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A&A Revised: strategy paper #2. Trying to get an “immortal game” – the art of sacrifice


Contents

Introduction
Discussing strategy
Conditions of play
Immortality awaits in the opening game
A little bit of history
Psychological issues: Triple A & Face-to-Face
Explain yourself
All known values go overboard
A Hand of Poker
Conceding
The middle game: the decisive blow
The absence of an endgame
Conclusion & further notes


Introduction
This paper is part 2 of a series of 7, (which are looooong overdue) designed to share my ongoing insight in strategies usable and sometimes not usable in A&A Revised. These insights can and – most probably – will change as I gain more experience in the game. Although I have roughly 16 years of experience in A&A Classic, the number of games – finished – in Revised currently number exactly 29. Not a lot more then the last time, but with its very steep learning curve, it’s getting better. A great portion of those games has been played with a rainbow of players.

Discussing strategy
Those of you who hope to get a full and detailed (unbeatable) strategy ‘handed’ to you, complete with what to buy, turn-by-turn moves and whom and what to attack, don’t have to read any further. I don’t believe in the concept of ‘the’ strategy nor do I think it’s useful to tell others how they should: move, attack or buy; because due to the nature of the game and the fact that the game mechanics use dice, there is no real point. Action-reaction and the luck of the day – to my content – will always successfully prevent such statements.
What you will find however, is a reflection on certain aspects of the game, mostly on the strategic level and sometimes narrowed down to an incidental tactical issue.
That means that in the course of the next few months (sorry about that) you will be able to read my reflections on the following topics:

- Opening, middle game & endgame
- Trying to get an “immortal game” – the art of sacrifice
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd line of defence for Germany & Russia
- Mirroring – the plus 6 rule
- A new hope for Africa – Kill the Chuck-Chuck
- On the importance of Pearl Harbour
- Getting stuff out: IC’s & transporters

Conditions of play
Part of discussing a strategy, is explaining under which conditions the strategies are played, explored and modified. These conditions are:

- 24 out of 29 plays have been done on Triple A with a variety of players and always one-on-one.
- Triple A follows the out-of-box rules, and so do I.
- I don’t play TTL (which means Territory Turn Limit, and doesn’t allow a player to bombard a country for more then its IPC value per turn) anymore. I want to play the game as intended by Mike.
- There are no official Victory Conditions. I suppose we play for World Domination, but most of the time a player will concede long before that happens.
- I play with the normal tech options but without the optional rules.
- Neither side gets a bid, ever.

Immortality awaits in the Opening game

A little bit of history
The Immortal Game refers to a chess game played between two great players at the Simpson's-in-the-Strand Divan in London. The Immortal game was an informal play during a break in a formal tournament. The game was so impressive a French chess magazine La Regence published the game in July 1851. This game was later nicknamed "The Immortal Game" in 1855 by the Austrian Ernst Falkbeer.

Later this game is acclaimed as an excellent demonstration of the style of chess play in the 19th century, where rapid development and attack were considered the most effective way to win, where many gambits and counter-gambits were offered (and not accepting them would be considered slightly ungentlemanly), and where material was often held in contempt.

In this particular game, a man named Anderssen wins the game despite sacrificing a bishop on move 11, both rooks starting on move 18, and the queen on move 22 to produce checkmate. He offered both rooks to show that two active pieces are worth a dozen sleeping at home. Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortal_game on the details and watch the moves in this stunning play.

Now, what does all this mean? When I say: “try to achieve an Immortal Game.” Basically I’m expressing a preference towards one of two basic options available to a given Axis player. First the slow play, chuck-chucking towards Russia, dragging a game out to an Open-end Endgame. Or the second: an all-out play forcing victory or defeat in the Middle Game. Note that this paper is purely designed for the Axis player. Unfortunately (for the Axis) the Allies have no need for an Immortal game, nor do they have the power in the Opening Game to force one. When the Axis player adopts the proposed Immortal Play (I will use this term instead of all-out in the Opening Game etc. etc.) it will be for one of two reasons (or both):

1. The game in play, is not the first game against the same opponent. The opponent has experience enough to know that, if he drags the game out, he – as the Allied player – will most likely win the game. Your goal is to ‘educate’ your opponent to have him feel a sense of urgency in future games as the Allied player as well.
2. The opening conditions are met.

If you want to play an Immortal Game, you need to have a different mind set. A rather radical one, at that! Look at the regular building blocks of a typical A&A game and ask yourself if you can convince yourself that: First; Money is of no importance… Second; holding territories is of no importance… Three; conquering territories is of no importance (except the ones you need to land plains on)… Four; “Saving expensive peaces for later”, you guessed it… is of no importance. Why? In the Immortal Chess Game Anderssen sacrificed everything he had to checkmate his opponent. That was his only goal, and that’s exactly what we are going to do… Conquer Moscow in the Middle Game or die trying, period. All efforts of the Axis are aimed at speed, speed, speed.

