Axis and Allies 1914: A first look at strategy

AA1914_9359After a debut session of Axis and Allies 1914, comes initial thoughts about the strategies required and opinions how some of the mechanics fared to our expectations.  World War II strategies don’t work well, not even your some of your favorites.

 Teamwork is essential

1914 introduced different mechanisms making combat more laborious.   First, combat is finished after one set of rolls by both attacker and defender.  It may take several attempts before the territory is temporarily uncontested and IPC can be earned.   More importantly, land grabs are fleeting making advancement nearly impossible without help from allies.

Powers must conduct a “clear and contest” strategy requiring multiple representatives of forces in a single territory.  As one power clears the territory of enemies, the ally advances and contests the adjacent territory before the enemy can counter.

Amphibious assaults are conducted at peril

The 1914 prequel carries over a long-lived strategy of amphibious landings.   However, 1914 differentiates an initial assault from a follow up reinforcements.   Assaults are landings that contest enemy territory, this is your only opportunity for a battleship to make its one, single roll.  Chances are it will make little difference.  But it gets worse.  You may need to navigate through enemy sea mines.  Each vessel must survive a roll.   Statistically, expect 1 in 6 ships to sink with its cargo before they make it to shore.  But it gets worse.  Each defending artillery gets a free roll to pick off and destroy an offloading unit.  Stacks of artillery defending coastal territories are a mighty and effective deterrent.

The United States is a big, lumbering sledgehammer

Playing the United States power is a unique experience.  They must cross the ocean, often taking an extra turn to reach a strategic location.   They must wait several rounds until they’re allowed to enter the war.   As they bide their time, they build their invasion fleets.  When arriving at their destination, they offload an impressive army making an impact into an already entrenched war.  However, this cycle repeats and the US will have to wait another several rounds to recollect their transports to ship a second wave.   The United States is responsible to accelerate the war’s end in Allied favor.

The easy strategy is swallowing the smaller powers first

The Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Russia Empire are prime targets to victimize.  The Ottoman have little resources and are nudged by Great Britain.  Both Russia and Italy are under the thumbs of both Germany and the Austrian-Hungary Empire.   Russia is susceptible to a revolution taking them out of the war, albeit the conditions are difficult to achieve.  With the many number of powers, each side counters the other relentlessly by contesting territories and keeping economies in check.   It is convenient and easy to simplify the war by picking on the weak.  This is especially important to the Central Powers before the introduction of the United States.

There are incentives conquering friendly and enemy neutrals

Expanding your side’s global sphere of influence is an important strategy to victory.  Reaching friendly neutrals is a quick, easy way to expand your economy and raise small armies joining the war.  Conversely, it becomes imperative to reach enemy neutrals first.  Best to prevent your opponent from achieving something easy by doing something  difficult.  Never allow the enemy to grab IPC easy and effortlessly.  Contest, entrench, and in time, grab new territories and march.

No one will purchase a new cruiser

After setting up the board, you’ll notice cruisers are everywhere.  They’re pretty expensive for what they do.   The submarine is more cost effective while the battleship, expensive for WWI economies, is more prestigious, powerful, and fun to own.  By the time the board have nearly depleted of cruisers, the war will be nearing a conclusion.  It becomes the most unpopular piece.

Advanced warfare matters, but later in the war

Fighter planes and tanks are expensive additions to your military.  Early, use them with caution.  Later in the war, expect them to make the final difference.  As expected, advanced weaponry will be used sparingly by wealthier powers.  As the war progresses, every power works hard to catch up and be equal.

Fighters make artillery more effective.  If air supremacy is unchallenged, the outcome over a territory can be accelerated.  But only with a stack of artillery and enough infantry as cannon fodder.   Careful not to fall in love with fighters too much.  Without artillery, they are expensive combat units and not too effective contributing a strafing run.

Armored tanks are loud behemoths.  They are worth twice infantry and make for poor defense.  Their attribute to absorb hits (when on the offensive) are little noticed in great battles with numbered few.  However, a column of armor with a complement of supporting units can overwhelm smaller armies on the defensive.  As the war progresses, one power or another will have collected a juggernaut ready to roll through Europe unscathed.







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