If you have not played Churchill then you are about to let yourself in for a long war game built around the mechanics of the conferences between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. It’s an intense game of incremental decisions and the domino effect of sweeping through the axis front lines – check out my review for more on the game and the base mechanics.
If you are however wondering about potential strategies for the game, here’s my early thoughts.
During the Game:
US; As the US you will be focused on a two pronged attack through the game – making sure that you can progress in the pacific (which will need naval reinforcement and a lot of offensive support as you have two tracks to get down), and landing in Normandy before the British make it to Italy. You have some time in Europe, so focus the initial work on starting the two pacific advances – they are long! As soon as the UK starts to advance in Italy you need to push through to Normandy, and win the conditional issue of the Second Front. Also, you will want the A Bomb, but be prepared to split the work on that issue with Russia who has a bigger incentive to get this issue to the table and won.
UK; Given the notes from the US, you will probably guess that rushing Italy is a big early part of the strategy. Also, you are going to want to keep the colonies clear. You don’t need to control those areas, but keeping them clear is a positive to you and a negative to others. Western Europe will also be a key sphere of political and military influence for you. Global issues (a debate option) are probably also more important for you than other players.
USSR; Pol / Mil success for you will be an early game dominant strategy, whilst you spend production to release the additional production from the North. Also you can steal production from other players and the strategic resource – with a strong German front this will be important to any advance. To breakthrough in Japan you will need to win the agenda and get conditional issue to the middle at the end – be patient and you should get this in one of the first 3-4 rounds. Also, conference wins can also be helpful as you get 5pts whilst others only get 3pts.
Agenda; Winning the agenda is key (in my mind anyway) to getting a conditional issue. You will likely play last and can move the issue back to the centre of the table. A must for the US in Normandy and Russia in Manchuria. However, you may find that the advantage to this is regularly to Churchill so a bit of negotiation may be necessary!
Pass; Passing is critical – if you object to an issue and don’t then pass you hand control of the end of the conference to your opponent. This could be a 1-2 card advantage and that could be enough to control the final balance of agenda issues. If another player does jump their pass, be prepared to take advantages from them at the end of that conference.
Stalin should object; The benefit that Stalin gets offers that player the advantage in objections so expect them to pass their turns and object to other players actions. Stalin will only act on his turn when it’s a chance to steal an issue (see below) or if the issue he could contest were irrelevant! Forcing Stalin to act can reduce his influence though.
Stealing an Issue; I refer to the opportunity to object and then immediately take your turn – this two play move can often shift an issue from an opponents track to yours, and then from yours to off the table. If the issue is important (theatre leadership, pol/mil) you may want to push this issue at the cost of the conference victory VP.
Stalin +5; Speaking of conference VP watch out for Stalin on the conference VP. The allies would rather trade conference wins with each other than let too many go to Stalin given the advantage this hands to the USSR player.
Luck; No matter what you do there will be luck in this game – luck in the dice roles, luck in the card draws. It will move the story of each game in particular ways and then you as the players will need to rebalance it. Negotiate based on the roles and don’t forget the importance of helping the other players – first player should help last, and the second player should try to stop the third (or the first) dependent on the overall plan.
High Card; The last moves of the conference can be critical – holding a high card back would often allow you shift the key issue back to the centre of the table or your side. Sometimes, it’s also just the opportunity to secure the key issue for you.