• '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16


    This post, loosely inspired by BlackElk’s posts on All the Russian Openings and All the German Openings, will take a look at Japanese opening strategy from a beginner-to-intermediate point of view. I’m going to assume you know the rules and basic tactical concepts like trading and deadzoning, but this post should still be fun to read even if you’re not an experienced player.

    Because the Japanese go fourth in the turn order, and because the Allies often get a ‘bid’ of additional units to place on the board that can disrupt the starting position, there are so many possible board positions by the time Japan gets to take its first turn that I can’t possibly cover all the Japanese openings. So, here I’ll cover five of my favorites – some popular, and some less popular – and explain how they work, when to use them, and what kind of middlegames they can set you up for.


    What is it?

    In TDMTM, Japan builds a constant river of tanks, usually from mainland Chinese factories, and sends them straight to Moscow, hoping to overwhelm the Russian defenses and sack the Russian capital.

    What should you build?

    You’ll probably want at least two Chinese factories – one in Manchuria and one in Kiangsu or Kwangtung, so that you can build five tanks a turn right into Asia. With the cash left over, I recommend building fighters, which can help you take territories while you’re left alone, and then quickly fly back to defend your factories if America comes to get you.

    How should you attack?

    You need to find the fastest path to Moscow, which usually runs through China (four spaces). Siberia, which has five spaces, can sometimes be a faster route if China is defended and Russia is foolish enough to stack their eastern infantry in Buryatia (or the Far East) so that you can wipe out the whole Russian stack on turn 1 or turn 2. If Siberia is totally undefended, you can blitz across it with tanks in only three turns. In general, be willing to lose tanks in order to get your tank forces one space closer to Moscow, as long as the Russians can’t push you back out without taking painful losses. Gather most of your infantry and separate it from your tanks, sending the infantry toward Burma to bottle up the British forces there, and then retreat your infantry to the east as needed to avoid losing a major battle. It’s OK to give up some territory in the south as long as you still hold your factories and the victory city in Shanghai.

    Why does it work?

    No matter what Russia builds, it can’t afford to build enough units to fend off a combined onslaught by both the Germans and the Japanese. Basically, it’s OK if the troops you lose cost you more than the troops Russia loses, because you can afford to replace all 5 tanks every turn, but at best, Russia can only afford to replace 3 infantry per turn in Asia. Meanwhile, if the Japanese use mostly tanks, then in order to arrive on time to save the Russians, the western Allies have to fly in planes, which cost more and are less efficient than the Japanese tanks.

    When should you use this opening?

    This opening works best when Russia doesn’t roll well on its first-turn attacks in eastern Europe, stacks its eastern infantry in Buryatia, or builds expensive units like a plane or two tanks on its first turn. It works well when Germany ferries units from Africa up to Europe (instead of vice versa), and when Germany builds all land units, especially tanks, and sends them directly against Russia. This opening works very nicely when Britain over-invests in India (e.g., 1 infantry and 2 fighters) instead of building an early fleet to crush Germany, because you don’t need to attack India at all to win with this opening. If there’s a bid, you want the bid to include Egyptian infantry and/or an Indian Ocean sub, and you want the bid to not include any Russian infantry.

    What kind of middlegame can you expect?

    If your opponents are competent, America and Britain will usually manage a successful landing in France or Italy before you can actually take the Russian capital. At some point, you will probably have to divert some German production to infantry and artillery to defend western Europe. You may wind up crippling Russia and knocking it down to 10 to 12 IPCs per turn a few turns before you can actually take the capital. Be prepared to fly a stack of Japanese fighters west to defend Berlin (or vice versa if the Allies are attacking Tokyo), and start to look for more moderate, slightly less aggressive trades. You have to be willing to go for the knockout blow if you really have an opportunity to take the Russian capital, and you also have to be willing to be patient if the best you can do is trade Kazakh and the Caucasus. If you throw away too many tanks for too many turns in a row, you can give Russia a chance to stabilize. You need to win by turn 8 or 9, but you don’t need to win on turn 6 or 7 – it will take several turns for Allied transports to make their second round-trip from Washington to Paris, and until they make that second round-trip, the added cost of the transports and their defensive escorts means that Germany can produce more land units than America and Britain put together.


    What is it?

    In the Indian Takeout opening, you focus all of Japan’s energy on conquering and holding India at the earliest possible moment. This wipes out the only Allied factory that’s anywhere on the southern or eastern halves of the board, and it gives you a strong base of operations for attacking juicy targets like Egypt, Caucasus, and Kazakh.

    What should you build?

    You’ll need either three transports and a factory in French Indochina Vietnam, or five transports. Your transports will be loaded with a balanced mix of infantry, artillery, and tanks – you can adjust the exact mix to make good use of all of your income each turn. It’s OK to have 1 more transport than you can afford to fill, because you can usefully load one transport with Manchurian troops and bring them down to Indochina to help with the Indian battle.

    How should you attack?

    Your biggest bottleneck in this opening is transport capacity, because you need transports to unload troops onto the Asian mainland for attacks, and you also need transports to get your troops – including troops from Manchuria – closer to India. Try to solve this bottleneck by making each transport move do double duty. For example, on round 1, if you move troops from Tokyo to Yunnan, they’re now only two moves from India, and they can also kill some American infantry as they’re landing. Also, killing any British boats left in the Indian Ocean is a top priority – you need to be able to send your transports exactly where they want to go without having to worry about escorting them against British sub attacks.

    Why does it work?

    India only has 3 build slots, and the Allies don’t have any other factories anywhere nearby to help reinforce it, nor are there any good candidate territories for the Allies to use to build a second colonial factory. The Allies can fly fighters to India, but it’s slow, expensive, and challenging to do that. Even if the Allies manage to get planes to India in time, it will set them back on other fronts. Also, you can set up a ‘dual threat’ on India – one threat via land, with tanks in Indochina blitzing through Burma to reach India, and one threat via sea, with transports off the coast of Kiangsu, the Philippines, or the East Indies ready to deliver troops to India by sea. The idea is that if India attacks Burma to stop the blitz, they could use up enough troops that India would be vulnerable by sea, but if India doesn’t attack Burma, then they get blitzed and they still get hammered by your transports.