This play is so… radical, so different and has such a great impact on YOU as a player (and how you are perceived by other players) that going into further detail without first addressing some of the psychological issues that can occur, would be short-sighted.

Psychological issues: Triple A & Face-to-Face
When adapting to an Immortal strategy 4 things are important:
1. Throw away your existing values on what’s important and what not (money, countries etc. etc.)
2. Focus on looking at playing A&A as a string of games, rather then each game individually. Meaning each play of A&A is more like a Hand of Poker then the entire Game of Poker.
3. Accept the fact that you can, will, and must be willing to yield early in the game (say rounds 2 till 5) when your Immortal Game is failing. In doing so you are NOT a quitter, NOT a coward, nor do you intend to be a spoilsport for your opponent if you concede in the Opening or Middle Game.
4. When the Immortal Play is lost, explain what it is you were trying to achieve. Perhaps explain the concept of the Immortal game itself… this may sound strange, but not many players will ‘appreciate’ what you are trying to do, as a valid strategy. That’s not their fault. The concept requires so much out-of-the-box thinking, that not many players will be able to see (or even believe) what you are doing. Let me elaborate on that first before coming back to the first three points:

Explain yourself
Immortal play is not the best game to play in a Face-to-Face situation. The setting up of the game and the investment in time both players make by starting a game, carrying it through at least the Opening Game, is simply too much to allow a second game to be played once a player concedes in R3, or R4. In cases like that, one would feel obliged to continue play, even if it has no use for the Axis player at all. On Triple A that’s different. With a mouse click a game is reset, and conceding as early as R3 or R4 is considered ‘normal’ or even ‘best practice’ on the net. Plays online are, as a rule, not so long, so conceding early and playing again is a lot easier.
The problem is that the fun can be dragged out of the game, once you start looking at it through a ‘just one Hand in Poker’ glass kind of way. Imagine me, playing you and me conceding twice after R2-R3 in a row… How would you feel? You’d probably think that “I don’t play if the dice don’t go my way”. Perhaps you would consider me as the type that flips a board once I don’t get my way… Thinking that way, kind of makes it hard for me to convince you to play a third game, doesn’t it? Exactly. And that is what I have experienced online, doing this strategy. If it works, it’s a blast. But if I concede after one failed attempt; I NEVER try a second attempt at an Immortal play in a row (against the same player).
However, win or loose, you can teach a valuable lesson to your opponent in an Immortal game: the need for Allied assertiveness in early play, hopefully forcing them to make a mistake. Making an Open-end Game valid and more likely. Or over-turtleing which will help you set up an Axis Chuck-Chuck (covered in another topic). Either way; sparingly use of an Immortal Play will give you future benefits that otherwise would be harder to gain.

All known values go overboard
There is no use for either: money, territory (besides the Russian capitol, Germany and mandatory place to land), Conquest (Africa) a fleet or whatever… Nothing is worth anything if it can’t be used to grind down Moscow (the country) in the Middle Game. Everything, and I do mean everything, ships out to the east a.s.a.p. The only thing you do is block the Allied from getting to Western Europe in round 1. The way to do that is by blocking SZ 3 and 8 with subs (or something else). Don’t count on reinforcements. Don’t plan for such events. The only buy that will ever reach the Russian front is the first buy, so let them be Tanks. The Japs only have to make sure that they can’t be kicked out of the sea. By R2 ALL they have should go ashore and kick so hard against the Ruskies, they will be able to support a Midgame attack on Moscow from their end. Nothing can be wasted on some idle venture in Australia or India or whatever: straight to Moscow!
What is important? Every piece that you have from the beginning of the game counts, especially ground forces, so treasure those. The paradox is that you must be willing to sacrifice them too, if necessary, but only to succeed in that ultimate goal of getting you were you need to be in the Midgame: Moscow!

A Hand of Poker
It’s silly isn’t it… comparing a 2 minute Hand of Poker with a 1 hour game (until Midgame) of A&A Revised (online), but that’s what I do, when I set my mind to playing an Immortal game.
There is one more ‘concept’ I use when playing Immortal: Forcing the Dice. Forcing the Dice means that when you had good odds on a particular outcome of a rather important attack (or defence), but didn’t make it on account of bad luck. I then purposely create a situation where winning a given (important) attack on bad or lesser odds, would even out my overall chances of winning eventually. Of course loosing such an attack almost always means immediate defeat. But then, hey, that’s life. Delete, reboot, and start over! Is it strange to do this? No. Many people try desperate attempts at the end of a long 5 hour game at that impossible shot to take Germany with 3 Infantry and 3 Tanks against a swarm of 20 German troops and 4 Aircraft, when they just lost Moscow to them… When playing an Immortal game, why not shift that decision making attack forward and “Force the dice” to either: even out play, or be done with it for sure! The only thing that is significantly different is the time scope… In your mindset an A&A Revised game, can’t be lost in 30 minutes. According to your framework: “that’s ridiculous!”. I know how it works, I had to work hard to distance myself from that thought. But if you can, a whole new gaming experience is open to you.

