Against AI it is easy to win at normal level, when you get all the game mechanics under control. Like Illiniwek80 wrote, get your best forces (planes, artillery, tanks, mechanized) together and push hard. Soviets AI can't do any serious counterattacks until 1943, because they are so much behind on everything.
Again, what is easy for the skilled is not as much for newbies like me! ;) I am far from Barbarossa in my 2nd playthrough, so we shall see what happens.
Yup, through Egypt, Iraq and straight to Baku. I'm not saying that it's the 'right' way to play. I don't think there is really a 'right' way to play.
Ah, ok; so you do invest in the North African front.
I think the first thing you have to do as the axis or allies is to figure out your overall strategy to include if you are going to do any type of diplomatic strategy. I have lost lots of games by really not thinking out my strategy for Allies or the Axis.
Diplomacy towards major powers is advantage allies in my opinion, but could be axis if played right. Diplomacy on majors has such a major impact in the game though and is why it is not allowed in ELO rules. Here are a few scenarios.
Axis put diplomacy towards US. The axis can put more chits to the US that England, India, and China. A couple of hits and the US will not enter the war until spring or summer of 1942. This totally screws the allies, as lower US mobilization means less resources all around for allies. Lend lease delayed too. Axis can wipe out allies before the US gets in war and even when US joins, resources lower than normal. Yes, this takes away resources from the axis, but net gain is pro axis.
Allies put diplomacy toward Russia. A couple of hits with no axis response and you change the equation in Russia significantly. Axis could be dealing with maxed researched Russia, extra HQ, 2 tanks or 2 anti-tank guns upon initially invasion. If axis responds, you help Russia out lots in terms of that is less resources for the Germans to have for Barbarossa. I personally think that no diplomacy towards Russia rules helps the axis lots.
Allies put diplomacy towards US. A couple of hits here early with no axis response. US has resources to build force to invade Europe faster. US lend lease starts sooner. US gets maxed out on research faster. The cascading effect of faster US mobilization is huge. It usually makes the Japanese have to accelerate there time line to attack in the Pacific, which is usually not to their advantage.
Axis put diplomacy towards Russia. This used to be a favored effort for the axis if they were to launch a Sea Lion event. England is usually MPP strapped due to being invaded. Russian mobilization can be brought back down with a diplo hit. This give Germans more time to finish off England and then concentrate on taking Russia. Very hard for the allies to counter, as they are cash strapped.
More on minors later.
This is enlightening stuff; thank you. And please post on the options regarding minors. I am still a bit reluctant on investing on majors, because of 1) the cost; and 2) the fact that I will have to ultimately fight them anyways. For instance, in my first playthrough, the AI USA didn't enter the war until February of 1941 anyways, so I'd save maybe a few months? I am not sure if that is big enough of an advantage.