    When should you use it?

    If the Germans take Egypt or even Trans-Jordan on turn 1, or if the British divert units away from India toward Egypt, then this opening has an excellent chance of succeeding. This opening can also be useful if the Russians do above-average in eastern Europe on turn 1, since the opening works fine even when Russia is strong. If Britain doesn’t place a full 3 units in India on turn 1, this opening should be near the top of your list. This opening is not recommended during a strong American attack on Japan, since India is too far away from Japan for your fleet to operate effectively in both theaters, and you won’t have any spare cash available to build defensive warships. If there’s a bid, this opening works well when the bid goes to Russia or to the American Atlantic fleet.

    What kind of middlegame can you expect?

    If you successfully take India, it sets you up for Japan to have both an enormous economy and a convenient factory site with which to exploit it. Without Allied reinforcements from India, China and Siberia will typically fall pretty quickly, and you can at least trade Egypt, Kazakh, and usually the Caucasus, for an income of at least $50/turn. With that kind of money, you can build, e.g., 3 infantry in India, 3 tanks in Manchuria, and 2 bombers in Tokyo every turn. If you were able to kill big stacks of British units while they futilely tried to defend India, then the game is yours. If Britain gave up on India early and built a fleet to invade France/Italy, Germany is probably in trouble, and Moscow is probably still safe for a few turns, so get ready to relieve Germany as soon as you can – if the Allies are in the Mediterranean, then you can ‘liberate’ the Suez and send your fleet to help Italy, and if the Allies are in the Baltic, then you can try to meet up with German forces for a one-two punch by the Germans and then the Japanese in the Caucasus, allowing you to hold the Stalingrad factory and crank out 4 tanks / turn to relieve the German position.


    What is it?

    In the Polar Express, you set up to quickly ferry troops into Alaska, building a factory there and penetrating as far into the American interior as circumstances allow. This opening won’t let you actually conquer the United States unless your opponents royally screw up, but it can distract the heck out of the USA during crucial turns when they really need to be ferrying troops to Paris.

    What should you build?

    As many transports that are fully loaded with pairs of infantry as you can afford, plus a couple of destroyers for blocking the US Pacific fleet (if any). Also, one factory in Alaska. If the USA builds warships in the Pacific, you may need to at least partially match their build, or build fighters to sink their ships and then land the fighters in Alaska. Otherwise, go easy on the planes.

    How should you attack?

    The best time to move troops ot Alaska is usually turn 3 – you need to wait the Allies are far enough out of position that they won’t be able to launch an immediate counter-attack. With perfect execution, you can invade Alaska on turn 3 while bringing your fighters back to Tokyo, follow up on turn 4 by building an Alaskan factory, sending a second load of transports to Alaska, and flying your fighters over to Alaska, and then deliver a third load of transports to Alaska on turn 5 while building tanks at your new Alaskan factory. You’re going to lose some transports this way, but every turn you pose a serious threat in Alaska is another turn that the US can’t focus on Europe. Be aware of who can blitz into which territories – if the US has tanks in San Francisco, you may need to put a token force into Western Canada so the tanks can’t reach Alaska, and if you have tanks in Alaska, you may want to put a token force into Western Canada to threaten to invade San Francisco. Meanwhile, you can slowly expand into central Asia, especially China, making smart, opportunistic attacks that cost the enemy more troops than they cost you. You’re not in a hurry; you’re just there to get extra income and reduce US income. If you have more loaded transports than you need to hold Alaska, send them to Hawaii, Panama, and Brazil to further reduce US income.

    When should you use this opening?

    This opening only makes sense if (a) the US starts to send its Pacific fleet through the Panama Canal into the Atlantic, and (b) Britain spends most of its turn 1 income on planes or India. If America builds ships in the Pacific, or if Britain plops down a carrier in the Atlantic on turn 1, then don’t use this opening – you won’t get anywhere useful by distracting the US if Britain is in position to take Paris on its own or if the US is planning on attacking you anyway.

    Why does it work?

    Japan can make some reasonable progress in mainland Asia even with virtually no spending there, freeing up basically the entire Japanese economy to go harass the United States. Meanwhile, the United States’ first few turns of building usually go to transports and defensive warships, which don’t have any effect on Germany until after they unload in Europe. If you can distract the US intensely enough at the right time, then you can give Germany the time it needs to crush Russia without sacrificing much position in Asia. By building mostly infantry and fighters, you can force the US to attack you, which usually requires a higher income – but after Japan conquers China and Alaska, they’re earning at least as much cash as the US (36 IPCs / turn).

    What kind of middlegame can you expect?

    Japan will have a somewhat smaller economy than most games – even as late as turn 6, Japan might only be collecting 40 ipcs, and you won’t have much in the way of stored-up armies, either. However, Germany should be huge – either about to capture Moscow, or marching tanks all over the map from Archangel to the Congo, or both. You’ll need to find the right moment to abandon your Alaskan adventure and go beat up on India or help finish off Moscow.


    What is it?

    If you get bogged down on land but your navy is in solid control of the South Pacific, you can take advantage of the extra mobility of your marines to vacuum up territories across a wide area, making the Allies’ land-based garrisons irrelevant.

    What should you build?

    Transports. At least 6 transports, together with a couple of bombers, several infantry, and a few artillery. You won’t need more than your one starting tank (for South Africa). If you can afford it, a factory in the East Indies can be useful for this opening – because it’s 3 spaces away from Japan, and more or less in the direction of your targets, an East Indies factory can resupply your transports a full turn earlier than normal.

    How should you attack?

