Been thinking also about dimensions of victory. In A&A style games its usually by total number of VCs controlled, and the economic balance usually has a more fantastical version of WW2 where Axis have a better shot at achieving rough parity through crazy world conquest. But I think for a game patterned more on historical realities like overwhelming Allied superiority in cash and resources like oil and such, it might make more sense for Axis victory to just be holding Berlin and Tokyo and their core territorial gains past 1945. More of a sudden death resolution, where Allies can still lose if Axis can prolong the fight into 46 or beyond?
It would make sense thematically, since in reality, winning for the Axis would probably have meant just surviving long enough through some kind of stalemate at best. I think that would be a fun concept, since a managed defense like that can be just as interesting as a world steamroll to take 20 VCs on a mad dash. It also kind of inverts the usual scheme, where the clock is ticking against Axis and instead has it ticking against Allies, which might be cool for the gameplay and to keep both sides engaged till the final rounds.
Then team Axis wouldn't need as much fuel in the endgame, since the dugout would be more baked in. Using tanks and fighters on defense, Kamikaze and such. Japan and Germany had what like 80% of their fuel disrupted or knocked off in the course of the war? I know it was mainly coal and synthetics anyway, but in that same time the Allied production of crude doubled like year after year, with more than 2/3rds of the world's supply. I think to model that in any way realistically it would make sense for the victory conditions to reflect something more achievable for Axis, like just not dying up to a certain point at the dawn of the nuclear era.
Had a long convo with CWOMarc about it a while back, in a G40 context, but he raised some ideas more generally for WW2 victory conditions. Just going to quote a part I found interesting...
"On the German side, the conceptual model of fighting a series of short, decisive campaigns initially went well. Germany achieved a quick and complete victory on the Eastern Front, conquering the eastern side of Poland, then got a long break (the Phony War) during which it was able to rest, reorganize, plan and train for the next campaign. It then achieved a quick and complete victory in Denmark and Norway, then another quick and complete victory against the Low Countries and France. Against Britain, however, the German campaign of May-June 1940 did not produce a victory, but rather a second-best result: what I call a “sustainable stalemate.” Germany knocked the BEF out of Continental Europe, forcing it to abandon all its equipment in order to evacuate its men, but it proved unable to invade and occupy Britain or to force it to capitulate. Britain survived and stayed in the war, but was in no immediate (or even medium-term) position to invade and liberate Western Europe or to force Germany to capitulate. Hence, the two sides were essentially deadlocked, and were reduced to fighting each other on the ground in fringe territories (like Africa), in the air (in reciprocal bomber offensives) and at sea (the Battle of the Atlantic), with the air and sea campaigns being the start of attritional warfare between the Britain and Germany. This went on for years, and did not change fundamentally until the mid-1944 D-Day landings in Normandy and Anvil-Dragoon landings in Southern France signaled the resumption of maneuver warfare in Western Europe, and the gradual driving back of the Germans out of France and into Germany.
On the Eastern Front, in 1941, Germany initially tried to win a quick victory over the USSR through maneuver warfare. The Germans managed to push deeply into Soviet territory, but not deeply enough to achieve either a decisive victory. (“Deeply enough” would have meant the Urals, or possibly just the A-A line, but my feeling is that it was simply unrealistic for the Germans to get that far.) Instead, the Germans ran out of steam, then got pushed back part of the way by the Russians…who in turn ran out of steam. This scenario was repeated in 1942-1943, with the Germans pushing eastward towards Stalingrad and the Russians pushing them back. In other words, the two sides engaged in a combination of maneuver warfare and attrition warfare for about two years, with the maneuvering component mainly being a back-and-forth see-sawing of the front (similarly to what happened in North Africa) and the attrition component mainly being a huge consumption of manpower on both sides. The fundamental change on that front occurred in the period following Kursk, when the Russians were able to finally start pushing the Germans back without getting stopped.
How could we define “winning conditions” for Germany in this context? Physically overrunning Britain proved impossible because of the Channel and physically overrunning Russia proved impossible because of its sheer size, so we can rule out physical conquest as an indicator of victory. The number two option then becomes getting Britain and Russia to quit. Germany did make some progress in that direction: Britain’s convoy situation got pretty grim on a couple of occasions, and the USSR supposedly put out some peace feelers to Germany at one point. All in all, however, Britain and the USSR weren't too strongly motivated to capitulate unless their resources were exhausted – and neither ever got to that point. The number three option then becomes achieving a sustainable stalemate on each front. To “win” in practical terms, Germany would have had to be able to defeat the 1944 Anglo-American landings in France (and any subsequent ones made in 1945 and thereafter) and would have had to be able to keep playing “push me, pull you” with the Soviets on the Eastern Front: falling back from Soviet advances in the winter, and driving forward into Soviet territory in the summer. So on that basis you could say: if the Germans can achieve this on the game board, and can sustain it for long enough, they can be considered to have won by default because they’re holding on to their gains no matter how hard the Allies try to defeat them. Conversely, if the Allies manage to regain and hold significant territorial space that the Germans have conquered, they can be considered to have won because the momentum is on their side. You could call this the “barometer” approach rather than the “thermometer” approach. With a thermometer, the single reading given at a single moment is meaningful; with a barometer, the meaningful information is the trend shown over time, i.e. whether the pressure is rising or falling.
I’m not going to analyze Japan’s situation in much detail because, frankly, I don’t think Japan ever had much of a chance to win. It was already wearing itself down in China when it launched (with the bare-bones forces it could spare) its 1941 campaign of conquest in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, so right from the start it was biting off more than it could chew. In my opinion, Japan’s only realistic chance of achieving sustainable conquests in the Pacific and Southeast Asia would have been if it had done something that can’t be modeled into A&A (because it would distort the game too badly): attacking the British and Dutch colonial territories it wanted, but not going to war against the US. Japan’s vague strategic hope was that the Americans would get tired of fighting a losing war against Japan, and would eventually sit down to negotiate a treaty that would allow Japan to keep its gains. This hope would only have worked if Japan had left it up to the US to decide if it wanted to enter WWII, and thus if the US had gone to war without the powerful motivation and the sense of outrage that Pearl Harbor caused."