With the Alpha +2 rules, the Axis can win by getting 8 of 11 victory cities on the Europe boards OR 6 of 8 victory cities on the Pacific boards. Some people think that if the US doesn’t go all out in the Pacific, or at least 80%, that it is somewhat easy for Japan to gain those 6 VCs. Personally, I don’t think it’s that easy. Japan starts with 2 VCs, then Manila and Hong Kong are almost a given that Japan will get those. Then, if the US fleet is not strong enough, Japan could also get Honolulu which would give them 5 victory cities.
Now, the last three – San Francisco, Sydney and Calcutta – are very hard for Japan to get. San Francisco is pretty obvious, US can really stack up defense there before Japan could get over there. Same with Calcutta. Sydney is so far away, it will take Japan 2-3 turns to get down there. Japan has to commit a lot of resources to taking any one of these, while fending off the US Navy and keeping the offensive going in China. Also, they have to keep all those VCs and the US could retake Honolulu, which would put Japan back to 5 VCs again. Or, if they are going the other way and trying to attack San Francisco, it’s possible that ANZAC could liberate Manila, or the British could retake Hong Kong. Heck, if the land war is going badly for Japan, the Chinese might even take a VC back.
Maybe some other players are using different stategies than I am, but I just don’t see it as being quite so easy for Japan to take 6 VCs. It seems to me that it is actually easier for Germany/Italy to capture the 8 VCs on the Europe board, especially if the war goes bad for Russia.