    Priority one is to clear the South Pacific of Allied boats. No destroyers, no subs, definitely no carriers – send out your planes, send out your subs, and kill them all. Priority two is to drop enough infantry into mainland east Asia to hold the line and create at least a little bit of presure on India – if Britain feels totally safe in India, they’ll start building subs or bombers there, which can wreck your plans. Basically, you want Britain to feel that they can hold India if they build 3 infantry there, but that they’ll lose India if they build 3 subs. Think of suppressive fire – you’re not trying to kill India; you just want to make sure India stays down, under cover, where they can’t shoot at you. Priority three is to launch your transports and start hoovering up Allied cash – take Australia, Madagascar, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Hawaii, British West Africa, and anything else you can get away with, roughly in that order. If your landing site is undefended, you can spread out for a turn or two to adjacent territories (e.g., Rhodesia, or the Congo). If the Allies somehow manage to ship in reinforcements, don’t bother to stay and fight – just pick up your dudes and move on to the next undefended target. Note that the priorities are listed in order of importance, not in order of time – you’ll need to start moving transports out on turn 1, but if you don’t have enough cash to accomplish all three priorities, then transport-construction is the place to skimp.

    When should you use this opening?

    This opening works well when the Allies over-commit to defending Siberia, China, and/or India. If you see Russia move two infantry and two tanks to the east, or if you see Britain build tanks in India and fly planes to Gibraltar, it’s time to think about letting the Allies keep central Asia and eating up the Allied economy on other parts of the map.

    Why does it work?

    The southern hemisphere is just woefully undefended on the starting map setup – you’ve got one British infantry in South Africa trying to defend 6 different territories with no navy and no air support, Brazil is literally empty, and the only Allied factory that can resupply any of those places is in India. Keep India busy, and the rest of the southern hemisphere falls. Granted, the southern territories aren’t super-valuable – you’ll be picking off a lot of $1 and $2 provinces. Together, though, they add up, and Germany is likely to get off to an excellent start while the Allied garrison is wasting its time in Central Asia defending against a Japanese attack that you don’t need to launch and won’t ever have to launch.

    What kind of middlegame can you expect?

    A long one. This opening will create an economic advantage for both Germany and Japan – you could be collecting 95+ IPCs per turn by turn 6 – but none of the Allied capitals will be in any special danger, and this opening doesn’t create any real opportunities to crush large Allied armies. The Allied forces in central Asia will be out of position in the opening, but they won’t be killed or stranded, so they can fall back to Moscow and render excellent service later in the game.

    (continued below)

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16


    What is it?

    Sometimes Japan just needs to dig in and defend itself, without worrying about grand strategic objectives on other parts of the map. This opening will show you how.

    What should you build?

    2-3 transports, 6-8 fighters, 2-3 destroyers, and lots of infantry. Hold off on building carriers until you really need them – they’re not useful for attacking mainland Asia, and they’re vulnerable to large wolf packs of submarines if the US sees you building them far enough in advance to build the wolf pack. You can plop down an (extra) pair of carriers in sea zone 62 immediately before the US attacks and land fighters from Tokyo directly on the newly-built carriers, blocking off most of the decent US attack routes. Avoid building any factories, because factories create a second choke point that you have to defend (other than Tokyo) from an American invasion.

    How should you attack?

    As with the Polar Express opening, you want to make smart, opportunistic trades in East Asia. Gaining income from extra territories is nice, but only if it’s going to pay off quickly enough to help you hold Tokyo – there’s no sense in losing 10 IPCs’ worth of units to gain a 1 IPC-territory when the big battle for Tokyo will be on turn 6 or 7. Also, you’re not trying to conquer any territory in particular, but you do want to wipe out Allied forces in the region at minimal cost to yourself. If you can keep the British cooped up in India and force the Americans to rely exclusively on what they can bring in by transport, then you’ll have an easier time defending.

    When should you use this opening?

    Don’t be too easily intimidated – if America plonks down one extra carrier in the Pacific, that by itself doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to shut you down or even that they’re necessarily going to try to kill you – it could be a bluff, or a mistake, or some odd tactic that’s not immediately apparent. If America attacks Japan on its own, without any support from Britain or Russia, you should be able to sink the American fleet at a profit, even without any special defensive tactics. On the other hand, if you see that Britain is shifting Egyptian troops over to India, and Russia is shifting troops from Moscow / Caucasus into China, and America is moving ships out of the Atlantic and into the Pacific, then you have a problem, and you need to stop thinking about how to conquer Asia and start thinking about how to stay alive as long as possible. If the Allies have a bid, consider using this opening when you see a British sub in the Indian Ocean, a bid of more than one infantry in China, infantry in Hawaii, and/or an extra ship or extra fighter off the coast of Hawaii.

    Why does it work?

    If all three Allies (or Britain and America with token help from Russia) are focused on attacking Japan, then all you have to do is survive and avoid gifting the Allies a mainland factory, and Germany should be able to beat up Russia and run away with the game.

    What kind of middlegame can you expect?

    Japan is going to be small and under siege, with probably only a couple of territories under control beyond Tokyo itself, and a large stack of infantry and fighters defending Tokyo. Germany should be enormous, occupying both Africa and Siberia and starting to put pressure on India. Your goal as Japan is to continue to stay alive as long as possible, re-taking some of your territories or sinking some Allied transports when you see a good opportunity to do so without losing your capital.


    So, that’s five Japanese openings! Did I forget your favorite opening? Can you think of a way to execute one of these five openings more effectively, or a reason why one of these openings is doomed to failure? Let me know in the comments!

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Cool post!  Another 2 that are used to be my favorite are:

    A variance of India Crush with East Indies Factory, and use this to help conquering Africa as well.
    Japan shuck shuck - get a factory in Kwangdong, and use the sz 61 as constant flow of troops with no apparent target.

  • '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Great thread Arg! I like all 5!  😄

    Just wanted to echo Innohub’s last mention about the sz61 shuck-shuck. This is my favorite conservative play from Japan, when the goal is to get as many ground units as possible onto the mainland as quickly as you can. It’s not a strategy per se, but a good move to use in support of strategies like the ones listed above. Basically it takes 2 rounds to set up the logistics with a minimum of 4 transports (and your fleet consolidated in sz61 to protect them) before you start unloading into Yunnan with 8 ground per turn. Then another couple rounds after that to actually stack enough ground forces together to make an effective march. This last part is I think the most challenging, since the trick is not to move your ground out too early. In order not to leave your ground exposed to a British airblitz or an all out Russian counter attack when it arrives at the center, you really want to have between 18-24 ground units stacked together in the region around Yunnan. Have these units massed together before you decide whether to move forward on Szech (to Kazakh and Moscow) or whether to go to Burma (and India). Once you move the main stack from Yunnan you’re basically commited, and the Allies will have a chance to start setting up their counters. But while you remain in Yunnan, you can threaten both directions while still maintaining an amphibious option on India at the same time, so its a good place to hang out and build up. Which direction to go (Kazakh or India) is often determined by light trading out of Yunnan, whether you can successfully hold Burma or Szech first (to land your fighters there) or sometimes if Germany can spare a fighter or two to cover your rapid advance one direction or the other.

