By Fred Manzo
The “Spoiling Attack” in Axis and Allies
Another tactic our group has sometimes found useful in Axis and Allies is the “Spoiling Attack.”
In my last Axis & Allies strategy article, the attacker went on to eliminate the last enemy units. But that is not always preferable. Just consider what would have happened if they had stopped short of complete victory.
For example, say they were the Russians defending Moscow. They had a thirty infantry army ready to attack a German 15 tank army. Now say, at this point in the game Russia was generating 24 IPCs a turn in income and the Germans have just taken the Caucasus, so they had no defending fighters, but they did have follow-up forces just within range. Maybe they consists of 15 more tanks, 8 infantry, and 3 planes. Once all these armies combine Moscow is lost. So the Russians decide to attack.
Okay, during the Russian attack things went along as the Standard Formula said they would through, say, the third round. They now have 20 Russian Infantry attacking the last 3 German tanks. The Russians, as the attacker, can press on to eliminate these final units and capture the territory. Most players in this position would do just that. But if they do, what exactly are their prospects?
-They have created a buffer zone between the follow-up German forces and Moscow, which may or may not be necessary.
-They have an extra 2 points of income for capturing the territory.
-They have destroyed the last three (and most valuable) German defenders.
-They will probably lose one more infantry unit.
-They could lose their last major army as it is now within range of the powerful German secondary forces mentioned above.
-The Russian reinforcements are out of position, being placed back in Moscow.
In this situation, the Russian might just be defeated in detail.
Yes, if the Russians push ahead they’ll destroyed 3 additional German tanks (worth 5 IPCs each) and capture a territory worth 2 more, or 17 IPCs. But they will probably be down 1 infantry casualty needed to take the territory, that is 3 IPCs, so on balance the Russians will be ahead 14 IPCs. But, more importantly, they will probably open themselves up to the loss of their remaining 19 infantry units in the subsequent German attack (although these last units should also take down some Germans, probably all the infantry and one tank.) Still, the Germans will end up with about 14 tanks and 3 planes adjacent to a Moscow defended by 16 or so infantry, which looks like a German victory in the making.
But it still might be worth it. It all depends on such other factors as how strong the remaining follow – up German forces are, how many Allied units are reinforcing Leningrad (or if it has even held out), if France has been liberated by the Anglo-Americans, the location of any other Soviet units and how close the Japanese are to Moscow etc.
But then again, it might not. So what happens if they don’t take the Caucasus? Well their 20 Infantry fall back to Moscow where the new reinforcements arrive, so there are 20 infantry plus 8 infantry reinforcements or 28 units defending their capital. And the Germans can’t attack next round anyway because presumably their new main army is not yet within range of Moscow. Of course, they will take this turn to get it in range, so they will now have 15 tanks plus the 3 surviving tanks, plus their 8 infantry and 3 planes. But the Russians will now have 36 infantry at Moscow, as another reinforcement phase would have gone by.
So, in this particular case, the Germans will probably lose. Their main problem being that the Russian reinforcements were getting to Moscow faster than theirs were. Spoiling Attacks don’t always work, but they are a tactic that should be considered.
Axis & Allies Board Game Tactics