This article deals with the high-level decision-making in Axis & Allies. For lower-level decision-making, see Tactics.
The key strategic decisions are
- Deciding which fronts you will attack on, and which fronts you will only try hold
- Where will you put your factories
In general you want to attack enemy regions that are isolated from the rest of the enemy, so you bring your force to bear more easily than the enemy can. If the region is isolated but of limited value, don't commit more forces than the region is worth.
Factories are expensive and make no direct contribution to you military strength. Use them in regions you can't get to easily, so you can dominate them. Make sure they can be defended.
Don't just abandon fronts you are not attacking on. Even small forces can slow the enemy down and force the enemy to divert force from more important regions.
When your nation is heavily pressure, it is good idea to fall back to trying to control only your capital and adjacent land areas. For a land power, it can take a few turns for your foes to breach your defenses.
In world-wide, WW2 scenarios, the situation is effectively a double-siege, with the Axis trying to defeat the Russians before the Allies can break through the Axis ring surrounding Russia and either support the Russians directly or capture an Axis capital.
Axis strategy in these games is straight-forward, destroy Russia. The Germans need to commit something to France, to slow the Western allies. The Germans/Italians may find fighting in Africa advantageous, but the Allies will usually destroy the Mediterranean fleet. The Japanese will normally advance against Russia on a broad front. Often emphasizing the advance through India is the best, as it prevents British from doing anything and flanks the Russian forces facing the Germans in southern Russia. Japanese factories on the mainland are useful.
The Allies need to decide which Axis power to take out first. In AAC the clear answer was Germany, as US forces could reach France in 1 turn. In AAR and AA42 the answer is less clear, with it taking 2 turns for the Americans to reach Europe. Japan is more vulnerable in those scenarios, because of the separation between the Japan, the Asian mainland and vital income-producing islands of the East Indies. A coordinated attack by all the Allied powers against Japan by both land & sea can create major problems. Unlike Germany, Japan can't just fall back on its capital.
AA50's national objective system has the effect of putting more value in certain areas, such as Africa and the Pacific islands. This focuses Allied attention towards Germany. For the Japanese, attacking Russia is still better than going for the national objectives.