Pearl Harbor Opening for Japan



  • I’ve been working on an opening for Japan for a while that is unlike anything I’ve seen other people play but works quite well. It is not an automatic win but I have not seen anyone come up with a strong counter so far. It does require several battles that could be subject to dice catastrophe so I wouldn’t recommend it outside a Low Luck game, but it is very strong in LL. This opening assumes a bid in Europe (or no bid), which is standard and no R1 stack on Amur, which is a weak play anyway.

    Purchase:
    1 Carrier 1 Transport 1 Infantry

    Combat Move:
    1 Cruiser 2 Carrier 2 Fig 2 Tac 2 Destroyer 1 Sub 1 Battleship SZ6 ->SZ26
    1 Destroyer SZ33->SZ26
    1 Carrier 1 Fig SZ33->SZ35
    1 Destroyer SZ19->SZ35
    1 Tac Japan->SZ35
    1 Art Shantung->SZ19
    1 Inf Okinawa->SZ19
    1 Arm 1 Inf Japan->SZ6
    1 Transport SZ19->SZ35
    1 Transport SZ6->SZ35
    2 Inf 1 Arm 1 Art SZ35->Philippines
    1 Tac SZ33->Philippines
    1 Inf Kiangsi->SZ20
    1 Transport SZ20->SZ43
    1 Inf SZ43->Borneo
    2 Strat Japan->SZ37
    1 Fig Formosa SZ->SZ37
    1 Inf Siam->French Indochina
    2 Inf 1 Art ->Kwangsi->Yunnan
    1 Fig 1 Tac Kiangsu->Yunnan
    1 Inf Kwangsi->Hunan
    1 Inf Kiangsi->Hunan
    2 Fig 1 Tac Manchuria->Hunan
    1 Inf 1 Art Kiangsi->Kwangtung
    1 Fig 1 Tac Japan->Kwangtung
    2 Inf 1 Art Jehol->Chahar
    3 Inf Shantung->Anwhe
    3 Inf 1 Art Kiangsu->Anwhe
    1 Mech Manchuria->Anwhe

    Conduct Combat:
    The most risky battle is SZ35, where if he scrambles the fighter and hits with his sub you may have to damage your carrier and let your planes drown, which is annoying but not catastrophic.
    In SZ26 your first hit can go to your battleship but any subsequent hits need to be fighters, if you do lose a fighter immediatly replace it from Japan.
    In SZ37 you need to take off a bomber first since taking the fighter opens up a UK airstrike on Siam

    Noncombat Move:
    1 Fig 1/2 Strat SZ37->Siam
    1 Cruiser SZ20->SZ6
    1 Sub 1 Battleship SZ19->SZ6
    1 Fig 1 Tac Yunnan->Kwangsi
    2 Fig 1 Tac Yunnan->Kwangsi
    1 Fig 1 Tac Kwangtung->Kwangsi
    1 Fig Korea->Japan
    4 Inf Korea->Manchuria
    6 Inf 1 Art 1 AA Manchuria->Jehol

    This opening leaves the US in a very tough position, they are in the war early but also have a huge Japanese fleet near their home waters, which will be further reinforced next turn. The goal is to take Hawaii J2 and hold it for a turn, with the extra Carrier you bought J1 there is no buy the US can do that will allow him to attack your fleet. Stacking all his planes on Hawaii will allow him to hold that but then he no longer has enough to prevent you from sinking his pacific fleet with minimal losses. Putting more than one or two unit on the Atlantic side will similarly allow you to just sink his fleet. The best thing to do (which I’ve found so far) is strengthen the Pacific fleet and allow Hawaii to be taken. Thus you capture Hawaii in J2 and start grabbing money islands with the 3 transports you still have on the other side of the ocean. This means you can secure a decent to good income.