Conceding
Hitler should have conceded after Stalingrad… we know that, that’s why we call it a turning point in the war. Hitler had another chance after Kursk, and another on D-day and another after the Battle of the Bulge and so on… Why didn’t he? ‘Cause he probably felt that he had a chance, was thought never to give up, yadda yadda… It doesn’t matter. Hitler didn’t have a second chance. On Triple A, we have tons… In my previous paper I talked about knowing when you have lost. It is an art in itself and it’s mastered through experience. But if you learn how to recognise inevitable defeat, you can save yourself a lot of time and: delete, reboot, and start over. In an Immortal play Conceding is a big part of the experience. You will loose from time to time, but keeping those games short and sweet, you have gained much more for the future. You gave of a warning! Especially if you got close to taking Moscow. It will install fear and doubt in your opponent’s hart for future plays. It really does.

The middle game: the decisive blow
When all is marching towards the east, and fleets, fighter plains, countries and IPC’s start falling into the hand of the Allied, it’s hard to stick with the plan. But there is no way back. Every man counts. No one must be kept ‘back’ for some purpose. That can not be done. You will win or loose by a small margin. When you do take Moscow, make sure you do it with as many tanks as possible. Sacrifice anything else over tanks. They are your lifeline; you can’t afford to loose them. You have one chance and one chance only at the big attack, so make it count! Afterwards, when you take Moscow and hold it (very important), you will have a hard time retaking Europe and getting some sort of offensive going again. But most of the time it won’t come to that. Because oddly enough, The Allied player conceding when Moscow falls, is never seen as ‘a lack of character,’ but NOT being able to take it, and THEN conceding is…

The absence of an endgame
There is none.

Conclusion & further notes
Oh… I almost forgot… there are 2 conditions that I like to see met, before I do this type of attack: 1) Russia buys for aggression, meaning they buy 6 or less Units (Will be covered in an article called Mirroring) and the Russian attack on the Ukraine is non-existent / fails. Although… they are not mandatory, so watch out if you catch me on Triple A

Good luck!



Cheers,

Seth Logan
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Johan T
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Re: Srategy paper #2. An "Immortal game" - the art of sacrif
A very intresting paper, I´m looking forward to the next one.

In this paper you stress that taking and holding Moscow is really important. If Germany takes Moscow in round three using a first build of 8 tanks to get a total of ~8 inf, 16 tanks, 6 fighters and 1 bomber as the force for taking Moscow from Archangelsk I´m planning for the best Japanese support strategy. How would you like Japan to play?

My idea is to take China and let Japan build 3 fighters in the first round and then in the second round land all fighters possible in China. In round 3 you attack Sinkiang and land all fighters in the newly occupied Moscow. Thus the German can return to das vaterland with as many tanks as possible to throw out UK/US from WEUR.

Any comments?
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Andrew Prizzi
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While conceding is an honorable option, I'd argue that it's often not the best option. Here's what you're missing:

Learning more about the game. Sure you might not have a very good chance at winning, but by keeping the game going you will learn more about how to play better in the future. Your opponent will also learn how to play better. If you're both having fun and enjoying the game, why concede?

Edit- other than that critique, I enjoyed your post and am looking forward to the rest. It brought back memories of stumbing upon "Don's A&A Essays" about 10 years ago during my first forays in the internet. I've never played the Revised game, just "classic" A&A. Do you play with a bid or with the by the book setup? Don's essays convinced me that the Allies are unbeatable (barring exteremely unlikely rolls)without a bid if the Shuck-shuck is employed. Still A&A is an all time great game.
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I'd like to get back to both previous posters with a serious and thought through reply, but it's going to take more time then I have tonight.

For the mean time I'm very glad that two people responded open-minded towards paper #2. I wasn't getting any thumbs up, so I was frightfull that this time I was reaching to far and people were not willing to 'suspend their disbelief' and go along open minded on this one.
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Re: Srategy paper #2. An "Immortal game" - the art of sacrif
*A revision to my earlier post - in some (most?) sessions the route through West Russia could be used instead to remove the risk of English naval attacks.

I´m one of those guys who always walks around thinking up strategies for games, be it Starcraft (the computer game), my PBEM Diplomacy or Axis & Allies. Every new input I use and try to make the best of. Actually this paper made me put up all German and Russian pieces in the middle of the night just to make a brief simulation of the first three rounds

Please also comment my thread in this forum named "Allied Lend-Lease strategy idea" which could be relevant for all those playing A&A revised with out of the box rules.
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Re: Srategy paper #2. An "Immortal game" - the art of sacrif
prizziap wrote:
While conceding is an honorable option, I'd argue that it's often not the best option. Here's what you're missing:

Learning more about the game. Sure you might not have a very good chance at winning, but by keeping the game going you will learn more about how to play better in the future. Your opponent will also learn how to play better. If you're both having fun and enjoying the game, why concede?

