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Most has been made of the so-called infantry push mechanism. Specifically, infantry are awfully useful for shielding heavier pieces (tanks, planes) from losses. But could they be too much of a good thing, at least in the early going? Some examples:

Russia: Buys 8 infantry from at least 4-5 turns. With the possible exception of conquering Norway-Finland, and "strafing" the Ukraine, plays a strict defensive during that time.

Germany: Spends IPCs matching Russia's infantry build up in Europe. Except for sending 2 infantry each turn across the Med to Africa (which basically represents Germany's excess IPCs over Russia).

UK Build factory in South Africa in turn 1, 5 infantry in UK withe remaining IPCs. Turn 2, two tanks in SA, two transports. Turn 3, more tanks in SA, one transport in UK, remainder infantry, bound for Africa.

Japan: Build 8 infantry turns 1-2. Ferry 4 to China each turn using two transports, hold the rest for defense of homeland. Maybe on turn 3, build a third transport, ferry two more units to China (plus basic four).

U.S.: Move battleship and transport from Pacific to Caribbean first turn. Build factory in Sinkiang, 7 infantry. Turn 2, build tanks in Sinkiang, another transport off East Coast. remainder infantry. Caribbean transport picks up two infantry from east coast, back to Caribbean. Turn 3, Caribbean transport takes infantry to protect Brazil, second transport takes infantry to West Indies and Panama, rest of infantry "dribbles" (from California) into Mexico and British Columbia.

Is this a static, defensive construct? Or are there dynamics that I'm missing?

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If all sides build infantry in the early game that's not called a stalemate, that's called the Allies winning handily. The Allies have a combined economic might and can outspend the Axis. To counter this, the Axis - especially Japan - needs to expand its territory holdings quickly intelligently. –  Scott Mitchell Jun 9 '11 at 22:19
    
@scott: So Allies should pretty much play defense, and refrain from "Kwabang" and Manchurian attacks and stupid things like that in the early going right? Basically, they win if they don't "lose?" –  Tom Au Jun 9 '11 at 22:22
    
Yes, I think so. Early game, my Ally objectives are clear and are in this order: get things in place to start shuck-shuck; hold the Russian front against Germany; take out German navy in the Mediterranean Sea; secure Africa. –  Scott Mitchell Jun 9 '11 at 22:28
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2 Answers

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Yes IPM can stalemate a game, but No, not in the beginning

Yes, the infantry push mechanic (IPM) can lead to stalemated games, but not in the early going. Rather, the game is dynamic and the board ever-changing en route to a stalemate after 5-7 turns. I've had this happen numerous times via two different playouts:

  1. Traditional shuck-shuck

    • Both the Axis and Allies follow a basic IPM strategy.
    • Germany's objectives are to take and hold Africa as long as possible, maintain a solid front in Eastern Europe while occasionally trading the Ukraine with Russia and fending off a large-scale invasion of France.
    • The US and UK set up the shuck-shuck and try and take back Africa, plow infantry into Russia via Finland, and set up for an invasion of France.
    • Russia builds a fortress on their western front and slows Japan's inevitable advance as much as possible.
    • Japan goes full-bore in Asia: advancing as quickly as possible to Moscow to take the pressure off Germany.

    If both players execute their strategies well this game can reach a stalemate in terms of it taking a very long time to decide the game; however, this should not be confused with the game being static. Germany steadily loses territory and Japan steadily gains it so the map is fluid; it's simply that no side can gain a edge.

    If Germany can hold Africa for a reasonable amount of time, and if Japan expands quickly enough, the Axis will have IPC parity with the Allies. If this happens, both sides can stack up their infantry equally fast, which makes it difficult for either side to launch a successful attack because A&A combat is biased towards the defender.

    Eventually the Allies will capture Germany, but a large enough stack of infantry and clever counter-attacking can make this very slow going for the allies. If timed right, Germany can give Japan enough time to capture Moscow just before Germany is eliminated. If this happens, Japan can sometimes expand so quickly into Europe that they alone are close to IPC parity with the US and UK. Japan is now effectively playing a Russian strategy in Karelia and German one in Africa and trying to keep it's IPC count high. If the US and UK can get a solid enough foothold in Europe to start pumping out tanks from the German and Italian factories they will eventually win, but as long as Japan is able to counter and occasionally re-capture Italy (and/or harass the US in the Pacific) the game can keep plowing along with neither side gaining an advantage.

    I've never seen Japan win if Germany falls, but I've seen it take 6 or 7 turns after Germany's fall before it was clear that they weren't going to pull it out, and I have seen the Axis win if Japan gets to Eastern Europe in time to reinforce the Fatherland.

  2. Asia double factories.

    • The US builds a factory in Sinkiang and the UK in India so they can pump out five armor a turn.
    • Russian aids in the north with infantry
    • All three allies provide Asian air support

    This three-pronged attack can effectively stop the Japanese advance in Asia. (I've even pushed Japan on the continent before using this strategy--although it didn't stick.) However, it obviously takes the pressure off Germany quite a bit and significantly delays both the start of and the magnitude of the shuck-shuck (two tanks per turn in Sinkiang is 3 less infantry in Europe; the UK has less income and one more tank to buy).

    This game can stalemate with Japan unable to get a solid foothold in Asia and Germany able to keep and hold Africa (making up for Japan's failure) but unable to crack the Russian nut in Karelia (the US does reach 7 infantry a turn steady-state after all).


Both methods can reach stalemate if the IPCs are near parity because it is near impossible to attack large stacks of infantry without opening yourself up to a vicious counter-attack. Thus neither side attacks, the IPC balance doesn't swing, and the stacks of infantry get higher and higher.

Typically stalemates end with a victory in a secondary theater (e.g. Africa, South Pacific), which results in a small IPC advantage that builds slowly in time. It can also end with a clumsy move by one of the players, some exceedingly good (or bad) dice rolls, or by mutual agreement to end the game in a draw if everyone is too tired to continue.

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The purpose of infantry in A&A has both offensive and defensive properties.

Offensively, they provide fodder to protect your more expensive units, and with a 16.6% chance of a hit, they are a nominal threat.

Defensively, they are an inexpensive unit that provides a 33% chance of a hit, and will also block tanks from blitzing. With such a skill, they will give the attacker a moment of pause to consider how many units he should throw at your stack of four infantry. In this way, infantry of similar numbers are decidedly more defensive than offensive.

If the attacker has an open door to blitz, he will zip through without concern. If there is a single infantry in the second territory, he will, if wise, halt his advance, unless he wants to gamble on trading a tank for an infantry. Two bucks is two bucks. In addition, he might actually lose the battle (33% to 50%), so that gives the defender an extra turn to circle the wagons.

Knowing this about the infantry, an early push with infantry can bog things down due to hesitancy on the part of the Axis, but if he can also bring a number of infantry to absorb hits while his tanks and planes get their shots in, I think the Axis will have a decided advantage. Also, if the Allies do not produce units with an effective punch, the Axis player will have no concerns about a viable counter-attack from the Allies.

A stack of infantry simply doesn't strike fear as an offensive weapon.

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