    J3 the US fleet is likely strong enough to counter yours, but you are now sitting at an operative naval base in an excellent position to strike at the ANZAC. Depending on the exact board position you will likely be able to take Sidney or at least bleed them severely while taking more money islands. In either case you have forced the US to spend heavy in the pacific while not giving them much to show for it, giving your European allies time to make something happen. On the downside your position against China and India is weaker than usual (though you still have a lot of planes there) and you have brought the allies into the war early.

    Please let me know what you think and how you would counter this. Now I’ve put a lot of thought into this and any strong counter is not going to be anything obvious, so thought-out replies only please.



  • Let’s try it out online with tripleA



  • The only transports in range of hawaii are in sz6 right?  If they are, then US just blocks.  Why do you land those planes in siam when you dont need to? Also, since you are not blocking him or protecting it, the borneo transport will likely be killed by the UK.  The earliest you can take hawaii is by turn 3, which the US will have enough to knock you back by then.  All the while, the UK and china are stacking yunnan making it a pain in the ass for Japan to do anything on the mainland.


  • Customizer

    You mentioned threatening Sydney with the force at Hawaii. Even with the naval base you can’t get to Sydney from Hawaii in one move. You could possibly take Queensland, but then ANZAC has another turn to build defense in Sydney. Of course, if the transports around the Philippines added more land units in Australia, ANZAC may simply not have enough to defend Sydney anyway.

    Suppose this works and now you have Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Honolulu and Sydney. That’s a Japanese win in victory cities in just 3 rounds. Do you think Japan will be strong enough to hold all six of those for one more round to ensure the win? It seems to me that the US would be strong enough to take Honolulu back.



  • @knp7765:

    You mentioned threatening Sydney with the force at Hawaii. Even with the naval base you can’t get to Sydney from Hawaii in one move. You could possibly take Queensland, but then ANZAC has another turn to build defense in Sydney. Of course, if the transports around the Philippines added more land units in Australia, ANZAC may simply not have enough to defend Sydney anyway.

    Suppose this works and now you have Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Honolulu and Sydney. That’s a Japanese win in victory cities in just 3 rounds. Do you think Japan will be strong enough to hold all six of those for one more round to ensure the win? It seems to me that the US would be strong enough to take Honolulu back.

    I agree, the turn after Japan moves off from hawaii, US will be able to pounce on it.



  • knp7765 I did not mean threatening Sydney from Hawaii, but moving to Queensland/New Zealand first. Hawaii will indeed be lost, that’s why it’s not instant victory. But you are on 5 VCs quickly and in a position where the 6th is in reach. Ghr2 the Borneo transport is probably sacrificial and I’m ok with that since I take 4 income and your destroyer in return. The block could be annoying but does cost you a unit which you cannot really spare. The planes may be better off landing in Kwangsi but the fighter can’t reach that.



  • @Gekkepop:

    knp7765 I did not mean threatening Sydney from Hawaii, but moving to Queensland/New Zealand first. Hawaii will indeed be lost, that’s why it’s not instant victory. But you are on 5 VCs quickly and in a position where the 6th is in reach. Ghr2 the Borneo transport is probably sacrificial and I’m ok with that since I take 4 income and your destroyer in return. I am ok burning a near useless destroyer to kill 7 ipcs for free and to prevent you from grabbing all of the islands. The block could be annoying but does cost you a unit which you cannot really spare. Making 71 ipcs, yep, I can’t spare 8 to go prevent you from getting 6 and a navalbase for end of your turn 2.  With 123 ipcs of naval/air buys against your fleet in combination with the american starting forces(including the cruiser from the atlantic), You are not going to be holding hawaii the turn you take it. The planes may be better off landing in Kwangsi but the fighter can’t reach that.  Take the fighter as casualty instead of the bombers since the bombers are more valuable.  And that the bombers are a lot safer in kwangsi.