Edit- other than that critique, I enjoyed your post and am looking forward to the rest. It brought back memories of stumbing upon "Don's A&A Essays" about 10 years ago during my first forays in the internet. I've never played the Revised game, just "classic" A&A. Do you play with a bid or with the by the book setup? Don's essays convinced me that the Allies are unbeatable (barring exteremely unlikely rolls)without a bid if the Shuck-shuck is employed. Still A&A is an all time great game.


I haven´t played the original A&A but I have read Don´s essays and they are not that relevant in A&ARe.

Here you can read a bit more about the designers comments on A&ARe in this subject, with comments to Don´s essays: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=ah/article/ah20040302a

This especially discusses the Infantry Push Method, which was one of the main reasons to why Allies was "unbeatable" in the original game.
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Mysthjuk wrote:
How would you like Japan to play?

My idea is to take China and let Japan build 3 fighters in the first round and then in the second round land all fighters possible in China. In round 3 you attack Sinkiang and land all fighters in the newly occupied Moscow. Thus the German can return to das vaterland with as many tanks as possible to throw out UK/US from WEUR.

Any comments?


Japan needs to be as aggressive as Germany. If opportunity presents itself I take out infantry that’s stacked in Buryata. Elas, that doesn’t happen very often. Next best thing, I would do it like you do: take out China, next Sinkiang, then Novosiberisk and last Russia. If however the Russians pull away from Yakutsk in R2 you need to go North to persuade them to come back. Unfortunately that means Japan will not be a big help in support.
With optimal conditions I’d say go for China.

For the rest: get as many plains back as possible after the first attack. I recommend you buy 2 trans and 2 tanks in R1. They will be in time for a R4 support. Although in your proposed R3 attack they won’t reach it in time. There is a neat little trick that is often overlooked by the Allies in an Immortal game: when Germany attacks the Caucasus in the Opening-, or early Midgame, you can base all your fighters from Japan there to fortify the position. Just make sure your plains are stationed 4 spaces away from the Caucasus in the turn previous to your attack.

prizziap wrote:
While conceding is an honorable option, I'd argue that it's often not the best option. Here's what you're missing:

Learning more about the game. Sure you might not have a very good chance at winning, but by keeping the game going you will learn more about how to play better in the future. Your opponent will also learn how to play better. If you're both having fun and enjoying the game, why concede?


You are absolutely right. I wouldn’t recommend conceding to any beginning or moderate player. In fact I don’t even recommend playing this strategy with the Board game version at all, for reasons I have stated in my article.
Although I’m always learning from each and every game, the game doesn’t have much to teach in the Endgame for me. Sure on a Board game and even on Triple A, if I have time, I’ll continue playing, but often the ‘fun’ in the Endgame is long gone and it’s just a matter of time-consuming sweeping. On one occasion I was able to drag my defeat (don’t remember if it was an Immortal, though) to R17 (at which point he only had Germany)! And on another I even won, because my opponent got really really really (I have to stress that) careless and somehow managed to get me back in the game (note how I say he got me back in the game and not vice versa). But that’s a fluck of mater in an otherwise empty universe! Again, conceding isn’t a necessity, and I’d be the last to promote it, but there is also nothing wrong with it. This game is predominantly about the Opening game. Get that right and your chances of winning rise exponentially. For me, as an experienced player, the true fun is in the Opening and Midgame, the Endgame is often a wrap up, in my experience.

prizziap wrote:
Edit- other than that critique, I enjoyed your post and am looking forward to the rest. It brought back memories of stumbing upon "Don's A&A Essays" about 10 years ago during my first forays in the internet. I've never played the Revised game, just "classic" A&A. Do you play with a bid or with the by the book setup? Don's essays convinced me that the Allies are unbeatable (barring exteremely unlikely rolls)without a bid if the Shuck-shuck is employed. Still A&A is an all time great game.


Wow, comparing me even remotely to Don Rae is a huge compliment. If my articles are even remotely on that level, I’m very content indeed. I play the game strictly by the original rules. Even A&A Classic was always played by-the-book. The book allowed a first time attack restriction for Russia, which was enough for us. But soon after that, we came to the conclusion that the game was solved. The Axis never won again and instead of changing the rules we stopped playing. This was probably 2 years before Revised hit the market, and caught our attention again. So no: we don’t use a bid and play strictly by the rules. I think that if we ever feel it’s necessary to do something for the Axis, I’d turn to the alternative rules instead.


