I used to play Axis and Allies the original classic version a long time ago. I read Don’s essays about strategy and the infantry push mechanic here: http://donsessays.freeservers.com

But the game has changed so much since then. With 1942 SE, there are new units, the map is different and the unit attributes and abilities are different.

Assuming standard rules and fairly standard opening moves, what would be the best first turn builds for each power?

4 Answers 4


Triple A First Turn Builds

I loaded up the game Triple A and tried a game with the Hard AI. This is what the AI built:

  1. Russia (24 IPC): 2 Infantry and 2 Artillery in Caucasus. 1 Infantry and 2 Artillery in Russia.
  2. Germany (40 IPC): 7 Infantry, 5 Artillery. 1 Inf and 1 Art placed in Italy and the rest in Germany.
  3. UK (30 IPC): 1 Infantry, 2 Artillery in India. Carrier and transport in SZ7, Ireland.
  4. Japan (30 IPC): 1 Armor in Japan. 1 Carrier and 1 Fighter in SZ60, Japan's East Coast.
  5. USA (42 IPC): 1 Carrier, 1 Destroyer, 2 Fighters in SZ11, the US East Coast.

Are these the best generic builds? I don't know. Probably not. I think a lot depends on the dice rolling in the first few rounds. I would have expected both Japan and the US to build at least one transport.

Another Idea

After playing a few more times, this is what I would do.

  1. Russia: Infantry and one or 2 artillery. Always use all of your income.
  2. Germany: Perhaps a sub or a bomber. Perhaps another ship in the Med. But mostly infantry and some artillery.
  3. UK: If your fleet got annihilated, you may just want to build 3 ground units in India and SAVE the remainder for a giant fleet build on your next turn.
  4. Japan: You need to get ground units into Asia. Transports and maybe a factory on a 3 production territory that is as close as possible to Moscow. Don't forget to build ground units to fill each transport. You don't need more naval pieces yet, since you have superiority in the Pacific.
  5. USA: Build a fleet in the Atlantic on the first turn. Once you have naval superiority in the Atlantic, pump out transports and ground units on subsequent turns.
  • Actually, I don't know about this. After a full game playing Russia only, I was actually flabbergasted by the terrible AI in the game. The UK and USA had plenty of chances to help me by landing in Europe.
    – Jess
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 23:03
  • As UK, this seems like a pretty sweet first turn build: Carrier in SZ7 - landing 2 fighters from Britain on it on the non-combat move phase. This will help begin to establish naval supremacy in the Atlantic. Then 1 inf, 1 art, and 1 fighter in India to ward off Japan and perhaps use the fighter to defend Russia.
    – Jess
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 1:16
  • I don't see how that could work—you've got a 60% chance of losing the carrier, and the planes on it, to a U-boat attack from SZ5. Pretty sure you need a destroyer before you can build any other naval forces off the UK.
    – intuited
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:11
  • Sorry I haven't played in a few years. Subs can only attack ships right? Yeah maybe it makes sense to only build ships on UK's second turn.
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 14:29

Way too late of an answer but here are my normal opening builds:

Russia: 4 inf and 3 art with all inf in Caucasus and all art in Moscow to avoid losing the territory from the German transport in SZ 15 or 4 inf and 2 tanks with the reason being a turn two attack on Karelia which has probably been taken by Germany.

Germany: 13 inf bank 2 or 11 inf and 2 art with the art in Germany. Germany's army is very attack heavy and is in desperate need of inf, in my opinion this build is the least flexibly and must be one of these two.

UK: 2 inf and 1 art in India (if Japan targets India you won't want to be a turn behind building a defence so India should get 3 land units turn one) the art is so if Japan doesn't target India the UK can more effectively attack Japanese in Burma or Kazakh later on and not be wasted units. The rest of the build depends on the German airforce in range of SZ 7. If you can reliably build a navy turn one (keeping in mind UK has two fighters that can land on a newly built carrier) in SZ 7, do so. If you cannot due to the risk of it being instantly defeated by any remaining German subs and planes, bank the remainder and buy a huge fleet turn two.