    The only potential kink in the sz61/Yunnan plan, is that you will hit a production limitation pretty quickly if just spamming infantry and a few artillery. Sz 61 may also come under threat from Allied air, which is why the extra coastal factory can come in handy. It allows you to spend the remainder, esp on Air, or a defensive carrier or destroyer (if your fleet comes under threat), or additional ground like a pair of tanks, once your income has outpaced the production in Tokyo. I think its best to make the factory purchase on J2 or later so you have a chance to see what the Americans build and how well the Germans are managing. 10 production slots is ideal for Japan with the factory in Kwang. On the surface Manchuria might seem like a better investment for a total of 11 production slots, but I think I’d rather give up one production slot in exchange for a better long term position out of sz61. Alternatively a double factory buy in both Kwang and Kiang, can be a formidable approach too, since it gives you 4 slots in sz61. That’s only 4 tanks immediately onto the mainland instead of 5 during the endgame if you went Manchuria, but often 4 is more than enough for a tank drive if you’ve already got the big infantry stack in play from the Yunnan drops. But my usual preference is just the single factory in Kwang, and if you end up with a lot of extra cash to spend it on bombers haha.

    Japan is probably the most entertaining nation to play. The Allies only have a few rounds to disrupt Japan initially (if they choose to go that route) after which point you’re free to pursue a lot of different attack plans. I like bombers myself. If you have enough bombers you almost don’t even need a defensive fleet to cover the Pacific, and they can really come in handy against the Russians and the Western Allies in Europe. If you set up your ground shuck early and spend the remainder on a bomber a round, by J6/J7 you can have those murder machines flying all over the place without much fear of the Allies getting anywhere near the Japanese heartland with late game antics. 😉

  • Love this! This will give me the flexibility I need as Japan.

    One thing I like to do is steamroll China and Buryatai J1 and then shuck 6-7 troops per turn to Yunnan, mostly inf and art. This frees up Japan to purchase one fighter or one ship per turn. Usually, Japan maxes out production right when India is about to be taken. If America decides to casually build in the Pacific a few turns in, simply buy a fully loaded aircraft carrier, and either he is goaded into a naval war and let G go, or he is too intimidated and stops trying.

    Of course, if UK ignores India, there’s always the possibility of a Buryatai ferry service, especially with a Manchurian factory throwing out tanks.

    By the way, is there any way to safely maintain Indochina when India is maxing out tanks every round (assuming killing India ASAP is #1 priority)?

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Thanks everyone! Glad you like the post. 🙂

    Herr Rommel, I’m having trouble understanding why 3 tanks per turn in India would be a special problem for Japan, even if you want to hold on to Indochina. On turn 1, the most Britain can put into Burma is 4 infantry and 1 AA gun. You can attack Burma using your starting transport to carry (1 inf, 1 tnk) from Tokyo, plus a pair of battleships for bombardment, plus the (2 inf, 1 art) that start in Indochina, plus at least 2 fighters and a bomber. That battle is a 99% win for Japan, even when Britain reinforces Burma to the max.

    Taking Burma on Japan’s first turn means that Indochina is safe from attack on Britain’s second turn.

    On your first turn as Japan, you can build 3 transports without breaking a sweat, and you start off with the extra infantry sitting around ready to load onto the transports – so starting on turn 2, and every turn thereafter, you can match India’s 3 tanks with a naval delivery of at least 6 infantry. You can also land a couple of fighters in Indochina for added protection if you really want to. Six British tanks vs. two Japanese fighters and six Japanese infantry is an 87% win for Japan, and the odds only get better from there – if even one of your infantry from the Burma campaign survived, then odds go up to 96%.

    Meanwhile, Britain is very weak in Europe/Africa, because they are spending money that they don’t have to go nowhere in Asia. Germany will soon vacuum up Africa, leaving Britain without the 18 IPCs/turn it needs to keep max placing tanks.

    Innohub, how do you use the East Indies factory to speed up the India crush? What turn do you usually wind up assaulting India? I’ve never understood how that is supposed to work. Since you need 2 transports just to service the East Indies factory, you’re spending 29 IPCs on logistics. If you crush India on turn 4, that means you get two turns worth of transport deliveries out of your factory – so you’re spending something like 29 + 16 + 16 = 61 IPCs to deliver 4 inf, 2 art, 2 tnk to India, for total offensive power of (2 * 1) + (4 * 2) + (2 * 3) = 16. With that same 61 IPCs, I’d rather buy 6 fighters, for total offensive power of 18. You still need some land units as fodder for your fighters and to hold the territory, but you start out with 13 land units in Asia, and if you build even 1 more transport (for a total of 2), you can ferry over about 6 more land units over the first three turns.

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Hi Argothair,

    I found East Indies factory seem to help most at the initial momentum(I think the best time is R3, because R1build factory, R2 you get 4 infantries, and R3 you can bring them right to attack), because with that factory and transports you can push additional troops from this factory to India at the same time with other ground troops that are already in mainland.  For example, the two transports from mainland can bring 4 troops to land at Burma.  At the next round, this two transports can carry the troops from East Indies to attack India directly instead of going back to pick up troops that cannot be immediately brought to the fight.  I think this is the best moment.  After that there are some value, like keeping the East India shuck shuck going using 2 transports or use this to attack Africa, and but I think those are secondary in terms of importance.