Mysthjuk wrote:
I´m one of those guys who always walks around thinking up strategies for games, be it Starcraft (the computer game), my PBEM Diplomacy or Axis & Allies. Every new input I use and try to make the best of. Actually this paper made me put up all German and Russian pieces in the middle of the night just to make a brief simulation of the first three rounds


Yeah, I know the feeling. For me, the best part of playing A&A is not the actual play, but thinking about how to do my Opening game for the next match. For years my regular opponent laughed at me for my nerdiness. But I’m convinced it’s the only reason why it’s something like 3:1 in my favour. When we decided to hook up again (we parted for some time) we played A&A Pacific. I did my pre-thinking and to my surprise he bought his own copy too . And since Essen 2007 he has Revised as well. No wonder we are on a more even basis right now (still 2:1 though… but not for long )

Mysthjuk wrote:
Please also comment my thread in this forum named "Allied Lend-Lease strategy idea" which could be relevant for all those playing A&A revised with out of the box rules.


Will do.

Mysthjuk wrote:
I haven´t played the original A&A but I have read Don´s essays and they are not that relevant in A&ARe.


My foot! Huge chunks of Don Rea’s Essays still have every relevance. To name but a few: Dead Zones, Retreating (mayor, very, hugely important), COUNTERATTACK structure (even more, mighty, godlike important) and Chuck-chuck all have the mark of the master on them. I grant you: IPM is mitigated, but that’s no loss at all.
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In my game yesterday i tried this strategy of the "immortal game" and it worked out perfectly. Germany got Moscow in R3, attacking from West Russia with an army of ~ 6 inf, 3 art, 17 tanks, 6 ftr and 1 bomber. 12 tanks left in Russia after the attack.

This was largely due to Japan going India->West Russia with 5 planes, 4 surviving India and Caucasus AA-guns, to defend against counterattacks.

It was also in a game where we played A&AR:e and Russia chose Lend-Lease and got 5 extra IPC first round, 2 extra IPC 2nd and 3rd round each and a total of 2 fighters into Russia. Indeed a very strong Russian died to German tanks.

I would like to combine this with a Japanese attack on western US. One often overlooked thing is that you can go from Japan (sz 60) into western Canada north of Alaska in one round. That would hopefully keep the US from attacking Western Europe long enough for the German to maintain control over Europe.
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I strongly disagree that the Allies were anything like unbeatable in the original A&A. I've been playing A&A for years and only recently got the revised edition. [Back to that later.] I would usually play Japan or both Axis powers. I'd go for economic victory every time and simply concentrate on defensively holding my capital[s] and offensively going for an all-out land grab hitting everywhere and anywhere the Allies looked weak. I almost always have won. My basic concept playing the Axis in the original A&A is that the Axis MUSTattack all out and expand as repaidly as possible. I'd maximize the possible number of IPC units I could take in territories and then let probabilities take care of the rest. Sure, I'd lose some attacks but never all of them. It's a VERY effective strategy.

That brings me to my dilemma with A&A Revised. Economic victory is no longer an option! I enjoyed the paper above and want to try it out as far as it goes but I'm still trying to figure out a viable Axis strategy for the Revised edition. So far, for the Germans, I've managed to hold off England from Western Europe for a few rounds and I think an IC in Western Europe is a good idea for fortifying aginst the British but the overall strategy is lacking.

Suggestions? I don't want a play by play guide since I don't think those work but the question is: What is the German player's immediate goal vis-a-vis each of the Allies initially? Fine, I can see going all out for Moscow but what about the British in Europe and for that matter the Americans? What of Africa? Similarly, what are the immediate strategic objectives of the Japanese vis-avis each of the Allies? A good Biritish player will make hell for Japan on land and at sea if the Japanese player doesn't divert resources to take care of the Biritish.
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whac3 wrote:
…I enjoyed the paper above and want to try it out as far as it goes but I'm still trying to figure out a viable Axis strategy for the Revised edition.


Hmm, maybe I am wrong… but my post sort of is about Revised & the Axis . To me it reads like you think this paper is for Classic & the Allies?

whac3 wrote:
…So far, for the Germans, I've managed to hold off England from Western Europe for a few rounds and I think an IC in Western Europe is a good idea for fortifying against the British but the overall strategy is lacking…


My opinion about a Factory in Western Europe is irrelevant in this case, since this strategy holds nothing less but utter contempt for anything that has nothing to do with its prime and secondary objectives: Moscow & a place to land… both to be achieved in R3 or R4. Why would you want to hold W. Europe in an Immortal game? The game is (supposed to be) effectively over after the pitiful counterattack from the Allies against the Germans who hold Moscow with hords of tanks, Japanese Fighters and what have you not…

whac3 wrote:
Suggestions? I don't want a play by play guide since I don't think those work but the question is: What is the German player's immediate goal vis-à-vis each of the Allies initially? Fine, I can see going all out for Moscow but what about the British in Europe and for that matter the Americans? What of Africa? Similarly, what are the immediate strategic objectives of the Japanese vis-avis each of the Allies? A good British player will make hell for Japan on land and at sea if the Japanese player doesn't divert resources to take care of the British.