Japan: Buy 1 or 2 transports depending on if the one in SZ 61 is still alive with the objective of getting to 3 transports. Then buy land units to optimize Japan to fully load those three transports. This will take between 24 and 15 IPC (This is if no transport is lost and you use one transport to ship people off of the Philippines instead of off Japan). The remainder is not as important as getting transports and can be used for anything from sea units, air force, or an early Manchuria factory.

US: 1 aircraft carrier, 1 art, 2 transports, and either a destroyer or fighter all for SZ 11 and Eastern America. Those 2 transports will be loaded with the art being purchased, the 1 inf in central America, and the 2 inf in Western America. The carrier is a good defense for the fleet as America starts with 2 fighters in America that should go there turn one. The destroyer is the safer option, especially if Germany still has subs and took out the American destroyer that starts in SZ 11, but the fighter could be crucial in the defense of Moscow if you relay it there through Iceland.


There is no single best first turn build. It depends on the overall strategy.

I've put some notes below for each nation, based on the 1942 online version of the game used in ranked play.

If the allies decide to "Kill Germany First" (KGF), then a standard buy for soviet r1 is 4 infantry for caucusus and 2 tanks in russia. The 2 tanks in russia can reach karelia, and can ensure Germany cannot put a large stack of 9 infantry and 4 tanks on r1 without risking a big loss.

However, if the allies decide to "Kill Japan First" (KJF), then swapping the 2 tanks for 3 artillery or 4 infantry may be wiser, as the goal is to delay losing moscow for as long as possible while US are attacking Japan's Navy

Also, the two tank buy makes less sense if russia does the "west russia jam" (ie all 19 ground attack west russia and ignore ukraine), as this already stops Germany from holding karelia in r1

I think it is always sub optimal to build planes on soviet round 1, as the battles can easily go badly, and you need a lot of ground if that happens.

For the germany r1 purchase, there are a few options, and it depends on what russia attacked and how well the battles went. I think it is a good idea for germany to delay a uk fleet for a few rounds, and having 5 fighters in north western Europe and 1 bomber in Germany or Italy typically will deter the uk player.

If the German bomber in Ukraine is still alive, then maybe buying ground is the best option such as 11 infantry and 2 artillery.

For the British, a good "all round" purchase is 2 infantry, 1 artillery for india and 2 fighters for England. This works well for either a kgf or kjf. However, again it may be better to swap the two fighters for a destroyer and carrier - depending on the threat that germany has placed on sea zone 7.

But note - one risk of building a UK fleet on round 1 is that it delays the 2 fighters in England from getting to West Russia and India/Egypt. Being able to defend and counter attack Egypt and/or Trans-Jordan in the first 3 rounds is important, and 2 fighters are very useful for this. If you build a fleet you give up units here.

For japan, I think there are at least 6 "good" options, depending on what happened on the previous turns.

  1. 3 transports, 3 infantry
  2. 3 transports, 1 infantry, 1 tank
  3. 2 transports, 2 infantry, 1 fighter
  4. 2 transports, 1 fighter, 1 submarine
  5. 2 transports, 2 infantry, 1 artillery, 1 tank
  6. 1 submarine, 1 aircraft carrier, 1 fighter

Options 1-4 are all good choices when the only attack was sz61, leaving Japan with only 1 transport at the start of their turn.

Option 1 leaves 7 land + aa gun on Japan with 4 transports. Maximum ground pressure through China.

Option 2 is a "nerfed" version of the option 5 India attack I describe in more detail below

Option 3 has 1 less infantry and 1 aa gun stays on the Island, buy you get an extra fighter.

Option 4 is a "hedge" against a kjf, and gives japan a sub that can be useful in later rounds to harass unguarded US transports in sz11 and sz10 in a kgf. It still allows Japan to send 6 ground from an island on turn 2.