    But your argument seems valid in terms of logistic, so my initial feeling might not be correct :-D.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Thanks, Innohub! That makes a lot of sense. I’m imagining something like this:

    J1: Build East Indies Factory and 1 transport, save $8, move starting transports to Yunnan with troops from Tokyo. Start marching troops from Kwantung, Indochina, and Malaya toward India via Yunnan and Burma. Attack Anhwei mostly with troops from Manchuria, leaving 2 inf in Kiangsu.
    J2: Build 2 inf + 2 art in East Indies and 2 bombers in Tokyo, move Burma transports to Kiangsu & Philippines to pick up troops and drop them off in Burma, move new Tokyo transport to Burma with remaining Tokyo troops. March units from Indochina and Yunnan into Burma.
    J3: Use all 3 transports to ferry 4 inf, 2 art from East Indies to India together with support from BBs while also attacking India from Burma and with help from new bombers in Tokyo.

    Total army is approx. 14 inf, 6 art, 1 tnk, 4 ftr, 2 bmbr, 2 BBs.

    If the British build 2 inf, 1 ftr in India on rounds 1, 2, and 3, and they move in every available troop from Egypt through Burma to defend India (minus a loss of 1 infantry to a G1 attack on Trans-Jordan), that still only leaves them with 12 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk, 4 ftr, 1 AA gun to defend India on round 3.

    Odds on that battle are 98.9% in favor of the Japanese! Even adding in two Russian tanks and one American fighter as emergency reinforcements, odds are still 84% for the Japanese. I like those odds. I look forward to giving it a try the next time a British player gives me the opportunity! Taking India on round 3 would be a great way to accelerate the Japanese expansion – and since it leaves you with 3 transports, some planes, and a decent position in China, you really don’t have to sacrifice that much to get there. Thanks for showing me a new way to look at the East Indies factory. 🙂

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Very clear and convincing analytics! 😄  I think what I do is exactly what you said below.

    It’s a close battle between Axis and Allies and a couple infantries added to the battle make a difference.  To safeguard India from early fall Allies really have to plan ahead and coordinate all resource where possible.

  • Moderator

    Great Article!



    In the Polar Express, you set up to quickly ferry troops into Alaska, building a factory there and penetrating as far into the American interior as circumstances allow. This opening won’t let you actually conquer the United States unless your opponents royally screw up, but it can distract the heck out of the USA during crucial turns when they really need to be ferrying troops to Paris.

    There is an interesting variation to this using Germany too.
    G1 - buy AC + DD otherwise normal G1.  Take Gib.
    G2 - Unify G fleet off of France

    G3 - Take Ecan and on J3 take Ala.  (I’m not sure if Wcan is in play on J3, it may depend on transport movement on J2)

    This was a really nasty surprise in Revised b/c J could drop directly into Wcan from the Ala sz (I forget the #).  It’s a little different here, but you can still surprise the US.


    I like the idea of the East India Factory, but the problem is the commitment on J1.  It opens Japan up to a US Pac strat, with minor annoyance from any surviving UK ships.  I’m not saying you are going lose the factory anytime soon to the US, just that I’m going to force you to defend it, or at the very least buy navy so you won’t be getting the “planned” troops to Asia.  I’m going to try an make it a “wasted” purchase.

    A lot of this can depend on if Pearl was hit or not and what the Allies did with the UK ships etc., but it is an option for the US since you get to see how all of rd 1 played out.

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Yes…DarthMaximus made an excellent point.  In fact I was screwed before with exact scenario mentioned above…

    That might be a reason why East Indies is no longer my favorite opening move (I still like this and employ from time to time).   I personally prefer a more fuzzy strategy these days and East Indies is very explicit in terms of purpose and therefore Allies can immediately spot what Japan strategy is, and respond accordingly

  • '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    On the other hand, if your desire is to draw the US into Pacific spending, having 4 subs immediately in sz 37 can go a long way to making the whole area around the money islands into a deadzone. It’s 3 moves from sz 56, so pretty hard for the USA to get there in time. Unless the British went all crazy Pacific with their opening, in which case Japan probably shouldn’t have a bought a factory there in the first place  😄

    Probably goes only one of two ways. Either the Americans see the factory and say “oh shit, better throw everything at the South Pacific…” or “Oh shit, better stay the hell away from the South Pacific and throw everything at Europe.” Kind of hard to predict which way they’ll go.

    On the upside you don’t have to place the factory until after all the combats are resolved, so if something went wrong, failure at pearl, getting smoked somewhere in China, losing more fighters than you’d hoped, you can always put the factory somewhere safer.

    The downside is that you’re going to be short 15 ipcs in ground units with a one round delay before the factory comes into play. So if the Allies do something you weren’t anticipating, or rush the other theater, it could stall the Japanese impact in later rounds, esp against Russia.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    I dunno, I don’t think the threat to make me “waste” my East Indian factory is very convincing. As Black_Elk points out, it’s five spaces away, which means that ships built on A1 can’t reach East Indies sea zone until after the J4 build. If you’re worried about getting diced in Pearl Harbor, you can send the cruiser, sub, carrier, two fighters, and a bomber – it’s overkill, but you’re going to win. That leaves the US with only the BB and DD off the coast of San Francisco that can reach East Indies before J4, and it’s very easy to ward them off with your starting 2 BB + 1 CV + 1 DD.

    If you build the factory on J1, you can use it to crank out infantry on J2 and J3, and then switch to naval defense on J4 if America really is coming for you, which you’ll see a mile away. That doesn’t sound wasted at all to me!

    That said, if Britain successfully sank my Caroline Islands BB + CV on turn 1, I would think twice about an East Indian factory, but that’s as much on general principles as it is because I’m specifically worried about defending the factory – an all-out attack on SZ 37 suggests that it’s a KJF kind of game, and while I’ve got some cojones, I usually don’t have quite enough cojones to go for a turn-3 blitz on India while both Britain and America are coming to kill me.

  • Moderator

    Those are certainly good points, but it is not that the US is going to take EI, it is that you are never going to need those (4) build spaces for Japan.  Or more accurately, be able to use them every turn.

    The problem with the factory is you are ultimately going to have to defend either Sz 37 or Sz 60.

    The US can pretty quickly go to Mid or Ala (say US 2).  Then you go to Wake (US 3).  Very quickly Japan sees the US coming at them an must counter.  And once Japan counters with additional ships or air, you don’t need 12 build slots and you won’t be needing to place tons of Navy in Sz 37 at this point b/c the US can have a token threat on Japan.