  • When I said you can’t spare the unit I wasn’t referring to it’s 8 ipc cost but to the fact that you need everthing you can get to stop me from sinking the US pacific fleet. Taking out the Borneo transport is probably a good move but that doesn’t mean it was never worth using it. If I don’t capture the island and save the transport I’m not getting all the DEI in J2 either.



  • I don’t see how the US will need that 1 destroyer.



  • @ghr2:

    The only transports in range of hawaii are in sz6 right?  If they are, then US just blocks.  Why do you land those planes in siam when you dont need to? Also, since you are not blocking him or protecting it, the borneo transport will likely be killed by the UK.  The earliest you can take hawaii is by turn 3, which the US will have enough to knock you back by then.  All the while, the UK and china are stacking yunnan making it a pain in the ass for Japan to do anything on the mainland.

    Technically, you can do it J2 but you sacrifice much in doing so as you forfeit economic gains in the DEI and China.



  • @Gekkepop:

    In SZ37 you need to take off a bomber first since taking the fighter opens up a UK airstrike on Siam

    1 Fig 1/2 Strat SZ37->Siam

    Why land in Siam? The fighter obviously has to (assuming it lives), but the bombers can land in Kwangsi where they will be much much safer. It takes the bombers 5 spaces to hit sz37 and then they have 2 movement left due to the AB.



  • @Spendo02:

    @ghr2:

    The only transports in range of hawaii are in sz6 right?  If they are, then US just blocks.  Why do you land those planes in siam when you dont need to? Also, since you are not blocking him or protecting it, the borneo transport will likely be killed by the UK.  The earliest you can take hawaii is by turn 3, which the US will have enough to knock you back by then.  All the while, the UK and china are stacking yunnan making it a pain in the ass for Japan to do anything on the mainland.

    Technically, you can do it J2 but you sacrifice much in doing so as you forfeit economic gains in the DEI and China.

    Yes, that’s true.



  • Yeah you’re right it’s probably better to take the hit on the fighter and land the bombers in Kwangsi.


  • 2018

    I am thinking about a J1 these days. The problem I have with the strike on Pearl Harbor strategy is the following. If I don’t bring the SZ 33 carrier+DD and every warships and planes from SZ 6, I won’t be able to repulse an american counterattack if the US brings everything available to him into battle.

    If you bring only two carriers, here’s what you have to resist the american…

    -2 CV loaded with fighters
    -1 BB
    -1 CA
    -3 DD (one from SZ 33)
    -1 SS

    …for a total of 34 on defense averaging 5.66 hits on the first turn of battle.

    The US player can bring the following…

    -1 BB
    -1 CV
    -1 CA
    -1 DD
    -5 FGT (the one from Eastern US landing on the carrier)
    -1 TAC
    -1 BMB

    …for a total of 32 averaging 5.33 hits for the first turn of battle.

    A strike from the US navy, if not victorious, will still kill many Japanese ships that Japan can replace less easier than the US. That’s why, in my opinion, if you strike at Pearl on J1, you must bring the Carrier from the Carolines to help defend your fleet.

    If an opponent of me try a J1 strike on Pearl with only two carriers, I would hit him with everything available everytime,



  • @Sire:

    I am thinking about a J1 these days. The problem I have with the strike on Pearl Harbor strategy is the following. If I don’t bring the SZ 33 carrier+DD and every warships and planes from SZ 6, I won’t be able to repulse an american counterattack if the US brings everything available to him into battle.

    If you bring only two carriers, here’s what you have to resist the american…

    -2 CV loaded with fighters
    -1 BB
    -1 CA
    -3 DD (one from SZ 33)
    -1 SS

    …for a total of 34 on defense averaging 5.66 hits on the first turn of battle.

    The US player can bring the following…

    -1 BB
    -1 CV
    -1 CA
    -1 DD
    -5 FGT (the one from Eastern US landing on the carrier)
    -1 TAC
    -1 BMB

    …for a total of 32 averaging 5.33 hits for the first turn of battle.