Have you read the first paper? In there I tried to identify two possibilities for the Axis: Chuck-chuck* (stalling to an open-end endgame) and All-out (winning the game in the midgame). Whatever you do with the Axis should be coordinated and setup in the opening game. Is that general enough for you? I believe that choosing early and committing to either path, will give you the best odds of winning. Furthermore I am convinced that Mirroring** with the Soviets helps you determine what strategy is best for you as the Axis. As always: the dice have the last say in this, so I absolutely agree that a turn-by-turn discussion on the how, what and why of moving, buying, attacking this piece or that, is pointless.
So, the immediate goals of the Germans and Japs, depends on what overall strategy is chosen. Each strategy has different goals, but I will go into more detail in my other papers.

*I still have to write the paper for the Chuck-chuck but that takes time, so bear with me.

**Yet another one I have to write.
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Seth_Logan wrote:
whac3 wrote:
…I enjoyed the paper above and want to try it out as far as it goes but I'm still trying to figure out a viable Axis strategy for the Revised edition.


Hmm, maybe I am wrong… but my post sort of is about Revised & the Axis . To me it reads like you think this paper is for Classic & the Allies?

whac3 wrote:
…So far, for the Germans, I've managed to hold off England from Western Europe for a few rounds and I think an IC in Western Europe is a good idea for fortifying against the British but the overall strategy is lacking…


My opinion about a Factory in Western Europe is irrelevant in this case, since this strategy holds nothing less but utter contempt for anything that has nothing to do with its prime and secondary objectives: Moscow & a place to land… both to be achieved in R3 or R4. Why would you want to hold W. Europe in an Immortal game? The game is (supposed to be) effectively over after the pitiful counterattack from the Allies against the Germans who hold Moscow with hords of tanks, Japanese Fighters and what have you not…

whac3 wrote:
Suggestions? I don't want a play by play guide since I don't think those work but the question is: What is the German player's immediate goal vis-à-vis each of the Allies initially? Fine, I can see going all out for Moscow but what about the British in Europe and for that matter the Americans? What of Africa? Similarly, what are the immediate strategic objectives of the Japanese vis-avis each of the Allies? A good British player will make hell for Japan on land and at sea if the Japanese player doesn't divert resources to take care of the British.


Have you read the first paper? In there I tried to identify two possibilities for the Axis: Chuck-chuck* (stalling to an open-end endgame) and All-out (winning the game in the midgame). Whatever you do with the Axis should be coordinated and setup in the opening game. Is that general enough for you? I believe that choosing early and committing to either path, will give you the best odds of winning. Furthermore I am convinced that Mirroring** with the Soviets helps you determine what strategy is best for you as the Axis. As always: the dice have the last say in this, so I absolutely agree that a turn-by-turn discussion on the how, what and why of moving, buying, attacking this piece or that, is pointless.
So, the immediate goals of the Germans and Japs, depends on what overall strategy is chosen. Each strategy has different goals, but I will go into more detail in my other papers.

*I still have to write the paper for the Chuck-chuck but that takes time, so bear with me.

**Yet another one I have to write.


No, I realized the paper was about the Revised edition and, no, I've not read the other articles. I merely mentioned "a strategy for the revised edition" because I was talking simultaneously about both and so I wanted to make clear which I was referring to. I also am interested in general starategies, not just that in the "Immortal Game", especially since it seems to say not to use it if Russia attacks successfully in Ukraine on the first turn. That has happened virtually every game I've played, including the one I played last night.

The IC in Western Europe helps put ships in the water to simply keep the British at bay and concentrate on pounding Russia. That worked fairly well yesterday as far as keeping the British at bay, although I got painfully stalled by Russian counter-attacks. The Japanese did hit Russia hard too but the British had put an IC in India on the first turn and kept pounding the Japanese themselves. The game basically became a quagmire where no one got anywhere and after a few hours we quit with no clear winner.
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Robert Bracey
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Seth,

I really enjoyed the article. It gave me some thoughts on the situation, but I think you should have included a set of conditions.

Of course it is doable if the Russians build only infantry, fail to make the turn 1 West Russia attack, mass for an Eastern counter-attack, or play their defence incompetently. And it would be a good 5 player strategy because the Russian defence depends on the British doing the right things.

However, failing these things it requires good luck to seize Moscow on turn 3 (your only chance) and unbelievable luck to hold it or recapture on the next turn. Worse, the Russians can clearly make a first move that will make it effectively impossible. At a cost of 1 IPC to the Japanese, which is pretty marginal. But good article.
 
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RobertBr wrote:
Seth,

I really enjoyed the article. It gave me some thoughts on the situation, but I think you should have included a set of conditions.