    Again, I’m not saying Japan will fall or EI will fall, or the US will sink the J fleet anytime soon, what I’m saying is you spent 15 ipcs on something that:
    1)  You won’t be using for its intended purpose (crush india sooner) or using very much at all
    2)  You won’t be needing for added build slots since planes and possibly ships are more expensive than inf and rt.

    I think the safer play is to just to wait until J2.  Yes you don’t get to India any faster, but you also get to see if the US pulls out of the Pac or how they plan to play on US 1.

    Personally I don’t like putting the target out there on J1.  It just invites a scenario where you feel obligated to defend it and you end up not placing a bunch of units down there as the US builds up its navy and moves out into the Pac.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    You’re also making good points, but I still think you can get good use out of an East Indies factory even when the USA is attacking you as long as your Caroline Island fleet in SZ 37 survives UK 1.

    Innohub and I lay out a plan above that shows you how, with the East Indies factory, Japan can take India on J3. Keep in mind that, according to this plan, there are zero factories in China and zero transports in sea zone 60 – all three of Japan’s transports go west to India and then even further west to Africa. As a result, if the US makes a fast move to the northwest Pacific (Alaska / Wake / Midway / Iwo Jima / Manchuria) with only one or two transports, you don’t have to block that naval move at all.

    Instead, you can just retreat your infantry one step into the Chinese interior. Let the US drop four infantry into Manchuria if they want to. You can just retake Manchuria next turn with two or three Asian infantry and two or three fighters, without any Japanese boats at all in the northwest Pacific. Now the Americans are sitting around on their thumbs, unchallenged masters of Tokyo Bay, with no land units and no good options, while Germany starts camping in West Russia and Japan builds tanks in India to trade for Kazakh and Novosibirsk.

    On the other hand, if America makes a heavy move into the northwest Pacific, with 4+ loaded transports and enough boats to defend them against the starting Japanese navy and airforce, then there’s no way in heck they’re getting to the coast of Asia before US 5 – and when you see that buildup, you have time to bring your fleet back from India to defend Tokyo and to build some extra infantry on the Japanese mainland.

    Will you make use of all 12 builds every turn if America sends everything into the northwest Pacific? No, but that’s totally fine, because the point of the factory isn’t to max out my builds on a regular basis; the point is to take India one turn sooner (turn 3 instead of turn 4) and then to take Italian East Africa and Madagascar one turn sooner (turn 4 instead of turn 5). That’s worth at least 10 IPCs right there just from the income swing, let alone the hit to the British from losing their factory and the boost to the Japanese from gaining a well-placed factory, which has got to be worth another 10 IPCs because now instead of stalling out in Burma and making negative value trades, you can sweep through central Asia and pick off isolated Allied forces at favorable odds. Another 5-10 IPCs of value comes from the fact that America doesn’t want to be in the northwest Pacific; they want to be in the southwest Pacific hoovering up the money islands, and your East Indies factory is keeping them out of there and forcing them to fight over islands that are literally worth 0 IPCs just so they stay out of range of your East Indies factory. Finally, the East Indies factory gives you the option of placing max defense into Japan (e.g., 7 infantry, 1 fighter) while still building a couple of subs or destroyers in a safe location (East Indies). That’s worth another few IPCs. The cost of 15 IPCs for the factory winds up being worth around 35 IPCs in value – it’s a good profit, and under the right circumstances, it’s a better profit than you can make on a fourth transport or on a factory placed in China.

    The way I see it, there are only three good responses to the East Indies factory option: (a) blow up the second Japanese transport on England’s first turn so that the Japanese can’t guarantee a sack of India on J3, (b) blow up the Caroline Islands fleet on England’s first turn so that if Japan does sack India on J3, America can build up naval superiority quickly enough to make Japan pay a heavy price for its Indian adventure, or © abandon India, building 0-2 infantry there over three turns, and focus on building up a great Atlantic fleet that can quickly seize Paris or Rome. The fourth option (send a medium-sized American fleet to Wake Island and hope Japan panics) just isn’t an effective counter-attack.

  • Moderator

    That’s definitely a solid plan of attack for J.

    It’s just not a commitment I want make on J1, without seeing the US plans.  Just personal preference there.

    I should say, I’ve been assuming the UK hits the J trn/dd in Sz 61 on UK 1 and no sz 37 attack.  Ftr/cru to Sz 61.  UK AC to safest spot on eastern afr, the Aus Cru/trn 2 inf to safe spot in South East Pac (either to go to Afr or join up with US Pac fleet).  Also an avg bid 9-12 used on maybe 1-2 inf Egy, 1-2 inf Rus.

    I also think there are some German openings that make the EI IC on J1 a little safer IMO, but I personally like to see what the US is up to before I place any J factories.  I’m a big fan of trns on J1.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Aha! Well, if the UK hits the J trn/dd in SZ 61 on UK 1, then I completely agree with you! With only one starting transport, the largest army I can figure out how to get to India on J3 is only 13 inf, 5 art, 1 tnk, 4 ftr, 1 bmbr, 2 BBs, which I don’t think is enough to give you good odds if Britain strongly reinforces India.

    And yeah, it is nice to see what the US is doing before you commit. Picking an ambiguous strategy like ferrying troops into China builds your economy while also getting you a little bit closer to India, whereas the US has to make a bold choice on turn 1 – go Pacific, or go Atlantic. If the US just sits in San Francisco, they’re wasting their time, and if the US moves toward Panama, then that becomes much more costly for them to “undo” than for Japan to re-route from China to India.

  • I skimmed this thread:

    1. Japan pressuring Alaska will only work against bad allied players. Fundamentally, US produces 10 in Western US and has shorter supply lines than Japan producing 8. Against bad players, any number of strategies can work.
    In reality, there’s only 1 optimal strategy for Japan vs good players. The priorities are to 1. deadzone the US fleet and 2. deploy land to Asia to pressure India, then Russia & Africa.