    A strike from the US navy, if not victorious, will still kill many Japanese ships that Japan can replace less easier than the US. That’s why, in my opinion, if you strike at Pearl on J1, you must bring the Carrier from the Carolines to help defend your fleet.

    If an opponent of me try a J1 strike on Pearl with only two carriers, I would hit him with everything available everytime,

    I see your point here, if Japan presents the US with an opportunity, the US should take it.  And for a battle like this, mutual annihilation would likely help the US more than Japan.  But, if the US can afford to delay attacking for 1 or 2 turns, then the odds will only get better for him because of his superior production.



  • Here’s a solution that I use for my J1s

    Buy 2trn, minor

    Sz6
    ss, 2dds, and all air from sz6

    Sz35
    ss, dd, bb sz19
    bb sz6

    Sz37
    ftr formosa
    ca sz20
    2bmb Japan

    Phi
    ftr, tac sz33
    inf Oki & art Man
    2inf Kiangsi

    Yunnan
    2inf, art Kwangsi
    ftr, tac Kiangsu

    Kwangtung
    inf Kwangsi
    inf Kiangsi
    ftr, tac Manchuria
    ftr Oki
    tac Japan

    Hunan
    art Kiangsi
    ftr, tac Manchuria
    tac Japan

    Walkins
    inf Shantung -> Anhwe
    inf Jehol -> Chahar
    inf Japan, inf Iwo -> Wake
    2inf Siam -> FIC

    NCM
    2 carries sz6 -> sz31
    dd sz33 -> sz31
    dd sz33 -> sz35
    ca in sz6 stays unless there’s no threat to sz6 (alternately could be swapped with dd in sz31)
    all air Yunnan, Hunan, Kwangtung to Kwangsi
    bombers to Kwangsi
    inf/art to Kiangsi (if needed to make sure sz35 transports are full)
    consolidate rest of inf/art and mech in Anhwe
    shuffle troops from man to Jehol and Korea to Man
    3 unmoved ftrs to where their defense might be needed to

    • protect sz6 transport builds
    • replace any air losses in sz26 to bring carriers up to complement
    • otherwise move to Kwangsi

    Tips & Hints
    I’ve left 3 carriers, dd, ca, and 3 ftrs for nocom on purpose. If Hawaii air is scrambled, you could lose all your ships. If this happens, you could block sz26 with the unmoved dd. If there’s no scramblers, your trn builds could be hit - so you need some of those fighters in Japan and maybe the cruiser or dd if you want em. Alternately, those fighters could replace any air losses on your 2 carriers if sz26 goes really really wrong.

    You need to keep the cruiser in sz37 to block UK from hitting FIC. Otherwise you lose the only ground forces that could hit Yunnan J2. Plus FIC is a great location for a minor placement on J2. Place the minor you built on J1 in Shantung and start pumping out mech/arm.

    This opener is obviously pretty aggressive and could allow China to get strong as it’s light on troops in SE China. This is why I recommend getting that 2nd minor down in FIC on J2. Pump mech/arm out of Shantung and inf/art out of FIC.


  • 2018

    @ghr2:

    I see your point here, if Japan presents the US with an opportunity, the US should take it.  And for a battle like this, mutual annihilation would likely help the US more than Japan.  But, if the US can afford to delay attacking for 1 or 2 turns, then the odds will only get better for him because of his superior production.

    I would be afraid to let the IJN run away an miss a great opportunity to sink a lot of ships early.


  • Customizer

    @Sire:

    @ghr2:

    I see your point here, if Japan presents the US with an opportunity, the US should take it.  And for a battle like this, mutual annihilation would likely help the US more than Japan.  But, if the US can afford to delay attacking for 1 or 2 turns, then the odds will only get better for him because of his superior production.

    I would be afraid to let the IJN run away an miss a great opportunity to sink a lot of ships early.

    Good point. When the US goes to war and that Western USA IC becomes a Major IC, the US can purchase a good size fleet all at once to replace the losses around Hawaii while the Japanese will simply be sunk.



