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When playing Germany in A&A 2nd Edition, is it a feasible strategy for Germany to buy a Italian transport on the first turn, for the purposes of cementing Germany's Mediterranean naval presence and enabling it to sustain troop transports into Africa?

Don Rae's essay on purchasing recommends this buy, but I rarely see it used and I wonder why. Is it because people think it's a flawed strategy (and thus never give it a shot), because they've tried it but not successfully executed (thus giving up on it), or because most people have simply never heard of (or independently come up with) the idea?

If you think this strategy works, what does it change about your first turn German attacks (i.e. presumably your med Battleship and Transport do not engage in naval battles, so how do you re-balance your attacks accordingly)?

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6 Answers 6

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Germany has a small window in which it can afford to bolster its navy. Presuming the Russians are building a suitable wall in Karelia and the US and UK are planning to shuck-shuck, Germany needs every IPC later in the game to build infantry and armor and cannot afford to build a transport, sub, or (gasp) air craft carrier or battleship.

For that reason, Germany's only chance to improve her navy is first or second turn. Moreover, she must build it in the Mediterranean Sea, as attempting to build a navy in the Baltic Sea Zone is suicide given the proximity to UK and Russia's air forces.

Without that extra Mediterranean transport, Germany's options in Africa are limited (presuming the Allies make it a priority to eradicate the German navy). The transport buys a little insurance for Germany, an extra few turns in which it has to secure Africa and enjoy her IPCs before the Allies come storming into Algeria. And if the UK player is bent on building a South African factory that second transport is a requisite to have any hope in taking it out before enough of a defense can be constructed.

If you think this strategy works, what does it change about your first turn German attacks (i.e. presumably your med Battleship and Transport do not engage in naval battles, so how do you re-balance your attacks accordingly)?

Personally, I almost always use Don Rae's suggested first turn buying advice for Germany: purchase a transport and 8 infantry. Since this immobilizes my battleship and transport, I use a sub and fighter to off the British battleship and a bomber to nix the sub.

If those attacks fail, Germany is pretty much screwed, though. That's one thing I dislike about Axis & Allies in general - the first turn or two really has rippling effects through the rest of the game. A couple of bad dice rolls in the early game almost guarantees defeat, especially as the Axis where the margin for error is so narrow.

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@adam: I don't quite agree. I believe that the German navy and air force (more than the army) needs to "take up arms against a sea of trouble. My opening Naval moves would be: F Ukraine vs. sub off Egypt. Fs Norway, EE Europe to UK Sea Zone (with T and sub in Baltic). F and B in Germany vs. Battleship off Gibraltar. Sub off France vs. transport off U.S. east coast. battleship + trans to Black Sea. If this works, GERMANY will have the stronger navy pro temp. –  Tom Au Jun 11 '11 at 0:25
    
@Tom: Is this a comment to me (Scott) or to Adam, who posted the original question? –  Scott Mitchell Jun 11 '11 at 3:05
    
It was meant for Adam. But I'm also happy to address it to you. Just proposing an "alternative" way to play Germany. If it succeeds, I believe it can delay shuck-shuck. The US and UK may have to take a turn to build their navies. Or see their transports taken out by German subs and fighters. –  Tom Au Jun 11 '11 at 14:06
    
May I ask what you think of the "Tirpitz rule" (that you inspired)? It is 1) subdivide the UK seazone into the UK seazone proper (south) and the Norewegian Sea zone (north of the 57th parallel. 2) Put a German battleship unit (Tirpitz and battle cruisers) in it, compensating the British with a second battleship in their seazone. 3) Move the transport and sub from the Baltic to the Norwegian Sea to join the battleship, thereby eliminating "easy" German naval targets. –  Tom Au Jun 12 '11 at 22:40

I think that purchasing a transport in the Mediterranean with Germany is justified only if Russia's opening attack(s) went poorly. We are discussing the 'Classic Edition' of Axis and Allies as opposed to the newer Spring of 1942 edition, correct? If so, I often load up two infantry onto the starting Mediterranean transport and move it and the battleship to the sea zone above Anglo-Egypt Sudan. The battleship should be able to take care of the British submarine there. If you aren't feeling lucky, throw in a fighter from either Eastern Europe or the Ukraine S.S.R. If the British submarine lands a hit on you, take the battleship. Even though it's three times as expensive as the transport, for tactical purposes, I find that you're better off losing it. If Russia didn't take out one of your fighter units from either Eastern Europe or the Ukraine (they probably did, but you never know), throw it into this battle as well and land it in Libya. If you don't use it against the British submarine, use it in the land battle for Anglo-Egypt Sudan just for additional reassurance.

From there, three infantry and the tank blitzing through French Equatorial Africa into Egypt should be enough to overwhelm Britain's Egyptian defenses by Germany's first turn. The battleship off of Gibraltar can be dealt with using your bomber out of Germany and a fighter from Western Europe (you may lose the fighter, but Germany should be buying at least one fighter for the first two turns anyway). This move has an above average chance for success, as you'll have the British outgunned in Egypt six or more hit dice to their four. Additionally, this forces the British player to transfer valuable units in India to counter your victory in Egypt (which opens it up to three free i.p.c. points for Japan, which Britain will never get back), or risk losing significant amounts of points to Germany in Africa.

Use the U-boat in the Atlantic, two fighters (one from Germany, the other from Finland/Norway), and the Baltic fleet to (assuming either that the Russian navy didn't attack it, or was defeated in the attempt to) attack the U.K. home fleet. Use your ground forces to take back in strength whatever the Russians took off of you on their opening turn. The key to keeping Germany in the war is keeping British transports out of the U.K. sea zone and keeping the manpower moving towards the Russians. Buying an additional transport on Germany's first turn can be costly to their initial 32 precious i.p.c. points, points which should be spent on combating Russia.