Option 5 is likely the optimal move when neither sz61 nor sz37 were attacked. It allows the most amount of ground units possible that can reach india by turn 3. ie you can land 9 troops in Yunnan on and 4 in Anwhei on j1 (leave the tank on Japan), then you move those 9 to Burma, along with sending the two transports you bought in r1 with 4 more ground, for a total of 13 in Burma. Then you use the other two transports to move 2 tanks and 2 infantry to Yunnan, and you move 2 infantry from Anwhei to Kwantung. Then on round 3 you can send the 13 ground in Burma, 2 tanks from Yunnan can blitz through, you can transport 2 infantry each from Yunnan, Kwantung, and East Indies. This is a total of 21 ground units. If japan purchases 2 bombers on turn 2 and keeps all their starting planes (6 fighters + 1 bomber), this is 30 attackers on india + 3 bombards from ships.

Now, normally this isn't actually possible, as the moves require battles where units could be lost - eg it is more normal to only be able to get 10 or 11 units to Burma. Also, units may be attacked - eg the UK may have enough units in India on r3 to attack the Burma stack. It is also possible for the allies to use a ship to block East Indies from being picked up.

Additionally, it is more typical for this "J3 timing attack" to attack sz53 (pearl harbour) on r1, Which usually results in the loss of 1 fighter and 1 cruiser from the india attack, and possibly an extra fighter and the bomber. The reason to do this - is that it is possible for the US to get 3 fighters to india by turn 2. So trading a slightly weaker attack for a much weaker defense makes it more likely for japan to win.

It tends to work really well if Germany has a good start in Egypt and/or Trans-Jordan, as there isn't enough units to be able to defend both.

I think option 6 is the best buy if the UK did the sz37 attack and won, as it is a pretty clear signal that allies are coming for Japan first - if uk bought strong units in India and/or Russia moved 5 units into Buryatia are other signs. It replenishes two of the units lost, and Japan only needs two transports in a kjf, as the goal is to stay alive and delay the US naval dominance for as long as possible.

For the US, I think there are two pretty good standard buys

  1. 2 transports, 1 destroyer, 1 aircraft carrier, 2 infantry - for going after germany - deploy in sz11
  2. 2 submarines, 2 destroyers, 1 aircraft carrier - for going after japan - deploy in sz56

The variations on these two basic purchases depend on how the other nations went. For example, in option 1...if Germany has 5 or less planes and no subs left, or japan did not attack sz53, then swapping the destroyer for another transport in option 1 might be a good idea. Or if Germany built a carrier, then swapping 1 transport for a submarine.

I haven't needed to vary my US1 purchase if I've decided to go after Japan. I find this purchase is usually good. But this is likely because I normally look for a "setup" to do a kjf - eg russia had strong opening, sz37 went well, or Japan had bad luck on its turn (eg failed to take Anwhei with 3 or more left, left transports vulnerable, lost a few planes, etc). So, when I tend to do a kjf, the board is in my favour already. So the purchase doesn't matter so much.

I think purchases that try to put things in both Pacific and Atlantic are sub optimal - the US should "pick an ocean" and stick to, spending 90% or more of their income on the side you picked.


From my experience playing Axis and Allies, I have found out that you can't always rely on certain army builds and situations because who knows how the dice will roll or what the enemy player will do? but here are the general builds that I use which usually win me a few games.

Russia: 8 infantry (4 in Russia, 2 in Caucasas, and 2 in Keralia)

Germany: 2-4 infantry, 2-4 artillery, 2-4 tanks, and usually a naval or air unit if you don't spend it all on land troops (all spread as evenly as possible between Italy and Germany).

Great Britain: 1-2 destroyers in the Atlantic navy and the Indian ocean navy, 1-2 infantry, 1-2 artillery, 2 tanks (almost all of the land units go into the India base)

Japan: industrial complex in French Indochina, 1-2 destroyers or 1 cruiser, and any IPC's left over is put into tanks.

United States of America: 1 infantry or tank in the West coast, everything else into another battleship (for the east coast) and destroyers, any IPC's left you use for transports.

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