So I just aborted an Axis playthrough on April of 1943, because the Pacific front was getting hopeless, and the European front was likely about to turn against me as well - with the Allies poised to open a second European front earlier than I anticipated, and Barbarossa finally stalemated. Since this was the first deep playthrough, I obviously made a number of critical mistakes that experienced players would never make. Still, I thought it would be useful to jot down a brief summary of what happened - along with my observations and questions.
The game opened absurdly well for both Germany and Japan - the two main Axis "protagonists" in this game - though not for Italy.
On the European theater, Poland fell in two turns, and France went down on June of 1940. (I could have started invading France much earlier, but I did not want to Operate so many units; perhaps my penny-pinching short-term actually cost me MPPs long-term?) Italy, however, did nothing but relocate some troops to North Africa to hold the fort until Afrika Korps got there - as well as get ready to invade Malta. I did not even touch East Africa, because the position there seemed hopeless. All in all, I felt Italy so weak in this game that they felt like a "Minor" rather than a "Major" participant. I have elaborated my concerns elsewhere, but I really think they should be buffed a bit for balance purposes.
On the Pacific theater, Japan made surprising good progress early on - largely due to many good advice I found on this forum. As advised, I played for a stalemate in the center and instead advanced along the northern and southern routes; and I also supported both thrusts with artillery and bombers. I soon over-ran Nanning, and I was at the gates of Yenan by the summer of 1940.
All seemed good, again, except for the Italian situation: Italy has neither the military assets and the MPP to do anything in this game.
I did, however, in retrospect make a critical mistake in accepting the Vichy surrender even in these heady times. Obviously the extra MPPs could have been useful; but more significantly, being able to construct a German Mediterranean fleet on France's southern costs and combining with the Regia Marina may have turned the game later. I think this is what I will try in the future playthroughs.
Things started going badly starting the fall of 1940, however, and it all expectedly relates to Italy. The first major setback for the Axis was getting bogged down trying to invade Malta to secure supply to North Africa in preparation of the arrival of Afrika Korps. It took 7-8 turns to take that tiny, 1-hex island - in spite of the fact that I committed the entire Luftwaffe to it, along with relevant Italian formations! I did everything as outlined in multiple Malta-related threads. The delay was due to bad luck and perhaps out-dated information. In terms of bad luck, I had multiple turns with rain, so my massive air contingent from both Italian and German sides had to sit for multiple turns - in one case for consecutive turns. In terms of out-dated info, I did not prepare an amphibious force, because I was told a paratrooper could just jump in - and they could not. So I wasted another few turns moving a land unit to a port and putting it on an amphibious ship.
Meanwhile, Italy's North African contingent was falling apart at the same time. If I went through Malta more quickly than I did, then I would have been able to divert even more forces to North Africa sooner. But I was surprised at how fast the British attacked, and how feeble the Italian resistance proved to be. The Italians went belly up in North Africa before Rommel even arrived! Perhaps I also under-estimated how formidable the British presence would be in this region. Rommel's forces, too, were endangered of being over-run when they did arrive, and would evacuate what remained of them in late 1941.
Barbarossa began the summer of 1941. I planned it to be the spring of 1941, but I had to divert some units to conquer Yugoslavia, because they were about to join the Allies. (I skipped Greece, as I wanted to get to Barbarossa earlier - though the best-laid schemes of mice and men always tend to go awry, as is demonstrated by Yugoslavia's surprising turn in this case.) I am not sure how much this 3-4 months delay ultimately cost me, but the first year or so of Barbarossa still seemed to go reasonably well. I made it to close to the Daugava-Dnieper line around the end of 1941. This is obviously slower than the German progress of 1941 historically, but I do not think you can cover the same distance in this game as quickly as the historical Wehrmacht did.
The Pacific front was also still going well this time, too - or so I thought. Chungking and Yenan were both in my hands by the fall of 1941, and I was quickly moving onto Chengdu and Kunming. But, alas, the problem was that I was too all-in on China. Yet to finish China, as one poster advised me, I would likely need to conquer Southeast to fuel my military. I did not even start to prepare for this, in spite of the in-game notice that urged me to do this. China's downfall seemed so near, and I wanted to finish the job before I turned to the rest of the Pacific. Yet, China's interior is so vast, that it was impossible to fully conquer it before the U.S. joined the war. (I should have remembered that it took even the Mongols more than half a century to fully conquer China.) So the Pacific was already beginning to be out of reach before I even knew it.
