Should China spend its money?

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    China is in a unique position in A&A:

    • it can put any number of units in any territory it owns at the end of its turn, available funds being the only limit;
    • it has no capital, so the Axis can never take China’s money.

    Despite these typicalities, I’ve often seen China being played as if it were any other nation: buy whatever units you can afford and try to use them to your best advantage during the turns that follow. Because China doesn’t have all that much money, this typically amounts to buying some inf and maybe some art every round and getting a poor exchange rate against Japan, which uses its massive air force to support any land based attack.

    I’ve recently been thinking about an alternative Chinese tactic: not buying anything at all. Imagine a situation where China has been eliminated on the board, but has some 40 IPCs left. At any time, Japan will have to consider a scenario where the US would liberate a Chinese territory and gets reinforced by 13 Chinese infantry units. Because China is pretty big, Japan would have to guard against such a popup force in various areas. The plan would not necessarily be to execute the tactic, but to keep it as a threat…. the threat is stronger than its execution, says the old chess wisdom.

    Did anybody ever try this? What do you guys think?

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Interesting idea, but I’m not sure it would work to China’s advantage when you look at the interplay of all the factors.  Let’s compare the conventional “buy-as-you-go” Chinese strategy with the “deferred purchase” one you described.

    In the conventional strategy, Chinese reinforcements get fed regularly into the fight, which in principle slows down Japan’s advance in China.  This reduces the chances that China will ultimately be completely conquered by Japan, and thus reduces the chances that China will be left with unspent IPCs.  Indeed, by spending all of China’s IPCs at every round of play as each batch of new money comes in, the Chinese player ensures that he’ll squeeze the fullest possible use out of his meager resources and thus slow down Japan to the maximum possible extent.  As you pointed out, Japan can’t capture China’s unspent IPCs (because the rules don’t allow it), so it has no incentive to conquer all of China from that particular point of view…but it does have an incentive to capture Chinese territories for the purpose of appropriating the new IPCs they generate at each round (and to keep those new IPCs out of Chinese hands).

    A deferred purchase strategy would, in principle, increase the chances that Japan will conquer all of China because less resistance is being offered by China to the Japanse advance.  Japan gets an immediate benefit (it gains IPC-generating territory) and China is increasingly placed at a disadvantage as it loses ground because the number of IPCs being added to its banked reserves keep getting smaller with each round in which it loses territory.  A potentially bigger problem, however, is the flip side of the “pop-up force” situation you mention.  It’s true that Japan would be presented with a big headache if a fully-occupied China were liberated by an Allied power, and if this resulted in a large Chinese force suddenly “popping up” somewhere…but the flip side is: what if China doesn’t get liberated?  It would mean that all of those banked IPCs would be wasted.  Putting them to certain (but mundane) use earlier in the game might be a better investment than hoarding them for dramatic (but non-guaranteed) use in the future.

  • Customizer

    I have to agree with CWO Marc on this one. I have seen too many games where once Japan manages to conquer all Chinese territories, they stay conquered. Also, if China never bought any units in order to save up their IPCs for a hoped for surprise army dropping in later, then that would make it too easy for Japan to get all of China and go after the other allies. Sometimes Japan is kept from getting India due to problems for Japan in China. Plus, having to keep fighting Chinese infantry deep into China takes Japanese resources away from invading India and/or purchasing warships to face off against the Americans.

  • I think the same as CWO and knp.

    There’s however one thing left to say: we are not sure. Thinking it won’t work is not the same as knowing it. I’d say try this idea a couple of times and then let us know if (and how) it worked or not. Maybe we are overlooking something :-).

    A tactic like this has to be part of a strategy that assumes a quick liberation of China and a subsequent drive through it by a third party.

  • I dont think this is a good idea, you are forgetting that by not spending resources japan also does not have to spend resources there.

    from japan.
    You build 2 inf, transport them, move them, and then they become active.

    If japan does not have to send those 2 inf to china because you are basicaly giving it to them they dont need that transport and they also dont need the planes there to trade.
    With the extra resources they can capture the money islands easier or go visit the ausies or india or prevent the US from ever getting close enough to liberate a chinese zone.

    And 13 inf vs the 21 planes + 4 transports full of units is still a unfavorable trade.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    Thanks for your insights, gentlemen. Common sense indeed says that it’s a bad idea not to use your income, but sometimes it’s good to give the unconventional some thought. I actually thought of this after trying out the new “hard” AI. As China, it never purchased anything. Now this is probably just a bug, but it made me wonder whether there was a cunning plan behind it.

    The idea is, of course, to create uncertainty in the mind and possibly the strategy of the Japan player. It’s the same line of thought as Germany’s “buy nothing round one” approach, albeit in a more extreme version. Variants are possible of course. It’s not a requirement to have China eliminated completely. Imagine that seeing this happen, Japan indeed happily redeploys elsewhere, only to find that it needs to send its transports back because China built the big stack after all. Or consider American units that make their way to Russia and liberate one of China’s western territories.

    Maybe I’ll try it some day if I ever actually play the game. In the mean time, your responses have pretty much convinced me that it’s not a sound plan.

  • 2020 2018 2017 '16 '15 TripleA

    the one way I think this might be advantage is to help solidify a second front. China could save its money (not necessarily all) and if Russia ever gets into Manchuria, build the chinese infantry there. I’m not sure it’s worth it, but it is an interesting idea.

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    I once saved Chinas income to the next round (I think it was Chi 2 to Chi 3), to find out that Japan alomost painted China significantly yellow and second, bombed my Chi Forces the very next turn out of space with Japanes airforce.
    Not a good plan :-(.
    my two Cents.


  • I found the strategy of saving Chinesse income working pretty well in my hands, see here for an example:

    I don’t strictly save all Chinese income from the very start. Instead I first buy as much as I can to hold Yunnan as long as I can. Once Yunnan cannot be challenged anymore and Japan is strong enough such that it is just question of time it will conquer all China I stop purchasing with China and simply back up into the west corner. Japan is still forced to send a large force to kill my remaining Chinese as he cannot know if I will not buy 10 inf last moment possibly reinforced from Russia. So if Japan sends too little force I place my 10 Chinese in west. On the other hand, if opportunity arise, as it did in the linked game, US sends a TT to Manchuria and China builds 10 inf on top, then anzac lands fighters and Russian forces from Amur join the party to form a mighty allied stack in the back of Japan. The stack does not have much offensive power but can’t be eliminated cheaply.

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Hmm nerquen, this sounds interesting since it has something to it.
    Combining a landing reenforcing and sustaining method to it.

Log in to reply

20th Anniversary Give Away

In January 2000 this site came to life and now we're celebrating our 20th Anniversary with a prize giveaway of 30+ prizes. See this link for the list of prizes and winners.
Axis & Allies Boardgaming Custom Painted Miniatures
Dean's Army Guys
T-shirts, Hats, and More

Suggested Topics

  • 3
  • 4
  • 34
  • 11
  • 49
  • 16
  • 61
  • 5
I Will Never Grow Up Games
Axis & Allies Boardgaming Custom Painted Miniatures
Dean's Army Guys