    2. Don’t build factories R1. Transports > any factory build R1. For 14 cost, transports can deploy 4 units a turn into Manchuria or Yunan. East Indies factory is good, but Japan doesn’t have the transports to utilize Japan production AND East Indies. Timing wise for India pressure, R2 or R3 factory is ideal.

    3. India falling before R6 represents a huge blunder by the allies. India provides solid income, and Japan capturing the factory accelerates pressure on Africa and Russia.
    India can often can be held indefinitely with a little US pressure on Japan. Even if Japan somehow manages to apply enough pressure, Russia has the option to place enough units to defend India.
    The current best practice is to buy 3 land in India, and 2 fighters in UK. Fighters UK -> WRussia/Russia -> India. By accumulating fighters, UK can start really deadzoning japan navy off africa by round 10 with ~20 fighters.
    To reiterate, holding India is almost completely the ALLIES CHOICE in the first 20 rounds.

    4. UK should almost always send 1 fig, 1 cru to sz 61 and kill the dest and transport. UK fighter lands in szechwan + 1 rus inf makes szechwan safe R1.

    Let me know and I can clarify any of these points.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Hi, MarineIguana. Please keep in mind that I’m well aware of the orthodox strategies for 1942.2, so when I write about other strategies, I usually either (a) have a niche scenario in mind where given the particular circumstances of that scenario, another strategy can be just as good, or (b) am purposely exploring other strategies that are fun but not optimal. You’re more than welcome to point out where my suggested strategies would go wrong – but please be careful not to just point out that my strategies are different from the orthodox strategies and then promptly conclude that my strategies must be wrong because they’re different from the orthodox strategies.

    1. I agree, Japan cannot defeat America in Alaska and will in fact be pushed out of Alaska within at most five rounds after landing there. The point of going to Alaska is not to seize San Francisco – it’s to distract the USA during a critical window so that Germany can capture Moscow.

    2, 3, and 4) In general, I totally agree with you that transports beat factories for Japan round 1. I also agree that Britain should usually sink Japan’s transport in SZ 61 on round 1. However, if Britain chooses not to, or if Britain gets diced and fails to sink the transport, then I think the round 1 East Indies factory is an optimal strategy that guarantees a round 3 capture of India unless the Allies divert way more troops to defending India then they can possibly afford. Note that even if Britain builds 3 land in India and 2 fighters / turn in London to fly to India, only one round of fighters (so, 2 fighters, total) will reach India in time to defend against a J3 attack. That’s not enough; if Japan keeps both starting transports, then India still falls on round 3 unless you also send massive Russian support. It’s useful to keep Szechuan safe on R1, but by itself that doesn’t interfere much with the Japanese blitz on India – at most you’re saving the American fighter to go to India and defend there.

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15

    Another thing is Germany can also distract UK/Russia like the way US/Russia distracts Japan, so defending India does need a very close coordination or risk early fall.

    Axis really need to work as  a team in order to break down Allies’ defence…

  • @Argothair:

    Hi, MarineIguana. Please keep in mind that I’m well aware of the orthodox strategies for 1942.2, so when I write about other strategies, I usually either (a) have a niche scenario in mind where given the particular circumstances of that scenario, another strategy can be just as good, or (b) am purposely exploring other strategies that are fun but not optimal. You’re more than welcome to point out where my suggested strategies would go wrong – but please be careful not to just point out that my strategies are different from the orthodox strategies and then promptly conclude that my strategies must be wrong because they’re different from the orthodox strategies.

    Yeah, I am assuming that the goal is to maximize the probability of winning a game. As an alternative challenge, one can try to place a Japanese AA gun in greenland before the end of the game. I’ve done that once and it was amusing.

  • '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Well when you get down to it, there are really only two kinds of Axis and Allies games, the long ones and the slightly shorter ones  😄

    Self imposed time constraints can be important (whether you are playing digitally or face to face) and also understanding the general disposition of your opponent, like whether they have endurance for the long slog or if they’re more impulsive or inclined to take gambles.

    If the expectation is for a long game against a patient opponent, or a low luck game, or on the computer where it’s possible to play a large number of rounds in continuous sessions, then you pad the odds, and use the scripted openings, and try to trade units at advantage until the center crush is resolved one way or another. Games like this feature huge mountains of ground units at the center of the gamemap and monster stacks of aircraft. In that type of match, anything that distracts from the contest at the center is usually bad for business for the side that deviates first, or else it pushes out the game’s resolution if the opponent follows suit and starts doing deviant stuff of their own.

    On the other hand, if its a short game, or against an impatient opponent, face to face, or a single session with no prospects of a continuation, then all sorts of things can happen that might make it advantageous to double down or make audacious plays.

    It’s helpful to know how risk averse your opponent is. Take Burma as an example. If Japan holds Burma with 1 infantry unit, are they the sort of player who will attack it with 1 infantry and air support (and run a slight risk against your defense for an optimal trade) or are they the sort that will bring 2 infantry, to ensure you can’t stack it with defensive air? Similarly, are you the sort of Japanese player who is willing to take a risk to trade at advantage, or are you the sort who will pad it and bring the extra dude to ensure you take the territory? If they play the risk, then you should probably focus on aircraft. If they like to bring the second dude then you should probably focus on ground, so you have enough units to compensate for the losses you’re likely to sustain over many rounds. The latter requires slightly more production/transport capacity than the former.

    For the most part I see pretty similar UK openers these days…

    The most common purchases for UK are:

    Max Air Builds:
    2 artillery, 1 inf in India and 2 fighters in England (best for India round 3 defense)
    3 infantry in India and 1 fighter 1 bomber in England (fun for an early Med push, and killing German Battleship outright)

    Max Tank builds:
    3 tanks in India and 1 fighter 1 inf in England
    3 tanks in India and 1 bomber in England
    (Both of these builds are best when the tanks are conserved for later use against Germany on the Eastern Front or for the eventual Berlin battle, not against Japan.)

    Often these same purchases are repeated over several rounds to magnify the effect.

    90% of the time, the UK is best served going for the Max Air builds because you get more out of them in the long run due to the mobility factor. The 2 fighter build is the most common by far for the critical defense of W. Russia/India, though the UK can also be very effective with additional bombers especially when trying to hold the IJN at bay.

    Sometimes the UK will get a chance to mix things up in the second round, instead of repeating the purchases mentioned above.

    All the other less common builds usually fall into one of two types, saving to purchase an Atlantic carrier fleet to set up early KGF pressure (usually with US fighters on deck), or else some kind of wily KJF oriented build in an attempt to break the IJN quickly somehow. This latter rarely comes off, unless Japan has a disastrous first round. Saving for an early Atlantic carrier, likewise only really works if Germany had a poor opening, losing a bunch of fighters etc.

    Usually I’ll see the sz61 attack, as outlined by MarineIguana, though whether it involves the cruiser fighter combo, or the carrier fighter combo, or just the lone fighter, depends on whether the Germans expose their battleship. If the battleship is a potential target, sz 61 takes on a new dimension. In those cases it might make sense to use the India fleet in slightly different ways.

    The sz 37 hit is much less common, though not uncommon enough to write off entirely, since the UK can definitely get annoying if they elect to use their bid like that. Going cutthroat with no conditions other than trying to win, I prefer a med bid for the UK, as I know we’ve discussed in previous threads, but if the UK claps down on 37 and does well, it can certainly turn the Japanese opener on its head right quick. But usually I see 61 from UK to kill the destroyer/transport, and most of the time, as Japan, you’re facing down max ground in India with air being shuttled over from the West, every round until the India pocket collapses, when it is no longer possible to hold Calcutta against an all out ground assault from Burma, or if Russia is threatened and it’s no longer worth it to stay in India for fear of losing all your critical air power. Until then the IJN will basically be stuck off coastal China unless it is expanded early on with a third carrier, some defensive DD and the like, because UK will have enough air in India to keep them from making a break towards Suez (or so the British logic goes.)

    My favorite play for the UK pacific sub is to attack into sz 37 with only the sub and dive immediately, avoiding combat. Then clear the destroyer in sz 61 so the British sub cannot be sunk on J1. This can cause some definite headaches for the IJN, especially if the british starting bomber is flown in range for UK2.

    As the Japanese the only truly safe harbors are sz 61 or those sea zones immediately adjacent to the home island. But as long as you preserve your transports or keep them out of range of Allied air, the Japanese don’t really need much to threaten the center. From Yunnan a Japanese ground stack is only 3 moves from Moscow, and only 2 moves from India. That’s still pretty close, even for  slow moving units like infantry.

    If developing an all purpose gameplan for Japan, it would probably look something like this…

    Round 1: expand transport capacity and fleet defense. 2 transports 2 destroyers can be fun. Or 2 transports one carrier. Or 2 transports 1 fighter. Or 2 transports 1 bomber (I consider bombers as part of fleet defense and deterrence, even if they can’t land on carriers, because they can be used to deadzone such a large area of the pacific ocean from Japan.)

    Round 2: buy another air unit and the rest ground to shuck, or one more transport and the rest ground to shuck.

    Round 3: expand production and spend the rest on ground, or just make the same kind of build you did in round two, until such time as production expansion makes sense…

    From round 4 on, you can pretty much just park your fleet in sz 61, dump everything into Yunnan and stack heavily with successive shucks until an opportunity presents itself somewhere. If the Allies come at you, keep your air close to home and build more air to support what you already have. If the Allies ignore you then send that air to cover the German advance on the center, and build more to send their way in subsequent rounds.

    It can be fun to expand your transports up to one more than you actually need for your max production. A transport in your back pocket, can be fun, esp if you break it away from the main fleet with a cruiser say, to pick up some extra income from Australia, or cause distractions in Alaska or Hawaii etc. More than a few times I’ve seen a sneaky transport in the southern hemisphere lurking around, all but forgotten, until they magically reappear from the shadows like a ninja assassin, to royally screw an unsuspecting Allied opponent haha.

    Eventually the center will break and Japan can start to do more interesting stuff, or the center will hold, in which case Japan should probably just concede lol.

  • '22 '21 '19 '15 '14

    Ps. Couple thoughts on the Polar Express concept as an endgame play rather than an opener…

    A version of this strat can be made to work in the final rounds, provided that Japan is no longer needed at the center, and has sufficiently outpaced the Americans on income. It’s also helpful if the Allied player is a good sport, or just wants to play out a few more rounds before calling it a night.  😄

    An example might be, if Germany is poised to take Moscow alone, such that Japan has a free hand to redirect early against North America, instead of Africa. Or if it seems like the Allies might be able to trade Moscow for Berlin in the same round, and Japan wants to keep going.

    It requires that you have a large number ground units at the ready preferably in Yakut and Munchuria. The basic idea is to spam transports at the last minute before the planned invasion. So say you have 5 or 6 transports with 12 or more units ready to transport out of sz 60 to Alaska, and several more ground units in Yakut or Manchuria, that can move to Bury at the same time so that they can be shucked the following round. Then you spam 5 more transports to set up the double shuck, from Japan and Manchuria to Buryatia with one transport group, and from Buryatia  to Alaska with the other transport group.

    To pull this off, you have to be able to match US production a full round ahead of their ability to equal your forces from their production centers, and this with already existing Japanese units, which is why you need the Yakut stack at the ready. If you can rapidly amass a large stack of ground in Alaska by using existing Japanese units, it may be possible to walk them to Western Canada without fear of a crushing counter attack from the US, and then you can use your transports to threaten W. US on amphibious, while you attempt to can open Central or Eastern Canada with German bombers for a blitz on DC. Although not a particularly likely deep endgame, it can sometimes be a more direct route to the ultimate Axis smackdown, than taking London.

    Again, I don’t think its something that you can really plan for from the outset, but more of a redirect at the last possible second, where you make as if to threaten Moscow from Yakut, but then rapidly double back for the Alaskan crossing. It’s also pretty simple for the US to cover against this play, if they see it coming, so you really have to catch them with their guard down.

    I think there are only two times I’ve seen it work. Once was in a KGF game, where the Russian player made a strategic withdrawal from Moscow in an attempt to triple team G. And another game where Germany got lucky on their tank drive and smoked Moscow earlier than anyone expected. In both instances the Allies were playing a masochist’s game, fighting on rather than conceding haha

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