This was a bad year, as every front began to unravel. To begin with, Barbarossa ground to a halt in the late fall, once I reached the gates of all three major historic objective cities: Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. All my front-line units were depleted by this time, even though I had lost zero German units on the European continental front. (All my German losses had been on the seas or Africa.) Most units were down to 5-7 Strength from years of uninterrupted fighting and marching, suffering from low supply, and plagued with horrendous Morale (even though all my units were attached to maxed or near-maxed HQs.) And the Russian resistance stiffened dramatically, too, once I got to these three objective cities. The Soviet Lazarus seemed to be generating higher tier units now, and they had caught up technology-wise, too. So I could make no headway any longer - just as in the real historical analogue.
But the Eastern front was not the only problem for the Germans; a second front was being threatened - far sooner than I had anticipated. You see, I expected an Allied invasion around 1944, but there were already probing landings by single units by late 1942; and the massive armada gathering in the English channel made me think a full invasion would come in 1943, not 1944. And this is a major, perhaps game-breaking, problem for me, since I left nothing but a few Garrisons on the West.
So what was I to do as Germany? I am stalemated at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad in the east; I am facing what seems to be an imminent invasion across the English Channel with no troops to defend the Western front. Well, I had this bright idea to attack the combined UK-US armada with my North Sea fleet. In my defense, I had a massive armada that was doing nothing but sitting, including 3 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, and the rest of the non-capital ships. In fact, I had only lost a few U-boats and a surface ship that was near South America at the start of the game. So I had considerable naval assets. The problem is that the combined UK-US fleet turned out to be even larger and quite ahead on tech - which I did not factor. So it ended up what amounted to be a suicide, as I took a one-sided beating. But I felt that this was worth a gamble, as it may have been a "use it or lose it" scenario for the North Sea fleet. But the ultimate outcome was that I was even more exposed now in the West, as I concluded the 1942 campaign season.
In the meantime, because I was so absorbed in finishing China, I continued to do nothing in the rest of the Pacific theater as Japan. I felt I was so very close to knocking China out, as I was near Lanchow and Wanting by the time the U.S. declared war on February of 1942. I know I should have moved at least a portion of my forces to sweep Southeast Asia, but I again, I was obsessed with China.
So I started belatedly moving Japanese troops around and hastily forming amphibious landing plans on various Pacific islands after the U.S. declared. Yet, in addition to being horribly late in doing so, I had another serious problem: I did not realize that putting units on long distance amphibious crafts would be so expensive, and I did not have cash to do so except in a drip, drip - piecemeal - fashion. At this point, I am making in the low 300 MPPs as Japan - less than half of Germany's MPPs. Pitiful, really. But I would have thought taking so much of China would give me a wee bit more? Low 300s is basically a bit more than my starting income as Japan!
The sad upshot is that, by the end of 1942, I had not acquired anything in the Pacific, except the Philippines and a few insignificant islands east of Truk and west of Hawaii. Yes, that pathetic. I did not even touch the Dutch East Indies; and my attempt to re-do a Pearl Harbor bombing was aborted when I realized that all the battleships in Hawaii were docked, and I did not know my aircraft carriers could sufficiently damage damn. So my initially powerful Japanese fleet wasted time going to Hawaii and back, accomplishing nothing.
Oh, and if you hadn't heard from Italy in a while, that's because, well, they are not doing anything. No significant military potential and no MPPs to create it. Literally the only thing the Italians have done is to fend off several Allied landing forces in the Italian boot. (They lost half their fleet in trying to stop one of these landings.) Italy, again, is a "Minor" in this game.
It looks bleak. The Allies are making almost triple the MPPs that I make, and I see nowhere where a military breakthrough can be achieved. By early spring, the Eastern front is still stalemated, and I am still sitting just outside Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad - just as I was 6 months ago. The Russians simply can replace units faster than I can kill them; and I cannot even replace one or two units without significant consequences. D-Day hasn't happened yet in the West, but I am sure it will happen any minute; and I diverted at best a token Panzer division, a mechanized infantry division, and two armies from Barbarossa - that's all. And even this seemed to cripple Barbarossa even further.
To pile things on, even the China front was stalemated. Perhaps the reason was the fact that I had to divert a significant portion of my units to the south for an island-hopping campaign. Further, the Chinese have seemed to caught up in technology - as the Russians did in 1942 - and I am no longer fielding significantly superior units. Finally, the Indians are squeezing me from the direction of Burma, and this poses a new - and frankly unanticipated - threat.
At this point, I pulled the plugs on the game in March of 1943. I cannot see how I can salvage this game. The biggest problem seems to be that I was insufficiently aggressive and moved too slow and only when I had an overwhelming advantage in a front. Lessons learned - hopefully.
I will post my comments/questions separately in another post, since this post is already almost interminably long.
< Message edited by Alcibiades73 -- 5/14/2021 7:26:35 PM >