Best Strategy Games - Axis & Allies Strategy

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General Strategies for Axis & Allies 3rd Edition

Overall Topics

2 Suggested House Rules for Balance

1. No Technology. This keeps it simple and removes all technologies from the game. Technologies are fun when they are situational (the Allied transport fleet is just out of reach of a mass of German planes, and long range air would allow Germany to attack the fleet), but technologies are usually too good, like rockets and heavy bombers, and should always be gone after by various players, or they are too bad, like combined bombardment, and should never be gone after.

2. No Heavy Bombers. This is my preferred house rule. It still allows the Axis to go after Rockets, which helps keep the game balanced by helping the Axis, but denies all players the cataclysmic involvement of Heavy Bombers. With Heavy Bombers in the game, and players pursuing optimal paths, the game takes on a completely different feel and the luck of "who got Heavy Bombers first and didnít get shot down by AA fire" becomes extremely critical in determining game results.

Artillery Utilization

To someonw who has played the 2nd edition game for a long time, artillery can be hard to fully comprehend what is a good use of them and what isnít. They are actually a better unit than tanks. Big battles are going to involve long periods of buildup, so the slow moving artillery will still be able to keep up with the infantry. The small back and forth battles are the situations in which it is most difficult to appreciate the use of artillery. You typically want to minimize the units that you leave behind in a territory, because your opponent is just going to take it back with minimal casualties. A 4 IPC artillery is a juicier target for them to destroy than a 3 IPC infantry, so you arguably donít want to leave too many artillery units in those exposed territories. If you have plenty of planes to assist you in taking the territory in the first place, that argument is correct, and you should leave your artillery behind and only take the territory with infantry and planes. However, if you donít have enough planes to assign to all of the back and forth battles that you hope to fight, artillery are the ideal unit to send in with your infantry. An artillery adds 2 die points to the battle over what an additional infantry would add, because the artillery rolls on a 2 or less and bumps an accompanying infantry up to a 2 or less, while 2 infantry alone would just roll a hit on a 1. Those 2 die points, result in 1/3 more hits on the first round of battle (2/6 = 1/3). Usually that 1/3 of a hit is on a 3 IPC infantry. 1/3 * 3 IPCs = 1 IPC of additionally destroyed enemy resources for each round of battle. So when you donít have enough planes to take care of all the back and forth battles youíre fighting, donít hesitate to send an artillery in to support a couple of infantry to take back a territory- itíll pay for itself.

The Mental Game

While Axis & Allies comes down to dice rolls and strategic moves, there is an unappreciated psychological aspect to it, the mental game. In most games, youíve played your opponent before and therefore know their tendencies. People are creatures of habit and players are no exception. Furthermore, players will often think their strategy is the optimal strategy and may have explained it to you at some point in the past. Make full use of those patterns and modify your own game plans accordingly. If you know that your opponent would never invade Western Europe unless he has a 2:1 superiority, then you donít have to defend with as many units to keep him away. If your opponent is paranoid of sending his planes against a territory that has AA, then make sure youíve got plenty of AA units scattered around with your army groups. If your opponent has made a comment before about a certain strategic move being a ďsucker move,Ē you can rest assured heís not about to do that and donít need to worry about him making that move in your own troop allocations.

Fighters vs. AA

When you attack with a fighter, youíll lose (1/6)*10 IPCs per fighter, or 1.67 IPCs. If you plan to only roll one round of battle, and each fighter would only kill infantry, then youíll only kill (3/6)*3 IPCs = 1.5 IPCs. Economically, this means you shouldnít attack if the battle is likely to only last a single round. However, if the battle is going to last for multiple rounds, then you have to remember that youíll kill more units each round that fighter stays in the battle and any hits on earlier rounds means those destroyed enemy units arenít firing back at your forces in later rounds. So, unless itís an extremely important battle, donít make one round attacks with fighters against enemy infantry defended by AA. If youíre going to fight for more than one round, itís economically worthwhile.

Ignore the German Baltic Fleet

If Germany builds a carrier and stays in the Baltic Sea with their Baltic fleet, then donít worry about attacking it. As long as you donít put yourself in a position where it can attack you, itís harmless. You can always deal with it late in the game when youíre winning by a big margin. Until then, youíre risking valuable planes and transports taking it out, all of which take time for you to replace, and youíll likely need to, while the Germans simply wonít replace their fleet, because itís not as important to them. If you can help it, donít trade useful Allied planes for useless German Baltic naval units that are remaining in the Baltic. On the other hand, should that fleet leave the Baltic, it becomes a much more active threat to you and should be dealt with. Similarly, the German Mediterranean fleet is a threat because it supports Africa and itís battleship bombard will continue to kill Russian and UK infantry bordering the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Have a Math Mindset

It may not be as much fun as rolling handfuls of dice in big battles, but the person that does their math homework in the game (calculating odds, determining appropriate levels of defense and reinforcement, etc) will be the one that ultimately has the most fun in those big battles, because they will be winning. Axis & Allies should involve constant calculations if you want to maximize your chance to win. Even though the revised game has more degrees of freedom than the 2nd edition game, if players are pursuing optimal strategies, the game will still bog down tremendously and turn into an old fashioned infantry slugfest.

The most useful calculation is how many die points you and your opponent both have. Die points are what your unit will hit on. Fighters hit on a 3 or less while attacking, having 3 offensive die points. You can either just compare die points (add up how many you have and your opponent have), or you could calculate a modified die point total (add up how many die points you have + how many units you have compared to how many die points your opponent has + how many units they have). You should always remember the importance of having cannon fodder so that you can absorb hits and still preserve the bulk of your fighting power (12 attacking infantry will defeat 3 defending fighters every time, although they both have 12 die points). The modified die point total includes this cannon fodder factor and in that example would have (24 points for the 12 attacking infantry [12 for the die rolls + 12 for 12 infantry] and 15 die points for the defending fighters [12 for the die rolls + 3 for 3 fighters]). This modified die point total gives you an accurate picture of who should win the battle and how close the fight will be.

House Rules

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Axis & Allies is that if you get tired of playing a certain way, or have a creative mind, then you can develop your own house rules. This is a good way to keep the game exciting and fresh and as long as your circle of friends that play the game with you are in agreement, you should try implementing either your own rules or ones that you can easily find at any number of related websites online.