concept is to put your opponent on the defensive and keep him there.
This allows you to dictate what pieces will be sacrificed, what territories will be traded, and what avenues will be open to attack.

3. Mass: Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time.

Almost everyone knows this already. You bring your forces together so they can attack at one time (even if coming from different territories) to disable your enemy’s armies as fast and decisively as possible.

Honestly, I am going to say that it’s better to let certain territories go without being attacked if it means you can bring more firepower to critical battles. There’s mass of force both on the offensive and defensive and if you can win with more survivors by avoiding other battles, depending on the board position, it may well be within your best interests to leave them prosecuted.

Just for example, if you can attack Ukraine, Belorussia and Karelia but the results would most likely leave a counter attack with a 40% chance of success or you just attack Ukraine and leave any counter attack with only a 10% chance of success, it may be better to hit only Ukraine and leave the other two territories unconquered.

4. Economy of Force: Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.

How often have you played a game where Germany and/or England/America have dedicated literally hundreds of IPCs worth of Navy, Air Force and Armies to the conquest of Africa? How often was it necessary? Africa is a secondary effort. It’s great income if you can get it relatively uncontested, it’s not so important if it drains you of the resources you need to win the war (Berlin or Moscow depending on which side you are on; generally speaking.)

Same with Operation Sea Lion (the German Amphibious Assault on England). Great if you can pull it off, but keep your eyes on the objective {see number 1}.

5. Maneuver: Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.

The idea is not to destroy your enemy’s armies, per se, but to negate their effect by getting them out of position.

For instance, the Japanese may have the strongest navy in the world, but if it’s in SZ 15 and not in SZ 60, it is not defending against the
Americans in the Pacific very well, is it?

Germany may have the most tanks and planes in the game, but if they are all locked in W. Europe defending against D-Day (Consecutive English and American invasions of W. Europe from England/Norway) they are not helping Germany defeat Russia.

Russia may have a 300 IPC army on the board, but if it’s all in Europe it is not stopping Japan from advancing.

All of these are examples of out maneuvering your opponent. You can do this with the “rope a dope” trick where one nation sets up easy wins for the enemy in a consecutive order to move them out of the way, or through threats to the enemy’s rear forcing them to either allow you to win on that front or dedicate valuable resources to stopping you. This works best if your threatening force is not locked up trying to maintain the threat; for instance in the W. Europe/D-Day example. In that example, America and England are shuttling forces to Norway from England allowing them to have forces in both Norway and England that can simultaneously attack W. Europe on any given round.

6. Unity of Command: For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander.

This comes into play in team games only. You and your teammate(s) need to sit down, establish an over reaching objective, short term objectives and then appoint one player to be the “commander” for all forces. This commander will coordinate the nations so that everyone’s tactics work in concert to reach the alliance’s objectives. This commander should be able to see the big picture so he can sacrifice where sacrifice is needed and rally reinforcements where strengths are needed.

7. Security: Never permit the enemy to acquire an advantage.

Once you gain the initiative, you need to endeavor to keep it. I used to use a football analogy when training officers who were junior to me in
military tactics. It’s like the center grabbing the other guy’s face mask and every time he attempts to look somewhere else, he shacks the mask. If that does not regain the opponents attention, then the center can give the guy a kick to the rear.

Basically, the idea is too keep your opponent focused where you want him focused. This will force him to play your game.

8. Surprise: Strike the enemy at a time and/or place and in a manner for which he is unprepared.

I cannot even count the number of games that have been lost due to players falling into the same traps and playing right into their
opponent’s strong points.

If your opponent is really good at XY and Z, then force him to play AB and C. For instance, your opponent has the formula down pat for the transport mechanism to get troops from North America and England to Europe with the most efficient speed. You know this before even starting the game. So why let him do it? Set up a German navy, building on what you already have, and throw a wrench in the works.

Your opponent has moved the Japanese navy into the Mediterranean Sea, but you were able to take Egypt and thus close the Suez Canal preventing their timely escape. Why not put a carrier, 2 fighters and a transport in SZ 55 and raid the islands in the Pacific? You can always bring them to Europe instead of Japan goes nuts building submarines, and it’s doubtful that Japan would expect that maneuver.

You think you can do serious damage to Germany’s defense at the cost of England’s army, but you know that America will have time to build up and eventually win each round and by draining Germany’s infantry you can free up Russians to defend Moscow, why not do it? Not many players would expect England to throw away 30 IPC worth of units a round to kill 4 or 5 infantry, but if it furthers you towards your objective,
then there is nothing wrong with it, and the surprise alone would be nice to see on his face!

9. Simplicity: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

Complex, intricate plans fail more time then they succeed. Keep the plan simple. If you are going to attack Japan, then attack Japan, not Germany. If you are going to attack Russia, then attack Russia, don’t build fleet to go attack the British.

Most plans can be written on the cover of a matchbook. If it does not fit on the cover of a matchbook, it’s too complex.

Obviously the above are my personal opinions. And, as I said before, I don’t ALWAYS follow my own advice. Then again, as I also said, when I fail to follow my own advice, I almost always fail.

Edit 1:

One should always perform a SWOT analysis before finalizing any combat moves. SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. Try to run this both for yourself, and from your opponent’s

If I invade Ukraine with everything I have, can I be destroyed? If I am destroyed, will my opponent destroy himself? If he destroys himself, can I recover faster? Based on his previous game play, will he attempt to destroy me? What can his ally(ies) do to me if I fail to defend well?

Photo Credit: photo is Copyright free and in the Public Domain courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum