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In most versions of the game it is essential for the Allies to capture Norway to allow the US and UK to properly reinforce Russia. A question them arises, which Ally should do the capturing (i.e. which mouse should "bell" the cat)?

Among many second edition players, Russia can't attack the first turn. Assuming that the German player moves out his fighter on his turn (as he should), the UK could launch an amphibious assault on Norway using the tank on the transport from Canada, supported by a bomber and two fighters (assuming that the ships in the UK sea zone were sunk by German air and sea attack).

But the odds aren't great. The attack succeeds 73% of the time (79% if you assume mutually assured destruction that allows Russia to occupy Norway on its turn). http://www.dskelly.com/misc/aa/aasim.html. The average UK IPC loss is 21 (the tank, one fighter, and a second fighter half the time) versus much less for the Germans. In conjunction with the naval losses, might that leave Britain too weak to defend itself properly?

Let's try Russia. If it doesn't get to attack the first turn, it might take out Norway the second turn. But that might weaken Karelia too much?

I can't imagine America doing this job. On turn two with two fighters (based in the UK) and two infantry in an amphibious assault?

Maybe a clue comes from another example (using a Russian first turn attack). Russia "strafes" Norway without taking it. In Axis and Allies, Should An Attacker Be Allowed to Relinquish His "Prerogatives?" UK (or US) makes an amphibious attack against a WEAKENED German force. Could a "cooperative" venture be the best solution of all?

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There are some subtle benefits of owning Finland:

  • To Russia, it represents another 2 IPCs a turn, which it can turn directly into infantry on the front: a valuable ability. The US and UK can obviously also use the money, but it takes longer for the units to reach the front (first built, then moved to Finland, then to Karelia). Also, both the US and UK have to move units via transports, which means that sometimes even if they have the 3 IPCs for an extra infantry they don't actually have the transport bandwidth to move it the following turn.
  • The US can build a factory in Finland, thus enabling it to pump 2 units a turn directly into Europe. I typically don't do this if the shuck-shuck is going well because the opportunity cost of a factory is too high. Although I've done it in a long game where I have too much money and the Axis isn't ready to concede--just to speed up the tanks I can put on the continent.
  • I don't perceive any real advantage of UK ownership--other than the money.

That said, I usually try to have the first country able take Finland and don't worry too much about who it is.

In general, this seems to be Russia. Assuming no ally can take it on turn 1 (by rule for Russia, for want of sufficient transports for UK and US), then turn 2 is the earliest. If Germany was clever, they rescued the tank and 2 inf with a feint on Karelia, making capture easy; if not, it's a prime target for the Russian tanks and the necessary infantry (no dead zone concerns assuming the German North Sea transport is gone). This attack doesn't leave Karelia too weakened because of their turn 2 infantry placement and UK and US fighters that can be moved over in turn 1.

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@adam: I don't see how Germany rescues the tank and two infantry via Karelia. Can they retreat into Eastern Europe? Or do you mean that they inflict some damage before their inevitable loss? The fighter, easily enough, and the big" prize. –  Tom Au Jun 8 '11 at 21:11
    
Germany attacks Karelia on their first turn with all the land units that can make it except for 1 inf in Finland and 1 in Ukraine (I never give away territory). After one round of combat, retreat to Eastern Europe (unless you're crazy good lucky). This doesn't work well if Russia really stacks Karelia, but lots of players leave too many Russians in the Caucuses. –  Adam Wuerl Jun 8 '11 at 21:16
    
@adam: That's a good idea if, on the first round, you lose no more than what came from Finland, because otherwise they would be lost anyway, right? Then, perhaps, UK takes out the last piece with an amphibious assault? As UK I want that income to make up for Africa. –  Tom Au Jun 8 '11 at 21:35
    
@Tom: Not necessarily. I'd be happy with greater losses in the battle than I gain from Finland, as long as my losses were on par with the Russian ones and that enough is left so that Russia can't counter attack EEU. That tank is very valuable to me because I won't be buying them for a while and it's easier to whittle away at the Russian infantry stack so it can't get too big. Russia gets ambitious when they get too many infantry stacked up. –  Adam Wuerl Jun 8 '11 at 23:58
    
@adam: Maybe it's just a matter of semantics. One option is to use "Finland" to attack Karelia alone, you'll lose them, but take out one infantry (on average). Same for defense. The other alternative is to use them as cannon fodder for a larger "strafing" attack. If losses are balanced, they've done their job. But seldom will there be survivors (from Finland) to retreat. Instead, you've "sold their lives dearly." –  Tom Au Jun 9 '11 at 12:56

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