Hello Robert, thank you for your comments. At first I couldn't see why exactly you felt you needed to comment on this article, but then I noticed you have been quite busy writing Variants, Session Reports and a Review yourself. With that in mind, I can understand you moused over this strategy and was somewhat disappointed. I try to explain in my articles (I have done 2 so far) I don't believe in a turn by turn sequence of events, 'cause action leads to reaction and luck of the day make such observations pointless. Try to in vision the 'bigger concept’ of an immortal game. Allowing yourself to throw away every value you have, and replace it with an entirely different way of looking at the game.

RobertBr wrote:
Of course it is doable if the Russians build only infantry, fail to make the turn 1 West Russia attack


It was this comment that had me puzzled, why you bothered with your reply to my article. You are right I prefer Russia buying 6 or less units and yes, I would love the absence or loss of the Ukraine battle. these two conditions make the immortal game very powerful, so what more conditions would you like me to give you? Other then that there is already an other person here who had success with the immortal game... Besides, you can use the immortal game just as good in a sucker punch on the US or an Death-or-glory attack against the Brits. I've seen it, done it, failed at it an won. So why couldn't you?

RobertBr wrote:
However, failing these things it requires good luck to seize Moscow on turn 3 (your only chance) and unbelievable luck to hold it or recapture on the next turn.


I suppose it would... hence the conditions...
 
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Robert Bracey
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"I don't believe in a turn by turn sequence of events, 'cause action leads to reaction and luck of the day make such observations pointless."

Actually I wasn't at all disappointed with your article, I thought it was very good. However I disagree with you on this point. The luck element in the game is fairly small and the decision tree for A&A is substantially less complex than it is for chess. If your point were true all chess opening books would be pointless. In fact you can write opening strategy for A&A in almost the same way as chess at least 2 rounds deep (depending upon the number of forcing moves you make, certainly you can go to 3 in the immortal game).

For example I did take your paper, did a careful analysis, played it against some-one and leveraged out a win (taking and holding Moscow on turn 3). That remains the only Axis win I've seen. However the Allied player made a clear error, and after we did a low luck analysis it became clear that correctly played the Allied defence cannot fail.

Assuming the Russian player plays the full West Russia attack (his optimum exchange of ICPs) on turn 1 the Germans attack Caucasus (taking out the airforce on the ground), the Russians counter attack (failure to do so was the mistake my opponent made), the Germans counter attack again threatening the 8 tank thrust through the now defended West Russian route so the Russians must now defend. On turn 3 the Germans now get a hit at Russia. If the allied players air-support in full and the Russians have played right the attack is hopeless, if the allies don't air-support it has about a 90% chance of taking Moscow (and little hope of keeping it, but taking it might be enough).

The West Russian counter-attack is weaker, giving a final chance of about 70% without allied air-support. There is also the Karelia thrust which gives you an option to play for an immortal game on turn 2 but it is unsound because of the counter-attack.

Of course if the Russians play the combined West Russia - Ukraine attack on turn 1 you cannot play an immortal at all.

So, having analyzed it my conditions would be:
Russians make the West Russia attack
Russians move 6 infantry into Buryatia
Russians fail to pull eastern units back to Moscow
Russians make a bad build (8 Inf, or a fighter)
The Initial Russian attacks receive heavier than usual casualties
Their is a fighting chance the Allied player(s) will fail to play the defence correctly.

Some of those are more important than others but I would want at least 3 of them.

Interestingly my opponent made a chess analogy after losing to this. They compared it to the Scholars Mate because it requires a 'self-help' from the opponent. And so it concerns me when you talk about the psychological impact because that implies you are mis-leading your opponent and suggesting she lost because you played well when in fact she lost because she played badly.

It is genuinely useful to analyse your idea in detail because while the opening is unsound it teaches all sorts of useful lessons about how to leverage the maximum IPC value out of the German position so that when you have maximum value as you move into the the bad half of the economic cycle in turns 3/4.

However to suggest it is a genuine strategy rather than a risky response to Soviet errors is misleading.

Robert

 
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Re: Srategy paper #2. An "Immortal game" - the art of sacrif
I have once again tried this turn 3 Moscow attack - and I succeded perfectly well with 17 tanks and 3 artillery relaxing in Moscow! That was mostly because my opponent had 10 inf and 7 tanks in Caucasus, but I would have got Moscow even if all were in there to defend.

I went through Karelia - West Russia - Moscow. My attack consisted of something like 11 inf, 4 art, 17 tanks, 5 fighters and 3 bombers (2 build during round 2 build). Isn´t that enough material to beat down pretty much anything Russia can do?

Before the attack my opponent got himself two lend-leased fighters and 6 inf from eastern Soviet except for normal builds. He also used the T-34 national advantage from the enhanced rules.
 