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What I have had success with is sending both subs with 3 fighters to the North Sea and 2 fighters and bomber to wipe England's battleship in Gibraltar. This allows the two transports and battleship to hook up in Spain's sea zone and put pressure on atlantic.

The English have to decide to send in their transport and all the airforce to sink the German Battleship, which puts their fighters out of randge of kar or possibly even losing their airforce which would make it impossible for an india factory. If instead they leave either the German fleet or any surviving subs in North Sea alone, USA can only use a transport and a bomber to try a 2nd wave of attacks.

As far as Africa with this move you pull libya back to Algeria and save the Norway tank and move the infantry in west europe to Algeira to slowly advance and have Japan land in Egypt by turn 3. I have done plenty of tests of this strategy, and typically it forces England to not buy any navy or (ind?) first turn, and instead buy some infantry and fighter to cover their butt if the German fleet survives for sea lion or even a brazil assault. so with this move Germany can buy and employ all forces towards Russia with UK and USA scrambling to rebuild an airforce and navy which puts any direct threats past turn 3.

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This has the rules wrong. The Baltic transport can't get to Spain because you can't sail past an enemy fleet. So that transport is going to die in the UK sea zone. –  David Eison Dec 14 '12 at 21:51

My sense that it is not only feasible but necessary for Germany to spend more effort on building/maintaining a navy than is usually the case. One of my opening gambits is move the Med battleship and transport (plus infantry) to Black Sea for amphibious assault on the Caucasus to give the FORMER a "safe" mission. If that's the case, you really need to build a second Med transport to ferry troops to Africa. (I'd use airpower against the British battleship off Gibraltar. A bomber or fighter lost vs. that ship would represent a savings.) These were some of the issues I explored in various iterations of my naval/sub question.

It's not just the transport. Then I'd build subs to control the Atlantic as long as possible, but there may come a day to build a second battleship, cost what it may. (Or an aircraft carrier with two fighters.) But think of that as what you need to do to keep Africa. Otherwise you'll lose anyway.

One possibility of avoiding this is to enlist Japan's help in the Mediterranean. (The British actually did this with Japan against the Germans in World War ONE.) One of the answers I was hoping to hear from my US vs. Japan in the Pacific question was, "BOTH sides should break off Pacific combat and send their fleets to the MED, which should be the site of the game-deciding battle. (But you provided some GREAT alternatives for Japan in the South Pacific.)

Note: Despite my numerous questions, I've never actually PLAYED the game. What I've done is "play test," it i.e. play both sides of say, a Japan-U.S. Pacific confrontation, a German-Russian east front battle, a German British-Med fight, etc.

I like your question. If I ask questions that seem not to be from actual games (yet), they WILL be, if I ever get around to playing.

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Germany SHOULD NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE FOLLOW DAN'S FIRST TURN PURCHASE OF 8 INFANTRY PLUS 1 TRANSPORT.

Instead Germany should simply bring 2 infantry to support the starting 1 infantry 1 tank there and will now take Egypt Round 2 with 3 infantry PLUS 1 tank (can send a fighter for that battle as needed). The reason I am so confident in this play is because there are very few choices for the Allies to respond to this tactic, and each one results in an advantage for the Axis:

  • UK Response 1: U.K. doesn't build an IC. Uses money on Naval (likely lost rd. 2 since America hasn't sent support yet), or fighters/Bombers (fighters help Russia defend, Bombers bomb Germany for money). Result - UK forfeits Africa dollar spend.
  • UK Response 2: U.K. builds IC in S.Africa. Result - UK defends/takes Africa after 4 turns (needs 3 rounds or 6 tanks to successfully attack/win Africa. In the mean time Japan takes India, and pressures Russia ahead of schedule, thus before U.S. implements Shuck-Shuck.
  • UK Response 3: U.K. builds IC in India and slowly loses Africa 1 country at a time. Result - the most optimal response is to stick to the game plan, hold India as long as possible so that U.S. Shuck-Shuck can get started.

Now we must look at the U.S. response

  • U.S. response 1: transports troops to W.Africa rd 1. Result - Germany kills lone transport, Germany wastes time backtracking to kill U.S. troops but is still left as the remaining force in Africa. More importantly America loses the transport as cannon fodder required to set up Shuck Shuck. Net positive since U.S. has the money to waste and Germany is more hurt by slowing progress in Africa.

  • U.S. response 2: continue operation Shuck-Shuck, Germany gets Africa and is well positioned for the long-haul. It's now a question of if Japan can pressure Russia before Shuck Shuck diverts enough German resources westward....

Conclusion - the optimal allied response should always come back to enabling a U.S. led shuck-shuck strategy. Thus, sending 2 infantry from S.Europe rd.1 by Germany and delaying taking Egypt is the optimal move, but spending any further resources are simply a waste and will only put Germany on the back foot that much quicker once shuck shuck is operational. If U.S./U.K. waste/spend any money in saving Africa after Germany has made this move, be a smart Axis player, say thank you for delaying shuck shuck and capitalize on that advantage by putting even more pressure on Karelia, further limiting Russia's ability to defend eastward when Japan eventually comes.

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Germany first two turns ten+ infantry after that 1 fighter plus infantry the rest of the game it is IMPERATIVE however that you do not lose ANY fighters or your bomber once you have 8 or 9 fighters and 1 bomber you can do whatever you like in europe by that time japan will have eroded russia and picked off every available dollar eg. australia new zealand hawaii french madagascar and axis victory is assured as long as you avoid horrific rolling of dice

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