  • You may be able to attack the fleet with similar dice values, but you are forgetting that the Japanese have more hit points and a better skew. Attacking into the fleet will most likely be a disaster where the US loses everything while the Japanese have several units left which will soon repair. Even in the off chance you win (and trade evenly) whatever is left will still be sunk on J2 and it will not stop the fall of Hawaii, while if the dice go against you any retreating units are in a vulnerable position.



  • What ever you send j2 will be sunk us2 and will keep going until 1 side gives up.



  • You have 52 ipcs, the strongest fleet you can buy with that is 6 subs 2 destroyers. I am reinforcing with a loaded carrier, a battleship, a cruiser and a sub (plus what is left from your A1 suicide run.) Attacking into that is 0% chance to win.



  • @Sire:

    I am thinking about a J1 these days. The problem I have with the strike on Pearl Harbor strategy is the following. If I don’t bring the SZ 33 carrier+DD and every warships and planes from SZ 6, I won’t be able to repulse an american counterattack if the US brings everything available to him into battle.

    If you bring only two carriers, here’s what you have to resist the american…

    -2 CV loaded with fighters
    -1 BB
    -1 CA
    -3 DD (one from SZ 33)
    -1 SS

    …for a total of 34 on defense averaging 5.66 hits on the first turn of battle.

    The US player can bring the following…

    -1 BB
    -1 CV
    -1 CA
    -1 DD
    -5 FGT (the one from Eastern US landing on the carrier)
    -1 TAC
    -1 BMB

    …for a total of 32 averaging 5.33 hits for the first turn of battle.

    A strike from the US navy, if not victorious, will still kill many Japanese ships that Japan can replace less easier than the US. That’s why, in my opinion, if you strike at Pearl on J1, you must bring the Carrier from the Carolines to help defend your fleet.

    If an opponent of me try a J1 strike on Pearl with only two carriers, I would hit him with everything available everytime,

    Exactly.  Was going to post this myself.  Never never do a turn 1 Hawaii, because then you’re stuck there defending it all game.  More IPC’s in the money islands PLUS you threaten India and Anzac.  Pearl Harbor is a trap, and why the Japanese burned to the ground in real life during WW2 as well.  Don’t make the same mistake 😉



  • @Gekkepop:

    You have 52 ipcs, the strongest fleet you can buy with that is 6 subs 2 destroyers. I am reinforcing with a loaded carrier, a battleship, a cruiser and a sub (plus what is left from your A1 suicide run.) Attacking into that is 0% chance to win.

    Well, I thought your battleship and cruiser were down by phil.



  • They’re not, and that’s exactly why.



  • @Sire:

    I am thinking about a J1 these days. The problem I have with the strike on Pearl Harbor strategy is the following. If I don’t bring the SZ 33 carrier+DD and every warships and planes from SZ 6, I won’t be able to repulse an american counterattack if the US brings everything available to him into battle.

    If you bring only two carriers, here’s what you have to resist the american…

    -2 CV loaded with fighters
    -1 BB
    -1 CA
    -3 DD (one from SZ 33)
    -1 SS

    …for a total of 34 on defense averaging 5.66 hits on the first turn of battle.

    The US player can bring the following…

    -1 BB
    -1 CV
    -1 CA
    -1 DD
    -5 FGT (the one from Eastern US landing on the carrier)
    -1 TAC
    -1 BMB

    …for a total of 32 averaging 5.33 hits for the first turn of battle.

    A strike from the US navy, if not victorious, will still kill many Japanese ships that Japan can replace less easier than the US. That’s why, in my opinion, if you strike at Pearl on J1, you must bring the Carrier from the Carolines to help defend your fleet.

    If an opponent of me try a J1 strike on Pearl with only two carriers, I would hit him with everything available everytime,

    Don’t forget 2 anzac boats and 3 anzac planes


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