This has slowly dawned on me after having gotten into this situation myself, seeing others get into it, reading about it, and now having looked at it closer as well.
At some point if the Axis wishes to win the long term 20 round + war, they need to achieve economic parity with the Allies. The assumption is this is barring unusually favorable dice and mistakes on the Allied party.
It should be obvious, but over many many many rounds, the side that is collecting more than the other should eventually win the game., even if it is a tiny wedge. While the situation may not be changing much from turn to turn given equal flux of dice, eventually the economic wedge will manifest itself and one side will give in. The way the Axis tends to win as I've seen so far is due more to Allied mistakes or favorable dice than it is true long term strategy.
Let me now look at the problem - to sum it up, it is KGF, and I don't think Japan can achieve the IPCs it needs to topple the Allies on its lonesome self.
There are 166 IPCs in territories available on the board. Let's take a look at these territories in a general but reasonable sense to see if the Axis can reasonably get equal or more IPCs to topple the Allies. I'm scaling my estimates towards the late game where both captals have fallen, and the Japanese have drawn the lines at Karelia/Belo/Ukraine but cannot advance any further.
As for the obvious, let us add up territories that the Allies have almost beyond doubt. The US should have W. US (10), C. US (6), Mexico (2), E. US (12), W. Indies (1), Panama (1), and Brazil (3), and Alaska (2). Alaska is somewhat questionable, but I do not think most Axis players can find the time to tilt there with bb/fighters/inf every turn when they have to expand out to the other islands; their effort is better spent elsewhere, and even if they wanted to work hard, they should go to Africa where the real big cash is. Fight hardest where you win the most, after all.
That is $37 US dollars.
For the UK, they have E. Canada (3), W. Canada (1), London (
, E. Europe(3), Balkans (3), S. Europe (6), Berlin (10), W. Europe (6) and Norway(3) for certain. That's 43 IPCs.
Now as the game usually progresses, the Allies should have all of Africa if they want it, minus madagascar. This is usually due to chasing the Germans out with a significant force early on, some people even continue to use Africa as a staging grounds (North African Dominance) for the Americans, making it even more impossible than normal to get Africa. There are 11 IPCs in the continental Africa not counting Madagascar or Persia, and I'm assuming the UK has all of it due to them leading with a force in Algeria early in the game, then taking Libya and liberating the whole of Africa from any German influence.
So $43 in unquestionable territores, and 11 is very reasonable for Africa, making the UK income $54.
The combined UK + US is $37 + 54 = 91 IPCs in income. Maybe you can argue that US took W. Europe instead of UK, but it doesn't make a difference in the sense that the total Allied IPCs in 91. They are outproducing Japan, and eventually they should win. I am even assuming the favorable circumstance in which Japan takes Ukraine/Belo for their own income; not where liberate it and it becomes dead to both sides until the Allies take it.
The problem is that I don't think Japan can expect to reasonably expand anywhere else. There's not an inch more that they can hold permanently. I'm assuming they have TJ + Madagascar, Karelia/Belo/Ukraine and everything east of it.
By this reasoning you can see where the Allies seem to have an advantage and where they should focus their attention. As wild as the Japanese can get, they can only really get up to the 70'ish IPC range. Never the $83 benchmark, and certainly not past that. It's a matter of getting the Allies to the point where they get Berlin/W./S. Europe and can hold the line at E. Europe, and also hold Africa. That isn't very difficult.
I think if the Japanese want to have any shot at winning the late game, they need to get most of Africa at some point. Using the $91 to $75 number, you need to get 8 IPCs of Africa to bring the economy to an even point.
But this is extremely difficult, if not impossible. There is usually between 8-16Allied units in Africa (not even assuming N. Africa dominance with US) due to the leftovers from the first African flush. In order for Japan to clean them up quickly requires a huge landing. That simply cannot be afforded in the early-mid stages for lack of pressure on Moscow. You can of course try to land a couple units on the coast and hope to bait them into BB range, but they may not take the bait, and that still does not get you the majority of Africa.
You can try it after you get Moscow, but that relieves pressure in Europe.
I have tried and done it successfully where I have created a massive support system for Africa. I've shucked 6 units per round from India (3 build from complex, 3 walk in from F. Indo's complex from last turn), to Anglo. I have also then built a complex in Anglo for 8 units, and also still then build a complex in S. Africa for 10 units total after the chain is in place. 10 defensive inf per round is usually enough to deter the Americans and their 4 inf 4 arm per round. I've even got it to the point where I completely discouraged the Allies from Africa with a force of 20'ish inf off of Algeria, so they don't even consider landing anymore.
But even considering if the Americans don't want to try to dislodge me, that takes a lot of effort. Built 2 extra complexes and have 3 transports dedicated to shucking to Anglo (+ the 4 to take stuff off from Japan). This usually drains me so hard on units that Europe is floating backwards or I can't crack Moscow.
I don't see a reasonable way for the Japanese to achieve economic parity with the Allies who have Berlin. In order to expand IPCs in Africa, which is the only route, I have to spend a LOT to do so (have to kill the units floating around, then deal with the possible 10-16 units per round they can offload and march from Algeria), which the Allies can either match or simply push back in the theater I'm not working on.
So you Japanese players there or just anyone with a good idea, what is the way out of this do you think? Is there something I have assumed that is unreasonable, or is there something I have missed that allows Japan to win the scary late game?