|Boot Camp: Patience is a Virtue|
|by Robert Mull|
You have meticulously built your 100 pt. Army and honed it to perfection, ready to annihilate your opponent. You carefully considered the possibilities but something always seems to go wrong during your battles and you find yourself beaten, battered and defeated. This series of articles is designed to help players of all skill levels tweak their performance and hone their skills with Axis & Allies Miniatures.
As with all things, this series cannot address every possible contingency or scenario. Instead it will present a series of good general strategies that you will have to learn when to use for their best effect. Just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no strategy is ever perfect for every scenario. Learning solid strategy and combining it with the ability to think on your feet, will greatly improve your chances of success.
Patience, patience, patience.
It’s important to remember that scenarios are a fixed length. The victor in a standard scenario is usually determined by who has possession of the objective and its’ adjacent hexes at the end of turn 7. If doesn’t matter if you occupy the objective from turn 1 through turn 6, if your opponent takes possession of it on the final turn and wins the game. So the first rule is to take your time, let the game develop and be decisive when the opportunity presents itself.
Many players feel that they must hurry to the objective at the start of the game. Rushing to the objective tends to string out your forces. This allows your enemy to defeat you in detail, rather than as a combined force. Although you might arrive at the objective first with a few fast moving units, those same units may have to defend against the combined might of all your opponents’ forces while they wait for the rest of your units to arrive. Typically this results in the loss of some of your units in return for a very temporary sense of accomplishment.
Rather than losing your units piecemeal, it’s preferable to move your units together as a combined force. Soldiers are designed to support vehicles and vice versa. Soldiers also have very short ranges relative to vehicles. By moving your units together you are able to allow each unit to do the job it is best at while focusing maximum firepower on your enemy. Let infantry clear out your enemy’s soldiers before that 10 pt. Bazooka can destroy your 49 pt. Panther. At the same time, let your Panther keep that machine-gun or tank occupied while your infantry moves into the cover of a good supporting position. This may mean that your force approaches the objective later in the game, but it’s likely that your entire force will be able to contribute equally to the ensuing battle.
If your opponent rushes for the objective, don’t be tempted to follow suit. Move according to your plans and your timeline. Seven turns may not seem like a lot, but it’s more time than you think. Take the time to position your forces for your final assault and wear down your enemy. More than a few players go crazy if you sit back and move slowly forward rather than rushing into battle. Waiting gives you a chance to wait for your opponent to make a mistake and then exploit it. If you opponent isn’t willing to budge, then use the time to set up your attack for the best chance of success.
Rushing in also tends to negate many abilities of the higher cost units. Sure superior armor is a great ability, but when you are at one hex from three different units, it’s not going to make that much of a difference. A Tiger may be able to roll 17 dice at a 1-hex range, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to utilize that unit. A Tiger can rain down death on its opponents with relative impunity from 10 hexes. Be patient and let the high cost units do their job, then close in and mop up the survivors.
Finally, the “objective rush” forces you to use the terrain at the objective and the fire lanes it provides, whether they are particularly useful or not. Frequently there are far better fire lanes to be had that cover the objective. If you can disrupt, damage, or destroy your opponents units before they ever get to the objective, then you have already started to control the objective. We will examine fire lanes and positioning of units in greater detail in next week’s Boot Camp.