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RobertBr wrote:
So, having analyzed it my conditions would be:
Russians make the West Russia attack
Russians move 6 infantry into Buryatia
Russians fail to pull eastern units back to Moscow
Russians make a bad build (8 Inf, or a fighter)
The Initial Russian attacks receive heavier than usual casualties
Their is a fighting chance the Allied player(s) will fail to play the defence correctly.

Some of those are more important than others but I would want at least 3 of them.

Interestingly my opponent made a chess analogy after losing to this. They compared it to the Scholars Mate because it requires a 'self-help' from the opponent.


A few months, and more plays, have passed since this paper was first designed and you comments given. And I think you are right. I still believe in an immortal strategy concept, meaning go all or nothing to try and win in the first 4 rounds, but as you mentioned there are more requirements than I first felt was necessary. Indeed: the overwhelming air power that the Wallies can quickly bring to the USSR is simply too much for the Germans to handle. I would now narrow the use of this exact type of strategy down to when most or all of the above conditions are met. That's not to say there is no more use for an Immortal strategy, it's still out there, someone just has to make good use of it.
 
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Seth_Logan wrote:
RobertBr wrote:
So, having analyzed it my conditions would be:
Russians make the West Russia attack
Russians move 6 infantry into Buryatia
Russians fail to pull eastern units back to Moscow
Russians make a bad build (8 Inf, or a fighter)
The Initial Russian attacks receive heavier than usual casualties
Their is a fighting chance the Allied player(s) will fail to play the defence correctly.

Some of those are more important than others but I would want at least 3 of them.

Interestingly my opponent made a chess analogy after losing to this. They compared it to the Scholars Mate because it requires a 'self-help' from the opponent.


A few months, and more plays, have passed since this paper was first designed and you comments given. And I think you are right. I still believe in an immortal strategy concept, meaning go all or nothing to try and win in the first 4 rounds, but as you mentioned there are more requirements than I first felt was necessary. Indeed: the overwhelming air power that the Wallies can quickly bring to the USSR is simply too much for the Germans to handle. I would now narrow the use of this exact type of strategy down to when most or all of the above conditions are met. That's not to say there is no more use for an Immortal strategy, it's still out there, someone just has to make good use of it.


Seth,

When I first started playing Revised, I always employed the "force the dice" approach which invariably led to Germany building 8 tanks turn 1 and 2-3 bombers turn 2 - basically your immortal strategy. I called it the Manstein Sickle Cut Ost. Germany moves 5 inf to Karelia and a sizeable force to the Ukraine. Use subs to block UK amphibious attacks on Karelia and Western Europe. During the Japanese turn build bombers and creep the figthers west. The idea is to "bait" the Russian player into attacking either your stack in the Ukraine or Karelia. Taking either territory is a fatal mistake as it puts him hopelessly out of position. If he takes the Ukraine he must have done so with a massive force. This leaves West Russia (or Archangelsk) wide open for the 5 inf from Karelia. Move 8 armor from Germany (built turn 1) and 5 fighters into Karelia. During Japan 2 land 6 fighters and 3 bombers in West Russia so that the Russians can't kill the West Russia stack. This creates a simultaneous threat on Caucusus and Moscow so he has to concede one of them. If he takes Karelia instead, he has split his force. Smash the weaker stack and again use the Japanese air force to solidify your frontal position. It's a really nasty strategy becuase you can outflank him if he attacks in either direction. The best thing he can possibly do is hit your stack for a round or two but NOT take either territory. Most players don't think of this. And if they do, they risk rolling too well and taking the territory by accident - usually a disaster.

The problem is the game becomes less about skill and more about chance. I found that I could easily defeat people who were not ready for the all out rush on Moscow, but the better players adapted after a play or two. At that point, the game really came down to dice, because I would put them in a situation where the Allied player HAD to attack my German stack to not lose the game by turn 3 or 4. This was usually an attack that favored me, but as we all know, the dice are very unpredictable. There really wasn't too much thought involved anymore for either side. The only real variance became how one reacts to dice rolls that fall outside the standard deviation. A friend of mine who employs the same strategy nicknamed it "rinse, lather, repeat." After a while, we jokingly stated "why not just roll a die 1-4 Axis win, 5-6 Allies win and save ourselves a bunch of time moving pieces around..."

I found great success using the strategy and for almost two years breezed into to the finals in every single tournament at my local cons (I believe 5 in a row). The problem was the player in the finals was invariably pretty good so my "force the dice" strategy was no longer an automatic victory and I had to rely on some luck.

Since then my play has evolved so that I don't automatically employ the German 8 tank strategy unless after Russia 1 the opportunity presents itself for an automatic victory regardless of my opponents skill level. A more conservative approach is to build 1 AC and 5 armor (I presume Germany receives some kind of bid) and stockpile armor and infantry in Eastern Europe. This sets up "Festung Europe" but the 5 armor gives you the option to switch to a blitz if the Allied players missteps.
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